Saturday, 11 November 2017

Cool Music Box!

We received an amazing musical artefact recently from the family of Earle and Hazel Armstrong of Barnesville. Earle had acquired this Concert Roller Organ from his cousin Robert Floyd in the late 1930’s or early 40’s. Robert needed a battery for his car, and Earle had always admired the Roller Organ, so in exchange for the money for a new battery Robert sold the organ to his cousin.

The copyright for the Gem Concert Roller Organ was July 14, 1885, but ours was not manufactured until June 3, 1903 by the Autophone Company of Ithaca, New York.  These hand-cranked roller organs were affordable and could be played by anyone, with a sound similar to that of parlour organs of the time.  

Roller Organs operated by placing a music roller (cob) into the mechanism and cranking the handle. The songs are encoded onto the wooden cobs (so-called because of their resemblance to corn cobs) using metal pins and staples. Pins are used for short notes, and staples of varying lengths for longer notes. This donation includes 39 cobs of popular music and hymns. Some examples are My Old Kentucky Home, Bring Back my Bonnie to Me, Abide With Me, Onward Christian Soldiers and Old Folks at Home. If you want to see a similar one in operation there are several on youtube, such as at

In the words of Confucius “Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.” Roller Organs like this one brought music (and pleasure) to many homes in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  

Monday, 6 November 2017

A Lovely Day for a Drive?

For the car buffs, one of the cool artifacts in our collection is a New Brunswick license plate # 1221, This was registered to W. F. Lutz, Sussex, N. B. on a Ford Touring, 22.5 horsepower, gasoline engine, green touring car with top and windshield. Serial # 5992, registered May 20, 1913. New Brunswick started requiring car owners to register their vehicles in 1906, but until 1911 they had to provide their own licence plates for display so this would be one of the earlier provincially issued plates. For those with an interest in old plates, there are a number of online resources which you may enjoy such as

Saturday, 28 October 2017

A-tisket a-tasket
A green and yellow basket

Well, actually, more a little wooden box, but it is about the size of a basket. I have often looked at this piece and admired it. Made of softwood, it is very light, and with the removable handled top it would be ideal for storing many things but particularly something you might want to take along with you. Perhaps it was used for picnics, or to carry light tools or take along toys or crafts for the children when you went out. The top is held in place by one of the protruding wooden pieces that rotates to allow the top to slide out of the slot around the piece at the opposite end (took me a while to figure out how to get it open!). Both the box and the cover are decorated with punched designs of fans and zig-zags. It is one of the pieces in our collection for which we have no history, having been catalogued in 1975 as being of unknown source. If anyone should have information on it we would love to know more.

Saturday, 21 October 2017


We have some amazing textiles at the Museum. At the moment only a few are on display, such as this amazing black and gold beaded cape. It is designed in a three layer arrangement from the neck down, each having its own beaded border and tied at the neck with ribbon and two hooks. Beside it is a top hat, plus the hat box in which it would have been stored. During the 19th century the top hat became symbolic of urban respectability and was widely adopted when Prince Albert began wearing them in 1850. 
It is easy to forget that in earlier times there was considerable wealth in Kings County and such lovely items were worn by local ladies and gentleman during the 19th and early 20th century.
SPOILER ALERT: Next season we hope to exhibit a wider selection from our textile collection.

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Sewing Egg/Darning Egg or Flea Trap?

This cool little carved egg is beautifully designed and unscrews in the middle. It is perforated with numerous small holes which are part of the design work. There are two possibilities as to what it was used for, and perhaps both are correct. It can be inserted into the toe of a sock to allow for darning or under your article of clothing to repair a tear. Alternatively, since it is hollow and unscrews, it may have been used by ladies as a flea trap. A little drop of blood mixed with honey or beeswax would be baited in the egg and then hung around the neck under the clothing or placed in the bed. The fleas would be attracted, climb in and become trapped in the sticky honey or wax.
Regardless this is a beautifully designed little item that was carved from a coquilla nut . . . an example of the beautiful work done for something that was a simple work-a-day item during Victorian times.

If you want to learn more, here is a great article on coqilla nuts:

Saturday, 16 September 2017

We May Not Want to Admit It, but it will soon be Autumn in Hampton!

Did you know Hampton has it's own tartan? It was created in 1961 by The Hampton Weavers, a group organized in 1956. It is called Autumn in Hampton and is made up of the colours of the fall hillsides . . . brown, gold, white, green and orange. Through the hard work of Hampton's David Keirstead, whose mother was one of the members of the Hampton Weavers group, we have several items that were "reproduced" using the Autumn in Hampton recipe. The colours vary slightly from the original, but are lovely regardless.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

It's the Details that Make the Difference

It's the Details that Make the Difference

This doesn't look like much . . .  just a wooden box about 11" by 6" in size.

But when you lift off the lid, you see this:

Variously known as a butter press, butter mold, butter stamp or butter print, these little wooden boxes transformed your block of butter into a work of art for presentation on your table. The "box" portion is open on both top and bottom and would be filled with butter, then "pressed" with the top, transferring the design to the top of the butter. This particular press has 8 separately carved panels held in place by brass screws: blackberry, pear, raspberry, sheaf of wheat, apples, strawberry, grapes and a leaf. Such care to even the smallest details of life!