Monday, July 4, 2011

American flag history, compliments of Leinbach & Bro. in Reading

Above: A composite of two photos of children holding the American flag, from the pages of "The Story of the American Flag" by Wayne Whipple (1910).

For this Fourth of July, here are some images from my water-damaged copy1 of "The Story of the American Flag."

It was written by Wayne Whipple2, published by the Henry Altemus Company of Philadelphia in 1910 and offered to customers of Leinbach & Bro. in Reading, Pennsylvania.

There is a terrific, in-depth website devoted to the Henry Altemus Company. One of the website's sections describes the relationship between Altemus and Leinbach & Bro. Here's an excerpt:
"Altemus had a long relationship with Leinbach & Bro. which was a clothier store in Reading, Pennsylvania. As early as 1893 and as late as 1915 Leinbach gave away Altemus books as some sort of promotion (perhaps with the purchase of an item). Most of these books are stamped on the front or back cover with 'Compliments of Leinbach & Bro'. Within these books are two pages of ads for Leinbach. One ad is bound into the front and one is bound into the back of the book. There are a number of different versions of the ads. Some ads are personalized to the book it is placed in."
If you're interested in more on the Altemus/Leinbach relationship (or Henry Altemus Company in general), I encourage you to check out that website, which is filled with great images.

Pictured below are the back-cover stamp and the front-of-book advertisement for Leinbach & Bro. from my copy of "The Story of the American Flag":

There is also a full-page, all-text advertisement for Leinbach & Bro. at the back of the book. The Reading clothing company is no longer around, and I couldn't find any details on when, precisely, it went out of business. Does anyone versed in Berks County history have more information they can contribute?

Whipple's 125-page book includes the history of the American flag and, in the back of the book, "A Collection of Songs, Poems, Addresses, Drills and Sayings About the Stars and Stripes."

Overall, the book has dozens of illustrations and even a few interesting photos (such as the pictures at the top of today's entry). Here are a couple more photos from Whipple's book:

This above undated photo shows children watching the 46th star (for Oklahoma) sewn onto an American flag in front of the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia. (Oklahoma was admitted to the Union on November 16, 1907.)

And this photo shows a building that no longer exists -- the Francis Scott Key House in Washington, D.C. A pair of blogs describe the sad fate of this historic house, which was built in 1802 and was Francis Scott Key's home for 22 years.

Streets of Washington states: "In 1907, a group of prominent individuals ... organized a group to try to save the Key Mansion. ... They leased the house, festooned it with flags and a large portrait of Key, and opened it as a museum on Flag Day in 1908. ... Unfortunately, this well-meaning effort was doomed from the start. The Key Mansion was located at the far end of Georgetown’s then-tawdry commercial strip, and tourists didn’t particularly want to go there. ... The museum soon closed. ... The real death blow came shortly thereafter, in 1912 or 1913, when drastic modifications were made to the structure. The entire gabled top floor was removed and replaced with a flat roof. The distinctive split chimney on the side of the house was also removed, as was Key’s office, which had been an addition on the side of the house."

And Washington Kaleidoscope states: "Even though Congress passed a bill in 1948 providing $65,000 to relocate the home, President Truman vetoed the bill, and the building's fate was sealed. It was razed because plans for the Whitehurst Freeway called for the site to be used as a connecting ramp with Key Bridge."

Much more information on the Key Mansion is available on those two excellent blogs.

1. One of the great things about digital archiving, of course, is that old pages and images can be presented and preserved, even after books and documents disappear or lose their value to aesthetic damage.
2. For more information on Whipple, check out (1) this under-construction website on the author (including a page on his "Patriotic Series", which also includes books on the White House and the Liberty Bell); (2) Whipple's geneaology page; and (3) a fascinating article about the Whipple Flag.

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