Treasures from town’s history sold

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BLOOMFIELD, NJ — The Historical Society of Bloomfield held its first-ever sale on Saturday, Oct. 1, in the Little Theater of the Children’s Library to celebrate the society’s 50th anniversary and to raise funds for its projects.
The sale was the idea of trustee Mary Shoffner, a former teacher at Carteret Elementary School, who said any money derived from the sale is welcome.
“The money will be needed when we get the Charles Warren Eaton paintings restored,” Shoffner said. “They’re very pricey — people would be shocked. (Eaton) is well-known in certain circles.”
The society owns a number of paintings by the artist, who lived in Bloomfield and died in 1937. A Tonalist painter, Eaton is represented in many American museums and is buried in Bloomfield Cemetery.
Among the items for sale at the event were: a set of playing cards featuring photographs of Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly, from the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”; license plates from the 1940s and ‘50s; and a case of bottles from Brookdale Beverage, which produced soda in Bloomfield decades ago.
Historical Society President Jean Kuras said, “Someone came in with a coaster from the Brookdale Beverage Co. and wanted to know if we wanted it. She was so happy we did.” And resident Vincent Marrone remarked that the taste of Brookdale soda could never be forgotten.
There was also a handmade map of the United States, the separate states cut from wood and fitted together like a jigsaw puzzle, and a type case propped against a railing was also for sale. The wooden slots would have held metal letters in separate compartments for typesetters, who used the letters to form words to print a newspaper.
There were paintings for sale, too. No undiscovered Eatons, but one shopper was pleased with a charming, watercolor landscape she found. And what attic-clearing sale would be complete without empty picture frames? They were stacked at the end of a table. There were also some shawls and a pair of floor lamps, various books highlighting township history, and more.
Shoffner said people may not realize how much it costs to run the Bloomfield Historical Society. The organization gives two $500 scholarships each year to Bloomfield High School seniors who have excelled in history; its historical collection requires insurance; it is charged $1,000 rent annually to occupy the third floor of the library; and there are also other maintenance and miscellaneous costs, such as for Internet service.
Shoffner said the Salvation Army would be coming by at the end of the sale day to cart away some items, but people were also welcome to visit the society to buy anything they may have missed at the sale. She said there will be another sale in the spring.
Everything in the Bloomfield Historical Society’s collection has come from donations, and Kuras gave an example of one such item.
“We got a call from a woman in Connecticut. She had a Peloubet organ and was going to put in on the curb. Did we want it?”
Peloubet Standard Organ Co. was a Bloomfield company during the 1800s that produced prized organs. Kuras said Bloomfield resident Joe Barry went to Connecticut for the organ. Kuras said the organs are not considered valuable, “But it terms of history, sentimentality and affection, they are very valuable to us.”
“It’s our latest Peloubet,” she said of the Connecticut treasure, adding, “We have four.”
— Walter Worrall contributed to this story.