Tag Archives: museum

You Have HOW Many Salt & Pepper Shakers?

13 Mar

Just 20,000 or so sets. Is that unusual?

Vegetable Salt & Pepper Shakers

Vegetable Salt & Pepper Shakers Photo Courtesy of the Museum Website

The Salt & Pepper Shaker Museum in Gatlinburg, TN is must-see. Why, exactly?

  1. Because everything else in Gatlinburg in woefully touristy, neon-y, and kitschy.
  2. Because you had no idea that salt and pepper shakers were made in so many styles.
  3. Because there are walls dedicated to themes: fruits, bears, birds, & basic pillars.
  4. Because when someone takes the time to collect 20,000 of something, you should stop in and take a gander. I mean, seriously.
Southern Belle Salt & Pepper Shakers

Southern Belle Salt & Pepper Shakers Photo Courtesy of the Museum Website

One of a Kind
This is the only S&P museum in the world (no surprise, there).

The woman who owns the collection started it because she was amused by how something so simple garners so much attention and personality. Good point.

Many sets were collected by the owner, but once word got out, even more were given as gifts and sent from people around the world. The kindness of strangers: Red Cross aid and Salt & Pepper contributions…

Bee Salt & Pepper Shakers

Bee Salt & Pepper Shakers Photo Courtesy of the Museum Website

Musings on Collecting
A collection says something about the collector; and the culture that inspires it.

Interested in other quirky collections I’ve found on my travels? Check out

What do you collect? Where do you find your pieces? What started the collection?


Build a Ship like in the Olden Days

28 Nov

Mystic Seaport helm

Mystic Seaport in Connecticut may not actually give you the chance to build yourself, but you can get an incredible view of skilled craftsmen who are doing just that. Whether building new boats or repairing and restoring historic vessels, there’s always something going. And the facilities are mind-blowing.

When I visited, the Charles W. Morgan was being restored, the world’s last wooden whale ship. Did you catch that, the WORLD’s last one. Unreal. The name, not too catchy, but then I didn’t pay for it so I may be biased.

The More the Merrier
A sea-worthy ship uses 10+ different kinds of wood, each in specific parts of the construction based on strength, manipulative qualities, how they hold nails, and relationship with water. What else in life do we categorize based on its relationship with water…?

Five Minutes of Planning…Why Bother?
Planning: truly a half-assed job. They started on paper, got partway there and then stopped. Eh, we’re good enough. Then built to scale for the first half of the ship and did geometry problems in the dust on the floor for the rest. Amazing that it worked.

Tune-Up and Tune-Out
A ship lasted four years before it went in for repairs, preferably at the home port. And when its time had come, you “scuttled” the ship – sank it. Hence, “scuttlebutt” for gossip: what floats to the top as something is going down.

What have you found to be interesting while in the state of repair?

Can’t see the slideshow? Click here.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Mystic Seaport, posted with vodpod

Time Waits for No One at the American Clock and Watch Museum

7 Nov

Clock and Watch Museum

Disclaimer: this is a terrible scan of a low resolution photo, that was printed at a small size.

Now, I don’t even wear a watch (haven’t for 15+ years) and yet I was compelled to visit the American Clock and Watch Museum in Bristol, CT.

Why? It’s fascinating to study a collection of a single item; to watch its progression over time (no pun intended in this case) and to see how pop culture influenced the functional in classic and tacky ways.

Plus I have a soft spot for pocket watches. How cool was it when a man would twirl it on the chain and plop it into his vest pocket?! (Of course, I’ve only seen that in movies.)

1,500 clocks and watches comprise this collection. A person could go, umm, cuckoo, if the clocks weren’t all the same time. Fortunately and amazingly they’re synchronized. A feat even Superman doesn’t have on his resume. He leaps tall buildings in a single bound, sure, but can he attune hundreds of clocks? Nope, not that I’ve heard of. You?

The clocks date back to 1680 and the watches to 1595. Shazzam.

The majority of the collection is from pieces made in Connecticut, which was a renowned clock manufacturing area of the 19th century. A clock-maker apprenticed for seven years. About the same as medical school….

In the early days of the railroad, clocks had both local time and RR time. Local time was based on when the sun was overhead at noon. This varied with each town as the train traveled East to West, so there needed to be a consistent RR time to know the train schedule. Clocks with both times lasted about 10 years, and in November 1883 time zones were created using railroad time as the standard.

Do you have a collection of 1,500 anything?
Do you like small museums? What’s been your favorite?
Can you swing a pocket watch into your vest?