Monday, June 24, 2013

Mystery Upon Mystery!

There isn't any mystery about the weather today. Not as scorching as last summer, just a nice warm day for a baseball game. We had lots of fun today exploring the history of baseball. The kids got to toss some lemon balls, wear some fingerless gloves, and take a swing with a double-knobbed bat. It as a blast.

Time for another Museum Mystery Artifact. A small hint on this one. The photograph shows it upside down! Sometimes even we don't know what things are until after we have taken a picture of them. Please guess, we love hearing what your ideas are...sometimes they are very close. You can answer on this blog in the comments section, on Facebook, or on Twitter (we're not picky and we read them all!).

We'll post the answer later this week, so stay tuned.
Happy guessing!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Shoo Fly, Don't Bother Me! A Museum Mystery Resolved

What does this wonderful beast have to do with this week's Museum Mystery Artifact? EVERYTHING!
This lovely creature is a horse fly from the family Tabanidae of the order Diptera. They are huge (by fly standards) and leave large welts, and can carry disease...which is why you want to keep them away from your horses.

And that is just why this week's mystery artifact exists. It's a horse fly net meant to keep the flies from settling on our friends the horses. Horse fly nets are designed to shake and shimmy at the slightest movement of the horses back muscles and of course we know that shooing a fly is just that easy.
Here's a horse fly net on a horse!

Stay tuned! We'll have another Mystery Artifact very soon. In the mean time come out and see our next demonstration on Monday June 24 at 11:15 ish. We'll be catching flies (fly balls that is) as we explore the history of baseball in our "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" program.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Mystery Artifacts Galore!

Here we are again. Wondering what all those strange things are in the Museum of the Grand Prairie.  Let's see if any of you know what this beautiful thing is.  If you want a better look it can be found in the vicinity of the Discovery Room in the lower level of  MGP.

If you can't make it out this weekend to see our mystery artifact, be sure to come out on Monday morning for our new Museum Mondays feature. All summer long we'll be offering a kid's tour of the museum at 10:30, a demonstration at 11:15 and a tour for adults at 3:15 on Mondays.  This Monday's demonstration includes making ICE CREAM! yes...that's what I said, ICE CREAM! Come out and join us.
Have a great weekend and happy guessing!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Mystery Artifact Unscrewed!

Joe is right! These are somewhat like cleats and are meant for use on the bottom of a horseshoe to provide for traction. They do this in much the same way as an athletic cleat provides traction for a human.  The actual name for the screw in cleat-like objects is calks.

Horseshoe calks, or caulks, or caulkins get their name from the Latin word calx, which means foot. (By the way your heel bone is called a calcaneus...where do you think that word comes from?) Calks can be screw in, forged or welded onto the shoe.

Screw-in calks like the ones in our picture can be easily removed and replaced. In the Chesebro blacksmith shop (a replica of which appears in our Blacksmithing on the Prairie Exhibit)calks were installed (literally screwed in) in the late Fall and removed in Spring! In a sense they were like snow tires, providing traction in ice and snow for the work animals of Saunemin in the early 20th century.  

Today calks are used for racing horses, show horses, and polo horses, in a very specialized way, for providing traction. They are still used for safety in work horses as well.   Good guess Joe!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Mystery Artifact of the Week

I feel almost as if I am playing, "Can You Top This?" because last week's entry (the dental key a.k.a. tooth puller) was bordering on the grotesque. This week's mystery artifact is much less so, and more practical. See if you can decide what these conical pieces of metal are.

If you come to the museum there are some on display. I would heartily recommend doing that this Sunday afternoon. We'll be hosting the Middletown String Band in the Mabery Gelvin Botanical Garden from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. that day! Bring a blanket, or a lawn chair and come to the Gazebo. Stop in the museum beforehand and see if you can find the Mystery Artifact!

Have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Mysteries Revealed!

Steve! You are the winner (and by that I mean you are the smart one this week)...It is a tooth extractor. Believe it or not the museum has more than one tooth extractor.

See this great illustration (fresh from Wikipedia) on how the extractor or "dental key"was used. Just as Steve said in his comments, it was inserted into the mouth, the hook was tightened over the tooth. Then twist and pull! Voila! Tooth! And maybe some jaw fractures, broken teeth, tissue damage. But hey, that toothache is gone. Right?

The dental key was invented in France, probably around 1730. It saw many improvements in the 18th century and 19th century, including interchangeable keys for the handle (to fit varying size teeth). However, it was replaced in the late 19th century by the forceps. Below is a crude version of dental forceps.

Most of the serious work of the 19th century dentist involved pulling teeth, although filling teeth will gold, silver and amalgam (a mixture) began as early as 1800.