Captain C.W. Fothergill Sample Folio

Historical Art

At first glance, this album from a past QBO sale appears to be a small book about some obscure ‘watercolour’ painter, probably containing OK prints and a dry biography listing a bunch of dates and names. (yawn)

Not so! This is a sample book that the artist himself carried with him in the late 1800s, containing around 45 ORIGINAL watercolors and pencil sketches. They are British landmarks, architecture or vessels. Each is notated with title and date, sometimes twice (once on the original, with more information added to the page the painting was glued onto.) Each was done separately, then the rippled edges were trimmed away and it was ‘tipped in’ to the book, that is, they weren’t painted directly in the folio, they were glued in upon completion. So it is interesting to note that both finished paintings and quick sketches are meticulously preserved here.

This is because the artist, one Charles W. Fothergill, was demonstrating just what he could produce under varying circumstances and time constraints with a high degree of accuracy, something crucial to his profession.

Fothergill does not have the career trajectory that we now expect of an artist. AT ALL. Today we think of painting as an impractical, if not impossible way to make a living and the cliché artistic temperament as driven by emotion, insecurity and ego, like Picasso, Dali or Van Gough. Not so with Captain C.W. Fothergill. Fothergill received his training as a painter in the British Royal Military Academy and went on to serve at the RMA, Sandhurst, teaching young officers how to accurately render landmarks, architecture and crucial transport such as ships. His notes on laying down contours and instructions for military sketching and surveying are included in 1880s military documents.

So important was this skill to 1800s British military operations that both the British Army and the British Navy trained and fielded their own painters who were given officer rank. Although photography was invented in 1839, it was many decades before it was practical to carry cameras on operations. Neither caustic, hard-to-get chemicals nor portable darkrooms were needed to produce a militarily useful rendering, just a well-trained painter with paper, a paintbox, a steady hand and a good eye. That was Captain Fothergill.

None of Fothergill’s works were created from imagination; all are subjects he observed in front of him and are carefully noted as such in their titles. Although he made no big splash as a fine artist, historians appreciate Fothergill’s visual records and thus today some of his paintings are found in local museums in English towns, not as ART with a capital A, but showcasing important local landmarks like historic bridges or churches. You can compare his works to photos taken today of the same view and see both how dead-on accurate they are, and make note of changes that have taken place over time.

And, although Fothergill left behind no publicly available letters or diaries, we can trace his journey through works sold at auction: paintings of England, Scotland, France, India and Canada. The Captain’s discerning eye took him interesting places. He later lived in Cranbrook, Kent and exhibited work at the Suffolk Street Galleries and the Royal Academy in 1900. Today his modest but eminently pleasing art is sold in the U.K., Canada, France and the U.S.

So how did his beautiful folio book make it all the way to Oregon? No idea. All we know is that he passed through our Beehive and then went back out into the world again.

384 Blenko Water Bottle

Collectable and Practical

If you come across an elegant carafe like this at a Queen B sale you might think from its styling that it is Scandinavian or  Century Modern. And, it would look right at home in a dining room featuring Eames furniture, George Briard serving pieces and Tammis Keefe linens. However, it is Appalachian and predates Mid-Century by about a decade. It was actually inspired by a new-fangled appliance just starting to invade American homes, the ‘electric icebox’, or refrigerator.

William John Blenko, an English glass-blower, came to Minton, West Virginia in 1921, attracted by the cheap natural gas. By 1923 he had set up gas-powered furnaces and trained locals to staff his small glass factory but he had trouble selling his specialized window glass products. He had to innovate or go under.

He hit on enduring success with the ‘384 Blenko Water Bottle’, so-called after the year of its invention (1938), 4th design of the year. The bottle has been in nearly continuous production since. So, what makes this singular bottle such an enduring hit for this small Appalachian glass-blowing company?

