6/22/21

Post-Pandemic Update: Stuff I've Been Into

My Chinese knock-off of a brass Victorian mantle clock, cherub intact

So it looks like this pandemic is finally winding down. I've been vaccinated (Moderna) and after a few achy bedridden days, have emerged victorious over the 'Rona. For the last few weeks I've been enjoying going to public places without wearing a mask, and find it interesting that many people insist on wearing them, despite CDC guidelines now giving fully vaccinated people the green light to go naked-faced. Either folks no longer care to listen to the CDC, or they're not vaccinated. Neither of those possibilities are good, but I'm in the clear, so if they want to mask up for the rest of time, great! Not only do I get to go mask-free, but the air around me is that much cleaner. 

I'm off grape juice. After a few months of imbibing in nonalcoholic wine, I found the lining in my throat was beginning to wear, to the point where I suffered soreness for days on end. As of late April I am fully healed, and will no longer be pursuing grape beverages. I know, I know. Imparting this important news to you wasn't easy, but I thought it better to put it in writing, rather than tell you personally. Takes the sting out of it, at least for me. But on the bright side, I've been antiquing again. Not on eBay. In actual antique stores. Which brings us to my recent foray to Portland, Connecticut, and a truly wonderful little place called Never Say Goodbye. 

One sunny Saturday I was sitting on the computer perusing eBay when a buddy texts me. He and his girlfriend were at this "cool place," just slumming. The guy who owned it was swell, there were all sorts of interesting toiletries from the 1940s, and look at all these Messenger pictures! Colognes, talcs, makeup and soaps, hair dressings, oils, you name it. It was "new old stock." Apparently an old department store in West Haven closed recently and discovered in the furthest back corner of their basement two dozen boxes of things they never got around to putting on shelves. Nothing out of the ordinary, except everything's over seventy years old. I'll cut to the chase on the toiletries - I checked 'em out and they were great, but the only item that really tickled my fancy were the big full tins of tooth powder from the late 1950s. Here's the can I bought, looking as new as the day it rolled out of its New England factory:



It took me a minute to get myself together and hit the road. Forty minutes later I was talking to Bruce, the mad genius who decided to turn a hulking warehouse-sized garage next to his house into an anything-goes antique bonanza. It was a terrific afternoon. I really admire people like Bruce. He isn't in it for the money, which is rare and enviable. The prices on his items were reasonable, with some actually unreasonable for being too cheap. Case in point: the eighty dollar Crosa clock I bought for ten dollars, which Bruce had marked down from thirty. 

When it comes to the Crosa clock, your guess is as good as mine. From what little there is about Crosa on the internet, I'm gleaning that they're mostly made in China, although I see some comments here and there from people claiming theirs are made in Germany and Japan. One guy bought a variation of my clock for fifty cents. Mine has no markings on it, no "Made In" sticker, so I've no idea. It appears from pictures that Crosa's knock-off clock designs spanned a few eras, mostly eighteenth century French Louis XIV (rather Rococo), to nineteenth century English Queen Victoria (very Victorian). Mine isn't as waterskis-over-the-shark as a florid Rococo piece, but it's definitely in that Dickensian tradition of ringing in Ebenezer Scrooge's Christmas ghosts.  

How have I never heard of Crosa clocks before? They're incredible. They're made of hard rubber that looks indistinguishable from tarnished brass or cast iron. They weigh almost the same as cast iron. They're pretty well made, with intricate detailing, and I'm impressed by how anatomically accurate the sculptural elements are on mine. (Some are better than others.) I find that cheap sculptures are usually awkward in that regard, but this clock at least looks right to me. It keeps perfect time, which is to be expected from a standard quartz movement. I understand these were being made in the 1970s through to around 2000, but past that I'm not sure how far they go. Mine is notable in that the original design has been accidentally modified. There's supposed to be two cherubs, one on top of the clock, the other to its right. Well, looks like someone chipped the second one clean off. If you look closely at the picture above, you can see his little feet still planted to the base, but the rest of his body is nowhere to be found. 

I'm okay with one cherub. If both had survived, I wouldn't have bought it. One cherub is quaint, a flourish of compositional balance, a forgivable acquiescence to sentimentality. Two cherubs is a little too colors-of-the-rainbow, which I'm certainly not against at all - not at all - but it's not like I have to put that out there for houseguests to see on a central timepiece. If you didn't know about the second cherub, you'd never notice that the sculpture is technically "broken." But whatever. It still looks good, especially for a tenner. Now I want another Crosa clock. 

Other things I'm into: Cop videos on youtube. The smell of spring flowers. Women who manage to get through a day without mentioning food. Men who manage to get through a day without saying "Bro" a thousand times. People who think their Robinhood account is trustworthy. Speaking of stock accounts, my Fidelity account holds 167 shares of ACIC, an SPAC that supposedly will merge with Archer Aviation, an electric "air taxi" startup that recently inked a $1 billion deal with United Airlines. Cathie Wood, the new Warren Buffett, has invested significantly in it, and so far I've lost a buttload of money. So here's to hoping ACIC picks up, both literally and figuratively. It would be nice if these WallStreetBets jerks short-squeezed these hedge fund jerks by targeting special purpose acquisition companies. But no, instead they squeeze garbage like GameStop and AMC. I kinda get the GameStop thing, but short-squeezing AMC? Do we really need to buy up loads of a dying movie theater chain, just to spite hedgies that weren't even interested in shorting AMC to begin with? SPACS are begging to be squeezed, they're being shorted into the deepest bowels of the earth, yet nobody bothers with them. It makes little to no cents. For me, anyway. 

I'll close off by saying that my summer plans are up in the air. I have to pay off my student loans in September. If my stock market investment comes through, I'll finally get to put the master bedroom together, and polish off the living room and kitchen. If not, well, the struggle continues. But hey, at least I have you guys, to read my blog, and feed my fragrance obsession. As Trump would say, "I love you. You're very special." 

Too soon? Too soon. 

3 comments:

  1. I regret every item I've carelessly thrown away after departed relatives.

    Old tobacco cans, cheap german clocks, that dirty, old Tandberg cabinet radio (damn it!) ,talcums, motoroil cans, even that slightly rusty Nescafè tinbox in my granddad's garage (inside there was a bottle of Danish Bitter, a strong liquor, hidden from my grandmother's sight and nose. It probably explains his beloved mint candies too...)

    There's a saying over here; Get yourself a barn, store every item you'd otherwise trash and get rich when you're old.

    Maybe I should frame a few masks, and date them?

    Memoriabilia for the next generation; Gramps used this during the Covid War.

    Keep up the hunting, Bryan, and good luck with the stocks.

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  2. Oh, and that Phosfodent tooth powder... Surely it would've been considered dangerous to our health today?

    Cool tin, nonetheless!

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    1. That tooth powder tin is full and I'm sure full of desiccated bug eggs and carcasses. The powder looks fine but who knows. Stuff like this is cool because it looks as new as the day it was made. I appreciate things that survive many decades, but to survive in pristine condition is another thing altogether!

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