Small Talk

You Say Samovar, I Say Wine Fountain

Acquisto Wine Fountain

We originally thought that one of the more than 100 pieces of Pete Acquisto’s miniature silver work in the T/m collection was a samovar. That is until Acquisto came to visit the museum in 2011. He prefers making miniatures in the style of American and English silversmiths from the 16th to the 18th centuries. So, it makes sense that the silver piece we thought was a Russian samovar is actually a wine fountain.

Wine fountains were used to rinse glasses before they were refilled for guests at the dining table. The Victoria and Albert Museum has a similar wine fountain on loan in their collection. The V&A’s silver wine fountain was made by Pierre Platel, a prestigious Huguenot goldsmith, in London, England.

Similar to Platel, Acquisto is also prestigious, holding the International Guild of Miniature Artisans’s (IGMA) highest honor as a Fellow member. IGMA was founded in 1978 to promote fine miniatures as an art form. Fellow membership is awarded to those, like Acquisto, whose work develops into the epitome of excellence. We couldn’t agree with them more!

The Toy World’s Highest Honor

2013 National Toy Hall of Fame Finalists

It’s the EGOT of the toy world! On October 1, the National Toy Hall of Fame announced the 2013 finalists for induction into the hall: bubbles, chess, Clue, Fisher-Price Little People, little green army men, Magic 8 Ball, My Little Pony, Nerf toys, Pac-Man, rubber duck, scooter, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Only two lucky toys will join the prestigious list of hall of famers.

Although a national selection committee will choose the 2013 inductees, you can cast your vote in the public poll. So far, the 1980s toys are the front-runners… gnarly dude!

Don’t see your favorite toy? Then submit a nomination for 2014. But first, make sure your nominee passes the hall’s rigorous set of criteria: the toy must be widely recognized and respected; it must have longevity, having been enjoyed by generations; it must foster learning, creativity, or discovery; and it has to be innovative, having profoundly changed play or toy design. Does your favorite toy have what it takes?

Photo: Courtesy of The Strong, Rochester, New York.

Look, I Can Swim!

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This boxy bathing beauty doesn’t look much like your typical doll—she’s equipped with a key-wound, spring-loaded mechanism that allows her to actually do the breaststroke! Patented in 1878 by E. Martin, Undine, as she was named in the patent, probably wasn’t meant for children. Fanciful mechanical toys such as Undine were likely too expensive for child’s play and were instead used as a form of entertainment for adults during parties. While we don’t think she crossed the English Channel or won any medals for swimming in the 1896 Olympics, this Victorian mechanized swimming doll is certainly a noteworthy gal.

Want to see Undine race Missy Franklin or Michael Phelps? We do too, but unfortunately she hasn’t been wound up in quite some time. We did, however, find some modern takes on the swimming doll — no winding required — she takes AAA batteries and has a built-in sensor!

Cast Me a Samovar

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Like many miniature artists, Pete Acquisto transferred his skills in a full-scale craft (for him, jewelry making) to miniatures. After selecting and researching classic antique silver styles and forms, he uses casting to create each work. He likes to choose increasingly difficult pieces, such as this samovar, or beverage dispenser, in the T/m collection. Samovars were used in Central and Eastern European countries to heat water for tea.

Can’t imagine how someone can make something so intricate, so small? Check out this video from the Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures to hear Acquisto talk about his work. Then, see more of Acquisto’s miniature reproductions of antique silver in 1:12 and 1:24 scale online at the Acquisto Gallery of Fine Art.

“When You Were 10, What Did Your Imagination Tell You To Do?”

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Have you heard of Caine’s Arcade?! This little boy’s imagination not only created an awesome cardboard arcade, but sparked a movement, and a foundation, to foster creativity and entrepreneurship in kids. The Imagination Foundation’s second annual Global Cardboard Challenge aims to engage 1 million kids in 70 countries in creative play. What will you make out of cardboard on October 6?

After his TEDxTeen talk, Caine is moving on to his next entrepreneurial project: Caine’s Bike Shop. But no fear, TOMS Shoes, in partnership with the Imagination Foundation, is taking Caine’s Arcade on the road. We’re looking forward to seeing where Caine’s imagination takes him next!

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