Category: DeeDee Wood

The legend of the Robert the Doll

“Robert the Doll” lives in Key West, Fla. Innocent looking with his sailor suit and toy bear, Robert is said to wreak havoc on anyone that takes his photo or chides him in any way. Hundreds of letters are sent to Robert, begging for forgiveness, as visitors’ lives fall apart after crossing the infamous doll. His history is an interesting one, and the haunting even more so. Robert the Doll started out his life as a gift to a lonely boy. The doll was given to Robert Eugene Otto (known as “Gene” to family and friends), who lived in Key West, Fla. The doll was German, made by the Steiff Company, and was purchased by Gene’s grandfather while he was on a trip to Germany in 1904, and given to young Gene as a birthday gift. The doll wore the same little sailor suit that the young boy liked to wear, and the doll and the child became inseparable. The Ottos had servants who would be cleaning the upper floors where the young boy’s room was located, and would swear they would hear conversations in different voices and tones coming out of the bedroom, only to find the child and the doll were completely alone in the room. Sometimes at night, the parents would find young Robert Eugene screaming and crying, furniture upended and his room a mess. As...

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Dresden porcelain: German excellence

Dresden porcelain is recognized in the antiques industry as the hallmark of good taste and fine German porcelain manufacturing. German hard-paste porcelain was produced in the Meissen factory, so Dresden is also known as Meissen, and it began very early, in 1710 in Dresden/Saxony, present day Germany. The Chinese developed a product called porcelain that the Europeans desperately wanted to copy. Known for the hardness of a rock and the beauty of a shell, manufacturers could not figure out how, indeed, it was made. The secret of porcelain, the ultimate ingredient being kaolin, was discovered and copied by alchemists and physicists in 1707, opening up the market for Germans to produce a hard-paste porcelain, ripe for the hungry European markets In the early 1700s, the Dresden factory made dinnerware, figures and more, and the demand and flow of business began to pick up. Dresden-decorated porcelain was popular, and in 1731, a sculptor named Johann Joachim Kandler developed a decoration called onion pattern, which was widely copied and admired. The porcelain has a mark of crossed blue swords for antique identification purposes. We take porcelain and the secret that it holds for granted in modern times, but in the early 1700s, Dresden dominated European porcelain manufacturing until about 1756, when it was surpassed by the famous Sevres French porcelain, known for very high standards of excellence in production and quality....

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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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