Monday, August 15, 2011

Reader comments: Lincoln life mask, Sweetniks and more

Papergreat received much higher web traffic last week after Stephanie Clifford's article in The New York Times titled "Shopper Receipts Join Paperless Age," which includes a mention of this website and linked to the post "An old receipt from L.B. Hantz, contractor, of York."

Thanks in part to that increased traffic, I have another great collection of reader comments to share today. Continued thanks to everyone for making this blog such a participatory experience. It's even more fun we we're working together to dig up fascinating tidbits and tangents. Now, without further ado...

The Life of Abraham Lincoln For Young Folks: Rik Peirson writes: "Out of the blue, I know ... but I have one of the only few Lincoln life masks in captivity -- it's a Clark Mills mask -- done just 56 days before Lincoln's assassination -- given to my grandfather, Ellis Mills Frost, M.D., by the sculptor's son. I'm trying to sell the mask (circa $35K). If anyone has an interest, we have a web page up with pictures and provenance -- at"

Checking out Peirson's site, here's some further information on the life mask, which is pictured above in an image from his website:
"Lincoln allowed only two castings of his face. One was done by Leonard Volk in 1860, before the Civil War, and this one by sculptor Clark Mills. Because of the Mills casting process and because of the proximity of this casting to both the end of the Civil War and just 56 days before Lincoln's assassination at Ford Theater, the Mills mask is usually considered to be superior in both physical and historical quality. As closely as we can determine, there are only five known copies done by Mills. One is in the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. ... Also, as closely as we can determine, Theodore August Mills was employed for some time by the Carnegie Institute and Museum in Pittsburgh, and during that time, conveyed one copy of the mask to my grandfather, Ellis Mills Frost, M.D., who was a long-time Pittsburgher. ... The mask was broken in storage in Pittsburgh, though luckily the face remained entirely intact. The pieces of the mask have been carefully kept, waiting for [restoration]."
Weekend postcards: Rome and Milan in black and white: An anonymous reader writes: "I think that in the postcard of Rome it's written 'FORO' and not 'FORD.'

You are correct, and I have fixed the blog entry. Thanks, Anonymous!

An old receipt from L.B. Hantz, contractor, of York: After its mention in The New York Times, this post received several new comments:
  • Nicole Belolan writes: "I found your blog thanks to the Times article! I share your love of ephemera. I thought you might be interested in this 1866 shoe receipt from York County, PA:"
  • stephan!e lee (yes, that's an exclamation point) writes: "Great site! I'm glad I found you, also through the Times article. I've been collecting paper ephemera for years. Unfortunately though, I've been scrapbooking mine in another piece of ephemera, an antique photo album from the Western College Women's College. I suppose I should consider digitally archiving them soon. thanks for sharing your collection, looking forward to more!"
  • Ginny writes: "I have hung onto several receipts from 9.11.2001. We were in London, scheduled to return home on September 12. We had been to Harrod's and Kensington Palace earlier in the day. When I see the receipts, details of the day come rushing back. We also have several receipts from the 1920s that we found in the walls when we remodeled our home. The previous owner was a tailor, so it's quite interesting to have some touchstones from others who inhabited the same walls (or almost the same walls).
All of those comments speak to the historic importance and deep meaning that some ephemera can have. Do we produce and waste too much paper as a society? Absolutely. But should every scrap of paper be recycled or sent to the landfill? Absolutely not. Our ephemera is the history of who we are. What we hold onto -- or leave for future generations -- helps to define who we were, how we lived and what was important to us.

Baseball-themed advertisements from a 1953 Phillies scorecard: myfirstchoicewastaken writes: "More precisely, the baseball player's name is Reddy Kilowatt."

Yes! I absolutely should have known that and included it in the original post. Thanks for sending me that information. Here's the scoop on Mr. Kilowatt from Wikipedia:
"Reddy Kilowatt is a cartoon character that acted as corporate spokesman for electricity generation in the United States for some six decades. [He] is drawn as a stick figure whose body and limbs are made of 'lightning-bolt' symbols and whose bulbous head has a light bulb for a nose and wall outlets for ears. Reddy was created at the Alabama Power Company by Ashton B. Collins Sr., and debuted March 11, 1926. He was subsequently licensed by some 300 electrical companies in the U.S. and abroad looking to sell homes on using the relatively new technology."

Two mysteries: Who were these people? What did they did do? Two intriguing images were featured in this post last week.

Regarding the postcard of the children and (presumably) the coal mine, my mom makes the great point that the young laborers are not taking a break or waiting for the start of their shift. They are working -- sorting the coal from the stones and/or sorting the pieces of coal by size. I would still love to hear other insights into the sad and compelling scene on this postcard.

Regarding the photograph of "Aunt Lucy Gilbert," (pictured at right) Blake Stough of the terrific history blog Preserving York writes: "In regard to the Lucy Gilbert photograph, there is a person listed in the 1900 United States Federal Census by that name in Columbia, PA. She is shown as 48 years old, the wife of Aaron Gilbert, and mother of eight children, six that were still living at the time. In the household was John Jr., Gertrude, Walter, and Ellen, whose ages ranged from 20 to 12. While I can't say this is the woman in the photograph, it is a strong possibility. ... Now if we only knew WHO the niece or nephew was!"

Doll fads of 1960: Regarding Lada Draskovic and her Sweetniks dolls, Deborah Greife writes: "I have one of the Sweetnik dolls from Italy. I have been trying to research and find more information on them, but this blog is the only place I've found any reference to them at all, other than a PDF someone has that is a scanned image of a newspaper page with the same photo you have here.1 I'm really trying hard to find out more about these dolls and their creator. Any help would be appreciated."

In my first response to Deborah, I mentioned that Papergreat dug up some more information on Draskovic and her family in this April 6, 2011, post. But much remains a mystery, especially regarding the Sweetniks.

Deborah and I exchanged some further emails and she sent me some great photos (shown below) of her Sweetnik doll. She adds: "I attached some pics of my doll and her cat. I forgot to mention that she has a cat! The cat has no tags but she is wearing 2 bangle bracelets and 1 bracelet has a tin tag that reads: SWEETNIK on one side and the other side reads: 'Brevettato Patented Made in Italy.' ... Maybe with some luck we will get to the bottom of the mystery of the sweetnik dolls. I will contact some doll collector sites and see if I can get more info as well."

This has certainly been a fun one to continue researching!

Here are Deborah's photos:

1. Here is the PDF newspaper image that Deborah Greife is referring to. It's from the February 8, 1960, edition of The Leader-Herald in Gloversville-Johnstown, New York. While it is the same photo featured previously on Papergreat, the photo caption sheds some new light on Sweetniks: "DOLLSVILLE -- Unusual beatnik dolls, called 'sweetniks,' naturally, surround their creator, Lada Draskovic, in Rome. The dolls are dressed in loose-fitting sweaters, toreador pants and sandals. Their straggly, woolen hair is done in bright red, blue, orange and green. Selling like hotcakes in Rome, the way-out dolls may soon be introduced to U.S.-ville."

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