Sunday, December 30, 2012

From the readers: Christmas 2012

Christmas begins: Peter Pan recipe for peanut butter cookies: Wendyvee of Wendyvee's writes: "Wow, I would have guessed earlier [than 1988] on the switch to plastic [peanut butter] jars! Mr. Scrooge is such a creeper. We may have to launch a Scrooge meme."

And Justin Mann of Justin's Brew Review, who can't leave this topic alone, adds: "I still think the 1 egg + 1 cup of sugar + 1 cup of PB recipe trumps all. However, I will eat any PB cookie you put in front of me. I love peanut butter!"

* * *

Very old Christmas card (and more) inside 1890's "Triumphant Songs": Jayne B. Lyons writes: "Great score, Chris! I enjoyed reading about the extra 'goodies' found inside the book, along with the history of the book and ephemera!"

* * *

Kids Say the Darndest Things, Holiday Edition: Wendyvee writes: "I can't get past a boy named Elfis ... I'm dying here!"

And Susan Jennings, who authors the My Inside Voices blog, writes: "I love the kid who stuck with the tried and true 'once upon a time' and then killed off the reindeer. Fantastic."

* * *

1960s Russian С Новым годом postcard ("Happy New Year!"): I asked readers if they could translate the Russian word written in cursive on the red ornament on this postcard. I received two helpful, greatly appreciated and anonymous replies:
  • Поздравляем kind of means "we wish you all the best". I have a different question: what role does the rabbit play in stories about Ded Moroz? In Russia, you can buy chocolate rabbits for New Year's, that are sold in Europe for Easter.
  • The two phrases go together: поздравляем с новым годом! поздравлять means "congratulate".

Ded Moroz (Дед Мороз) is, per Wikipedia, a folklore character who plays a role similar to that of Santa Claus in some Slavic cultures. His name translates to Old Man Frost or Father Frost.

I haven't yet found any specific connections between Ded Moroz and rabbits. Just this one small item of interest: In the 1978 animated film Дед Мороз и серый волк (roughly, "Santa and the Gray Wolf"), rabbits figure into the tale. Here is that film's plot, according to the Voices from Russia blog:
"Ded Moroz prepares New Year’s gifts for the young forest animals. A grey wolf and raven come up with a plan to kidnap the rabbits. The action centres on the kidnapping of the rabbit children … but have no fear; the plot has the obligatory [Soviet] happy ending. Everyone celebrates the New Year and all the young forest animals get their presents."
* * *

Christmas-themed cover of the December 1979 issue of Cricket: Janelle Neithammer Downey writes: "I bought a subscription to Cricket for my daughter when she was in elementary school. She loved it!"

And Wendyvee adds: "I remember Cricket! Our family doctor always had it in his waiting room."

* * *

Festive Christmas matchbook from D.F. Stauffer Biscuit Co.: Sean Kelly writes: "Let me know if you would like a walk down memory lane about the D.F. Stauffer Biscuit Co. I have quite a collection dating back to nearly the founding days when my great, great, great grandfather started the company downtown [in York] on George Street, where the McDonald's stands today. There is also a similar matchbook from that period, too. I believe that they were made in the mid to late 30's, but could have been into the early 40's. Unfortunately, my great grandfather would have known for sure, but he passed away in 2005, just short of his 104th birthday."

And there was also a fun discussion about this matchbook on the Preserving York Facebook group. Some highlights:
  • Blake Stough: D.F. Stauffer Biscuit Company has a trademark on "NIF=TY" dated May 19, 1923, not that it's much help. I notice the original word/phrase uses an equal sign instead of a hyphen. I have no idea if that's significant, but if that was changed over the years, it may help determine a date for this piece.
  • Jaclyn Helzer Sallade: Think these matches were popular among local businesses. Have one from another place I will post. I found it among family items and always guessed it was from the 30's or 40's. Will post soon. Have seen the Stauffer logo before, maybe on a tin.
  • JoAnne Everhart: I can remember seeing the NIF=TY logo in the late 1950's. I used to go into a corner grocery near the McKinley Elementary School and they had big boxes of bulk cookies with glass lids. On the front of those boxes it said NIF=TY.

