Third Annual Writing Contest with an Antiques Twist… Now for Adults Too!

Third Annual Writing Contest with an Antiques Twist… Now For Adults Too!

Posted on June 14, 2013

Child Writing

The Antiques Depot is once again hosting its short story writing competition as a part of the Nantucket Book Festival. We have been encouraging young people and teens to develop their creative and literary talents, all while exploring the world of rare and special antiques. This year, by popular demand, we have expanded the contest to include a section for adults as well.

Contest Now for Adults Too!!!

Contest Now for Adults Too!!!

 

Contestants are invited to come into the Antiques Depot on Nantucket, and explore the wide variety of treasures from our past on display, to find that one piece that sparks their imagination (no purchase necessary). They may be amazed to learn that antiques aren’t just that fragile china dog on their granny’s mantle… they may find harpoons and relics from old ships, tribal pieces made by American Indians or Pacific Islanders, mysterious objects from the Orient or ancient Egypt, or rare artifacts from age of the Pilgrims or the Revolutionary War!

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After asking whatever questions they wish about the object’s identity and history to get started, they can have fun researching and exploring their chosen piece at the library and the many island museums, and then put their new found knowledge and imagination to work by writing a story about their object. The author can write a fictional “biography” that follows their object through the various imagined hands that have owned it over the years since it was made, perhaps exploring some of the ways it had been used. The author may choose to write an exciting story that takes place sometime in the past, where the chosen object plays an important role.

All of the authors are encouraged to think of their object as a real character in their story and address when it was made, where it was from, what was its purpose, what was its life like, what did it witness? The contest is an opportunity to learn about our culture and get a better feel for Nantucket’s past, all while having fun with a creative project. The Antiques Depot is hoping the young authors in particular will discover that exploring antiques will inspire a lasting appreciation of history and heritage.

The story writing contest will launch during the Nantucket Book Festival… stop by and visit our table at the author’s tent in the Atheneum garden on Saturday, June 21 from 10:00 to 4:00. The contest is open to everyone, and the authors will be divided into a groups aged 8 and under, 9 to 12, 13 to 16, and adult. The stories will be judged on the accuracy of information related, creativity and of course writing skill. The stories may be hand-written or printed, may be delivered either in person, by post, or by email, and must be submitted by August 16.

The winners may pick their choice of grand prize from among a Kobo ereader (generously donated by the Nantucket Bookworks), a vintage hand-crafted Ship-in-a-Bottle, a selection of classic Nantucket books (generously donated by the Egan Maritime Foundation), or a gift certificate to the Antiques Depot.

The winning stories will be published in the Antiques Depot Blog, and will also be submitted to the Chamber of Commerce website, the Inquirer & Mirror, Yesterday’s Island, and the Nantucket Chronicle.

Best of luck and we look forward to reading your entries!

The Antiques Depot is located at 14 Easy Street and is open 7 days a week from 10 am to 4 pm. Inquiries are welcome at 508-228-1287, and at info@nantucketantiquesdepot.com. Follow us on facebook and twitter by going to our website at www.nantucketantiquesdepot.com

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Visit www.nantucketchronicle.com/ , your free online resource for everything Nantucket. By Nantucketers, for Nantucketers.

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A Festival of Christmas Trees.

A Festival of Christmas Trees.

Christmas! That most wonderful time of year! The holidays start early here on Nantucket Island, with our annual Christmas stroll celebrated on the first weekend of December. To get us all in the mood, and start the season off with the right festive bang, we have the Nantucket Historical Association’s magical Festival of Trees. Now in its 20th year, the Festival presents over 90 Christmas trees designed and decorated by a wide variety of people and organizations from our community, nestled and overflowing throughout our historic Whaling Museum. Holiday magic indeed!

The Antiques Depot's "Magic of Christmas", NHA Festival of Trees 2009.

The Antiques Depot’s “Magic of Christmas”, NHA Festival of Trees 2009.

I am completely crazy about Christmas Trees (it’s a German thing), so of course I am a huge fan of this festival … in fact my wife and I Chaired the event for the last two years and remain on the committee. The Antiques Depot has been putting up a tree in the museum for about ten years now, each one telling a specific tale. Of course Christmas trees weren’t always this expansive… not even in my family where we used to put up seven different trees… and more decorated outside!

