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  #1  
Old 12-05-2011, 07:39 PM
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Default 1909 Practice Plate

I'm engraving at a farmers market in bozeman montana when a young lady stops me from my work with excitement of what I am doing. "You're engraving!" she says. I look up from my work and of course answer with a smile and a "yes mamm I am." We talk for a bit and come to find out, her grandfather was an engraver. "Very cool" I tell her. She goes on her way and over the next couple of weeks she comes by my booth and we talk about engraving. I enjoyed each moment of these conversations.

One saturday she comes up with a manila envelop and tells me she has a surprise for me. She pulls out a black and white 8x10 print of her grandfather in 1914 at his engraving shop in Buffalo NY. There is Leo V Mergler engraving away as a young lad, with his back to us and huge/tall windows looking out to the city. "Wow!" is all I could say for a moment, as I studied each inch of the photo print from 1914! She says, "I have more" as she pulls out five practice plates ranging from 1904-1920. "OMG!" I was afraid to touch them at first, but after a bit of reassurance from her; I picked up the oldest practice plate I will probably ever touch in my life-time. Simply Beautiful. I am in awe of not only the age of the work but the beauty of the work.

As I am looking at the plates she says, "I want you to pick one out." !Huh? "What do you mean? Pick one out?" I say with bafflement upon my face. It took a lot of convincing on her part for me to accept one of her family treasures. I even asked "Who is going to be coming after me for this? There is family that is going to want this back?." She reassures me "It's okay. My mother was an only child, I am an only child, and I will be giving these other plates to my two daughters. My grandfather would want you to have one, I want you to have one." At this point I'm almost in tears from the honor I feel. I chose a practice plate from 1909. I feel this is a museum piece and some how it has ended up in my museum of treasure now.

Leo V Mergler was born around 1887 and was approx 17 years of age when he started engraving. Leo and a friend opened there own engraving shop in Buffalo NY when he was 22 or 23. Leo never worked another job besides engraving and jewelry. His shop's name was Mergler $ Switzgabel Engravers. This is all I know of him. I have tried to do more research but I keep running into dead ends. Leo is the far right in the photo, working away.
I hope you enjoyed

Turtle
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File Type: jpg DSC_0005.jpg (122.8 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg Practice plate 1909.jpg (82.1 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg practice plate 1909(2).jpg (55.4 KB, 0 views)
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Old 12-05-2011, 10:37 PM
chujybear chujybear is offline
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Default Re: 1909 Practice Plate

Very special
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Old 12-06-2011, 07:51 PM
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Roger Bleile Roger Bleile is offline
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Default Re: 1909 Practice Plate

Turtle,

You are very fortunate to receieve such a wonderful gift. Many of us have a shelf or box of little things we have been given by our colleagues or found here and there. To most of the world these things are meaningless and of no value but to us they are invaluable treasures. I think it is important to tag or label these things and assure their eventual disposition so that they don't end up in a dumpster after we're gone.

RB
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Old 12-07-2011, 02:46 AM
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Daniel Houwer Daniel Houwer is offline
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Default Re: 1909 Practice Plate

thats a cool story turtle.
And a lovely gift with history.
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Old 12-11-2011, 12:47 PM
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Default Re: 1909 Practice Plate

I feel the same way Roger. If we don't tag these as artifacts with a small example story of what they truly mean, than these treasures will be lost. I see the forum has grown significantly since I was last on. It gives me hope that there is a future for the all-but-lost professions. I ran into a hand full of people over the course of my summer shows that knew and fully appreciated what I was trying to accomplish. I have a long way to go myself, but I love what I do. I have a good friend that engraves and he made me my first chisel handle for my bits. I'm starting to learn my chasing hammer and chisel now. Everything I do is still by push graving. Keeping a tradition alive.
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Old 12-21-2011, 07:24 PM
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Don Curtis Don Curtis is offline
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Default Re: 1909 Practice Plate

Turtle,

What a wonderful story. Just a very cool people story. They are very hard to find now days. When I hear one like this it tends to mean that much more to me. Thank you for telling it.


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