* * *

A merry Christmastide to you, Marguerite E. DeWitt: My wonderful wife Joan writes: "This is one of the most beautiful Christmas tributes I've read this year, or in fact any year. Thank you for always caring about the little things, the postcards and the small gestures that other people would miss. I love you, husband!"

And Wendyvee adds: "This is such a sweet post. Thank you for all of the cool stuff, the great examples of graphic design, the head-scratchers, and for going the extra mile of researching the wonderful things you find."

As I've said many times, I never know where I'm going to end up when I start researching something for a post. As I discovered a little bit about the life of Marguerite E. DeWitt and started putting it all together, I realized that it had become one of my favorite posts of 2012, quite unexpectedly. And that's one of the big reasons I spend so much time on this hobby. You never know what story you're going to uncover. (Almost) no one else is tracking these things down.

Thanks to all of you for your comments and participation this month! I think it was another very enjoyable collection of Christmas-themed ephemera. And I never even got to Krampus. He'll have to wait until December 2013!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Saturday's postcard: New Year's greeting from Rastenburg, Germany

This old black-and-white postcard features a deer (hey, another deer!), a church, a fence and a snowy forest.

It has the German greeting Herzlichen Glückwunsch zum Neuen Jahre, which translates roughly to "Congratulations on the New Year."

The back of the postcard has all sorts of interesting stuff, although there is no indication of the manufacturer.

Clearly, it was intended for international use, as the word "postcard" is printed on the back in about 18 different languages.

The handwritten note reads:

Wishing you a very
happy New Year!
D.H. Lang
As to the photo I promised
to Miss Chrissie, please tell
her the frame is standing there
and waiting for my wonderful
"image" since a fortnight.

At least I think the name written in cursive is D.H. Lang. Perhaps you would interpret it as something different.

The postcard is addressed to Mr. & Mrs. Pyne (Chrissie's parents?) of Belmont, Forest Hill, London S.E.1

Forest Hill, carved out of the mostly vanished Great North Wood, is a suburb of London that saw its first significant population growth in the second half of the 19th century.

But where was it mailed from? That brings us to the most intriguing portion of the card — the stamp and postmark:

The stamp is the easy part. It is a 10-Pfennig Germania stamp, the kind of which was first issued in January 1900. Actress Anna Führing served as model for the woman on the Germania stamps, which were issued until 1922.2 After 1902, all of these stamps carried the DEUTSCHES REICH phrase featured on this stamp. Here's a link to a better image of this particular stamp.

The postmark, meanwhile, appears to have 31.12.06 in the middle. That would be standard European notation for December 31, 1906, if I'm reading the faint numbers correctly. Even more faint is the top of the postmark. But I'm fairly certain it reads RASTENBURG.

Rastenburg was formerly a town in Germany.3 After World War II and the Potsdam Conference, it became a part of Poland and was called Rastembork. In 1950, it was renamed Kętrzyn in honor of Wojciech Kętrzyński.

So, Rastenburg is no more. But 106 years ago, someone there took the time to mail a New Year's greeting to a family in London. I wonder if Chrissie ever received her photograph, and what it pictured.

1. If anyone out there in Reader Land knows the modern descendents of the Pynes of Forest Hill, get in touch with me. One of my goals for Papergreat in 2013 involves a Franciosan urge to reunite families with their lost ephemera. (And if you get that reference, there's no hope for you.)
2. The movies of Anna Führing (who is pictured at right posing as Germania) included 1915's Hausdame aus bester Familie gesucht (Housekeeper Wanted from a Good Family), 1915's Ein Held des Unterseebootes (A Hero of the Submarine), and 1928's Ossi hat die Hosen an (Ossi Wears the Trousers).
3. Two more Rastenburg facts: (1) The town was established in 1329 in the State of the Teutonic Order, which existed from 1230 to 1525. (2) Adolf Hitler's wartime military headquarters, the Wolfsschanze, was located in the forest about five miles east of Rastenburg.

