A Packrat's Lament

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Mike Jackson
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A Packrat's Lament

Post by Mike Jackson » Tue Aug 24, 2004 12:54 am

Most of the sign makers I know are packrats at least to some level--some like myself are worse than others. My Dad had a huge pile of National Geographics on shelves, in boxes, and under the bed. I could look at them, read them, get photo inspiration, and so forth, but I couldn't cut them up. I subscribed to National Geographic for a long time. I had a big pile that I seldom read and probably threw away in a cleaning frenzy.

When we moved to Jackson Hole, I have an absolutely HUGE pile of Signs of the Times magazines. Tod Swormstedt would send me a dozen or so of any magazine I had a photo or article in. I usually get three or four copies of SignCraft each issue. I kept piles of Corel Magazines, Sign Business and Sign Builder Magazines. At one time, I had all the ST magazines stored from about 1972-1992 or so, organized in sequence in a three drawer file cabinet.

Now, I look around and have stacks and stacks of Fly Fisherman and Fly Tyer magazines. I just can't bear to throw them out.

A few years ago, I started going through all the Signs of the Times and Sign Business magazines and just clipping out the article that I "might" ever need again. Of course those clipping pages fill several large folders and I don't think I have ever opened a single one of the file folders since putting them in the cabinet.

All this compounds when you have oodles of old Letterheads exchange projects, Letterheads memorabilia, books, sign kits, old tools, and so forth.

Okay, I am terrible. I have a lot of "stuff". I am sure my kids will wonder what possessed me to keep all of it for so long. I have a push-pin wall next to me here in my office/design area. Besides the cut out beer carton labels, the fly examples, patterns, morgue examples, sample smaltz baggies, and so forth, I can see a zinc etching design from Rick Glawson, a clear plex ornamental bracket I picked up at Noel's place last time. There's a beautiful molded piece from Bill Hueg, a brush drying rack from Danny Baronian, that glass slide I bought on eBay a month ago, and numerous other small old goodies I picked up along the way. It borders on being cluttered, but only to a clean freak.

I doubt I throw any of it away anytime soon. With few execptions, each piece has some sort of value, whether monetary or sentimental. A few weeks ago, I headed over to the storage unit and pulled out a few old Spanjer letters, an old Duro decal kit, and an old homemade salesman's neon sample case to donate to the American Sign Museum. I had some of them on the walls in my old house in Moore, Ok, but Darla isn't as impressed by them in the house as me, so they have been in storage since we sold the shop in 1995. Logic would suggest that if I hadn't needed them in the 9 year period of time, I probably won't find a better place for them anytime soon.

I could probably find a few more pieces to send to Tod, but for now, this will be like sending a few of my kids to school for a long, long time when the box leaves UPS. For now, it will have to do!

Mike Jackson
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Raymond Chapman
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Next in Line

Post by Raymond Chapman » Tue Aug 24, 2004 8:29 am

Yep, been there - done that.

I still have those National Geographics from back in the 60's. Every time I plan to toss them I start thumbing through them and just can't find the courage to put them in the trash.

There is every issue of Signs of the Times from the 50's until now, along with every issue of SignCraft, Sign Business, etc. etc. Add to that Fine Woodworking, This Old House, Photoshop, and assorted others and you can see that there are boxes everywhere. Like Mike, I haven't looked at any of them for years, but just can't bring myself to throw them away.

I know that the day after my funeral everything will go in the trash, but for now there seems to be some satisfaction in just knowing that they are around.

Like Mike, as I look around here, I'm surrounded by junk. But it's MY junk and every piece has some memory. The older I get the more difficult it is to part with each piece.

Mark Yearwood
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Post by Mark Yearwood » Tue Aug 24, 2004 10:02 am

Like an old mechanic with a junkyard at his disposal once said..."Parts is parts!"

