Tuesday, July 15, 2014

More neat stuff from "A Dictionary of American Antiques"

Earlier this month I shared a handful of entries from Carl W. Drepperd's A Dictionary of American Antiques. Quirky stuff like eftirtemsin bread, gallybagger and nicknacktory.

The paperback book is just a treasure trove of words, definitions and language history. And so, if only for my own amusement, I wanted to share another batch of entries.

  • Bustanoby: A large globular or spherical bottle.
  • Catmallison: Chimney cupboard to store smoked and dried meats.
  • Daisy cats: Mechanical toys operated by a crank, giving motion to cats in costume.
  • Diorascope: A drawing machine with a scanning screen divided into 20 rectangles by cords. Invented by Simeon DeWitt of Albany, N.Y., c. 1810. [The diorascope is described in Marguerite Holloway's book The Measure of Manhattan: The Tumultuous Career and Surprising Legacy of John Randel, Jr., Cartographer, Surveyor, Inventor.]
  • Fate lady: A spinning top in form of a Turkish lady with wand, whirling on a rouletted disk. When coming to rest, the wand of the figure pointed to a fortune on the wheel. Commercial examples date from early 19th century. Homemade ones date as late as 1880s.
  • Garf angyl: An eel spear.
  • Gayetty paper: Medicated paper binding for minor cuts, wounds and sores. [See Joseph Gayetty]
  • Jack bed: The one-post bed, rails from post to walls. This bed was a corner piece. Date is from 17th century.
  • Magic gold: If you care to make it, here's how (recipe not tested by author). Dissolve gold in aqua regia and let it crystallize. Next dissolve crystals in vinegar. Let crystallize, remove, and dissolve in rain water. Crystallize again and grind to impalpable powder. Put in a hard-boiled egg from which yolk has been removed. Let stand until a "water of gold" or "oil of gold" forms. Paint any silver with this oil and it turns golden.
  • Night crow: Chamber pot, thunder mug; in colonial Virginia, "Oliver's Skull."
  • Poikilographia: The art of penmanship.
  • Witch balls: (1) Hollow spheres of glass in whorls of color, said to have been made by superstitious workers in glasshouses, who used them in homes as "witch warners." From this custom came that of hanging the balls on candle trows at Epiphany, and so came the "Christmas balls." First made in England. (2) Fancy balls of glass, made in various colors and combinations, generally with a vase-form holder, for use as a decorative element and not as a witch warner. These date from 1820s and seem to have been made to 1900s as art novelty glass.

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