July 19, 2002
Well, well, well - the market's up, the market's down, the market's down, the market's down. Not a pretty picture. If you haven't seen "Road To Perdition", do yourself a favor and go see it. I absolutely can't stand gratuitous violence in a film, but I guarantee that there is not a single drop of blood in this movie that does not advance the plot in some way. There's not a single line in the script that isn't essential to the story either. It's all important. And the 1930s-era artifacts - the cars, the clothes, the furniture and decorations - fabulous! This is a marvelous example of masterfully constructed film, and it is beautifully shot too. Don't miss it!
FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF IF YOU CAN'T BEAT 'EM FIND A WAY TO MAKE MONEY WITH 'EM
The Associated Press reports that the city of Vail, Colorado has begun selling manhole covers and utility covers with the town's logo on them. The covers have the town's "V" logo, and say "Elevation 8150" and "Founded 1962". Police Commander Joe Russell indicated that the Town Manager thought up the idea after a definite trend became noticable: namely, the frequent stealing of manhole and utility covers by souvenir seekers. "We didn't have a problem with people stealing them until we started using customized ones about a year ago," he said. The cast-iron manhole covers, which weigh in at 75 pounds, are priced at $295. The utility covers, which are eight inches in diameter, cost $65. No word on whether these come with an attractive steel-reinforced shopping bag, or you're supposed to just roll them home. Oh, and if you're thinking of "finding' a free version of any of these, forget it. Manhole and utility covers in Vail are now being glued down with a sealant.
PRESIDENTIAL LEGAL PROBLEMS DEPARTMENT, ANCIENT HISTORY DIVISION
So, you think Watergate, Whitewater, Monica and Enron were Presidential headaches? How about an 1814 indictment of "Major Zacharias Taylor" for assault and battery? Taylor went on to become President Zachary Taylor, whose presidency is best remembered for the fact that it was less than 500 days long. The indictment, discovered among old Madison County, Illinois documents, claimed that Taylor and two other men assaulted and battered one Simon Bartrane. But Illinois State Archive historians delved into the story and found that a few days prior, Taylor, leading a force of 340 men bent on destroying an Indian stronghold (this was, after all, in the middle of The War of 1812), had been ambushed and defeated. They found war correspondence that shows that "some French gentlemen from St. Louis" had warned the Sauk Indians that Taylor's forces were on their way north, and that this was probably why he was ambushed. They point to the possibility that Bartrane could have been the "French gentleman". "We may never know if Bartrane was suspected of espionage or simply the victim of a petty quarrel," Vance Martin and Mark Sorensen write in the latest issue of Illinois Heritage Magazine. As if we care.
BRIT DIVERS GIVE UP BOOTY TO THE GOV
Since Artie and I are scuba divers, we're quite familiar with the controversy surrounding items collected from shipwrecks. There are laws. Finders-keepers is a tricky thing. England recently held a "Wreck Amnesty Day", a day on which dives could report the booty they've taken from shipwrecks and sunken aircraft. "This was largely a paper exercise -- the finders will retain their items until such a time that we can identify them and are capable of returning them to their owners," Receiver of Wreck, Sophia Exelby, told Reuters from London on Thursday. I love her job title. So, divers came forward and reported such diverse items as cannonballs, gold and silver jewelry, perfume, champagne, chamber pots (empty, of course) and white lace panties (also empty - of course!). Ms. Exelby said the exercise was also an opportunity to clarify to finders their rights under the law and to record information about sites which could be of archaeological importance. Like the site that yielded the panties. And all we've ever found was old bottles and the occasional meerschaum pipe.
Off to the races, Accumulators! He Who Is The Light Of My Life and I will be on the road for the next week or so. Parties and family visits - we're finally going to meet the newest mamber of the family, Jeffrey Hudson Katz. Please hold down the fort while we're gone. Happy Birthday to the Sweetest Sixteen I know, Mallory J. Cohen. She's not just a pretty face (although she is that!), she's a great person, too. Have a wonderful week, Accumulators. Happy hunting!
© 2002 Judith Katz-Schwartz. All rights reserved.
Antiques and Collectibles Newsletter #187
U.S. Library of Congress
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