Stan and Mardi Timm are serious collectors of Whoopee Cushions, Joy Buzzers, X-Ray Spex, Doggie Doodit, The Ventrilo, stink bombs, squirting flowers, and the other delightful gags and novelties that you might have seen in the back pages of comic books. The Timms are true scholars of these pop culture icons and the companies that manufactured the 1,800 items in their collection that the elderly men are now trying to sell as they downsize their lives. From Lisa Hix's profile in Collectors Weekly:
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“Novelties are so much more than goofy, silly things,” Mardi says. “Everything that comes on to the marketplace starts out as a novelty. They’re things that are not common, things that make you say, ‘Wow, I’ve never seen one of those before!’ or ‘What is that thing?'”
The collection documents U.S. popular culture from the mid-1910s through today, Mardi explains. Exploring the Timms’ catalog, you can identify the problems that plagued Americans over the decades—particularly in the early 20th century, when most Americans lived in more isolated rural communities—and sometimes unintentionally hilarious ways they tried to solve those problems. (Is your bath cold? How about you plug an electric heating device into the wall and then put it in your water?)
“We have the Tark Electric Razor, which is a scary thing for me,” Mardi says. “You put razor blades in it, you plug it in, and the thing vibrates. Now, would you want to put that on your face if you were a man? I don’t think so.
Esteemed vernacular photography collector Robert E. Jackson curated a dreamy collection of vintage snapshots of people snoozing. Goodnight.
The intimacy of sleep is a subject mainly found in snapshots as opposed to fine art photography, writes Robert E. Jackson. The reason is that to be a witness to such an action, the person holding the camera generally must have a close association with the person sleeping– such as being a friend, lover, or family member. There is a vulnerability to being caught unawares in the act of sleeping, yet there is also a beauty to which these images attest. While voyeuristic in nature, these photos derive from a sense of play- one of the defining aspects of snapshot photography.
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A documentary about Marion Stokes (d. 2012), the civil rights activist, feminist, and news archivist who recorded 70,000 hours of broadcasts over three decades, is coming out. She had VCRs running all day for decades!
Stokes and her recordings, which have been acquired by the Internet Archive in Richmond, California, are the subject of director Matt Wolf’s new film called "Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project.”
Wolf first heard about the tapes from media coverage from when the collection was transported from Philadelphia to the Bay Area. He makes films about archival footage and thought Stokes’ collection was “unprecedented.”
“It felt like an archive that could include anything and everything,” he says. “And that challenge and that possibility really appealed to me.”
In the BBS, Akimbo_NOT links to a review and the collection itself at Archive.org.
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What drove the obsession? That, of course, is the subject — the essential mystery — of “Recorder.” When the movie first tells us about Marion Stokes and her ultimate expression of news mania, it sounds like she’s suffering from a peculiar information-age version of OCD, or maybe some bizarrely abstract form of hoarding. She was collecting VHS tapes, but she was really collecting what was on those tapes. (One listens to her story and thinks: If only she’d had the Cloud!)
Esteemed collector of vernacular photography Robert E. Jackson curated this delightful collection of snapshots depicting the history of our robotic future. See more: "15 Fabulous Vintage Snapshots Of Robots"
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New York City's ARChive of Contemporary Music
(ARC) is a cultural treasure packed with actual treasures. Inside the walls of this not-for-profit private research library in TriBeCa are 3 million physical audio recordings, many on vinyl records. The ARC's founder, Bob George, is also a cultural treasure -- warm, obsessive, kind, committed, and a walking encyclopedia of popular music -- from obscure folk to the avant-garde. In recent years, Bob's been working closely with the Internet Archive to digitize many of the ARC's scarce 78s for broader access and, yes, preservation. Bob launched ARC in 1985 when his own record collection outgrew his apartment. Now the ARC needs help. They've launched a GoFundMe
to raise $100,000 to keep the ARC alive. From Rolling Stone
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Far from the kind of crackpot hoarding that sometimes happens in cities, George’s archive has been supported by powerhouses in music and entertainment. It houses Keith Richards’ blues collection. Their current board is varied enough to include both Youssou N’Dour and Paul Simon (Lou Reed and David Bowie were both once members). It consulted for Tom Hanks on the making of That Thing You Do. It’s the go-to repository for album art for everything from Grammy exhibits to Taschen books...
George’s commitment is dogged. When Martin Scorsese wanted an obscure Italian song in Goodfellas, George roamed Little Italy humming the tune until someone recognized it (“You can solve every problem in New York if you just walk through it,” he says).
At a time when some in the city were scrubbing Keith Haring murals off subway platforms, George was welcoming every genre, including then-unpopular punk and hip-hop (among the archive’s greatest collection is a trove of punk 45s).
The latest addition to the US Mint's Native American $1 Coin series celebrates "American Indians in the Space Program." The heads-side of the coin still features Sacagawea. From Space.com:
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The reverse features Mary Golda Ross, the first known Native American woman to become an engineer. Ross' work for Lockheed Martin helped advance the Agena rocket stage used by NASA for rendezvous and docking trials during the Gemini program in the 1960s.
The tails-side also depicts an Atlas-Agena rocket lifting off and, peering down from the top of the coin, a spacesuited astronaut. The Mint describes the latter as being "symbolic of Native American astronauts, including John Herrington (mission specialist on the 2002 space shuttle Endeavour visit to the International Space Station)..."
