Hope Springs Eternal on Opening Day

11876_1000x1000Few other annual events are filled with as much fresh hope and promise as the start of a new baseball season. On Opening Day, every team has a clean slate and its fans have heady aspirations that this will be the year their boys go all the way.

Opening Day is a state of mind, and indeed retired shortstop Ozzie Smith this year started an online petition on wethepeople.com to urge the U.S. Government to declare the day a national holiday. If Opening Day does become a holiday, it may create another opportunity to shower friends and family with unique gifts.

For the New York Yankees fan, the ultimate unique gift may be a genuine piece of the House that Ruth Built. The Authentic Yankee Stadium Seats were removed from the stadium before it was razed, the very stadium where fans watched Reggie Jackson, Thurman Munson, Derek Jeter and other iconic Bronx Bombers capture six World Series titles. The seats are available as pairs mounted to stand upright or as barstools, including a stool with 39 certified autographs.

The hardcore Yankee fan may also appreciate The Museum Quality 1/8 Scale 1961 Yankee Stadium. Meticulously researched, hand-built and hand-painted by artist Steve Wolf, whose stadium models are displayed in the Los Angeles Sports Museum, this amazing replica took nearly 3,000 hours to complete. This model faithfully replicates the stadium from more than 50 years ago, including period advertisements, six working light banks, and ticket windows.

Many a baseball fan has a bucket-list item to visit all the Major League ballparks. The Personalized Baseball Ballpark Map charts the stadiums you’ve visited and those you plan on seeing. The map lists all 59 ballparks that have hosted Major League Baseball teams since 1912. Color-coded pins and flags mark stadiums you’ve visited, your most recent conquest, your next destination, and your favorite stadium.

As the storied Joe DiMaggio said about the start of the season, “You always get a special kick on Opening Day, no matter how many you go through. You look forward to it like a birthday party when you’re a kid. You think something wonderful is going to happen.” And for those fans who know better, just wait till next year.

Vernal Equinox Brings Promise of Rainy Days Ahead

At last, Spring is here! Well, so says the calendar. The Vernal Equinox occurs today at 12:57 p.m. Eastern Time. With more chilly temperatures and even some snow in the forecast for several areas of the country, it seems Spring may not have gotten the memo.1955_Catalog

Despite Mother Nature’s stubbornness, it’s a certainty that soon we will get true Spring weather, including our share of April showers. We’ll obligingly help you prepare with a selection of umbrellas that make a unique gift for yourself or for anyone you want to see kept warm and dry.

A Hammacher Schlemmer exclusive is The World’s Smallest Automatic Umbrella. This little umbrella was designed in Portland, Oregon, where they know rain. Carried inconspicuously in a purse or trouser pocket, this is the smallest umbrella available with a canopy that opens and closes with the push of a button. Only 8″ long when closed, the umbrella instantly deploys its generous 40″ diameter canopy when a button on its handle is pressed.

Spring weather also brings the promise of gusty winds. The Wind Defying Packable Umbrella—another Hammacher Schlemmer exclusive—resists gusts up to 35 mph that turn traditional umbrellas inside-out. Its patented overlapping vent system disperses wind through eight reinforced slits in the canopy to eliminate inversion while shielding you from precipitation.

Looking for a unique gift for a pet owner? The Canine’s Raincoat protects dogs like an umbrella from head to tail. Made with a water-repellant nylon exterior and lined with soft fleece for snuggly, warm comfort, the raincoat has a removable transparent hood that keeps a dog’s head dry without obstructing its ears.

Yes, that rainy Spring weather will soon be upon us, but it won’t be long before we’re telling you about unique gifts for gardeners and unusual gifts for enjoying the great outdoors!

A Unique Gift for Future Generations

One of the most amazing scientific discoveries in the last century has been the link between many diseases and our genetic makeup. We now know that many future health conditions can be prepared for, managed, or perhaps even averted with the right knowledge.The Hermetically Sealed DNA Time Capsule.

All cancer hasn’t been cured—yet—but what if the discovery of a genetic predisposition could be made years or even decades earlier? Future generations may be able to enjoy the benefit of treatments for conditions that are life-threatening, or perhaps even merely annoying, such as allergies, based on DNA analysis.

Among the most valuable and unique gifts you could give your children, grandchildren, and other descendants is access to your DNA, safely preserved in The Hermetically Sealed DNA Time Capsule. This patented, triple-sealed vessel securely stores DNA within a blood sample at room temperature, preserving your genetic fingerprint for over 100 years.

