Neatly arranged three to four deep on shelves from ceiling to floor is a collection that staggers the imagination. Vegetables, vegetable people, Christmas, Thanksgiving, gas pumps, animals, nuts. No two are alike.
Ruth's collection continued to multiply. She kept track of each pair with a coded number on the bottom that corresponded to a recipe card with price and from whom or where it was obtained. A simple sign in their front yard and word of mouth advertising lead people to stop in and view her shakers. She was delighted to show them off.
Garage sales, gift catalogs, farm & estate sales, antique auctions and gifts from friends and family kept the collection growing.
THE COLLECTION WINDS UP
Ruth collected shakers from all over the world. One friend brought her a treasured pair from Russia. She had many pairs from famous manufacturers such as Rosemeade, Goebel, Limoges and Shawnee.
Ruth was approached many times to sell her entire collection with her smiled response always being,
"If I sell 'em, I won't have 'em".
In 2007, the Traer City Council approved half of the funds to purchase and preserve the collection, keeping it as a Traer tourist attraction. Matching funds came from grants and donations. A 2,200 sq. foot building was donated for the gallery to house the more than 16,000 pairs.
It was now time for a vision of how this collection could come to life.
TRAER'S HIDDEN TREASURE
With the help of dozens of volunteers, months a laborious packing and the tedious cataloging, photographing and data entry of each pair, the collection made its way to its new home on Main Street.
The gallery building was outfitted with dozens of custom designed cabinets and each pair of shakers was then thoughtfully organized and placed on display. A truly proud day for Ruth and her lifelong collection.
Donations of a few pairs to entire family collections continue to trickle into the gallery making more than 12,000 pairs still packed away in the basement. One day the museum hopes to expand to accommodate the remaining shakers, as well as, a retail space to sell many of the duplicate shakers accumulated.