Some history has physical references which can be easily 'canned'. Let's start with those.
Left to Right: Chunks of old bricks are labeled "Sayerville bricks were used to build the Empire State Building". I raided my collection of old glass bottles to show "In 1897 Victor Durand started Vineland Flint Glass Works". Bits of red clay illustrate that "In 1814, Samuel Hill began producing drain pipes & jars from red clay in the Flemington area". My favorite here is the jar of ceramic doll parts, labeled "During WWI, Fulper Pottery made porcelain dolls, replacing unavailable German dolls". Yes, World War 1 caused a shortage of ceramic doll parts.
Apparently, there's an area in Old Bridge, NJ, where you can still find shards from the factory that made glass insulators. The glass buttons in my collection came from garage sales...some of them may have been made by Pinelands glassworks. The iron-rich sand in the Pinelands did not produce a clear glass; the iron-rich water also affected paper-making in the area:
The last jar reads: "The Harrisville mill used salt hay from the Mullica River for its paper source. The iron content of the water gave the paper a brownish color: all attempts to whiten it failed".
The fact that pottery shards from the earliest NJ industries could still be found after I was born just thrills me. This history that seemed so ancient when I was young now turns out to be tangibly accessible.
However, some history can't be summed up with a printed tag and some rough bits. Illustrations are needed. After some experimenting, I found that photos - printed on the clear labeling material - could be applied to sections of plastic milk containers. This gave me semi-translucent images that could stand inside the jars:
So, the rusty iron in the front of the first jar is real, but the cast iron fence spokes in the back are printed. The small pipes in the second jar are real, but the image of the foundry is printed. The next post will have more Pinelands history, with illustrations.