Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Merci Train Tapestry

There are a lot of things to be thankful for in 2015. Gas prices are down, Star Wars: The Force Awakens is finally in theatres, and the panning stream at the Gold Rush Museum is working without leaks.

Of course gratitude doesn’t have to be reserved only for momentous occasions. It is very beneficial to those who practice it on a regular basis, and according to studies it makes you feel more alive, sleep better and have a stronger immune system.

People show their appreciation in different ways, but one of the most common is gift giving. In 1949, The Placer County Museum received a beautiful tapestry from the French Gratitude Train. The train, also called the Merci Train and the Train de la Reconnaissance, was filled with tens of thousands of gifts of gratitude from French citizens. It was a “thank you” gift to the United States for relief supplies collected by the Friendship Train as it traveled across the United States, passing through Roseville on its way to New York. The supplies and millions of dollars in aid sent to France and Italy in 1947 were indispensable during severe food shortages that followed the end of WWII.

The idea of the Gratitude Train came from Andre Picard, who was a French railroad worker and WWII veteran. The train cars were decorated with the coat of arms of the 40 provinces of France. One car was sent to each of the 48 states with the 49th shared by Washington D. C. and the territory of Hawaii. An estimated 6 million French families contributed something of value, and the train arrived in New Jersey on February 3, 1949.

The tapestry that became part of the Placer County Museums Collection was donated to the Merci Train by Madame Juliette Morreton from the city of Beauvais in northern France. Made by an unknown weaver, it depicts Comtesse Du Barry, courtier and mistress of King Louis XV, who was guillotined during the French Revolution. Beauvais was extensively damaged during the German advance on Paris in 1940 and later liberated by British troops in August 1944. The tag that was attached to the tapestry reads: “To our American friends with hearty gratefulness for all that they have done for France and French people.”

The scale of destruction after WWII was enormous. As people began to deal with the consequences of war and focused on rebuilding their lives and cities they, like Juliette Morreton, found a lot to be thankful for.

Kasia Woroniecka, Curator of Collections

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Milk Bottles from Auburn Dairies

       Donated with a collection of ephemera by Colleen Webber Nicholas, these milk bottles are from Auburn, CA Dairies. The items were owned by her mother, Marguerite E. Correa Webber of Newcastle, who was born in Newcastle and resided there for 79 years. Her grandfather was a pioneer orchardist in Newcastle.

The first bottle is from the Valley Sanitary Dairy.


 Below is an ad for the Valley Sanitary Dairy which includes a rare two-digit phone number.

 Below are two photos of a bottle from the Thomas Dairy, which has a rare three-digit phone number.

The back side of the bottle has some great copy about how modern and wise it is to buy milk in glass bottles.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Doodlebug Spe-Da-Way

We just received a new donation to our collection in the form of a three wheel ride-on pump mobile, the Doodlebug Spe-Da-Way.

It's made of pressed steel and cast iron by Beckley-Ralston Co. of Chicago, Ill.  It was donated and used by Joann Joye and her sister Billi Cline who lived on Terrace Street in Auburn in a house their parents built in 1940.  The sisters received the toy in 1945. 


If your spring cleaning turns up something that might be great in our museum collection give Kasia, our curator of collections, a call at 530-889-7705.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Hat Donation

The opening of our new exhibit, "What Killed the American Hat?" was met with great reviews as well as the  donation of this beautiful hat.

Ann Fenn brought in this stylish topper she bought it in 1963 at the Heironimus department store in downtown Roanoke, Virginia.

From there it made its way to the heart of Placer County and ultimately to our Collections Management Facility where it will be well looked after. Thanks Ann!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

New Dresses at the Placer County Museum

 Three Flapper dresses from the Fashioning a New Identity exhibit returned to our collections facility for a well deserved rest. Since heavy beading and exposure to light can damage the fibers and most of the time the damage is irreversible, they were replaced with three other great dresses from our collection. The first is a dress that was worn by Margaret Michael Saladana to her graduation from the College of the Pacific (today University of the Pacific) in 1924. It’s a nice example of a net lace lingerie dress. Michael and Saladana families were pioneers of Newcastle. The second is a silk dress from the same collection that dates to around 1925. The third is a satin dress from the J. M. Hanlin Collection circa 1928.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Almond Knocker - date unknown

This almond knocker was used for harvesting almonds. The harvester would place a tarp or blanket under the tree which would catch the falling almonds after the branches were hit or “thrashed” by the almond knocker. Today large orchards do their tree shaking by machine.

Leona, Placer County Collections Management Volunteer, with an almond knocker donated by Francis and Maurine Dobbas in 1985.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Trumps Card Box c.1880

Playing cards is one of the oldest and most popular games invented by man. This tiny box, which dates back to 1880, measures only 3 cm. in length and 2cm. in width and contains suits used in the trick-taking game called Trumps. The small cards are used in determining which card suit will be elevated above its normal rank to become the trump suit. It developed from an older game called Ruff and Honours and is also known by a variety of names like Knock-out Whist, Reduction Whist and Rat. The name of the game derives from the Middle English trumpen, which means to deceive, cheat. Trumps was very popular in the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries. It was replaced by Bridge, which shares many traits with Whist.