The Beauty of Industrial Lighting

With a beauty that comes when form follows function, industrial lighting from the 19th and early to mid 20th century has come into its own.

Antique and vintage task lamps

Some prime examples

Vintage heat lamps can be converted

From factory floors, medical and dental offices, mines, etc., this form of lighting can add a very unique look to your home or office decor.  

Some very interesting industrial-looking lighting can also be gleaned from the DIY (do it yourself) world. Clever people are making lamps out of chicken feeders, old strainers, bird cages, etc. It can be a great look and it’s always fun to reduce, reuse, recycle.

When you see photos of where they were originally used, some of the old medical lighting might be the stuff that nightmares are made of … LOL … but they’re just old lamps and they have SUCH a great look!

Surgical and dental lamps

Some of the most interesting industrial lighting pieces are “explosion proof” fixtures. Rugged 20th century models, developed for use in hazardous industries like coal mining or petrochemicals, they typically feature housings of caged wire. 

Our August, 2018 mashup “The Industrial Age Goes To School” will showcase a lot of industrial pieces. Come on in to The Midtown Mercantile Antique Mall, 4443 E. Speedway, Tucson, AZ, and find that special piece to light your way!

Carol Fenn 7-2018

A Very Visual (and vintage) 4th of July!

The 4th of July! Barbecues. Fireworks! Colorful flags flying everywhere. And in the midst of all of this revelry it might be fun to go back in time and look at some of the ways this American holiday has been celebrated in the past. We love the past here at The Mercantile. After all, we are an antique mall! We love all this old stuff!

Postcards, black and white photos of movie stars, (is that Marilyn Monroe?), cast iron banks, etc. all very collectible and fun to revisit. And check out those 4th of July costumes! Fun and festive!

Happy 4th from The Midtown Mercantile Antique Mall!  Enjoy these photos and enjoy your holiday. And don’t forget the apple pie!

Carol Fenn 7-2018

Let’s Go Bohemian ~ The Art of Boho Bliss

Mid century modern? Minimalist? Memphis style? Nope, right now we’re going Boho! Hippie chic! Bohemian! Yes, it’s boho bliss!

Gypsy wagon

Think Rudolph Valentino.  Gypsy wagons.  Flowing rich fabrics of purple and orange.  Middle eastern hanging lamps, animal prints, candles. Comfy cushy chairs and sofas filled with comfy cushy pillows. And throw some of those pillows over there in the corner!  

“I hope I make it to The Mercantile on time.” – Rudolph Valentino

Rules? There aren’t any. Bohemian is for those of us who disdain rules. Do whatever fills your heart with fun.  

Slightly minimalist bohemian

Come on in to The Mercantile. Our current mashup, BEACH BLANKET BOHEMIAN BOARDS THE ORIENT EXPRESS, is filled with wonderful boho items that will assist you on your journey to bohemian bliss!

Carol Fenn 6-2018

Happy Father’s Day 2018!

Father’s Day is coming up. You have a few more days to find a special gift for your special dad! Come on in to The Midtown Mercantile Mall where we can fulfill Dad’s dreams!  

It’s Father’s Day from morning ’til night!

I thought this would be a fun time to share some mid twentieth century Father’s Day advertising and a few great old Father’s Day cards. It’s so much fun to go back and revisit these images.

Dogs love dad too!

Some might be quite questionable though. After all this was a time when folks were being told, through advertising, that smoking cigarettes was actually good for you! Yes, it’s true!

Yep, this is a real ad!

Anyway, enjoy these ads. Enjoy the cards. And we’ll see you at the mall. Heck, bring Dad in with you! It’s nice and cool in here … he’ll like it!

Carol Fenn 6-2018

The Arizona Rough Riders

Rough Riders was the name given to the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry, a response to the understaffing of the United States Army as a result of the American Civil War. A young Theodore Roosevelt was offered the command of this regiment to fight in the Spanish-American War. While Theodore desperately wanted to be part of the fight he was smart enough to realize that he did not have the necessary experience to command a combat regiment. He deferred command to his friend Col. Leonard Wood, a Medal of Honor winner from the Indian Wars, while he accepted a commission and second-in-command as a Lt. Colonel. 

Rough Riders

Arizona Rough Riders

The regiment’s number was 1200 volunteers. Of those 300 (25%) came from Arizona! The Rough Rider’s ranks included cowboys, indians, socialites, polo players and just average citizens who responded to the nation’s call to arms. The majority of its other members came from Texas, New Mexico and New York. One of the volunteers from Arizona was Bucky O’Neill.

Bucky O’Neill

In the late 1800s, the charismatic Bucky O’Neill, had travelled west to the Arizona territory. He started a newspaper, formed a posse to track down train robbers, became mayor of Prescott, AZ, and was generally full of adventure. During his time as mayor of Prescott, he volunteered to become a Rough Rider. 

Bucky O’Neill was the first to enlist and he put together all of the 300 Rough Riders from Arizona. He then set sail with Teddy Roosevelt to Cuba. Roosevelt wrote endearingly about O’Neill’s character, recounting how O’Neill was the only man to dive into the sea when two black soldiers fell overboard. Shortly afterward, Roosevelt would be devastated when the 38-year-old captain was killed in the battle of San Juan Hill. Upon O’Neill’s young death, Theodore Roosevelt wrote this about him:

Statue of Bucky O’Neill

“The most serious loss that I and the regiment could have suffered befell just before we charged. O’Neill was strolling up and down in front of his men, smoking his cigarette, for he was inveterately addicted to the habit. He had a theory that an officer ought never to take cover—a theory which was, of course, wrong, though in a volunteer organization the officers should certainly expose themselves very fully, simply for the effect on the men; our regimental toast on the transport running, ‘The officers; may the war last until each is killed, wounded, or promoted.’ As O’Neill moved to and fro, his men begged him to lie down, and one of the sergeants said, ‘Captain, a bullet is sure to hit you.’ O’Neill took his cigarette out of his mouth, and blowing out a cloud of smoke laughed and said, ‘Sergeant, the Spanish bullet isn’t made that will kill me.’ A little later he discussed for a moment with one of the regular officers the direction from which the Spanish fire was coming. As he turned on his heel a bullet struck him in the mouth and came out at the back of his head; so that even before he fell his wild and gallant soul had gone out into the darkness.”

