Baltimore Album Quilt

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1993.61.01 Baltimore Album Quilt
1993.61.01 Baltimore Album Quilt

One of the beauties in our collection is 174 years old, made from colorful fabric, is both decorative and useful, and was created so it could be given away in appreciation for a kind act. Today I offer our Baltimore Album Quilt for your viewing pleasure.

Quilts made with the distinctive Baltimore Album designs were first seen in and around Baltimore, Maryland in the 1840s. Unlike traditional quilts, which were created with fragments of worn out clothes or leftover pieces of fabric, album quilts were made with newly purchased fabric that was readily available in the prosperous port cities. The designs were also different. Instead of a single or repeating pattern, each section or “block” of the quilt contained an intricate appliqué using red and green as the predominant colors. Designs included floral sprays, animals, patriotic and fraternal motifs, people, cornucopias and ships, often with embroidered details. The quilts were large, eye-catching and they showcased the maker’s needlework skills.   Read more

From Point A to Point B: Boat Maneuvers

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Rachel and Marc raising the mast.
Rachel and Marc raising the mast.CF003816

From time to time we have to participate in what I have nicknamed “boat shoving” or moving boats around in our warehouse or International Small Craft Center.    Whether it is for exhibition changes, in order to rig sails, so work  can be done in one section of the building, or because we need to stage photographs, it is a challenging procedure.    This time we were moving several boats in and out of the warehouse so they could be photographed for an upcoming exhibit at another institution.

In the storage areas, most of the larger artifacts are on wheels in order to make it easier to shift things around.  Still, it is challenging and sometimes it can be very dangerous to move them.    Just getting  thousands of pounds of boat from a dead stop to forward movement takes  multiple sets of hands and a lot of muscle power.   Once they are in motion, we need to worry about keeping all the wheels lined up in the same direction, coordinating everyone involved in the move and not running into or over anyone or anything.   Read more

Monitor Madness

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1888 Ironclad Paint advertisement (2013.09.01)
1888 Ironclad Paint advertisement (2013.09.01)

A recent acquisition offers a look at one way the USS Monitor entered into popular culture after the historic Battle at Hampton Roads in March 1862. Following the Civil War, images of the Monitor and variations on the name and style of ship were used for a variety of businesses and products, including telegraph equipment, windmills, cast iron stoves, patent medicines, silver mines, playing cards and produce, just to name a few.

The ironclad ships represented strength and innovation, two qualities many companies wished to highlight about their products.   Read more

Toy Boats You Can’t Play With In The Bathtub

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Double-Turreted Monitor Toy By W.S. Bliss Toy Company
Double-Turreted Monitor, ca. 1883-1900, W.S. Reed Toy Company

Every now and then an absolutely fantastic artifact literally walks through the front door. Usually the owner is looking for more information on it. Occasionally they want an appraisal, although we can’t do that because of our accreditation. And sometimes it turns out to be a donation. In this case, the Museum’s Bronze Door Society made the magic happen.

The Bronze Door Society is a museum membership group whose participants join at a higher level in order to aid us in acquiring artifacts and caring for the ones we already have. They raise funds through special events, and once a year they hold a formal dinner during which they vote on proposals submitted by museum staff members. In the past, these proposals have included conservation projects, scholarships, equipment purchases and artifact acquisitions. In 2011, one of the proposals was the purchase of a particular toy boat.   Read more

A Bit of Round Randomness

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Sanitary Telephone Card from Baltimore Steam Packet Company.  Used to protect against germs while using the phone.  It was also supposed to slightly amplify the voice.
Sanitary Telephone Card from Baltimore Steam Packet Company.  Used to protect against germs while using the phone. It was also supposed to slightly amplify the voice. (2000.14.32)

A bit of randomness today as I offer a selection of round items from our collection.   And a few thoughts on how any museum collection can be inherently random by the very fact that it exists.

All collections can be grouped in some way, and many of our pieces are part of a whole or set of items.  For example, a tea set used onboard a ship.   Let’s say it consists of a teapot, cream pitcher, sugar bowl, two cups, two saucers and two spoons.   Of these items, the teapot may have come in from one source, the pitcher and bowl from another and so on….   Yet each of the items eventually made their way to the museum where they were joined together in our Collections database.   They are now linked together by their association to a particular ship or ship line.   Read more