Somehow bronzed shoes have always fascinated me. I suppose it started as some sort of sentimental interest in the
baby shoes of long grown and often long-deceased people. Over time, my interest shifted toward unusual metal electroplated items, whether in bronze, silver, gold, pewter or other metal. There are all sorts of interesting and oddball items out there, and it's fun to look.
Are these "ephemera"? Well, the original item—shoes, say—were expected to be ephemeral . . . worn, worn out and discarded. But then somebody chose to convert the item into a momento that would endure, by electroplating with metal. Eventually the keepsake became meaningless to the living and found its way into a yard sale or an antiques mall or onto eBay. Ephemeral again?
Coal turns out to be a fascinating mineral, almost pure carbon. Anthracite coal (hard coal) has long been used in and around mining communities to carve into various things. It takes a beautiful polish. An even harder and more dense type of coal is jet, also used for carvings and for jewelry. Jet is a variety of lignite, and derives from conifers of the Carboniferous era.
An excellent book about coal is Coal, A Human History by Barbara Freese, Penguin 2003.
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