This past year, the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant completed its restoration of Henry Ford's office. Most of what's shown in the only existing photograph of it has been either reproduced or replaced by the same or similar items.
There is however, one item, just barely visible in the lower left side that we can't identify. I have some vague notions of what it may be but I don't want to influence your thoughts. What do you think this item may be?
canvas mail bag?
His wallet. He keeps his spare change in there.
Looks like a white cat!! More likely some cotton padding.
Waste paper basket (lower), typewriter above that and possibly a lampshade behind that.
Did he always work from the wrong side of his desk or is he posing for the picture? If he is posing, did he prefer to face the wall when working?
I love the huge walk in safe where he probably kept all of his money. Bet it was full. He hated banks
Don't pat attention to the white thing. The item I'm asking about is the one that kind of looks like an electric motor with a the wiring terminal box showing.
I know there's not much to go by but worth a try.
If it is some kind of electric motor then the question becomes, for what?
Good catch. He's actually sitting in front of his desk. The thought is that it made a better composition for the photographer. The windows in the room would be to the photographer's back and would help illuminate the shot.
Perhaps a money bag destined for the safe to the rear. The cord in front of the bag looks like it goes to a radio or intercom. There's a phone on one arm of the chair and an overcoat over the other arm.
The winged item behind the radio could be some award. It looks like it's setting on a separate table.
I think the cord going down is from the jack to the phone (I don't see a cord running the other direction from the phone behind the couch). Maybe the cylinder is additional phone cord on a spool/winder. Possibly the phone and spool/cord may be easily removed and carried to another room to plug in when desired?
I see a telephone on the arm of the chair, could that be an early radio of some sort?
LOL... When you blow up the last snip, the winged item looks like a Christmas angel holding something. If you have a higher resolution scan, send it to me.
I don't think it's a radio. The cord comes out of the front of it. Perhaps for a microphone. It's setting on something other than the table holding the winged item.
A candlestick phone needs a separate box with the magneto and bell ringer. It could be wall mounted, or maybe it is set on a table.
Are we sure the "winged thing" isn't papers sticking out of the overcoat pocket?
Radio? Dictaphone? Adding machine and the basket under it is for the tape after the numbers have been crunched?
The light colored, angled object almost looks like the side view of a brass lamp shade, like a piano lamp, but illuminating what?
Check out this:
The candlestick phone doesn't need anything else if it's connected through the factory operator(s) central station. All you had to do is lift the ear piece and click the hanger a few times to notify the operator. The operator would then complete the call (hard wired). All the large hotels had the same setup with their own operator(s).
Charles, you could be right about the papers. Hard to tell with such a lousy low-res scan.
I thought it looked like a lamp shade also. Maybe an adjustable lamp with big knuckles.
The candlestick phone is connected to the ringer box, mounted on the wall, just left of the safe door, with 2 bells on top.
Also, there would be no radio in 1905. At least none with a cord such as you would "plug in" to some outlet.
I've seen that picture in a book; I can't remember which one.
I do remember reading that the wastebasket by the desk was made by a Model T owner and sent to Henry as a gift.
I believe the "radio" on the desk is a coil box with several switches. Ford may have been testing it, since it's nothing that was used on a production Ford car.
What some are calling an angel looks like a Brass radiator leaning against the wall. The item on the table looks like an electric fan or heater. As shown in the blown up photo
Jerry, It sure looks like some sort of dictating machine and since Ford was friends with Edison, it is probably an "Ediphone"...
Washstand, stock ticker, telegraph?? Just some shots in the dark.
I think it's an electric fan.
It looks to me like an electric (or pneumatic) bell. You can see the edge of the nickled gong at top and the board it's mounted to behind.
An electric fan seems plausible. What's not shown in the photo is that it would be sitting near a window so a fan would make sense.
That is also an interesting thought, and one that I had not considered.
I also thought of a Dictaphone but I can't justify what little of it you can see with any Dictaphone designs I'm familiar with, (being a phonograph collector, I've seen many). However, see #2 below.
The white thing that appears to be clinging to a wicker waste basket keeps reminding me of a diaper! (Did Henry use Depends?)