The original bottles are 8″ tall and hold 36 oz (4 &1/2 cups). The squared, hand-blown carafes have a narrow enough side profile that they can sit safely down into the skinny shelves of a refrigerator door. The double spout means the user doesn’t need to orient the bottle when picking it up, and the broad, bullseye indents on both sides help the hand securely grasp the cold, slippery bottle. And it doesn’t hurt that Blenko Water Bottles are infinitely more pleasing to look at than your average boring refrigerator jug and can go straight from the fridge to serving guests at your fanciest celebratory event. People have never stopped buying them.

In keeping with the business practice of ‘line expansion’, the original bottle has remained constant while the company created many variants. In the late 1940s and 50s came attached handles, and in 1999 frosted and satin-finish bottles were made. In 2010 ribbed and optic ripple versions, and ‘frit’ color variants with flecks of contrasting colors in the glass were offered. Ten years ago a 6″ tall, 10 oz mini was introduced. There are even a few bottles out there with four pouring spouts but these were created by individual glass-blowers goofing off on the job. Known as ‘factory whimsies’, the four-spouters are extra-desirable for collectors.

Blenko also makes many other glass products such as serving bowls, centerpieces, drinking glasses, barware, vases, pressed-glass sun catchers, cast-glass figurines, votives, fused- glass nightlights, blown-glass garden art and even glass jewelry. And they offer the first registered Glass Worker Apprenticeship in West Virginia and have active relationships with local scout troops and colleges, producing custom glassware for fundraisers.

With all that glass work going on, it’s become impossible to accurately list all the colors the Blenko Water Bottle has come in, since each time a new shade of glass is developed at the factory, for ANY product, at least a few classic water bottles are blown in that color to test it out. One serious collector has even amassed over 600 unique Blenko Water Bottles! The newest color is ‘Spring Crocus’, a clear, true purple easily distinguishable from the earlier brownish-purple Amethyst. Today a new Blenko Water Bottle retails for between $60 – $80 depending on size and color but of course with Queen B vintage you can do better. Feeling stylish yet thirsty? Visit a QBO sale – with all those Blenko Bottles out there, you’ll find one sooner or later!

Take a look at Blenko’s website HERE!

1957 Ford Thunderbird

Ain’t She A Beaut?

Did you know we busy bees like to run with a fast crowd and hang out with gorgeous cover models? Well, we do and if you’d like to join us, this exact sexy ‘Baby Bird’ that was featured on the cover of the August 2017 edition of Classic Thunderbird Club International Magazine will be the main attraction at our very next estate sale. Here’s the aforementioned cover photo – isn’t she pretty? And she won the People’s Choice Award at the Philomath Car Show!

Her specs: Rare fully loaded Inca Gold 1957 T-Bird Thunderbird – Body 40, Color YE, Trim XA, Inca Gold Exterior, Black and White Interior, Port Hole Hard Top, Soft Top, Tonneau Cover, 312 V-8 Engine, Automatic Transmission, Power Steering, Power Brakes, Power Seat, Power Windows, Engine Dress Up Kit, Skirts, Dayton Wire Wheels, Radial Tires, electronic ignition, front disk brakes, retrofitted original radio for Bluetooth & new speakers, engine rebuild with electric fan, rebuilt transmission, and a lot more. Whew!

The 2-seat Thunderbird was Ford’s answer to Chevrolet’s 2-seat sporty Corvette, which created a sensation when it made its debut in 1953. The competing ‘Baby Bird’ convertible followed close on its heels in 1955 and was produced through 1957. Ford promoted their Thunderbird as a “personal luxury” versus Corvette’s “sporty” image and they were offered in either ragtop or hardtop, had V-8 engines and came with either manual or automatic transmissions. But, in 1955 their V-8 engines were available in either 193 horsepower or 198 hp. The following year that was bumped to 202 hp, 215 hp or 225 hp. And, in 1957 it went up again to 245 hp, 270 hp, 285 hp or even the supercharged 312 hp! Since these improvements were based on feedback it seems that “personal luxury” was not the customer’s only priority!

