Original Document
Original Document
Henry Chapman Mercer, on Collecting Pennsylvania Artifacts in 1897.

It was then probably one day in February or March of the Spring of 1897 that I went to the premises of one of our fellow-citizens, who had been in the habit of going to country sales and at the last moment buying what they called "penny lots," that is to say valueless masses of obsolete utensils or objects which were regarded as useless, or valuable only as old iron or kindling wood, things which fortunately have been preserved among us for two noteworthy reasons, first because of the existence in our country of several of these unthanked I and non-mercenary hoarders, and second because of the abundance of wood and consequently of outbuildings, such as are lacking in Europe, adapted to the preservation of perishable heirlooms. The particular object of the visit above mentioned, was to buy a pair of tongs for an old fashioned fire place, but when I came to hunt out the tongs from the midst of a disordered pile of old wagons, gum-tree salt-boxes, flax-brakes, straw beehives, tin dinner-horns, rope-machines and spinning-wheels, things that I had heard of but never collectively saw before, the idea occurred to me that the history of Pennsylvania was here profusely illustrated and from a new point of view. I was seized with a new enthusiasm and hurried over the country, rummaging the bake-ovens, wagon-houses, cellars, haylofts, smoke-houses, garrets, and chimney-corners.

Credit: Henry Chapman Mercer, Mercer Papers, Collection of the Spruance Library of the Bucks County Historical Society.
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