Toys

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin in Action

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G.I. Joe Classic Collection Colonel Buzz Aldrin Astronaut in NASA Space Suit, 1999. Hasbro, China. Gift of Robert V. Monacelli, 2019.015. Julia Featheringill Photography.

Astronaut and Freemason Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr., was born in 1930 in Glen Ridge, New Jersey. Aldrin, the lunar pilot for the 1969 Apollo 11 space mission was, with fellow astronaut Neil Armstrong (1930-2012), one of the first humans—and one of the first Freemasons—to walk on the moon. American manufacturers made a number of wonderful commemorative items, including posters, plates, and toys, memorializing this historic event.  

In 1999 the Hasbro Toy Company released a special edition Buzz Aldrin action figure celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of the moon landing. The Aldrin figure was part of the G.I. Joe: Classic Collection set produced by Hasbro in the late 1990s. 

Buzz Aldrin was initiated into Oak Park Lodge No. 864 in Alabama in 1955 and raised in Lawrence N. Greenleaf Lodge, No. 169 in Colorado in 1956. He is also a member of Clear Lake Lodge No. 1417 in Texas. 

This action figure complements the many other items we have related to Buzz Aldrin in the Library and Archives Buzz Aldrin ephemera collection.  

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Buzz Aldrin Masonic Ephemera Collection, 1969-1975. Gift of Ben B. Lipset. Collection of the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library, MM 001.012.

This collection includes a photograph fraternally inscribed to Ben B. Lipset, and a photograph of Aldrin walking on the moon addressed to former Sovereign Grand Commander of the Scottish Rite Northern Masonic Jurisdiction, George Newbury (1895-1904).

Do you have any ephemera related to Freemasonry and NASA? Let us know in the comments below! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Magic Lantern

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Magic Lantern, ca. 1900. Gift of the Harrisburg Consistory, S.P.R.S. 32°, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, 93.041.1. Photograph by David Bohl.

Magic lanterns, in their most basic form, were invented in the 1600s and are considered a precursor to the modern slide projector and even the motion picture. These lanterns were a mainstay in Masonic lodges throughout the world in the 1800s and early 1900s as they were a useful tool in teaching members about Freemasonry and initiatory rites. The lantern used an artificial light source, which evolved from candles and kerosene lamps to limelight and electricity, and a combination of lenses to enlarge small transparent images or miniature models and project them onto a wall or screen. Lanterns could vary from a simple wooden box with brass parts to ornately designed boxes with multiple lenses. In America, magic lanterns were often referred to as stereopticons so as not to be confused with entertainment that may be provided with more basic toy lanterns. “Stereopticons” were usually biunial or double lens lanterns. The terms “Sciopticon” and “Optical Lantern” were sometimes used in a similar manner.

Several scientists and mathematicians developed projection devices in the 1600s including Thomas Walgenstein (1622-1701) and Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695). Although Huygens is attributed with inventing the magic lantern, it was Walgenstein, a Dutch mathematician, who coined the term "Magic Lantern" and began conducting lantern demonstrations throughout Europe. In the late 1700s Etienne-Gaspard Robertson(1763-1837), a Belgian physicist and stage magician started to “conjure” ghosts for audiences. These shows lay the foundation for the popular late 18th century phantasmagoria lantern shows that featured skeletons, devils, and ghosts. Aside from these entertainment spectacles, the lanterns were used also for science, education and religious instruction by wealthy academics and Jesuit priests. As the lantern became more popular and readily available, traveling lanternists could be found hosting public performances in taverns and public meeting houses.

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Toy Lantern and Lantern Slide (Little Red Riding Hood), ca. 1900, Gift of Dorothy A. and Albert H. Richardson, Jr., 84.18.42a and 43. Photographs by David Bohl.
The lantern was gradually used more often for advertising, propaganda and entertainment purposes as it became more popular in the 1700s and 1800s. The lantern’s diverse range and use made it ubiquitous in churches, fraternal organizations and public institutions in the Victorian era.  Lanterns became more lightweight, began using standardized slide sizes and soon smaller toy lanterns were mass produced, continuing to increase their presence in schools, homes, and public lectures. The advent of cinema and the invention of smaller transparencies and the Kodachrome three-color process led to a decline in the popularity of magic lanterns.

