Posts Tagged ‘19th century Maine’

What is it? A poke!


This week’s mystery object is a yoke used for a small animal, usually a goose. The term “poke” is usually used to distinguish it from the device used by larger animals. It is used to prevent an animal from leaping over or breaking through fences.

Great guesses!


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This week’s mystery object stumped everyone! The u-shaped steel rod fit under the rim of a pie pan (a mid-late 19th century light weight metal one) to lift it out of the oven.

I will admit: I am not sure if I would trust one of my pies with it!


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Last week’s mystery object was a glass fishing float, also known as a net buoy. These were first used in the mid 1800s in Norway by fishermen to help keep their nets and droplines afloat. Their popularity quickly spread as glass was a cheap way of supporting fishing nets and offered lots of buoyancy. By the early 1900s Japan became the main producer. In fact, most floats from this period are green because the glass used was mainly from recycled sake bottles which were typically this color. Cork and aluminum floats began to replaced glass floats for their greater durability and ease of attachment by the 1920s. Today most fishermen use foamed plastic floats.

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These name plates once adorned the lids of coffins. Initially a sign of wealth, they became more commonplace in the mid 19th century. As they became more common a trend of removing them from the coffins by loved ones prior to burial became popular.

The second example, belonging to Olive Hutchins, was given to the Museums of Old York by home owners who found it while digging in their garden! Neither Olive’s  nor her husband’s gravesite is known, although the family did own that particular piece of property throughout the 1800s. This has lead to speculation that the garden might be located in the old Hutchins family cemetery.




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This little silver plated spoon was used for scooping bonbons. This highly collectible “Coronation” flatware pattern was introduced by Community Plate in 1936 to commemorate the crowning of Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor, formerly King Edward VIII of England, who abdicated the throne for his true love, Wallis Simpson.


(The backside of the bonbon spoon is stamped “Community Plate”)

Oneida was founded by John Humphrey Noyes in upstate New York in 1848. The Oneida Community began producing silver-plated flatware in 1899 using the “Community Plate” mark. The founding of Oneida is unique in that it began as a commune. The Oneida community shared work and property equally with all of its members, producing silverware, animal traps and silk items. Beliefs included the sinlessness of its members and the practice of “complex marriage” (you will have to check that out on your own!) The commune failed in 1879, but the business-side continued. Currently known as Oneida Ltd., it is one the largest marketers of stainless steel flatware in the United States.

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Sugar cutters or nippers were important food processing tools. The sharp blades were used to break off pieces of compressed sugar cones before being pounded by a mortar into finer pieces. Sugar loaves were replaced by granulated sugar in the late 19th century, rendering nippers obsolete.

Sometimes heavier cutters were set into a wooden base which allowed for greater leverage and improved safety.

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Often associated with logging and lumbering activities, spruce gum boxes, also known as gum books, were the work of the Maine lumberman, made deep in the woods for a loved one. They were usually made from a solid piece of wood, often with a sliding top and bottom. Most gum boxes date from 1850-1920, after which improved transportation allowed lumbermen to return home more frequently and thereby ended this distinctive Maine folk art.

Traditionally spruce gum was harvested by woodsmen: lumbermen, trappers, and even professional “gummers.” Spruce gum comes from sap that is hardened into resin. While it can be collected from any species of spruce, it mostly comes from red and black spruce. It takes about two to four years to cure before it can be chewed, depending on the size.

In the 1800s, an entire industry developed around spruce gum. Maine was the largest and probably first producer of gum in the Northeast with nearly two dozen companies emerging between 1848-1910.

Hope you had fun guessing!

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