JF Ptak Science Books LLC Post 928
"One must go into oneself armed to the teeth"--M. Teste, Paul Valery
Sometimes odd images just need to be surfaced for the pure sake of it. Such is the case with this glorious photo by Greg Villet1 of Delphine Binger in LIFE magazine for 24 May, 1954 . Ms. Binger ("a Manhattan spinster") actually collected the wishbones with a business utility in mind, fashioning them into objets d'os.
She purchased the wishbones for nothing, added a few bits of half-penny decorations, perfume, a pin, and SO! a piece of jewelry is born. She evidently was able to sell her creations for $2.10 apiece, which in 1954 translates into 25 2009 dollars; so I guess if she sold some here and there she would be able to supplement her income. Of course there's the issue of overkill on the bones: she seems to have probably ten times ten times more than she "needs", so there is something else going on there.
An old friend of mine--we'll call him Mr. Tulipfields, a brilliant mathematician/physicist/compsci guy with a deep appreciation for music--started buying classical cds when cds were a relatively new phenomenon. Rare recorded material was being placed back into "print" at such a rate that he couldn't really afford the appropriate sound system to actually listen to all of his new purchases. HE hurried into buying many of the cds because he thought that they would drop out-of-print again, and that he needed to act quickly. I thought that the cds would stay available basically forever—as it turned out he was right (as usual) and I was wrong (ditto). And so Mr. T amassed an enormous collection of music—in the dozens of thousands—many of which are now impossible to find.
In some ways my friend didn’t need the cd player—he already knew the music, could play it in his head. Somehow he was keeping all of this music on course in forming this fabulous collection And once he had explained his reasoning behind the whole effort, it all made perfect sense, and you’d wonder why he didn’t have 100,000 more choice cds.
On the other hand I’m not sure why Ms. Binger2 needed her extra 497,500 bones—its not as though there would be much of a relative variation in them, from bone to bone. I doubt that a centimeter here or there would make much of a difference in a corsage bone display like the one Ms. Binger is wearing in this photo. I guess she needed them for, well, something else.
1. I don't know much about Greg Villet. He took a lot of preparations for this photo, stringing 5,000 wishbones on black string on a black backdrop--that is considerable dedication to the idea of an image. I also know that he did some very significant documentary photography with Rosa Parks and the Montgomery strikes of 1955/6, which tells you maybe all you need to know about the man.
2. I can't help but wonder what happened to all of those bones on Ms. Binger's passing?