June 21, 2003
Well, well, well. Several of you Alert Accumulators responded to my request
for unusual superstitions and I must say, there were a few doozies out
there. How about this one: "If you go to sleep with wet hair you'll wake up
blind"? Or this one: "If you take a knife with salt on it and slash through
the tail of a hurricane it will cut the storm in two and render it
virtuously harmless"? The difficulty for me, of course, would be to locate
the tail of the hurricane. No, No - the difficulty for me would be to keep
the salt on the knife long enough to slash anything.
FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF THE BRIGHTEST YOU-KNOW-WHAT IN THE MARQUEE
Dr. Hugh Hicks, a Baltimore dentist, was more than just a filler of teeth. He was a collector. And what he collected was - well - a bright idea. It was Thomas Edison's bright idea. Hicks collected lightbulbs. He amassed a 50,000 piece collection, many of which he kept on display in the basement of his office. Hicks had quite an array, from some of Edison's original bulbs, to his pride and joy, a 50,000 watt monster, built on the 50th anniversary of Edison's invention. Now that he's gone and his family would like to clean out the very brightly-lit basement, the collection is moving to the Baltimore Museum of Industry, so everyone can enjoy it. But, probably not as much as he did. Dr. Hicks was known to leave patients in his dentist's chair and run downstairs to view his collection. Actually, I wouldn't mind if my dentist would occasionally leave me in the chair for fifteen minutes or so. I've always wondered what some of those cool pieces of machinery and little doodads are for. Just kidding Dr. Levingart. Please do not hurt me.
REASONS TO BE VERY CAREFUL OF YOUR PENMANSHIP DEPARTMENT
Ah, how those letters we scribbled and sent off in our youth can find their way into the public eye! This week a letter was auctioned off in New York City. It was a letter from Juan Ponce De Leon to King Ferdinand of Spain, written in 1511. The letter was written with ink made of walnut shells and something called oak galls. I don't want to know what that is. The letter is one of only five in the world, and the pre-sale estimate was $300,000 to $500,000. It was written from Puerto Rico, where the explorer reported that their mining operation was coming along, but that no gold had been sent back to the King because there were no furnaces in which to smelt it. De Leon went on to say that "the Caribes have always been bad for this island". Perhaps, Ponce, because they had been happily living there until you showed up. He also requested permission to lead an expedition to "additional islands to the north", which he did, in 1513. On April 3 of that year he found Florida. Elderly people and proprietors of restaurants that feature early bird specials have been grateful ever since.
TALE OF A NOT-SO-WISE INVESTMENT
A rare Jaguar, one of only 350 made, sold in England this week for the equivalent of about $160,000. It had been purchased as an investment and kept locked up inside a carpet shop since 1993. The Jaguar XJ220 has just 111 miles on the clock, and was kept in a special room at the Marlborough Carpets store in Cardiff. Problem is, when it was new, the car cost about $600,000. The Jaguar, with a top speed of 200mph, was up for sale at auction as the main asset of the carpet company, which went under. The car had not been driven since it was purchased. I don't know - a Roth IRA probably would have been a better idea. Well, maybe not.
Off we go, Artie and I, to the country house, to start a brand new
construction project. Busy bees we are. The weather is still gray and cold
and rainy, so we may as well keep occupied indoors. If it's better where
you are, get out there and hit the garage sales, the shops, the shows. Have
a great week, Accumulators, Happy hunting!
© 2003 Judith Katz-Schwartz. All rights reserved.
Antiques and Collectibles Newsletter #221
U.S. Library of Congress
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