Category: DeeDee Wood

Exploring history of the phonograph

The year was 1857 and French inventor, Edouard-Leon Scott de Martinville, invented the first “sound” machine that future inventors would take ideas from and expand upon for better machines. Scott de Martinville invented something called the phonautograph, which recorded sound waves from a horn, with a wire mechanism scratching the wave patterns onto a type of disc that was painted with lamp black. It was used to identify wave patterns, not sound, visually. This idea spurred along many inventors, and ultimately created what we know now as the phonograph, a machine that changed the way we listen to and record music, as well as the concept of the telephone and other machines that have roots in sound and recordings. Thomas Edison had always been a curious sort, even as a boy. As an inventor, he used some of Scott de Martinville’s sound recording ideas and began his first crude machines he called phonographs. Edison was working on telegraphy and wanted a better way to transmit a telegraph message. He wanted to capture Morse code on spools of paper and play back the sound somehow, and extend this idea to telephones. He wanted to capture the human voice on a recording device, so he looked to the telegraph, studied how to expand upon this idea, and began to experiment. Scott de Martinville’s concept of a machine that recorded sound came...

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Evaluating antiques using UV light

Ultraviolet light, or UV, also known as “black lights” are used to evaluate the hidden world of antiques. Materials fluoresce under UV lighting, producing light that the human eye cannot see, making the unseen seen. One can tell age, repairs jobs, authenticity and fakes using this technique. Wavelengths of light can all be seeing using modern tools in the antique world. Black lights fluoresce using light wave lengths, or energy if you will. Materials in the antiques you are examining react in different ways when hit with the waves. Sometimes the energy makes glow, and other times they appear...

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How to identify wood types

You come across a beautiful table out in an antique store. It has a nice, dark hue to it, and it matches your chairs perfectly, but what type of wood is it? How do you determine how much it is worth and if it is even real wood? There are many ways to look at a piece of furniture and determine from what type of wood it is made, or if it is even real wood at all. The first thing to do when you look at a piece of furniture that you are investigating is to look at...

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Motion Lamps

(Editor’s note: DeeDee Wood is the store manager at Tharpe Antiques, in Easton, part of the Talbot Historical Society.) Motion lamps are revolving lamps that have an animated scene going around the shade as the lamp rotates. They were novelties that drew in your attention with movement, scenes, colors and interesting themes. When one sees them in the antiques realm, it brings about that old-fashioned nostalgia from yesteryear. The plug-in lamps consisted of a cylinder with a metal top and base that also had an inside cylinder with a blade that revolved around from heated air, made hot by the light bulb. As heat rose, it made the blades of the miniature turbine spin, causing the “motion.” The motion of the inside cylinder made the scene “move” on the outer cylinder, which had a lithograph, or copied print of a scene on that shade. Companies that made the lamps would say that you could “travel to distant places in your own home; see a forest fire rage or the river cascade over Niagara Falls.” The movement caused scenes to spring to life with flowing water, fire that you could almost hear crackle, moving trains, and the mighty Niagara Falls falling. People were amazed. Some of the major companies that made these lamps were looking for the novelty and interest in a new product. Scene-in-Action of Chicago produced lamps until...

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A history of chandeliers

(Editor’s note: DeeDee Wood is the store manager at Tharpe Antiques, in Easton, part of the Talbot Historical Society.) The word chandelier comes from the Latin/French word “candelabru,” which means candelabra, or a place for candles, in English. Opulence and elegance are synonymous with the great sparkling lights of the rich and famous, but the roots of the candelabra go far deeper, and have origins in the caves of the ancients. Some of the earliest lighting made by humans was discovered in the caves in Lascaux, France, where they used torches in caves so that they could make their ancient pictorial paintings. Archaeologists found a lamp buried in the floor of the cave, with soot still intact. There are examples of many types of oil and grease lamps dating back to 17,000 BC as well, showing that illumination of the night was always a problem to solve for humanity. The ancient Sumerian and Egyptians made molded candles, alabaster and colored glass lamps with wick holes to burn the light bright into the night. Oil lamps were produced for larger use in Egypt, Greece and Rome. Materials such as stone, gold and bronze were used during this time period. Roman lamps were well known for being decorative and purposeful. The Byzantines made what we most closely associate with modern chandeliers during the 6th century, creating candles crudely nailed to a...

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