You can certainly pass some delightful hours at the Candy Wrapper Archive
, marveling at the sometimes wacky candies of yore.
(1918-1999) was an American West Coast artist, but he also received recognition as a collector of potato mashers.
He told a UPI reporter in 1984 that he started his collection not because of any special connection to potato mashers, but simply because he wanted to have a "unique collection." But he gave a more detailed explanation of the origin of his hobby in an interview with Wesley Joost and Jon Randall
One of my skills is cooking so I had a normal interest in potato mashers as a tool. Every one was different in some way, and they were all designed by someone who had a different idea about what was the best way to arrange the wire striking face and wooden handle. That intrigued me. When I was furnishing the guest house I frequented the markets and Salvation Army. Nearly all of them would have some kitchen gear. I was attracted to them because they were all beautifully functional and simple and never had been standardized like the Dover Eggbeater.
Randall also admitted that he didn't like potatoes themselves — just the mashers.
As of 1984, he had collected 384 mashers. I don't know how many he owned by the time he died. But he claimed that this was the biggest collection of potato mashers in the world.
The Idaho Potato Museum
also has a large potato masher collection, which they acquired as a result of a Boy Scout's Eagle Project. So I emailed them to ask how big their collection is. A representative (Tish Dahmen) responded that they have "280 mashers on display then another box full."
She reckons that Randall's collection was larger, and unfortunately she has no idea what became of his mashers. But she added: "if you discover its whereabouts, please know that we’d be happy to house and exhibit it if his family or estate wants to donate to us … we will be happy to accept it!"
Finding a permanent home for a potato masher collection seems like a worthy project, so I'm working on it. There was once a Byron Randall Museum in Tomales, CA, where Randall lived and ran a bed-and-breakfast. Perhaps the museum acquired his collection. However, the museum doesn't have a website. So I don't know if it's still in existence.
I've contacted the Tomales Regional History Center
to ask if they know where Randall's potato mashers are.
Idaho Potato Museum Masher Collection — via California or Bust!
Milwaukee Sentinel - May 4, 1984
The Pittsburgh Press - May 3, 1984
Albert Blaustein had an impressive resume. He was a constitutional law expert who consulted on the national constitutions for over 14 countries. According to his wikipedia page
, he was also editor of the 20-volume work Constitutions of the Countries of the World
But in his personal life, he pursued a more eccentric passion. He collected hotel soap. He started collecting it in 1942, and by 1988 he had some 1400 bars of soap from different hotels. (See the article below.) By the time of his death in 1994, he had amassed around 2500 hotel soap bars. Following his death, the entire collection was (according to the Philadelphia Inquirer
) bought by a Ripley's museum in Texas for around $1500.
Back in 1936, Patricia Salter had an unusual hobby for a 12-year-old girl. She collected dirt. Whenever I come across stories like this, it always makes me wonder what became of the collection. I'm guessing that at some point it must have been tossed in the trash, or dumped outside.
But it looks like there are some like-minded dirt enthusiasts in the present day, over at the Museum of Dirt
Source: The Washington Post
- Feb 9, 1936
Car buffs are fanatical. A group of them has compiled a database of car appearances in films, the Internet Movie Cars Database,
to accompany the more famous IMDB.
With screen captures.
So suppose, like me, you once drove a Mercury Marauder, circa 1973. You can now nostalgically learn all the times that make and model of vehicle appeared onscreen.
My car looked exactly like the one below, down to the paint job.
had a rather unusual hobby. He collected snowflakes. In order to do so, he invented (around 1941) a way of making plastic casts of snowflakes, by sitting outside on winter nights while it was snowing, and then dropping the flakes onto a thin film of formvar, which was a kind of plastic resin.
Schaefer also later invented the technique of cloud seeding
. And he did all this with hardly any formal education, never having graduated from high school. Definitely an interesting character.
The Hall of Curious Rocks in Japan collects "Face Rocks," which are rocks that look like faces. They currently have over 900 of them. The bottom image shows one of the prides of their collection, the Elvis Rock. I'm sure if I looked around my backyard, I could find a few face rocks to contribute to their collection. [via kotaku
An outstanding collection of weird album covers can be found at LP COVER LOVER.
They have put the risque ones on their Tumblr site.
On Feb. 15, 1890, a short article appeared in the Chicago Tribune
, telling the story of a man who had an unusual deck of cards. He had found every card lying on the street. It took him twenty years to collect the entire pack. Here's the article:
AN OLD DECK OF CARDS
A Chicago Sport Has Spent Twenty Years in Picking up a Pack
Frank Damek, a member of the sporting fraternity of Chicago, has probably the queerest deck of cards in the world. He has been twenty years collecting the pack and is exceedingly proud of it. He first began by picking up playing cards in the street when he happened to run across them. In this way he got fifteen or more before he began striking duplicates. Some days he would find two or three, and then it would be months before he would see another stray pasteboard. But he persevered and always kept his eyes open to add to his strange collection.
In ten years he had all but thirteen cards necessary to complete his deck. In the next three years he considered himself lucky in finding all but four. The missing ones were the jack of clubs, the deuce of diamonds, and the trey of spades. In the course of another year he picked up the eight of diamonds and six months later was overjoyed to find what he at first thought was a full deck of cards lying on the sidewalk on Dearborn street, between Adams and Jackson streets.
He thought his long search was at an end and that he could easily complete his wonderful deck. The jack of clubs and the trey of spades were there all right, but five or six cards were missing, and among them the deuce of diamonds. It seemed as though he would never be able to secure his fifty-second card, but the other day he entered one of the suburban trains on the Northwestern, and almost the first thing he saw was the deuce of diamonds face upwards in the aisle. It was gilt-edged and glossy backed, the finest of them all. He had been searching for it for five and a half years, and breathed a sigh of relief. The pack is composed of cards of all qualities, from the cheapest to the highest prices. Some are clean and bright and others are soiled and well worn.
I'll add this to the list of weird collections
. Though, honestly, I have some doubts that the story is true. It reads like the kind of thing that reporters back then routinely made up to fill column space.