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Blowtorch & Fire Grenade

This intriguing object (embossed “model no. 27”) was offered at our last Beehive sale. It is a BLOW TORCH, made on the cusp of the 19th and 20th centuries by Turner Brass Works in Sycamore Illinois, or possibly somewhat later in Chicago when their factory relocated. 

Turner Brass Works produced thousands of blow torches with multiple improvements over the years. Their 1905 catalog touts one as “A pint torch for general light work, constructed with our improved automatic brass pump in the tank. The burner is of heavy bronze, strong and durable. For electricians, painters, etc., we guarantee it to give perfect satisfaction.”

The torches used the same kerosene as household lamps from the 1800s. Since a kerosene flame is not hot enough to melt metal, the torches use a manual pump to pressurize the fuel chamber, forcing the flame into a much hotter jet that shoots straight from the nozzle. The brass button on the vertical stem is the pump, and the black knob on the horizontal stem off the back of the apparatus adjusts the volume and focus of the jet. Later models have a pressure relief cap and a gauge to warn if the tank is approaching a dangerous blow-out.

Turner Brass Works operated for almost 100 years and according to a 1925 issue of The True Republican it was “the world’s largest exclusive manufacturer of blow torches, fire pots and braziers.” The company was founded in 1871 by Edward S. Turner, who was bought out 18 years later by Harrison Rountree. An ardent capitalist and industrialist, the young Mr. Rountree was nevertheless also an enthusiastic member of the more artistic circles of high society and socialized with architect Frank Lloyd Wright, feminist author Kate Chopin, and L. Frank Baum, author of many children’s fantasy books. 

In fact, Roundtree financed of some of Baum’s early work, so the original sale of this little blowtorch helped bring the vast Wizard of Oz fantasy franchise to fruition. Another of Roundtree’s friends, Chicago artist Orlando Giannini, created the hand-standing gymnast that served as the Turner Brass Works’ logo, just barely visible here on the torch’s pressure pump.

It must be said that pressure alone is not enough to get these torches lit, the operator must also pre-heat the outside area around the nozzle with a splash of flaming fuel, so unlike many of the vintage tools we offer, we recommend leaving vintage blow torch use to the experts!

And what did people do back then when a house or shop fire broke out? The answer from another QBO sale: Harden’s brand Star Glass FIRE GRENADE, a liquid-filled bottle sealed with cork and cement. Although the earliest only held saltwater (which didn’t freeze in cold weather) more effective caustic chemicals were soon introduced. The first American patent was granted in 1863 with many following, so there are a wide variety of fire grenades, from 4″ to 8″ tall, in aqua, amber or clear, or rarely green or cobalt blue, with names like “Red Comet” and “Shur-Stop”. If a fire broke out in your home, you were meant to hurl the grenade at the flame’s base and flee before the fumes smothering the fire’s oxygen overcame you, too. So, they were not the greatest and it’s easy to see why they only lasted from 1870 to 1910, when the invention of brass & copper fire extinguishers rendered them obsolete.


If you collect fire grenades, remember: caustic, noxious, gaseous chemicals in fragile glass! Stay safe. We’ll see you soon.

The Bane of Every Parents Existence– LEGOs

The bane of every parents existence — LEGOs

Of all the toys Queen B sells, the brightly-colored, hard plastic blocks known as Legos are among the most popular. The name ‘LEGO’ is an abbreviation of two Danish words “leg godt”, meaning “play well”. LEGO was founded out of desperation by Danish woodworker Ole Kirk Kristiansen when people stopped buying his furniture during the Great Depression. He managed to sell his mini wood furniture and ladder ‘salesmen’s samples’ as toys, so in 1932 his workshop switched over to just making wooden toys.

In 1947 the LEGO Group came across samples of “Kiddicraft Self-Locking Building Bricks” designed by Hilary Fisher Page. In what today looks like an act of industrial espionage (or at the least, copyright violation) the Kiddicraft blocks became the prototype for Lego blocks. In 1949 Lego purchased a plastic injection molding machine to make “Automatic Binding Bricks” and in 1953 renamed their toy Lego Mursten, or “Lego Bricks.”

The plastic bricks were not as popular as the wooden toy line was at first, but in 1960 a warehouse fire destroyed most of the company’s inventory of wooden toys and it was decided to focus on plastic. By then the time was right and by the end of that year, the Lego Group was employing more than 450 people. In 1961, Lego licensed Samsonite (maker of plastic luggage) to produce and sell Lego products in the U.S. and Canada.

