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P.O. Box 337, 17 George St.
Parry Sound, Ontario, P2A 2X4 
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                                                                                       September 14th, 2017        

             Hello all, I hope you’re excited to find out what I’ve been working on this week. It tins! Whoop, whoop. In the artist’s room there is a collection of tins. There’s a tea tin (see Amy’s post), a cookie tin, a popcorn tin, you get the idea, there’s a lot of tins. Since all of these tins have labels and company names I thought they would be easy artifacts to find the numbers for, but boy was I wrong! I started looking where I always start, with the collections management program (called Past Perfect for future reference) and I got a lot of results, which had me excited, at first. Once I started going through all the records I realized I wasn’t going to get anywhere since 90% of the descriptions simply stated “Tin” or, if I was lucky, something a little more descriptive, such as “Tobacco Tin”. Incredibly unhelpful. For anybody thinking about having a future in museums, please remember that the more information you include in the record the more you’re helping yourself (or your colleagues) down the line.

            I can’t say that Past Perfect didn’t help me at all though, it at least gave me an idea of where to look in our old accession records and even though I couldn’t make any matches from looking at our online records I wasn’t discouraged yet! So, with some enthusiasm still left, I looked up every. single. tin artifact in the ledgers and you know what I found? Nothing! Absolutely nothing! Okay, I’m lying… I found ONE thing which was a little defeating considering that we have so many tins! Where are all their numbers?

            Anyways, I won’t keep you in suspense any longer. The lucky tin that I was able to match was a Stag Tobacco tin. Voila!  

                                                                                                                                     

One tin is better than no tins right?

Since there are so many missing tins in Past Perfect that clearly are not in the Artists Room I started to wonder, where are all these tins? I began to think “if I was a tin, where would I be?” and that’s when I knew I needed a lunch break. But after my much needed snack I decided I’d take a peak in permanent exhibit to see if I could recognize anything from the records and I did! I updated a few artifacts with their locations but finding the numbers for those items is a task for another day… or should I say year? It’s important that I remember my goal is to clean out the Artists Room before I try to tackle another project. Hopefully, I can find numbers for all those tins that remain in there. Wish me good luck!

 

August 10th, 2017    

 

That's right, I'm back with more artifacts to share with you! The one I'm going to tell you about today is a hatbox. This is my favourite find so far. It was owned and made by somebody in the are so it has a strong connection to the West Parry Sound District.

I began my search to find this objects number by opening the lid. On the inside of the hatbox there is a polka dot material with a label stapled to it.  The label is stamped with “D. Federico” and somebody has handwritten on it “London 1968” and the name “Manie Federico”. With all this information I felt like I had a lot to go on. My first stop was our online collection management program where I searched for the term“hatbox”. Immediately several results came up and I started sifting through them. One of the first things I check when I open an artifact record is to see if it has a location or not. If it has a location that means that it’s in the Collections Room or one of our exhibits and that it’s not an artifact with a missing number. So when I pulled up the record for this hatbox and saw it had a location I almost dismissed it, but on second glace I realized that the photograph was of a hat and not a hatbox. Scrolling down further I saw the record included a description for both objects and the one for the hatbox was very similar to the one in the Artists Room.

A lot of artifacts donated to the Museum come as pairs, like a teapot and a teapot lid. In order to make it clear that objects belong together they are given letters at the end of their numbers such as A and B. In the past these items were entered into our online program under one record instead of seperate records but throughout the years things have gotten separated so that means when their locations were entered it would be for only one of the artifacts in the group and the other artifact would be "missing". This is exactly what I suspect happened to the hatbox. I had two options to figure out if this was the case. 1) I could go into the collections room and see if there was a hatbox and a hat or 2) I could check our inventory records I decided to go the lazier route and just check our records and lo and behold it said "hat", no hatbox.

Now going off of just the description in the program and the confirmation that the hat in the collections room was missing a hatbox I was pretty certain that this was a match but I wanted to be 100% not 80% so I looked up the number in the old accession records to see if it had any more information and luckily it included the measurements. That meant I had to stop being lazy and haul my butt all the way downstairs to take the measurements, but it was worth it because now there is no doubt in my mind that this is the hatbox that was donated with the hat in 1985.

We have other artifacts in the museum with the makers mark “D.Federico”, but unfortunately we don’t know very much about this maker so if you, or someone you know, have any information you’d like to share we’d love to hear from you! You can drop by the museum during our summer hours Tuesday–Sunday: 10–5 or send me an email at exhibits@museumontowerhill.com.  

 


August 1st, 2017  

Hello fellow museum lovers! You’ll be happy to hear that I have successfully found the number for something and it’s big! Are you ready for my big reveal? Drum roll please! Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba, the sawmill model!          

 This model was one of the first things that caught my eye when I began this project and that’s because it is big and intricate. It looks as if it may have even been a functioning model at one point. I was so excited to find the number for this object as everyone at the museum was beginning to wonder if it was even was artifact to begin with! Now you might be wondering how did I find this number and how was it overlooked before when the sawmill is so unique. Well I found it by simply flipping through the old accession ledgers and there it was… sawmill model, along with a bunch of other models. I typed the number into our online collection management program but it wasn’t there so I crossed referenced it with out list of records that haven’t been put into our online program yet and found it, only this list merely referred to it as “models” which is probably why it took so long to find the number for it.

            This sawmill was donated to the museum in 1986 and was made by a John Studdy. If you recognize that name, that’s because he’s built and donated a number of models that are in our collection. If you’ve been reading the “In Our Collection” column in the North Star you’ll remember that he also made and donated a model of the original fire tower, which is currently on display in our Forest Fire exhibit.  
            
