Illuminating The World

Imagine your only light source in the black of night being a candle or oil-burning lamp? For centuries that was the source available to most people. Brilliantly, in 1896 Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulb (created in 1879) and George Leclanche’s battery (created in 1866) were put to use in a portable, hand held devise known as the FLASHLIGHT.

The name FLASHLIGHT originates from the early weak carbon filament and weak batteries these devises held. Early lights would only “flash” light briefly and only had a ring or tab switch which had to be pressed against the metal to make the electrical connection. Later, flashlights would see improvements in the batteries and bulbs and could illuminate for up to two straight hours.

Assortment of Early Winchester Flashlights

Assortment of Early Winchester Flashlights

The American Electrical Novelty and Manufacturing Company was one of the first and most successful companies to make these early flashlights. A large part of their success came from the realization that they could not just make the flashlight as a stand-alone product, therefore, they invested heavily in making their own batteries. Flashlight batteries would have to constantly be replaced which generated impressive sales for the company. These high sales rocketed the company, now known as EVEREADY, to the most successful flashlight company in the world.

Everready Display

My passion for collecting these illuminating beauties may have sprouted during my youth growing up in the north woods of Michigan…no street lights, no yard lights. Of course, my father had several flashlights for us to use when we would venture out into the darkness. They were not the best flashlights, however, as a kid I would have fun using them to cut a bright hole into the darkness and find my way. My father and I would often go hunting, fishing and camping. For all of these journeys our trusty flashlights were right by our side.

Since those early childhood days, I have become an addicted antique collector. My focus has been antique soda advertising, early bottles, vintage perfume bottles, antique oak furniture and Winchester items.

Approximately two years ago, I purchased my first Winchester flashlight and as any addiction goes, I have been trying to amass a first class flashlight collection since. Those fun childhood memories of cutting through the darkness with a trusty flashlight came flooding back. The older and more unique the flashlight…the better for me. I have been fortunate to acquire some of the earliest flashlights ever made. I have also been lucky enough to find early electric candlesticks. These were the perfect devise to help people transition from carrying candles to utilizing this new, much safer technology.

A wagon full of Winchester Flashlights and other Winchester Collectibles.

After acquiring a large and varied collection of flashlights, I’ve now decided to focus on early Winchester and Eveready items. Pictured is a portion of my flashlight collection. One of the most fascinating things about collecting flashlights is the incredible variety of different designs that have been created such as bicycle lights, vest lights, table top lights, penlights, projector lights, mini lanterns, toy gun lights, purse lights, and the list goes on and on. There is a light for every need in every size.

Assortment of Different Early Flashlights
Case full of solid Copper, brass and bronze Winchester Flashlights

Equally enticing is the incredible amount of flashlight advertising, which is extremely collectable and beautiful. Even the old batteries are now collectable and can be worth quite a bit of money.

It has been a fun and illuminating experience searching out these useful and often beautiful pieces of history. There is nothing like holding a solid copper flashlight in the palm of your hand, flipping the switch and having it brighten the room. They just don’t make them like they used to. Antique flashlights are truly little works of functional art.

Thanks to guest blogger – Kevin Kissel kkissel@triad.rr.com

BUYING WATCHES in the 1880’s

If you were in the market for a pocket watch in 1880 where would you go to buy it. You would go to a store. Right?

Of course you could do that, but if you wanted one that was cheaper and a bit better than the store models, you went to the train station.

Why were the best pocket watches found at a train station? The railroad company was not selling the watches, the telegraph operator was. Most of the time the telegraph operator was located in a train station because the telegraph lines followed the railroad tracks from town to town. Telegraph operators sold more watches than almost all the stores combined for the period of about 9 years.

This was arranged by “Richard”, who was a telegraph operator himself. He was on duty in the North Redwood, Minnesota train station one day when a load of watches arrived from the  East. It was a huge crate of pocket watches.No one e came to claim them.  So Richard sent a telegraph to the manufacturer and asked them what they wanted to do with watches. The manufacturer didn’t want to pay the freight back, so they wired Richard to see if he would sell them. So Richard did. He sold the case in less than two days and made a handsome profit. That started it all. He ordered more watches and encouraged other telegraph operators to set up  a display case in the stations offering high quality watches for a cheap price to all travelers. It worked.