Some thoughts and observations based on some of your comments;
1. An electromechanical, (or possibly pneumatic) device of some sort, that would be used in an office setting.
2. The device might operated, or switched on & off via a foot pedal, perhaps just visible at the end of what seems to be a heavy cord, or hose, extending to the floor. This may be evidence of a Dictaphone, some of which were pedal controlled.
3. The device perhaps creates some form of waste in its operating process, explaining the close proximity of what appears to be a wicker waste basket. Paper clippings?
4. For what it's worth, it is located near a window, (not indicated in the photo). Suggests an electric fan?
Does any of this suggest anything further to any of you? With our amassed brain power we should be able to come up with something totally plausible and completely wrong, ;>) Keep the ideas coming!
The cord which appears to run down to the floor is not necessarily associated with the other item. It looks to me like it is in the foreground and is a separate item. The other item looks like a clock.
Jerry, With Ford and Edison being good friends, it could be possible that Ford had an early "experimental", pre-production, or prototype Ediphone? (Might not look exactly like known production models, or might not have covers on it or a "cabinet" around it)
The cord to the floor would make sense as some of them did have foot pedal control. Or the device you speak into may simply be on the floor! His desk isn't exactly well organized either...
As far as the wastebasket with the bag is concerned; I think some early wax-cylinder dictating machines were equipped with a device to shave down the cylinders so you could use them over again. Probably a pretty messy procedure...
The mess on his desk looks just like the mess on mine!
Radio? Forget it. Ford was out of there in 1910 when he sold the place to Studebaker. At that point wireless (radio) was still largely experimental. Even more so in 1905. Ediphone? Nope. Look how old Edison is in that picture with his latest invention. Obviously after 1910.
I would guess the desk is positioned that way so Henry can work by light coming from the window behind him.
It looks like a safe cracker has been there.
Good observation on the safe cracker!
A funny aside, the restored office has a mock-up of that safe door in it. The guy who did it, did an EXCELLENT job! So much so that on at least 2 occasions somebody tried to open the door by turning the handle on the left only to find out, after they broke it, that it was made of wood and isn't real.
What about the picture on the back wall? is it 105 pictures of Henry or is it 105 friends (or 105 employees)?
The picture shows the Michigan automobile manufacturers (and assemblers) in 1907. That dates the picture of the office to after 1907 and before 1911.
could it be a heater of some sort I wonder?
Thomas Mullin, I thought Henry Ford was not in the manufacturers association as they supported the Selden Patent?
Hey Adam, Cool old ad. I have one of those Ediphones. Was given to me years ago. Never knew what to do with it so it has been buried in the shop for years.
I believe the picture simply shows Mich auto manufacturers without regard to the association or Selden.
The restored office has an original example of this picture hanging in Henry's office. I may be mistaken but I believe I was told that the picture was already in the building when purchased by the group who saved the plant. If so, is it the very same picture? Then too, what are the chances?
Okay, how about another thought that is WAY OUT THERE...
How about an electric sewing machine?
Pile of fabric or something piled next to it as well as what appears to be some leather samples or scraps on his desk... Maybe they just happened to be working on something that day. I've often read about how Henry didn't have much of a knack for looking at blueprints, drawings, etc and often times his people would have to make mock-ups or a demonstration of how something worked in order for him to be able to visualize it... Is it possible that they were working on the development of something with upholstery that day and just piled up the stuff off to the side where they "thought" it would be out of the picture???
It could be possible that whatever is off to the left of the photo is something they were working on that day that just got piled up where they thought it would not be in the photo and might not be anything that was a permanent part of the office...
I looked at some photos of his later office and there is nothing similar, but one or two photos does not make proof...
O.K., I think this is a better resolution. See what you think...
It looks like an electric motor with a terminal box on the back.
The terminal box is pinstriped with a neat little "X" pattern on its side.
I'm thinking the top of the terminal box has a switch on it.
The light colored item, just right of the terminal box, looks like a piece of paper with printing on it, located beyond the "electric motor". (The "printing" shows even better in another image I've got.)
What I took to be a wicker waste basket in the lower resolution views appears somewhat different in this view.
The light colored item in front of the "waste basket" still looks like a diaper to me :>)
If one of you photoshop experts can work a little more magic with this I'll send you the .TIFF image I've got. Send me a PM if you can help further.
Here is your detail brightened up a bit. Looks more and more like it might be a phonograph.
shock treatment for slower workers?