            
Now that a number has been found we can take the next steps, and what are those? We can finally label this artifact and put it in the collections room with all the other artifacts with numbers. We also need to make sure we add the sawmill model to our online collections management program, along with a photograph. All this will help prevent us from losing track of the number again in the future. But I am happy to say that this model can go from No Number 337 to 1986.031.005!

            Hopefully I’ll have some more finds for you soon, so don’t forget to check back! In the meantime if you’re looking for something to do during all these rainy days come stop by the museum and check out our three amazing exhibits, The History of Parry Sound, The Forest Fire Exhibit and The John Macfie, Now and Then Exhibit!


July 26th, 2017

Hi, my name is Alexis Freeman. I am the new Collections Assistant and over the next year I will be continuing the Re-Org project where Amy left off. My main goal is clear out the Artists Room which is currently filled with objects that have missing accession numbers. Hopefully, as I get to know the collection I will be able to find the numbers for these items which will help me determine their significance and future placement, allowing the Artists Room to be a functional space again. So far I am just getting to know the Museum and its collection so I have no exciting finds to report yet but I am excited to dig deeper and will let you know when I have made some successful matches. You’ll be hearing from me soon so keep checking back to see the progress I’ve made.


Amy's Posts

 

October 2nd, 2016

I have not posted to my blog in sometime now and I blame it all on how busy we have been here at the Museum. Since my last post we have completed our summer "To Do" lists, we have cleared the Founder's Room of all the artifacts in preparation for Halloween, we took down Parry Sound's Fur Trade and installed our new exhibition Our Schools: Do You Remember? I personally have been busy with planning Remembrance Day, our upcoming Christmas exhibition, our annual What's New exhibition, accessioning new acquisitions, preparing loans and of course dealing with my found in collection objects. I have also been receiving numerous research requests which I couldn't be happier about; it is nice to know that the community is thinking of us and that we can provide assistance to so many individuals.

Enough about all that I have been doing and back to my found in collection artifacts!  As most of you may or may not know I have been photographing all of the artifacts with missing accession numbers. This has proven to be very helpful in my hunt for object IDs because I can search our collections database, referring to our written records when necessary, and using the object description compare my "No Number" objects to the catalogue files missing photographs. In doing this I have managed to associate a number of artifacts within our collection storage. Some of the artifacts I have found are:

Davis Sewing Machine - 1993.09A – After noticing that there were three no number sewing machines within our collection I decided to embark on finding their numbers, assuming it wouldn't be too difficult. I was, of course, wrong in thinking that they would be an easy find. Out of the three sewing machines I was dealing with I only ended up finding the accession number for one of them. In going through our written records I came across a file for a sewing machine with a weird accession number, it was 1993.09A. The reason I say it is a 'weird' number is because this is not the way in which artifacts are supposed to be labeled. Each accession number begins with the year it was donated to the museum, followed by the donor lot number and then the object number. The accession number I mentioned above has the year and donor lot but does not have the object number and for some reason includes the letter 'A' which is supposed to come after the object number to signify additional components. Thankfully the description for 1993.09A said that the sewing machine had 'Davis' written on it. This meant that all I had to do was go into the collections room and verify the names of each no number machine, which did not take long at all. So now I have to accession this artifact into our collections database, likely giving it a new accession number and making note of its old one.

Quilt – 1987.115.006 – The quilt was an easy find. While searching through catalogue files on our database I came across a file for a quilt that did not possess an accompanying photo. I then looked up the accession number in our written records which provided me with a more in depth description of the quilt. After reading the description I went to our no number file and began looking through the couple quilts that reside there. Due to the description noting the key components of the quilt I was able to easily determine which one was its match. The description read "Cotton: Purple: Green Pinwheel design within square inserts".

Lands and Forestry Uniform Jacket – 2001.017.001 - The jacket was yet another easy find. While searching within our 'No Number' photograph file I came across a Lands and Forestry uniform jacket which I was able to identify due to the shoulder patches which read "Lands and Forestry//Ontario//Fish & Wildlife". I then went into our collections database and searched 'Lands and Forestry' hoping that whoever recorded it in the past noted this important characteristic. After sifting through the generated results I came across a file for a Lands and Forestry jacket without an accompanying photograph. After verifying the number and description within our written records I had associated the artifact with its number.

Gas Alarm Rattle – 1985.025.001 - I found the rattle's accession number as I was writing this blog, so that's pretty cool. Last week I came across a file on our collections database without a photograph, it read "Rattle - used in film "All Quiet on the Western Front". Kind of a misleading description because the Museum obviously does not have THE rattle used within this movie, but it at least alluded to what kind of rattle I should be looking for. Knowing the accession number I then looked in our written records to see if I could get a better idea of the objects description; it was more or less the same but included the objects material, which was wood. I searched and searched and tried to recall all the artifacts in the collection room and Artist room but for the life of me could not remember this object as being within our collection. I decided to move on from the object because getting too hung up on one always results in annoyance and confusion. That brings me to today. I just so happened to open up a file of artifact photos titled 'problem images' and what pops up as being the third photo in the file... the rattle! I was so happy when I found it, not only because I had been looking for it and now get to tell you about it but also because of its significance within history.


August 20th, 2016

With summer slowly coming to an end Natalie, Elise and I have been on a mad dash in order to finish up a lot of our ongoing projects. We have made our 'To Do' lists and are checking them twice! One of the most important things we have on our list is labeling and creating catalogue files for the found in collection artifacts we have found accession numbers for. This means we have to decide on the best method of labeling; photograph, measure and record detailed descriptions of each object; add catalogue files to our collections database; pack and store each object within the collections room and finally, record their new locations in our database. Hopefully we can get it all done within the next two weeks.

Some of the artifacts we have found accession numbers for are a wooden trunk and a Canadian Pacific Railway uniform. The wooden trunk was a tricky find. I came across a file on our collections database for a trunk with wheels; the trunk was used by the donor and her siblings, who caught worms for their father, storing them in the trunk and wheeling it home. The photo for this object was missing and therefore meant that it was one of our no numbered artifacts. Keeping the description of this trunk in mind, I began searching through all of our no numbered trunks. Unfortunately none of these trunks matched the description I was looking for because none of the trunks in our collection had wheels. After a bit more searching I decided to move on and look for something else. I find you cannot let yourself get hung up on trying to find one object because you will make yourself go crazy and never end up finding it. As the day went by I decided to try and associate some of our no number boxes with their accession numbers. In doing this I came across a box listed as "Cordite box with wheels" which made me think because I could not recall any of our cordite boxes having wheels on them. I pulled up the photograph of the artifact to get an idea of what it looked like. Looking at the image of the box I could not see the word cordite written on it so I went down to the collections room to investigate. I pulled the box off the shelf and examined it. When I lifted the lid off,  the word "Cordite" appeared on the inside of the box. I sat there and thought to myself this box is obviously not a cordite box as the description I read suggested; not only did it have metal wheels on it (a dangerous way of transporting cordite) but the labels were all on the inside. It was clear that someone had repurposed a cordite box, turning it into a portable wooden trunk. I brought the wooden trunk out to Elise and showed her the description of the trunk with wheels on our database. After talking it over with her and comparing the details of the trunk to the description on our database it was clear that I had found the missing trunk.

The Canadian Pacific Railway uniform was an easier find. In photographing and assigning artifacts in the Founder's Room a 'No Number' I came across a vest and pair of dress pants. The two articles of clothing were the same navy blue colour but because they did not possess accession numbers I was unsure if they were connected, although pretty certain they were. I photographed the vest first, but before I did I looked for a tag trying to pull as much information from it as I could. Unfortunately there was no tag and all I could note was the colour and button design. I then photographed the pants, again looking to see if there were any tags. I found a tag inside the pants that not only listed the company but also who the pants belonged to and their position as a "C. P Conductor". After photographing more artifacts I went upstairs and told Natalie about finding the pants. I told her they belonged to a man by the name of "R. P. O'Callaghan" who had been a conductor for the C. P. R. Natalie then looked up the name in our collections database and to our surprise a catalogue file popped up. In going through the record we found a file for a waistcoat, a pair of pants, a jacket, and two caps; all missing photographs. At this point it was clear we found the pants and waistcoat, for both matched the descriptions in the file. We then looked at the no number artifact list for the collections room for we knew we did not have any jackets or caps in the Founder's Room and Artist Room. Finding the caps was very easy. All we had to do was match up the descriptions to the embroidery on the caps and verify that they were the only ones of this kind in the collection. The coat was a bit tricky but in the end it was found as well. First, we identified all the no number suit jackets; we then ruled some out due to various features. In the end it came down to two navy blue coats, and after a closer examination we noticed that one suit jackets buttons matched those on the vest. It was very satisfying to know that because of one tag we were able to associate an entire uniform.


July 29th, 2016

Hello! My name is Elise Barr-Klouman and I have the pleasure of working at the Museum on Tower Hill for the summer.

A few weeks ago Amy found a binder containing various agreements from the year 2008, which allowed us to track down several found in collection objects. This binder was a very significant find in our quest to organize our collection. Unfortunately, the agreements for this year were all permanent or long-term loans and not donations. A permanent loan and a donation may seem like the same thing to most people, however, for a museum worker the difference between the two is significant and permanent loans can cause a lot of headaches. Attention to details is essential in museum work and we must pay attention to technicalities. When a museum accepts artifacts on loan, rather than through a donation, it assumes the responsibility for the care of artifact without legally owning it. It is important for museums to own the objects in their collection so they can make informed decisions regarding conservation, display and storage. Legal ownership is an essential component to collecting objects for the public trust, we collect objects so current and future generations can benefit from our material heritage. Now back to our binder full of loan agreements, the next step after finding this binder is to contact all the “loaners” and see if they are willing to transfer full ownership of their objects. I suspect getting ownership of these objects will not be a concern as most people likely assumed that they already donated these artifacts to the museum.

One of the objects listed in the 2008 binder was a “porcelain chamber pot.” Amy and I both thought this would be a very easy find as we have a section of our collections room that is dedicated to chamber pots and we both assumed we knew what a chamber pot looked like. We were surprised to find that none of the chamber pots we found in the collection matched the description of the one we were looking for. At this point we had to put on our detective hats, and along with our volunteer Marianne, we delved into researching the history of the chamber pot. I guess I have never spent much time contemplating these objects before because the wide variety of beautiful and ornate chamber pots took me by surprise. Marianne informed us that we did indeed have several objects matching the descriptions online... but we kept them in the kitchen section of the collections room! Apparently previous staff or volunteers were also a bit confused and assumed that these porcelain vessels were some type of bowl or pot. We were stepping in the right direction of finding our mystery chamber pot, but lo and behold, none of the chamber pots in the kitchen section were the one we were searching for. So I kept my new knowledge of chamber pots tucked away in the back of my mind and kept my eyes open. A few days later I was looking through the Founders room on an unrelated task when I noticed a large white bowl hiding behind some other artifacts. Our chamber pot! I never in my life thought I would be so happy (or relieved) to see a chamber pot.


July 22nd, 2016

Hello, I’m Natalie Groulx, the newest employee here at the Museum on Tower Hill. Despite having only been here for a month, I have been lucky enough to experience and witness for the first time what working in a museum entails. In my first week, I was able to help with the finishing touches of the Parry Sound's Fur Trade exhibit (that will be on display till September 4th) while getting to know my co-workers for the summer, Amy and Elise.

 Together we have been trying to track down records for our found in collection (FIC) artifacts. As Amy has been saying, we have a number of artifacts that are, from what we can tell, not marked with accession numbers. The process in linking these artifacts with their original accession numbers is often very lengthy and sometimes requires a bit of luck.

Just yesterday, Amy, Elise, and I were looking into a FIC artifact of a framed poster titled “RULES FOR STAFF 1879.” The written notice details 9 various rules of an establishment, which you can read below.

1. Godliness, cleanliness and punctuality are the necessities of a good business.

2. The firm has reduced the hours of work, and the clerical staff will now only have to be present between the hours of 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. on weekdays.

3. Daily prayers will be held each morning in the main office. The clerical staff will be present.

4. Clothing must be of a sober nature. The clerical staff will not disport themselves in raiment of bright colours, nor will they wear hose, unless in good repair. Overshoes and topcoats may not be worn in the office, but neck scarves and headwear may be worn in inclement weather.

5. A stove is provided for the benefit of the clerical staff. Coal and wood must be kept in the locker. It is recommended that each member of the clerical staff bring four pounds of coal each day during cold weather. 

6. No member of the clerical staff may leave the room without permission from Mr. Rogers. The calls of nature are permitted and clerical staff may use the garden below the second gate. This area must be kept in good order.

7. No talking is allowed during business hours.

8. The craving of tobacco, wines or spirits is a human weakness, and, as such, is forbidden to all members of the clerical staff.

9. The owners recognize the new Labour Laws, but will expect a great rise in output of work to compensate for these near Utopian conditions.

Intrigued by its comical nature when compared to today’s work environments, we sought out to find its accession number. Elise first looked through our collections database for an artifact that held the description “rules for staff” and up popped the file for a document titled “Rules for Staff 1878,” with the accession number 1989.061.005. However, as you may or may not have noted, the accession number we found pertained to a document titled “Rules for Staff” for the year 1878, whereas our FIC poster had the year 1879. Before ruling this out as a match, and because there was no photo attached to the file, we wanted to see if this artifact was in our collections room. If not found, perhaps a mistake had been made in the records, in which 1879 was written down instead of 1878 by accident. Although after a bit of searching, lo and behold, there in the oversized frames section of the collections room, was the “Rules for Staff 1878” Poster. We also noted that the poster taken from the collections room had “Compliments of Toronto Dominion Bank- C.N.E’S (Canadian National Exhibition’s) 100th Birthday” at the bottom, which matched the description in the file on our database. With the artifact matching the record in the database, our FIC “Rules for Staff 1879” poster was still a mystery that needed to be solved.

Our next step was to remove the artifact from its frame, hoping to see an accession number written on the back of the page. However, to our dismay, the back was blank, but we did notice pencil marks on the outer edge as if the paper had been measured and cut in order to fit its frame. It is possible then, that this FIC artifact may just be a reproduction produced by previous staff members. Nevertheless, it is still an on going investigation that we will need a bit more luck and time in solving.

Below is an image of the reproduced and original copy.

 


July 16th, 2016

I have not written a blog post in a while and it is not because I haven’t been finding artifacts but rather that I have had two new people join my team and we have been quite busy. Every day it seems we find more and more things that need to be done; thank goodness I have extra help because I definitely need it. My newest teammates are Elise and Natalie; they will be working at the Museum for the summer, which already seems to be flying by. So far they have been a huge help. Not only have they been finding accession numbers to some of our found in collection artifacts but they have also been taking on a lot of the other work we have to do here at the Museum. They have been doing everything, from running the gift shop to cleaning the washrooms to working with the collection; if they were looking for a well rounded experience they certainly got it.

Since the two of them have gotten here we have all been working hard to make the most out of the short time they will be here. I have made them dive head first into the found in collection objects, trying to pass off all the knowledge I have gained from working with the collection for the past year and a bit. I must say, so far they have done an amazing job in helping me. Since they have been here we have photographed and stored close to 200 objects and archives, we have labeled close to 100 artifacts, we have added numerous location records onto our database, we have fixed up countless object files and so much more.

Some of the objects we have found accession numbers for so far are a loveseat, a wooden radio owned by Judge Little, a pair of snowshoes and of course a drinking fountain. I say of course because I was convinced the drinking fountain was something else, I will embarrassingly admit I thought it was a very small urinal. Elise skillfully detected that it was actually a drinking fountain, proving me wrong and giving us both a good laugh. I am unfortunately not able to determine what ALL artifacts are. The drinking fountain had come from Parry Sound's Central Public School and was donated with numerous photos from Isabella Street School, which made me very happy to read because I had these photos in the Artist Room and could now give them an accession number as well.

The loveseat also took some detective work because we had in our records that it had been reupholstered and the person never specified what the new fabric looked like and only provided a description of the old fabric. Although, knowing we had only one loveseat in the collection I went to check it out and as I looked beneath the loveseat I notice remnants of the old fabric. I guess it wasn't that much detective work since we do only have one loveseat in our collection, but still, it was exciting to give it a number.

