Saturday, July 23, 2011

Saturday's postcard: Nieuwmarkt and the Waag in Amsterdam

Today's postcard is undated (1960s?) and unused. The text on the back comes conveniently in several languages:
Nieuwmarkt met Waaggebouw.
Newmarket with Weighing-house.
Nouveau marché avec poids public.
Neuer Markt mit Wagegebäude.
This square in central Amsterdam is called Nieuwmarkt ("New Market") and the building in the center is called the Waag. It was originally built in 1488 and was one of the main gates of walled Amsterdam.1

Here's some history of Nieuwmarkt and the Waag, culled mostly from Wikipedia2:
  • In the late 16th century, Amsterdam expanded, the walls were torn down and the Waag lost its function as a city gate. In 1614, the defensive canals around the gate were filled in and the Nieuwmarkt square was created. The weighing scales for the market were placed inside the former gate.3
  • In 1691, an anatomical theatre was added to the Waag and paying members of the public were allowed to witness human dissections.
  • In the early 1800s (and surely at other times in history), executions were staged in the square.
  • Also in the 1800s, there were spring and autumn village fairs in the square. The spring fairs were small and quiet, but the autumn fairs regularly degenerated into brawls and scuffles, and they were prohibited by authorities in 1876.
  • The Nieuwmarkt was within Amsterdam's Jewish district. During World War II, the square was used by the Nazis as a collection point for Jews who were to be sent to concentration camps.
  • In the 1970s, many historic buildings near the square were torn down to make way for a planned train station and highway, which were to run right through the Nieuwmarkt neighborhood. In 1975, however, there was rioting over this proposal, forcing the abandonment of the highway. The train station was eventually built, though.
  • The square has had its current appearance since about 1990, when cars were banned from parking there. Nieuwmarkt and the Waag are now aimed more at tourists and filled with cafés and markets.4

Here are some public-domain images of Nieuwmarkt and the Waag over the years:

From 1902:

A close-up of the Waag from today's postcard:

Side view from 2007:

Front view from 2007:

1. The building houses the oldest plaque in Amsterdam, which states: "On 28 April 1488 the first stone of this gate was laid." The gate, part of the walls that surrounded Amsterdam at the time, was called the Sint Anthoniespoort. For more, check out this 2009 entry on the Tales of a Technogypsie blog.
2. Primary sources are the Wikipedia pages for weigh house and Nieuwmarkt, and the Yahoo! translation of the Dutch Wikipedia page for Nieuwmarkt.
3. Another fascinating note from Wikipedia: "Between 1550 and about 1690, people accused of witchcraft were at times brought to a weigh house in order to be subjected to a 'witch test'. If a person was found to be lighter than a set weight, he or she was deemed guilty."
4. There is also apparently a market for antiques and books on summer Sundays!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Potluck Friday: Harlequins, a hotel and a summer sweepstakes

Can you dig it? Let's travel back in time to the 1970s for a quick assortment of books and ephemera.

Scenes from the Palmer House of Chicago

Here are some totally tubular snaps from a 1979 brochure for the Palmer House of Chicago. You know you're jealous of the outfits and the interior decorating.

1977 Summer Sweepstakes

Here's a big-money raffle ticket offered in the summer of 1977 to help raise money for the former Corpus Christi Abbey in Sandia, Texas. The Benedictine abbey eventually changed hands in 2005, when it was purchased by the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States and became St. Mary & St. Moses Abbey. No word on whether they still have raffles.

A trio of Harlequin romances

Does anyone want a bunch of paperback romances from the 1970s? Please let me know, because I have a bunch. It seems that doctor-nurse story lines were popular during this time, as evidenced by these covers:

From the back cover blurb: "Mary McEwan was the quiet one and unlike Marty, her twin sister, she wasn't supposed to have adventures. But Doctor John Smith's attentions brought her out of her shell. Her heart rebelled when she believed that the doctor regarded her only as an entity in his special research on twins. She was through with being a guinea pig!"

Here's the cover of "The Hand of Fate" -- not to be confused with "Manos: The Hands of Fate."

This is a romance?!? The way Doctor Mark Rylie is putting those gloves on makes this look more like a Thomas Harris novel.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Top of an old box of Tiddledy Winks

This piece of cardboard was once part of the box for a very old Parker Brothers version of Tiddledy Winks.1 I must say that adding faces, legs and arms to the winks makes them a bit creepy.

A lot creepy, actually.

We call the game tiddlywinks now. But it was patented as Tiddledy-Winks in 1889 by Joseph Assheton Fincher and was a popular adult parlour game in Victorian England.

