Nov 10, 2011

Collecting Typewriters

In this electronically dominate world there may exist a person who does not know what it feels like to press down on the keys of a typewriter, to hear that delicious click-clack, and to literally see their words spread across a page. I feel sorry for that person. Typewriters are iconic, cathartic, and stirring. There are many writers who insist a masterpiece must by touch typed on a typewriter. I think it's the click-clack that gets me. 

Before the birth of typewriter style we are most familiar with, there were many patents and early models. One being the Hanson Writing Ball, which was the first commercially produced typing machine. The first successful commercial typewriter was the Sholes and Gidden  type-writer, created in 1868. By 1910, the manual typewriter had reached a standard design. Manufactures took some liberties, but the bones of the machine were the same. 

If you are interested in collecting antique typewriters, I am told, you must begin by learning some important terms. For example: keyboard machines vs. index machines, inking types, typebars, planten and understrokes. This site offers aid with terminology. The Early Typewriter Collectors Association puts out a quarterly called ETCetera. It is in full color and filled with resources, stories and photographs. 

If it's links your looking for The Percy Smock Corner is full of web resources, book lists, and organizations. You will even find  a link for typewriters that are displayed publicly, like the History Center in Olmsted County (Rochester MN) having a number of old machines including a #3 Corona. And check out this page for links, facts, preservation and even typewriter styled font for your computer.  The Early Office Museum has a concise history of the typewriter with photographs and the former editors of ETC... (the typewriter quarterly) maintain this site which offers a web museum and database. 

Don't miss this interview, from Collectors Weekly, with Etc. publisher, Richard Polt. He discusses the history, how he began his collection, some prized pieces and the future of typewriters. On another site Martin Howard shares some of his most honored antique typewriters in "Confessions Of A Antique Typewriter Collector."


Thank you etsy sellers for the use of your amazing photographs. All the typewriters you see here are available for purchase.

Did You Like Our "Stranger Exchange?"

Did you have fun playing the Stranger Exchange
I totally stole the idea from Danni and her adorable blog: Oh, hello friend: you are loved
She did a package exchange project in 2009 and 2010. And here we go again:

This is so much fun. Check it out if you think you might be interested.

Nov 9, 2011

Collecting Ephemera: Notebook, Ledger and Composition Pages

I love ephemera!! I have boxes and files and piles of many different kinds. All the years I lived in the Bay Area, I made a great attempt to make it to the annual San Francisco Antiquarian Books & Paper show. (Which coincidentally would happen, without fail, during my birthday week prompting me to make unnecessary purchases in my honor.)  I have been wanting to write about ephemera since I began The Collect Collective. Ephemera is so vast I couldn't possibly talk about it all in one essay, so I've decided to start with something simple; writing papers: notebook, ledger and composition pages. 

For those of you out there who are unfamiliar with the term "Ephemera," it refers to paper items usually ment to be discarded but since become of interest and in some cases value. Popular ephemera collectables included; labels, greeting cards, sheet music, valentines, menues, postcards etc. 

The majority of people collecting notebook, ledger and composition pages, I assume, are using them in altered art and book making. Though there are a few, I imagine, collecting these papers for their nostalgic value. I remember that feeling, as a kid, of opening up my school supplies days before school actually started. I would line them up on the floor, touching each piece. Then pack and re-pack my backpack and trapper keeper, becoming more and more excited for the new adventures ahead of me. 

If you are interested in learning more about collecting ephemera a great place to begin is The Ephemera Society Of America. Their informaion is vast. They have meetings, an ephemera news and journal, membership and mentoring programs. They even have a facebook! And of course, the library would be another good resource to check out. This would certainly be a topic any librarian would love to dive into! Since "Ephemara" is so vast I hesitate to point you in the direction of any specific books at this time. I would suggest that you whittle down your speicific ephemera genre and then start your book title search, which a friendly librarin would be ever so helpful. 

Ephemera will come up again, you can mark my words! Let us know if you have a specific ephemera topic that you would like to discuss! Or if you have a collection of ephemera that you want to share. 
Thank you etsy sellers for your gorgeous photographs.

