December 5, 2003
ANTIQUES AND COLLECTIBLES NEWSLETTER #235
We are having a Nor'Easter here in New York City. It is messy, messy,
messy. I was out slogging around, and now every article of clothing I had
on is hanging in the bathroom, dripping away. It took He Who Is The Light
Of My Life 2 1/2 hours to get home today. And he was 8 miles away.
FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF WELL, YOU JUST TRY HAVING A PICNIC ON THE BAYOU
At the end of the Civil War (or The Northern Aggression as some of my friends in the South still call it), many Northerners pitched in to help the South when it was time for Reconstruction. Cash and necessary household items were sent south on ships. The steamship Republic, which set sail from New York in 1865, bound for New Orleans with 59 passengers and crew and a full cargo hold of items meant to help New Orleans recover from the war, sank in the Atlantic Ocean during a storm. There she lay in 1500 feet of water, in the cold and dark, for 150 years. Until the Odyssey Marine Exploration Company of Tampa, Fla announced it had found the wreck and was going to salvage the cargo. The company has been using robots and sonar to probe the water for 16 years. During that time they've discovered scores of interesting wrecks and thousands of artifacts but never a mother lode like The Republic. They began by bringing up gold and silver coins. Using a robot with mehcanical arms and lights, they're expected to bring up about $150 million in coins. The coins are great, but there are also some other interesting artifacts on the wreck: the ship's bell and hundreds of jars and bottles. "It goes from pepper sauce to pickles to Champagne to mustard to patent medicine," Greg Stemm, the company's director of operations said. "They're in beautiful condition and they tell a beautiful story of what the North thought the South needed after the war." He said he was puzzled about one thing. "It's the beginning of Reconstruction. "In this valuable space, why were they sending down pickles?" Well, Mr. Stem, some of us think a great pickle is one of the necessities of life. No word on whether the Cucumber Growers Of America are planning a picket line at the dock.
ARCHAEOLOGISTS FIND THE DARNEST THINGS DEPARTMENT
You Brits have the greatest things going on at your end of the pond! Archaeologists recently found the fossil of a small sea creature in a 425 million-year-old rock formation. They say it is the oldest male fossil known. The animal was found under some volcanic ash that had mineralized and retained an impresison of its soft body parts. So, how do they know definitively that it was male? Well, they found details that include gills, eyes, and limbs meant for swimming. And a penis. This inspired the archaelogists, who everyone knows all have really, really dirty minds, to name the creature Colymbosathon Ecplecticos, which is Greek for "Amazing Swimmer With Large Penis". Don't expect to be picking any of these up to add to your shell collection the next time you go beachcombing. Now, won't they be embarrassed ten years from now if the organ turns out to be the creature's nose?
MORE FROM THE WORLD OF INTERNATIONAL "ART"
Artist Luis Guerra of Chile is about to mount a new exhibition. It will remain on display for a month. It consists of a 1 cubic meter glass box containing a chair, a TV, a magazine rack, and a dwarf. The dwarf's name is Roberto Avendano, and he will live inside the box for eight hours a day. He will eat his meals in the box, and will be allowed to leave to go to the toilet. The artist says, "Roberto will be allowed to leave to go to the toilet, during which time we will put up a sign saying 'artwork has gone to the toilet'." Oh ha ha. It seems that Mr. Guerra is just as great a comedian as he is an artist. He told Las Ultimas Noticias online: "It might be disturbing for some people but I believe that this is one of the objectives of art." Of course, some of the other objectives of art are enlightenment and beauty, but Mr. Guerra apparently believes that one out of three ain't bad. The exhibit will be at Centro de Arte Experimental Museum in Santiago and is part of a larger exhibition where artists had to create works that could fit in a one-cubic-meter space.
Artie and I will remain cocooned here for the duration of the storm.
Nothing could drag me out there right now. Except on Sunday, when my
cousins Martin and Margie Miller are having a joint 50th birthday party for
themselves. Can't miss that! Have a great week, Accumulators. Stay warm and
dry, if you can. Happy hunting!
© 2003 Judith Katz-Schwartz. All rights reserved.
Antiques and Collectibles Newsletter #235
U.S. Library of Congress
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