My junk is stuff and your stuff is junk. :wink:

Carol
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Pack rats

Post by Carol » Tue Aug 24, 2004 11:21 am

This sounds familiar. I just last weekend took stacks of old Signs of the Times to a small letterhead meet so they could find new homes. I couldn't stand to look through them because I knew if I did, they would come back home with me. A few did.
I think it's genetic. My parents were pack rats. And I'm so glad that they were. I have old engraved bill heads from when they owned a grocery - beautiful lettering and designs. I have photos from WWI plus all the photos of relatives that I never knew. You get the idea. They are treasures to me.
But but here's a question. Raymond (or Mike) or anyone else - back in the 80s there was a poem in SOT (I think) about being a Walldog. Does anyone have a copy or know what issue it was in?
Thanks. I think I'll go sort something,
C.
Art is a technique of communication. The image is the most complete technique of all communication.
Claus Oldenburg
You are invited to visit www.carolchapel.com

Raymond Chapman
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Thanks a lot!

Post by Raymond Chapman » Tue Aug 24, 2004 2:07 pm

Now Carol, you've gone and done it. I will be thanking about that the rest of the day, and then start looking for it, and then get lost reading old articles and looking at work that I had forgotten. The day is ruined.

Doug Bernhardt
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Post by Doug Bernhardt » Tue Aug 24, 2004 8:34 pm

Yah!...packing rodent are my two middle names...have cool glass jars from 30 years ago and even a few old whiskey bottles pulled from the floor boards of an old house I renovated as a plumbers assistant several years before I became a "sign painters" helper.....all the letterheads memorabilia is quite another thing! Good luck with passing on and for that matter sorting thru what you are about to pass on. That in it'self could take days if not longer. But....on the topic of national geo's, am looking for an issue from 1946 (am pretty sure) on the rediscovery of lost masterworks of art....after the end of the war. Has a picture of a lady wearing a yellow and fur trimed jacket. This issue is of no particular "value" but is of interest as the cover picture was determined to be a fake a number of years later. Is just an interesting idea to have a copy of this.

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Post by Mike Jackson » Tue Aug 24, 2004 9:00 pm

Doug,
Check out this eBay auction:
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vi ... eName=WDVW

It has all 12 issues from 1946, and the current price is just under $7.
There are three day left on the auction right now.

Mike
Mike Jackson / co-administrator
Golden Era Studios
Vintage Ornamental Clip art
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Danny Baronian
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Post by Danny Baronian » Tue Aug 24, 2004 10:23 pm

Two possible problems with this auction - for Doug at least.

If the lady is on the February issue, February is the only one without a cover, and the seller doesn't ship international shipments. If it has what you want, have someone in the US bid on it for you.

Unless I find out it's a rare and valuable issue, then I'll bid on it myself. ;-)

Smithsonian's still asking about Rick's box, Doug.
Danny Baronian
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Mike Jackson
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Post by Mike Jackson » Tue Aug 24, 2004 10:50 pm

Danny and Doug,
The covers on National Geographic magazines in that period had a generic Text cover (with a decorative border). The pic Doug is looking for must be inside the magazine and not on the cover. It woud help if he knew which issue the picture was in during 1946. You can sometimes buy individual issues for even less. There is also a bound 1946 group from July-Dec.

Mike Jackson
Mike Jackson / co-administrator
Golden Era Studios
Vintage Ornamental Clip art
Jackson Hole, WY

Photography site:
Teton Images
Jackson Hole photography blog:
Best of the Tetons

Dan Sawatzky
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I've discovered the solution!

Post by Dan Sawatzky » Tue Aug 24, 2004 10:56 pm

After dreaming for years I have finally found the solution to my own massive collection of 'good stuff'!

We are in the end stage of finishing the new (much, much larger) studio/workshop. My collection has been languishing in storage for quite some time but the time has finally come to begin unpacking once more.

This time around I am resolved to be brutal in the sorting. There's the junk which goes straight into the big green disposal bin. It's been filled a few times already.

Then there's the stuff that has lost it's appeal to me. With age I am getting much more discriminating :) This is the stuff that I try and find a new home for.

The last category of 'stuff' is the things I still want. It;s funny how that pile always seems to be the largest when the sorting is done.

But as I work through the many, many boxes I'm beginning to doubt if we built enough shelves and wall space. Unfortunately it's too late to build any bigger.

I have yet to go through two thirds of the boxes, and am still determined not to lose any of my resolve...

Yeah, right!

-dan
Isn't it great to love what love what you do and do what you love!

John Lennig
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Post by John Lennig » Wed Aug 25, 2004 8:36 pm

Rule of thumb: as soon as you get rid of it...you Need it!

John Lennig
"You spelled it wrong!"

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