Nov 8, 2011

The Difference Between A Collection And A Set

I can often be found cruising around Etsy looking at items labeled as "Instant Collection." Often times I come across things listed as a "Collection" that are clearly a "Set." I figured it was time to set (pun intended) the record strait; What defines a collection? The line is fine and sometimes even I can't tell the difference.

A Set, in this regard (the word set has a multitude of meanings) is defined as "A group of things of the same kind that belong together," or more specifically; "a number of objects belonging together, often forming a unit or having certain features or characteristics in common." Example: Marv has a nice set of tools.

A Collection is defined as "the act or process of collecting,"  "something that is collected; a group of objects or an amount of material accumulated in one location, especially for some purpose or as a result of some process." Examples being: a stamp collection, a collection of unclaimed hats in the checkroom, a collection of books on Churchill.   

It still seems pretty vague, but what I gather from these dictionary definitions is that a set is usually made of items that befit each other, are born together or made compatible. The lable "collection" has more wiggle room. A collection is almost more meaningful than a set, as a collection was intentional. 
It's almost like brothers and sisters....(try to follow me here) brothers and sisters did not ask to be part of one anothers universe, but by happenstance they are in fact a "set" of siblings. But friends are a collection...we set out to create through a process of elimination a core assemblage of  mates. Please don't get me wrong here, brothers and sisters are just as meaningful as friends...and sometimes more so if your brothers and sisters are your friends. I might have taken this in the wrong direction, but it feels right.

I hope this cleared up some of the mystery. Feel free to share any comments or ideas. What does a collection mean to you?

Thank you to all the wonderful etsy sellers out there for the use of their stellar sets and collections which are all available for purchase.

Nov 7, 2011

Collecting Vintage Letterpress Equipment

I love old letterpress equipment. When I was a little girl my dad gave me a beautiful wooden toolbox that had a front panel that folded down and slid below to display rows of drawers. The purpose of the drawers was to hold letters for printing. I adored it. Over the years it held many different things, barbie accessories, beads, and later magazine cut outs. Often I come across letterpress type when I'm trolling around antique stores and estate sales. I've always like the number 8, so I've picked up a few 8's along the way. 

The art of letterpress dates back to the mid 1400's. It's invention is credited to German born Johannes Gutenberg. His creation used hand carved blocks set together to create words and sentences and pages. Then they printed a relief print, and were taken apart and set again to make the next page.  Gutenberg's printing system literally changed the way history was written. 

If you are interested in collecting vintage letterpress first off The British Printing Society and The American Printing History Association are member operated organizations and would offer tons of resources. The Early Office Museum had a large variety of online exhibits to view, plus good history. And this blog had a few years worth of various postings about letterpress.

As per usual, I would advise you to check your local library for books about printing history, if you have any questions that need answers. A friendly librarian could point you to the right stack. had some helpful titles; "The Little Book Of Letterpress" and "A Practical Treatise Upon Modern Printing Machinery And Letterpress Printing." 

Also, if you are interested in learning the art of letterpress printing there are a lot of schools out there that have brought it back into their curriculum (a resurgence that began in the 90's). If you are looking for such schools, that would for sure be something that your friendly librarian could help you with (as many of these said school's printing classes are connected with their libraries).

Thank you etsy sellers for the use of your beautiful photographs. All the fine letterpress paraphernalia you see here is available for purchase.

Nov 3, 2011

I Collect: Colleen

I'm super excited to bring you the next instalment of the "I Collect Interview!" I'm happy to introduce you to the hilarious, beautiful and creative Colleen. She maintains the wonderfully entertaining blog Fresh Vintage; with lovely photographs, great vintage finds and ideas and lots of humor. Colleen tells us about her naughty collections and shares pictures with us of the more behaved ones.

