From New York City


Ok, so I’m cheating. I didn’t find them. I made them.

I had some un-lovely things in my apartment so…


Surviving air gaps and building re-pointing dust.

First seen on the great blog


Web AC Livingroom copy




Web ACBedroom copy


The Ubiquitous Apartment Doorbell

Web Doorbell copy



Web Hall Doorbell copy


My Burlap TV

Web TV detail copy


They make phone covers don’t they?

Web TV copy













From New York City


I had just moved back from Montana to Manhattan, and was sorting through the mountains of boxes when I found this correspondence from my mother’s archives.


Born in New York City in 1912, she had been a stenographer – which she loathed – but said that she always made sure that she at least worked in interesting places and for interesting people.


During the depression she was secretary to Ben Hecht – the legendary newspaperman, playwright and Hollywood screenwriter who’s work included : Scarface, The Front Page, Nothing Sacred, His Girl Friday, Notorious, and Wuthering Heights – but I never knew how she got the job.


Here’s how.


In 1937 Hecht was quoted in an interview stating that when poor people get money they no longer value it,  so she wrote him a letter.

She got the job.


New York Post columnist Leonard Lyons commented in his column The Lyons Den that a lady had written a letter to Hecht denouncing him, and he promptly hired her as his secretary.


My mother sent Lyons a letter too.


Which sadly, I did not find.


But I did find this:


And this.

Way to go Mom.


From Pray, Montana


Found at an old homestead site.


Rusted tin.

3 inches in diameter by 4 1/2 inches high.



From Billings, Montana

Not so good.

Found in a second hand store.

A saucer with a teacup handle attached to it.

They didn’t know what it was either.

Is it…..


a. As my friend Glenn – who knows about everything – said,

“Something they used to poar hot tea or coffee into, blow on to cool and then drink.”

From “The Phrase Finder” –

“It’s been ‘saucered and blowed.’ A project has been completed – everything has been taken care of.”


“Amongst the working class people in the North of England, in the late 19th and early 20th century, the accepted way to drink tea was to pour a little into the saucer, blow on it to cool it, and then consume with a noisy slurp before repeating the procedure. This custom has long since died out.”


b. My idea,

A factory worker was fed up at the end of the day, and instead of sticking the handle on a tea cup, he made a surrealist gesture of contempt and stuck it on a saucer.


c. A lemon plate.


Answer c.

Life is often not as interesting as it should be.




Hand painted Made in Japan

U.S. Design Pat. applied for circa 1919


5 1/2 inches in diameter

Two dollars



From Montana


A bracelet found in a Billings second hand store.

Pricey for costume jewelry.

Sixty dollars.

But the adjustable mechanism was very cool, and it closed with two satisfying clicks.

I wanted it and I bought it.

The more I looked at it, the more I wondered…


I took it to a New York jeweler.

“Can you tell me if this is gold?”

First he checked the stones.


Diamonds and sapphires.

Then the metal.

14 karat gold.

Then, he weighed it.

Seven thousand dollars.

Just for the gold.


He estimated “Vintage, diamonds and sapphires. Approximately fifteen thousand dollars.”


I looked it up.

It is made of something called “Tubogas”.

Invented by Italians, Tubogas is a thick ovoid flexible linkage which resembles… gas tubes.


I found a matching single strand necklace on 1st. dibs.

Van Cleef & Arpels. France. 1940’s.

Eleven thousand dollars.


2 1/2 inches in diameter by 15/16 thick

Sixty dollars




From Webster, South Dakota

On a cross country drive I went 500 miles out of my way to see “The World’s Largest Hairball”.

Found in a cow’s stomach, it is 37 inches around.

Upon closer inspection it seems to be from Kansas, but no note as to why it now resides in South Dakota.


From Pray, Montana

A double rainbow over my front yard.

The second of two that I saw that summer.


From Ketchum, Idaho

The sheep and the sage looked like they were made from each other.

As I took the picture, he noticed.


From Amenia, New York

Found at the top of the closet in a run down McMansion.

A ladies’ beaverskin riding hat.

Circa 1920

Such beautiful curves that I wanted to steal it.


From Saugatuck, Michigan

On a cross country drive I stopped to visit my cool friend Ken Krayer.

He lent me this.

Here it is closed.


You turn the end, and it opens like this.

“What is it?” I asked

“I don’t know.” he said, “But objects find you, you don’t find them”.

It looks vaguely sinister.

11 inches long.





