Hello from NJ - Introduction to me and the Steele Box

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by mforder, May 3, 2021.

  1. mforder

    mforder Active Member

    Box-small.jpg Letter-22.jpg Card-3a.jpg Letter-3a.jpg Hello All,

    My name is Mark, I'm new here for a few reasons. I am trying to find the best home to that allows for post on mixed Ephemera. I am also here to learn some things about what I have and to share them as well. Please note none of these items are for sale. I'd like to introduce folks to something I call the "Steele Box".

    I have to be honest I just started a thread on another board only because I did not know this site was much more diverse and yet provided exactly what I was looking for I believe. People who share information and people who appreciate things like old papers.

    If I am in the wrong place please just say so.

    The "Steele Box" what is it...

    In the mid 1990's my wife worked as a manager in a bank in the town of Newton, NJ in Sussex County. I do not know the exact age of the building. The Original bank from where the "Steele Box" came from was across the square and it was called "The Sussex Bank". The bank building was located on the main square in the town. It was 3 or 4 stories tall and it had a large basement full of dark rooms. This was the kind of basement people just don't wander around in. It had a active 1 1/2 foot stream flowing through it, there were rats and other things around as well. It also had a fallout shelter with boxes and boxes of war rations in it. In the basement there was also an old vault that was no longer being used, it was always open. In it there were a number of things, including a box in which I still have.

    In case you are wondering why I have the box it's because...
    The management of the bank decided to sell the property.
    In preparation they reached out to my wife who explained to them the situation in the basement is in dire need assistance.
    In order to sell it the bank decided that the basement needed to be emptied and everything needed to be thrown away.
    My wife then called the Newton Historical Society who came and took some things.
    This is where I come in....
    As the basement was been cleared out they basically looked at nothing, picked it up and threw it away into a dumpster outside. I cannot imagine all that was lost. The basement was room after room and seemed to have gone on forever
    At the end of the day I would go up to see if there was anything that was worth saving from the dumpster. I went a few times and and I could see old news papers from the 1940's and so on, a lot of damp worn out bank papers, some of the rations, furniture, the list goes on and on.
    Then one day my wife said the vault in the basement was next on the list to be clear out. The workers were instructed to throw everything into the into the dumpster and they did.
    This is when I found the"Steele Box". It was on it's way to the trash heap and I grabbed it, little did I know what was inside.
    The box had the another box sitting on top. In it is where I eventually found the a number of things that I would like to share with the folks here is that ok.

    More on the "Steele Box"...

    Interestingly enough I have done a lot of work looking into what I call the "Steele Box".
    What is the "Steele Box"? I can tell you it is a box similar to a old milk box / storage container, wood handles and made of metal. It's about 18 inches front to back, 22 inches side to side and about 18 to 20 inches deep.
    I named it the "Steele Box" because it is basically a time capsule for the 1880's from a Mr. Charles Steele.
    Mr Charles Steel was a...
    Railroad Engineer of some sort
    Local Baseball Player
    Fan of the New York City and local theatre as well
    In the box there were...
    Copper printing plates, one of which has the signature of George Washington on. Mt Vernon is currently researching it.
    The box also had CDV photo's of actresses (Lotta Crabtree) from the California Gold Rush days taken by a well know photographer from New York City named Jeremiah Gurney. He was ranked up there Matthew Brady who happened to be the person who made the cases for Jeremiah's photos early on. As you know Matthew Brady then went on to take the famous photos which he is well known for of President Abraham Lincoln.
    Employee time tables from the Lackawanna Railroad, Chicago and others.
    Love letters.
    A letter that is from a man he knew that was in Cape Horn, South Africa. From what I gather he was trying to evade being captured by the police.
    Letters to bring electricity to Newton.
    Papers, ledgers, and so on all tied to arranging local Baseball games in the area including New York City in such places as Coney Island.
    The baseball team from Newton was made up mostly from the Newton Steamer Co. No. 1, firefighters from that time.
    Broadside of the first kidnapping in the United States for ransom, Charles ("Charley") Brewster Ross.
    Opera house floor plans from New York City, one of which was torn down and is now where Madison Square Garden is today.
    Bill Heads and Broadsides.
    Bank Checks
    Bank notes that were used as currency before the Federal Reserve been into existence.
    ....and more. There are over 2,000 pieces of paper (Ephemera) in this box.

    As you can see it's overwhelming.

    I hope to get the chance to post some of what I have and I also hope to learn more them is folks have some knowledge of something that stands out. At the moment most of what was in the box is in protective sleeves and separated by category. Please know that the Steele box is actually steel or tin. It did rust while it was in the basement so some of the items in the box are in bad shape while others are not. Wish me luck. I know I am jumping into this head first. I hope not to post thinks in the wrong category so I will try my best to be consistent.

    Since I see that I can use two tags I will use PAPER and then select a category that is the closets to what images I am posing.

    For the first post I will include a pic of the box, and three different subject matters. If this is not the right forum or if you get tired of seeing post I completely understand and I will stop posting. If you would like to see more then please just say so. I am just looking for a place to be able to share what's in the box.

