Object of the Day

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Rectangular gray recorder with microphone attached by cord; disks. Recorder has controls in red, black, and metal with white text: “B”, “L”, and “C”. In relief: “EDISON”; “VOICEWRITER”; “Thomas A. Edison”.
Take a Memo
This Voicewriter dictation machine, commonly known as a “dictaphone,” was produced throughout the 1950s by Thomas A. Edison, Inc. The 1953 model in the Cooper Hewitt’s collection represents one moment in the long evolution of the dictation machine, which began when Edison invented the phonograph in 1877. The inherent competition to dictation machines, in the form of the pesky human...
Katagami, Arrow Design Imitating Warp Ikat (kasuri), late 19th–early 20th century; Japan; cut mulberry paper treated with persimmon tannin and silk thread; 46.7 x 34 cm (18 3/8 x 13 3/8 in.) Mat: 71.1 x 55.9 cm (28 x 22 in.); Gift of Helen Snyder; 1976-103-289
Pattern Papers
The word katagami, the Japanese term for the paper stencil used to print patterns on fabric, translates literally as “pattern paper.” Featuring designs and motifs drawn from nature, traditional folklore, and literature, katagami are crafted as tools to be used in the resist-dyeing process that is used to produce printed textiles in Japan. The patterns...
2006-27-5
An Inspired Pot
This Jardinière was made of faïence, the French term for tin-glazed earthenware based on the name of a town in Italy-Faenza, with which its production is associated from the Middle ages and before. This example is from Moustiers, France, a town in the Alpine area in the southeast of France, where faïence has been made...
1981-50-1
Ancient Attraction
Louis Comfort Tiffany’s earliest experiments in glass began in 1873. By about 1916 when this Cypriote vase was made, Tiffany was presiding over a large factory in Corona, New York where his staff continually worked to perfect new glass formulas, shapes, enamels, and glazes. Tiffany admired ancient glass and the forms, colors, and surface effects...
F. Leiber, The Two Paths
Drinking Didactics
On January 16, 1919, the congress of the United States of America ratified the 18th amendment, prohibiting the “manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors.[i]”  And so, after years of fervent lobbying by groups such as the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, the U.S. entered a short-lived period in which alcohol was forbidden (but still widely...
book cover
1964: When the world flocked to the fair
Written by Weixin Jin Peter and Wendy see the New York World’s Fair in Pop-up Action Pictures is a children’s book by Mary Pillsbury published in 1963 by Spertus Publishing Company.  As an official 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair publication, this book extracts and highlights  key attractions at the World’s Fair in five colorful, pop-up action pictures....
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Severe but Stylish
French style during the early 19th century is characterized by a strong emphasis on Greek and Roman imagery from antiquity. In many ways, it is a continuation of the Neoclassicism of the late 18th century. After the French Revolution of 1789, the new government encouraged the use of Neoclassical imagery in order to create a...
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All Wired Up
I was drawn to this design for its use of common, mundane materials to create a contemporary rendering of a traditional pattern. As a kid, these insulated wires held a special fascination for me. Maybe it was the bright colors of the insulation or the fact that when bent it could hold a pose, but...
Sampler, Baltimore, Maryland, 1823, embroidered silk in cross stitch on linen plain weave foundation, Bequest of Gertrude M. Oppenheimer, 1981-28-78.
A Baltimore Sampler
French-speaking Catholics, fleeing the bloody revolutions in France and the Caribbean, settled in large numbers in the Baltimore area. In 1791, priests from the Parisian Society of Saint Suplice established a seminary in west Baltimore conducting religious services in French, and it soon became the center of a rapidly-growing French community. Among the émigrés, both...