Only 53,166 of the original 2-seat convertible Thunderbirds were ever made: 16,155 in 1955, 15,631 in 1956, and 21,380 in 1957. Over the three-year production run there were 26 body colors: Azure Blue, Buckskin Tan, Colonial White, Coral Sand, Cumberland Green, Dresden Blue, Dusk Rose, Fiesta Red, Flame Red, Goldenglow Yellow, Goldenrod Yellow, Gunmetal Gray, Peacock Blue, Raven Black, Seaspray Green, Snowshoe White, Starmist Blue, Sun Gold, Sunset Coral, Torch Red, Willow Green, and Thunderbird Blue, Bronze, Green or Grey. The wonderfully Mid Century Inca Gold color was only an option in 1957 and seems fitting for a car named after a powerful mythological bird found in the lore of many Native American tribes, including those in the PNW. This one is Haida.

After 1957 the Thunderbird line was reinvented as a coupe, a roadster, and a sedan. The last incarnation of Thunderbird sports car rolled out of the factory in 2005.

If you’re the lucky person who takes the Thunderbird home, you might enjoy joining the Rose City Thunderbird Club of Portland, Chapter 51 of the Classic Thunderbird Club International (same organization that puts out the magazine.) Rose City Thunderbird Club is dedicated to preserving the 1955, ’56 and ’57 Ford Thunderbirds and offers both tech sessions and social events as well as hosting conventions. They also have helpful maintenance and tech tips on their website. Thunderbird replacement parts can be found online through National Parts Depot, Larry’s Thunderbird and Mustang Parts, Thunderbird Headquarters, Inc., and Concours Parts & Accessories.

Want more details on the car? We have a spreadsheet! (Click HERE) Want to admire the car in person? We’ll see you at the sale!

Toothpick Holders

A Winning Smile

Did you know Americans use over 30 billion toothpicks every year and that they’re found in 95% of American homes? Me neither. And yet here, we are admiring toothpick holders found at QBO sales. First your basic, plastic picnic toothpick dispenser. Boring but handy.

Next, two from the late 1800s – early 1900s, when toothpicks were promoted as a luxury good by an ambitious Mr. Charles Forster, who had admired orange-wood picks carved by the locals when he visited Brazil. The pressed glass toothpick holder (possibly a reproduction) imitates more expensive cut-crystal, while the silverplate eggshell-and-chick offers dinner guests their toothpick as a gift with “best wishes” (note the wishbone!)

When Mr. Forster returned to Boston he invented machines to mass-produce birch toothpicks and hired two Harvard students to dine out at fine restaurants all around town and demand wooden toothpicks at the end of their meal. No-one had ever heard of birch toothpicks but the guerilla marketing worked, creating a demand where none had existed. Prior to that, most people used quills (the ‘stem’ part of a feather), while those in the elite carried their own permanent toothpicks made of ivory, silver or gold.

Restaurants everywhere started offering their patrons birch toothpicks. By the time this gaping baby bird toothpick holder was made (between the 1920s – 50s) there were 12 toothpick factories in the U.S. The bird is marked “made in Japan”, which helps date it. Japanese moriage, a technique of decorating porcelain with 3-dimentional slip glazes as seen on this little bird’s feathers, was produced from the end of the 1800s through mid-20th century, but prior to 1921 all Japanese ceramic export goods were labeled “Made in Nippon” not “Made in Japan”.

There are multiple castings of this baby bird decorated with different techniques; crudely glazed in plain colors, in pearlescent pastel lusterware or in moriage trimmed in gold.

This goofy, toothy hippo is handmade stoneware, unsigned so accurately dating her is impossible, but the 1970s is a good guess. There was a minor rebellion against the prevailing bright, slick, ‘atomic’ Mid-Century Modern aesthetic which then produced a counter-demand for heavy, rustic handmade stonewares glazed in subdued ‘natural’ colors. But, the movement was not Puritan, lots of humorous ‘hippy’ pottery got made, and it happily sometimes shows up at QBO.

