Saturday, March 12, 2011

Saturday's postcard: Cows and ruins go together nicely

Here's a lovely combination: Cows and the ruins of a palace1.

This unused postcard shows Linlithgow Palace in Scotland from the north. The cows are clearly not impressed.

The Linlithgow Palace site dates to the 12th century. It has been a manor, a fort and a palace for Scottish royalty through the centuries. Mary, Queen of Scots, was born there in 1542. Today, it stands as a tourism attraction under the care and management of Historic Scotland.

Linlithgow, like all old places, has some ghost stories attached to it. According to the website Scottish Ghosts:

"Linlithgow is said to be haunted by a 'Blue Lady' who walks from the entrance of the palace to the door of the nearby parish church of St Michael. The ghost is believed to be seen mostly in the month of April but also in September, at about 9 am in the morning. Queen Margaret's bower2 is also reputed to be haunted by the ghost of either Margaret Tudor, wife of James IV, or Mary of Guise, wife of James V. Her apparition has allegedly been witnessed standing at the top of the tower waiting on the return of her husband from battle."

Moving on to the postcard itself, it was printed in Britain and it includes the text "Greetings and Good Luck" and "The Best of All Series" on the back. The publisher is listed as:


This website offers a nice history of J.B. White Ltd. Some interesting tidbits:

  • The business began to print postcards in 1907, with the children of J.B. White appearing in some of the images.
  • In the 1920s, the company's "postcard artist" would add clouds to some pictures and, sometimes, remove people from one image and superimpose them onto another3.
  • The company's trademark "Best of All Series" ran from 1926 to 1966.

Finally, while Linlithgow Palace is not for sale, there is hope for those of you who wish to own and live in a medieval palace or castle some day. has a nice rundown of castles for sale around the world for you dreamers. And I especially like their "What to Know When Buying a Castle" guide, which includes this tip: "Many castle sites have only had limited or no archaeological work done on them. You might want to explore the idea if archaeologists would be interested in investigating your property and perhaps discover artifacts."

That's right, one great reason to buy a castle: It might have some medieval ephemera hidden inside!

1. I really wanted to refer to Linlithgow as a castle, but that term would not be technically correct. It was not designed to be used as a military fortress.
2. On top of Linlithgow Palace is a small chamber in which Queen Margaret used to sit and enjoy the view. Here's a cool site where you can check out the 360-degree view for yourself. Make sure you use the zoom function and check for cows.
3. Who needs Photoshop, anyway?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Coupons from the E.H. Koester Bakery Co.

These two coupons for Koester's bread were tucked inside a handwritten recipe book that I picked up at a yard sale last year in southern York County. The pink one is for a free loaf of Koester's Honey Bread (regular price 10¢). The yellow one is for a free loaf of Koester's Homade Bread (regular price 12¢). My wife and I like the line at the bottom of the coupon that states: "Mr. Grocer: Please collect 12¢ from our salesman for this coupon."

The first two things we know about this bakery come from the coupons. The company is named The E.H. Koester Bakery Co. And it was established in 1886. (And, based on the historic prices of a loaf of bread, we can guess that these coupons were issued sometime in the 1940s.)

Beyond that, information has been relatively hard to come by. It turns out that Koester is remembered more for a baseball card set it issued in 1921 than for its baked goods (more on that later).

Pictured at right are some images of Koester's company and product logos, if that helps to jog anyone's memories.

The best information I was able to track down was compiled by the website German Marylanders, which is dedicated to profiling men and women of German ancestry who moved to Maryland and "paved the way for life as we live today." Eilert Herman Koester (1858-1948) and his wife Lisette Koester (1860-1947), both of whom were born in Germany, established The E.H. Koester Bakery Co. in Baltimore in 1886. It was, at one point, the largest family-owned bakery in the U.S. The bakery later was taken over by the Koester's son, William, after he served in the Navy in World War II. The bakery was sold in 1977.

There must be people out there who remember Koester's bread and bakery products. Please post your memories in the comments section, because I'm sure there's more to tell about this company, its history and its customers. It's a slice (no pun intended) of American history that shouldn't be forgotten.

Of course, in one respect, Koester's will never be forgotten. The company issued one of the most collectible baseball card sets -- including one extremely valuable card -- of all time.

In 1921, Koester's issued a 52-card set1 to commemorate the World Series between the New York Giants and the New York Yankees2. The set included the players and managers from both teams.

One of the Yankees in the set is Babe Ruth, who is listed as "George Ruth, L.F.-New York Americans" and is pictured in a Boston Red Sox uniform, because it had still been less than two years since the Red Sox sold him to the Yankees for $100,000.

