My new desk, old office supplies, peanut butter sandwiches June 15 2004

I am listening to Germany (Deutsche Welle) in German.  I would tune into Radio New Zealand but...  The computer is on which causes noise on the radio.  And the frequency they use at this time seems to have this horrible hum or buzzing noise on it---at least on this radio.  Don’t know if it is something going on in the neighborhood or what.  I could pick them up better a few weeks ago.

Ok, I bought a desk on Saturday. (See the entry titled, “Anybody Know Chinese?”.  It is the entry just before this one.)   On Sunday we did a massive move of some books, and a shelving unit.  We cleaned up the desk and vacuumed out the drawers.  We moved more books, moved another shelf by four or five inches, and put the books back.  Then we were able to put the desk in. 

After that, I went and put some things in the drawers.  It is so nice to have drawers.  When I told Douglas I needed drawers he reminded me that I already had a drawer full of “drawers”. (He was referring to what my uncle called, “seat covers”.)  I laughed at Douglas (Ha!) and restated my need for drawers.  There was an ever growing collection of little “stuffs” in this room that didn’t have a place to go.  (Things like the calculator instruction book.)  Now they have a place to go.

When I got things put in drawers the surface of the desk became my next project.  It seemed like a figurative canvas that was waiting for the “paint”.  The idea is to put some “knick knack” items (dust collectors) along the back edge of the desk.  If I have the desk nice and neat on top, maybe I won’t be tempted to clutter it with junk and paperwork. (Judging from past experience it won’t work.) The whole idea is to keep the top of the desk open so that I can have a space to write.  Every other surface in this room has got something on it.  At the computer desk it is so bad, if you go to write a note on a scrap of paper, it is almost impossible.  It is difficult to write over a lumpy surface. 

I went and found my box of old office supply collectables.  I stuck them on a curio shelf at the back of the desk.  I will have to take a picture and stick it onto the web site.  In the box was this part of a pencil.  I kept it because it looked very ancient and it had most of the full label on it.  We found it in the house.  It could be very old.  I had to get out the magnifying glass, but it is a “No. 73B Medium ‘Mephisto’ Copying” pencil.  I went to Google and looked up these pencils.  It was made by a company called Koh-I-Noor.  Before they had photocopiers and duplicating machines they used these pencils. There was an involved process they used to make copies.  Wow!

I must have office supplies and ink in the blood.  My father owned a newspaper in a small town in Texas. (I assume that would be like the village newspaper in England; that is, if English villages have newspapers.) He also had a print shop in the back and an office supply shop (stationers?) in the front.  It wasn’t anything like the modern chain office supply shop!  There is nothing like a fresh notebook or the smell of old paper. We have a one of a kind office supply shop near us. They sell things you can’t get in the chain shop down the street.  Most people prefer to shop in the chain place.  It is open longer and is modern and the prices seem cheaper.  I find there is nothing like visiting a shop where the staff is glad to see you.  They recognize your face and know their merchandise well.  I can go into this shop and look around for hours.  The one of a kind office supply shop is a vanishing breed.  If you go to some of them, they have for sale things that are no longer being made.  Our local is slowly selling off those sorts of items in their discount basket.  

Over the years, I grew to like most anything old or “antique”.  But my first real “thing” was bottles.  I collected all sorts of bottles.  I like soda pop and other beverage bottles best.  They are the most colorful.  I also have some ink bottles too.  I even found a really interesting one buried behind my father’s news paper office.  (Part of the building had been a bakery?  When they remodeled the building they found a very old ketchup bottle under the floor.  I am happy to have that one too.) 

I took up doing some painting, and calligraphy.  I do it as a hobby.  I am not very good at calligraphy. I really like the feel of the ink and the dipping pen as you write onto “fancy” paper. 

I have a growing collection of old office supply items.  The first item I got was a mechanical pencil I got from Planters Peanuts.  This was in the 1970’s.  We bought peanuts from a vending machine.  It said that if you collect enough wrappers, you could get a mechanical pencil with Mr. Peanut on it.  I had seen and used mechanical pencils before.  I just didn’t know they were called, “mechanical” pencils.  I sent away for the pencil. It took forever but it finally came.  I still have it. 



