Belsnickles – definition


Belsnickle (often spelled in a variety of ways in North America: Belschnickel, Belsnickel, Belznickel, Belznickle, etc., while in German, the spelling is Pelznikel) is the Santa-like figure of the thickly-forested Rhineland region in western Germany known as the Palatinate.

Unlike the modern jovial Santa Claus, Belsnickle is a fearsome figure, more like Krampus in Austria legend, often depicted carrying presents or a Christmas tree in one hand while carrying a bundle of switches [...] Click here to continue reading.



Scandal & the Story of Bakelite Bakelite hit the market in 1907, heralding the arrival of the modern plastics industry. Bakelite was the first completely man made plastic, as until then, plastics such as celluloid, casein, and Gutta-Percha all had as a base a natural material. It was developed by Belgian-born chemist Dr. Leo Hendrick Baekeland who started his firm General Bakelite Company to produce the phenolic resin type plastic. Bakelite was inexpensive [...] Click here to continue reading.

Feather Trees – Definition

Feather Trees

The tradition of bringing a tree into the home and decorating it was first criticized by the prophet Jeremiah. Oliver Cromwell later preached again the “heathen tradition,” but of course, we know how things turned out for him…. Later, Christmas trees were criticized for different reasons – environmental ones! It’s a little hard to imagine now, but in the early 20th century, railroads and other changes in industry had resulted in rapid [...] Click here to continue reading.

Kugel Christmas Ornaments

Kugel Christmas Ornaments

Often said to be the first manufactured Christmas ornaments, kugels became popular in Germany around 1850 when silvered glass was invented. Translated from the German, kugel means ball or sphere – its most common form – but they also were made in the form of grape bunches, and teardrops, with hand-blown eggs, pears and apples more rarely found. Rarest of all are mold blown kugels resembling pine cones, artichokes and berry [...] Click here to continue reading.

Catafalque – definition


Catafalque comes from the Italian word catafalco, which means scaffolding. It is the term used for a bier or platform that supports a coffin, and catafalques are often, although not always, moveable. In the United States, the most iconic example of a catafalque is the Lincoln Catafalque, which was created for Lincoln’s funeral in 1865. This pine platform covered with black cloth remains in the Exhibition Hall at the U.S. Capitol’s visitor center, [...] Click here to continue reading.

13 Star American Flag

Flag Act of 1777

The first national flag of the United States, known as the Continental Colors, retained the Union Jack in the canton. The flag act of 1777 mandated that stars replace the British Union flag to which the act referred to as “a new constellation”. The act, however, failed to lay down a firm design as to how the stars should be arranged and manufacturers of “Old Glory” incorporated their own placement [...] Click here to continue reading.

Bellamy, John – Woodcarver of Maine

John Bellamy

John Haley Bellamy, master ship carver of Kittery Point, Maine produced some of the most outstanding decorative carving for ships and buildings during the last half of the 19th century. Bellamy was best known from his carved eagles which were characterized by concave wings, a deep cut eye and accentuated beak. He used a minimum of carving to achieve a masterful effect of clean simplicity. In addition to eagles, Bellamy carved animals, [...] Click here to continue reading.

Flagg, James Montgomery – American Artist – Uncle Sam

James Montgomery Flagg (1877 to 1960)

James Montgomery Flagg, born in Pelham Manor, New York in 1877, is one of those interesting figures in history who actually did so much, but is only remembered for one thing! Flagg was a gifted artist, displaying a prodigy’s talent; he created his first magazine illustration at age 12, and by the age of 14, he had become a regular contributor to Life. He actively pursued training for [...] Click here to continue reading.

Machmer, Richard & Rosemarie — Provenance Pook 10-24-08

Richard & Rosemarie Machmer Provenance

The following remembrances were publishing the Pook and Pook auction catalogue for this sale, held on October 24 and 25, 2008. For coverage of this sale, please see the account in Maine Antique Digest, published in January of 2009, available at

About thirty-five years ago, I traveled around two hours to an evening country auction in Schnecksville, Pennsylvania. As I walked into the auction house, facing me was [...] Click here to continue reading.

Lear-Storer-Decatur Family

The Lear-Storer-Decatur Family and their role in American History

Courtesy of James D Julia, Inc. (Winter Antiques & Fine Art Auction, February 4 & 5, 2010).

The Lear-Storer-Decatur family is one encompassing a number of important historical figures in the 19th, 18th and 17th centuries. Their roots begin with Sir William Pepperrell Baronet, born June 27, 1696 and died July 6, 1759. He was born in Kittery Point, Maine (where all of this material [...] Click here to continue reading.

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