If you look closely, this turquoise critter is riddled with holes for holding toothpicks, making him a porcupine. He was hand carved and hand painted in Mexico, any time from the 1980s onward. The small, nut-like vessel actually IS a nut from the Tagua Palm. In Victorian times it was called corozo or ‘vegetable ivory’ after its color and hardness which allowed it to be carved into buttons, dice, knife handles and chess pieces. Before plastic, 20% of the buttons in the U.S. were tagua. In the 1980s a high-end clothing designer re-introduced tagua buttons on their pricey natural fiber pieces but ran into trouble when the buttons broke after being soaked in washing machines. Being a seed, nature actually programmed the tagua nut to break open when soaked, so if you buy a tagua toothpick holder, don’t soak it!

Today there are only 3 toothpick makers left in the U.S.: Diamond Brands, Strong Wood Products and yes, Forster, still chugging away in Maine near the birch forests. Are you one of the 95% of American households that owns toothpicks? A Harvard student told me you need a fabulous holder from QBO!

Tibetan Buddhist Prayer Wheels

Spinning Mantras

These small works of art found at a Beehive sale are Tibetan Buddhist prayer wheels, most likely made somewhere in the Himalayan mountain range. They have spinning parts but are not toys, they are devotional tools used by spiritual leaders, monks, nuns and ordinary people alike.

Both this hand-held brass version and the painted, stand-mounted carved version are smaller than most, so they may have been made for tourists. A 3rd, broken wheel shows the hollow interior. Prayer wheels are found in Tibet and places with expatriate Tibetan populations. Due to strife between Tibet and neighboring China which culminated in China annexing Tibet in 1951, many Tibetans fled across the borders to settle in neighboring Nepal and India, where Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama now lives in exile. In the U.S. there are communities of Tibetan Americans in Portland and Seattle, and in California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and New York.

Prayer wheels are hollow cylinders made of metal, wood, stone, or leather mounted on a spindle. The exterior is decorated with a mantra (devotional chant) written in Ranjana or Tibetan script. “Om mani padme hum” is the most common but there are many others. “Om mani padme hum” references the Jewel in the Lotus, an embodiment of complex religious ideas. The hollow interior holds a central “life tree” core around which is wrapped a long paper or velum scroll also inscribed with a repeating sacred text. As with the exterior of the wheel, these can vary. The wheels work when they are spun. The hand-held versions have small counter- weights on chains (here, a solid brass conch shell) which helps keep the wheel rotating while the larger, fixed-mount wheels are given a good push by people as they pass by.

Reciting mantras is to purify and spiritually strengthen the practitioner and then spread that energy outward to benefit all living things. If there are 500 mantras written on the scroll inside a single wheel, then each spin is equal to reciting that mantra 500 times. Therefore a devout practitioner can generate millions of mantras, spreading good out into the world. However the use of the wheel is intended to supplement rather than replace other devotional practices. The prayer wheel can be used while praying at home, or while walking through holy sites. These large, architecturally mounted prayer wheels are at the holy site of Swayambhunath in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Prayer wheels have also been found in unexpected places. This is the coat of arms of New Zealander Sir Edmund Hillary. He, along with Nepalese Sherpa Tenzing Norgay were the first humans to summit Mount Everest, highest peak in the world, in 1953. The two men remained lifelong friends and Hillary returned to Nepal many times, both as a climber and to help build schools, airports and hospitals.

When Sir Hilary was knighted by Queen Elizabeth he chose the prayer wheel for his coat of arms to honor the people of the Himalayas. He was made an honorary Nepalese citizen and the Indian Government awarded him its second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan. Tenzing received the Star of Nepal and there is a small, high-altitude airport in Lukla, Nepal, called the Tenzing-Hillary Airport. Sir Edmund’s son Peter Hillary and Tenzing’s son, Jamling Tenzing Norgay climbed Mount Everest in 2002 in honor of the 50th anniversary of their fathers’ achievement. If you’d like to explore further, visit QBO.

Easter Eggs and Icons

Happy Easter!

