Sunday, December 5, 2010

Texas Tidbits: Christmas Gifts From 100 Years Ago

A Future Laptop Case?***
I was looking over a web site that I have used to research all things Texas. I have mentioned it on numerous occasions as well. While thinking of an idea for a post today, I saw something that mentioned Christmas gifts of yesteryear. Great idea for a post! So, I moseyed on over to and I'll be dipped, if they didn't have an article about that very subject! I love Texas Escapes!

If I were a betting man, I'd bet that at least half the gifts you give and/or receive, will be something to do with electronics. Xbox and PS-3 games, PC games, computers, computer accessories like keyboards, thumb drives, printers, etc. We are a citizenry of gadgets and gizmos. Having said that, have you ever thought about what kind of gifts your grandparents exchanged with their families? I found an interesting column about that very subject at, you guessed it, at . In the Austin Harpoon newspaper at Christmas, 1911, was this ad 

“Don’t waste money on useless Christmas presents. Give your friends or relatives something artistic, as well as valuable.” Women, he continued, often send their male relatives or friends a box of cigars “with Johnson grass wrappers and alfalfa fillers.” Such cigars, he continued, “won’t smoke, and are not even pretty.”

But what about a deer’s foot thermometer?

Yes, long before all the wares offered via toll-free 800 numbers, from knives that never need sharpening to singing bass, the Muter and Collier Taxidermy Co. of Uvalde sold preserved deer’s feet with thermometers attached, suitable for hanging.

“Beautifully polished,” Bonner waxed on, the deer-foot temperature tellers were “an article that is useful as well as an art treasure.” All cloven-hooved stocking stuffer cost was $1.50 plus a dime for postage and handling."

A deer hoof thermometer! Just what every man dreams of having! I know a lot of guys who'd rather have the deer that goes with that hoof, but the hoof alone, with or without the thermometer , not so much. But, evidently, this was an entirely acceptable gift in 1911.

Let's not forget the ladies. In the same newspaper, this attractive item would make a dandy gift to the members of the Fair Sex.

So, rather than giving any of those cliché articles, “send them an art treasure – a beautiful and useful work basket, made from the shell of an armadillo.”

Highly polished and lined with “dainty silk,” the baskets are “not only a great curiosity, but valuable and handy, and will last a life-time, and then some.” In other words, give a gal an armadillo shell and create a family heirloom.

Ain't that some great stuff? It's amazing how things have changed in this country in a hundred years. Now if I could only figure out how to modify an armadillo shell into a laptop case and the deer hoof thermometer into a USB drive....

Watch out, Bill Gates!

 ***(Photo by Monty Northrup, Austin, Texas***

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