Christmas trees began rather simply, as far as we can tell, long before Christmas itself. No one appreciates nature and greenery like the pagans: the ancient Romans used evergreen boughs to decorate their temples during the feast of Saturnalia; the druids worshiped under oak trees and favored mistletoe; and the Germanic tribes and Scandinavians brought pine and fir branches and trees into their homes for a little life during the winter solstice.

The Antiques Depot at Christmas Time.

The Antiques Depot at Christmas Time.

During the Middle Ages clergymen, and later traveling bands of minstrels, performed Mystery or Miracle Plays to illustrate simple tales from the Bible: those telling about Adam and Eve, their fall from grace, and the promise of a coming savior became associated with Advent. In Germany and France these plays often employed a Paradise Tree decorated with apples, and perhaps holy wafers. In fact the first documented use of a tree at Christmas and New Year celebrations was around 1510 in the far northern Germanic territory around Riga or Tallinn. This was most likely a Paradise Tree rather than a proper Christmas Tree, and after a ceremony it was burnt (like a forerunner of a Yule Log). By the end of the century Germans were parading a festive tree through the streets, often followed by a man on horseback dressed a bishop… good old St. Nicholas we presume.

Steel engraving of Martin Luther's Christmas Tree, from Sartain's Magazine, circa 1860

Steel engraving of Martin Luther’s Christmas Tree, from Sartain’s Magazine, circa 1860

The first proper Christmas Tree, where a fir was brought inside a house and lit with candles, we attribute to Martin Luther in the mid 16th Century, who was said to have likened the tree to the heavenly sky from whence the Christ Child came down to earth on Christmas Eve. Germans love a party, and Luther’s simple tree soon came to be decorated with gold covered apples, sugared plums, cherries and pears, nuts, dates, pretzels, paper flowers, gingerbread figures and dough fashioned into the likeness of various animals. Atop the early trees were at first a Christ Child, and in time the angel which brought forth good tidings, or the star which led the Wise men. And once the glass makers got involved, we were well and truly off and running!

Woodblock Engraving of "The Christmas Tree" by Winslow Homer, from Harper's Weekly, 1858

Woodblock Engraving of “The Christmas Tree” by Winslow Homer, from Harper’s Weekly, 1858.

Christmas trees (even Christmas in general) had a rough time taking route in America. The Protestant establishment throughout the colonies had a grim view of Christmas, and the Puritans banned the holiday outright in New England. Hessian soldiers are believed to have celebrated with Christmas trees during the American Revolutionary War, and certainly German immigrants brought the custom with them to Pennsylvania, Ohio, and wherever else they settled. But the custom spread slowly. Even by the mid 19th Century America still wasn’t in the Christmas spirit: schools stayed open on Christmas Day, and ministers wouldn’t allow any such “pagan” trappings within their churches.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's Christmas Tree

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s Christmas Tree.

The Christmas Tree didn’t become popular in Great Britain until Queen Victoria’s German husband Prince Albert decorated a Christmas Tree in Windsor Castle.A drawing of the event published in the Illustrated London News in 1848, and republished in Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1850 (with the Queen’s crown and the Prince’s mustache removed to appear more “American”) went a long way in popularizing Christmas Trees in both the UK and the US. When a generous dash of Dickens was added to the punch… well, Christmas was here to stay.

Christmas Trees are now every-where, even in households that don’t celebrate Christmas.  Artificial trees have come to rival natural trees in popularity and over the last century their ornamentation has continued to evolve, reflecting the times in which they live. And there is perhaps no better place to see this in all its wonder and glory, than in the Festival of Trees on Nantucket.

The Night After Christmas (Festival of Trees 2010)

The Night After Christmas (Festival of Trees 2010)

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Visit www.nantucketchronicle.com/ , your free online resource for everything Nantucket. By Nantucketers, for Nantucketers.

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Please excuse any annoying advertisements that may appear below this. The intrusion is on the part of the hosting site, and is in no way endorsed by the Antiques Depot.

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And the winner is…

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The Antiques Depot hosted a children’s writing contest this summer to encourage young people to explore the world of rare and special antique objects. Youngsters and teens were invited to explore the wide variety of treasures from our past on display at the shop and find that one piece that sparked their imagination.  After asking questions about the object’s identity and history to get started, they could pursue more research at the library or any of the many island museums, and then put their new found knowledge and imagination to work by writing a story about their object. They were asked to write a fictional biography of the piece they found in the shop, or write a tale in which the object they chose played a central role.