Lego passed from father to son and is now owned by a grandchild. The company marches into the 21st century with a popular line of construction toys, as well as products and services including board games, retail stores, Lego video games, Lego films, Legoland theme parks, and Lego Serious Play consultant services. They are everywhere!

But Legos vast popularity among kids who don’t always pick up after themselves has also given them an unintended claim to fame; an endless supply of jokes re: the agony of stepping on one. There are so many Lego jokes you’d think that before their invention, a parent bringing their kid a glass of water in the middle of the night would be completely safe, right?

Not so. From another QBO sale we have a popular kid’s toy from the 1900s still made today, Jacks. AKA jackstones, knuckle-bones, snobs, astragalus, tali, dibs, or five-stones, Jacks is a contest among several players in which the ball is bounced once and then a successively larger number of Jacks is scooped up in one palm at each turn. Different throws have imaginative names like “riding the elephant”, “peas in the pod”, “horses in the stable”, and “frogs in the well”.

Versions of the game are found worldwide. The earliest dates to around 5000 B.C. and was played with real knucklebones of hooved animals, which are irregular, knobby shapes. Which leaves one to wonder, ‘why the spiky Jacks sold today?’ Current Jacks resemblance to caltrops cannot be ignored when your foot finds one in the dark! For those unfamiliar, caltrops are ancient spiked military devices scattered around a perimeter or across a road to stop incoming soldiers, chariots, or in modern times, tanks. The name “caltrop” is derived from the Old English calcatrippe (heel-trap), and the French chausse-trape (shoe-trap). The WWII caltrops pictured were called ‘Czech Hedgehogs’. There’s a reason those Jacks have real stopping power!

Fortunately, Queen B also sells plenty of the best defense against both Jacks and Legos, which would be – slippers! Maybe a pair like these fuzzy pink pigs here. See you soon.

4 Steps for Balancing Your Family’s Remote Work and Learning Routines

Calming the chaos caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may feel impossible, but it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. The keys to juggling such a complex and demanding schedule without having your home descend into chaos are actually pretty simple: planning and organization. In fact, you can achieve order in your home and your daily life in just a few steps.

Structure Your Family Routine

Dedicated schooling space will help you work and your children learn, but first it’s essential to create consistent daily routines for your entire family. You may think that scheduling online lessons and remote work assignments should come first, but you can actually reduce stress if you structure these tasks around more basic needs, like sleep and meals. Then, fill the remaining hours with reading and learning blocks for your children and work hours for yourself. Be sure to discuss your new routines with your family, so you can set clear boundaries with each other from the start. It can also be helpful to post printed schedules in your family command center. If you don’t have a family command center in your home yet, you should seriously consider setting up one so that you can keep things low-stress and organized.

Set Up Your Home Office

Keeping your home free of clutter is important for maintaining focus, but it can also help to have some dedicated office space. The most productive home office spaces have a door that you can close to minimize distractions, but you can also create separation in a multipurpose space using screens or room dividers. Once you have a spot picked out for your workspace, you should get to work finding a comfy chair and desk. Investing in a supportive chair is especially crucial when you will be sitting and working in it all day, but you should also choose something that will reflect your personal style. Spending a little time decorating your space can also inspire more productivity.

Keep Your Kids Focused

Establishing a distraction-free workspace can help keep you focused, but what about your kids? Well, you can also set up a dedicated study space where your children can focus on their online lessons and avoid interrupting your tasks. Apply the same principles here that you did to your workspace, but also keep in mind that kids may need a few extra pieces of equipment. For example, you may want to pick up some headphones tailor-made for children so that your little ones won’t be distracted by other noises inside and outside of your home. Having them use headphones can also be beneficial for you, since you won’t be interrupted by the sounds of live instruction, watching movies or even playing games.

Speaking of games and live instruction, make sure your internet connection can handle the extra usage so you’re not dealing with frustrating lag times or crashing connections. Look for internet service that can handle multiple devices simultaneously with plenty of bandwidth.

Get Your Home Organized

 Balancing remote learning and remote work can be stressful enough, so don’t let a cluttered home add even more tension. Research shows that working or living in cluttered spaces can produce more feelings of stress and anxiety. When you are feeling more stressed, you are also more likely to feel distracted. So, if you want to improve your family’s focus and reduce your stress, spend some time organizing your home before the new school year begins. If you just don’t have the time to tackle serious organization, you can always turn to a professional organizing service like Queen B Organizing to take care of this task for you. Think of it as a gift to yourself and your family, and get the school year off to a successful start!

 

With thanks to Cherie Mclaughlin, Couchbasedbiz.com

Photo Credit: Pexels