Friday, December 28, 2012

A final #FridayReads of 2012 and looking ahead to 2013

Books, books, books! So much time and so few books.

Wait a minute. Strike that. Reverse it.

I wanted to get one more #FridayReads post in before we close out 2012.1 And this one will be a whirlwind, looking at what I'm presently reading and my wish list for the upcoming year. I guess I have more time to get to some of these, what with the Mayan thing not panning out.

My Christmas Gifts

My wonderful wife got me a trio of groovy books for Christmas, and they will form the cornerstone of my reading list for 2013:

  • "The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York" by Robert Caro — This 1974 biography earned a Pulitzer Prize for Caro, who has since won another Pulitzer for his multi-volume biography of Lyndon Johnson. "The Power Broker" is the tale of controversial urban planner Robert Moses, who spent a half-century wielding his power and influence to create the infrastructure of modern New York City.
  • "Portrait of an Obsession: The Life of Sir Thomas Phillipps, the World's Greatest Book Collector" adapted by Nicolas Barker from the five-volume work by A.N.L. Munby — In the 19th century, Thomas Phillipps (1792-1872) amassed the largest collection of manuscripts and books in the world. He was, perhaps, the first book and paper hoarder. This book is an abridged version of his life and describes the obsession of a man who once said: "I wish to have one copy of every book in the world."
  • "At Day's Close: Night in Times Past" by A. Roger Ekirch — A Publishers Weekly review describes this history book thusly: "Ekirch remind[s] us of how preindustrial Westerners lived during the nocturnal hours, when most were plunged into almost total darkness. ... A professor of history at Virginia Tech, Ekirch ranges across the archives of Europe and early colonial America to paint a portrait of how the forces of law and order operated at night, and he provides fascinating insight into nocturnal labor — of masons, carpenters, bakers, glassmakers and iron smelters, among many others."

My Current Reads

I've already plunged into "Portrait of an Obsession," as I take notes and come up with my own scheme to own a copy of every book and every piece of ephemera in the world.2

In addition to that, here are the other books I'm currently working on. My official #FridayReads on this day.

  • "Blue Highways" by William Least Heat Moon (a long, amazing road story that rewards slow rather than rushed readers and can be revisited at irregular intervals)
  • "The Under-People" by Eric Norman (a silly but fascinating book about some of the delusional beliefs people have held over the years)
  • "Tales to the Told in the Dark" edited by Basil Davenport (a dandy collection of spooky tales)
  • "A Book of Spooks and Spectres" by Ruth Manning-Sanders (reading these to Sarah at bedtime)
  • "The Book on the Bookshelf" by Henry Petroski (yes, it's a history of bookshelves; you have to have somewhere to put every book in the world, right?)
  • "Roger Ebert's Four-Star Reviews 1967-2007" (a constant companion for browsing, great writing and inspiration)

My Partial Reading List for 2013

This is both incomplete and overly ambitious. But everyone has to have goals, right? And, in addition to this, I have my big list of writing projects that I want to work on in 2013. (More on that Monday.) I'm sure it will be no sweat carving out the time for all this reading and writing.

  • "PrairyErth" by William Least Heat Moon (another tome from the great chronicler of America)
  • "Empire" by Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele (a biography of Howard Hughes by the Pulitzer-winning journalists)
  • "Objects of Desire" by Thatcher Freund (short read on the high-stakes world of antiques collecting)
  • "Seaside England" and "The English Circus" by Ruth Manning-Sanders (two in-depth, non-fiction works by my favorite author)
  • "The O Gauge Railroading Primer: Your Introduction to the Exciting World of O Gauge Model Railroading" (Did I mention that we have some projects? Building a model railroad with Sarah is another one that's on the 2013 list.)
  • "Historic Ghosts and Ghost Hunters" by H. Addington Bruce (this was originally published in 1909; read it for free at Project Gutenberg)
  • "The Forest in Folklore and Mythology" by Alexander Porteous (the title says it all)
  • "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet" by David Mitchell (still trying to get to this one!)
  • "The Saragossa Manuscript" by Jan Potocki (a fantasy with a publishing history as tangled as its plot)
  • "A Canticle for Leibowitz" by Water M. Miller Jr. (another fantasy/science-fiction classic)
  • "Bar the Doors" and "More Stories My Mother Never Told Me" presented by Alfred Hitchcock (two collections of short stories for dark and stormy nights)

And Some Shorter Reads...