My Name is: Colleen

I collect:  Sex education books and naughty vintage gag gifts

Its been going on for: About five years

I look for additions to my collections at: Yard sales, thrift stores, flea markets, and eBay. And occasionally, my nice blog readers send me gifts for my collection. I've found that the best source for sex ed books are at the estate sales of medical doctors, especially gynecologists. It doesn't happen very often, but it is like hitting the jackpot when it does!
When I find one I feel: Like a junkie who just got a hit! I know - bad analogy, especially since I never did crack. But I would imagine that it feels similar.
The star of my collection is: The crocheted peter heater that was owned by my husband's grandfather. It is from the 1930's and has a poem attached.  That is the piece that got me started collecting gag gifts. I also have some rare sex ed pamphlets and books that have some very interesting graphics!

The oddest piece in my collection is:  A book called "The Intimate Side of a Woman's Life". It just contains an insane amount of bad advice (which was considered good advice at the time).
A way my collection has gotten me into a tight situation: I have two kids: 7 & 9. I have to hide my collection of books and gag gifts from them. I haven't been caught yet, but I am sure that day is coming soon.


Some other things I like to collect are: Vintage globes, white matte pottery, apple crate labels from Yakima, WA - my husband's home town.

My family and friends think my collection is: Entertaining and funny. We've been known to sit around with a glass of wine on my deck and read passages from my sex ed books. Always makes for an enlightening evening!

Thank you so much Colleen!! 


Nov 2, 2011

Collecting Dried Flowers

I have a friend. She loves dried flowers. A number of years ago, she was transitioning between homes and called to ask if I could hold on to her dried flower collection for her. I said "Sure! Bring it on by." It ended up being a whole car load! To be fair, we both worked in a flower shop. 

I like dried flowers. I've kept some special ones. I've held on to a few specifically to decorate during the holidays. At times I've had more dried flowers than anyone should have. And at other moments I've had no dried flowers at all. Comme ci comme ca. 

Not all flowers can be dried. This site offers a really comprehensive list of flowers (including their Latin names) that are dry able. Some of my favorites are; Craspedia, Amaranth, Poppy Pods, Strawflower, Safflower, and Eucalyptus. I love dried flower wreaths during the holidays instead of your typical evergreens; Bittersweet in the fall and Rosehips for Christmas. 

Drying flowers at home doesn't have to be that difficult. The easiest method is air drying. Prep your stems by removing any access foliage-petals and leaves. Rubber band bunches, if you'd like them to stay grouped. (It is important to use a rubber band and not string as the rubber band will change in size as your stems shrink in the drying process.) Find a dark area with good circulation (keep flowers out of the sun and they will maintain some of their original coloring). Hang them upside down. An easy trick would be tying them to a hanger in a closet, or a tack on a wall in a dark corner. Keep them there for at least 3 weeks-until completely dry. Some folks recommend a spritz of hairspray for added protection (after they are dried, of course) but I can only imagine this would make them tacky and prone to dust. 

Now what? So you've dried your favorite flowers, to keep them around forever. What are you supposed to do with them now? The photographs seen above are all great examples (and they are available for purchase on Etsy.) You could make potpourri-which is a good holiday gift idea. Or you could make a non-holiday-specific wreath. What about making scented satches? A little bunch of lavender in a linen closet would be divine. You could make this great woodland frame. It would be perfect for a cabin. Or press and preserved herbs for a beautiful presentation. But you could always just simply set them out in your faviort vase. 

If you are interested in learning more about collecting, preserving and displaying dried flowers, I suggest you begin here at Dried Flowers Galore a great reference site. Speaking as someone who has worked with flowers; it is always helpful to ask for advice from your local flower shop. They can tell you which species will dry better than others, how they look when dried and how long it takes. I found a few titles on Amazon that may be helpful; "Preserved Flowers: Pressed and Dried," "Basic Dried Flower Arranging: All The Skills And Tools You Need To Get Started," "Fresh Ideas In Dried Flowers," and "Harvesting, Preserving & Arranging Dried Flowers." 

Just for fun check out this gorgeous photography book by Jane Feldman Gross, featuring lovely images of dried blooms; "Afterlife Of Flowers."

Thank you Etsy sellers for the use of your beautiful photographs.