Saturday, September 17, 2011

Why don't I ever stumble across Nicolas Cage vampire ephemera?

Of all the ephemera in Otto warehouse, I don't think there's a single piece that's as unusual as the old photo that someone in Seattle came across recently.

A collector/dealer who says that his main interest is "Victorian Era postmortem photography"1 purchased an album that contained numerous Civil War era death portraits.

Toward the back of the album, he came across a startling carte de visite. While all of the other photos in the album -- images of both the living and the dead -- were identified by name, this one had no identification at all.

But it sure as heckfire looked like someone.

Hey, that's Nicolas Cage!

The discovery is pictured at right. (The Thanatos Archive watermark has been placed there by the owner and is not on the actual photo.)

The collector dates the image to the 1860s or 1870s and says the man lived in the Bristol, Tennessee, area.

And he has a theory.

Maybe it truly is Nicolas Cage.

The photo was posted for sale for one million dollars2 on eBay with the product title: "Nicolas Cage is a Vampire / Photo from 1870 / Tennessee".3

Here's the collector's reasoning on how Cage -- the star of such films as "Raising Arizona," "Moonstruck," "The Rock," "Con Air," "Face/Off," and "Adaptation"4 -- is actually a blood-sucking immortal:
Personally, I believe it's him and that he is some sort of walking undead / vampire, et cetera, who quickens / reinvents himself once every 75 years or so. 150 years from now, he might be a politician, the leader of a cult, or a talk show host.
So, there you have it.

The seller, at least, makes a wise decision in the Q&A section of his eBay product listing:
Q: Do I get a discount if I AM Nicolas Cage??
A: Of course. You get a 25% discount for being Nicolas Cage, and another 25% for not exsanguinating me.
That's especially wise because, if you are a fan of Cage's acting, you might sometimes wonder how much he's acting and how much he's simply letting his eccentric personality shine through on the silver screen.

A (very R-rated) YouTube video, titled "Nicolas Cage Losing His (Bleep)," is a delightful and profane montage of Cage's many movie meltdowns. It makes you think he might be just the kind of guy who would buy an unlabeled carte de visite from 1870 that features the image of someone who looks just like him.

Which is why I'm bummed I didn't come across it first.

1. Sure.
2. Shipping, however, is a very reasonable $2.75. So you'd be looking at a total bill of $1,000,002.75.
3. Warning: That link will probably disappear soon, after the photo is no longer for sale on eBay.
4. I have a lot of favorite Nicolas Cage films, but my very favorite is probably "It Could Happen to You." Which is kind of odd for me, because I'm not really a romantic comedy kind of guy.

Frontispiece from "Told Under the Green Umbrella"

I love this frontispiece from the 1949 hardcover "Told Under the Green Umbrella." The illustration's caption states:
"He holds a green umbrella over the good children, and then they dream the most delightful stories all night long. -- Olé Luköié"
The book is subtitled "Old Stories for New Children," as selected by the Literature Committee of the International Kindergarten Union.1 The pictures, and presumably the colorful frontispiece, are by Grace Gilkison.

The first tale in the book is titled "Olé Luköié, The Dustman."2 It begins:
"There is nobody in all the world who can tell so many stories as Olé Luköié! And such stories as he can tell!

"When night is drawing on, and the children are sitting round the table as good as possible or on their little footstools, in walks Olé Shut-eyes. He comes so quietly up the stairs without his shoes, and opens the door so softly that nobody hears him; and, puff! he sends a shower of milk into their eyes in such a fine spray as to be invisible; but they can't keep their eyes open after it, and so they never see him. He steals behind them and breathes upon their necks, making their heads as heavy as lead. But he never hurts them; he does it all from kindness to the children. He only wants them to be quiet, and the best way to make them quiet is to have them in bed; when they are settled there, he can tell them his stories."
The tale further describes Olé's green umbrella, which is covered with pictures that are held over the good children, so that they "dream the most delightful stories all night long."

According to Wikipedia, "'Ole Lukøje' is a literary fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen based upon a folk tale telling of a mysterious mythic creature of the Sandman, who gently takes children to sleep and, depending on how good or bad they were, shows them various dreams."

His name is composed of two parts: Olé being a common Danish boy's name and Lukøje meaning eye-closer in Danish.

Sounds like Olé Luköié -- or Ole Lukøje -- would make a good companion to Story Gnome!

1. "Literature Committee of the International Kindergarten Union." Wow, it's like getting your fairy tales via Samuel Gompers.
2. Other stories in the book include The Three Little Pigs, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, Scrapefoot (an earlier version of Goldilocks), and The Elves and the Shoemaker.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Photo gallery: Signs at the York Fair

Today's post is a sampling of the wonderful variety of signs at the York Fair, our annual (not-quite) fall festival here in southcentral Pennsylvania. Read more about the fair on the All's Fair blog.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Miscellaneous: Mine Spring School,
a radiation record and making gold

Here are a trio of quick-hit pieces of ephemera for your enjoyment today...

A teacher from Mine Spring School

I came across a 1927 edition of "Hamilton's Essentials of Arithmetic, First Book" that has the name of the former owner carefully inscribed on the first page:

Mr. Ralph Lee Combs
Mine Spring School
G.G.D. Teacher. Needmore, W.Va.

I can't find much about either Mr. Combs or Mine Spring School (which is long gone), so we can chalk them both up as mysteries for now...

Personal radiation exposure record

This (thankfully) unused card from the New York State Electric & Gas Corporation in the 1960s was intended for the recording of an individual's exposure to unshielded radiation.

The whole idea of "permissible radiation dose under emergency conditions" is a bit sobering, of course.

Atom-Smashers and gold

Here's the third and final science story that caught my eye in the October 1935 issues of the St. Paul (Minn.) Dispatch. (Story #1 is here and Story #2 is here.)

This story tells of atom-smashers, the possibility of "making" gold, alchemy, sub-atomic particles and artificial radioactivity.

Fun stuff! But if they messed around too much, they probably ended up needing a personal radiation exposure record...

Sunday, September 11, 2011

"the spirit of hope, courage and freedom..."

This is the front of a photo card that was issued (probably in 1983) to help raise public support for the renovation of the Statue of Liberty.

The back of the card reads: "To me, this picture captures perfectly the spirit of hope, courage and freedom that our Statue represents. I'm sure you agree that it would be tragic if we allowed this majestic symbol to deteriorate."

Underneath those words is the facsimile signature of Lee Iacocca (then the president, CEO and chairman of Chrysler).

The photo is by Peter B. Kaplan, a longtime photographer who documented the Statue of Liberty's renovation.

See The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey's website for the latest update on the progress of One World Trade Center.

My column on the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 for the York Daily Record/Sunday News.