Saturday, April 1, 2017

The Brownies Welcome April

The opening lines of "The Brownies in April" by Palmer Cox
(NCCHP image)
In 1891-92 "Ladies Home Journal" ran a series of illustrated stories about mischievous tiny men called "Brownies" whose purpose in life was essentially to run around having playful adventures. The stories were written and illustrated by Palmer Cox. Noble & Cooley even produced a toy drum featuring a comical image of the Brownie Band (as noted here in a prior blog article about decoupage drums).

It is easy to imagine parents reading the adventures of the Brownies to their children at bedtime. The stories are charming and, well, there weren't a whole lot of options for kids back in 1892. If your parents could read and had time to read you a bedtime story, that was as good as it got.

To view and/or download the full text and illustrations of "The Brownies in April" go to the NCCHP Collections on line site by CLICKING HERE. If you have kids who like bedtime stories it's a pretty fun read that lends itself to as much dramatic interpretation as any parent might want to add!

Noble & Cooley "Brownie Band" decoupage drum panel (NCCHP photo)

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Mystery Rolling Hoop

Recently toy collectors Bill Jones and NCCHP member Bob Watrous shared photos of a rolling hoop in Bill's collection. It bears a strong resemblance to a Noble & Cooley rolling hoop from the same era but we have not located the hoop in our N&C catalog collection. That could be because most catalogs before 1890 were destroyed in the 1889 factory fire and there are gaps in the catalog collection after that.

The hoop has wooden spools (clackers) that slide up and down the hoop's spokes as the wheel turns, making the kind of noise that kids love, and would drive adults up the wall. To add to the din there are metal jingles (aka, clangers) in between the sliding wood clackers. These look a lot like the same jingles ("zills") used in Noble & Cooley tambourines.
Rolling hoop with clackers and jingles (Photo courtesy of Bill Jones)
 
Close-up of clackers and jingles (Photo courtesy of Bill Jones)

Bill's rolling hoop looks like it's in great condition. These toys were not built to have a long life and were easy to damage during the course of play. Few have survived. Here's the similar hoop from the Noble & Cooley catalog:

1901 Noble & Cooley "Giant Rolling Hoop" using additional clackers due to the larger hoop size. This hoop has a smaller diameter hub, perhaps to achieve a longer "throw" for the clackers to travel between the hub and hoop rim,
thus creating more momentum and of course, MORE NOISE!
(Image from the NCCHP collection in the Internet Archives)
If you have a similar rolling hoop or can shed any light on the maker of Bill's hoop (confirm Noble & Cooley or another maker), please drop NCCHP an email at NCCHP.org@gmail.com

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Women Manufacturers of World War I at Springfield Armory

On April 8, 2017 from 2 to 3 PM join Park Ranger Krystal Vezina at the Springfield Armory National Historic Site as she brings to light the fascinating role of women in manufacturing during the era of World War I. The event is FREE. For more information CLICK HERE.

Springfield Armory National Historic Site
One Armory Square 

Springfield, MA 01105 

Phone: (413) 734-8551

Friday, March 17, 2017

Granville Makes CNN!

Granville made the national news this week... for SNOW. 21.5" to be precise. A heavy snowfall for mid-March. For all you Granville snowbirds who flew south for the winter here's what you missed: http://www.cnn.com/2017/03/13/us/northeast-winter-weather/index.html

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Help NCCHP Via AmazonSmile: Special Deal Today

Amazon has just announced a special increased donation of 5% today only for users of AmazonSmile. If you're using Amazon but have yet to sign up for AmazonSmile you have a great opportunity to help NCCHP, especially today while the 5% special donation is available. Long story short, if you use AmazonSmile and designate Noble & Cooley Center for Historic Preservation as your charity of choice, NCCHP will receive a donation equal to 5% of your qualifying purchase, from Amazon. It's a great benefit to NCCHP at no cost to you. If you have Amazon Prime those benefits still apply to your AmazonSmile purchases.

Here's a link that explains more of what and how! CLICK HERE

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Noble & Cooley Decoupage Drums

The recent appearance of an old toy drum on Ebay prompted some informal research into drums made by Noble & Cooley using a "decoupage" technique. This happened to coincide with the discovery of some decoupage drum panels found in the NCCHP archives and identified as being from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition (also known as the 1893 Chicago World's Fair). The image on those drums was very similar to a Rand, McNally "bird's-eye" view of the fair (as always, you can click on any of the images below for a larger version):

World' Columbian Exposition, 1893, Chicago. Image courtesy of Library of Congress.
We have yet to locate records that would explain why this scene was chosen for use on a child's toy drum but one theory is that Noble & Cooley or it's Chicago agent had a display at the Fair and sold the drums on site as souvenirs.