Queen B celebrates this Easter with beautiful eggs from some of our sales. In the U.S. Sunday, April 9, is officially Easter, when Western Christian churches celebrate. But these works of art are from Eastern Orthodox Christianity, which uses a different calendar so their Easter is Sunday, April 16th. Easter (also called Pascha or Resurrection Sunday) commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but eggs, along with the Easter Bunny, were originally fertility symbols from earlier European pagan celebrations that welcomed the end of winter and the start of spring.

This first Easter egg is wooden and painted with both the birth of Jesus and his death. It is heavily decorated with a metallic  ‘gold’ leaf in the style of the religious icons that decorate Eastern Orthodox churches. Much larger, the church icons use real gold and portray holy personages, saints, and scenes from the Bible and the life of Christ. The Greek word for Icon, Αγιογραφία; means Holy or Heavenly (Άγιο) plus Γράφω, ‘to write’, so icons tell the stories of holy events. They are regarded as ‘windows into heaven’ and have remained unchanged since Byzantine times.

Small icons are made for both devotees and tourists, so they too are found at our sales. These two represent  The Annunciation (the Angel telling the Virgin Mary that she has been chosen) and Mary with the baby Jesus. Like the church icons, both are gilt on wood.

Eastern Orthodoxy is the majority religion in much of Eastern Europe, including Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Belarus, Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, Moldova, Georgia, North Macedonia, Cyprus and Montenegro and is also practiced by many in Central Asia and the Mediterranean. In the U.S. there are 3 to 6 million Eastern Orthodox practitioners.

This basket of eggs showcases a famous Ukrainian folk art, Pysanka, in which layers of fine detail are applied to blown eggs using a wax resist. The oldest pysanka (a goose egg) was excavated in the city of Lviv and dates to around the 15th century. Like the icons, the word pysanka comes from pysaty (писати), meaning ‘to write’. Similar crafts are also practiced in other Slavic countries.

These spectacular eggs take hours to make. After each wax resist design dries, the egg is dyed another color, leaving the color protected by the resist unchanged, while altering the overall surrounding background. The dyes are transparent and additive, so light colors must be done first, followed by dark. The buildup creates the final base color and requires care to avoid producing a sludgy shade. If you look at each egg, you can work out the order in which resist and dyes were applied, with ‘eggshell white’ always being first. The technique is similar to batik (used to decorate cloth) and uses similar tools.

There are hundreds of motifs with symbolic meanings, some dating back to pre-Christian, Paleolithic times. The spiral was believed to protect against evil spirits by trapping them. The dots can be seeds or the Virgin Mary’s tears. However, the wheat stalks seen on two of these eggs are modern designspopular among the descendants of Ukrainian immigrants living in the U.S. They are not found on traditional pysanky, so we can surmise that these eggs were made locally.

In countries like Poland and Romania, the craft is made easier and more durable by painting on wooden eggs. Although the same attention to detail is required, the formidable calculation involving multiple layers of dyes has been eliminated. How ever you celebrate your spring renewal, do it with us at QBO!

A Thirst-Quenching April Fools

Happy April Fools!

Well, it’s that time of year again and we busy bees are here to facilitate public awareness of our stuffy, dignified ancestors mercilessly pranking one another. There are so many vintage-made jokes found at QBO sales that this year’s April Fool’s selection had to be selectively limited to “beverage-related”.

You say you like coffee AND you’re a golfer? How about a “Hole in One” mug? (The hole tunnels all the way through it.) Or, if you’re of Polish descent and can enjoy a good laugh at yourself, here’s a “Polish  Mug” with the handle on the inside. On to the bar…

A set of bar implements from the man caves of yore, styled after woodworking tools. (Ha.)

Or, (heh heh) how about gross plastic flies to freeze in ice cubes for unsuspecting guests?

