books


17
Apr 18

Raise your mug, and look underneath

I went to the library this morning. This is the Herman Wells Library on the IU campus. It’s the main library, there are 10 or 11 others. And inside there are 4.6 million volumes. It’s a big library:

But the book I was after wasn’t among the many millions they keep. So I made use of the interlibrary loan system, which is a wonderful thing. You fill out a form, they find the book you need, wherever it might be, and they send it to your home library. A few days go by and you receive an email: we found your book. And here it was:

That came from the Rutgers University library. It was a reference book, so it couldn’t leave the library, but that’s no problem. I leafed through the book there. I was looking in the book because of this:

That’s the bottom of a mug that my mother-in-law found while she was cleaning up some things. There was a note included that said the mug belonged to a great-great so and so. On the side was the seal of Frankfurt, Germany. And this was the bottom. It was obviously made in Germany and that looked like a maker’s mark and so here we are. The book that Rutgers sent me is the definitive book on ceramic maker’s marks. And while the Internet is awesome, and there are quite a few pages of maker’s mark samples collected online, I haven’t seen that one anywhere yet. But today, I have about 300 pages of logos to go over. And some of this stuff is art.

And if you want something a little more classic:

Anyway, the book was organized by region and by period and also by the style of maker’s mark. It was well done. And this page had something that closely resembles what is on the old mug:

Assuming I have found the right mark, this is a place in Coburg, Germany. A man named Julius Griesbach founded his factory in 1890. This mark was used from approximately 1950 until the factory was bought out by the W. Goebel company, of Rödental, in 1973. Now, the graphics on the mug suggest it is too modern to be considered old — even by American standards of antiquities. (There’s a passage in the book that dives into what old really is in Germany; we don’t think of old like they do.) Since the stamp says Germany, and allowing for the ballpark estimates of the years of usage that the book qualifies, I’m thinking this mug was produced somewhere around 1950. (Afterward it would have said West Germany, surely, right?) Or maybe it is the wrong mark altogether.

Anyway, it was fun leafing through the book. The old logos were neat, and the writing in the text was pretty good, too:

These were some of my favorites:

And if you want crests, we’ve got crests:

What’s it all mean? Was the mystery solved?

I don’t know, and probably not. And there’s likely nothing to it, anyway. What’s one more stoneware mug from a factory that produced them en masse? It isn’t really a mystery worth diving into in that context. More interesting is the great-great so and so that owned the thing. And how did they come to have it? We don’t know any answers down that line of thinking, but the mystery is sometimes the fun part, all its own.


15
Mar 18

Old dusty books

Back to the books! This part of the site is devoted to my grandfather’s books. I never got to know the man, he died a few months after I was born, but over the years, I’ve been given a few of his things. Including a lot of books.

If you click the link above you’ll see the books already uploaded to the site. Right now we’re checking out a few publications he had when he was a bit older, because almost 60-year-old advertisements are always fun. And so here we have the November 1960 Reader’s Digest:

Click the cover and you’ll get today’s installment, which gives us pages five through eight in our quick flip through this book as I attempt to once again make this a weekly feature. Also, check out the main section and you can see a classic literature book, some great science illustrations, some notes, newspaper clippings from his youth and more.

Slow day around these parts. Spring break for students, most of the faculty and staff have ducked out of town too. So it is quiet and sunny everywhere, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Let’s celebrate with song! I heard Lake Street Dive at lunch today and that meant I stayed in the restaurant for three more minutes to enjoy the tune. Now you can enjoy it too:

The TV group made for a cool photo essay feature in an alumni magazine. I don’t think I’ve shared that here yet, but here they are now.


8
Feb 18

A return to the books section

Today I’ll direct your attention to another part of the site. This area is devoted to my grandfather’s books. I never got to know the man, he died a few months after I was born. But he was one of those people that you only hear good things about. And, over the years, I’ve been given a few of his things. Including a lot of books. This is a lot of fun because, in his old text books, you see the man as a boy. If you click the link above you’ll see the books already uploaded to the site.