For all of you smartypantses who informed me that you could read the answers by running your mouse over the images I say “HA”.


It didn’t do you much good,  because in at least one case I was … wrong.


As for the rest, fine work.

If a bit strange …


A smattering.


From Montana




The fabulous Glenn Godward of Park Place Tavern in Livingston, Montana gave me this.

“Here’s an Interesting Found Object for you.” he said.


4  1/8 inches long.




1. Sausage grip.  Not THAT sausage … for slicing salamis.

2. Making little vent holes in your cigar similar to the ones on Parliament filters. For a smooth light pull.

3. A cigar trimmer.

4. A lemon rind grater for martinis.

5. A male chastity devise ?  An early S&M experiment ?

6. A circumciser.  Got a lot of those type answers …

7. Cuts off the heads of mice. 

Anyone would know that who’s seen the movie Masters of the Flying Guillotine.

In copy-of-a-copy (of a copy-of-a-copy) style, Kung Fu turns a passive hat (connected to a long string) into a skillful weapon for carrying out assassinations.

Fling the hat onto a man’s head (no problem for Kung Fu), pull the string and shark-teeth blades whip out from somewhere in the headband.  

Voila, the head rolls.

The Scissor Mouse-Head Decapitator is the smaller version.

Don’t know how you’d actually get a mouse to stick it’s head in that thing.

Ah, maybe in conjunction with those feet-stuck-to-the-floor traps.

Anyway, am I close? 


Sort of.


My guess – of which I was terribly certain – was that it was a device to cut the foil off of wine bottles. 


Which is does.

But it’s not.



Four smart people with high cholesterol got it.

A device for cutting off the tops of soft boiled eggs.






From Montana

Cellulose plastic and metal


5  7/8 inches long.




Pretty much everybody who guessed got it.



My favorite was from a friend who’s grandmother had a beauty salon in a little town in Texas in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

She used them for making finger waves in ladies hair.




From Maryland

A dear friend gave this to me years ago.

I loved it and asked “What is it?”

“Yes!” she replied.

Many thanks to another great friend, Fritz Karch – World Class Collecter – for solving the mystery.


4  3/8 inches long.




1. Condiment or sugar tongs?

Not too appetizing with the hairy knuckle close up, but I’ll get my appetite back eventually.

2. For removing an egg from boiling water.

3. Ice tongs for cocktails.  I have a similar one in silver.

4. A gynecological device.  Not particularly (gyneco) logical.



A device for getting olives out of a jar.

Which is odd because it is made of brass and painted red like its a tool.

And it makes a very weird sound.


Not very foodish.






From Montana


The fabulous Glenn Godward of Park Place Tavern in Livingston, Montana gave me this.

“Here’s an Interesting Found Object for you.” he said.


4  1/8 inches long.




What is it?


From Montana

Cellulose plastic and metal


5  7/8 inches long.




What is it?


From Maryland

A dear friend gave this to me years ago.

I loved it and asked “What is it?”

“Yes!” she replied.

Many thanks to another great friend, Fritz Karch – World Class Collector – for solving the mystery.


4  3/8 inches long.




What is it?


And thank you Mr. Smith for a fine hand modeling job.

I look forward to your responses…..





From Italy

In Milan, looking for a gift for a friend who has a small apartment, I find a store on an appropriately tiny street.


It sells doll house accessories.

There are minute bowls of eggs, plates of pasta, and an a selection of meats and cheeses.


I ask the woman if I can see the provolone, and she says “Smoked or regular?”.


Smoked provolone 5/8 inch tall.

Salami 11/16 inch long plus the separate slices.


From Montana

A porcelain pretzel flask.

Germany circa 1900.


For sneaky drinkers.


The second of two that I found in Montana.

The first one was in a junk store in Butte, but the store was closed.


This one a year later in a similar store in Bozeman, which was open.


5  1/2  x  3  1/2  x  3/4 inches thick.


From Palermo, Sicily

Found in a museum in Palermo.

I took a picture – although it was not allowed.

From the late 1600’s, a wax diorama of a plague victim being lowered into a mass grave.


After some research, I believe that it is by Gaetano Zumbo.


From the blog Morbid Anatomy:

Although his artistic career was extremely short lived, Gaetano Zumbo was arguably one of the finest wax modellers active in the second half of the 17th century.

He died in Paris in 1701.

Zumbo’s work demonstrates a rigorous and scientific observation of the various stages of decomposition of the human body, and essentially, the inevitable decay of human beauty and power.


