Hewn wooden cross made for and used in the “Milagro Beanfield War” film (1988) directed by Robert Redford and shot in Truchas, NM. The inscription reads: “Miracle Valley Project, / Rest in Peace / El Brazo Onofre” and measures 35.5” high and 17.5” wide. Redford initially donated the piece to the Museum of International Folk Art before it was transferred to the History Museum.
A chair and step stool combination, c. 1870-1880. Most step stools, being utilitarian, are plain wood or metal, but this one is covered in beautiful needlepoint. Perhaps it was to prevent slipping? The item was said to have been brought to New Mexico over the Santa Fe Trail.
The twill tape ties on the legs in the first photograph indicate to Collections staff that the chair comes apart at that point and to be careful when lifting the object.
Zozobra, a.k.a. Old Man Gloom, was first created by Santa Fe artist, Will Shuster, in 1924. The first public burning of Zozobra was held in a vacant lot behind the Santa Fe City Hall in Sept 3, 1926. Each year in early September, Old Man Gloom is burned to rid us of anguish, anxiety, and gloom, while commemorating the start of the Santa Fe Fiestas. Shuster’s creation first appeared in his backyard as a six-foot puppet. Over the years, Zozobra has grown to a monstrous fifty-foot high marionette.
Upon the reopening of the New Mexico History Museum, you can view the model of Zozobra on display in the exhibition “Looking Back.”
Due to the COVID-19 health crisis, this year’s burning of Zozobra will be a no-crowd event held this evening at 8pm MDT. You can watch the burning on your television or go online at KOAT Channel 7, and at www.KOAT.com.
Recently, the Museum Foundation of New Mexico hosted a talk (below) by New Mexico Museum of Art curator Christian Waguespack on the origin of the Zozobra festivities and its link to similar observances in various communities and cultures.
Swiss made, hunter case, key wind pocket watch, c. 1850-1890. Manufactured by Moulinie, Geneva, possibly Moulinie and Legrandroy. The pocket watch has an 18 K gold case with blue enameled front and back, and seed pearl decoration. Full jeweled works on the interior. The original owner of this pocket watch was a woman and so the watch has been identified as a woman’s watch, but for the most part pocket watches were not made specifically for men or for women. However, women usually gravitated toward the smaller sized pocket watches. This one is small at 1 ½” in diameter. This pocket watch can be seen on exhibit in Telling New Mexico.
Do you skate?
In 1907, children roller skating on sidewalks became a huge issue for the people of Las Vegas, NM. It even sparked debate in the city council.
One letter writer to the Las Vegas Daily Optic asked, “If the children roller skate, why do they do any more harm than the baby buggies and go-carts? Why not make the women go out in the street and wheel their babies there? And I wonder if the mayor and the city council were ever children. And why don’t New York, Chicago and St. Louis, Kansas City and even Albuquerque make them stop skating? Because they like to see the children have fun, and why don’t Las Vegas?”
Another citizen wrote that “It must be a pretty, crusty old curmudgeon who would seek to prevent the harmless amusement the children have been extracting from roller skating.”
Surely, these late 19th century Smith & Griggs Manufacturing Co. roller skates, made of metal, wood, and cast iron, saw many good times on the feet of Josefita “Pepe” Manderfield when she was a child in Santa Fe.
Spanish Playing Cards, late 1800s
This deck of Spanish playing cards was donated to the New Mexico History Museum by Josefita Manderfield Otero.
Originally of Chinese origin, playing cards were adopted in Mamluk Egypt by the 14th century and then spread to the Iberian Peninsula in the latter part of that century. By 1380 naipero (card-maker), was a recognized profession. The four suits are bastos (clubs), oros (gold coins), copas (cups), and espadas (swords). Spanish suited cards are used in Spain, Southern Italy, France, Latin America, North Africa and the Philippines. Unlike the suits found in Northern Italy, the swords on Spanish cards are straight, and the clubs are knotty instead of being depicted as ceremonial batons. Several of the cards from this deck can be seen in the History Museum’s exhibition, Telling New Mexico.
