Valley Gives 2012

Many thanks for your generous donations on 12/12/12! The museum raised over $600, which will help us keep the museum open again weekend afternoons next summer. Thank you to the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts and many valley businesses for sponsoring the day.

Ambrotypes Reveal Forgotten History!

Jones & Thompson Patent Planar Jones & Thompson Patent Planar – 1856 Jones & Thompson Patent Planar - 1856 Jones & Thompson Patent Planar – 1856

Mystery Pictures Discovered

A local historian friend, Peter Miller, provided copies of two probable ambrotype images, which appear to be from the 1850s. Peter was permitted to copy the originals from an old owner who claimed to be related to one of the pictured men, named Thompson. It is the machine, itself, that is the real subject and reason for these pictures to have been made!

An earlier version of this post identified these images as daguerreotypes. We have not seen the originals, but agree with the comments two readers have made, below. Ambrotypes were albumen coated glass, and would account for the crack lines in these images. We now presume these to be ambrotypes.

Non-Human Subjects, from these years are Rare

Remember that in the 1850s, only professionals made photographs, and the vast majority were portraits, made at the artist’s studio. Taking photographs of a machine in a factory would have been a special and costly job.

Jones & Thompson's Green River Site -1855

Jones & Thompson’s Green River Site -1855 in Greenfield MA

Jones & Thompson – Greenfield, Massachusetts

A company, named Jones and Thompson, operated most of our museum site in the 1850s. They ran a foundry and produced iron products. They also may have owned and operated the Green River Mills and dam. Lacking better information, we might easily imagine their metal industry as being like a large scale blacksmith shop. Maybe their products were just simple farm and trade tools. What did they really make? Did they supply a traditional market, or were they “high tech”? We knew little about Jones & Thompson, aside what we learned from the old maps. Is it possible that these two pictures might reveal a lost story?

Seeking an Answer

Our President, Jim Terapane, followed a hunch and began searching U.S. Patents awarded to residents of Greenfield. He came up with this!

Edwin Jones Patent - 1856

Edwin Jones Patent – 1856

The Pictures Match the Patent Drawings

The patent application for this clapboard planing machine mentions three names. Edwin Jones as claimant, and witnesses Hugh M. Thompson and Charles Mattoon. How much of a stretch is it, to presume that these are the same men standing in our picture?
We could also speculate that these two expensive pictures were actually made to document the machine for its patent application. If true, these two pictures are almost certainly from 1856 and that makes them the earliest photographs we have of Greenfield’s manufacturing history!

What Else May Still Be Discovered?

Please imagine the excitement we feel, when discovering such a lost bit of history! First, an unexpected piece of our imperfect jigsaw puzzle appears and challenges us to identify it. Then, imagine our thrill when we discover this piece reveals a new detail of the past!
Help us! Keep your eyes open for more historic gems, such as this. So much is already lost to time, but who’s to say what still might survive and contribute to our historic “jigsaw puzzle”?

Mud Day, March 22nd celebration.

 

MollyPoster

The Museum of Our Industrial Heritage will host a Mud Season Day of Dance on Saturday March 22. Free entertainment at 2pm features two teams of Molly Dancers on hand to welcome Spring and bring good luck to the museum for its 2014 season. Molly dancing is a form of English Morris Dance traditionally practiced by out of work ploughboys in midwinter, and now by “factory”lads”– including some dressed in women’s clothing (hence the name “Molly”). The local “Green River Tap & Die” team has invited “Handsome Molly” from Princeton NJ to help celebrate the end of winter with music, song and dance. All are welcome.

The Museum at 2 Mead STreet in Greenfield is free and open to the public on Saturday March 22, 1-4pm and by appointment at other times. Call 413-336-8275 for more information.

Wing Racing Car Returns Home

December 2013     Greenfield Massachusetts

This Wing Special midget racing car recently returned home to the factory where it was built in 1922. Between twenty and thirty of these cars were built at the Chauncey Wing Machine Company on Pierce Street, and until this one showed up on Ebay we did not know if any had survived. This particular car—powered by a Henderson 4CXly motorcycle engine and reported to reach 85 MPH—has until recently been in California where it was raced and had connections to the Hollywood movie industry. Although the museum would like to have this car for our collection, the asking price is out of our reach at this time. The person selling that car, who lives in Connecticut, recently offered to bring it home, and a lucky group of enthusiasts were treated to a rare viewing.

Dean Beckman of Connecticut Classix, a broker of rare racing autos who trailered the car here, was equally impressed that the original Wing factory still exists and is still in operation making one of its original products, “The Wing Mailer,” a device to apply mailing labels that was first marketed in the 1890’s. The Wing family pioneered early automobile manufacturing, making parts and patterns for other makes as well as producing a short run of these cars, which are considered one of America’s first sports cars.

Given the historic value of this car and the possibility that resources still exist at the factory to remake parts, and since the asking price has not been met, Beckman told us he would urge the owner not to sell the car. There is a tentative plan to have the car return in the spring for a more thorough examination and a search for any patterns that may still exist, in hopes of manufacturing replacement parts for the car.

Stay tuned.

Jim Terapane, President

MOIH OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, SUNDAY, OCTOBER 27 1-4 PM

Free Admission To The Museum

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 27  1-4 PM

What will our 2014 season be like?   

In addition to opening the museum’s regular exhibits, at 3 pm on Sunday we will be serving light refreshments and discussing  directions for the future.

What can MOIH do to link the past, present and future of Franklin County? 

Our goal is to begin a process of raising awareness of our living industrial heritage, even in months when the museum is closed. Please join us to discuss how we can accomplish this goal.

Looking at the loom


Sunday is the last chance to see the model 1804 Jacquard loom on loan from Smith College and our 2013 exhibit on the textile mills of Conway. Our permanent exhibit  Industry and Innovation: Franklin County’s Unique History can be viewed by appointment until the museum opens again in the spring. Call or email to set up an appointment.

Summer Celebration 2013

 

A big THANK YOU to everyone who helped make our SUMMER CELEBRATION a success! At this FREE 2nd annual event, local bands Bright Lines, Pale Cowboy, and Daniel hales, and the frost heaves entertained in the shade of the big tent while visitors conducted electrical experiments with retired teacher Jim Klaiber and experienced the heat of the forge as Iron Johnny hammered out nails–and much more!

 

Greenfield Historical Commission’s Terry Ruggles showed visitors maps of the future greenway along the Green River and collected signatures in support of saving the historic Wiley & Russell dam. Inside the museum visitors threaded screws in the workshop and took in the exhibit gallery overlooking the Mead Street dam, with its tools and photographs illustrating Franklin County’s unique industrial heritage.

 

 

This program was supported in part by a grant from the following Cultural Councils, local agencies supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency: Bernardston, Buckland, Conway, Deerfield, Gill, Greenfield, Leyden, Montague, Orange, Shelburne, Shutesbury, and Wendell. We are very grateful for their generous support!

Soup and Games Night

Hope and Olive

A huge “Thank You!” to all who made our Soup & Game Night this spring a big success: the restaurants who donated the soup and bread, the raffle prize donors, bakers, Jim & Maggie at Hope & Olive and their staff, and all the people in the community who made such generous donations—making it possible  to open the museum on summer weekends again this year.