Next we have 2 shots and a flask measuring liquor out by how soused you’ll get: 0 oz = Rabbits, 1 oz = Ladies, 2 oz = Gentlemen, 3 oz = Pigs, 4 oz = Jackasses! Or, Ladies, Gentleman and HOGS. Or, One Drink, Two Drinks, Half-Full and DAMN FOOL. (guffaw)

Moving on. One detailed, working bar-top liquor dispenser elaborately modeled in the form of an old-timey gas station pump. One martini shaker in the shape of a 1950s fire extinguisher (this ‘Thirst Quencher’ approved by Underwriters & Fire Chiefs!) And lastly, one oh-so-classy decanter based on the famous Belgian statue, the “Manneken Pis”, AKA the “Little Pissing Man”. And yes, the liquor comes out exactly where you’d think. The original bronze fountain was made in Brussels in 1619 to dispense water in the town square. Needless to say, it is a MAJOR tourist attraction, stolen so many times that now a replica stands in its place while the original Little Man pees safely in a museum.

But this, THIS is the Holy Grail of all beverage-related pranks: the legendary Dribble Glass. Long has your humble servant searched and AT LAST! Found at a QBO sale! The Dribble Glass is one of the those annoying, relatively harmless pranks: You, at a church social, innocently drinking a glass of Hawaiian punch when – “Ack!” – there’s punch all down your shirt front! How could you be so clumsy? It’s a gaslighting kind of joke; the victim assumes themselves at fault since there’s no apparent equipment malfunction… but there WAS.

The Dribble Glass’s method of mayhem also created its diabolical camouflage, allowing it to blend right in with a style of tumbler common in the 1940s, 50s & 60s: thin blown glass, holding 6 to 8 oz and adorned with cut designs of twinkly stars or florals. There are thousands of legit drinking glasses like this still with us. The designs were hand-ground into the glass surface using very hard stone cutting wheels of varying dimensions. If the artist accidentally ground too far, the wheel would penetrate right through the glass, ruining it with a nasty hole. But for a Dribble Glass, that “right through” was done ON PURPOSE, locating nearly invisible holes high enough on the glass to clear the top of the beverage when the glass is filled. Liquid only leaks out when the glass is tilted into the unlucky mark’s mouth – haw HAW! (sorry…)

Fortunately for those who care about their clothing, cut-glass tumblers were deposed by larger, sturdier drinking glasses decades ago. And, losing its essential camouflage, the Dribble Glass faded into obscurity. But, if you are the spicy kind of person who still wants one, they can be found with a bit of careful searching. Often the fatal holes are almost invisible but can be felt from the inside of the glass with a fingernail. And of course, there’s no better place to look for one than at QBO.

Blue Willow

Blue and White Painted Scenery

A traditional Chinese Fairy Tale brought to you by QBO: Once there was a stern father who lived with his daughter in a pagoda beside an ancient apple tree. As the girl blossomed into a woman the father arranged to marry her off to a wealthy merchant. Alas, she had fallen in love with her father’s clerk so the young lovers had no choice but to run. With his men-at-arms in tow, the father pursued the defiant lovers across oceans, finally finding them in a cottage on a small island. Blinded by rage, the father moved to strike them down but the gods intervened, transforming the pair into birds who escaped into the sky. In some versions of the story the lovers are even executed, only becoming doves as they attain immortality. And thus Blue Willow china, which you will find at many, MANY Queen B Estate Sales, was created to immortalize this historic tale.

Only this is NOT a genuine Chinese folk tale; just the fact that frequently the characters are said to “live in a pagoda” (which is religious architecture, not a dwelling) is enough to tip you off that the story was made up by people from elsewhere in the world. And that elsewhere would be England.

Blue Willow is believed to have first been made in England in the late 1700s. Three men are alternately credited with the pattern: Josiah Spode at the Spode Company in Stoke-on Trent, or Thomas Turner at Caughley Pottery Works in Shropshire, or maybe John Turner at Caughley. It’s murky.

But that murk directly contributed to Blue Willow’s immortal popularity. Blue Willow was created when Chinoiserie was the rage in the west. People were mad for luxury goods from China, especially hand-painted blue and white porcelains with exotic landscapes and dream-like scenes of courtly life.

