June 2010

A paint mill ground the pigment for oil based paint. This item usually resides in the Hardware Store here at Charlton Park and was discovered by volunteer John Foley. The pigment would be placed in the reservoir and ground by turning the handle. The ground pigments would be pressed out of the sides and scraped by the scraper, causing the pigments to fall in a regulated place. The mill was created by J.A. Berrill & Sons, New York, c. 1860 when the patent was granted (to see patent, click here). Berrill took an early model and improved it by keeping the pigment from flying out at high speeds. J.A. Berrill made his home, and had his factory, in Waterville, New York. It was an important industry in Waterville, and employed many in the town. A similar paint mill was listed for sale in the 1895 Montgomery Ward & Co. Spring & Summer catalog for $7.50!
Other Sources:
http://bit.ly/aylonc – Patent on Google

New Haven Clock Co.: 8 Day & 30 Hour

During the Second Industrial Revolution in the 1800s, American manufacturing boomed.  Alongside this growth, the country increased international trade, especially with large European companies.  One east coast American business that benefited from this period is the New Haven Clock Company. 

Founded by Hiram Camp in 1853 in New Haven, Connecticut, the company’s purpose was to supply clock movements to the English big house, Jerome Manufacturing Company; then the largest clock making company in the world.  New Haven Clock Company entered the clock making business at just the right time and became profitably strong at a young age.  They played their cards right in the United States and in Europe.  Within twenty years (1860-1880) they doubled their work force and the number of clocks they produced yearly reached over 1 million dollars worth; which is over 20 million dollars in present day economy.

Though the company was profitable, directors and upper management did not manage their finances well.  The New Haven Clock Company suffered severe financial hardship, even played with bankruptcy on and off for decades.  To stay afloat the company continued to change directors and production paths and supported both world war efforts.  Throughout the 1950s the company scraped by but couldn’t keep it together and the doors finally closed for good in 1960.

The New Haven Clock Company timepieces can still be found through antique shops, on-line clock collectors and possibly in an old family member’s home.  Charlton Park is lucky to have quite a few of these popular, well designed and unique pieces in its collection, as well as other American and European timepieces. Currently, the clocks are stored in a less than ideal place with poor ventilation and not enough space.  As the Park intern, this part of the collection has become my project. 

Marsh & Gilbert Co., Farmington, CT (Before)

One by one the clocks are being inventoried, cleaned, documented, photos taken and properly cataloged in the museums computer system.  Thankfully room has been made and I’ve been working on designing a more proper storage space for these timepieces.  Better lighting, ventilation, climate control and preventions from further damage to these artifacts are top on my list!  Cleaning and researching has been the most fun and rewarding, mostly because I can immediately see the good I’m doing.  Using a special museum dust cloth and vacuum, I am removing dust and dirt very carefully, making sure not to scratch any surfaces.  Once I feel like the majority of the surface is cleaned I then apply a museum-quality wax that not only cleans deeper and adds a nice shine, but hydrates and helps protect the exterior surface from further damage.  Glass surfaces are cleaned using ammonia-free products, which are applied to a cloth then gently rubbed on (if you do this at home, do not apply chemicals to paintings on glass!). 

Marsh & Gilbert Co., Farmington, CT (After)

I truly feel like I’m restoring beauty and dignity to each clock, its designer, maker and past owners.  I also feel like I’m setting the clocks up for future success in their new space and in future exhibits.  If you are interested in antique clocks the Internet, your local library and the sources listed below are a great place to get started!

By Sarah L Hayes (Charlton Park intern)

Sources and addition information:

This edition’s artifact concerns a Civil War era photo. The members of First Michigan Engineers and Mechanics Co. C are seated on Lookout Mountain in northern Georgia. Wright L. Coffinberry served as Captain of Co. C. James Cutler of Hastings, who enlisted in Marshall on Dec. 24, 1863, sent this photo home to his wife Julia Cutler. Co.C apparently took a cannon to the top of the mountain but could not lower the muzzle enough to fire on the Confederates.

In a letter dated Sept. 12, 1864, Cutler writes his wife, “…as for me i am tough and well as you will see by this picture that i send in this letter” and lists those seated on the rock. Starting at the point: Captain [Coffinberry?], William Roberts (Rutland Twp., MI); George Dannat (Hastings, MI); Wiset [?]; Andrew Beers (Irving Twp., MI); Thomas Heney (Rutland Twp., MI); Abraham H. Drake (Ionia County, MI); back of him Jefferson Turner (Hastings, MI); Charles Wooding (G. Rapids, MI), James Woodruff; Oscar Young; James Cutler; Russ Allen [?]; all of Hastings, MI. Cutler was stationed on Lookout Mountain in April of 1864. Co. C built a steam mill, cut their own lumber and built “homes” for themselves during their rainy stay.

Charlton Park’s Civil War exhibition, “Test of a Nation: Honor of a County”, is on display in the stone Museum Building.

This album belonged to Ella Ferris Peck or her mother Sallie Estell Ferris. The donor said that one of these women knew George M. Cohan (1878-1942), which explains why the album contains photographic prints of various performers active at the turn-of-the-century. Cohan was an entertainer, playwright, actor and director active prior to WWI. Cohan’s parents had been traveling Vaudeville performers, so he was introduced to show business at an early age. He had his first major broadway hit with Little Johnny Jones (1905), wrote 50 plays and musicals, and published over 1,500 original songs. Many of his plays were made into films.

At the left you will see some examples from this album. Emma Hyers was an African American actress, who performed around the Midwest prior to 1900. Bessie Ludlow was also an actress. Other pictures show generals from the Civil War and political cartoons and Bayard Taylor, who was an American travel author and poet. And other actresses, such as Jane Coombs, and Louise Henderson. Most of these prints come from the studios of well-known New York photographers. This is a prize of the Charlton Park collection and we are lucky to have it.

 Some Sources: