The Secrets of the Plant Stand

The other day, on Sunday, I was messing around with seeds in the sunroom and bent down between this antique wooden plant stand and a nearby seed rack to adjust a light timer. Wouldn’t you know it, I misjudged how wide my backside is when I bend down, and I knocked the plant stand over.

I managed to somehow catch in mid air the Chicken Foot Orchid that sits atop the stand, saving myself from having to clean up a really big mess. But when the plant stand hit the ceramic tile floor, the top of it broke off.

As I went to pick up the pieces, I realized that the plant stand, which is made of a hand turned piece of wood, was actually hollow inside, and I could see just a tiny slip of paper peaking out of it.

I could not have imagined what I would find as I pulled out that piece of paper and several others as well!

As best I can figure out, my great-grandfather, who made the plant stand, used it as a time capsule to commemorate the birth of his son, my grandfather, in 1901. Who knew there were secrets in that plant stand?

The contents were fascinating and included this cover of a 1901 seed catalog from the Mills’ Seed Company of Rose Hills, NY.

Amazingly, it's in near perfect condition, having been kept nearly dust-free and away from any light in that hollowed out plant stand.

Some of the other documents I found inside the plant stand included:

- A picture of Theodore Roosevelt, on which someone, presumably my great-grandfather, wrote, “Our New President, September 14, 1901”.

- A bill of sale for some chickens he must have sold for seven cents a pound.

- A bill of sale for horse shoes for three horses, but I can’t quite make out the prices. I know that around the turn of the century, when my grandfather was born, they farmed mostly with horses and mules.

There were also several seed packets which weren’t opened, but I’d guess any seeds inside have long ago turned to dust.

These are wonderful documents and artifacts to have, but admittedly they have mostly sentimental value to me and my family, knowing that my great-grandfather not only made the plant stand, but also chose what to put inside it.

Perhaps what is of most value, monetarily, is a U.S. Savings Bond that appears to have been issued on November 16, 1901, which is the day my grandfather was actually born. I wonder how much it might be worth today?

I don’t think my Dad knew about the contents of the plant stand when he picked it out as a family memento he wanted to have, and I don’t know if either my grandmother, who must have had this in her possession for decades, or my aunt, the keeper of the family history, had any idea either about what secrets it contained.

Later today, I’m going to take all the documents and artifacts I found to the local historical society to make sure they are all authentic and determine if they have any value. If they are real, we’ve agreed to arrange for a little press conference of sorts to share them with the local media.

I have no reason to think these aren’t all authentic documents, but I am curious about one hand written note that starts out with…”April 1, 1901, let the reader beware...”

I’ll keep everyone updated as this story unfolds, or rather, unravels.


Annie in Austin said…
Carol, it is absolutely terrifying to see you keep a straight face and tie up all the details while setting forth these annual April first scenarios.

Imagine if you'd turned to a life of crime instead of being a gardener!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose
How Wonderful! Please do keep us posted. This is very special! I couldn't imagine how you felt to find such prizes!
Nikki said…
This is one of the best stories I've read in such a long time. What an absolute treasure! When I was little I used to dream of finding little secrets like that. How wonderful :)
Kathy said…
If I didn't know what day it was, I would probably believe you. However, the picture of the plant stand does not look like an antique and I don't really remember seeing it around the house. But this is probably the most believable one yet.
Entangled said…
If it's too good to be true....and, darn it, I wanted to believe.
Unknown said…
Lol.... we have to keep an eye on you! Hugs...Brooke
What a treasure. You could have them framed. Hmmmm Could this be a April Fools joke?? Hmmmmmmm Great set up if it is.
Laura said…
You really had me going until that last part about let the reader beware. It would have been an awesome discovery!
Oh brother. You really do have a reputation to uphold on April 1. Happy Fool's Day to you too my friend.~~Dee
Unknown said…
What an imagination!!
Cindy, MCOK said…
I am a close personal friend of a celebrity who wishes to remain unnamed (I can't tell Hugh his name, but I'm not just jackman around with you). As a collector of just such memorabilia and antiques as you describe, he is delighted and astounded at your find, and has told me that he must have it at any cost. Despite the strenuous objections of his director and producers, he is leaving the set of his latest film and jetting to Indianapolis as I type (with a brief layover in Katy to pick me up ... he's shy about meeting a rock star such as yourself). See you shortly!
You missed your calling - you should be a novelist, this is a great story! I love it. I knew something had to be up
Kathy said…
I'm with entangled, I wanted to believe. But I did wonder why almost all the memorablia had to do with gardening.
KayGee said…
Carol, you are up there with Google on April Fool's jokes. I couldn't wait to see your post today, knowing it would be a good one.

