Ivoryton Library Publications

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Around Essex: Elephants & River Gods by Robbi Storms and Don Malcarne


 A pictorial history of the area that was shaped by shipbuilding and ivory. True, the old 1,200-foot Ropewalk, a mainstay of maritime manufacturing, was gone by 1900. Gone also are the Uriah Hayden Chandlery, Judea Pratt's New City Smithy, and Abner Parker's warehouse. The harbor where working vessels once ruled is now a vibrant waterfront filled with pleasure boats. A row of elegant Victorian houses lines the main street of Ivoryton village, where only a century ago lived executives from Comstock, Cheney & Company, the once great ivory and piano action factory. Enough of the past remains to remind us of the industry that thrived along these riverbanks.


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Deep River and Ivoryton by Don Malcarne, Edith DeForest and Robbi Storms


 Deep River and Ivoryton, two villages in the lower Connecticut River Valley, were dominated for more than a century by "white gold"-ivory. The growth of the piano industry led to a new use for this exotic and long-treasured substance and, suddenly, the two villages became tied to Zanzibar, the most important exporting place for the tusks of African elephants. Two companies, Pratt, Read & Company and the Comstock, Cheney & Company, employed thousands of people in satisfying the demand for new pianos. Probably more than ninety percent of the ivory processed in this country was handled in Deep River and Ivoryton.


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Houses of Essex I By Don Malcarne


132 structures in the Town of essex, house, churches, commercial and industrial buildings, all built before 1930. Each structure profiled has cultural significance in the history of the three villages of Essex, Centerbrook and Ivoryton. With black and white photographs and maps.


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Houses of Essex II by Don Malcarne


This volume details an additional 187 buildings in the three villages of the Town of Essex



Houses I & II purchased together


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Legacies of White Gold DVD


This documentary tells the story of a factory and a factory town from the founding of Comstock, Cheney & Co. in the late 1870s through a 1937 merger with Pratt, Read & Co. of Deep River. The factory's ties to Zanzibar and the impact of the ivory trade in Africa are also explored. The film concludes with the June 1982 flood that severely damaged the company's factory complex in Ivoryton. 

Bonus Features:

  • Interviews with Don Malcarne, Essex Town Historian, and behind the scene footage reveal how the extraordinary town came into existence.
  • Full-legnth commentary by Brenda Milkofsky, senior curator at the Connecticut River Museum, on the ivory process.
  •  Beautiful feature footage of interviews with Anne Farrow, co-editor of Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged and Profited from Slavery.
  •  Exclusive interview with Geoffrey Paul, Essex collector, on George A. Cheney and his trips with his family to Zanzibar.


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Images of Essex exhibition catalog: a photographic retrospective April 2005


 The goal of Images of Essex was to represent the local village scene that exists today just as photographers did generations ago, so that once again the images would be preserved. This documentation provides a greater understanding and appreciation of the way life has changed. The factories no longer dominate as they did during the last century. A whole new mode of living has arisen, and our goal was to capture those images as effectively as photographers did fifty years ago.

 Exhibition Catalog - 150 photographs. Also included is the postcard collection of Peter Comstock, 127 images of the three villages of Essex from the early 1900's.



Images of Essex Photo DVD


All images in catalog plus movie short Tide to the River and raw footage used for Tide