Children of a variety of ages were excited by the contest.  Some were brought in by their parents. In other cases the parents were clearly the ones being dragged in by their eager children.  One morning we had the entire Murray Camp descend en masse. It was fascinating to watch what pieces caught their imagination.  We even had to break out our step ladder so that one young girl, small in stature but big in imagination, could get up close to examine a miniature Sterling ship model perched on a high shelf.

An intriguing assortment of objects was chosen: often a surprise, always very cool, and by no means divisible into what one might naively expect to be little boy versus little girl interests.  Many fascinating questions were asked. In one case one young girl asked a slow series of questions, spread over quite a period of time as they occurred to her, so you could follow her train of thought as her story was slowly taking shape in her imagination. Sometimes the questions would catch me completely by surprise, amazed that anyone would think of asking such a curious question. The final stories that were submitted were treasures from start to finish.

The story chosen for first place was entitled Generations of Reading by Ava McDonald. The 11 year old author received a prize of a vintage Ship in a Bottle in congratulation for her clever and delightful story.  And you, the lucky reader of this blog will also receive a prize: the opportunity to read that winning story right now. In future blogs we will present a further selection of our favorite stories submitted.

Generations of Reading

by Ava McDonald

The scorching sun shined down on the field of juicy, red strawberries. It is August 15, 1920 on Nantucket, the island where I live. My name is Elizabeth, but my mother and father call me Lizzie, and I am 12 years old. I am outside picking strawberries in the field. My parents grow them on their farm, and I pick and sell them to the wealthier families who come on island every summer. I pick the luscious red fruits, and I put them in a basket that was hand-woven by my grandmother.

When I finish, I bring my basket inside our small cottage on the farm, place it on the kitchen table, and go to get myself a cold rag. Nantucket is really hot in the summer. I place the rag around my sunburnt neck. It feels so cold and soothing to my irritated skin. Then I take some time to relax and read. I love to read and have always loved books. Right now, I am almost done reading The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I love it. I pick up the book, open it up to where I left off and start reading. When I finish the last page, I close the book, put it down, pick up my strawberries and bring them to the sink to wash them. Then I bring the strawberries to my mother who is in her bedroom.

“Hello, Lizzie!” my mother says in delight. “Hello, Mother!” I say. I run to hug her, but I’m careful not to spill the berries I have gathered. “I am going to the wharf to sell my strawberries!” I say. “Okay, be back at three,” my mother says, which means I have two hours to sell all of my strawberries. I kiss my mother goodbye, grab my basket and head out the door.

I grab my bike out of the shed and start riding. The bike ride to the wharf is a long one, but I’m used to it. I do this ride about five times a week, because I have to sell my strawberries. The ride takes me about thirty minutes, because the island is never busy until the ferry arrives. Once the wealthy families come into town, we farmers keep to ourselves. You wouldn’t believe how many families come over the summer.

I arrive at the wharf at about 1:30 PM, and the ferry has just arrived. Not many families want to buy my strawberries but then a nice, older woman comes up to me. She wants to buy lots of strawberries from me! She buys 10 strawberries and I am excited! She hands me five dollars! Five dollars! I thank the old woman and hand her the strawberries. I can’t wait to spend my money on a new book to read!

It is now 2:30 PM and most of the arriving families have left, so I decide to walk into town and spend my earned money at my favorite store on the island, Daniel’s Bookstore.

“Hello there, Elizabeth!” Daniel says to me. “Hi!” I reply. “I’m looking for a new book. I just finished The Secret Garden.” “How about this one?” he says and hands me a copy of Moby Dick. “It was written in 1851 and this is one of the first illustrated copies of this timeless novel! The illustrated copy was just released earlier this month.” He hands me the book and I admire the beautiful blue and gold cover, as Daniel keeps telling me about the book. “The book has a chapter called Nantucket, and it describes our beautiful island so well, and the author, Herman Melville, had never even been on island before!” Daniel says. “Wow! This seems like a great novel! I can’t believe I haven’t read this before but now is the perfect time!” I say. Daniel nods his head in agreement. “How much for it?” I ask. “Two dollars,” Daniel says. I squeeze the money I have just earned in my hand and say, “I’ll take it!”