The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library owns a collection of magic lanterns and glass lantern slides, many of which were donated by  Masonic and  fraternal groups like the Knights Templar, Knights of Pythias and Odd Fellows. The slides vary from those specific to Freemasonry to those depicting events in world history, literary and biblical stories, folktales, and photographs. Catalogs published in the late 1800s by The M.C. Lilley Company, one of many fraternal regalia manufacturers, included product advertisements for magic lanterns and slides for lodges. According to the 1896 M.C. Lilley catalog no. 195, a Lodge or Valley could purchase a lantern for anywhere from thirty to seventy dollars and lantern slides for two dollars each.

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Masonic Magic Lantern Slide (Master Mason’s Carpet), Gift of Armen Amerigian, 90.19.8a.
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Masonic Knights Templar Magic Lantern Slide, "Emblem of KT", 1906, Harry G. Healy, New York, New York, Gift of Jacques Noel Jacobsen, Jr., 87.41.16.27.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stop by the museum to see a magic lantern on exhibit (Spring 2015). The lantern on display was donated by the family of Knights of Malta former Supreme Commander Gerard Dallas Jencks. Also check out our website and online catalog in the coming months as we scan and share more images of our extensive magic lantern slide collection.

Update: Please visit the online exhibition, "Illuminating Brotherhood: Magic Lanterns and Slides from the Collection" for more information and photographs about magic lantern history.



References:

Borton, Deborah and Terry Borton, Before the Movies: American Magic-Lantern Entertainment and the Nation’s First Great Screen Artist, Joseph Boggs Beale (New Barnet, Herts, United Kingdom: John Libbey publishing, 2015)

Freeman, Carla Conrad. "Visual Media in Education: An Informal History." Visual Resources. Volume 6 (1990): 327-340.

Masonic Lodge Supplies, Catalogue 1893. Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library. Found in Collection, A2002/96/1, Box 4, Masonic Lodge Supplies.



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Holiday Family Fun: HUB Trains at the Museum!

Jacob1We look forward to hosting the HO-scale model trains and displays of the HUB Division of the Northeastern Region of the National Model Railroad Association here at the museum on the weekend of December 13 and 14. For over a decade, the hobbyists of the HUB Division have joined us to kick off the holiday season.

Bring the family for Model Train Weekend: 10:00 am to 4:30 pm on Saturday, December 13, 2014 and 12 noon to 4:00 pm on Sunday, December 14, 2014. Admission: $7 per family (non-members); $5 per family (museum or HUB members); $5 per individual.

IMG_3739_smallOur partner for this annual weekend event, the HUB Division, is a venerable club of over 50 years of age. It exists to promote and support the model railroading hobby and offers activities and education for members and the general public in all aspects of model railroading. HUB Division members present workshops on how to make trees, paint model freight cars to make them appear weathered, use rock molds and geodesic foam to create rock formations, and the art of construction and "scenicking" a diorama. Hours of patient work and years of skill development flow into the displays we enjoy each December.

As the history of the the club suggests, HO-scale model trains have been around for many years. The first model trains were twice the size of HO models, too large for hobbyists to set up at home. German firms of the 1920s offered the first home-scale model trains, followed by English models in the 1930s. Americans enthusiasts grew in large numbers in the 1950s, when the twin goals of attention to detail and realism of setting captured the imagination of new hobbyists. Today, HO-scale remains the most popular model train scale in North America and continental Europe. MMK_9207_cropped&compressedModel trains of this type are 1/87th the size of a real train out in the train yard. An HO-scale freight car easily fits into the palm of an adult's hand. HO-scale trains, buildings and scenics are big enough to for hobbyists to easily add detailing that creates realistic railroading layouts. 

For further information about model train weekend, contact the Museum at (781) 861-6559 or at programs@monh.org. For information about the museum visit www.monh.org.