Happy April!
Becca's Dirt said…
What a find. Those are certainly some artifacts to keep and maybe frame. Looking forward to an update.
Dirt Princess said…
That is pretty amazing. Great finds
Wow, this post combines drama, humor, and excitement! I'm so glad you caught the orchid, and your antique find is so cool. Not only because it's part of your personal history, but because old gardening catalogs/seed packets are so interesting. I spent hours poring over them when doing research for an heirloom 1860s garden! P.S. The problem with my backside is, it grows larger, but I still think of it as the smaller size it was most of my life! Which does lead to bumping.
Daphne Gould said…
You had me until the savings bond. :>
Pam/Digging said…
How very "National Treasure"! Say hi to Nicolas Cage for me if you see him.
Oh, you had me going all the way until the last line and then I realized what a great April Fool's day post you made.
Anonymous said…
Unravels~~ before our eyes? I SO want it to be true. And I want the story to unfold. You can be a contestant on Antiques Roadshow and discover that the seed cat. cover is the only one of its kind and worth three million dollars. And the savings bond is worth another few mill. We need some good news. :) So what if it's not true?
Shey said…
LOL! You really had me hooked, line and...ooopppss except for the April 1: "readers beware".

Awesome story!
I believed you the first year, the 2nd year, I almost believed you until I remembered what day it was.... this one was actually the most believable, and knowing the history of the plant stand, and knowing that part of the story is true, this one is the best yet!
whiterice said…
Tsk, tsk, had me going for a few moments!
Anonymous said…
Oh! You got me going there, girl. Thank goodness for Annie's first comment, or else I would have continued to think what amazing story and find you had there. Awesome.
Rose said…
Carol, you really had me going on this one! I expected an April Fools' post today, but this was just so believable, I thought you had changed your mind today. I was taking it all in until the last line:)
Lynn said…
You are good girl... REALLY GOOD!!!
You really had me...
Carol Michel said…
Since this is my 4th annual April Fool's Day post, some long time readers were ready and waiting. I did enjoy writing this one, and wish it were true! But alas, it isn't quite true... just parts of it.

What's true? It is an antique plant stand. The Chicken Foot Orchid does sit on top of it. My backside is probably wider than I think. My grandfather was born on 11/16/1901.

The rest... well, I hope all enjoyed this story, and got a smile out of it.

Carol, May Dreams Gardens
vertie said…
Love it! Great job. You had my history geek side all excited.

(I do think that sometimes we operate on the same wavelength. I had no idea you made this a regular feature.)
kate smudges said…
What a great story! Luckily, I remembered your post from last 1 April and caught myself in time. I totally fell for your story last year. You are a wonderful weaver of tales ~ I hope you write more!!
Carol... you capture the moment and put it nicely in words... I love reading it ... cheers! ~ bangchik
I'd like to read that seed catalog!
April Fool's Day is so much fun!
Anonymous said…
What a great story--I was not on the computer yesterday. Oh how we wish it were true. What a special find that would be. Great job and imagination on the story. Enjoyed it a lot.
LOL--I didn't remember it was April Fool's Day!!!!! You had me for sure! Quite creative.