The Koester's set features black and white photos on heavier-than-normal paper. The back of the cards are blank and have no markings. The website Babe Ruth Cards notes that: "Although trading cards began as a medium for advertising with the company producing the card’s name on the back, the 1921 Koester Bread card series lacks advertising. ... While the mechanism of distribution for the 1921 Koester Bread company’s cards is unknown, even without advertising these cards likely boosted sales among the always passionate about sports New Yorkers."

Oh, and these Babe Ruth cards, which are quite rare, are valued in excess of $10,000 in the marketplace.

Here's what it looks like, so that you can keep your eyes peeled at the next yard sale you attend.

Very geeky addendum
As I was examining the coupons in preparation for writing this entry, I noted with excitement that the words "Koester's Honey Bread" and "Koester's Homade Bread" appear to have been printed in the Cooper Black font. At first, I didn't think this was possible, because I didn't believe that Cooper Black was that old. But it turns out it was first released in 1922, so it's entirely reasonable for it to be used in the typography of a 1940s coupon. As I explained all of this to my wife, she stared at me as if I had suddenly sprouted a third eye. So there.

1. The Koester's set is known as the D383 within the American Card Catalog.
2. The Giants defeated the Yankees, five games to three. Yes, you read that right.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

They don't make 'em like they used to

Last month, I wrote about a 1932 edition of The Herbalist Almanac. I mentioned that I was going to send away for the current version of the catalog published by parent company Indiana Botanic Gardens.

Well, it has arrived. Above, at left, is the 2011 mail-order catalog for Botanic Choice (Indiana Botanic Gardens' line of herbal products). At right is the cover of The Herbalist Alamanac from 1932.

You can certainly say the marketing approach has changed.

In 1932, The Herbalist Alamanac offered weather forecasts, a guide to weights and measures, a guide to the best days to fish throughout the year, information on palmistry, traditional song lyrics1, an illustrated guide to herbs, numerous testimonials2, an article on how to make good sausage at home, and, of course, information on ordering all of the products mentioned throughout the almanac (but not in an in-your-face way).

In 2011, the Botanic Choice catalog offers "Hot Products", "Hundreds of items $5 or less", "Double Rewards with $20 order!!!" and "Free Gift with any order". Beyond that, it's all about listing information about the herbal products and their prices. The only thing retained from 1932 is the testimonials3. The only thing remotely entertaining is this graphic (pictured at right) on the page that offers products designed to help "strengthen and protect your entire urinary tract."

We're just no fun any more.

1. The song lyrics listed include "Swanee River", "Old Black Joe" and "How Dry I Am".
2. One example of a 1932 testimonial: "I am using Ironite on my limb and it is doing fine. The sore is getting much smaller. I paint all around the sore. It used to burn and pain when the weather would change, but it doesn't do so any more. I am very glad it is getting well, so that I can go anywhere I choose to go. Writes T.S., Frankfort, Ky."
3. One example of a 2011 testimonial: "I am 81 and still taking ACV Plus. Two years ago I learned to play golf. Now I play 18 holes twice a week. I feel great." -- G.M., Lancaster, PA. And all of the 2011 testimonials include an asterisk and the caveat: "These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Testimonials in this catalog reflect one person's experience; individual results may vary."

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Medical books of all publishers

This plastic-clip bookmark1 was found tucked inside a 1946 edition of "Principles of Dynamic Psychiatry" by Jules H. Masserman.

The text on the bookmark states:

322 Henry St., Brooklyn 2, N.Y. - MAin 4-3124

I also found an advertisement for T.H. McKenna in the January 1938 bulletin of The New York Academy of Medicine. That advertisement states:

Of All Publishers
You will find it a convenience to secure all of your books from one source -- ONE order -- ONE account -- ONE remittance. Monthly Terms if you wish.
878 Lexington Ave., New York

It doesn't appear as if T.H. McKenna is around any more. As far as those two noted locations are concerned, it appears as if 322 Henry Street in Brooklyn is now the site of a playground (which I must say is kind of nice):

View Larger Map

And the 878 Lexington Avenue location in New York City, which is just east of the southeast corner of Central Park, now houses Del Bove Deli & Market.

1. I just found a terrific website called Forgotten Bookmarks that is very much along the same lines as Papergreat (only much cooler). The site's description: "I work at a rare and used bookstore, and I buy books from people everyday. These are the personal, funny, heartbreaking and weird things I find in those books." If you like Papergreat, you'll love Forgotten Bookmarks. It's what I want to be when I grow up.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A family history told through newspaper blurbs

Part of the text of this Ideal Concrete Stone Co. advertising card, which was tucked away inside an old book, reads:


Among the products/services offered are:
  • concrete building blocks for dwellings
  • cow barns and other buildings
  • cinder blocks for foundations
  • tile blocks

Francis S. Staley was the manager of the company, which was located in Yellow Springs, Maryland, an unincorporated area northwest of Frederick. The card likely dates from sometime between 1935 and 1970, based upon the "Frederick 1838" phone number and some other information that I've detailed below.