It didn’t take long for the word to spread and, before long, people other than travelers came to the train stations to buy watches. He hired a professional watch maker to help him with orders. That was Alvah. And the rest was history as they say. The business took off and soon expanded to many other lines of dry goods.

Richard and Alvah left the train station and moved their company to Chicago – and it’s still there.

THE REST OF THE STORY

It’s a little known fact that for a while in the 1880’s, the biggest watch retailer in the country was at the train stations. It all started with a telegraph operator: Richard Sears and his partner Alvah Roebuck.

Thanks for our guest blogger – The Watch Guy. Check our his watches – https://www.icollect247.com/happymiller

Peanut Butter Lovers’ Day

Always knew that my birthday would fall on a famous day… and here it is March 1st. Really interesting when we think that peanut butter is something that we invented, but it dates back to the Aztecs and Incas. Really? The real important date is when the peanut butter machine was invented in 1903, with Peter Pan licensed in 1928 and Skippy in 1932. Jif followed behind in 1955 and Planters Peanut butter in the 1950s. Perfect day to start collecting and displaying old Peanut jars. Check out these jars and early pails for sale on icollect247.com.

Celebrating Trivia Day – All Month!

Lots of holidays are put on your calendar but did not hear of National Trivia Day, celebrated on January 4th.  Enjoy some of the Trivia you never knew about!

Did you know…Beer is the most popular beverage in the world, with tea in second place. People collect beer memorabilia and there actually a Breweriana Collector Club. From beer cans to beer bottles, from signs to beer trays, it is a passion for many collectors. Find over 200 pieces of vintage beer advertising on http://www.icollect247.com and start collecting! If you like our post please share and like it! We will keep them coming!

Prison Purses and Wallets

Prison Art Woven Cigarette Pack is Folk Art is a collectible from the 1920’s thru the 1950’s.  If you think it is a funny term or never heard of it, you will find this article interesting.

Back in the 1920’s and 1950’s weaving items was a way for idle inmates to pass time, hence the prison art term was born. Leftover cellophane wrappers became the material that was used when the cigarettes had been smoked.  These were woven from any brand that the inmates had available.  They were arranged in colorful panels and woven in an array of patterns.

Wallets and purses were made to give to their family and friends.  Wallets were quick and easy and the inmate did not have to have a lot of the packs. These had slots for cash and 2 pockets for I.D.. and photographs. Large purses and pocketbooks were also made.  Cigarette packs that were used included Pall Malls, Camels, Kools and Lucky Strikes.

Above are pictures of recently sold pieces on icollect247.com.  A hand-printed note inside of the wallets stated that they had been made in the 1920s by an inmate at the old Virginia State Penitentiary on Spring St. in Richmond.  Mint pieces, like the above, are hard to find.  Kind of reminds me of “Tramp Art”.

 

 

Enjoying Vintage Postcards

Nobody writes anymore. In fact, kids are not even taught to write anymore and in another generation, we will only talk via computer.  In our small rural area, it was not unusual for friends to travel by train to a town 30 miles away and send a postcard back to a relative.  We have an old postcard book full of vintage postcards mailed from one small town to another. Postcards were sent, enjoyed and kept.  So why should we collect postcards?

They are simply a piece of affordable art that connects us with history in many ways. From a heavy paper to leather and even linen, these were mailed with postage stamps and were delivered as something special. They can be touched, looked at, admired, take up little space, inexpensive and even comical.  You can research a lot of history, such as fashion, architecture, historical events, artists and more.  Even Santa Claus’ history can be seen in postcards.

Do you remember summer vacations…every stop for gas you went in and got a souvenir postcard.  Every place you went there were souvenir postcards.  How about your city or town, I bet there were postcards of events and buildings.  My small town had stock postcards with their town name printed on the bottom.  I know that as there were not meadows and sheep, in the town we lived.  In fact, I recently found them in a paper notebook from an elementary school report I had to do on my hometown.

You do not have to be a history bluff to enjoy postcards.  You just need to enjoy times past. Why not collect holiday postcards and put them on a postcard display during the season. On icollect247 there are over 2400 different postcards for sale. Here are a few of my favorites which are currently for sale on http://www.icollect247.com. You can use the search function and just type in postcard.