Posts Tagged ‘object of the week’

Object of the Week

Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

Is this type of postcard you send to good friends, or what? Object #1987.598.2020

The Andover Historical Society counts hundreds of postcards among its collection and although many feature bucolic landscapes, picturesque old homes, or notable landmarks — more than a few are simply humorous and meant to elicit a quick chuckle from the recipient.

This example is postmarked Feb 2, 1913 from Waltham – a city nearly 30 miles south of Andover. With the popularity of stamp collecting  throughout the 20th century, it is not entirely surprising that the postage stamp is missing.

The back side doesn't allow much space... but the sender still made her (or his) message clear!

W. J. Mitchell of 123 Elm Street, Andover was the addressee on this comical piece of mail and the message reads:

Dear Will,
Here is one suggestion for a good time. Mr. H says he will meet you in Boston any time and he will show you a good time. I told I did not think you would care for that kind. Take care of yourself and do get some rest. Drop me a card once in awhile and let me know how Olive is.
Edna (sp?)

The postcard appears to be signed Edna… but could also be Edwin, or Edward. Depending on whether the sender was male or female, certainly puts the message in a different context.

A William J. Mitchell did indeed live at 123 Elm Street in Andover, according to the 1916-1917 Andover and North Andover Mass. Directory. His occupation is noted as ‘baker’ and he appears to conduct his business from the same address as his home. Interestingly, only 2 years later, an Agnes C. is listed as his wife in the 1918-1919 directory. Which begs the question… who is Olive? Is it a nickname for his future wife, or was there an earlier romance?

As with many items at the Historical Society– more research is needed! Check back for more details in coming weeks.


Object of the Week

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

The Andover Historical Society is fortunate to possess a large collection of pewter spanning from the 18th century through the early 20th century. However, many of the pieces, like the the pitcher pictured here, have very little information in their records. What we do know is that it came to us from C.M. Underhill via Mrs. Dodge. It is a 4 footed pitcher measuring 3 3/8″ in height. It bears no makers marks which might help guide in a search to determine the creation date and location. With items like this, we encourage staff, volunteers and members of the community to help us research and share information they might have. We never know where the answers might come from!

Object ID #1964.007

If you recognize any details on this pitcher, post a comment on our blog or facebook and let us know. Perhaps you have the key to the mystery!


Object of the Week

Monday, April 25th, 2011

After a bit of a hiatus… here’s a new object of the week: A Quassia Tonic Cup

Object ID #1950.048.1

This interesting item became part of the Historical Society’s collection from the Estate of William A. Trow in 1950. A wooden cup approximately 4″ tall, it is made of quassia wood and has a label pasted on the side that reads:

Quassia tonic cup G & H.   Pour into the cup  a wine glass or two of water or wine which will partake instantly of the properties of the cup and may be  drank at once.

The item is carved in one piece with a round pedestal base supports a cup with a rounded bottom and straight sides.  The inside of cup is cone shaped and shallow.

Although we don’t know the date for this particular tonic cup, the following description of quassia comes from an 1830 book titled A treatise of the materia medica and therapeutics, Volume 1 By John Eberle


The quassia excelsa is a large tree growing spontaneously in Surinam, from which its wood was first brought into Europe in the year 1761.

The wood of this tree, and more especially that of the root, is of a pure and intensely bitter taste, which, according to Thomson, depends on a peculiar bitter principle to which the name of quassin has been given. According to Crell and Tromsdorff, the quassia contains a greater proportion of gummy matter than of resinous, and hence they infer that the infusion of it in cold water is its best preparation.

The quassia is a very excellent tonic, and may be very usefully employed in all cases where remedies of this kind are indicated. It possesses scarcely any stimulating of heating properties, and is, therefore, peculiarly calculated to improve the digestive powers of the stomach in weak and very irritable subjects. It was at one time a good deal employed in the cure of intermittent. It has, however, not sustained its reputation in this disease, and is now but very seldom employed in its cure. It is said to be very efficacious in suppressing bilious vomitings, attending bilious and putrid fevers. Alibert states that he succeeded in curing a female, by this remedy, of habitual vomiting, which had prevented her for a long time retaining any nourishment on her stomach. He also says, that he has used the quassia with much success in cases of dyspepsia. In the depraved appetite in chlorosis, particularly when there is a disposition to eating dirt, chalk, &c. the quassia is said to be a very efficacious remedy.*

References to quassia tonic cups continue to appear in medical texts as late 1918 and proponents of herbalism were still listing quassia as an effective tonic in the 1960s. While bilious and putrid fevers may have given way the flus, colds, and common infections of the 21st century, many of the tried and true practices of early medicine lasted for centuries. Who knows what other elements of the medicinal trade are tucked away in the Historical Society’s collection!


Object of the Week

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Object Id #1984.123.1c

Milk bottle lid /cap: circular disc with an indented center, where label/writing is.
Label design: Purple rim around center indentation and purple line across diameter. Writing in black.

