Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Perils of Antiquing

I may be the first – and youngest – person to ever sustain a knee injury at an antique store.

Okay, I admit it—I like antique stores. I’m not into porcelain tea sets or costume jewelry or paintings of dogs playing poker or anything like that; I just enjoy perusing the aisles and seeing what type of interesting junk…um, I mean treasures people have to sell. Occasionally I’ll buy an old book or a vintage typewriter, but for the most part I’m just a browser.

And that’s exactly what I was doing a few weeks ago down at a local antique dealer in nearby Coraopolis. I was coming back from a meeting at the RMU Island Sports Center, when I spotted the store and decided to do a little treasure hunting. That’s when I came across an old painting entitled “The Formation of the First National Bank of the United States.” I was immediately intrigued.

In case you didn’t know, our very own namesake, Robert Morris, “Financier of the American Revolution,” helped organize the Bank of North America – the first modern U.S. bank – in 1781, while he was serving as superintendent of finance. This bank was the predecessor of the First Bank of the United States, which got its charter from Congress in 1791. Was Robert Morris involved in the establishment of this “First Bank” too? I didn’t know, and it was impossible to tell from the painting, which shows several men all wearing traditional colonial garb and powdered wigs. The only recognizable face was that of George Washington. So, unsure if Morris was in the picture, I decided not to buy it.

After a couple weeks, however, I decided to just go and purchase the painting since it wasn’t expensive, and there was a good chance that Morris was one of the subjects depicted. But when I arrived at the store I became distracted by some dusty old books and started to peruse the titles.

That’s when it happened. As I squatted down to look at a book, I felt a sharp pain in my knee. And when I came back up, the pain was even more intense. So, after paying for the painting, I hobbled out of the store, hoping that I hadn’t just blown out my ACL while antiquing.

As it turns out, I just pulled my quad muscle, which is not as serious an injury, but still quite an embarrassing one to sustain at an antique store. Fine, I admit it: I’m old.

As for the painting, I’m still not sure yet if Robert Morris is one of the white-wig-wearing gentlemen shown discussing our nation’s first bank. Regardless, I gave it to Fran Caplan, RMU’s dean of university libraries, as a donation to the Heritage Room, of which she is the curator. It should make a nice addition to the room, which honors our esteemed namesake.

In the meantime, I’ll keep digging around on the Internet to see if I can find an answer to this mystery. Hopefully I won’t pull anything while operating my computer mouse.

--Valentine J. Brkich

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great donation.