I hand Daniel the money as he hands me the book. I walk out of the store, and walk back to the wharf to get my bike. I ride back to the farm, throw my bike in the shed, and run inside to get started on my beautiful new book.

Call me, Ishmael I begin to read. I read through the book, and I look at its beautiful illustrations. I finally reach the chapter Daniel told me about called Nantucket:

 Nothing more happened on the passage worthy the mentioning; so, after a fine run, we safely arrived in Nantucket. Nantucket! Take out your map and look at it. See what a real corner of the world it occupies; how it stands there, away off shore, more lonely than the Eddystone lighthouse. Look at it – a mere hillock, and elbow of sand; all beach, without a background. There is more sand there than you would use in twenty years as a substitute for blotting paper…

20 YEARS LATER

            My name is Elizabeth, but my nine year old daughter, Marie, calls me Mother. I am 32 years old, and I live on Nantucket where I have lived since I was a girl. I work at Daniel’s Bookstore. I have worked there since Daniel’s death five years ago. I have always loved to read, and so does my daughter, Marie. My most treasured book is the illustrated copy of Moby Dick, a book I bought from Daniel 20 years ago with $2 I earned from selling strawberries. The beautiful blue and gold cover looks a bit worn and dusty now but, in my eyes, it is still as beautiful as it was the day I bought it.

Marie and I went to pick strawberries today and, as we put our berries into the beautiful hand-woven basket that my grandmother gave me several years before she died, I realized that today was the perfect day to give her one of my most prized possessions. After we returned home, I called her into the parlor and pulled out the box where I have always kept my special illustrated copy of Moby Dick.

“Marie, dear? I want to give you something,” I say. I open the box, which is sitting in my lap. Marie looks inside and gasps with delight as I hand her this special piece of history. “This is my illustrated copy of Moby Dick, which I bought twenty years ago from Daniel when he was still alive. It is one of the first illustrated copies of Moby Dick ever published,” I say. She thanks me and hugs me with glee. A tear of joy begins to run down my cheek as I watch her take the book into her hands and admire the beautiful blue and gold beautiful cover just as I did 20 years ago.

Congratulations Ava from Jack, Howard and Ciara.

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Summer Writing Contest with an Antiques Twist!

The Antiques Depot is encouraging young people to explore the world of rare and special antique objects. Youngsters and teens are invited to enter the Depot’s first “Antique Short Story Contest” by writing a fictional biography of an object they find in the shop (no purchase necessary). Contestants come in and explore the wide variety of treasures from our past on display and find that one piece that sparks their imagination! After asking questions about the object’s identity and history to get started, they can have fun if they wish researching and exploring their chosen piece at the library and the many island museums, and then put their newfound knowledge and imagination to work by writing a story about their object.

The young author can write a fictional “biography” that follows their object through the various imagined hands that have owned it over the years since it was made; perhaps exploring some of the ways it had been used. The author may choose to write an exciting story that takes place sometime in the past, where the chosen object plays an important role. All of the authors are encouraged to think of their object as a real character in their story and address when it was made, where it was from, what was its purpose, what was its life like, what did it witness? The contest is an opportunity to learn about our culture and get a better feel for Nantucket’s past, all while having fun with a creative project. The Antiques Depot is hoping the young authors will discover that exploring antiques will inspire a lasting appreciation of history and heritage.

The story writing contest is open to all young people, and the contestants will be divided into a group aged 12 and under, and a group aged 13 to 18. The stories will be judged on the accuracy of information related, creativity and of course writing skill. The stories must be submitted by August 15th. The winner in each group will receive an antique handcrafted Ship-in-a-Bottle.

The Antiques Depot is also fostering new collectors of all ages during the month of July with other special deals and events as well. Every Tuesday afternoon is Free Evaluation Day, where people are invited to bring in their mystery object to discuss their history and value, or to just stop by with the antiques questions they have always wanted to ask. Young Collector Specials throughout the shop have been marked down to be more accessible to those just starting to explore the world of antiques. Items priced at $150 or less have been marked with ribbons to be easier to find, and anyone 25 or younger may ask for a further 20% discount.