If you would like to read more about Bucky O’Neill and the Arizona Rough Riders there is a wonderful book, “The Arizona Rough Riders,” written by a Tucson man, Charles (Charlie) Herner. The book is in your local library and is also available on Amazon. 

Carol Fenn 5-2018


Memorial Day – Honoring the Fallen

While the first Memorial Day events were held in the United States in the late 19th century, the practice of honoring those who have died in battle dates back thousands of years. The ancient Greeks and Romans held annual days of remembrance for fallen soldiers each year. And, one of the first known public tributes to war dead was in 431 BC, when the Athenean general Pericles delivered a funeral oration praising the valor of those killed in the Peloponnesian war – a speech that some have compared in quality to Lincoln’s Gettysburg address.

Pericles funeral oration

Here in America Memorial Day has become a day off work for many. A time to celebrate the beginning of summer. A time to have a barbecue with friends and family. A time to chill at home and binge watch Netflix. But, really, while all of these things can be enjoyable, Memorial Day should really be a time to reflect. A time to remember those Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving this country.  

Honoring those who gave their lives for freedom

Personally, on this holiday, I also think of the families of the fallen. The brothers. The sisters. The wives and husbands.  The moms and dads. My how they must have suffered. And I’m sure they still do. Imagine your brother, who you played with, wrestled with, shared secrets with. Imagine him proudly going off to war and then never coming home.  

Vietnam War Memorial

Yes, on Memorial Day, enjoy your barbecue, your Netflix binge, etc., but don’t forget to remember. Remember the fallen. The true. The brave. Remember.

Carol Fenn 5-2018

Mother’s Day at The Mercantile

Would mama like that antique chair?

Or would she like that vase?
Would mommy like that chest of drawers?

Oh gosh, she’d like this place!
Would mom prefer a vintage dress?

Or would she like that watch?
Yes, oh yes, it’s Mother’s Day 

Here at The Mercantile!
You’ll find chairs and rings and chests of drawers

Great gifts for mothers, all.
But don’t forget that what she wants 

Is just a bit of you.
She’ll love that vintage vase or watch

But mostly she’ll love you!

Carol Fenn 5-2018

The Garden Sanctuary

Due to the nature of my business, I get invited into a lot of Tucson yards. Often, in those yards, I’ll come across a small garden sanctuary. It can be very small, with just a single statue, or it can be more elaborate with a Madonna, other statuary, running water, plants, flowers, etc.  

No matter their size these sanctuaries always warm my heart. The shrine might be honoring a lost pet, a fellow human, religious devotion or Mother Nature.   

If you want to construct a sanctuary the Midtown Mercantile Mall is a good place to start. We have thousands of items to choose from and some of those items just might fit perfectly into your very own garden sanctuary.   

Come on in to The Mercantile. We’d love to help you get your sanctuary started.

Carol Fenn 5-2018

Royal Wedding Countdown!

Ah, a royal wedding. We’ve got one coming up very soon. So it’s time to start thinking about what you’re going to collect from this one. Maybe a Harry and Meghan tea cup? Or a tea towel? Or perhaps a fine, gorgeously blue, porcelain plate?

From Queen Victoria to Harry and Meghan

For well over a hundred years there have been souvenirs from these British weddings. Coins, stamps, jewelry, dolls, fine china, etc.

We have lots of British tea cups in the mall. Some Royal, some not!

Enjoy these photos of weddings and antique and vintage collectibles. And come on in to The Mercantile. It’ll be fun to search throughout the mall and see if you can find a royal item!

Carol Fenn 4-2018

April Mash-Up – The Battle of the Sexes!

The battle of the sexes is as old as time. He wanted the cave at the top of the mountain so he could see off in the distance. She wanted the cave next to the babbling brook because it was peaceful and they had close proximity to water.  

Now we have “she sheds” versus “man caves.” Light versus dark. Flowers versus leather. Garden pots versus cigars and humidors. 

Men – vintage cigars

Women – cats

There are no set rules as to what men and women collect. Beautiful ethereal American Art pottery? Most of the collectors I’ve know have surprisingly been men. Zippo lighters? Yes, it’s men who collect these. Vintage robots and space toys, men.  

Dolls vs. robots

Corkscrews vs. buttons

Men collect corkscrews. Women collect buttons. He drinks. She sews? Men collect vintage gas station memorabilia. Women collect cats, real and ceramic. He drives. She likes cuddly company.

Oh yeah, this is a mans collection

Yes, women love quilts, flowery sheets and vintage kitchen items. But they also love American primitives, farmhouse antiques and inspirational signs.  

A lucky man could sleep here too!

Women love weddings. Men, not so much.

Women love these inspirational signs and kitchen primitives

Men love their Zippos

There are no hard and fast rules as to who collects what. Many women collect automobilia and military items and I’ve know lots of men who collect Barbie dolls! But no matter what he or she collects it’s all for fun.  

American Art Pottery – surprisingly, usually collected by men.

Our mash-up this month celebrates the battle of the sexes. She shed vs. Man cave. The female artist, the dark warm leather of a man’s study, the female collector, the male collector. Come on in to The Mercantile this Thursday through Sunday, April 5-9 and join in on the battle! Opening at 10 AM.  

Carol Fenn 4-2018