The Marquis de Sade’s first impressions upon seeing Zumbo’s work are as follows:


‘So powerful is the impression produced by this masterpiece that even as you gaze at it your other senses are played upon, moans audible, you wrinkle your nose as if you could detect the evil odors of mortality…

These scenes of the plague appealed to my cruel imagination: and I mused, how many persons had undergone these awful metamorphoses thanks to my wickedness?’




From Ortigia, Sicily


Pistachio marzipan.

One Euro.


Live it up, before it’s too late…



From Osaka, Japan

Come Good Wrinkle Chapeau Fit

Come Good Come Good Come Good

Smart Sex Come Good Smart Sex Come Good


Be sure and note the drawings.


Found in Osaka……..fifteen years ago.

Designed by an American.

Bob Zoell – who got a credit on the front of the box.

Fat chance that an American manufacturer would produce a design like this, even today.


From Albuquerque, New Mexico

Before it was mandatory to have little flowers on the box.

Big improvement on the contents though…….


From Milan, Italy

Ergonomics is not everything.


You people are a riot.

And very smart. And mean.

I like that in a reader.

So, along with the actual answers are your twisted and imaginative ones – for want of space – just the highlights…

And, thanks a million.


From Montana

I was at the local church rummage sale, and there was nothing good at all.

Until Robert came up to me and said “Guess what this is.”

I couldn’t.

Can you?

Carved wood. 31 inches long, approximately 1 inch thick at the end.

One Dollar.



1. A pointing and beating tool for the poor kids that attended the local church school.

2. An animal prod of some sort?

3. A tooth pick for Paul Bunyon.

4. Disposable poker? Cat herding stick?

5. Used when the person next you has fallen asleep with the remote and you don’t want to get up.

6. A switch used for disciplining children and wives!

7. Stick is used by Republicans to beat on the poor and women.

8. Would this be part of a fishing rod?

9. I think the wooden stick is a ‘rain stick’ It moves when rain is likely and then straightens out when the weather is going to be good. (?)

10. Well it looks so like something that thread would travel through.

Perhaps from a Stone Age Sewing Machine. Yes. That must be it.

11. I could use that first one on my kids.



A hand carved blackboard pointer (I like to think from a one room school house, but who knows?)



From Montana

A bunch of these squiggles were leaning up against the outside wall of a second hand store.

I had no idea what they were, but I had to have one.

Do you know?

Wrought iron.

58 inches long, approximately 3/4 inch thick.

8 Dollars.



1. As for the giant cork screw, maybe for lifting bales of hay?

2. Is it to screw into the ice for some use in ice fishing?

Or is it for some kind of fencing?

Or is it the device that the Republicans are planning to use to screw us all?

3. The second one, though I’m guessing, is almost certainly a fencepost for cattle.

The tight sequence of curves drilled into the ground and the others held lateral runs of barbed wire.

Not sure it’s local, or even of Montana, because you’d need fairly rock-free soil for that to work on a worthy scale.

With the pointy top, it’d be tough to pound in.

4. A curling iron for pioneer women. First, heat it in the fire; then, careful, careful not to singe the hair….

5. Corkscrew for tall people? Or really tall bottles?

6. Pat thought the wrought iron thing was something they used in putting in fence posts. I thought it had to do with barbed wire.

7. Metal squiggle is a steel fencepost for stringing barbed wire.

8. This one looks as if it threads something that moves (the thread has something on the end of it that moves?)

Goodness knows what, but I want it.

9. Prices include delivery?



From Collector’s Weekly – WW I Battlefield “pigtail” Barbed Wire Anchor Post.

“Besides their rifles, packs, picks, shovels, coils of wire, etc. the soldiers are carrying an invention that saved many lives. Most activity – particularly placing barbed wire in No Man’s Land – was done at night to avoid becoming a target. However, noise could invite enemy parachute flares which would turn night into day for those found in No Man’s Land. The curly-bottomed fenceposts could be silently turned into the ground by inserting a bar through the ‘eye’ on top – thus avoiding the noise of trying to drive them in with mallets … and a sniper’s bullet.”




From Montana

I was at the local church rummage sale, and there was nothing good at all.

Until Robert came up to me and said “Guess what this is.”

I couldn’t.

Can you?

Carved wood. 31 inches long, approximately 1 inch thick at the end.

One Dollar.


From Montana

A bunch of these squiggles were leaning up against the outside wall of a second hand store.