The radio was also a good find. Elise and I were going through old accession records and came across one that listed the donor and gave a description, failing to list what the object was. As I read the description a light bulb went off in my head. I had seen a postcard in the back of a radio with the name Judge Little on it during my internship. I think I've said it before but thank goodness I have somewhat of a good memory because I was able to connect the two and thus give the radio an accession number.

The snowshoes were probably the easiest find. Knowing we only have a couple pairs in our collection I ensured that they all had numbers. There were two pairs that did not have numbers and therefore brought me a little closer to figuring out which pair belonged to the number I had. Thankfully the description gave measurements and I was able to measure both pairs and determine which one was the pair I was looking for. If you would like to see what they look like you will have to come to the Museum and explore our new exhibition Parry Sound's Fur Trade where they are currently on display.


 

June 4th, 2016

Despite being busy with the garage sale last week and our upcoming fur trade exhibition this week I was still able to find a couple accession numbers to some of my found in collection artifacts. I found them one day when I was going through some files on our computer. I cannot recall what I was looking for at the time; I never ended up finding it because I got distracted when I began to find my FIC objects. In going through the folders I began to click on anything to do with collections management and accessioned items. I ended up finding a folder titled "Accessioned Items Pictures". I could not have been happier when I found it because not only was I able to view a photo of each artifact in the folder, but each file had been labeled with its accession number. This made my job a whole lot easier. All I had to do was go through each photo and if one resembled an artifact that I was dealing with I would verify its number and description in our written records thus determining if it was the artifact I had in mind. In the end I ended up finding the accession number for 2 artifacts.

I found the third artifact in a similar way but in a different file folder. This file was titled "01 Accession Records". It brought me to more folders that were organized by year. As I opened them I found photos and half filed out donation agreements. One of the agreements I found was for an upright phonograph, and knowing that I had an upright phonograph in the Founder's Room I was very intrigued. The form described the provenance of the phonograph and thankfully mentioned one defining characteristic; the veneer needed to be refinished on the top. This was the case with the phonograph in the Founder's Room, and after verifying it was the only upright phonograph in our collection I had found my third artifact. This file was also labeled with the artifacts accession number so I didn't have to panic when that portion of the form was not filed out.

Asbestos Sad Iron - 2012.015.010 - The Asbestos Sad Iron was actually made with asbestos, although it was only present within the cover attachment piece. This iron was not donated with the cover.
Iron Pot - 2012.015.028.001&.002 – The accession number to this pot has an extra number to identify additional components. Because the lid of this pot can be removed it needs to carry the accession number as well. This makes for an easy find if the two pieces ever get separated and also alludes to there being more than one component without having to physically see it.
Phonograph - 2013.008.008 – This phonograph was produced by Gerhard Heintzman Limited, a celebrated Canadian piano manufacturer originally based out of Toronto. The company began solely selling pianos but expanded into other instruments when the sale of pianos decreased during the depression.

 


May 13th, 2016

I have recently been going through an 'Incomplete Accession Records' binder that I found in our Lab. By the looks of it, someone else must have been tasked with my job in the late 90's. The binder is filled with accession forms for various artifacts in our collection, although they are only partially filled out. Most of the forms give detailed descriptions of the artifacts noting things like size, manufacturer, materials and condition. You'd think that with all this information finding these artifacts on our database would be no problem but you would be wrong, just like I was. Even though these forms give really good descriptions they do not include the year the artifact was accessioned or the name of the person that donated the artifact to the Museum. Because of this I have only been able to determine which found in collection artifacts the forms are referring to, and have not yet found their accession numbers which is slightly frustrating.

The first artifact I was able to match with a form was the Medovapo Inhaler. The form listed the object name as 'Vaporizer' and identified how many components there were, describing their features and listing their measurements. In reading over the front of the form I was pretty certain that it was describing the Medovapo but because the manufacturers name was not listed I could not be sure. That was until I flipped the sheet over and saw a drawing of the Medovapo box and vaporizer bottle. Now I knew it was my artifact for sure – thank goodness past employees decided to draw the artifacts on the back of their accession forms, especially since they were not photographing them. The only problem now is that I still have not figured out the accession number for this artifact.

My next steps for the Medovapo will be to go through our written accession registers between 1985 (when the Museum began collecting) to 1997 (the date of the form I found) in order to find the object name and thus the accession number. It will be tedious but hopefully in the process I will find more of my found in collection artifacts – I can only hope.

Medo-Vape Inhaler – This device helped to clear ones nasal passage and throat through the inhalation of hot medicated vapors.

The next artifact I was able to find because of the 'Incomplete Accession Records' binder was a fragment of wood. I could not have been happier when I saw this form - even though there was no accession number - because how lucky is it to be able to match up a fragment of wood. The form listed the object name as 'Wood Fragment' and identified the artifact as having 2 components, the wood fragment and nails. Similar to the Medovapo form, I was not given an accession year or any donor information but thankfully someone drew the artifact on the back and it was a good enough drawing that I could tell it apart from the other fragments of wood I am dealing with. The shape of the fragment matched up, the placement of the nails is the same and the description regarding the discolouration of the wood lined up with its actual appearance. I never thought I would be this happy over a piece of wood. I cannot get too excited though, because as much as I have a bit of a paper trail, I still do not have an accession number and the artifact must remain in the Artist Room.

My next steps for the wood fragment will be the same as the Medovapo. Hopefully I will have some success.

