By Curt Peterson
Fourteen-year-old Abraham Dunne of Hartland has selected pieces from his “treasure trove,” for display in White River Junction as a “One Piece Curation” reserved by the Main Street Museum “for younger folks involved firsthand with storytelling through museum curation.” His finds will be exhibited until March 31.
Dunne, an engaging, articulate and poised freshman at The Sharon Academy, first found his passion for collecting when he found a 1914 U.S. quarter among his foreign currency collection.
“After that I went into the rabbit hole of treasure hunting,” he says in the museum brochure. Subsequently he got into metal detecting.
Dunne lives with his parents, Matt Dunne and author Sarah Stewart Taylor, in an 18th-century farmhouse on Clay Hill Road, where his mother also raises sheep. On the 100-acre property is “an old dump in a ravine.”
“I was showing my friends the dump and saw a little bottle sticking out of the top of it,” Dunne said. “It turned out to be an 1890s French perfume bottle.”
“I really started getting into dump-digging,” he says. He told the Mountain Times he wants to become a professional archaeologist.
Most of his finds have come from the ravine or wide-area metal detecting.
Among the 23 interesting items on display is an elaborate cast iron clock frame (sans clock), probably used as marketing swag around 1885 for J. C. Child’s “Green Label Beef Iron and Wine,” which Dunne says had “the alcohol content of vodka.”
Dunne has found two antique cast iron cap guns — his favorite is in the display, and is probably one of the latest made, circa 1920s.
His Whiting & Davis Co. mesh purse, also from the 1920s, is in amazing condition with a fragile metal chain strap.
The most eerie treasure is a tiny ceramic figure called a “frozen Charlotte doll,” made sometime between 1850 and 1920. There was a ballad about a vain girl who traveled in winter without warm covering because she wanted to be seen, and froze to death.
“The bright white color of the dolls made people think of the song,” he said.
White River Junction is an “up and coming” area destination town, boasting galleries, the Center for Cartoon Studies, the Northern Stage, the Amtrak station and shop, a couple of good restaurants and, last but not least, the Main Street Museum.
The first challenge is finding the museum (Hint: use your GPS) at 58 Bridge St. (yes, not Main Street), but the hunt is worth it.