Here are some more tidbits about the game from the frighteningly comprehensive Wikipedia page and the website of The North American Tiddlywinks Association:

  • The modern and "serious" version of tiddlywinks was the brainchild of some University of Cambridge undergraduates in January 1955. By the 1960s, at least three dozen universities in Britain had official clubs.
  • Over here in the States, Severin Drix of Cornell and Ferd Wulkan of MIT helped to popularize the game on college campuses in 1965.2
  • In "serious" tiddlywinks, many competitors custom-make their own squidger -- the disc used to shoot a wink. Top players might take up to twenty different squidgers -- made of plastic, glass, rubber, cork, or even onyx -- to an event.
  • Songs written by the North American Tiddlywinks Association Song Committee include "You'll Never Squop Alone," "Song For Old Winkers," and "Home on the Mat."
  • In the latest Tiddlywinks World Ratings, the top five players are Larry Kahn, Matt Fayers, Patrick Barrie, Matthew Rose and Dave Lockwood.

1. The cardboard measures 12¼ inches wide by 7 inches deep. I couldn't quite fit the entire piece on my scanner; a little bit is shaved off the right side. Here's what the entire box looked like.
2. Severin and Ferd are, indeed, real people and not characters in the Harry Potter series.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Illustrations of Pennsylvania's orphanages, circa 1880

Above: Soldiers' Orphan Institute. Twenty-Third and Parrish Streets, Philadelphia

I have a battered and soiled hardcover copy of Pennsylvania's "Annual Report of the Superintendent of Soldiers' Orphans, for the Year 1880."1 The binding is detached from the spine, there is some water damage, many of the pages are loose and, most significantly, there are a number of missing pages.

The book has illustrations of many of the state's orphanages.2 Unfortunately, every single illustration has been defaced -- who knows how many decades ago -- with a fuchsia-colored crayon or colored pencil. The coloring ruins the fine detail of the illustrations (and also gives them a slightly eerie quality).

I am sharing a half-dozen of those illustrations in today's entry, because I think they're still historically important and interesting, even in their damaged state. I'm not sure if any of these school buildings still exist.

Above: Bridgewater School (Colored) in Bucks County

Above: Mount Joy School in Lancaster County

Above: St. Paul's Orphan Home in Butler

Above: McAlisterville School in Juniata County

Above: Mansfield School in Tioga County

The intact portions of the book contain some good nuggets of history on Pennsylvania's schools for soldiers' orphans. Here's an excerpt from the report's section on "Where the Children Come From":
"Pennsylvania furnished four hundred thousand men in the war for the supression of the rebellion. Of these probably fifty thousand were either killed or died in service. They left large numbers of orphan children in destitute circumstances. It was for the care of such children that the orphan school system was established, and, during the earlier years of its history, no others were admitted into the schools. Persons who have not kept themselves informed respecting the changes made by the Legislature in the laws governing the system, not unfrequently ask where the children come from who now fill the schools fifteen years after the close of the war. ... But in addition to the fifty thousand soldiers who lost their lives during the war, at least one hundred thousand came home disabled, sick, or with the seeds of disease deeply rooted in their systems. Many of them from the first, broken and crippled, could not earn a livelihood for their families, and others, a little more fortunate, were able to work for some years, but finally succumbed to wounds which broke out afresh, or were laid up with disease which advancing years left them less strength to resist. ... In many cases they are the fathers of children -- children worse off oftentimes than those whose fathers were killed in battle, and having an equal claim upon the bounty of the State."
There is plenty more in the way of history and statistics from these orphan schools in 1880 -- including that year's list of 16-year-olds who were successfully discharged from the school system and went on to productive lives -- that I could cover in a future post.

1. The superintendent was J.P. Wickersham.
2. Sadly, one of the illustrations that has gone missing is the frontispiece, which featured the Children's Home in York. For more on the history of York's post-Civil War orphanage, see this December 2009 entry from Jim McClure's blog, "York Town Square."

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

1973 Spartanburg Phillies program

When I moved to Spartanburg, South Carolina, in 1997 to work on Sports Editor Jim Fair's staff at the Spartanburg Herald-Journal, I just missed, by a few years, the opportunity to see Philadelphia Phillies minor-league baseball on a daily basis.

The Phillies' Class A affiliate had two long stints in at Duncan Park Stadium in Spartanburg -- from 1964 to 1980 and again from 1986 to 1994. Notable future major leaguers who played in Spartanburg included Larry Bowa, Scott Rolen, Juan Samuel, Ryne Sandberg, Lonnie Smith, Manny Trillo1, Kevin Stocker and Willie Hernandez.

So while I didn't have an opportunity to see any Spartanburg Phillies games during my time in The Palmetto State, I did get to see the old stadium2 and pick up some Spartanburg Phillies memorabilia, such as the 1973 souvenir program pictured here.