Shave permit pins from the Teddy Roosevelt Centennial celebrations in Las Vegas, NM (1958), and a shave permit from the Clovis, NM 50th anniversary celebration, 1957.
Shaving permit pins such as these were sold as a way to raise money for centennial or anniversary celebrations in many towns across the country. As part of the fundraising effort, citizens could register for a beard-growing contest. If someone did not want to participate in the contest, they could purchase a “shave permit.” This jokingly gave one “permission to shave.” The proceeds from the sale of the permits and registration fees for the contests were put towards the town’s celebration fund.
Why a beard-growing contest? Often, the Brothers of the Brush would spearhead the fundraising efforts. This organization got its name because they sought to emulate the towns’ founders. Many of the towns were founded in the Victorian period when beards and mustaches were in vogue. The Brothers of the Brush decided to capitalize on this look and encouraged beard-growing as a way to raise money.
NMHM/DCA 11501.45 and 2014.53.159
A 19th century measuring box known as a media fanega (or a half fanega). It is made of milled pine and enforced with metal strips, and has a leather handle. A fanega was an old Spanish unit of measurement usually used to measure grains. The measure varied from region to region in the Spanish-speaking Americas.
This object is just one of approximately 16,000 objects in the history museum’s collections. These objects are not just used for exhibit, but are often used for research.
Recently, a scholar studying the different Spanish units of measurement requested dimensions of several of these measuring units. From these internal dimensions, he calculated this media fanega at 2,428.3 cubic inches. His research calculates that an official standard set by the 1852 New Mexico territorial legislature for the unit measurement of the media fanega was 2,476.25 cubic inches. Thus, he determined that of all the media fanegas in the museum’s collection from that time period, this media fanega was the closest to that official measurement.
The collections staff thanks all the scholars and researchers who continue to provide extended knowledge to our object records.
San Ignacio de Loyola retablo by José Aragón, ca. 1820-1835.
San Ignacio de Loyola / St. Ignatius of Loyola (Oct 23, 1491-July 31,1556) was part of a noble Basque family who underwent a spiritual conversion following a military campaign where he was severely injured. This experience led him to write the Spiritual Exercises as a path for seeking the will of God. San Ignacio co-founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in 1540, and spent the rest of his life promoting missionization and education.
José Aragón, a well-known santero (maker of Nuevomexicano Catholic objects) active in the Mexican period of New Mexico’s history, produced retablos (paintings on panel) and bultos (carved wooden sculptures) in and around the Santa Fe area. His depiction of San Ignacio shows the saint in a typical pose, holding what is presumably the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus with the order’s Christogram on the front.
This retablo is part of the Larry and Alyce Frank Collection of over two hundred retablos, bultos, and cristos (crucifixes) that the couple collected for nearly forty years throughout northern New Mexico. Regular visitors to the museum will remember seeing the Frank Collection in Tesoros de Devoción, a beloved exhibition in the Palace of the Governors that celebrated the work of Nuevomexicano santeros and their santos.
1940 Harley-Davidson owned by Francis H. Harlow (22 January 1928 – 1 July 2016)( The Library of Congress’s listing on Francis H Harlow.) , an American theoretical physicist and researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico. Harlow was also a noted expert on Pueblo pottery of the Southwest, publishing in this field as well as in physics. In fact, Harlow traded one of his favorite Pueblo pottery jars for this 1940 Harley Davidson and was known to ride it to nearby Pueblos in search of pottery. He donated his extensive collection of Pueblo pottery to the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture several years before his death. In 2016, Harlow’s autobiography was published in the collection Adventures in Physics and Pueblo Pottery: Memoirs of a Los Alamos Scientist.
The photo below was featured in an 2016 Pasatiempo article about Harlow’s final book, Adventures in Physics and Pueblo Pottery: Memoirs of a Los Alamos Scientist