Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sunday, April 27, 2014


This past week we took our three Grandchildren on a trip to Dover, Ohio to tour the Warther Museum.  Spring break from school was still on.  All three of them, including their Grandfather, had their doubts.  The enthusiasm was not running high for this Grandmother planned trip.  Fortunately, by the time the tour was only into it's first five minutes, a change of heart was had by all.

Everyone agreed, IT WAS AWESOME!

Just to give you some background, the Warther Museum is dedicated to Ernest "Mooney" Warther, the world's master carver.  Mr. Warther's life work is displayed at this museum.  Beautiful replica's of railway trains of the past handcarved out of wood and embellished with real elephant ivory. The detail is truly amazing as you can see from the picture below.

His rendition of the Lincoln Funeral Train that carried President Abraham Lincoln's casket is truly astonishing.  The car that held his open casket is duplicated down to the last little detail.  You can look inside the windows and see his hand carved face laying in the casket, the tables and chairs, even the coffee pot and cups on the table.  A tiny, miniscul ivory carved key that exactly fits into the hand carved lock on the funeral car door is and extra surprise.

Mr. Warther started his craft when he was five years old, having found a carving knife in the fields where he helped to herd cows.  Fascinated with it, he self taught himself the art of carving. Throughout his life he never sold one piece of his wonderful railway carvings.  He gave about 17 of them away as gifts 

Mr. Warther was born in 1855 in Dover, Ohio to Swiss immigrants.  Having only a second grade education, it is truly amazing to see the duplication of the steel company he worked for to earn a living for his wife Frieda and their five children.  Here are pictures of the display.  Everything is still working and runs on pulleys.  His inventions made the mechanisms on the steel company floor run much more smoothly.

He used real elephant and rhino tusks, and the original ivory pool balls, of which where so dimensionally perfect that he cut them and used them for the wheels on the railway trains.

In all, he handcarved 64 intricate in detail, early steam engines, railroad locomotives and entire trains ending with the Union Pacific Big Boy of 1941.

Mr. Warther never seemed to waste a minute of his day in all the years of his life, ending at the age of  87. He would begin each day at 2 a.m. and carved for 5 hours until breakfast time, then off to work at the steel company, and found time after work to play with his children.  He loved children and children were attracted to him.

His wife Frieda collected buttons and amassed a collection of over 73,000 buttons.  They are all displayed in a small structure on the property in back of the original 1920's house where she and Ernest raised their five children. The buttons are artfully displayed according to  material and color in patterns much like quilt patterns. All are framed in beautiful walnut frames.  I was intrigued with the collection, especially the brass buttons.  Being a jewelry artist, I wanted them all to make beautiful jewelry out of.  Below are pictures of just some of her wonderful collection and the structure that they are housed in.

She even has a brass button that was taken from Mrs. Lincoln's Inaugural Ball Gown. I it in the center of the brass button display.

We toured their home on the property and I managed to take a great picture of the dining room where Frieda worked on her button collection.

Mr. Warther kept carving until the age of 85 when he had a stroke and could not use one side of his body. He passed away at the age of 87.

Carving was just a hobby for Mr. Warther, and in 1902 he started carving kitchen knives and selling them. They are still made today and sold in the gift shop, online and through a catalogue. Fifth generation Warthers carry on the tradition and their workshop is inside the museum. The knives are beautiful and carry a lifetime guarantee.  I took a catalogue home and envision some Christmas and Birthday Gifts for a certain member of my family.

Frieda Warther also had beautiful Swiss raised bed gardens on the property which are fully maintained year round with Spring bulbs and Summer Annuals.  She was a very knowledgable gardener.

The beautiful grapevine gazebo dining area is at the back of the gardens and is a true delight.

Down below are two real railway cars that visitors are welcome to explore.  My Grandchildren had a blast.

Before we left, we all had lunch at a 50's Diner called Blazin Burgers, just a block away from the Warther Museum.  Yummy handmade hamburgers, hand cut French fries, onion rings and hand made from real ice cream milk shakes in metal containers were scrarfed down by three very hungry Grandchildren and two happy Grandparents.  Everything was served in baskets and a large order of fries was shared by the five of us. 

All in all, a very wonderful trip and my Grandchildren are still talking about it.  I would certainly love to return their someday and spend more time viewing the collection.  The tickets are good for all day and include a guided tour with informative movie and all the buildings on the eight acre parcel.

Douglas the Dachshund would have loved to have been included in this adventure. 

He wants everyone to know that his Grandmother's Etsy Jewelry shop donates 20% of its sales to Rescued Rescuers:Dachshunds and Friends of the Emerald Isle.  Having been a rescue foster Dachshund himself, he knows how important that is.

See Garden Gate Designs at:  The rescue group can be found on Facebook.

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