Introduction to Collecting Elephants Written by Michael Don Knapik
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Things to be wary of include: *ivory vs. bone vs. synthetic: how to tell: hot pin test - reference link: Ivory Test*Bakelite vs. other plastics: how to tell: The Rub Test: Rub Bakelite object in question with a clean, dry finger until you feel heat being generated. If you smell an odor like formaldehyde, object is Bakelite. The Hot Water Test:. Heat some water close to boiling point, and place a part of object in hot water for a moment and remove; If you smell an odor like formaldehyde, object is Bakelite. The Hot Needle Test: Heat a needle to red hot. Touch needle for only a second to an inconspicuous spot on surface. If you smell an odor like formaldehyde, object is Bakelite. Also, if needle penetrates surface of object easily, it is probably NOT Bakelite!.*post-ban ivory imported into US *fake signatures on e.g., Lalique *reproductions and re-introduced models/namesAs with all other collectibles, your familiarity with subject will help you identify a reproduction from real thing. Reading books, like those referenced in Section 4, monitoring internet auction sites like eBay, attending shows, flea markets and live auctions, and talking to specialists and other collectors, all contribute to your knowledge and expertise. Insurance Heaven forbid something bad happens to your elephant collection. If you don't have them stored away in a safe place - like Fort Knox, a bank's safety deposit box, or an in-home vault (see Storage/Protection subsection), if disaster struck you would want some way of recouping loss.If your elephant collection starts burgeoning in terms of sheer numbers, cost/replacement value or just sentimental value, you want to consider getting insurance to cover them. Check with insurance agent for company that covers your home; many times coverage for personal belongings is some percentage of coverage for your house. So if your house is covered for $100,000 say, and your personal belonging coverage/content is covered for 30% of value of your house, then you are automatically covered for $30,000. Now, assume your furniture, TV/VCR/etc., clothes and kitchen wares etc., are worth 25,000, and your elephant collection is worth $3,000 (or you paid that amount over years), then you may be covered to extent you need to be. But, if in same situation, you paid $25,000 for your elephants over 20 years, or they are currently valued at $25,000, you definitely want to add an insurance rider to make up difference in coverage Fixing broken elephants Of course, old adage: "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." applies to elephant collectibles as well. But sad day inevitably comes when, by moving an elephant in home, or by shipping accident, or other mishap, an elephant becomes damaged. Some collectors buy damaged elephants and either fix them or leave them alone, claiming it increases charm or "character" of find. Others buy a damaged elephant if it is especially rare or if a perfect one would be too expensive.One note of utmost importance: it is not advisable to clean or otherwise repair true antiques, unless a professional does it and you understand consequences. For some antiques, refinishing or repairing certain flaws actually diminishes value, even though it may make elephant look better cosmetically, or restore a missing part. Some dirt or dust can be removed on pottery, metal or wood with nothing more than a damp cloth.The most common damage I have seen is missing or broken tusks. For many types of elephants - tusks can be repaired or replaced. Wood, plastic or ivory tusks can be re-created with a little ingenuity and skill. For example, a dowel rod of appropriate length and diameter, soaked in water or put in a steamer for a few hours, can be bent into appropriate curve and held there for several hours to set shape. Then further shaped with carving tools, can produce a most-pleasing replacement wood tusk. Add paint or stain to match elephant or an existing tusk. Replacement ivory can be carved from mammoth ivory (legal and available) to replace tusks and toe-inserts or missing pieces on ivory elephants.For common pottery elephants, breaks or cracks can be repaired at home using common glue or epoxy cement. More expensive elephants can be taken to repair shops that specialize in such repairs. They usually re-break piece, treat surfaces, re-glue and then most important step - re-glaze/fire piece; result is a repair than only trained professionals with a microscope could tell. Highly recommended for that favorite, expensive piece.Metal elephants can be repaired by skilled metal-working artists. I have an old brass elephant box that had missing tusks. I took it to an metal artist who used brass rod to create and re-solder tusks into holes. Natural aging should even out patina. Brass, bronze, aluminum, copper, and chrome elephants can be cleaned and protected with common, non-abrasive metal cleaners and polishers. Rubin-Brite is a museum-quality cleaner/polisher that leaves a carnuba-wax protective finish on metal. Iron and steel elephants can rust, which requires more work. A rust remover jell, followed by 0000 steel wool cures most rust spots. Again, for older, rare or true-antique metal elephants, unless corrosion is so advanced or bad that it further endangers elephant, leave minor discoloring and surface blemishes alone.Ephemera - paper images, prints, posters and paintings - can be repaired by professionals, if item is pricey or rare, and some repairs can be done by home hobbyist. Pencil marks on paper can be removed by gently rubbing with an eraser-like material called "Magic-rub" by Sanford. A more thorough cleaning can be gained using Lineco's Document Cleaning Powder. Paper items can be deacidified using Bookkeeper Deacidification Spray. Tears can be repaired using Lineco's transparent mending tissue.Lastly, a great reference on caring for your elephants (or any collectible) is: Kovels' Quick Tips: 799 Helpful Hints on How to Care for Your Collectibles (Kovel's 1995) Sources of elephants Elephants can be found almost anywhere other products are found. Because there are so many types of elephants - even specialty stores (like a Kitchen & Bath shop) or venues may have that obscure elephant needed for your collection. Here are some places I have found elephants:*Almost any retail store like Wal-Marts, Hallmark, Sears has elephants - mostly mass-produced. *Estate Auctions *On-line Internet auctions like Ebay.com, amazon.com *On-line antique stores and malls like www.rubylane.com *Antique stores *Flea markets *Yard Sales/Garage Sales *Looking for elephants wherever you go on vacation.
Besides being an obsessed elephant collector, Michael Don Knapik is a Software Architect specializing in object-oriented analysis and design, artificial intelligence. Michael is especially interested in the cognitive neurosciences. Michael has built two custom homes, is a Master SCUBA diver, chess player, weight lifter and real-estate investor. Contact Info: http://EverythingElephants.com MichaelKnapik@EverythingElephants.com
Coffee on Campaign: How to Roast Your Coffee Like Civil War SoldiersWritten by Paula McCoach
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Heat water until just below boilin’. Don’t ever pour boilin’ water on ground coffee. Remember, these Civil War soldiers only had one cup, so after they would chop it with their bayonets, they would pour cold water right on top of grinds and heat it over fire. To make a better cup of coffee, heat water in another container until it is hot and pour it over your grinds in your cup. Give yourself about 2-3 inches of space at top of tin cup, so you don’t burn your lips when you drink it.
A crust will form on top after water is poured in cup. Stir it until crust falls to bottom. Let crust rise again, and stir it down one more time. Now, sit your cup of freshly made coffee with freshly ground AND roasted beans on ground and crust will go down. Your own roasted and ground coffee, just like soldiers used to do, is ready to drink.
Now, you are back in field with those heroic men and you have an excellent cup of coffee to enjoy your time there and appreciate Confederate and Union soldiers for their bravery and pure stamina while you drink your cup of coffee.
Coach and Paula McCoach have been serving coffee in field to America’s reenactors since 1997. Cups of coffee made with their special coffee makin’ technique, Open-Pot Brewin’ have been enjoyed by thousands Coach’s Coffee is creator of many blends and coffee enjoyin’ techniques.
For specifics directions on exact temperature of water, feel of fine grind, what to look for before you stir, what type of strainer to use, and how to serve, and for more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Coach and Paula McCoach have been serving coffee in the field to America’s reenactors since 1997.