Two of our granddaughters and I went to the Mercer Museum
in Doylestown today. And just to show you what a quick learner
I’ll tell you that when I took our grandson about six years
ago, we started at the ground floor and walked up each flight to
the six floors and on to the attic. This time, however, we took
an ELEVATOR to the sixth floor and walked DOWN each floor
to look at the exhibits. Much easier. (I will warn you, however,
that the elevator leaves you out ON THE ROOF of the building
and you can look eeee-iiii-eeee way over the building down to
where your car is parked or way across the Bucks Country
countryside to church steeples towns away!) Still, now you’re
set to go inside and begin the exploring and the descent.
Henry Mercer was a keen observationist (let’s use that as a word
tonight) and noted to himself that the modern world was replacing
a lot of the tools and gadgets that people had used for a long time.
He was afraid those smart, efficient tools would be forgotten
–the fruit presses and the tin cutters, the oil and grease lamps,
and the tortoise shell hair combs–the mousetraps, the axes,
the gallows! and so he began to collect them to keep for posterity
–and for our grandchildren to see.
It is said that between 30,000 and 40,0o0 pieces are in the collection
but we lost track after about 12,329 . . .my word! how many sheep
carding tools are necessary for a collection? I guess each one is a
little different in design. You yourself could probably write a piece
about the iron stove door designs—hundreds of them!!–and not
just designs on paper—the doors themselves!
There you are, up six floors, with the whole center of the building wide
open and early wooden whaling boats and covered wagons poised,
dangling above the yawning space. Yikes and yikes! One granddaughter
has no fear, and leaps gaily down the stairways connecting the open
galleries, while the other girl and I grip the railings and try not to look
down or over or anywhere! til we’re down on a new floor.
We especially liked the cozy library that Henry Mercer had there in
his museum–very Harry Potter like, with Henry Mercer tiles decorating
the large stone pillars. Yes, Henry dabbled with making tiles, too–
but that’s another story a few blocks away at the Fonthill Tile Museum.
This one’s a very family friendly museum with activities in some rooms,
and puzzles, and an ongoing hunt for animals—sheep, whale, etc to find in
the exhibits–and when you find them you can verify your find with a
notary-like stamp–and turn in your completed page for a certificate at the
desk when you depart.
You might think that the vast collection would overwhelm a visitor, but
everything is arranged in such an interesting manner, that you just
continue to marvel at one exhibit after another.
Oh, Henry! we’d say after awhile—but still admire the 37 shoe lasts
used for making leather shoes. It’s true, we’ve lost a lot by our
modernization –a sterilization almost.
If you ever visit Doylestown PA, make time for an interesting couple
of hours at the Mercer Museum. It’s within a minute’s walk of the
Michener Art Museum and the Bucks County Library. There is also
a maze of stones in a garden nearby that is fun for kids to explore.