Wood Fragment – Because this artifact does not have an accession number we currently do not know where it came from or what makes it a significant part of Parry Sound's history. Shown above is the back of the form that helped me identify the piece of wood - you can see why photographing your collection is so important.

 


May 1st, 2016

Even when I take a break from researching my found in collection artifacts I manage to get back to them somehow. While cleaning the office the other day I came across a banker's box filled with file folders. I started to briefly go through the files to get an idea of what they pertained to and found a couple folders that read 'Gift Agreements; No Accession #'s, Problem'. I was pretty happy when I found them because now I could possibly find a paper trail for some of the artifacts in the Artist Room, which could then result in me finding their accession numbers. I took all the folders with this title and began to go through them page by page reading the descriptions of the artifacts that had been donated to the Museum.

I had the most success with a sheet describing "one pig iron found at old Parry Sound Smelter Plant". Once I read pig iron I had a pretty good idea which artifact it was talking about because there is a piece of pig iron in the Artist Room, maybe 2 ft long x 3 inches thick, and it is so heavy I can't pick it up for the life of me. This piece of pig iron had an envelope attached to it reading "provenance re. pig iron" which I had opened and read not too long ago. Inside the envelope was a photo of the old Standard Chemical Co. plant and a sheet of paper which described the history of the object. So far I was on the right track because the provenance of the artifact matched up. Now I just needed to confirm that it was not already in the collections room.

I went on our collections database system and typed in pig iron. This gave me a couple artifacts to go through, but thankfully one with matching provenance did not have a photo. This meant that it could be my artifact, so now I had to go to our written records and look up the accession number. I found the record and began to read the description. Thankfully the person who had recorded it initially noted the length, thickness and weight of the object, identifying it as '24 " x 3.5" x 3"; weight 40 – 50 lbs?'. The measurements lined up and, not that I can lift the pig iron to determine its weight, but I'm pretty sure the weight lined up as well. But more importantly the provenance and donor matched the sheet that I had found. I guess sometimes it pays off to clean.

Pig Iron – 1990.056.010 – This sample of pig iron was found at the Standard Chemical Co. smelter plant which once stood next to the Sifto Salt Docks. It was unearthed in the late 20th century during modifications to the Smelter Dock.

In going through the same file folders I came across another sheet that has me thinking I may be on to something, although things are still looking somewhat bleak. This sheet was a gift agreement between the donor and Museum, but in the spot where the objects description is supposed to go nothing was written. So why do I think I may be getting somewhere? Because nothing was written in the description I flipped the sheet over to see if I could find any writing and to my luck I did. The back of the sheet read "Knitting Machine" and gave the donor's name. Reading knitting machine made a light bulb go off in my head because I had come across a box and booklet not too long ago for The Auto Knitter - Last week a volunteer and I were photographing and storing some of the identified artifacts within the Artist Room. I was in charge of storing the artifacts so I let our volunteer photograph quite a few objects before I started returning them to the Collections Room, and in the mean time continued cleaning and going through unidentified artifacts. While I was puttering around I came across the Auto Knitter and jotted down its description.

The next step was to go onto our collections database and start searching. I first tried searching auto knitter but had no matches. I then searched different variations of the objects name, such as auto, knitter, knit, etc. For some searched terms I received no matches and for others I had some matches but none were the auto knitter. I then tried searching for the Auto Knitter's instruction booklet within our archival records but again, no matches. Running out of places to search, I tried our donor records, attempting to match the name written on the sheet to a file on our database. Even this search turned up with no results. I even went through our written records for 1986 and 1987 thinking I may be able to find an object titled knitting machine and/or the donor's name (the date of the gift agreement was August 3, 1986) but had no luck with this either.

So where I am now in terms of identifying this artifact? I guess I'm no better off then when I started, but looking on the bright side of things I may potentially have a paper trail.

Auto Knitter – This is the instruction manual for the Auto knitter; a sock knitting machine from the early 20th century. I did not photograph the Auto Knitter because it has quite a few pieces and I would need to go through the manual in order to set it up.


April 24th, 2016

Another two artifacts identified! In going through our old accession registers I was able to find the accession numbers for a scythe cradle and wooden chest. I was both surprised and very happy when I came across these objects because I was not looking for them specifically and just happened to find them when searching our records. It's a good thing I have a decent memory and remember the details of the majority of artifacts I am dealing with.

I was able to find the scythe cradle while I was correcting a catalog file for one of the clothing wringers in our collection. After I made the necessary adjustments to the wringers electronic file I went back to our written accession records and continued to flip through the pages, reading the descriptions of the various artifacts. After going through three pages I came across an artifact that read "Agricultural tool; reaping four finger "Bow" cradle or grain cradle; wooden handle with blade and four fingers attached". Knowing that I had a scythe cradle in the Artist Room I went on our collections database and looked up the accession number. Luckily there was no picture connected to the file so this meant it had not yet been catalogued in the collections room, and after verifying this I knew it could be the objects accession number. I then did another search to determine how many scythe cradles we had. It turns out that there were only two; the one that I had come across in the register and another one of similar appearance. Thankfully the other cradle had a defining feature; one of the four prongs was broken at the tip. The scythe cradle in the Artist Room did not have a broken prong and therefore meant that the description I had initial found while flipping through the pages of our old records was in fact the correct number.

