Tuesday, October 11, 2011

An Antiquing Weekend -- Old Photos, Laudanum, and Scary Food

Every October, Rick and I celebrate our anniversary (which is actually later this month) with a weekend at a bed-and-breakfast. Last year, I wrote this post about our stay at Mercersburg Inn in Pennsylvania. We loved it so much, we decided to stay there again. So after dropping off Zack at his grandparents, we dove into some heavy-duty antiquing.

When Rick and I go hunting for old things, it's less about acquiring and more about looking. We have the best conversations about what we see -- what year is that from, wonder who wore that, and the occasional hushed "What IS that thing?" That was the case when we found a pair of Victorian shoes -- but for bound feet. I tried to get a photo of them through the glass case but it's probably just as well that the photo didn't turn out.

I didn't find any cameras this time, nor typewriters (although I did find this beauty last hunting trip, and forgot to show you...)

However, I DID find a Gregg Writer, which was a magazine for secretaries, stenographers, and typists. Not only is it cool because it's old, but it's cool for the typewriter ads, the shorthand list of minerals with chemical formulas (who knew?), and the shorthand crossword puzzle.

All I can say is, I'm glad the schools quit teaching shorthand. It looks like I was writing while riding in the car and then fell asleep with my pencil still on the paper while we hit bumps in the road.

Cabinet cards and old photographs for some reason really weird out my husband, but I love them, and he was super-patient with me when I'd start digging through a box of them. Speaking of cabinet cards and old photos, please check out my most recent book review -- the book centers around old photos and includes a bunch of odd ones from various collections. The strangest photo I found was of a woman with only one arm, but I didn't buy that one.

I did find a series of photos, apparently from the same man. I hope to write a short story around them because they're too cool a find to just let them lie in a drawer somewhere. The photos are of post-war Japan, and what struck me at first was a soldier walking through his barracks. Later, I found this photo of him...

...and I knew I had to buy all seventeen of the photos that went with it. Stay tuned for that story.

I also found this neat bit of history -- an end-of-school momento album. It has the boy's face on the front (but don't all these way-back-when teens look like grownups?) and the class list inside.

I love old tins, particularly little ones. I found this plate of tins but just took their photo...

How about that "El Vampire" Bug Killer?

Then I found some tins and a little milk glass jar and brought them home with me. Oh, and a tiny wooden vial full of pencil lead.

Then I fell into the mother lode of tools. I know all jewelry people out there would have stopped and clutched their hearts and taken a step back with me at the sight of all the pliers, cutters, and what not, no matter that they were new, used, or old....

When was it we all started owning more tools than our husbands?

I found the obligatory jars of buttons, but left them for someone else... I'm looking strictly for mother-of-pearl buttons now.

And then this random iron grate that for some reason spoke to me. See those S's in the corners? I have no idea what I would have done with this had I bought it, so I took a picture.

The next pieces are for my vintage medical "stuff" collection. When I say "stuff", I don't mean I'll be dragging home a vintage gurney anytime soon -- just the cool tins and bottles and occasional paper ephemera I run across. For instance, this (to me) amazing find.

It's a very, very old bottle that held arnica and laudanum. A rare find and I got a killer price for it because there was a small crack on the back.

Why this spoke to me is because I am a historical fiction nut. In these books, laudanum is used all the time to treat what ails you. Laudanum, however, can kill you, too. It contains almost ALL of the opium alkaloids, including morphine and codeine. Until the early 20th century, it was even prescribed without a prescription.

I didn't buy this old bottle, but thought it was interesting to see the label still partially attached. I have a number of apothecary bottles but had never seen one with a label this old. I don't know about you, but the label is a bit creepy looking -- even if it was brand new, it would still look scary to me as I poured out what would have to a nasty-tasting spoonful of yuck.

One of my favorite things I actually bought is this advertising card. Rick and I laughed quite a lot about what amounts to a snake-oil salesman's vows of "Ye are HEALED!". I told Rick all I needed was a dose of whatever this guy was shilling on Victorian QVC and I'd never have a headache again! As you can see, not only did it cure a toothache (and will again!), but cured a bad back, a crooked limb, and a cough. Oh, and further down the card, it says asthma and frost bite.