In trying to find out more about this company and Francis S. Staley, I ran into numerous dead ends. I was just about to give up and file this one under "Mysteries".

But then I had a breakthrough.

I don't have a membership to, but even non-members are able to use the site's search function to get limited results from its immense newspaper archives.

Two of the newspapers in's archives are The Frederick Post (formerly the morning paper) and The News (formerly the evening paper)1. Using incomplete "blurbs" primarily from those two newspapers, I am able to tell some of the story of the Staley family and Ideal Concrete Stone Co.

1908 (approximate): Francis S. Staley is born to Milton E. Staley and Virgie M. Staley.

1908: Milton E. Staley places a classified advertisement in a Frederick newspaper seeking an "experienced man to sell vehicles through Maryland."

1911: Milton E. Staley runs multiple classified advertisements selling "choice potatoes" from his Yellow Springs home.

1911: Milton E. Staley is listed as a "Railway Station Agent" in Yellow Springs.

1923 (October): This classified advertisement appears in a Frederick newspaper: "FOR SALE - CONCRETE BUILDING block. Fireproof and waterproof. Size 8x8x16. If you are building a home, garage or foundation get our prices. Phone 1838-F-18. Milton E. Staley, Ideal Concrete Stone Co., Yellow Springs, Md."

1925 (February): M.E. Staley and C.H. Kehne appear to be listed as the co-proprietors of Ideal Concrete Stone Co.

1928 (August): From The Morning Herald of Hagerstown, Maryland: "MAN ELECTROCUTED. Milton E. Staley, proprietor of the Ideal Block plant at Yellow Springs, Frederick County, was electrocuted Tuesday when he came in contact..."2

1928 (December): The Frederick Post reports: "The business of the Ideal Concrete Stone Company plant, Yellow Springs, Md., phone 1838-F-13, formerly operated by Milton E. Staley (deceased) is now being handled by Mrs. Milton E. Staley; George R. Summers, superintendent..."

1936 (April): "Mrs. Virgie M. Staley, who has been at her home at Yellow Springs, is now able to be about her room. Her son, Francis S. Staley, who sustained a severe fall several days ago, is confined to his bed."

1936 (December): Francis S. Staley, in place of his deceased father, gives his sister away at her wedding.

1950 (August): "Mr. Francis S. Staley, who had been a patient at University Hospital, Baltimore, returned to his home near Burkittsville..."3

1967 (June): "Francis S. Staley, 59, of RFD 2, Mt. Airy, was admitted to the hospital with lacerations of the scalp and several fractured vertebrae..."4

1968 (December): "Mrs. Virgie M. Staley, widow of Milton E. Staley, died at the Home for the Aged, 115 Record Street, Frederick..."

So, that's what I could find about the Staleys. And none of this would have resurfaced and been researched if someone hadn't decided to tuck their blue advertising card for Ideal Concrete Stone Co. between the pages of their book a half-century or more ago.

1. Those two newspapers were merged in 2002 to create a single daily newspaper, the Frederick News-Post.
2. That is all I was able to see in the "blurb" on I would need a subscription to the site to read the full account of Staley's sad fate.
3. Burkittsville is less than 20 miles west of the Frederick area, so it's certainly possible that Staley was living in Burkittsville and still operating the concrete business in Yellow Springs at this time.
4. Mount Airy is about 16 miles east of Frederick.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Our trip to Hoke-E-Geez

If readers of this blog1 have learned anything so far, I hope it's this:
  • Collecting ephemera doesn't have to be a dry, stuffy hobby.
  • Not all ephemera has to be pristine.
  • Not all ephemera has to have significance or value.
  • Sometimes it's OK to laugh at the ephemera. Its feelings aren't going to be hurt. It's not like we're making fun of sentient beings like HAL 9000 or Watson2, which could launch a subroutine that would wipe us off the planet if we cracked a joke about them.

The first sentence I wrote when I launched this blog last November was "Almost everything fascinates me". And I meant it. I could find as much to say about a 1955 subscription card for Time magazine as I could about a mint condition Treskilling Yellow3.

So this brings us to last weekend. My wife and I took a trip to Pittsburgh for the wedding of one of her good friends from high school. We took a scenic, unhurried route westward on Friday and, shortly after a lunch stop in the frightening anomaly of Breezewood, found ourselves in Bedford.

There, along Route 30, we came upon a place called Hoke-E-Geez.

Hoke-E-Geez is a 40,000-square-foot indoor flea market located in a former Ames Department Store building.

