Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Mousetrap of My Own

A few Sundays ago, Tyler and I ventured across the Delaware River to Salem, New Jersey, to go antiquing. We found an antique mall with lots of interesting stock and friendly staff who were ready to offer discounts and a joke. As we trolled the stalls, a man we had run into at another shop down the street crouched protectively over vintage records and other collectibles as if we were going to rip them out from underneath him. Unfazed, we proceeded through the stalls, chattering and picking stuff up, making notes of what we thought about buying and what we wanted to research.

Before we made it through a fifth of the booths, I was shocked to spot a wooden mousetrap like the one I wrote about a few months ago while discussing Bill Bryson's At Home.

Nicole's Mousetrap, 15.5" H x 17.25" W x 5.2" D.

Bryson pictured the "little nipper" trap James Henry Atkinson patented in 1897, but I wanted to find out what kind of mousetrap Mr. Marsham was likely to have used soon after moving into his home in the 1850s. So I posted an example of a mousetrap at the Victoria & Albert Museum (1800-1850), a handcrafted creation of wood and string. Yet I was not expecting to find one on a day of casual antiquing, as I gathered that these contraptions were somewhat rare. Indeed, the V&A explained that "Few such mouse traps survive today as most were worn out and thrown away." And this one, resembling a tall tool box caddy, includes three weights (rather than one) that were chamfered around the top edges.

Despite my intense interest in the object, I did not buy the trap that day. I wasn't ready to commit. Who saves a mousetrap, anyway? Are there mouse remains at the bottom of the tray? I peered into the caddy and lifted the weights, spotting nothing more than dust and dings. What would I do with a mouse trap?

I pined over the trap for a week.  At the end of the said week, Tyler kindly returned to purchase the trap on my behalf and nearly lost it to an older man who couldn't get over the contraption's novelty. As I have written before, buy it when you see it. In this case, I still got what I wanted. Now, the trap rests upon a stack of over-sized decorative arts and furniture reference books, a prized piece of vernacular sculpture, poised to receive its next victims.


  1. This rocks. Can I borrow it for my office at work? It is known to have mice.

  2. That's an interesting piece. Does it work?
    Have you caught any mice?

    Don, The Antiquing Traveler

  3. I have not tried to catch any critters with it, but it seems to work just fine!