Industrial antiques, fridge magnets, history...

Monday, August 15, 2011

A. J. Plate, San Francisco Arms Dealer

1864 advertisement for
A. J. Plate's San Francisco store.

A. J. Plate, San Francisco's most famous 19th century arms dealer

Herman Adolph Joseph Plate's place in history was secured when he lost a patent infringement lawsuit over the Deringer pistol.
Herman Adolph Joseph Plate

Plate Becomes Naturalized
US Citizen in 1844.

Born in Borghorst, Germany (one of the villages merged in 1975 to create Steinfurt), Plate immigrated to New York in 1836.  A cabinet maker, he and two of his five brothers built a furniture business in New York.  

Augusta Agness Tolle
In 1849 Adolph started a family with Augusta Tolle, with whom he would raise 4 children.  Later that year, after a series of three fires destroyed the furniture business, Plate became one of the Gold Rush Forty Niners.  While his wife and infant son, Henry, remained in New York, Adolph headed for California to work the gold mines.  In May of 1850, when he had accumulated a small stake, his family followed him to San Francisco, their household belongings sent via the U. S. Mail Steamship Company, and Adolph opened his first San Francisco store.

That first store was modest, consisting of an outdoor stand where he sold ammunition and used pistols.  Those were boom town years for San Francisco, with the population growing from 200 in 1846 to over 36,000 in 1852. 

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Repurposing a 20-Drawer Library Card File

Replacing the Army green paint
on this old metal library cabinet will give it a new
1940s card file cabinet manufactured by General Fireproofing of Youngstown, Ohio

Things to store inside:
  • Spools of thread
  • Kitchen utensils
  • Paintbrushes
  • Rulers 
  • Scissors
  • Needles
  • Toys
  • Tubes of paint
  • Beads
  • Jewelry
  • Doll clothes
  • Craft supplies
  • Spaghetti noodles
  • Fishing lures
  • Fingernail polish
  • RC car parts
  • Sewing notions
  • Herbs & spices
  • Makeup
  • Baseball cards
  • Recipes
  • Medicine
  • Socks
  • Razor collection
  • Hair bows
  • Brushes & combs
  • Photographs
  • Yarn
  • Shells
  • Scrapbook Materials
  • Spectacles
  • Matchbox cars
  • Fisher-Price figures
  • Pens & Pencils
  • Watch collection
  • Stickers
  • 3"x5" index cards :)
  • Seed packets
  • Stamps
  • Little Ponies
  • Coins
  • Miniatures
  • Guitar supplies
  • Weed
  • Salt & pepper shakers
  • Soap
  • Crystals
  • Candles
  • Audio parts
  • Pocket knife collection
  • Lighter collection
  • Christmas ornaments
  • Notes for your novel
  • Receipts
  • String, glue & tape
  • Fasteners
  • Faucets and washers
  • Golf balls & tees
  • Chopsticks
  • Tools
  • Inventory
  • Stationery supplies
  • Headbands
  • Photography accessories
  • Knitting needles

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Aardvarks. Even the name sounds funny.

Get an aardvark picture fridge magnet.
Aardvarks (Orycteropus afer) can weigh 150-180 lbs, making them about the weight of a Mastiff dog. They get to that size on a protein-rich daily diet of 50,000 ants and termites found in the grasslands of Africa.  An aardvark eats as it digs into an anthill, ignoring the stinging and biting, zipping out its long and sticky tongue to scarf them in, the ants going directly to its muscular gizzard-like belly, with minimal if any chewing.  Yum

Romance & Family Life
Aardvarks team up to mate, then go their separate ways, living mostly solitary lives, though males do have multiple mating partners and cubs stay with their mothers til around 6 months of age.  After a 7-month gestation, a single 4-pound hairless cub is born.  By 2 weeks of age it is able to follow its mother.  After nursing for 3 months, it starts chowing down ants and termites and is ready to mate around age 2. 

In adulthood most of an aardvark's fur is worn away.  Those fun ears and big snout are part of acute hearing and smelling capacities to help them find ants beneath the soil.  They can move their ears separately, or fold them back when tunneling.   (Just checked and some humans can wiggle their ears.  Here's a

Friday, July 8, 2011

Animated Smurf Film a Gotta See

Mark your calendar for July 29
 Cute as puppies and with adult personality traits that
sometimes remind us of people we know.  Columbia
and Sony Pictures are poised to introduce the first 3D
feature film about Smurfs.  We supplied a few props
for the film* so are a little biased but after watching

the trailers we're looking forward to seeing it, even if 
our props didn't make the final cut.


Synopsis  When the evil wizard Gargamel chases the
Smurfs out of their village, they tumble from their world
into ours -- in the middle of Central Park, New York
City.  . Stuck in the Big Apple, the Smurfs must find a
way to get back to their village before Gargamel tracks
them down.
A young married couple, the Grace's, give
give them a hand.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Unfair Rap for Mary Greenleaf Clement Leavitt's X?

