Talk amongst yourselves…

by Sally J.

I’m on my way out of town for a much needed family vacation.

While I’m away, I’m leaning on ya’ll to keep the content of The Practical Archivist blog fresh & interesting.

I’m unabashedly stealing from two of my favorite entertainers.

From Mike Myers, I’m stealing the Linda Richman trick of stating a topic an imploring viewers to discuss.

From Chris over at Genealogue, I’m stealing the topic of discussion (which he nicked from a neat-o thread at Mental Floss).

* What’s the oldest thing you own?

* What’s the oldest thing you use regularly?

(OK. I admit it’s not as funny as “The Thigh Master is neither a thigh nor a master. Discuss.” but I do what I can…)


Turns out Higgins of Mental Floss fame looked around his house and had a hard time finding anything from earlier than 1990. (!) He then asks: “Am I living in an unusually modern space, or does everybody pretty much live around new stuff? Have people always had all-new stuff, or is this a recent development? What does it say about my job that all the tools I use for work (computers and such) are all, at most, about three years old?”

What do you say, family archivists? I’m thinking we can smoke the Mental Floss readership in the history department.

How you can help: Leave a note in the comments field about your oldest treasures. Upload a photo (or photos) to Flickr with the tag “oldestpractical” and I’ll feature it in my first post after I return next week. I’ll also reveal my oldest treasures.

One last note: This seems like a good time to run down the rules for the Practical Archivist comments section: No spam. No dissing other people’s treasures.

Thanks for your assistance, dear readers. I’m off to the Chippewa Valley. Woo hoo!
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{ 7 comments }

Sara September 24, 2007 at 1:41 am

My mom has a sewing rocker that I dearly hope to inherit one day. It was given to my great grandmother (the immigrant from Czech) for her wedding by the people who employed her as a maid in Chicago. It’s been used to rock many a child in our family.

Archivalist September 10, 2007 at 3:28 pm

Just found this today, but here goes…

Oldest thing I own? Probably a cast-iron iron dating to the 10s or 20s.

Oldest thing I use? Er…probably my hairbrush that’s almost as old as I am (41). It’s still in great shape, but let’s just say that my wife will be happy when it hits the archival trash box.

Jody September 10, 2007 at 2:27 pm

The oldest thing I own is a Leather-bound Photography Album copyright 1862. I confess to using it to store portraits, but certainly not regularly.

jgr September 3, 2007 at 12:33 pm

The oldest thing I own is probably an early edition of “Agathon” by C.M.Wieland (1766), followed by some 30 books before 1900. Plus our children were baptized in a kind of dress my grandmother was already baptized in (probably around 1895).

Jude September 2, 2007 at 3:29 am

I’m currently storing/using my mother’s roll-top desk and music stand which have been in the family for over a hundred years. I also have a grotesque chocolate glass fish that my great-grandparents received as a wedding present. My favorite older treasure is a wooden hanger from my grandfather’s tailoring shop. It says “Merchant Tailoring W.E. Crook Cleaning and Pressing” It’s from the 1920s when he unsuccessfully ran a tailoring shop. I never knew him since he died in 1936, so that’s why it’s a special treasure. I also have lots of old sheet music. The most useless older object I have is a 1936 grocery store receipt for $1.38 in meat which my packrat grandma kept for years. The same grandma kept one love letter from my grandpa and one from my step-grandpa; I cherish those as well. The oldest things I use regularly are the rolltop desk and the music stand. They’re so well-made they should last quite a while–oh, and my grandma’s piano, which maintains perfect tune for some reason, even though it’s over a hundred years old. Unfortunately, my camera is dead, so I can’t take a photograph.

mary_m August 21, 2007 at 6:03 pm

Wow, I can’t compete with Roman lamps! But I do have and use some semi-old stuff. We have a dresser and buffet (which I use as a dresser) from the 1930s-40s. When we went furniture shopping, I said, “I want stuff that looks like Ralphie’s house in A Christmas Story.”

Brady also has a number of old guitars, including a Rickenbacker lap steel, made in Los Angeles in the 1940s.

And niftily, I have a dress and two rather saucy hats that belonged to a relative of mine in the 1920s. Oh you kid, you!

eckenheimer August 20, 2007 at 6:22 pm

The oldest things I own are a pair of Roman clay lamps, made between about 100BC and 200AD, which I bought 35 years ago in a Copenhagen antique shop. It’s an odd feeling to hold something made by someone living that long ago.

The oldest thing(s) I personally use regularly would be a pair of my old Army boots, which were issued to me in August of 1970 after I won the first ever draft lottery. The last of the three pairs I once had, they’re handy for shoveling snow, digging in the garden, or for other messy tasks requiring sturdy footwear.

We also use an antique German hutch or “Schrank”, built in the 1860s, to hold all our kitchen linens, “good” dishes and silverware, plus miscellaneous crockery and the aforementioned Roman lamps.

Together, my wife and I have about a dozen items made before 1900, if coins, stamps (I used to collect), photographs, and documents aren’t counted.

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