Category Archives: Features

The Rise and Fall of the American Roadside Motel

The Stars Motel, Chicago, Illinois

by Maxine Carter-Lome   In the first decades of the 20th century, nothing was more novel than the automobile. The idea of personal transportation with the freedom and ability to go where the road took you without all the limitations inherent in train travel was inspiring. Now, people could take motor trips in their leisure […]

The World & The Potter

Ceramic vessel remains, bag-shaped jars made some 20,000 calendar years ago discovered at the Xianrendong Cave in China. A total of 282 pottery sherds were recovered from the oldest levels of the cave. They have uneven thick walls between 1.4-1.5 inches, with round bases and inorganic (sand – mainly quartz or feldspar) temper. The paste has a brittle and loose texture and a heterogeneous reddish and brown color from uneven, open-air firing. They appear to have been made with two different techniques: sheet laminating or coil and paddle techniques. photo: Thought & Co.

by Jessica Kosinski For as long as there have been people on the Earth, hand-crafted goods have existed. People have had to learn to make their own shelters, tools, clothing, weapons, and so much more throughout the centuries. Certain hand-made goods have remarkably shaped the world with their innovative designs and functions. There are few […]

The Blacksmith

The Village Blacksmith by Thomas Hovenden (American (born Ireland), Dunmanway 1840–1895 Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania

by Melody Amsel-Arieli Under a spreading chestnut-tree The village smithy stands; The smith, a mighty man is he, With large and sinewy hands; And the muscles of his brawny arms Are strong as iron bands – The Village Blacksmith, Longfellow, 1842   Blacksmiths have wrought objects from iron for thousands of years. Metalworking, however, harks […]

Crafting a Legacy: The Life and Work of Olof Althin

Dressing table made by Althin, 1900-1913 photo: private collection

by Erica Lome, Ph.D. Today, few people outside of the antiques trade recognize the name Olof Althin (1859-1920), a Swedish-born cabinetmaker active in Boston at the turn of the twentieth century. Known primarily for his beautiful carved furniture and his accurate reproductions of antiques, Althin was also responsible for restoring two of the great collections […]

The Power of Pitkins: An American Classic Uncorked

Rare Pitkin reverse swirl inkwell and flask

by Kary Pardy If patterned antique glass has ever caught your eye, you’ve likely appreciated the flowing lines and swirling, ribbed decoration of a “Pitkin” flask. The term “Pitkin” is a more recent collector’s designation that references Connecticut’s Pitkin Glass Works and their famous production of ribbed, pattern glass in the late 18th and early […]

Millifiore Glass Beads Glass: Gardens of “A Thousand Flowers”

West African peoples have adorned themselves with Venetian millefiori beads, intermixed with locally-made jewelry (left to right): blue-and-white “sand beads” made from powdered glass Vicks and Milk of Magnesia jars (Krobo and southern Ghana groups); reddish-brown bauxite, or aluminum ore, beads (Ghana); cast bronze bracelet (Baule); and cast bronze beads (Ashante).

by Sarah Turnbaugh Millefiori beads made in Venice, Italy, reached lofty technical and aesthetic heights in the late 1800s to early 1900s. The colorful, stunning-looking beads seem almost magical – then we learn that they were handmade using laborious, time-consuming methods in small factories and lone artisans’ homes. Glassworkers aptly called these seductive creations “millefiori,” […]

A World of Weaving

A carpet loom by Carl Engel with a Jacquard machine on top, ca. 1860. Photo by Dmm2va7; CC BY-SA 3.0

by Mike McLeod Just imagine a world—if you can—in which the process of weaving was never discovered. Without weaving, people from the beginning would have been wearing leather all year long or grass skirts or fig leaves, probably until cardboard or plastic was discovered. Early Stages of Weaving Throughout the ages, weaving has been used […]