Thursday, January 15, 2015

Antique adventures, Chautauqua Industrial Art Desk

Thank goodness there is no 12 step program for Antiqueism. Unlike Alcoholism this one is not bad for your health. There might be an unhealthy hole in your wallet caused by Antiqueism, but if you need money just sell the Antique. This is not brain surgery.

The Cute Girlfriend and I love going to Antique shops. I think we just love the nostalgia of it all, and some of the history involved. Plus there is a lot of things out there that are in bad shape and you can still keep alive by doing a little, what they call today, re-purposing. I love to see old things kept here with us so we can have memories and show a whole new generation what was in the past.

Shows like American Pickers have our attention, we can get a serious injection of nostalgia from shows like that. It is funny on that show that they go to these peoples house that most people would consider borderline hoarders, but these people have collected a lot of old stuff that is now valuable and when these Pickers leave the hoarder/collector now has a good chunk of cash in his/her hand.

Antiques are an interesting thing because they are always going to be a thing that gets rarer and rarer so there will always be a market for old thing. It is amazing how you are seeing old architectural stuff at antique shops now a days. Old doors, columns, door knobs, sash windows, old light fixtures, all of it has some value. Someone owns an old house and they could use that part to make it look original.

Cute girlfriend and I would love to have an old Craftsman home in the future and it is good to know that old stuff can still be had.

We went to some antique shops not long after Christmas and found some old Christmas stuff 50 and 75% off so we snatched that stuff up. Cute girlfriend is gathering together some of the old stuff that her mom use to have so she can rebuild the memories of her mom and Christmas past.

Over the Thanksgiving Holiday I had to go down to California to help my dad get moved out of his old house up in the hills above Sacramento. I grabbed up the old things he didn't want any longer and packed them back home with me. There was this old, for lack of a better word, portable student desk that was there and I brought it home. Last night before I went to bed I was looking up what it was on my smart phone.

I found an article titled,"The Laptop of the 1920's".  There was a picture of the item I had but it looked different. This one had stuff inside that I hadn't seen. I had it in my mind this was just a book box with a chalkboard on one side and a map of the United States on the other. So this morning I came upstairs and opened it up, I had been opening it upside down I think, and there was all the things I saw in the article.

They called it the "Chautauqua Industrial Art Desk" and man did this have an interesting history. A friend of mine and I call this type of find on the internet going down the "Rabbit Hole".  You find something and it has some history and get to go down different branches of the rabbit hole and new things pop up. Here is the "Desk"
Poor old water stained map of the good ol' USA.
I cleaned up all the dust and dirt, thank goodness the mice hadn't made bedding out of the papers inside, and made sure everything was working. It had two old books and what very well could be a 100 year old chalkboard eraser.

Let me tell you what you could learn from this art desk. That is a scroll at the top, and it has 25 panels on it, showing you shapes that a Kindergartener would need progressing on to a short hand panel that court reporters use, and even Morse Code. These desks were sold normally door to door and several books came with it to help the parent help the student learn more in depth what was on the scroll panels. I found them on line for a few bucks so I bought the books to make the set complete.

These desks were made by Lewis E. Myers and Company starting in the late 1800's, continuing to update and sell them until the late 1920's until the stock market collapse killed the company.

There is another rabbit hole to go down about Chautauqua, but I want to share some of the panels with you.
It is amazing what they taught kids 100 years ago. A lot of these panels are almost specialty learning stuff now.
Farm Scenes and Farm animals. Master Book 1 was purchased with the desk to help enhance what was on each panel of the scroll....I have that book on order.
 Drawing some famous people.
Kids today wouldn't know what this is....hell I don't even know if they teach cursive anymore....sigh
Lettering and even Roman Numerals.
Morse Code!
Short Hand!
Business Forms?...we can do this stuff on our smart phones now.
Raise your hand if you know what a Vanishing Point is?
Rail Road Signaling.
Sending and receiving is says on this one....Morse Code over Radio I'm guessing.
Wood working tools.
Drafting and Blue Print....cute little Craftsman Bungalow.
Flags and colors.
 Bird and egg identification.
Fine Art.

I can not believe how much a child would learn off this thing with the included books. The one I have is probably made around 1914. Still hanging around after 100 years. Not to shabby.  The research said there were millions of these made so this one isn't that rare, but it sure is cool.

Here is the other thing I found while researching. Chautauqua means something. I found something called the Chautauqua Movement. In this day and age a movement can have some negative connotations, so I was feeling a little worried when I clicked on the link. It looks like the Manufacturer of these desks was involved in this movement some how, but I'm not sure.

First off Chautauqua is a town in New York State sitting next to a lake of the same name. Around 1874 a Methodist minister named John Heyl Vincent and a businessman named Lewis Miller started having what they called Assemblies at a campsite near the lake. It was more to train Sunday school teacher at the time but started to become popular and the gatherings grew to be called the Chautauqua Assembly. It was done in the summer and morphed into a traveling show called simply the Chautauquas. Lodges with their name popped up across the country and a traveling tent show toured the country.

These Assemblies would feature famous speakers of the time. It was non-denominational Methodist sponsored so there was a spiritual component to it. Some of the speeches would not go over well in this day and age. I read part of a speech by a man named Russell Conwell, called "Acre of Diamonds", telling the good people of America to get rich because we need good trustworthy rich people. Senators, Congressmen, Governors, and even Presidential candidates were speakers at these Assemblies.

They had all sorts of entertainment, Band Music including the likes of John Phillip Sousa, Choirs, singing group, even towards the end Opera. Folk tales and stories were told at these events.

Politics was of the flavor of Temperance, Women's Suffrage, Child Labor Laws, and the plight of the common man. It looks like they took the middle ground in this so they could attract as many people as they could.

Chautauquas were the go to event when they were in town. They focused on bringing education to the far flung rural communities. I can understand why these would be popular during this time. No TV, no radio, news taking weeks to reach them. I think my hunger for knowledge and news of the big wide world could be fed at one of these assemblies.

It looks like when radio and the automobile finally made their appearance rural America had no need for the Chautauquas and they slowly faded away. The are not dead though, I guess as you travel America you may still see some of the Chautauqua Lodges is some small towns. Some of these Lodges may still be active. The Chautauqua Institute is still around and still in the town it started at in New York State.

This is the type of informational adventure I can sink my teeth into.

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