Butterpats and Old Newspapers

This weekend, I helped my mom sort through her antique butter-pat collection.  She started collecting them before I was born, and has kept them through the years, hoping they will accrue in value, but mostly admiring their beauty.

We pulled them out once when I was a girl, and from the evidence we saw today, it must have been when I was about ten, in 1984.  I vividly remember doing this, because I accidentally dropped one on our ceramic tile kitchen floor shortly after we had started, and it shattered.  My mom was disappointed and probably angry, while I was mortified that I had broken something she valued so much.  I was in tears, and ran to my room, and in the meantime, the butter-pats were re-wrapped and put away again.

Today, as we pulled out each butter pat, carefully unwrapped it and placed it on the table, she reminisced about when she had purchased them, and we both remarked on their patterns, age, and condition.  Some are Spode, some are Wedgewood, some are Haviland and Limoges.  I noted my favorites, and we looked at the markings, and her previous notes deciphering the codes in the imprints on the back.


We also noted the newspaper they had been wrapped in.  One or two from 1984 (including the Detroit Tigers 1984 Season Schedule, the year they won the World Series), but most from 1974, in the summer before I was born.  There were announcements of concerts by Eric Clapton and the Grateful Dead, advertisements for recently released movies like “The Sting” and “Blazing Saddles,” and other interesting news of the day.

It was a wonderful afternoon for remembering, and an unexpected look into the past. Who knew the material in which she wrapped those butter-pats nearly 40 years ago would be almost as interesting as the butter-pats themselves?


Divorce, Cameras, and Redemption

When the ex and I divorced, it had been a long time coming.  And although there were some explosive fights, once the decision had been made and the papers filed, we were fairly civil and business-like, at least when it came to the process.  OK, this wasn’t always the case, but it was when we came to the division of assets, primarily because we didn’t have much.  I remember going through our DVDs and thinking how ridiculous it was to be sorting them by title, and that they would actually be listed that way in the papers.

But there was something he got in the settlement that I always regretted.  My grandpa on my father’s side loved to take pictures (although his portraits were always off-center), and he had a small collection of brownie cameras.  We had these displayed in our house, and I believe they were given to the ex one holiday by my parents.  Of course, when it came to dividing things up, he took them, almost greedily, probably assuming they were worth some money.  And of course, they were probably promptly sold to a pawn shop.

I don’t have much that belonged to my grandpa.  Pictures, yes, but belongings, no.  I have always felt that those cameras should have stayed with me, especially as I have become more and more of an amateur photographer myself.


Flip forward to this weekend.  The Man, The Boy and I stopped at the flea mall, which is mostly junk, with a few unusual items to look at.  We came across a table where the old man had some interesting stuff for sale.  The Boy noticed the cardboard cigarette ads claiming that Camels would give you “Healthy Nerves!”


“They’re lying!!”  The Boy giggled.  “Cigarettes are NOT healthy!”

The Man noticed an old looking, leather covered box, and engaged the old man in conversation about it.  He explained it was a camera with glass plates.  I didn’t take much notice, but when the old man said he wanted $100 for it, I tuned out.  Later that night, The Man mentioned the camera again, and we started looking online to see if we could find it or something like it.  I didn’t think we had even seen the lens on it, and started to get curious.  I did a little online research, and we decided to go back the next day.

When we returned, his asking price had dropped to $85, and thanks to my groundwork, I now knew how to open it, to see the lens.  And oh, when we opened it up, I fell in love.  It was in great shape, and I also learned in my investigations that they were popular in the 1890s, and early 1900s, coinciding with the birth of my grandpa, the one whose cameras I no longer had…  It all made sense in a rather illogical way.  We negotiated him down a bit, and I got my prize.  Now that I knew the brand name, and model number, I was able to explore a bit more online and realized we got a great deal, but even more importantly, I was able to toss out the regret I’ve lived with for five years.  I know my grandpa would appreciate my find as much as I do.

Ray No.1