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Urban Archeologist: One That Got Away

…and the one that didn’t.

Where are the best sales and how do you find them? This is one of the eternal questions of treasure hunting, and of course everyone has his or her own version of what “best” consists of. If you know what you're looking for you can scan the ads (both print and online) for the items of your specific desire. If you're like me and you don't want to limit your possibilities, then you are in for more searching. 

One way to success is tips from other diggers. But, the timing of such tips is key to that success.

As an example, I was surprised to see a comment posted to an old Urban Archeologist column that had been published in the Fairfield Patch in 2012. The comment had only been there a few weeks, but in it the commentator offered a tip in the form of a link to an upcoming sale in lower Fairfield County. Sadly, because I can't immediately see when someone has made a comment, the tip was cold by more than a week.

The opportunity I lost? The sale was to settle the estate of the Parr family in Greenwich. You may recall a bit of TV history, specifically that Jack Parr was the second host of the Tonight Show. Different from his comedic and intellectual predecessor, Steve Allen, Parr was more of the every-man’s host rather than a performer in his own right, and gave his guests the spotlight, which took the program on a slightly different course, but paved the way for Johnny Carson’s 30 years as host. Jack Parr died in 2004, but by the sale’s description it could have been a real “dig” and to have been able to view or possibly buy a piece of television history would have been a real joy.

There will be other sales like it. However, this past weekend I realized that I missed the estate sale of a well known Newtown resident, Harvey Hubbell IV. Hubbell Inc., a company started by his grandfather, has been a well known Connecticut name in manufacturing for well over 100 years. Known for many professional accomplishments, Harvey Hubbell IV was also an avid hot-air balloonist. The giant Rooster emblazoned on his balloon, the Chanticleer, was a friendly site in a dawn or dusk sky over Newtown that we would all like to see again. “IV” passed in 2010, and apparently an estate sale was held at his residence in Newtown last summer.

I only found out that I missed the Hubbell sale when I found a few remnants from it at a sale this past weekend. The images above from the 1880 Scientific American show a detailed display of the industrial age going on full steam (actually water-powered) right here in Upper Fairfield County. Depicted are the inner workings of the NY Belting and Packing Company. The original building still stands on Glen Road in Sandy Hook. Like the building, the magazine itself is in great condition for being 130 years old, and I was pleased to acquire it for a nominal fee.

Take a look at the blog for more images from this magazine gem from 1880, especially this photo of the factory in Sandy Hook circa 1885.

Now, if I can only get a picture of Harvey Hubbell IV’s balloon in flight, I’ll feel less unhappy about missing the sale last summer!

I’ll be on the lookout for future sales, but if you have any tips (or need some), send an email using the link above. You never know what you’re going to find.

Greg Van Antwerp is a Brookfield resident and blogger, who can be found on the weekends in search of a good “dig” or a good story. You can read more about his adventures by visiting his blog.

Stoney Lonesome March 10, 2013 at 03:49 AM
I love the old Sandy Hook Fabric and Fire Hose Factory,,, Here it is in an Old-time, silent, motion picture! https://vimeo.com/51680021 Stoney Lonesome Stoney Lonesome Productions™ watch my Old-Time silent, moving pictures at: http://vimeo.com/channels/stoneylonesome
Greg Van Antwerp March 10, 2013 at 01:08 PM
Stoney, your movies are wonderful. Your inclusion of these links will really add to the readers' experience. Your appreciation for an era not too far gone, makes us kindred spirits. I'll be watching more of your movies.

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