Good morning! Today I want to get out of college and tell you about something I’ve been working on, okay, obsessed with, here at Uni Watch HQ.
Let’s start here: When Mary moved in in October, I was suddenly faced with my fair share of bare walls and empty shelves. That’s a situation I haven’t faced in decades, because I spent much of my adult life accumulating various vintage items for display. But I sold a lot of my collections and related things when I moved in with Mary in 2018, so this time around I would have to get some new items if I wanted to fill those empty walls and shelves.
The apartment includes a non-functioning fireplace with a fairly standard mantel (which you should have no problem filling with knick-knacks and curiosities), but it also includes a smaller shelf, more like a mantel really, over the main mantel, and it didn’t have any. put there:
I decided that the top shelf would be a good place for a new collection. And he knew exactly what he wanted to collect there: vintage moth vaporizer cans.
A quick explanation: you’re probably familiar with mothballs, right? You put them in your closet with your wool clothes and they evaporate, giving off a chemical vapor that kills moths. People don’t use them as much anymore because (a) they leave clothes smelling chemical and (b) their main chemical, paradichlorobenzene, is now known to cause cancer, so people tend to fight moths these days by using cedar. , camphor or pheromone traps.
Anyway: From about the 1930s to the 1960s, people often bought these metal canisters called moth vaporizers. Each canister was studded with holes drilled along the sides and also came with a paradichlorobenzene cake inside (sort of like a urinal cake), along with a small hook for hanging. Then you would use the hook to hang the canister in your closet, the chemical cake would evaporate, and the vapors would seep through the drilled holes. When the cake has completely evaporated, you would replace it with a new cake or some mothballs.
As you may have noticed, the boat in those last photos is absolutely beautiful. That’s because vape canisters, for some reason, were one of those random product categories that had very strong design values (much like typewriter ribbon canisters, which I recently mentioned here on the site). . There were many different brands, and almost all of them had really cool designs. I’ve seen and admired them for years in vintage stores and flea markets, and always thought they’d be cool to collect, especially since I’ve had some pretty epic battles with moths over the years, but never really had a good place for them. to show a large batch of them, so far.
Thanks to eBay and Etsy, it’s pretty easy (maybe also easy) to put together a collection of something like moth vaporizers, so it didn’t take me long to put together an array of them:
As you can see, some of the brands had names like Para-Zene or Para Vaporizer or Mothalene, all of which referred to paradichlorobenzene. (Speaking of which: these have all been washed and cleaned, so they are poison and odor free.)
Let’s take a closer look at all nine designs:
Now, I realize this might seem like an odd thing to collect, and perhaps even an even stranger thing to display as home decor. Why do I like these so much? Here are some of the reasons:
- I love the designs. Each boat is like a small sign or banner.
- The designs are so fun and cheery, they make the canisters look almost like toys, but they all include the word “Kill”, often quite prominently. I like that tension between aesthetics and intention. (By contrast, insecticide containers today tend to look more clinical and staid.)
- Some of them have endearing little catchphrases, like “Click Does the Trick” and “Beat the Moth to the Cloth.”
- As you can see, most of the different brands used the same standardized sizing and typically used shades of red, orange, or pink, making them look like different teams in the same league. Appeals to my love for uniforms!
- I love that the cans are made of metal, because I love anything that is both graphic and industrial.
So how did the screen turn out? Have a look:
There are several nicer vape cans I wouldn’t mind adding to the display, but there isn’t room for more (which is probably for the best), so I consider the collection complete. I’m very happy with it, a very good compendium of mid-century graphic design.
In case you were wondering: Moth vaporizers are generally not too expensive. My nine cans cost me an average of $15 each (including shipping). There are some rarer designs that cost more, but there is no way I would pay that much.
While I’m playing show and tell, I’ve also just received this really old Czech educational poster showing the tracks of various birds. I put it next to the window that has a bird feeder:
Well, that’s it for this tour of the Uni Watch headquarters. Thanks for pampering me! I happen to have another new collection to tell you about, but I’ll save it for the next week or so.
Proud Pat Patriot Dad
The Pats wore their Pat Patriot throwbacks last night, so a Boston TV station did a segment on the former boston globe cartoonist Phil Bissell, who created Pat in 1960 (and is now 96 years old!). You can review the story here.
Speaking of last night’s game: As you can see in the photo above, the Bills went mono-white, but quarterback Josh Allen wore a blue Bills jersey number 14, which is wide receiver Stefon Diggs. , for his post-game interview.
(My thanks to James Shannahan for the Phil Bissell link and to Devin Witt for Josh Allen’s point.)
LAST CALL for the Broncos Contest
Today is the last day to submit your design concept to remake the longstanding aesthetic mess that is the Denver Broncos. Full details here.
I will post the ticker later this morning. That’s probably enough for me this week, so enjoy Phil’s weekend content, stay well, and we’ll see you here Monday morning. Peace. — Pablo