Historical Society Suspends Meetings But Remains Active - Museum Features Collection of Carved Acorns and Nuts

The Farmington Historical Society has suspended all their meetings and featured speakers for the foreseeable future and any tours and visits of the Museum of Farmington History that were planned, or being planned, are on hold until further notice. The Society will continue to conduct some of their business, as necessary, through their private members group on Facebook, and over email.

The Society is seeing an increase in donations recently, which is a great thing for our town.  The Historical Society is very appreciative of all donations, as and are trying to collect and preserve as much of Farmington's history as they can.   However, at this time, they ask potential donors to hold onto any donations until after the COVID-19 crisis is over.  The Goodwin Library is closed during the pandemic, and the Society wants to limit the amount of packages the library staff have to receive on behalf of the Historical Society.  The Society is currently staying out of the Library in order to follow and practice good social distancing protocols.  Once this crisis is over, they will welcome any  donations once again.  Being sequestered in your homes is a good time to clean out your old stuff and donate those historical treasures that nobody wants to store to the Society.  Of particular interest are Farmington High School Yearbooks, old town records, old family and town photographs, personal stories of Farmington, and stories of Farmington History.  Please remember to include any and all information regarding the items donated that you might have, and be sure to include your name, or the person's name in which you would like the donation to be recognized.  Remember, everything is history, and becomes history, as soon as it's passed.

The Society had an inquiry some time ago from a group traveling through NH looking for items and places in the book, "New Hampshire Curiosities".  In that guide there is a mention of "Mr.
Varney's carved nut baskets, which the Society has in the Museum of Farmington History. They group wanted to visit the museum to see those carved baskets. Museum Curator, Kyle Leach, was in the process of making an appointment for them to come by, when the COVID-19 outbreak happened. A physical meeting in the museum is not an option at this point, but is postponed until further notice. In light of the interest, Kyle thought to report on the information we do know about those nut carvings and include some photos for all to see and appreciate.

The carved nut baskets are made from acorns, walnuts and chestnuts, carefully carved into tiny baskets. A few have semiprecious stones attached and all are finished with a shiny coat of shellac. They were hand made by "Deke" Varney. The talent and skill to make each basket is even more incredible when you know that Mr. Varney only had one arm. The baskets won two awards at the October 1916 West Milton Community Fair, a large, local event that pulled participants and the general public from most of the surrounding communities. It was the Second Annual West Milton Community Fair. The Historical Society has the baskets, a photo of Mr. Varney, and both awards in their museum collection.

It’s hard to tell the intricacies and details in this photo of Mr. Varney’s carved nuts, which can be seen in the Museum of Farmington History.

Close up of a few of Mr. Varney’s carved nuts.  You can see one with an embedded gemstone in the upper right corner.  To get an idea of the size of these carvings, note that they are stapled to the display board.
Mr. Varney, the nut carver. 
Below: his 11916 award announcement.

The Society hopes that you will take notice of these wonderful treasures when you can see them again in person. For now, they hope our readers will enjoy the photos included here.

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