On the A Part of the Solution blog about sustainable living, written by a Bedford-area resident, Hoke-E-Geez is described as follows4:

It sells used jeans, fridge glass, computer mother boards, kitchen cupboards, old Christmas lights, duct tape, doilies, duck decoys, bumper stickers, books, vinyl albums, dolls’ clothes, dining tables–you name it. One of everything from all the history of Western Civilization is somewhere in that building. And there’s a price-tag on it, too.

And, of course, it sells ephemera.

Now, this is NOT a place where you're going to find a Treskilling Yellow, Action Comics #1 or an autographed copy of "The Catcher in the Rye".

So, in other words, it's my kind of place. Joan and I browsed the cassette tapes and vinyl albums before spreading out to see more of the store, which had everything from Atari 2600 cartridges to past-the-expiration-date mouthwash. My first real "find" was the December 1956 issue of Together (The Midmonth Magazine for Methodist Families). The magazine's cover is pictured at the top of this entry. It was for sale for a mere 25 cents.

Upon seeing the picture of the child on the cover, my first thought was not: "Meh! That magazine has a tear in the middle of the cover and an ugly, circular mark where someone left a bowl sitting on it."

My first thought was also not: "This is cool. It's a 55-year-old magazine that's still in reasonably good shape and can help me learn more about the history of Methodism."

No. My first thought was: "Hey! Look! It's Ralphie Glick from Salem's Lot!5"

That's how my mind works sometimes.

And so I bought the magazine for a quarter, brought it home and, as soon as I could, did some Google image searches so that I could create this:

Like I said, ephemera is much more fun if you don't always take it seriously.6

1. Hi Joan. Hi Mom.
2. My daughter loves Watson. This worries me.
3. I have several of these. Contact me if you're interested in purchasing them. But please don't insult me with offers of less than $50.
4. On the "A Part of the Solution" blog, Hoke-E-Geez is described as being open seven days per week. When we were there, however, its days of business were listed as Wednesday through Sunday (closed Monday and Tuesday).
5. My thoughts on the wonderfulness of the 1979 miniseries version of "Salem's Lot" are mirrored and well-summarized here, on the Final Girl horror blog.
6. Discussion question: Would Ralphie Glick have been a more successful vampire if he had brought a puppy along on his night-time excursions? I tend to think it might have opened more doors (and windows) for him.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Russian folk tale about a singing bear

It's a cold, rainy Sunday here in southcentral Pennsylvania. Perfect book weather!

This is the cover of "Stumpy", a children's folk tale retold by Ruth Manning-Sanders in a 1974 hardcover published by Methuen Children's Books. It is illustrated by Leon Shtainmets.

Stumpy is a short Russian tale1 that features Old Man, Old Woman, the mischievous Singing Bear, and some magic. Singing Bear has the ability to sing all living creatures to sleep, and he uses this power not for good, but so that he can commit misdeeds.

The plot in a nutshell: Singing Bear comes singing around the house of Old Man and Old Woman. They lock the door and hide before being lulled to sleep by the ursine melody. Singing Bear breaks a window, enters the house and kidnaps Old Woman. Singing
Bear ties Old Woman to a tree stump2 (pictured at right) and heads back to the house for Old Man, who is still well hidden in a large apple basket. Old Woman, to protect herself, sings a magical song that causes the tree stump to grow far into the sky, taking her with it3. In the meantime, Singing Bear cannot find Old Man, but smells the apple basket and decides to have a snack instead. His jostling wakes Old Man, who gives out a yell that startles Singing Bear (who believes the basket has come alive), sending Singing Bear fleeing into the countryside. Old Man heads out to find Old Woman. After much searching, he discovers her high atop the tree stump. She sings again, and the stump magically lowers itself to its original height. He frees her, they kiss and they head home to live happily ever after. Meanwhile, the startled Singing Bear is still running and is never heard from again.

Interestingly, I found another Russian folk tale that involves a bear being fooled by a basket. It's called "Masha and the Bear"4. In this one, Old Man and Old Woman have a granddaughter, Masha, who is kidnapped by a bear. Eventually, she escapes by tricking the bear into delivering apple pies to Old Man and Old Woman in a basket that she has hidden herself in the bottom of. You can read the full story here.

Clearly, baskets are an Achilles' heel for antagonist bears in Russian folk tales.

Bonus fairy tale link
Meanwhile, the coolest thing I read online this week was this entry on Unusual Life about a "fairy tale house" in Beverly Hills, California. It has to be seen to be believed.

1. Here is a partial list of other Russian folk tales retold by Manning-Sanders.
2. Looking at the illustration, I fail to see how she is "tied" to the tree stump.
3. And the raising of the tree stump far into the sky makes the idea of Old Woman being tied to it seem even more impossible. Yes, I'm the guy who thinks about things like that.
4. In a sign of the times, "Masha and the Bear" is now an iPhone cartoon series that has its own Facebook page.