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Ephemera #2: All hail the fastener, that master of combination and order.

Sep 16, 2010 3:36 PM | 1 comment

Not being a part of the things which it binds, a fastener is neither here nor there. Unless it's not there but needs to be, or it's breaking down and shouldn't be, a fastener usually goes unnoticed. It's an entirely forgettable little piece of hardware in this world, but not in the least is a fastener inconsequential. On the contrary, it can be the very thing upon which consequence depends. After all, if it weren't for those two staples punched into the 12 months of your wall calendar, would October really follow September? We should pause to thank those puny, bendable wickets for they truly are the gates through which we are permitted entry into the clock-works of the Universe. So as we continue to air out our ephemera collection, let's take a moment to honor the lowly metal fastener and its bird-like overseer, the attaching machine, as they appear in the catalog of the Edwin B. Stimpson company which was located at 70 Franklin Avenue not far from the Brooklyn Navy Yard.  

The factory then, and the area now.

Some of the types of fasteners Stimpson produced which, to my ears, sound like either doo-wop groups or biker gangs – eyelets, paper dales, snaps, ferrules, grommets, rivet crowns, arrows and hands, terminals, ventilators.

 Up close.

The Arrows and Hands (biker gang)

The Eyelets (doo-wop)

The Side Prong Rivets (biker gang)

The Snaps (doo-wop)

The Dale Papers (um, a doo-wop biker gang maybe?)

Music and motorcycles aside, it’s really upon closer inspection that these fasteners become, well, fascinating–-one moment they assume the aspect of flowers, comedians, or sea creatures and in the next instant you could convince yourself that you were seeing a catalog of mushrooms, hats, or bubbles. 

Or maybe I’m nuts. But have a look.

A Dutchman’s hat.

Some tulips.

Tables, beetles, and trampolines.

An ascendant jelly-fish trailed by bubbles.

Laurel and Hardy.

And here, as one brand of fastener attests, are all manner of smooth and pock-marked toadstools.

Hair-dos on a sign in some unimaginative barber’s shop window.

Likewise, the attaching machines can be misconstrued -- here we have rows of black flamingoes.

Or peahens.

Or cobras.

I could go on and on, but before I start to sound too unhinged I better sign off until our next Ephemera Files installment.


9/25/2010 12:57:16 PM #

Thanks for looking at these ordinary fasteners as imaginary objects like mushrooms, or the machines that resemble flamingoes or cobras. Kind of like  what we do as children when we're playing with some object and turn it into  something more interesting in our imaginary world.
These mass produced items take on new  and more entertaining identities.

Doug Wooley