On Exhibit in September 2014
Walls: “Through My Father’s Eyes: Sherwood Norman’s Photographs of the English Countryside in the 1930s”
I discovered these photographs at the bottom of an old cardboard box which my brother retrieved from his garage a few years ago. The box contained photos of our father and his two older brothers as children in England where they were born to our American grandmother and her English husband. Newly retired, I offered to sift through the contents of the box, organize what was worth saving, and dispose of the rest.
I found a treasure trove. We had never seen images of this young boy, our father, born in 1904. His parents’ marriage ended two years later and our father was raised with no memory of his father, our grandfather. In 1914, our grandmother and her boys were repatriated to the U.S. shortly before the outbreak of World War I.
I found these photographs at the bottom of the box. They had been taken in the early 1930s when my father returned to England for the first and only time. As a young man, he was interested in landscape photography. There are a number of duplicates in the collection in which you can see his playing with lighting and emphasis to bring out clouds and sky effects.
I was about to toss the entire collection when it occurred to me that, taken together, they represented his vision of a country my father remembered only vaguely – a vision of a young photographer seeking an identity in the natural environment of a lost homeland.
Exhibitor: Lucy Norman Charles, his daughter. For information or to purchase, call 518-495-5487
2 Cases: Henry Burden & Iron Works in Troy
sponsored by the Greenbush Historical Society
Henry Burden, and the iron works in Troy, New York, that bore his name, were internationally renowned in the nineteenth century as spectacularly significant in the iron industry. These two exhibits focus on Burden the inventor and on the Burden Iron Works that he operated. As an inventor, Burden specialized in the invention of machinery that could fabricate small iron items that had traditionally been made by hand. His first big success was in the invention of the world’s first machine for making hook-headed railroad spikes. The use of a nearly-identical machine by his competitor Erastus Corning led to the longest-running patent infringement lawsuit in American history, which lasted 28 years and went before the Supreme Court three times. This work was later eclipsed by Burden’s invention of the world’s first horseshoe-making machinery. By the time of the American Civil War, Burden was making a million horseshoes a week, supplying nearly ninety per cent of all the horseshoes for the Union Army. The first exhibit explains this work and includes a rendition of the most famous painting of America’s nineteenth-century inventors, ranking Burden with the likes of Samuel Morse, Samuel Colt, and Cyrus McCormick.
To power his equipment, Burden designed the most powerful vertical water wheel in all of human history. It was the centerpiece of his iron works in the Wynantskill ravine in South Troy, and it was almost certainly the model for the world’s first Ferris wheel in 1893. The second exhibit includes a rare engraving of that wheel, plus the only reliably documented remnant of the Wheel, plus one of only two Burden horseshoe kegs known to have survived.
On Sunday, September 14 at 2:00 pm noted American cultural historian P. Thomas Carroll will deliver an illustrated lecture at the Library about these developments, plus all the other significant industrial heritage in the greater Troy area, arguing that the region was the “Silicon Valley of the nineteenth century.”
1 Case: Vaseline Glass Collection by Eileen Natoli
I’m so delighted to share my collection of Vaseline – Uranium Class which has its roots from my Irish grandmother during 1940-1950, and continued on with my mother since. On the cloudiest days of winter, this beautiful glass will remind you of the promise of spring and summer. In summer, it blazes yellow-green and brightens any room. In fall, it blends with all the amber, yellows, gold, oranges and reds!! A glass for all seasons. Under black lights, “ultra-violet”, stand bank and enjoy it’s brilliant lime greens. Then you’ll know it’s authentic uranium glass. Enjoy!
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