The next artifact, our wooden chest, was found in a similar manner. I was on our collections database attempting to find an accession number for the Coffield Washing Machine in our collection. I was searching terms when I came across a catalog file that simply said "washing machine". Due to the limited description I was given I had to then go into our written records to determine the features of this machine. When I found it in our old records the description read "Washing Machine Lid, gyrator and mechanical drive linkage; metal parts painted green". This was obviously not the washing machine I was looking for because it was just the lid to a machine. I actually dealt with the washing machine lid earlier in my contract. It was placed in the Artist Room because we could not find an accession number at first but after analyzing it I was able to find it and return the object to the collections room.

After determining that the number I looked up did not belong to the artifact I was trying to identify I began to flip through the pages of our register. After going through two pages of descriptions I came across a record that said "Chest; German handmade chest, probably 400 – 600 years old; front highly decorated with carvings on main frame; 3 raised panels, ends recessed, top is plain, back is rough, compartment inside at upper right". This description set off a light bulb in my head. During Re-Org we came across this chest and were unable to find its number so it was placed in the Founder's Room in hopes that we could associate it. I am so happy we were able to find this chest's accession number because the second I saw it I fell in love with it, it is so nice and I was not ready to part with it.

The next steps will be to label the two artifacts and return them to the Museum's collection room.

Scythe Cradle – 1987.112.001- A scythe cradle is an agricultural tool used to gather grain. The four prongs above the blade help to gather the grain in neat rows.

 

Wooden Chest – 1999.001.001- This is a German handmade wooden chest that was brought to Canada by the donor.


April 13th, 2016

So far I have gone through over 400 artifacts. Some of these artifacts already possessed accession numbers and others I have managed to find through searching our records. They all have one thing in common though; they need to be put back into the collections room! This will require more than just bringing the artifacts into the collections room.

Before any artifact can be put away we first have to ensure that it has an accession number on it. If the artifact does not have a number we must put one on it using proper labeling techniques that are non-abrasive to the artifact. Once we know the number is somewhere on the artifact we can photograph it and select our method of packing. Packing must be done according to each object, choosing the best method and using archival safe materials. Once you know how you will be storing your artifact you can bring it into the collections room. From here you must ensure you record the artifacts location, noting the row, unit, shelf, cabinet/drawer and box. After the artifact goes into the collections room, its information (photograph and location) is then recorded into our collections database system. Having a location record for each artifact is very important. It allows you to know where all your artifacts are, whether they are in the collections room, on display, loaned out, etc. It also helps to make searching for artifacts a lot easier for you know exactly where to go to retrieve what you want.

With the Look What We Found exhibition coming to a close at the end of April, the Founder's Room needs to be cleared out in order to make room for our next exhibition beginning in June. This means I have a little over a month to put the artifacts back into the collections room and/or Artist Room if I have not yet found their accession number. With May quickly approaching and the planning of our upcoming exhibitions already underway, I think I am going to need some help.

The Museum is currently looking for volunteers to assist with the completion of this project so if this is of interest to you then email me at communications@museumontowerhill.com.

 


March 26th, 2016

Over this past week I have managed to associate a number of artifacts to their original accession numbers. I was able to do this because of our amazing volunteers who photographed our entire collection during our inventory project and because of a document created by Jason. He went through every donation in our collections database system and compared them to our old accession registers, attempting to fill in the gaps. When he came across an accession number in our registers that was missing from our database he recorded it into a document. By the time he finished going through all the donations he had recorded over 1, 000 artifacts that were missing from our database.

So far this document has been very helpful. I now know all of the artifacts in the Museum's collection and can conduct a general search for each object electronically before having to investigate our written records. Searching for the objects electronically helps to quickly identify possible accession numbers. Although this only takes me so far because not all of our object's descriptions have been recorded into our database, with many simply listing the object's name. When I find a description that only lists the objects name I must record it, for it is a potential match until I know its characteristics.

Because many artifacts don't have descriptions in our database the photographing of our collection has proven to be very helpful. When searching for one of my objects, if I come across a file with just the objects name for the description, instead of recording the number as being a possible match I can cancel it out by looking to see if it has a photograph with it. If there is a photo then it is not my object because only artifacts that were in the collections room were photographed. So if an objects file has a photo with it, it means that it is sitting safely in our collections room with an accession number and is not what I am looking for. If there isn't a photo connected to the objects file then it is in fact a potential match to my search.

Once I have a couple potential accession numbers lined up for an object I then go through our written records in order to find the object description. From here I must determine if the description matches the object at hand, which can sometimes be more difficult than one would think and in some cases requires some research. I will now give you some examples of the artifacts I have found accession numbers for because of either the photographing of our collection or the document of objects missing from our database.

 

Brown Bottle – 1987.082.010 This artifact did not cause me too much trouble when trying to find its accession number. I searched through all the bottles on the document Jason created and came across one he had given a bit of a description for, it read "Bottle, glass, brown, Javex". The bottle I was dealing with also had "Javex Concentrate" written on it so I knew I may be close. I then looked up the accession number in our written records and it seemed like it was a match but then I noticed the object listed below it had a similar description, for they were both Javex bottles. Luckily they were different sizes. All I had to do now was measure the bottle and determine which accession number was the right one. In the end it was not the original number I looked up but the one I found in the process.

 

 

C. C. M Ice Skates – 1985.062.006a&bThis artifact again did not pose too many problems. Using the document of objects missing from our database I searched the word 'skate'. This gave me three possible accession numbers, well really only two. My third option was canceled out when the description read 'only one skate'; I had a pair. The other accession numbers gave a very similar description with both pairs being Automobile Speeder C. C. M skates. Thankfully they were different sizes so I could use this to determine which accession number was right. Knowing that my skates were size 11.5, I looked to see which description had this size and before you know it I found the right number.