As I lived with my grandparents I found old pencils and such like in their “junk drawer” in the kitchen.  When we moved into this house we found more things than we could keep.  This was in 1989.  It is too bad we didn’t have a computer.  We could have sold the stuff on EBay that we gave away to a charity thrift store.  We found old pencils and other items.  Douglas’ grandparents built this house in 1939-1940.  She worked as a secretary in various insurance offices.  He worked at Ford Motor Company as the guy the workers went to when they wanted a raise.  We have an old awful desk full of junk, sandpaper, tools, seed packets and such like in the garage.  They attached a vice to the top of the desk.  They bought it from Ford Motor Co.  We have a receipt somewhere.  If the drawers didn’t stick, the top didn’t have motor oil on the surface, if the vice wasn’t on it and the veneer wasn’t coming off; this would be a nice desk.  It is too heavy for this room though. 

We found all sorts of neat “office supply” and related stuff in the house.  Douglas’ Grandfather’s uncle was an artist or draftsman of some type.  We found a letter where an artist supply company was letting him know that if he didn’t pay them what he owed, they were going to “sick” a collection agency onto the uncle.   (Sick=sic—to incite or urge a pursuit) We have an old German drafting set that probably belonged to him.  There is an ornate “compass” also.  (Compass = the thing you draw a circle with not the thing you navigate with.) One of my favorite items that may have belonged to the uncle, is a box of pen nibs. The uncle lived in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  I don’t know when he died.  To give some idea of the uncle’s age, Douglas’ grandfather was a W.W. I era Navy veteran, that never saw battle.  The grandfather was about 20 years old maybe in 1918.  We even found a glass dipping pen.  I tried to use it but the very tip is broken.  In the basement we found a wide mouthed Sanford Ink Co. bottle.  It has a rubber lid with a hole in the middle. A rubber handled brush sticks through the hole.  I always thought it was a glue jar and the brush for the glue. Today, I noticed the name on the bottom of the bottle.  The bristles are yellow and not stained blue or black.  Maybe they kept glue in this jar (ink bottle)?  Who knows?  I forgot this bottle had a nice crack around the bottom.  It still looks nice though. 

DW has faded so much that I can hear


every other word of a famous short-wave radio preacher.  I don’t agree with this man so I am going to change the station.  I found DW clear again.

Some of the neat things we found in the house were typewriter ribbon boxes. I kept one of the card board boxes and one of the “tins”.  The tin is from “Panama Beaver”. Douglas’ grandmother must have collected a lot of the office supplies for use at home.  There were several Panama Beaver things around.  We have some of their carbon paper downstairs.  We found three typewriters in the house.  We kept only one of them—the older one.  Of course Douglas had an electric typewriter which didn’t work.  I had one that worked which my father gave me.  We bought a little black manual portable for about $8.00 at a garage sale. It is sort of art-deco.  I use it outside in the summer months when I do some note taking for my radio drama.  (I am trying to write a radio drama for the BBC World Service competition that happens every two years.) At the address below, is a picture of the typewriter.  Mine says, “Silent” above the “platen” instead of “Sterling”. I am glad I didn’t pay $350 for this typewriter!!  Never pay retail.  If you want to know how to shop, ask me. Sometimes it takes patience to find what you want at the price you are willing to pay for it. If it would quit raining, I might be able to venture outside under the garage door in order to type some more on my story.  I am still stuck in the beauty parlor.  We have had an unusual amount of rain this spring.

Speaking of old office supplies…
I have a book from the early 1900’s or maybe late 1800’s.  It is part of a correspondence course for secretaries.  It has photos of women running the office equipment but the women are in the long dresses of the 1800’s.  What is neat about this book is that it teaches handwriting and it also teaches typing.  It has various photographs and drawings of typewriters.  They even had typewriters that would type into bound books.  I guess the typist had to be very accurate to type in a book.  I would like to find one of those, but I bet it would be cost prohibitive to buy one.  I can’t find these typewriters online.  I don’t know what to call them.  I should look in my book I guess.  The office supplies in old text books and catalogues are interesting.  This book even shows an early copying machine.  I think it is an Edison model but am not sure. 