Gift of James Batchelder

made of waxed cardboard/paper

from from Rolling Acres Farm on Argilla Road, Andover, MA. Farm bought  1928; sold 1952

imprinted: “TEL.122R” in white at top of label; MILK PASTEURIZE” “ROLLING ACRES” in black script ” ANDOVER, MASS.” at bottom in small block letters.

dates to late 1940s


Object of the Week

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Object Id #2001.077.1a-c

This week’s object is a brass and iron banker’s balance scale with a complete set of weights, formerly used by Andover Bank, just down the street from the the Historical Society. The Andover Bank made a gift of the set in 2001. The cast iron base is painted red and gold with handles on each end and two opposing birds with beaks in the middle for exact balance point. The brass scale bar has three calibrations:

  • 0-200 gold
  • 0-100 = 1 oz
  • 0-13 in 1/4″ increments marked “sub”

The two brass pans have rolled lips and are 2″ high and the diameter of each is 13.75″ across. The scales is marked with the tag ” Henry Troemner, Maker, Philadelphia, PA Cap 45 lbs. no 187″

According to the Troemner website, Henry Troemner founded Troemner over 160 years ago in 1838. The company started as a manufacturer of scales and weights in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From the beginning, Troemner earned a reputation for being a manufacturer with high quality standards. In 1856, Troemner received a contract to make scales for the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia. The success of this contract led the company to expand its product line of scales to include bankers’ scales, precision weighing equipment for jewelers, prescription scales for pharmacists, and laboratory scales and balances for chemists.

By the time of Henry Troemner’s death in 1873, the Troemner name had become internationally respected in the commercial world of weights and balances. The company was inherited by Henry Troemner’s sons and remained a family business for three generations until 1955.

The scale and weights shown here are dated 1850-1900, but we hope further research will narrow those dates in the future. Organized in 1834, the Andover Bank was located on Main Street. Eventually purchased by Fleet and then Bank of America, one of Andover’s oldest banking institutions still has a home in downtown Andover. Balance scales were more commonly used at banks in the early 20th century and earlier, when it was more likely customers were carrying non-paper currency such as gold or silver coin. By using a balance scale, a customer (and the bank) could learn the precise weight and value of non-standardized coins or objects.

From the Wikipedia website – The balance scale was the first mass measuring instrument invented, In its traditional form, it consists of a pivoted horizontal lever of equal length arms, called the beam, with a weighing pan, suspended from each arm (which is the origin of the originally plural term “scales” for a weighing instrument). The unknown mass is placed in one pan, and standard masses are added to the other pan until the beam is as close to equilibrium as possible. In precision balances, a slider mass is moved along a graduated scale. The slider position gives a fine correction to the mass value. Although a balance technically compares weights, not masses, the weight of an object is proportional to its mass, and the standard weights used with balances are usually labeled in mass units.

Object ID#2001.077.2a-k

The Andover Bank also gifted this set of Troy weights with the scale.  Troy weight is a system of mass units typically used for the measuring of precious metals. Named for its used in medieval France at the fairs in Troyes, this standardized system has been in use for hundreds of years. The maker of these weights is assumed to Henry Troemner, although the weights are marked with the initials LA and their weight plus troy. The knobbed weights are made of brass in the following weights:

  • 200 oz (2 weights measuring 10cm x 10cm each)
  • 100 oz (1 weight measuring 8cm x 8cm)
  • 50 oz (1 weight measuring 6cm x 6cm)
  • 20 oz (2 weights measuring 5cm x 5cm each)
  • 10 oz (1 weight measuring 4cm x 4cm)
  • 5 oz (1 weight measuring 3cm x 3cm)
  • 2 oz (2 weights measuring 2cm x 2cm each)
  • 1 oz (1 weight measuring 1.5cm x 1.5cm)

It’s hard to imagine the more slow-paced visits to a bank in the past. However, if you needed to have your precious metals weighed and possibly converted to paper currency or deposited to add to your account, wouldn’t you be glad that such precision was being used?


Object of the Week

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

With the launch of our brand-new website, we’ve also had the opportunity to expand our collection of objects online.

Accession #2005.006

Today’s post is all about this bright yellow plastic flyer, emblazoned with Andover Photo’s logo and contact information. According to Historical Society records, this plastic flyer was obtained at a sidewalk bazaar in the early 1980s, probably at Andover Bazaar Days, held annually in June. Now found on Barnard Street, Andover Photo was once located on Park Street. Located in downtown Andover since 1978, Andover Photo has long been a premiere destination for amateur and professional photographers in the Merrimack Valley.

Measuring 9″ across, this plastic flying disc is still in good condition. Donated by Bob and Ellen Marcus, this nostalgic piece of plastic advertising adds a sense of fun to the Society’s 20th century collection. Although, Frisbee™, made by the Wham-O Company, is the name most commonly associated with plastic flyers, this model is stamped inside with ‘HUMPHREY FLYER.’HumphreyLine, Inc. is the company behind our popular plastic toy and according to their website, it has been a leading supplier to the promotional products marketplace for nearly 50 years. (more…)