And a cough. Let's not forget the cough.

I had to admire the metal toys from Back in the Day. I remember I got a metal dollhouse for Christmas and promptly cut my finger on it. Safety be damned! But this is a pretty little toy stove, isn't it? Just watch yourself on that door, there...

Some things I can understand why they were saved. Some, I can only assume came from a hoarder's house. I mean .....

BUT --- some were "collectible", he said, with race car driver photos on them. OK then.

Then there were the more nebulous "antiques", most revolving around food. Or should I say, "food" with air apostrophes?

I mean, what exactly does one DO to make a beef stew "certified", and what in the world would an uncertified stew look like?

Oh, Allison. Whatever did we do to you? You need PhotoShop, or at the very least, cooking lessons.

Oh, cooking lessons, you say?

Holy hell.

Not pork.
Not beef.
Not even spam.

(PS -- If you like to laugh and/or cringe at
poorly photographed vintage cookbooks, click here.)

After hours of looking at this and that, we headed off to the B&B. We stayed in a new room this year, the Marie Claire.

Dinner -- divine. Featherbed -- heaven. Shower that scalded you when someone flushed the toilet? Amusing now. Not so much then.

Monday we picked up the kidlet, who had taught the dog how to sit and stay and had taken her for walks up and down the mountain and now wants a dog really, really badly.

And now we start our week on Tuesday!

Thanks for traveling with me!


Lori Anderson creates jewelry for her web site, Lori Anderson Designs, and wrote the blog An Artist's Year Off. She's also a contributor to Art Bead Scene and is the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party.


  1. What a wonderful post, i love all your treasures

  2. What a fun getaway! I wish my hubby enjoyed antiquing, but he is most impatient in that area. I need a friend who shares the same appreciation for stained photos, crusty metal doodads, and shapely old bottles.....

  3. Lori, it sounds as though you and your husband had a wonderful and relaxing weekend treasure hunting. Antique stores hold amazing and mysterious items and always fun places to go visit.

  4. so very cool! i love the pic of the young man sitting to the side of the table... and the laudanum bottle as well... so many great items... and i had to laugh at the tool comment... my family knows not to bother with clothes or anything else for me - i have a tee shirt and jeans uniform that serves me well... they ask me if i need tools - (and doesn't one always?!) i just hope that one of my kids learns how to use some of them...

  5. Sounds like you had a fantastic time - I love seeing all your photos.
    "Way to go" Zack for training the dog - it isn't an easy task, and requires a lot of patience.

  6. I feel like as if you are taking me with you where ever you are ☺ - your stories are breathtaking, amazing and interesting and this time I had to smile bright ... becauuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuse our anniversary is also in october lol.

    xxox Manuela

  7. I just fell in love with that pink stove.

  8. Oh, man, I'm with you. I'd have a BALL digging thru all that old stuff! Just that it's so OLD! And, I get to HOLD IT! (not to mention the ideas of what to do with them all!)

  9. Lovely (early) anniversary weekend! My husband and I celebrate our 30th this coming year (if I don't put the pillow over his face in the middle of the night). We've never gone away, I think this is the year to go away and celebrate!

  10. Such a delightful trip into the past. I swear I thought there were more ways to cook meat!

  11. Lori, what interesting finds!! I enjoy reading labels on old medicine bottle and find old cookbooks quite amusing as well. Thanks for taking us on a trip with you - it's so fun to peruse these antiques without having to leave the house! ;-)

  12. Thanks for sharing your weekend. Happy Anniversary! You got to get Zack a doggy companion.

  13. My father owns a medical clinic out in the country. It's been there since the 1950's or so. When we would play outside, we would often find cast off glass bottles from the medicines they used way back when. They were the neatest little bottles of all colors. Wish I had kept some of them. Although it does sound strange to think that glass bottles were just thrown out over the bank. What were they thinking, right??

    Glad you had a chance to get away and relax!