The 30-page program has a message from Spartanburg mayor Robert L. Stoddard, a photo of the Spartanburg Phillies' booster club (Hans Walker, president), baseball tips, a full-page photo of Philadelphia pitcher Steve Carlton, and advertisements for Spartanburg-area businesses such as Community Cash, Sugar 'n Spice, Jimmy's Restaurant, Wakefield Buick, The Steeple Drive-In, Wade's Restaurant, and the Regency Health Spa in the K-Mart Shopping Center (which touts its "Inhalation Room" and "Yogi Relaxation Room").

The manager of the Spartanburg Phillies in 1973 was Howie Bedell, who coincidentally also has a strong connection to baseball history here in York, Pennsylvania.

Bedell was a member of the York White Roses in 1964, 1965 and 1966. In 1994, then York Mayor Charlie Robertson controversially hired Bedell as a consultant (for $100 per hour, it was later learned) to help spearhead the effort to bring baseball back to York.

Years later, Bedell argued that he had played a role in the 2006 deal to bring the Atlantic League's York Revolution to the city, and that he was owed a previously-agreed-upon fee for his efforts.

The souvenir program also has its typed and photocopied roster insert intact. It's for the July 9, 1973, game between the Spartanburg Phillies and the Anderson Tigers. The sheet has this interesting note on the bottom:
"There are a few seats left on the charter bus trip to Atlanta on Sunday July 22nd to see the Big Phillies play the Braves. Henry Aaaron [sic] needs only 18 more hr's to break the Babe's record. It's on first pay basis so sign up in our business office."
Hank Aaron would, of course, go on to surpass Babe Ruth's home-run total on April 8, 1974.

1. I learned something writing this entry. I hadn't known that Manny Trillo was originally signed by the Philadelphia Phillies (as a catcher!) in 1968 and thus played for the Spartanburg Phillies in 1969. Later that year, the Oakland A's selected Trillo away from the Phillies in the Rule 5 draft.
2. I also lost a ton of enjoyable tennis matches to good folks like Mike McCombs, Richard Coco, Chris Winston, Ken Bradley and Chris Horeth at the Duncan Park courts.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The books and papers of
Elbert Nostrand Carvel, Part 1

Joan and I occasionally purchase large lots of used books. Some of them are from people who were selling books online and gave up. Some of them are from brick-and-mortar booksellers who were pruning inventory. Eventually, all of the books here in the Otto warehouse tend to blend together.

At some point along the way, we came into possession of a small portion of the former library of Elbert Nostrand Carvel (right)1, who served two terms as the governor of Delaware (January 1949-January 1953 and January 1961-January 1965).

The books offer some glimpses into Carvel's formative college days in the late 1920s and early 1930s and his political career, which took place during the early decades of the Cold War.

Carvel was a towering six-feet, six-inches tall and was nicknamed "Big Bert." According to his Wikipedia biography and a detailed obituary written by Celia Cohen in 2005, Carvel was a liberal Democrat in the vein of John F. Kennedy, Adlai Stevenson and Lyndon Johnson. Cohen writes:
"In the 1960s he opposed the death penalty and favored a public accommodations law, civil rights era legislation that opened public places like restaurants and hotels to all, including African-Americans. He paid for it politically and personally."
Carvel also helped to create the Delaware Supreme Court in 1951 (it had been the last state without such a court) and oversaw the construction of the first span of the Delaware Memorial Bridge.

But before his two stints as governor and those civil-rights battles, Carvel was just another student, earning a law degree as a member of the Class of 1931 at the University of Baltimore. I have four of his law textbooks from this period. He had written his name on the first page of all of them and, in one instance, his address: 3106 Glenmore Avenue in Baltimore.2

The four Carvel textbooks I have are:
  • "Handbook of Equity Jurisprudence" by James W. Eaton (1923 second edition by Archibald H. Throckmorton)
  • "Handbook of the Law and Practice in Bankruptcy" by Henry Campbell Black (1930 second edition by editorial staff of the publisher)
  • "Handbook of the Law of Municipal Corporations" by Roger W. Cooley (1914)
  • "Handbook of the Conflict of Laws" by Herbert F. Goodrich (1927)

All of the books are part of the Hornbook Series published by West Publishing Co. of St. Paul, Minnesota.

But here's the coolest part: I found this sheet of paper tucked away inside one of Carvel's law textbooks...

It's a survey from the University of Baltimore's student yearbook, The Reporter. The 1931 Reporter wants to know "what the average Baltimorean likes."