February vacation is right around the corner. Come visit the museum with family and friends:

NTRAK Model Train Show

Saturday, Feb. 14, 10 AM – 4:30 PM and Sunday, Feb. 15, Noon – 4 PM

Join the Northeast NTRAK Modular Railroad Club for a February vacation weekend of fun. Proceeds will benefit both organizations. Admission: $5/individual; $5/family (members of either organization); $7/family (non-members).

Pieces of the Past – Telling Stories with Historic Relics

Wednesday, February 18, 2 PM

Bring family and friends to explore the fascinating stories behind the historic souvenirs in our exhibition. We will start with an exploration of the “Prized Relics: Historic Souvenirs from the Collection” gallery, where we will see pieces of the past saved by heroes and history fans. Then, participants can work together on hands-on activities that engage the imagination. Appropriate for ages 8 through adult. $6/family (members); $9/family (non-members). No registration is necessary for this approximately 1.5 hour program.


Family Programs during February Vacation

We have some engaging family programming coming up during February vacation. Get out your calendar - we hope to see you at the Museum!

Game of the StatesBring family and friends to see how fascinating maps can be in our next school vacation family program. “Mapping Our World” will be held Wednesday, February 19 from 2:00-3:30 pm. Start with an exploration of the “Journeys and Discoveries: The Stories Maps Tell” gallery and see how maps are made and what they tell us. Then, participants will work together on some hands-on mapping activities. Get ready for something different – you may be surprised at what maps can do!

The program is appropriate for ages 8 through adult. This approximately 1.5 hour program wil cost $6/family (members); $9/family (non-members). No registration is necessary.

Don’t forget this annual favorite! NTRAK Model Train Show on Saturday, Feb. 15 (10 AM – 4:30 PM) and Sunday, Feb. 16 (Noon – 4 PM). Admission: $5/individual; $5/family (members of either organization); $7/family (non-members). See our previous post for more information.

Since spring is just around the corner (though it may seem hard to believe at the moment), we'd like to let you know about the two family programs we have planned for April vacation:

Get to Know Our Flag on Wednesday, April 23, 2014, 1:00 PM & 2:30 PM

This family program explores the origins, history, legends and myths of the American flag. With the Museum’s historically significant 15-star flag as a backdrop, participants will enjoy hands-on activities. Bring family and friends to discover some surprising April flag history. $5/family (members); $7/family (non-members). No registration necessary for this approximately one-hour program.

The Lexington Alarm on Thursday, April 24, 2014, 2 PM

Each year at this time, the Museum displays an exciting piece of American history, the Lexington Alarm Letter. Written on April 19, 1775 by a citizen of Watertown to notify the American colonies near and far that war had begun, the letter still conveys the urgency of the shocking news. Families are invited to work together on hands-on, minds-on activities that explore the moment and the world in which this document was set down. Appropriate for ages 8 through adult. $6/family (members); $9/family (non-members). No registration necessary for this approximately 1.5 hour program.

Photo credit:

Game of the States, ca. 1960.  Manufactured by the Milton Bradley Company, Springfield, Massachusetts. Gift of Mrs. John Willey, 2006.026.2. Photograph by David Bohl.


Model Trains at the Museum, Feb. 15 & 16

MODEL TRAINS ARE BACK TO START FEBRUARY SCHOOL VACATION!

The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum and Library launches February School Vacation Week with a weekend filled with model railroading fun. The Northeast Ntrak Modular Railroad Club will be running its trains through its modular display at the Museum Saturday, February 15 from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and Sunday, February 16 from 12 noon-4:00 p.m. Admission to the train display is $5/individual ($3 for members of either organization) and $7/family ($5 for families with membership to either organization).

The Ntrak trains are smaller in size than traditional model trains, but are just as much fun. Because the scale is smaller, the landscapes the trains travel through encompass more. The show features an enormous bridge, train yards, and a spectacular cliff face with multiple tunnels running in and out of the rocks. Trains climb mountain passes, shunt freight cars, and use branch lines to pick up and set out cars at the many industries and stations along the way.