For the next few installments, I thought we might look at a few publications he had when he was a bit older, because the advertisements are always fun. And so here we have the November 1960 Reader’s Digest:

Click the cover and you’ll get four interesting pages out of that issue today. I figure there’s about a month’s worth of material we can check out. Also, check out the main section and you can see a classic literature book, some great science illustrations, some notes, newspaper clippings from his youth and more.

You remember the Manhattan gold heist in 2016. A guy just reached into an armored truck, grabbed a barrel and walked away. No one reacted. It was broad daylight, middle of the city and who he was and how it did it was a mystery, but for the ubiquitous security camera footage.

Well, that guy got caught and did a little time. And now he’s talking to the media, which makes it a story, which means we talked about it on the podcast. NBC correspondent Chris Pollone returned to the program to tell us all about it. It’s a great episode:

You can hear more episodes of the show and you can also subscribe to the syndicated versions on Google Play or Stitcher. And follow the show on Twitter: @BestStoryShow.

And some student work:

More on Instagram and check me out on Twitter as well.


29
Aug 17

What do you think he’s thinking?

Saw this guy on the way back from lunch today. It was cloudy when we set out, started raining before we got back inside and then waited it out before going back to the office. So the timing was just right and the preying mantis was probably wondering where all that water came from and why it suddenly stopped when we happened by.

Preying Mantis

And what’s the story with these creatures holding these rectangular things so close to my face? Don’t they know I could eat them?

Isn’t it interesting, that when you anthropomorphize a creature you give it some rational thought processes, create the cute barrier between them and us by a valley of not understanding some aspect of our lives like cameras, but then give them the power of understanding human constructs, like shapes?

It’s like a two block walk back to our building. I have time to think a few things through, is what I’m saying.

Hey, here’s a book, let’s look in it!

Reader's Digest

I have a stack of my grandfather’s books. Text books, technical manuals, encyclopedias and old magazines. A little at a time I am adding some of the cooler things to the site. You can see the first few things I found in this 1960 Reader’s Digest here. You can see the entire collection right here.


25
Jul 17

Look at all of this stuff that’s about to happen

Why is this car in a snow globe? What does this have to do with education? And why are those almost-stick figures to the right so interested in it?

You’d think that if you were going to examine the oddity of a car trapped in a glass globe you would do so from a position not within its potential path of travel. Just in case the car slips its parking gear or otherwise becomes sentient and carries a grudge.

But they weren’t thinking about things like that in the 1940s. (Honestly, that there’s a rug beneath it all seems the most unsettling to me. Why a rug? I mean, aside from the artist’s need to establish dimensions here, why does this encased car need a rug? Creepy.) Anyway, the answer to some of those questions are important, no matter the decade. You can find the answers, and a few more textbook photos to glance at here. If this looks new to you, check out all of the best art from this book right here. This, of course, is part of my collection of my grandfather’s books. You can see them all as they go online right here. And I think, now with that book completed I’ll have to change gears. After the texts already assembled on the site we’ll get into serious reads on algebra and biology. And I would worry that I’m just not talented or clever enough to make fun of formulas and geometric shapes and insect macros.

But! I also have a large stack of my grandfather’s old science magazines. We’ll start diving into those next week.

I’ve been dealing with a throat thing. It’s getting better, thanks. Something irritated it on Saturday morning and now it only hurts some of the time. I expect I’ll be healed just in time for something else to happen. Just like this. I’d been fighting some sort of sinus or respiratory thing for about two weeks– probably from the accumulated dust of these books, which I’m going to deal with this weekend, I think — and that finally cleared up in time for this throat issue.

It’ll take more than that to keep a chipper person with plans down, and so here we are. There are lots of things underway. I’m working on a new mobile version of my site. I have the book section going on Tuesdays. Markers on Wenesdays. I have some cool new videos to shoot, beginning next week I hope. I’m thinking about re-working a part of my office soon, too. And I have to start riding my bike more and running again. See? So many things to do … just as soon as I can swallow without wincing.

And now back to making a delicious spaghetti dinner.

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