Carvel signed his name at the top (which is the signature at the top of today's post) and provided the following answers:

  • Do you adhere to a religion, are you agnostic, or are you atheistic? Adhere to a religion
  • Favorite professor: Mr. Malloy
  • Most valuable course: Contracts
  • Favorite course: Conflict of Laws
  • Favorite author: S.S. Van Dine
  • Best book of the year: The Scarab Murder Case
  • What age do you think proper for marriage? Twenty five (25)
  • Best speaker: Frederick Storm
  • Best all around man: Randolph
  • Done the most for Baltimore: Arthur Price
  • Done Baltimore the most: Meyerberg
  • Best politician: Bryan
  • Most popular: Smitty
  • Most dignified: W.B. Brooks
  • Highest undergraduate honor: Fred Storm
  • Best natured: Ham Killen
  • Most likely to succeed: Fred Storm
  • Biggest Roué3: B. McCeney
  • Would like to be: Tom Roche
  • Has most drag with Profs: Dickerson
  • Needs it most: Ziegler
  • Handsomest: Chillie Clough
  • Thinks she is4: Miss Winegar
  • Best dressed: Tom Roche
  • Our Favorite Telephone Number: Calvert 6060
  • Is "She" blonde, brunette or red headed: Brunette

But here's a question: If I found this survey tucked away inside one of Carvel's textbooks, does that mean he never turned it in?

Sometime in the next few weeks I'll write Part 2 about the Carvel books and papers. We'll fast-forward 20 years, to his first term as Delaware's governor and a 1951 special session of the state senate to deal with matters relating to the Delaware Memorial Bridge. And then, from 1967, a look at Delaware's emergency procedures to deal with a nuclear attack on the United States.

Part 2: How would Delaware respond to a nuclear attack?

1. That image is from the State of Delaware's Hall of Governors online portrait gallery. When I finished writing this entry on July 17, Carvel's middle name was misspelled as "Nortrand" on that website.
2. According to Zillow, that address is now the site of a residential home in the Baltimore City School District that was built in 1975 and is currently valued at $148,300.
3. A Roué is a "debauched or lecherous person," although I wonder if The Reporter was using a more playful (and less damning) sense of the word.
4. The Reporter's original question was "Thinks he is." Carvel added an "s" in front of the "he" so that his answer could be about a woman. Hmmm.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Two advertisements from March 1948 issue of Coronet

I picked up a few old issues of Coronet magazine recently at the annual Book Nook Bonanza.1 Coronet was digest-sized magazine that ran for 299 issues, spanning October 1936 to March 1971.2

The March 1948 issue is notable because there's an announcement on the first page indicating that this was the first issue that would include advertising:
"To insure our readers an ever-better magazine, Coronet with this issue opens its pages to a limited number of representative advertisers. In the face of rising paper and printing costs, this step was necessary to maintain Coronet's high editorial quality without increasing the price3 of the magazine to subscribers and newstand buyers."
This issue's articles include:
  • "In Memoriam to an Unknown Little Girl" by John Cleary
  • "Raw Water Can Kill You!" by J.D. Ratcliff
  • "Who Wears the Pants in Your Family?" by Marynia F. Farnham, M.D.
  • "Who Remembers Lotta Crabtree?" by Jack Hamilton
  • "Amos & Andy: Two Angels in Blackface" by George Frazier
  • "J. Edgar Hoover: America's Master of the Hunt" by Bill Davidson
  • "Ever Eat at Krebs?" by Lloyd Mann4
Here are two of those first advertisements to appear in the pages of Coronet. The back cover of the magazine features this advertisement for Nescafé:

I like that the advertisement has its own footnote:
"Nescafé (pronounced NES-CAFAY) is the exclusive registered trade-mark of Nestle's Milk Products, Inc. to designate its soluble coffee product. It is composed of equal parts of pure soluble coffee and added carbohydrates (dextrins, maltose and dextrose) added solely to protect the flavor."
Meanwhile, the inside back cover of Coronet features a color advertisement for the Kelvinator refrigerator (which probably would have cost between $200 and $250):

1. I mentioned another find from the Book Nook Bonanza in this Peter Falk post.
2. Coronet had a sister company called Coronet Films, which produced educational films. Some of those films are now available in the public domain, some have been gathered for recent DVD collections and some have been the subject of gentle ribbing on "Mystery Science Theater 3000." Coronet Films titles include:
  • Appreciating Your Parents (1950)
  • Are You a Good Citizen? (1949)
  • Are You Popular? (1947)
  • Beginning to Date (1953)
  • Better Use of Leisure Time (1950)
  • Communism (1952)
  • Facing Reality (1954)
  • How Billy Keeps Clean (1951)
  • I Want to Be a Secretary (1941)
  • Improve Your Personality (1951)
  • Joan Avoids a Cold (1947)
  • Self-Conscious Guy (1951)
3. Coronet's cost was 25 cents per issue.
4. Here's the opening paragraph of that article: "If you have $3.50 left in the world and wish to commit suicide as pleasantly as possible, try eating yourself to death at 'Krebs-1899' restaurant in Skaneateles, New York. It will cost you just that - no more, no less."