Pilots and Eric Sloane

November 18, 2017 |  by  |  Comments Off on Pilots and Eric Sloane

Reflecting today on the number pilots who have spoken to us about their appreciation for the early work of Eric Sloane in the areas of meteorology and flying. More than one pilot has told us a story about how he used what he learned from an Eric Sloane book to help him be a better pilot.

Eric Sloane’s Diary of An Early American Boy Noah Blake: 1805 Part IV In Our Series

June 30, 2017 |  by  |  Comments Off on Eric Sloane’s Diary of An Early American Boy Noah Blake: 1805 Part IV In Our Series

Here is Part IV in our series exploring Eric Sloane’s Diary of An Early American Boy.  In Part IV, Edith and I examine Sloane’s question:  Are tools art?

Eric Sloane’s Diary of An Early American Boy Noah Blake:1805 Part V of Our Series

June 30, 2017 |  by  |  Comments Off on Eric Sloane’s Diary of An Early American Boy Noah Blake:1805 Part V of Our Series

Here is the latest installment in our series of videos following Eric Sloane’s Diary of An Early American Boy.  In this video, Edith and I show how to make ink from berries, just like Noah did c. 1805.  We hope you have as much fun watching this video as we had making it!

Eric Sloane’s Diary of An Early American Boy: How to make Noah Blake’s Quill Pen

May 18, 2017 |  by  |  Comments Off on Eric Sloane’s Diary of An Early American Boy: How to make Noah Blake’s Quill Pen

Here is part three in our video series that examines Eric Sloane’s Diary of An Early American Boy Noah Blake:  1805.  In this video, Edith and I show how to make your very own quill pen following Eric’s directional drawings from the book:

Eric Sloane and Diary of An Early American Boy

May 18, 2017 |  by  |  Comments Off on Eric Sloane and Diary of An Early American Boy

Eric Sloane’s Diary of an Early American Boy

 It will come as no surprise to those of you who know us that we find nearly every work, literary and artistic, of Eric Sloane’s inspirational.  Eric Sloane, N.A. (1905-1985) was an incredibly talented artist and author who chronicled much of early American life and culture. His personal journey to becoming one of the world’s most successful artists is fascinating.

One of the books Eric wrote that we find particularly interesting is Eric Sloane’s Diary of An Early American Boy, which chronicles part of the year in the life of one young Noah Blake.  Noah had written a diary in the year 1805, a diary Eric found more than 150 years later and turned it in to this classic book for young adults.  You can read about Eric Sloane, the book, and the Noah Blake cabin here.  Edith and I created a website devoted to the book and the cabin, which was re-created on the grounds of the Eric Sloane Museum by Eric himself in the early 1970s.  Our goal is to explain thoroughly how the book can and should be used by students to learn American history, mathematics, physics, art, social studies, geometry, and much more.

Our current effort related to this project is the production of a series of videos to introduce the book and show viewers how to make a diary and a quill pen like the ones Noah used in Diary of An Early American Boy.  To date, we have created the introductory video:

and the instructional video for creating an replica of an early American diary:

Like all of our projects, we’re having a great time learning some new skills we never knew we were going to need (like video editing and voiceovers!).  You can follow us on our journey of exploration of Eric Sloane’s Diary of An Early American Boy through www.noahblakeproject.com.

Edith’s take:  Other than an artist and author, Eric Sloan was an inspirer, perhaps not to all, especially those who are not educated in the wonderful works of Eric Sloan. Part of the reason he is an inspirer [to me anyway] is his dedication to learning all about life in the early American days. He could tell you just about anything about the clouds, sky or [of course] early America. You don’t have many people who have/ are researching about early America. And once you stop and think about it, it is really very cool and must have took some serious dedication.

Eric Sloane and the Noah Blake Cabin

May 22, 2015 |  by  |  No Comments

Eric Sloane’s vision of how Noah Blake and his family lived.  Diary of An Early American Boy:  Noah Blake 1805 introduced many to Eric’s writing and illustrations.

blake cabin 2 blake outhouse

May 5, 2015 |  by  |  No Comments

I recall reading one of Eric Sloane’s books on early American life a passage concerning bells that were placed on harnesses, especially in winter time.  The bells were used as a signal to let others know that a horse drawn vehicle was approaching.  Presumably, this was done to avoid accidents.  Early American lore also posits that one of the roots of the adage “I’ll be there with bells on” grew from the idea that if a driver had difficulty on a journey and required help from a fellow traveler, that driver was expected to present his harness bell strap as a “thank you” to the one who offered assistance.  If, then, someone declares “I’ll be there with bells on”, he or she means to suggest that they will reach their destination quickly because the journey will be without incident.

