Friday, May 22, 2009

Bedknobs & Escutcheons

I have an internship with a historic foundation this summer and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I get to go on mini field trips several times a week to see the coolest historic buildings (our office is housed in one right along a beautiful harbor!). I feel very lucky to get to work with this organization.

My first thought when I was presented a box full of historic hardware on my first day was: Wow, this is so awesome! My second thought was: Wow, I know absolutely NOTHING about historic hardware. My task was to come up with an itemized list of everything in the box, down to each door knob and rim lock keeper (yeah, it took a while to figure out that one), and also include a comparable price for each item.

So, in addition to finding the names of these items, I also had to make an educated guess as to how much they are worth. Thank heaven for the Internet! I honestly don't know how I would have done it otherwise...actually, I do know how: I would have had to go talk to someone knowledgeable about the subject. What a novel idea. I'm not one to shy away from talking to people, but the Internet definitely made things easier. I don't know, maybe Miss Price and the gang could have helped me out.

It's suffice to say that once I got the hang of prowling around antique hardware sites (and bugging my co-workers to make them play "Name that thing!"), I really enjoyed myself. I even learned words like "escutcheon" - which is another word for a key hole cover (see picture below). I am finished with the inventory. Although I wouldn't go so far as to say that I would like a hardware historian to look too closely at it, I'm proud with what I came up with.

Artifacts, while extremely interesting, are not necessarily my main area of interest. I am really excited about re-vamping a house museum tour to be more geared toward children and teenagers. I have a background in education, so I hope to develop this project into a possible thesis. That decision will impact my entire second year of grad school. Wish me luck!

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