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To Market, To Market (In An Overloaded Truck)

Raw wool could be brought to wool processors in many ways: shipped by train, by truck, or by boat, depending on where the raw wool was gathered and where it was being shipped for processing into yarn and eventually cloth. But as the photograph below indicates, the general idea was to ship as much as could possibly be stuffed into whatever method of transport you chose—in this case a truck—and then just add some more to the pile!

Photograph, c. 1905. Accession number: 1997.250.2


This gentleman, piloting a very early truck (probably about 1905), is possibly hoping that all those bags of wool don’t fall on his head before he reaches his destination. While we don’t know what each bag weighs, these bags are pretty large, and we can see at least 16 in the photograph, not counting what might be underneath in the bed of the truck. An estimate of 1500 or 1600 pounds total weight is probably not too unrealistic. It doesn’t seem like those thin little wheels on this truck could support all that weight (compare them to the large tires on tractor-trailers these days). In the early days of automobile design, the steering wheel sits perpendicular to the driver, rather than facing the driver as in modern-day cars, and note the complete lack of a cab, roof or any kind of cover, as well as the hand crank in the front.

Unfortunately, we don’t know the location of this photo, but what we see here is an enterprising gentleman who isn’t afraid to take on a load. Maybe he was just trying to conserve fuel by making only one trip. When “horseless carriages” first began operating, the “rules of the road” were minimum at best, and non-existent at worst, so he certainly wasn’t worried about weight limits. I’m just glad I wasn’t in a vehicle coming the other way!

Jane Ward, Assistant Librarian

Tony Sarg: Balloonist, Puppeteer, AND Fabric Designer

"Balloons Over Broadway" by Melissa Sweet

I love it when two of my favorite things, books and textiles, intersect. That’s what happened when I discovered a new book, Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by acclaimed children’s author and illustrator Melissa Sweet (

I have long had a soft spot for children’s books even before I became a mother and often can’t stop myself from buying them just for me. So, I was delighted to discover a children’s book about Tony Sarg. Tony Sarg pursued many things in his life, illustrating, designing toys, and creating puppets, but he also designed fabrics. In ATHM’s collection we have several yard goods that were designed by Sarg and represent circus imagery. The fabrics embody the same type of humor Sarg used in designing the helium-filled balloons for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. These first helium-filled balloons, used in 1928, were made of rubberized silk so they would be light enough to float…..another textile connection!

Below are two Tony Sarg designed prints in ATHM’s textile collection. For more about Balloons Over Broadway I recommend checking out the blog,

Yard goods, 1941. Tony Sarg (designer). Accession number: 2001.38

Yard goods, early 1930's. Tony Sarg (designer). Accession number: 1996.90.2

I would love to hear of any other new children’s books and textile connections.

Karen Herbaugh, curator