Hitting the Bulls Eye at the Cape
The other day we happened to be at Cape Cod for some fireworks, ultimately getting a tour of Eastham, Massachusetts with some good friends. During our trip we were checking on a home on one of the oldest pieces of property in a local town. The structure was moved to the property in 1930 and in all its magnificence it had multiple rooms, each with their own fireplaces and multiple hearths. As I looked outside to the waterfront and the wind whipped around the ducks settled on ice, I thought about the process of moving the home. I thought about the meals cooked in the hearths. (Side note regarding hearths: Check out A Taste of History, it's a PBS show; Chef Walter Staib travels the US in search of historic locations to cook authentic 19th century food- you won't be disappointed but you will probably be hungry :http://www.pbs.org/food/shows/a-taste-of-history/) I thought about what life used to be like and what antiques used to live in this near vacant home. I thought about the people who lived there or visited- huddled around the fireplaces for warmth while the fire popped; embers floating upwards in swirls of their own mesmerizing dance. Or, standing by an open window sill; breathing in the soul cleansing air as it flowed through linen curtains, dancing in their own way across foreheads with beads of sweat, just like the embers of winter.
Walking through rooms and time, I discovered windows I had never encountered before. Each glass pane sat nonchalantly between wood frames, unaware of their significance or ties to yesteryear.
Showing a navel of sorts, each pane carried a pontil mark dead center in their very being; and I knew I found something amazing. In my excitement I researched right away (Technology can be a blessing most times) and by the time we got back into the truck I was learning about Bulls Eye glass and where it came from. This glass, also known by Crown Glass or Cylinder Glass with similar variations, started long ago as molten glass that was blown into a sphere about five feet (Five feet?!) in diameter. It was then divided into squares; the more expensive flat glass used as window panes for the more well-to-do and the pontil marks (where blown glass breaks from the rod the artisan blows into) used as panes at a much cheaper cost. Mouth blown glass used in this way came about in the eleventh century, and by the middle of the 19th century it was perfected and the preferred method of window pane construction. It met it's end during the end of the industrial revolution and in 1903 the first mechanical method was introduced.
In any event, these window panes could be from the 1920's at the latest, long before the invention of FM radio, in a time where penicillin was first observed to have antibiotic capabilities. It could have been older and from a time where the zipper wasn't able to get clothing (or body parts!) stuck between its teeth because it wasn't invented yet, or before people used a ballpoint pen to write out their dreams or qualms . I was able to see them, and touch them. I can't speak for all collectors when I say part of my passion (or obsession) is closely tied to history. For some it is purely aesthetic, for others it is purely nostalgia, and even still a love of history for others. For me, it is a conglomerate of it all and in a past life I most likely would have been a very content history professor.
"History never really says goodbye. History says, 'See you later." ~ Eduardo Galeano