Eric Sloane tells of sleigh bells placed on sleighs for the purpose of signaling the approach of winter travelers.  I can speak from experience that driving a sleigh without bells is dangerous.  Sloane (as well as my experiences) tells me that sleighs traveling across snow make little noise – noise that is further suppressed by the winer landscape, not to mention the hats and scarves worn by others out in the winter weather.  Winter nights could be an especially dangerous time.

Eric Sloane also wrote the neighbors could tell one another from the sound of their sleigh bells.  Bells could be purchased by the piece and in various quantities and sizes.  Farmers could piece together a custom array of bells that would make a distinctive sound – a personalized horn, if you will.  It is wonderful to think of an early American family, gathered around the hearth on a winter’s night, listening to the sound of “Farmer Jones” – or is that Brother Abraham? – gliding by on the family cutter.

I have been reading a fascinating book entitled The Yankee Peddlers of Early America, by J.R. Dolan (1964, Bramhall House, New York).  A contemporary of Eric Sloane, Dolan must have shared very similar interests.  A passage concerning the peddling of brass bells (page 151), caught my attention and reminded me of Eric Sloane’s writings on the subject of sleigh bells:

“Another item of brass that was sold almost exclusively by the peddler of the nineteenth century was the cowbell.  In these days, when a farmer’s pasture is always securely enclosed with wire fencing, a bell attached to the cow is not usually necessary.  But in the nineteenth century nearly every cow had to have a bell if she was to be located readily and driven in from the pasture.  However the making of cowbells here never reached the point it did in Switzerland, where in certain dairy districts each family developed a cowbell with a distinctive sound that enabled the owner to distinguish his cows from those of his neighbors by the sound of the bell.  The bells themselves were sometimes engraved or embossed with a distinguishing mark and since they are virtually indestructible they have become treasured family heirlooms.”

A connection, perhaps, between the early American custom of building custom sleigh bells for a distinctive sound and a similar Swiss practice of locating cows?

Eric Sloane, Heirloom Apples, and Cider

December 13, 2014 |  by  |  No Comments

I recently received a request from Peter S. Montgomery of Warren, Connecticut.  Peter’s project is an important one – if you have some information that can help Peter in his efforts, please email.  Thank you!

“Greetings from Warren, former home of Eric Sloane.

I am working on a project E.S. would have approved of: increasing public awareness of CT’s heirloom apples and saving those that can be found, then having scions cut and trees grafted.  That said, I was reviewing 1955 first editions of his works and could not find a specific reference, but did find the sketch of the apple orchard tools on another site.  Are you aware of any of his writings on farm life, cidering and orchard keeping which might be used in my efforts and, if so, what were his comments?”

A new article on Eric Sloane

December 12, 2014 |  by  |  No Comments


          This scholarly glimpse into the literary body of work produced by Eric Sloane crossed my desk the other day. Writing in Common –Place, an online journal sponsored by the American Antiquarian Society and the University of Connecticut, author Abigail Walthausen provides some much needed context for Eric’s literary inspiration. In my opinion, there is truth in much of Ms. Walthausen writes, but I have come to view Eric Sloane’s artistic inspirations in a somewhat different light. Much of what Eric was trying to convey in his works on paper and on Masonite was, ironically, an acknowledgement our nation’s progress. This acknowledgement was couched in a philosophical look at loss, and it is that ethos of loss that seems to permeate Sloane’s works. Yes, America has progressed greatly since the founding of our nation, but what have we – individually and collectively – lost during this period? It’s a bold and a somewhat impertinent question the artist asked. It is the question, however, that makes Eric’s point that he was not “longing for a better past” or simply “nostalgic”, but his exploration was more nuanced, more complex.

July 23, 2014 |  by  |  No Comments

The IRS 1023 application submitted by the Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum has been reviewed by the Internal Revenue Service and the Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum is now officially a non-profit organization!  The process was lengthy, difficult – and so worth the effort.  As a 501c3 public charity, the Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum can accept monetary donations as well as donations of stocks, bonds, and securities, paintings, tangible property, and many other forms of donations.  As we have practiced since the inception of the organization, no one in the Friends of the Eric Sloane Museum receives compensation in any form.  We are strictly a volunteer organization committed to the advancement of Eric Sloane and the museum he founded.