Finally, for #FridayReads, here are some of the most interesting articles I've come across recently.

And here's one final piece from The New York Times. Dennis Lim interviewed Paul Thomas Anderson for an article titled "A Director Continues His Quest."

The article discusses all of the research material that Anderson collected and read before writing and directing "The Master":
"To prepare for 'The Master' — a story about the intense, symbiotic bond between Lancaster Dodd, a charismatic cult leader in post-World War II America (Philip Seymour Hoffman), and Freddie Quell, a tormented veteran (Joaquin Phoenix) — he tracked down as many books as he could find on the teachings of the Scientology founder, L. Ron Hubbard. They included 'Dianetics in Limbo,' a personal account by Helen O’Brien, an early follower of the movement (and the inspiration for Laura Dern’s character in the film), and Hubbard’s own 'Mission Into Time' (1973), about a sea voyage involving treasure hunts and past lives. ('He was really starting to lose his marbles by this point,' Mr. Anderson said.) He skimmed the writings of ex-Scientologists and pioneers of offshoot movements like Dianology and Dianotes, and perused several years’ worth of The Aberree, a Scientology newsletter."
For 2013, Anderson hopes to begin filming an adaptation of the Thomas Pynchon novel "Inherent Vice." For his research on making that film, Anderson has been checking out an underground comic strip called "The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers".

Pynchon's book is described by Lim as "a stoner private-eye saga."

I guess that's one more title that I'll have to go on my 2013 reading list!

1. Here are the previous #FridayReads posts on Papergreat:
2. I think Joan just regretted purchasing this book for me.

Vintage punny card: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Hello everyone! Hope you are having a wonderful holiday season.

We got a little bit of snow here in southcentral Pennsylvania on Christmas Eve and again on Wednesday. But not nearly enough to build the kind of snow fort my daughter has been wanting since I made her one in February 2010.

Today's "MADE IN U.S.A." vintage greeting card has a bit of a three-dimensional effect to it. On the front, a cheerful young deer is poking its head through a hole in a fence. (Because deer do that all the time.) The front of the card states "HEADS UP!" and "De-tails inside..."

As you open the card, the way it has been folded gives you the aforementioned 3-D effect. I imagine this is the way the card was meant to be displayed on a table or shelf.

And this is what the inside looks like when it's fully open:


Get it? It's a pun. Or maybe a palindrome? No. A palindrome of de-tail would be liated. And that's just silly.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Crīstesmæsse 2012

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Crīstesmæsse is the Old English word for Christmas.

Here is "Merry Christmas" written in the languages of the countries (other than the USA, UK and Canada) in which Papergreat has its greatest readership:

Germany: Fröhliche Weihnachten
China: 聖誕節快樂
Russia: с Рождеством
Ukraine: З Різдвом Христовим
France: Joyeux Noël
India (Hindi): मेरी क्रिसमस
Poland: Wesołych Świąt

Also, I promised my son Ashar — who provided the gorgeous vintage card for today's post in a wonderful Christmas Eve gift to me — that I'd include "Merry Christmas" in Irish.

Nollaig Shona Dhuit

Enjoy your day, folks! Papergreat will return with new posts on Friday.

Monday, December 24, 2012

A merry Christmastide to you, Marguerite E. DeWitt

In December 1958 — when Charles de Gaulle was elected president of France, the John Birch Society was founded, Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker" was shown in color on television for the first time, and the Colts beat the Giants in "The Greatest Game Ever Played" — a 59-year-old woman living in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, near Columbia University, put together her own Christmas postcard with the help of a camera and a typewriter.