Dutch blue and white Delft pottery is based on Chinese porcelain and this is also around the time that the word “china” came to mean ceramics in the English language. In portraits of the wealthy, it was not uncommon to see blue and white china used as a status symbol. As you might imagine, the economic pressure on English ceramic makers was intense.

To compete with China, transferware was invented. The process uses engraved copper plates to print a design on paper. The designs are then transferred to pottery pieces to be glazed and fired, allowing mass production of pieces which previously could only be hand- painted. Like Blue Willow, the invention of transferware is credited to different people at different factories but the process allowed English manufacturers to cheaply imitate expensive Chinese wares. And, because thiswas before extensive copyright laws, many manufacturers copied the “Chinese” design. Many, MANY manufacturers – there have been 400 different Blue Willow producers in England and hundreds more worldwide!

Thus you’ll find Blue Willow in any shape, size and style you’d like, not to mention it being interpreted into fabric, stickers, mousepads and so much more. You’ll even find Blue Willow in black, red, pink, green, or brown. And, the high-end contemporary porcelain line “Calamityware” offers an homage to Blue Willow which populates the classic pagoda-dotted landscape with giant robots, flying monkeys, monsters and UFOs.

So, what about that myth of star-crossed lovers? Well, it seems to have been spun to add a bit of ‘Oriental gravitas’ to a mass- produced English product, but like the pattern, the story also became beloved, appearing in book, musical and play form. Feel the need for Blue Willow? Visit QBO!

Teeny Opener, Great Huge Can

On the go can opener

A happy QBO ‘David and Goliath’ story: first is ‘David’, this handy, tiny-but-mighty tool; SO tiny we don’t sell them individually but we do get them in our $1 grab-bags, emergency gear, or military, camping, and Boy Scout mess kits. Look close and you might find one.

If you served in the military before sealed-pouch MREs (Meal, Ready to Eat), you know these micro-sharps as the P 38 and P-51 Can Opener that once helped hungry soldiers open canned C-Rations. The not-so-tasty C- Ration was first issued to American G.I.s in WWII and each had a can-opening ‘key’ soldered to the lid. However that key could get lost so P-38s were backups, like a small spare tire. These here are marked “U.S. Speaker”, “129-9982 B. A.W. ^ 1975”, “U.S. Koolaire 1951”, “Safesport” and “Shelby” – 5 different makers! The sugar packet-sized envelopes have different graphics but share a regulation text. The P-38 is just 1 & 1/2″ and myth has it that “38” is the number of cuts necessary to get a C-Ration open. But the P-51, introduced in the 1960s, is 1/2″ longer to open cans more efficiently (less cuts), so the myth doesn’t quite make sense. Anyhoo…

The very first tiny can openers were invented in 1914 for British WWI troops. Called either KF6314s after their stock number, or ‘the MORFED’ after their maker, Morfed South Wales Ltd., hundreds of thousands of ‘Baby Can Openers’ were issued. Later N.A.T.O. forces also carried the tiny openers and thus they have disseminated across the planet.

The sterilizer hole lets you carry your P-38 on a keyring or sling it around your neck along with your dog tags, but if you’re concerned about it accidentally unfolding, (a rare but painful occurrence!) its flat profile is ideal for slipping into your wallet so that you, like a good Boy Scout, can always be prepared.

On the ‘Goliath’ side we have this GIANT can of Gluten-Free Black Bean Burger Mix by Augason Farms. Like C Rations, Augason food is sealed in cans needing a can opener. Unlike C-Rations (and MREs) which have a shelf-life of 3-4 years, Augason foods are shelf-stable 5-25 years! This is because foods in C-Rations and MREs are wet, i.e. gravy-soaked stews. Augason Farms’ food is freeze-dried before being hermetically sealed. And QBO sells them at less than retail, so they are popular!

Augason Farms is a family-run business out of Salt Lake City, Utah. The Augason family are members of the Church of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) whose faith mandates that they store months’ worth of emergency food for both themselves, and to help neighbors. In the past this meant home-canned food in basements, but in 1972 the leap to commercially-made, shelf-stable food was a natural. The first product by founder Phil Augason was “Morning Moo”, a low-fat milk alternative still in demand today. Now his son Mark is President and Augason Farms also offers shelf-stable baking mixes, beans, grains, beverages, eggs, dairy, vegetables, fruits, meats, veggie proteins, soups, entrees, water and emergency preparedness kits.