Once a sample is secured, it can be stored within a home or bank lock box for decades until one’s progeny submits it for genetic analysis. Preserving one’s DNA in the present enables future scientific advances to reveal any predispositions to disease—currently undetectable by today’s methods—a family’s genetic makeup may bear.

None of us can help our genetics, but knowledge is power and you can give your family the unique gift of knowledge that could help change their lives.

The Web at 25: an Invention with World-wide Impact

On this day 25 years ago, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, a British computer scientist, wrote a paper proposing a system of information management that eventually became the concept and architecture of the World Wide Web. Lee’s system was originally designed to help run a particle accelerator at the CERN facility in Switzerland.

Less than two years later, Lee made a unique gift to the world on Christmas Day 1990 by releasing the code to his system for free.

Although Lee’s system was not technically the same as the Internet – which is a series of rules and protocols—the Web as envisioned by Lee today allows ordinary users to access files hosted on other computers around the globe so that all of us can enjoy a virtually infinite amount of data. It is arguably the most important invention of the 20th Century.

A project by Pew Research shows that 87 percent of adults are regular users of the Internet. It has transformed the way we work, how we get our news, how and how frequently we communicate with other people, the way we care for our health, and of course, the way we shop for and purchase goods.

In keeping with our track record for innovation, in 1986 Hammacher Schlemmer became one of the first retailers to sell its products on the Internet, teaming up with CompuServe. The Internet certainly has transformed Hammacher Schlemmer, taking us from our one store in New York City to being at the fingertips of users everywhere. It makes available our selection of unique gifts—the Best, the Only and the Unexpected83791_1000x1000—to computer users at any time and any place.

The recent evolution of the Internet is mobile use, with Pew’s research reporting that 68 percent of American adults say they access the Internet at least occasionally on a cell phone or tablet. As the Internet continues to evolve, many experts think the next step is the “Internet of Things” connecting our appliances, vehicles, data and more, allowing devices to connect to and “talk” to each other.

Unique Gifts of Light and Time

iPhone WatchSome folks love it, others curse it…but there’s no denying that the move to Daylight Savings Time this weekend capitalizes on one of Nature’s unique gifts: the lengthening of the days that comes with spring.

In the U.S., DST has been around since 1918 when it was established as a fuel-conservation measure during the First World War. It was largely unpopular and as a result, after the war Congress abolished DST on a federal level, although states had the option to observe the time change.

Year-round DST, called “War Time,” was implemented in 1942, again to save fuel during WWII. After the war, from 1945 and until 1966, there was no federal DST and localities could choose when and if to turn the clocks ahead or back. Confusion in the transportation industry led to federal regulation and the Uniform Time Act of 1966. Through the following years, the dates to begin and end DST changed based on issues such as the 1973 oil embargo and amendments to the Uniform Time Act. In 2007, most of the country moved to the dates we have today: Daylight Savings Time begins the second Sunday every March and ends the first Sunday in November.

With all this changing does anybody really know what time it is? To help those confused by this weekend’s time change, we have several watches that make unique gifts for special someone, or perhaps yourself.

One of our favorites is The Voice Command Smartphone Watch. This is the only watch that relays voice commands to a smart phone, even when buried in a purse or tucked in a pocket. The watch appears to be a classic analog design, but a discreet speaker and microphone transform it into a one-touch communication hub on the wrist. Using Bluetooth 4.0, the watch acts as liaison with an Android or iPhone for calls and texts. The watch also features a “leash” function to alert users if the phone has been left behind.

And the Award Goes To…

82nd Annual Academy Awards - "Meet The Oscars" New YorkWhether you get your movies from a big screen, an Internet stream, or a red box, the Academy Awards remains the premiere event for fans and celebrity watchers alike. Over the years, Hammacher Schlemmer has been delighted to collaborate with a number of Academy Award winners in the making of their films.

For his 1972 movie Frenzy, legendary director Alfred Hitchcock, a stickler for details, required a knife as a prop in a key scene. Naturally, he sent for a set of Hammacher Schlemmer German stainless steel knives, for which we received a personal letter of thanks.

On another occasion, Hammacher Schlemmer’s New York store played a supporting role in the film of an Oscar-winning actor, albeit early in his career. In a scene from the 1990 movie Joe Versus the Volcano, the title character played by Tom Hanks is outfitted at our landmark Manhattan store before embarking on an exotic, life-altering trip. Despite a big budget and a star-laden cast, Joe was a box-office dud that received mixed reviews and not a single Academy Award nomination. Such are the vagaries of show business.