Her name was Marguerite E. DeWitt. I believe she lived from 1899 to 1987.1

She was a photographer. She was a Christian. And she was alone that Christmas of 1958.

I don't know much about her beyond that. Or beyond the words and photographs she left. But we still have those, thanks to this postcard.

The front of her card features a black-and-white photograph of a snowy street scene, presumably taken from her apartment window. The caption, in her unique lettering, reads:

By M.E. DeWITT '58

Scratched onto the photo, in the bottom right corner, is a unique logo that incorporates her initials. That logo helped me to identify at least one other piece of her photography.

Here's a closer look at the wintry street scene:

Meanwhile, the back of the postcard has no stamp, postmark or mailing address. Perhaps Marguerite handed it to a friend. Perhaps she placed the postcard into an envelope and mailed it.

Perhaps it was never sent at all.

There is a typed note (with a few fixes and mis-strikes here and there) and then, upside down, a short cursive note, in pen, along the bottom.

The cursive note reads: "No '57 cards due to a shattered arm." Next to that note is the same logo that appears on the front of the card.

Here are those two logos, side by side:

Here is what the typed note on the back of the postcard states:
Alone on THE HILL Christmas '58
600 W. 116th St. Ap. 44, New York 27

Oh, what shall we do
  Throughout the long year?
And what shall we do on THE DAY?
Believe in BELIEF
-From hour to hour
No matter what doubters may say.
Believe in BELIEF
  --the innermost LAW
That can come to the heart of all.
It bravely shines through
  Darkest hours of man
And answers all sighs and each call

A blessed Christmastide
And a New Year of believing
  To you and yours
I found two other photographs by DeWitt online.

This first one is titled "Three Children in the Grass." It was taken around 1915 and is currently in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum (though not currently on display). The same logo from the postcard appears on this photograph, in the lower-right corner:2

The second photograph bearing her name is an untitled image of a steeple. It was also created around 1915. It apparently sold for about $62 in a California auction earlier this year.3 I really love this photo.

Marguerite lived nearly another three decades after creating her "Alone on THE HILL Christmas '58" postcard. I hope they weren't all spent alone, and that she had happier Christmases in subsequent years.

And I'm glad for the small opportunity to remember her — and a small part of her life's work — here on Papergreat this Christmastide. That wouldn't be possible if this hand-made postcard hadn't survived the past 54 years.

1. I believe that this Sysoon page refers to the same Marguerite E. Dewitt I'm writing about today. So, if she was born in April 1899, she would have been 59 during Christmas 1958.
2. Yes, I am aware she would have been about 16 when she took this photo, if it's truly "circa 1915". I think that could have been possible.
3. One auction site states that it sold for $62. Another states $63. I wonder who purchased it. And if he or she is displaying it somewhere. And does the purchaser knows anything about Marguerite?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas remembrances card featuring Strasbourg Cathedral

This "Christmas Remembrances" card features a piece of orange yarn and an illustration by an artist named Rosenberg of Strasbourg Cathedral in Strasbourg, France.

On the inside of the card is the following caption:
Strasbourg .. Alsace, France

Beyond the roofs on these old world houses the artist has stretched the tower of the Strasbourg Cathedral.

Here is housed the famous clock, four stories high where the hours are announced by the twelve apostles and where other sacred characters appear at certain intervals accompanied by a beautiful carillon of chimes.
And the card is signed by "Truman family" (probably not this Truman family, though).

