Mad In Pursuit Notebook

art deco stamp moistener, glass and lead

Stray Things: Art Deco Stamp Moistener

Sat, 4.11.2015. Over the course of dark winter, things creep out of their hiding places, like fairies, to keep us company. My spring ritual is to shoo them all back to their places, to commune with their knick-knack brethren and to not be in my way.

This one is a special little keepsake that used to sit on my grandmother Kitty Mom's desk, in the front hall of their Rowan and Ridge apartment, at the top of the stairs. I remember her sitting there, paying bills. With its Art Deco styling, it's probably as old as my mother.

The molded pink glass tray held a sponge, which Kitty Mom used to moisten stamps.

I can't remember if the little two-inch dog had a purpose. To tamp the stamp down? To look like a wax seal? Maybe my mom has a clearer memory of it. Whatever it was supposed to do, it's way worse for wear.

art deco stamp moistener, glass and lead

On the bottom is a stamped logo for "Scovill," which turns out to be a brass manufacturer in Waterbury, Connecticut.

logo Scovill brass

Maybe it is brass. It looks like it had a hair-thin coating of copper, which has largely worn off. It's pretty black. I can't tell whether that's patina or the base metal showing through. For some reason it makes me think of a mini Maltese falcon, that illusory object of desire made famous by Dashiell Hammett and Humphrey Bogart. You could imagine it to be a falcon, right? With those long forelegs and hind legs looking like folded wings. But I guess those long hound's ears give it away.

The deteriorated state of the dog removes it from the realm of "collectible," probably dropping it to the category of "junk." But for me, whenever I see it, I see my grandmother at her desk paying bills. It's not junk, it's a visible memory.