"The nice thing is when something like this comes out, it opens up people to something they did not know about before and people who are really curious will go and learn more about it," explained Herrington. "They might learn about Jerry Elliott [of Osage and Cherokee heritage], who worked in Mission Control during the Apollo program and was part of the team that won the Presidential Medal of Freedom for the return of Apollo 13."
"Or Mary Ross, who was honored with the Ely S. Parker Award, the highest award that AISES, the American Indian Science and Engineering Society, gives out for contributions to math, science and engineering in the native community," he said. "She was one of the original people at Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works."
In the 1960s, when Scientific American copy editor Michael J. Battaglia was 15, he had a chemical romance with the periodic table. In fact, Battaglia was so fascinated by the basic substances of our universe that he tried to collect 'em all (at least the 104 elements that science knew about at the time.) From Scientific American:
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In the 18th and 19th centuries, mudlarks were people who sifted through the mud on the banks of the River Thames to find things of value. Ted Sandling keeps the dream alive. He compiled his curious collection in a book, London in Fragments: A Mudlark's Treasures, and you can also follow his finds on Instagram. If you're inspired to dig yourself, new laws require mudlarkers (and metal detector users) to apply for a permit first and then report any treasures you uncover to the authorities.
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A couple of days ago I found this spoon, standing straight up in the gravel like a very small and shapely monolith. There was a symbolic significance to its position, as if it had been placed with deliberate purpose, probably to do with britishness, and tea. I picked it up (how could one not?) and brought it home for someone who is six and a half years old and likes spoons. The reverse tells all manner of stories to those who can decode the hallmarks (I can’t, but I know a google who can). It’s silver plate, made by James Deakin & Sons in the late nineteenth century and has what sophisticates know as ‘rather a lot of dings’ in the bowl. Also, for some ceremonial reason, most of the silver has come unplated. It’s their Sidney Silver brand, so called because it was made at the Sidney Works on Sidney Street, quite possibly by a man named Sidney.
Author Haruki Murakami is donating a large collection of his personal materials -- original manuscripts, letters, foreign language editions of his books, and 10,000 vinyl records -- to his alma mater Waseda University. From the Japan Times:
The donation “is a very important thing for me, so I thought I should explain clearly” by holding a news conference, said Murakami, 69. “I don’t have any children, and it would cause trouble for me if those materials became scattered or lost..."
Using the donated materials, the university in Tokyo is considering setting up an international study center featuring the author’s works. It also plans to create a space that will resemble a study room with bookshelves and music records...
In the envisioned facility to house his documents, Murakami said if possible he wants to organize a concert using his collection of vinyl records, which total more than 10,000 copies.
Murakami, who opened a cafe for jazz enthusiasts in Tokyo while still a student at Waseda University, has said music is an essential component of his career in literature.
Previously: "A Murakami playlist"
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From Gareth Smit's article in The New Yorker:
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The Berg Collection’s roughly two thousand linear feet of manuscripts and archival materials were donated to the library, in 1940, by two brothers, Henry W. and Albert A. Berg. The brothers, both doctors who lived on the Upper East Side, were avid collectors of English and American literature—and of literary paraphernalia.
The library categorizes these items as “Realia”—objects from everyday life. The Berg Collection includes Charlotte Brontë’s writing desk, with a lock of her hair inside; trinkets belonging to Jack Kerouac, including his harmonicas, and a card upon which he wrote “blood” in his own blood; typewriters belonging to S. J. Perelman and Paul Metcalf; Mark Twain’s pen and wire-rimmed glasses; Vladimir Nabokov’s butterfly drawings; and the death masks of the poets James Merrill and E. E. Cummings.
Although the Berg Collection is intended to cater to researchers, curators are always keeping an eye out for items that complement the existing archive. Virginia Woolf’s cane may be of little interest to scholars, but it’s an important artifact that was likely the last thing she used before her death.
The Treasures in the Trash Museum in East Harlem is at turns delightful and sad. Curator Nelson Molina is a city sanitation worker with a nice eye and ear for hidden garbage gems. The whole museum demonstrates how utterly wasteful humans are. Read the rest
Boing Boing pal Adam Savage (MythBusters, Tested) tours the incredible prop collection of Peter Jackson, producer of The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, District 9, and the forthcoming The Adventures of Tintin: Prisoners of the Sun. One of his favorite pieces? An original Hal 9000 faceplate! That is quite the wunderkammer, Mr. Jackson! (Tested)
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There is literally nothing in the world that isn't made cooler by being displayed in a bell-jar, and the addition of a diffused white LED base to the traditional jar in the Suck UK jar is a genius move that is obvious in retrospect. Read the rest
Collectors Weekly has a great gallery and profile of uranium-infused glassware from the early 20th century. They ask experts: is it safe, and why does it glow under UV light? Read the rest
What construction crews could learn from your high school science class, and more great earth science videos.
Ossian Brown was a member of the dark, magickal electronic music group Coil and is currently in Cyclobe, a duo with his partner Stephen Thrower. Ossian is a strange attractor. Weird things find him. Like his exquisite collection of antique vernacular photographs of Halloweens past. Brown compiled his favorites of the freaky found photos, all dating between 1875 and 1955, into a gorgeous book titled Haunted Air.
After viewing the photos, filmmaker David Lynch said, "I was somewhere else. I thought I was someplace but now I didn't know what place. I seemed to be inside foreign worlds where there was some kind of troubling camaraderie -- as if a haunting joke was known to everyone but me and yet faintly I knew it too."
Last year, we featured selections from Haunted Air. Now is a lovely time to take another peek.
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