2010_02_14_0237_CroppedA highlight of the dipslay is a model of the Zakim Bridge (see photo). Constructing the bridge took John Dunne three months; his efforts won him a first prize at the Springfield train show. Dunne, who has been building NTRAK for 40 years, notes, “If I built that bridge in HO (scale), it would be 32 feet long.”

Watch this video about the Ntrak show, recorded by the Lexington Minuteman newspaper.

For further information contact the Museum at (781) 861-6559 or visit www.nationalheritagemuseum.org.

 


Model Trains at the Museum, Dec. 14 & 15

Model Train Weekend is Back this Holiday Season!

Model Train Weekend, Saturday, December 14 and Sunday, December 15

IMG_3751This family-friendly event is the perfect outing for adults and children of all ages. The HUB Division of the National Model Railroad Association presents miles of track with trains running on multiple main lines as they chug up mountain climbs, past coal mines, through small villages and into tunnels. Some engines pull 50 cars past hundreds of charming venues including icy lakes with skaters, snow-covered farms, and urban skyscrapers.

Here's a great video clip recorded at the 2011 HUB Train Show, put together by the Lexington community access station LexMedia. Watch it and gain a sense of the passion for detail and accuracy that the model railroad hobbyists of the HUB Division put into this yearly show.

Model Train Weekend hours are 10 am to 4:30 pm on Saturday, December 14, and 12 pm to 4 pm on Sunday, December 15.  Admission is $7 per family.

Stay current with Museum news and events!

Sign up for our monthly newsletter— hear about programs, exhibitions, and special events. Click on “Join Our E-mailing List” at our website: monh.org.

Like us on Facebook us by clicking here and help spread the word about exhibitions and programs.

For information about this program or about the Museum, check our website, call our front desk at 781 861-6559 or write to programs@monh.org. 


School Vacation Begins with Ntrak Model Trains!

2010_02_14_0216_CroppedJoin us on Saturday, February 18 and Sunday, February 19 for a weekend filled with railroading fun! Whether you come for a weekend treat or as a way to kick off February vacation week, the N-scale train display is sure to please.

The Northeast Ntrak Modular Railroad Club will once again be with us, bringing their imaginative modular layouts based on a quarter century's club history. N-scale trains are smaller in size than traditional model trains, but are just as much fun. You'll see trains climb mountain passes, cross the Zakim Bridge, shunt freight cars, and use branch lines to pick up and set out cars at the many industries and stations along the way.

2010_02_14_0225_CroppedThe Northeast Ntrak Modular Railroad Club will be at the Museum on Saturday, February 18 from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m., and Sunday, February 19 from noon-4:00 p.m. Admission to the train display is $7/family, $5/individual. Proceeds support the education programs at the National Heritage Museum and the Northeast Ntrak Modular Railroad Club.

For more information, call the Museum at 781-861-6559, ext 4101.

 


Model Train Show, Dec. 17 & 18

Trains&GroupYour family won't want to miss the Museum's annual December Model Train Show. It will be held on Saturday, December 17, 10 AM to 4:30 PM, and Sunday, December 18, Noon to 4:00 PM (special Sunday hours).

The HUB Division of the National Model Train Association never fails to delight fans large and small with their model train display, so gather neighbors, grandchildren, and neighbors for this event. It is a perfect holiday-season outing for adults and children of all ages.

 The HUB Division modelers present miles of track with trains running on multiple main lines as they chug up mountain climbs, past coal mines, through small villages and into tunnels. Some engines pull 50 cars past hundreds of charming venues including icy lakes with skaters, snow-covered farms, and urban skyscrapers.

Admissions: $5/family (members); $7/family (non-members); $5/individual.

For further information, contact the Museum at 781-861-6559.

We look forward to seeing you at the Museum!


Let's Go Shopping!

Shopping cart in gallery view two A long-time staff favorite, a toy shopping cart in our current exhibition Curators' Choice: Favorites from the Collection, is attracting visitors’ attention.