A framed sample of the Columbian Exposition panel as well as others used for decoupage drums has been in the Noble & Cooley office for many (many) years:

Noble & Cooley decoupage drum panel display, est. 1890's. (NCCHP photo)
The label on the back of the framed decoupage panels is from Oscar Rudolph, Nos. 1, 3 and 5 Marion Street, New York City (Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn). This suggests the panels were probably framed for display at Noble & Cooley's sales office at 545 Broadway and possibly at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition:
 
Framer's label (NCCHP photo)
The top two panels relate to the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition:

Noble & Cooley Decoupage Drum Panel: "Landing of Columbus, 1492" (NCCHP photo)
Noble & Cooley Decoupage Drum Panel: "World's Columbian Exposition, 1893" (NCCHP photo)
The middle panel on the left features the "Brownie Band" which is based on books and cartoons created by Palmer Cox (1840-1924). Brownies were mythical tiny men who were infamous for their mischievous behavior. Each Brownie had a unique character represented by the outfit they wore (a little like The Village People):

Noble & Cooley Decoupage Drum Panel: "Brownie Band" (NCCHP photo)
The bottom two panels feature patriotic themes, for which Noble & Cooley had a long tradition:

Noble & Cooley Decoupage Drum Panel: "Battle Scene" (NCCHP photo)
Noble & Cooley Decoupage Drum Panel: Patriotic Theme (NCCHP photo)
The middle panel on the right is the decoupage panel that appears to have been used to make the drum that started this discussion:

Noble & Cooley Decoupage Drum Panel: "Children's Procession" (NCCHP photo)

Decoupage "Ebay Drum" believed to be Noble & Cooley (Photo courtesy of Ebay seller bella1)
This drum also has a distinctive embossing pattern typical of Noble & Cooley drums of the era:

(Photo courtesy of Ebay seller bella1)
Below are images for the Line 20 drum from a Noble & Cooley catalog. These images appeared in known catalogs from the 1890's until about 1901. Most catalogs prior to 1890 were lost in the 1889 Noble & Cooley fire. Line 20 drum production likely began around or prior to 1890 and appears to have been discontinued some time prior to 1905. Note that the drum illustrated in the catalog uses the Brownie Band theme decoupage panel shown in the 1890's framed display:

Noble & Cooley catalog cover, 1890's (NCCHP photo)

Noble & Cooley catalog image for "Brownie Band" decoupage drum (NCCHP / Internet Archives image)


Line 20 drum description (NCCHP / Internet Archives image)
As can be seen in the catalog picture above, the hardware and cord used on both drums appears to be the same (allowing for the variables of the auction drum being many years old and the catalog being in black and white). The catalog description refers to the "embossed lines, flowers, etc." that also appear in the picture of the auction drum. Unfortunately we aren't able to inspect the wood drum in person and there is no makers mark on it, but all signs point to it being a Noble & Cooley drum probably from the 1890's, possibly a bit earlier. We may or may not uncover more details as we continue the Archives Project.

Thanks to NCCHP member Bob Watrous for bringing this interesting drum to NCCHP's attention and to Ebay seller bella1 for permission to use the auction images in this discussion of decoupage drums. If you've read this far you ARE a real historian! For more old Noble & Cooley catalogs and drum images, go to NCCHP's page on the Internet Archives by clicking here.

Please note: The material in this blog is correct to the best of our knowledge. It should not be relied upon for the purpose of placing a value on or making the purchase of property. It is not an endorsement of any seller. Researchers, merchants and hobbyists should always do their own due diligence in determining authenticity, provenance, valuation, and other matters relating to such property.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Granville Dams: Changing Lives and the Town Forever

Granville has a long history of small dams and ponds being constructed to supply power (via waterwheels) to local businesses, and water for agricultural purposes. Some of the ponds were also used for ice harvesting. Many of the small dams were built by and served a specific business, such as Noble & Cooley.

In 1897 events took a dramatic turn in terms of scope and size, when the nearby city of Westfield embarked on projects to create new reservoirs in Granville. This was necessitated by Westfield's rapid growth and need for water.

It's hard to appreciate the amount of land required for not just the reservoir, dam and spillway, but to establish a watershed area surrounding the reservoir. Many hundreds of acres would be needed. The consequence would be that a large number of family farms and businesses would be taken via eminent domain over a period of decades. These families would be faced with a difficult decision: whether to try and re-establish themselves in Granville, or follow the migration to the cities and leave. Either way they would be starting over.

It is reasonable to assume there was not enough land for sale in Granville for all to stay. The reservoir projects were shrinking the amount of land in private hands and what was left depended on finding someone willing to sell. With the industrial revolution in full swing a great many families moved to booming cities like Springfield and Hartford to pursue non-agricultural employment.

In 1998 the Granville Dams, Hampden County Archive Project identified a collection of files that were formerly housed by the Hampden County Engineer’s Office.  These records were transferred to the Hampden Deeds office, where they were digitized for Internet Access by the Register, Donald E Ashe. The collection provides a fascinating and poignant insight into how and when many families lost their land to make way for the reservoir projects.
"Protecting the Homestead"
Photo depicting three young gentlemen posing in presumably mock defiance of the land take-over.
The land surrounding this house was taken over and the family left Granville. The house itself still stands
but will eventually be taken over as part of the watershed area.
The take-over tended to be in phases, with a number of properties being taken over on a given date. Then months or years later another wave of take-overs would follow, until there was sufficient land to begin construction. One can easily imagine neighbors commiserating as these unhappy days approached. In fact properties are still being acquired and the structures on them being removed, a recent example being the Olsen property near the northern intersection of Old Westfield and Bruce Roads.

Former Olsen property (Clark House) on Old Westfield Road, about 2013 (Granville Assessor's Office Photo)

March 2017 NCCHP photo
 
Former Olsen (Clark) property after removal of structures (March 2017 NCCHP photo)
To access the Granville Dams archive project click on the link near the end of this paragraph. The first pages of the collection deal with a number of small dams. At the end of those pages you will come to the 1898 and later content, including land transfer deeds and property maps associated with the eminent domain take-overs. This is invaluable information if you are researching family histories from this period of time. CLICK HERE to view the Granville Dams archives. Note that you flip the pages by clicking on each page image in the collection.

Recently the Granville Reservoir has been off line due to the recent water shortage. For more CLICK HERE.