    I do have one question and I don't know if it's allowed. Can I continue one thread/post and keep adding images for the items in the box since they are all related to Charles Steele or do I need to break them up into separate posts?



    P.S. I will use the "Steele Box" on all of my posts in hopes that they will be easier to find.
    Last edited: May 3, 2021
  2. i need help

    i need help Moderator Moderator

    Welcome to the Forum, Mark!

    You may add photos to one thread in another post. That can be confusing sometimes, if you choose to do that, it’s best to Number the items.
    mforder, TraceyB and pearlsnblume like this.
  3. mforder

    mforder Active Member

    Hello SPEECHLESS thank you for the welcome and the quick answer. I am looking forward to adding items as I have time. If it becomes overbearing please just say so. I do not want to cause any issues. As for number that should not be a problem at all. If I have to create additional post that fine as well. It's perfect.

    Thank you again,

    TraceyB, pearlsnblume and i need help like this.
  4. i need help

    i need help Moderator Moderator

    It will work out. If people feel it’s getting confusing, they will suggest how best to organize your postings. No Worries.

    Just tic the box for Full images on photos, I’ve done that for you on this thread.
    mforder, TraceyB and pearlsnblume like this.
  5. mforder

    mforder Active Member

    Thank you again, I just realized your name is not speechless, sorry about that. :)
    TraceyB, pearlsnblume and i need help like this.
  6. i need help

    i need help Moderator Moderator

    It’s fine, :joyful:
    TraceyB and pearlsnblume like this.
  7. SBSVC

    SBSVC Well-Known Member

    Hi, Mark, and welcome!

    What a fascinating "collection" of "stuff"! Sorting through and identifying all that you have there in that box is going to be fantastic project. (Were it mine, it would probably take the rest of my life, and I'd love doing it!)

    I think that much of what you've shown would fit nicely in this forum category:

    Ephemera and Photographs | Antiques Board (antiquers.com)

    We'll all be waiting for the ongoing reveals!
  8. smallaxe

    smallaxe Well-Known Member

    Looking forward to seeing your posts.
    mforder and TraceyB like this.
  9. KikoBlueEyes

    KikoBlueEyes Well-Known Member

    Fascinating story. I loved every minute of it - even the rats. :) Collectors of all kinds are welcome here. Yours is a unique beginning as far as I know. We will savor your pieces as you present them, and those who know something will be able to assist.
    mforder, TraceyB and pearlsnblume like this.
  10. Hamburger

    Hamburger Absolute Beginner

    Welcome, Mark.

    It already seems clear that you've got some very interesting stuff to share and I'd expect an initial wave of interest over the day as members in North America wake up, feed their cats, walk their dogs and settle down at their keyboards...

    Not everyone here looks at "Introductions" on a regular basis, so you might want to post a quick message in "Ephemera and Photographs", as linked to by SBSVC, to let folks know you've started showing your Steele Box over here.
  11. TraceyB

    TraceyB Well-Known Member

    Welcome to the forums @mforder :happy:
    What a wonderful account of how you came across the box. I can't wait until you start to reveal the contents.
    mforder likes this.
  12. Joe2007

    Joe2007 Collector

    Welcome to the forums!

    Ephemera and Photographs sounds like the right section for much of the stuff in your box. Looks like there is lots of potential in there too, Mr. Steel must have been quite a character to have accomplished all of that.

    Do you much collecting outside of your big find?
    mforder and TraceyB like this.
  13. sabre123

    sabre123 Well-Known Member

    Hi Mark.

    I love old trade cards like your Lovell Mfg, Niagara Motors and Dynamos card. The simple graphic design and the illustration are just great.
    mforder and TraceyB like this.
  14. Pattywithay

    Pattywithay Well-Known Member

    What a fun and fascinating journey you are on! Welcome.
    mforder and TraceyB like this.
  15. mforder

    mforder Active Member

    Hello all,

    Thank you for the warm welcome much appreciated. I feel like I am in the right place. I
    Thank you, I will add a link if it allows me to post back to the introduction. Hopefully thins that I'll pull out and show everyone will be of interest... :)
    Hamburger and TraceyB like this.
  16. Aquitaine

    Aquitaine Is What It IS! But NEVER BORED!

    Hi Mark and WELCOME to ANTIQUERS!!!! Looks like you have your hands VERY full with your STEEL BOX!!!!! Most of us Can't wait to see what you reveal to us!!!! Happy Hunting through it all!!!:happy::happy::happy: Right off the bat, I love the printing on the 'Cha's Steele' envelope!!
    mforder and TraceyB like this.
  17. mforder

    mforder Active Member

    TraceyB and Hamburger like this.
  18. Danijela Pope

    Danijela Pope Vintage Antique Addict

    What an amazing story Mark! Welcome! This community is wonderful! I look forward to seeing all the amazing treasures you were able to save. You are on a rewarding journey with this project. Thanks for sharing!
    mforder likes this.
  19. mforder

    mforder Active Member

    TY you again everyone. I am truly amazed at what people know and how quickly and willing they are to point you to information. People are finding things out about the items that I would never think of searching on. Thank you to everyone!

    Hamburger likes this.
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