This charming toy is a child-sized cart (about 20” high) decorated inside and out with a colorful collage of the kinds of groceries that could have been found in a 1950s supermarket.  Made by the Gong Bell Manufacturing Company of East Hampton, Connecticut, the cart, like many of this maker’s products, incorporated a bell in its wheels.  As the cart rolled, bells in the wheels clattered and rang.  In fact, the original owner, who donated the object to the museum, recalled that this cart made an “incredible racket” when she and her brother played with it.  We tested the cart in the museum storage area and confirmed that it is very noisy indeed!

Founded in 1866, the business that became the Gong Bell Manufacturing Company started making toys a few years later.  A collector’s website shows many examples of the company’s products and notes that in 1921, a Gong Bell toy telephone proved to be one of the most popular toys on the market at the time.  Toys with bells in many shapes and sizes soon followed.  The museum’s cart, purchased in Connecticut around 1953, is just one example of the many kinds of push, pull and ride toys the company made.  In spite of this variety of offerings, less than ten years after this cart was made, Gong Bell went into bankruptcy. Collectors suggest that the emergence of plastic toys in the late 1950s made it hard for the Gong Bell Company, with its metal and wood products, to compete. 

A 1954 catalogdescribed this Gong Bell toy shopping cart as “chuck-full of Famous Brands groceries.”  For $2.98 you could take one home with the accompanying “miniature empty boxes of well-known merchandise” to fill it up.  Some of the brands highlighted on this cart include Jolly Time Popcorn, Sun-maid Raisins, Swift ham, Jello-o and Dreft laundry detergent.  Playthings, such as this cart, helped children learn about everyday tasks that they would undertake as adults, such as cooking, laundry or shopping.  Toys that used real product names made play more realistic.  They also, rather insidiously, cultivated brand loyalty and consumer awareness in young children.

If you have a story about your Gong Bell company shopping cart or another toy you have seen on view at the museum, please tell us about it, we would love to know more!

Toy Shopping Basket, ca. 1953. Gong Bell Manufacturing Company, East Hampton, Connecticut. National Heritage Museum, gift of Ellen G. Lenart, 93.015.1.

 


Summer at the Museum! Public Programs in August, 2010

Throughout this summer, the National Heritage Museum is offering public programs to help families beat the heat while spending some time together. In August, we have three events to chose from:

Kinggeorge Come to the Museum bright and early on Tuesday, August 10 for "Clothing, Fashion, and Homespun Politics" from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. This special program features Carrie Midura, historic interpreter and expert seamstress, who will demonstrate colonial fashion and explain the role it played in Lexington's revolutionary politics. For families with children ages 6 and up. $5/family (non-members); $3/family (members). Meet us in the "Sowing the Seeds of Liberty" gallery. Pre-registration is not necessary.


Meeting Billy On Wednesday, August 18, we have an offering for the very young. The "Mornings at the Museum" program will explore "Kids in Colonial Times." We'll read a story about how children lived in the 1700s, visit the exhibition "Sowing the Seeds of Liberty," and make a familiar colonial object. This program starts promptly at 10:30 a.m., please arrive by 10:15. The program is designed for children ages 2 - 5 with accompanying adult. $5/participating child (non-members); $3/participating child (members). Pre-registration is not necessary.


UnclewigglyWe invite everyone to join us on Wednesday, August 24 for Game Day! From 1 to 4 p.m., families can play classic board games for a range of ages in our (Farr Conference Center. You can also explore the toys and games in our galleries. Make a day of it with lunch in the Courtyard Cafe. For all ages. Free.


Don't forget to check out our website to learn more about current shows in our galleries. If you'd like more information, call our front desk at 781 861-6559 or write to programs@monh.org. We look forward to seeing you soon.

Photo credits:

King George III, Museum Purchase, 95.011.1

"Meeting Billy," Illustration by Sheli Peterson, 2007

Uncle Wiggly Game, Gift of Dorothy A. and Albert H. Richardson, 84.18.22