I had no idea what they were, but I had to have one.

Do you know?

Wrought iron. 58 inches long, approximately 3/4 inch thick.

8 Dollars

Write in your guesses. Double dog dare you. Answers tomorrow……


From Montana – but could be from anywhere.

Wow. Interesting typeface. Let’s call it…Nutball.


Oh. I get it. It’s a Conspiracy.


Wait. I’m confused. Wolves are Aliens? But, they were here first…


God says tyrants – bad.


I’m confused again.


Wait. What?


It’s a snowman. A snowmouse. Not Mickey.


Is that a yarmulke?


My head is starting to hurt…


Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow


From New York

No Name packaging, early 1990’s.

a.k.a. Deadpan Design

I ate them, and kept the box.


From Yellowstone National Park

In a latrine.

Simple, yet elegant.

It reminds me. I once had a toilet paper holder from a prison catalogue installed in my bathroom.

A stainless steel cylinder the depth of the roll, it was recessed flush into the wall.

When the toilet paper roll was in it, the only thing that showed was the end.

It looked like a big dot.


From the Road

From Washington state

Down to my last few gallons of gas in Roosevelt, Washington.

Not a gas station in sight.

In fact, nothing in sight.

Except this.


From New Mexico

A souvenir diorama. Bought new, twelve years ago.

Light shines through the yellow cellophane slits on top. Gives it that “realistic” glow.

2 1/4 inches high x 3 inches wide x 2 inches deep.

Three Dollars.


Animal art

From Montana

Beaver sticks

Mysteriously carved, and found in a friend’s studio.

The repetitive patterns are created by a beaver gnawing off the stick’s bark.

The patterns change depending on the age of the beaver, the type of wood, and extenuating circumstances.




From New York

I was walking down University Place towards ninth street, when I saw some paintings displayed on a metal security gate.

I never look – because those tourist things are always awful – but something about these paintings caught my eye.

The man who painted them introduced himself. His name is Teofilo Olivieri.


I asked him why he painted on book covers.


“I was in rehab and really needed to paint,” he said. “I saw some books and realized that they were just made of canvas, so I painted on them. Then they threw me out of rehab.”

“Why?” I asked.

“For defacing government property.” he said. “But I’m still clean.”

He does not draw the animal in any way. He just paints the negative space. You can see more of his work online.

Three paintings for Eighty Dollars



Best Packaging of the Year – Fifi Awards

From New York


Handler’s Eau De Toilette design for Bath & Body Works Signature Collection, P.S. I Love You

2010 Best Packaging of the Year Award – Women’s Popular Appeal.


That makes two FiFi award winners for Best Package Design Of The Year (so far), plus one finalist.

See the rest of our work at


Out of place

From New York

Strangely numerical cup handle models from a dinnerware collection I designed for Lenox Brands.


From Montana

A pictograph (also called pictogram or pictogramme) is an ideogram that conveys its meaning through its pictorial resemblance to a physical object.

Earliest examples of pictographs include ancient or prehistoric drawings or paintings found on rock walls.

Found on the wall of a tunnel near Geraldine, Montana.

So this, I suppose, would be a phonograph?


The Unexpected

From Montana

One morning at The Coffee Crossing in Livingston, Montana.


At a Gun Show where I had been taken to shop for my Valentine’s gift.

Didn’t find a gun.

Instead, found these Westclox “purse watches”.

2 3/4 inches in diameter by 5/8 inch thick.

Designed by De Vaulchier & Blow in 1934, they are part of the MoMA design collection.

Ten Dollars each.

They still work.


New To Me

From Montana

An old rancher’s solution:

The huge suspended boulder keeps this barbed wire fencing taut.

It compensates for changes in temperature, and insistent cows.


From Maryland

Found in a friend’s attic. Marked Hickok.

The Rochester New York based manufacturer Hickok sold belts from the 1930’s to the 1950’s, and packaged some of them in these plastic boxes.

The owner was the great nephew of Wild Bill Hickok.

What is it?

From Montana

Found in my driveway.

A Great Shape.

According to a horsey friend – it is a reining horse shoe plate – back foot.

So that the horse can slide on it’s feet when asked to do a sliding stop.

How did it get in my driveway?


Bob and Lu’s again….

Rosenthal Trinkkellen Trulla Crystal Drinking Spoons.

Michael Boehm for Rosenthal studio-linie


6 3/4 long by 4 1/2 wide

Two Dollars