  14. Love your treasures, but especially love the shorthand!! I was always intrigued with my momma's high school book and I did take it in high school and in college as I majored in Business Education. By the time I started teaching they no longer taught it, but I tell ya it certainly came in handy for taking notes in all my classes! If memory serves me correctly, my highest was about 180 words per minute! It was fun! And . . . I could transcribe it. Really something to toot my horn about, huh?!? :/

  15. Gorgeous pics lady! Love it all :)

  16. Ahh!! You photographed so many awesome things!! I would LOVE it if our antique stores here had such cool stuff! I can't wait to hear your story about the soldier!

  17. Happy Anniversary Lori. I have truly enjoyed, with some laughter, all these photos and your wonderful descriptions. Looks like a fabulous weekend. A puppy in your future? Zack does look very content. Blissful week dear...

  18. I loved reading about your adventures! You must have enjoyed yourself quite a bit...It makes me want to plan a weekend of antiquing and exploring! Thank you so much for sharing this!


  19. Anonymous10:28 PM

    I enjoyed your post. I love to dig for treasures at antique shops.

  20. "Food" stuffs scare me a little, like the can of beef stew or the one of the spaghetti. The drugs also scare me, too!! And to think people could buy them so easily... but it's one of those things that fascinate me, too. The old bottles intrigue me.

    And I had a metal play kitchen growing up! It wasn't pink, though, it was Rainbow Brite. Haven't thought about that kitchen in years!

  21. Oh my, the pictures are wonderful. Some make me laugh, pause, cringe. That grate would make a great jewelry display for your booth, but not if it weighs 100 pounds. Thanks for sharing your trip. I would go treasure diving with you anytime.

  22. What a wonderful weekend you had! Happy Anniversary! I enjoyed the virtual antiquing, need to go do some of my own , it's been awhile. Everytime I hear laudunum all I can think of is Wyatt Earp's first wife who seemed to be addicted to it! Funny! So much used to be available over the counter, now we can't even get a legal decongestant!

  23. awwww. it looks like the dog really really NEEDS a little boy too! ;)

    I picked up a set of cookbooks at an estate sale last week and I was reading aloud to Mike telling him all of the different recipes for all the different parts of the animal that it seems we no longer eat. I find them really fascinating!

  24. Thanks for taking us on your trip! I felt like I was right there!

  25. what a fun morning i just had reading your post! thanks for taking us along on your adventure!

  26. Oh I just love the cookbook link!!! Bahahahaha ...and I had that same doll house...and the same cut!!! Sounds like a lovely weekend!

  27. love your photos..and the one of the kidlett is wonderful

  28. Lori, I think you and I would enjoy treasure hunting together very much, I love your photos!! I would have totally bought that grate, especially with that dangly thing (a pull cord?) hanging from it!! Happy Anniversay!!

  29. What a great weekend! such great finds! Happy Anniversary month!!

  30. Sounds like a fantastic weekend :) I cannot wait to see the story you come up with to go with that set of pictures... what an intriguing and fabulous find!


  31. Anonymous10:32 AM

    What a cool weekend! Thanks for taking us with you. I can't imagine having to learn biochemical names in shorthand. Poor souls! ;)

  32. What a fun post! I really want that pink stove.

  33. Thanks for taking us along on your antiquing trip!!! I highly recommend a dog for Alex- a small rat terrier would be his friend for life!! we had labs for year and loved every blessed bit of them but they are BIG dogs!!! Rat terriers are small and so very loyal and love to snuggle!!!!
    The label on that old bottle is so cool but yeas creepy !! i would have snatched up the laudenum one as well- great find!!!

  34. Anonymous1:41 PM

    Love it! You found some seriously cool stuff whilst antiquing!

  35. What a fun post!
    Oh my - the tools!!!!

  36. What a treasure trove! For some reason I like the old tins best, and oh yes the iron grate! I think there's a lot of potential for that! Patsy from

  37. I feel like I had a fun trip too, and I never left my chair!

  38. Lori,

    My mother is a master at shorthand. It's really beautiful in her hand and completely unintelligible to me.

    Happy Anniversary!


  39. Felt like I was there with you ~ great place! I've been digging in an old dump on our farm and have found some very old medicine bottles too ~ Now that it's cooling off and the snakes are going to be hiding, I'll start back up...looking for hidden treasures ~

  40. Wow. I'm fascinated by the photos of the soldier in Japan. I can't wait until you post your story!


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