What got me to thinking about all of this was the pencil I looked up earlier.  It was fascinating to learn what type of pencil it was.  Speaking of buying things…  Once we went to an estate sale.  The ones they have here, are glorified garage sales inside people’s houses.  They aren’t normally auctions.  The owners are not always dead either.  People could be moving on to retirement places or they want a better cliental.  One we went to was selling ugly furniture that charity thrift stores couldn’t give away in the 1980’s.  I guess it is collectable today.  These young people bought it at thrift stores and were selling it for outrageous prices at an “estate” sale.  One other memorable sale we went to was where an older couple were selling a lifetime’s collection of unwanted belongings.  The man was an engineer? at Ford Motor Co.  He had loads of drafting supplies.  He offered me the whole box for a sum.  I couldn’t afford it all and didn’t need all of it.  I don’t know how to use a side rule.  I did buy his red pencils and his oversized clipboard. (The clipboard is larger that the ones for “legal sized” paper.)  He had some sort of pencil leads in a wooden box.  I had to buy a special pencil for them at our one of a kind office supply shop.  That reminds me, I should dig out the pencils and pens I have buried in the closet next to me.  I should put them in one of the desk’s drawers. 

I wonder if my Cadbury, double-decker bus, “biscuit tin” (cookie container) will be worth anything down the road?  I hope not. This one is only from the 1990’s.  And I stuck a sticker on the top of the lid which says, “Scrapbook Supplies; hinges, corners,/Tape etc.”.  The sticker ruins any value it may have or accrue. 

One last thing:
Speaking of the desk… For a long time I was getting a catalogue “The Collector’s Tea Pot”.  It has all sorts of fancy collectable tea pots inside it.  Most of them are very fanciful designs. For example they had one that was a dresser with “woman’s” stuff all over it.  Those are normally sold at very high prices.  The company also sells tea and other stuff too.  I bought a plain white English tea pot for making tea in. It was at a more normal price. It isn’t decorative or anything.  I have a growing tea pot collection too. Most of the tea pots that we have came from second hand places. (garage sales, estate sales, thrift stores etc.)  We found one or two here in the house.  I got a nice old English, “brown betty” in Canada at a charity thrift store.  I wouldn’t drink out of any of the old ones we got though. That is why we got the new English one.  When I washed the one we got in Canada, brown water poured out of it.  Don’t know if it was dirt or tea that stained it.  (People old use tea pots as flower pots sometimes.)  I tried to use one we found it the house, and it had a funny taste to the tea. Most of the tea pots we have are just


“collectable”.  I had always wanted one of the decorative tea pots like the catalogue sells.  I knew I could never get a fancy one like that though.  I was very happy to find an older one made in China.  I got it at a garage sale for $.50 (50 cents).  It is shaped like a desk with an old black typewriter, white telephone and a white sheet of paper on the top of the desk.  It is very cute and looks nice on top of the curio shelf that is on the desk. 

Ok.  I am off now.  I am starving (figuratively speaking).  I have developed an addiction to sandwiches made with real butter, Kroger Natural Crunchy peanut butter, and Hoffman’s Super Sharp cheddar slices.  Douglas’ introduced me to peanut butter and cheese.  I haven’t cottoned to peanut butter and ham yet.  He eats peanut butter, cheese and ham.  Now, remember that these sandwiches only work with the peanut butter that you stir the oil into.  That is the best kind!!!!  I like the Kroger brand because the label says it only has “roasted peanuts, salt”.  The funny part is the disclaimer underneath that, “CONTAINS: PEANUTS.”.  I guess there might be a not so smart person with a peanut allergy that would buy and eat peanut butter not knowing it had peanuts in it. You can buy the Hoffman’s at Amazon.  Of course they sell it in 10 pound loaves.  My grandfather wouldn’t say it was sharp enough.  He is nearly 90 and people his age don’t have the taste buds they once had.