Here are some additional images of the card, which has no other identifying information:

And here are some additional facts about Strasbourg Cathedral, courtesy of Wikipedia:
  • In French it is called Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-Strasbourg.
  • In German it is called Liebfrauenmünster zu Straßburg.
  • Its construction took from 1015 to 1439.
  • At 466 feet, it was the world's tallest building from 1647 to 1874.1 It remains the highest still-standing structure built entirely in the Middle Ages.
  • The cathedral was damaged by British and American air raids in August 1944. The last of those damages were not repaired until the early 1990s.
  • The cathedral houses an astronomical clock, which is one of the largest in the world.
There is also this interesting tidbit from Wikipedia:
"One legend says that the building rests on immense piles of oak sinking into the waters of an underground lake. A boat would roam around the lake, without anyone inside, though the noise of the oars could be heard nevertheless. According to the legend, the entry to the underground lake could be found in the cellar of a house just opposite the cathedral. It would have been walled up a few centuries ago."
1. Strasbourg Cathedral ascended to the title of the world's tallest building in 1647 when the spire of St. Mary's Church in Stralsund, Germany, was destroyed by a lightning strike.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Two Christmas-themed 19th century tales by Mrs. W.J. Hays

I haven't delved into the Project Gutenberg archives recently to present any old tales here.1 The weekend before Christmas is a good time for it!

In 1884, Harper & Brothers published "The Adventures of Prince Lazybones and Other Stories" by Mrs. W.J. Hays.

The book contains four tales, two of which have Christmas overtones.

The stories are too long to present here in their entirety. So I'll just give you a preview, and then you can go to Gutenberg for the rest, if your interest is piqued.

Mrs. W.J. Hays, whose maiden name was apparently Helen Ashe, was a children's writer whose other works included "The Princess Idleways," "A Loving Sister: A Story for Big Girls," "City Cousins: A Story for Children," "A Village Maid," and "Little Maryland Garden."

Here are excerpts from two tales within "The Adventures of Prince Lazybones and Other Stories":

Florio and Florella
(A Christmas Fairy Tale)
There was once a child named Florio, who had neither father nor mother, uncle nor aunt, and so it happened that he was adopted by a witch. He might have had a fairy godmother if anybody had remembered to ask one to the christening, but as no one took enough interest in him for that, it was neglected, and poor Florio became the property of a hideous, hateful old hag, who was never so happy as when she was making trouble. Of course Florio was compelled to do her bidding. Naturally inoffensive and gentle, he was continually obliged to do violence to his conscience by obeying the witch.

For instance, the witch — who was known by the name of Fussioldfuri, and lived in a miserable cavern when she was not travelling about — had great delight in spoiling any one's innocent amusement or upsetting his or her plans; she even started children quarrelling and disputing; indeed, she found this one of her particular pastimes when she was not engaged in annoying older people.

It was among children that she made Florio particularly useful — so useful, in fact, that he never had a friend. If she found him amusing himself with a happy little company, she made him do some selfish or ugly thing which at once put a stop to all the cheerfulness; and often, before he knew what he was about, he would be struggling and kicking and screaming and flinging himself upon one or the other of his comrades, while Fuss — as we must call her for convenience — laughed till she shook, and tears of joy ran down her ugly leathery cheeks. Then Florio, ashamed, miserable, and unhappy, would creep off to a corner and weep as if his little heart would break.

It was after one of these dreadful occurrences one day that Florio, hiding in the woods, heard a strange rustling among the bushes. He was so used to wandering about after old Fuss, and living anyhow and anywhere, that he was more like a little creature of the woods himself than anything else, and it took a good deal to frighten him. Patter, patter, patter it went. What could it be? He peered in and out and under the bush, but he saw nothing except a nest full of little blue eggs, which he would not touch for the world; no, he knew too well how pleased old Fuss would be to have him disturb this little bird family, and he concealed it again. As he did so, the sweetest little voice said,

"That's right."

Florio jumped as if a wasp had stung him.

Read the rest of the tale and discover what it has to do with Christmas here.

