July 2004 Issue

   Compiled by Mike McLeod...This month Mike McLeod takes a look at antique samplers, quilts, “American Idol’s” William Hung, mangles and crystal radios. Mike, who lives with his family near Atlanta, has written about a broad range of antiques and collectibles – from Sumida pottery to Gutenburg Bible pages. Readers who would like to share interesting websites with Mike may contact him via email at mikemcl@mindspring.com .

Antique Samplers

        In centuries passed, young women and girls were often sent to schools or academies to learn how to make samplers. Today, these hand-works of art are catching the eyes of many collectors. An 1826 sampler from Maryland in its original frame sold on eBay recently for $9,388.

            Samplings.com is a commercial site with some very beautiful and expensive samplers for sale. On this site at http://www.samplings.com/samplers/beadwork_1843.html there are links to photos of about 70 samplers from the 1600s to the 1800s. (The list is on the right side of the page.) They are impressive.

            The site explains, “Like other forms of material culture, samplers are products of a particular society and thus reflect attitudes, expectations, and changes within that society. Samplers are also works of art that not only please modern eyes, but tell us what was considered aesthetically pleasing in the past. More importantly, these examples of plain and decorative needlework illuminate the lives of people often overlooked in written history: the girls and women who lived during the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries.”             Great hand work.



        Quilts are another beautiful example of handwork. The sum total of my woeful lack of experience with vintage quilts is from seeing the ones my grandmother made, which I only remember as being old and faded. That is why I was happily surprised by these websites with their bright, colorful and dramatic old quilts.

            Antiquequilts.com features about 300 quilts. Thequiltgallery.com has 13 pages of quilts (click on “Antique Quilts” on the homepage) that will amaze you. Almost as bright and beautiful as the bright pinks, blues, reds and greens of the quilts are their titles: Cactus Basket quilt, Drunkard’s Path Variation quilt, Spider Web quilt, Hidden Stars quilt, Rob Peter To Pay Paul quilt, and so on.

            Both sites are dominated by quilts from the 1800s and early 1900s. If you are a quilter or a collector, these are a couple of sites to be seen.


William Hung (“She Bang, She Bang”)

         You knew it had to happen, and it did. William Hung, one of the worst contestants ever to compete on “American Idol” has a webpage. There, you can buy William Hung merchandise, read his fan mail, watch videos of his “performance,” download a William Hung screensaver and see photos of young women who want to marry him.

            I guess it is good that for once, the underdog has gained fame and notoriety.

Mrs. Mangles

       Ever seen a mangle? If you are old enough (or nearly old enough) to shop at the grocery store on Tuesdays and get a 10% senior citizens’ discount, you have seen a mangle. But we don’t call them mangles here in the U.S. A “mangle” is a British term for a wringer for squeezing water out of wet laundry.

            Nancy Alford, or as she calls herself on her website, “Mrs. Mangles,” has quite a collection of these old labor-saving devices from the 1800s and 1900s. Nancy is a collector living in Australia. Here is her story:

            “A few short years ago I was browsing in a local department store. In one of the displays there was this unusual object made of cast iron. It had two wooden rollers on the top and a large spring. On the side was a wheel with a handle. I did not know what it was, so I asked my mother. She told me it was a ‘mangle.’

            “Well, we searched high and low in all the local antique shops. We rang antique shops all over the state, and we traveled near and far. We would go anywhere on the rumor of a mangle, only to be disappointed time and time again. We would drive for miles in search for a mangle. We had very many wild goose chases in our hunt. A lot of the time, we would come across a mangle, but it would be in such poor condition.

            “It started then. My husband Graham asked me what I would like for our approaching 16th wedding anniversary. Sixteen years of marriage, quite a milestone, I thought. What was it? Paper, tin, maybe precious metals? No, sixteen years was Mangle year. Yes, that is what I wanted that would be special — a mangle.”

            Like a true collector, Nancy’s collection grew over the years to the point where she and her husband had to build a new house to hold it — and their four daughters. They called it, “Mangleten.” Check out the website of a devoted collector.


Crystal Radios

           If you yearn for the old days when you could build a radio yourself, Scott’s Crystal Radio’s webpage will make you nostalgic. In addition to photos of his collection of 1920s radios (which start about halfway down the page), there is a much larger collection of vintage headphones. Scott has radios, headphones, transformers and 1920s radio parts for sale and instructions on how to build your own crystal radio or one-tube radio. That should get your circuits charged.

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