June 08, 2012

America's Lost Treasures: Wilmington, Delaware: Related Facts

Facts About the Artifacts in This Episode

Mack Truck

  • Mack Trucks were used by Britain in WWI to move supplies and troops to the front line.

  • Mack Trucks took on their K-9 trademark in 1917, when WWI British soldiers, impressed with the trucks’ ruggedness, used the British mascot as inspiration, calling the pugnacious vehicles “Bulldog Macks.”

  • When President Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, construction began on the Interstate Highway System, which has also been called “the greatest public works project in history.”

The Graphophone

  • The graphophone was Alexander Graham Bell Laboratory’s improved-upon version of Thomas Edison’s earlier invention, the phonograph.

  • The first graphophones worked by playing cylinders of cardboard covered in wax and incised by a needle, an improvement over Edison's tin foil method.

  • To avoid potential patenting issues, the inventors of the graphophone put their device and several sound recordings in a sealed box, to be kept in a vault at the Smithsonian until needed. The box was not needed, and remained unopened for 56 years. Thought to be the voice of Alexander Graham Bell's father, one recording says famously: "I am a graphophone and my mother was a phonograph."

  • The Graphophone "Type B Eagle" was called such because it could be purchased with a ten dollar gold coin, known as an "Eagle," making it much more affordable than the pricier models.

Kiddush Cup

  • “Coin” silver is silver that has been melted down from coins. It has a purity of 90% which is a little less than Sterling which is 92.5% silver.

  • Isaac Leeser was instrumental in founding the first Jewish Sunday School in America in 1835.

  • Over 10,000 American Jews fought in the Civil War. Approximately 7,000 fought for the Union, and 3,000 for the Confederate side.


  • In January, 2012, a School Girl Sampler created by Mary Antrim in 1807 sold at auction at Sotheby’s for 1.07 million dollars.

  • There are over 100 different needlepoint stitches.

  • School Girl Samplers were more than a display of skill. They represented a public display of the value that communities and families placed on young girls’ educations.

George Washington / Revolutionary War

  • George Washington cutting down the cherry tree is a fable invented by a parson named Mason Locke Weems. He first told the tale in an 1800 biography of Washington. Parson Weems wanted to set an example of trustworthiness for Americans.

  • Men were very proud of their discharge papers, and would carry them in their pockets and wallets for years before framing them.

  • Washington was unusually tall man for his time (perhaps as tall as 6’3”) and would have had to duck when entering his headquarters at the Moland house.

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