The last 3 years have been Augason’s finest and their most trying. During lockdown there was a run on shelf-stable food that forced the company to stop selling to individual customers in order to meet demand from long-time business partners like Walmart. To sell direct to the public via the internet again they have to re-register in all 50 states, a lengthy process. But, in the spirit of loving thy neighbor, Augason Farms also donated over one million servings of emergency food to relief efforts in Ukraine. Over a million! Hankering to slay a great, huge can of food with a teeny-tiny can opener? Visit QBO!

Gyotaku Fish Print

A stamp made of real fish

This original work of art from a recent Beehive sale was created by Oregonian Timothy D. Buehler, who signed it in pencil. If you guessed that it’s a print, you’re right. And, if you guessed that it’s a painting, you’d also be right – the original print is finished with hand-painted elements. Its edition number is 1/1, so it’s a monoprint – the only one ever made.

This kind of printing is known as Gyotaku (魚 拓), a portmanteau word combining Gyo “fish” and Taku meaning “stone impression” or “print”. That’s right, this “Fish-Print” was made by printing directly on the paper with an ACTUAL DEAD FISH, not a carved print block.

The origins of Gyotaku are prosaic – the technique was invented in Japan in the late 19th century, (before cellphones put a camera in every pocket) when fishermen needed a quick, accurate way to document catches. Someone thought to rub one side of the fish with sumi ink, a traditional soot-based ink made by grinding burnt pine branches. Soft rice paper is then gently laid on the inked fish and rubbed. When the paper is lifted off, the life-size fish impression is easily identifiable. Last, the non-toxic, water-soluble ink is rinsed off the fish, which is then ready to be sold and eaten. The oldest known Gyotaku was made in 1862. It was of a red seabream, a culturally and culinarily important fish. The auspicious bream is eaten at New Years, weddings and on other grand occasions, so that fish was definitely not thrown away after printing!

In this modern work, the printer may have used the same fish three times to make this ‘school’. He created a life-like appearance with multiple inks on the fish and later painted in realistic eyes. The work is finished with hand-painted seaweed strands. It is possible to do leaf-prints of seaweed but bulbous float bladders on this type could make it difficult.

The fish is identified as a Rockfish, also known as rockcod, snapper, or sea bass. There are over 38 species in Oregon’s coastal waters including Black Rockfish, Blue, Bocaccio, Canary, Chilipepper, China, Copper, Deacon, Greenstriped, Redstripe, Silvergray, Quillback, Vermilion, Widow, and Yellowtail; many of which are hard to tell apart. Rockfish are good eating, but anglers must beware of their sharp, spiny fins. You should also know that Yelloweye rockfish is prohibited to keep and must immediately be thrown back, so, no printing the Yelloweyes!

Gyotaku has become fine art and three different methods are now used: Direct, (previously described), Indirect, in which silk fabric is adhered to the fish with rice paste and then ink is gently applied to the silk with tampos, small, stuffed cloth tampers. The most prominent features of the fish pick up the most ink, creating a highly detailed print. The last method, Transfer, is rare but allows a real fish print to be applied to a rigid surface such as wood. The fish is inked, then a polyethylene film is patted onto it and lifted off while the ink is still wet. The polyethylene is then immediately pressed onto the wood, transferring the print.

But fine art is not Gyotaku’s only use. The process takes careful observation and results in an accurate record so it’s become a fun way to teach fish identification at museums, universities and aquariums. The OSU Fisheries and Wildlife Club sometimes offers classes, and in 2021 The Gladys Valley Marine Studies Building at the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport hosted a year-long exhibition. And Gyotaku is still used to record catches in Okinawa and Japan, where prints can sometimes be seen in tackle shops. Want to catch your own Gyotaku? Visit QBO!