July 2001

 

This Month


MARVELOUS MECHANICAL MODELS

A PENNY SAVED…

IT MAKES SCENTS

LANDMARKS OF DESIGN


Compiled by Bryan McMullin

 

What follows is a random assortment of art and antiques related websites that we have visited and enjoyed in the last few weeks. Your discoveries and suggestions are always welcome.

 

MARVELOUS MECHANICAL MODELS

http://www.patentmodel.org/index.cfm

Patent models, meticulously detailed miniatures of mechanical inventions that were submitted with patent applications, have become increasingly popular over the past several years. This site, the home of the Rothschild Petersen Patent Model Museum, provides an exceptional introduction to this unusual collecting category. Patent models are miniatures of mechanical inventions that were required to accompany patent applications. As such, they are generally unique and consequently quite rare. The inventions represented can range from the mundane, such as a mousetrap, to the relatively bizarre, such as the mechanical artificial leg represented in this collection.

Although there is an actual patent museum in Cazenovia New York, it is a private home and only available by appointment. The Internet might prove to be the ideal venue for a museum of this sort. So far, only 17 or the 700 models in the collection are available for on-line viewing, which is a shame. The photography is excellent, and the images and information presented about each items makes for a very interesting visit. There is a detailed chronology of the history of the patent model, and a group of articles relating to them to round out the site. Owner Alan Rothschild hopes to establish a full-scale museum in order to make more of the collection available for viewing, but for now, we’d just like to see more of these interesting examples of American ingenuity available on line.

 

  A PENNY SAVED…

http://www.mechanicalbanks.org/

Mechanical banks must be among the most broadly appealing collectibles. No matter where your interests lie, there is something about the animated nature of these banks that seems to appeal to this kid in all of us. This is the site of the Mechanical Bank Collectors of America, and it makes excellent use of the animation potential of the Internet to make it an uncommonly appealing site. Unfortunately, as is so typical of sites like this, the number of items available for viewing is limited, and they are so much fun I wanted to see more.

There is an extensive "scrapbook" covering several decades of published articles relating to mechanical banks, and a listing of auction results that might prove most useful for someone looking to assess a mechanical bank’s market value. A separate section of the site is available only to members. What we wanted to see more of however, were more of these banks in action. The image quality is exceptional, and makes the wait for the pages to open worth it.

 

IT MAKES SCENTS

www.museudelperfum.com

When you think of collecting perfume bottles, you almost certainly think of the enormously popular art deco dresser bottles and the even more popular commercial perfume bottles, both of which provide an extraordinary chronicle of early 20th century design. This well designed on-line museum takes the concept of collecting perfumes to an entirely different level, one that, in true museum tradition, examines the entire history of the chosen topic.

Perfumes or scents of one kind or another have been a part of human culture around the world and throughout history. This virtual museum includes not only the 20th century bottles, which are currently so hot, but all sorts of perfume containers, in all sorts of materials, ranging from ancient Roman Greek and other cultures, to the popular commercial perfumes of the modern era. Whether or not you have a personal interest in perfumes, this site is worth a visit. Despite some minor language problems (some pages were only available in the original Spanish), it is an excellent example of the potential of the virtual museum, and offers something for just about everyone no matter what period of history they are interested in.

 LANDMARKS OF DESIGN

http://www.ci.chi.il.us/Landmarks/


 

 

For those of you with an interest in the evolution of American architecture in the 19th and 20th centuries, this site (actually just the landmarks section of the City of Chicago site) offers a comprehensive look at Chicago architecture, which in turn reflects American architecture as a whole during that time. It is focused on the various Chicago school architects, a number of whom became famous outside of their region, but it also includes an interesting section showing the various styles that were popular during the eras covered. There are hundreds of images, a choice of virtual tours with a variety of themes, and biographies of a number of architects. Certainly worth a visit.