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Vintage Tiles

January 28, 2022

Valentine’s Day is approaching- time for a trip to Crown Candy Kitchen to get a lovely box of sweets for my sweetie. (Don’t tell Tom- we mustn’t spoil the surprise!) That got me thinking about one of Forest Gump’s famous quotes. “My mama always said, life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Where does he shop? You get chocolate. It’s a box of chocolates! Unless it comes from a surrealist or psychopath, most boxes of chocolates are pretty predictable things. A more accurate quote would be: “Life is like a salvaging trip…”.

We might start a day of salvage shopping with an idea or maybe even a list or dimensions when we need something specific like doors or plumbing fixtures. The exciting part of it though, is what appears along the way.

On one trip, the same day as our last door expedition, We saw this:

This mailbox was pulled from Leather Trades Building.

It was part of the building’s original multi-story mail chute, a common turn of the century system that was both amazing to watch and clog-prone. As buildings get updated, these impractical artifacts get removed. Gorgeous, old, solid metal obsolescence? Love!

A past ‘discussion’ when we moved into the apartment comes to mind. This is my memory-play, no real mailboxes were harmed in this drama.

Setting: Tom and Sue moving into the apartment.

Sue: We need a mailbox.

Tom: We can fashion something out of steel scraps from the building…(gazing into the distance).

Sue: Yay, that would be cool…

Tom: We can’t put an ordinary mailbox on the BAB!

Sue: True, but bills?

Setting: One of the many trips to the big box hardware store, passing the aisle with the ordinary mailboxes.

Sue: How about we go down here?

Tom: Hrpmf.

Sue: (grabs the cheapest one)

This was the cheapest mailbox. The only reason I have a photo of it was because I texted it to Tom- layers of debris showed up on it as I was going in and out of the front door. “Are you collecting cobwebs for something?” Turns out, a robin thought this was a nice place to build her nest. As much as we love a personal encounter with nature, Ms. Robin had to build elsewhere. Because bills.

We didn’t get that mailbox. The owner wanted to keep the whole mail-system together including the multi-story chute and directory. There was much pondering, probably some sketching but, as amazing as it was, we had to let it go.

Not BAB bound, this time.

We did get some tile! Not that we were looking for that, either. These probably were saved from a doomed fireplace surround in a Victorian-era house.

There was an assortment of pieces mostly in useable condition though very dirty.
At home, I experimented with different products to remove the soot. They clean up pretty easily and they don’t have much old mortar on them.
The mauve ones were manufactured by the American Encaustic Tiling Company of Zanesville, Ohio.
The square ones were made by the Hamilton Tile Works of Hamilton, Ohio.
I tried different layouts to see how we could use the best pieces. Most of the tiles are flat but there are a handful that are molded with stylized leaves. We don’t know if the mauve tiles were originally installed with the others, but it works, dimensionally and color-wise.
The plan is to use these in one of the bathrooms.

These will look great with that pedestal sink!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Stephen Scurletis permalink
    January 29, 2022 10:27 am

    Perhaps you could reconsider a mail chute….you could send things directly to your mailbox without having to go downstairs from your 2nd floor living area. “Save Time, Save Steps. (Get an extension phone)” old Bell Telephone advertising phrase.

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