 

Green Bottle – 1987.082.011 The green bottle called for a bit of a search. In going through the document of objects missing from our database I came across a couple objects simply listed as "Bottle." Because I was looking for a green bottle I knew I had to go into our written records and compare their descriptions. There were 3 accession numbers that described a green tinted glass bottle. The descriptions either characterized it as a 'pop bottle', 'liquor style bottle' or 'wine bottle', all without markings or trade names. They also provided me with the measurements of each bottle, which I could use to more easily determine the correct accession number. After measuring the bottle it became clear that it was the one described as a 'pop bottle', for the measurements and style matched that of the provided description.

 

Meccano Game – 2012.015.016 This artifact was an easy find due to there being a photo and description on our database. After recording the description of this game I went onto our database and searched Mecanno. Because someone had already inputted its description it brought me right to the accession file. Someone had even photographed this artifact so it made it very easy to compare details and know that it was the right one.

 

 

 

Gazeeka Puzzle - 1993.026.010 – This artifact was another easy find thanks to the document of objects missing from our database. Once I recorded the object description I went to the document and searched "Gazeeka." Thankfully Jason had recorded the name of this game and it brought me right to the accession number. I wish they could all be this easy!

 


March 6th, 2016

There are two wooden legs in the Artist Room that were found during Re-Org and put into my work area. While analyzing them I found their accession number, which meant I could look them up in our database as well as our old records. Unfortunately these records did not prove to be too helpful. Both our collections database and accession records described the legs as "table legs," and that was all. At this point I had many different thoughts pop into my head: Where is the table that belongs to the legs? Could I recall seeing a table in the collections room that was missing two of its legs? Is it possibly the Museum accepted the legs without the rest of the table? Could they belong to something other than a table? I had so many questions and no answers.

My questions would not be answered until I moved on to a new object. While I was recording more found in collection artifacts, I came across something I wasn't too sure on. Thankfully I have very helpful co-workers that I can bring my questions to. I brought Jason into the Founder's Room to view the artifact. After talking about it for a bit and analyzing the different details, Jason suggested that the artifact was a grindstone and we were looking at it the wrong way because two of its legs were missing. We found something to support the side with the missing legs and set it up how it would have looked when in use. Once it was set up we analyzed the artifact for a second time, and good thing we did because we noticed the worn off red paint on the grindstone matched that of the two wooden legs I had been working with earlier. We brought the two legs over to the grindstone and held them beside its existing legs; they were a match! This was very exciting for me because it was another mystery solved, well kind of. There is still quite a bit to do with regards to this artifact such as finding its original accession number and determining its provenance.

 


February 15th, 2016

 

Now that I have gone through all the artifacts with accession numbers I will be moving onto the Found in Collection artifacts. This will require a slightly different process than the artifacts that had accession numbers because I was able to look them up in our collections database as well as our old accession records allowing me to verify the number and provenance. The found in collection artifacts are a bit different. I began by selecting my first grouping of artifacts, recording such things as object name, materials used, maker's marks, etc. The object details are important to note because they will help when searching our collections database, giving me a variety of key terms that I can input.

The first found in collection artifact that I found an accession number for was a Lipton's Tea tin. I recorded its description and through searching some of the details I was able to come across a catalogue record for a tea tin. The description for this record simply said "Tea tin," which does not mean that it is the right number for sure but after cross referencing it with our old accession files, I was able to find a description which read "Lipton's Tea tin; yellow tin with red writing." This description matched my artifact exactly, and after verifying that it was our only Lipton's tea tin fitting this description, I had solved my first mystery. One down but still over a hundred mysteries to solve!

 


January 30th, 2016

My name is Amy Sultana; I am the Museum on Tower Hill's Collections Technician for the next year. My role at the Museum is to research the various problem artifacts that were found in the collection room during the Re-Organization initiative, determining their cultural significance and future placement. These artifacts have been deemed a problem for such reasons as; absent accession numbers, deterioration or potentially hazardous materials. As I sort through the unique variety of artifacts I will be posting my progress to our website. This will allow visitors to view some of the artifacts that were found while also providing insight into the processes and procedures used by myself.

While setting up the Look What We Found exhibition Jason (the Museum's Collections Assistant) and I came across a number of artifacts that possessed accession numbers. Some of these artifacts were placed in my workspace because of deterioration or required research and other artifacts were brought in by mistake; our eyes must have been tired from going through over 5000 artifacts. In total we discovered 83 artifacts with accession numbers. Because these artifacts possessed numbers I decided to begin researching them first. I began by recording all accession numbers and descriptions and then cross referenced them with the Museum's original accession registers. This allowed me to verify accession numbers and in some cases provided insight into the artifact's provenance. I then conducted a general search of all objects attempting to build on their history so to have a better idea of their relevance to the Parry Sound District.

Here are some examples of the artifacts that I have been researching.

         

This is a small bottle of "3-in-One Oil." It was placed within the Artist Room because of the remnant of oil left in the bottle. I am currently in the process of researching the proper storage methods for this artifact and whether or not we have to dispose of the fluid inside.

This is a large quill place mat. It was brought into the Artist Room simply because we could not find the accession number when it was first being analyzed. Now that I have recorded its number it can be returned to the collections room and stored with the other quill work.

   

This is a vise. It was placed within the Artist Room due to its condition. The metal is significantly corroded and could cause potential harm to the other artifacts in the collection if not stored properly. After researching the deterioration of metals, it became evident that the vise was coated in red/orange rust, which means it is chemically unstable and porous and should therefore be stored away from stable materials.

This position was funded by NOHFC.

 

 

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