Sometimes bread crumbs lead to unexpected places

While researching a railroad promotional pamphlet I became a bit obsessed with learning about a RR land seller named T.H. Leavitt.  He was one of a pair of sellers cited on the pamphlet and since I'd assembled a blurb about the other fellow I felt obliged to do the same for T.H.  It took some searching but I was finally able to confirm that T.H. was Thomas H. Leavitt who helped bring 100,000 or so settlers to the west and became a valuable citizen of Lincoln, Nebraska.  Mystery solved. 

Well maybe not.

In the process I also learned that Thomas was once married to a famous temperance figure and an outspoken suffragist, Mary Greenleaf Clement LeavittTheir marriage ended in separation around 1865 and was finalized by divorce in 1878.   For the next 40 years while Mary traveled the world lecturing and writing about the sins of alcohol and other societal ills, she left the impression with her supporters that her former husband was a bad sort. 

Missouri & Burlington River Railroad's Role in Settling the West

Missouri & Burlington River Railroad Company.
The 1872 pamphlet on which this magnet is based was published by the Missouri & Burlington River Railroad company.  Using an illustration of the Big Blue River between Camden and Crete in Nebraska, it offered attractive credit terms on acreage: 6% for a 10 year note with the first payment not falling due until the 4th year, and a 20% discount for a cash payment.  The offer was further sweetened with transportation rebates.*
Running through southern Iowa, the Burlington and Missouri River Railroad (B&MR) was the third railway between Chicago and the Union Pacific junction in Kerney, Nebraska.  The project was conceived around 1850 but it wasn't until 1869 that serious construction got underway, beginning with 2.5 million acres from federal and state grants.  By 1872 the line was acquired by Chicago, Burlington and Quincy RR (CB&Q).
To build a market, start by importing buyers.
For railroads west of the Mississippi, laying rails was just the first step.  For

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Repurposing Purpose?

What was wrong with converting?  Wasn't that a sufficiently puffy way to say you're turning a library table into a dining table?  Does repurposing add more to the value than converting?

Ok, so maybe repurpose and convert are not synonymous.  Conversion indicates the object has been changed in some way, but you can repurpose without changing.  So if you put a bigger top on the library table, you are converting, but if you haul it home as is and eat dinner on it, it's only been repurposed, and if you then sleep on it, you've repurposed the repurposition.

Glad to have worked that out.

Steel Tops for your Industrial Table Making Project. Wood too!

For several years we've sold vintage industrial machinery bases for table making projects; now we can supply tabletops too.  Initially we're offering steel and wood in two standard sizes and 5 standard colors, as well as custom sizes/colors to suit. 

(We'd like to offer glass but shipping large flat glass is soooooooo costly
that for the time being you're advised to find glass tops in your local market.)

Standard sizes: A meaty 1-3/4" thick x 30" x 30" or 16" x 60"

Select steel or hardwood. 
Wood tops are available in one of 5 colors (below)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Famous Arches

The Arc de Triomphe (Arc de Triomphe de l'√Čtoile)
Honors soldiers from French Revolution, Napoleonic War and WWI.
Designed by Jean Chalgrin.  164’ high.  Completed in 1836.

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park near Moab, Utah
52-foot high
Designed by Mother Nature

Designed by George Dexter, 1953
26’-85’ high


Gateway to the West, Jefferson National Expansion Memorial
St. Louis, Missouri.
Designed by Eero Saarinen. 
630 feet high
Completed 1965

Built by Industrial Chic.  Designed by Marco Polo 
29.5" high x 58" wide x 16" deep x 91 lbs

Monday, June 27, 2011

Uhl Art Steel Company History: The Famous Toledo Drafting Stool

Helping a friend find homes for a large stash of Toledo stools from the chemistry lab at a small college provided an excuse to explore the history of the company that built them.

What came to be known as the Toledo Metal Furniture Company was started as Uhl's Cycle Emporium at 1021-23 Monroe Street in Toledo, Ohio in 1898.  Philip E. Uhl (president) and Clement Richard Uhl (VP/supt) founded the company on $85.  Others of the 10 Uhl brothers joined the firm,including Joseph Ferdinand Louis Uhl (secretary/GM), Otto G., Charles, Henry and Robert Uhl.  Joseph, a 1-legged concert violinist, also directed the family Concert Band and Orchestra.

As the popularity of automobiles reduced the market for bicycles (1900-1910), the Uhls shifted their focus to manufacturing ice cream parlor furniture, renaming the company Uhl Art Steel, and in 1904 incorporating as the Toledo Metal Furniture company.  By 1920 capital stock reached $300,000, there were over 150 employees and the product mix had been expanded to include office and classroom furniture.  

Sets are not easy to find.
This set of four matching Toledo
stools are at chair height. 
Insert table and you're good to go.

According to a 1914
Journal of the National Association
of Retail Druggists
, Clement and Joe designed the unique
locked truss-rail leg assembly of cold rolled steel that
remains a hallmark of the company's furniture (see patent
illustrations below).  In addition to lending a distinctive design element, the truss was important in creating a product with the strength and
durability to endure rugged use by students, telephone
operators, military personnel, draftsmen and ice cream
parlor customers.