* * *

Boreas Bluster's
Christmas Present

It had been a hard, cold, cruel winter, and one that just suited old Frozen Nose, the Storm King, whose palace of ice was on the north shore of the Polar Sea. He had ordered Rain, Hail, and Snow, his slaves, to accompany Lord Boreas Bluster on an invasion of the temperate zone, and when they had done his bidding he harnessed up his four-in-hand team of polar bears and went as far south as he dared, just to see how well they had obeyed him. How he roared with laughter when he found nearly all vegetation killed, and the earth wrapped in a white mantle as thick as his own bear-skins piled six feet deep! There was no nonsense about that sort of work.

"Catch any pert, saucy little flowers sticking up their heads through such a blanket!" said Frozen Nose to himself. "No, no; I've fixed 'em for a few years, anyhow. They're dead as door-nails, and Spring with all her airs and graces will never bring them to life again. Ugh! how I hate 'em and all sweet smells! Wish I might never have anything but whale-oil on my hair and handkerchiefs for the rest of my life!"

"There's no fear but what you will, and stale at that," said the ugliest of his children, young Chilblain, giving his father's big toe a tweak as he passed, and grinning when he heard Frozen Nose grumble out,

"There's the gout again, I do believe!"

But Boreas Bluster, coming in just then, saw what was going on, and gave Chilblain a whack that sent him spinning out of the room.

Read the full story of Lord Boreas Bluster and Frozen Nose here.

Finally, here is the intriguing frontispiece from "The Adventures of Prince Lazybones and Other Stories":

1. Over the summer, I offered up three short, public-domain folk tales from Project Gutenberg. These are great for winter nights, too:

Saturday's postcard: Christmas card from Raphael Tuck & Sons

Here's another card produced by England's Raphael Tuck & Sons, coming on the heels of the small Christmas card that was tucked away inside the "Triumphant Songs" book we examined earlier this week.

This appears to be a postcard, although it was never used as such and the reverse side does not contain any indication of where to place a stamp, address or message.1 More on the back in a moment.

Printed along the bottom of the card's front are "RAPHAEL TUCK & SONS" and "X SERIES 300".

The verse on the card is the final stanza of John Greenleaf Whittier's poem "Our Master":

The heart must ring Thy Christmas bells,
Thy inward altars raise;
Its faith and hope Thy canticles,
And its obedience praise!

That's followed by the phrase "A Happy New Year." It's probably not the specific sentiment Whittier had in mind when he penned his Quaker poem, which calls for simple religious services lacking in structure, ritual, incense and bells.

Meanwhile, the back of the card contains a name, a date and large logo for Raphael Tuck & Sons. First, here is what's scrawled across the top:

Two mysteries here: 1. What is Rosella's last name? 2. What year is written after December 23?

Regarding the last name, I might have guessed Kane, but that "n" is looking more like an "r." I guess the full range of possibilities would have to include Kane, Kare, Kave, Hane, Hare, and Have. Am I missing anything?

The date, at first glance, looks like 1806. But that wouldn't make a lot of sense, unless it refers to something like Rosella's birth date. My wife's educated guess is that it's 1886, and the writer just got a little sloppy with the second 8. (Also, we know for a fact that Raphael Tuck & Sons launched its business in 1866.)

Finally, here's the wonderfully detailed Raphael Tuck & Sons logo that appears on the back of the card:

There are clear similarities to the logo that appeared on the back of the Christmas card I featured earlier this week. Here they are, side by side:

1. The Chicago Postcard Museum's website has an informative page titled "How old is your postcard?"

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas-themed cover of the December 1979 issue of Cricket

This festive illustration by Carl Larsson (1853-1919), titled "Christmas Eve at Sundborn," serves as the cover for the December 1979 issue of Cricket.1

Cricket, a smart and literary children's magazine that was launched in 1973 and aims to be "The New Yorker for children," describes the Swedish artist's life and times — and his amazing residence — within the issue. An excerpt:
"[W]ith the help of his wife, Karin, he transformed a two-room country cottage into one of Sweden's most unique and beloved homes. 'Little Hyttnäs,' as their house was called, was given to the Larssons by Karin's father in 1889. The cottage was small and dark, as were many houses at the turn of the century, so Carl and Karin set about to brighten and enlarge their home. Carl painted the walls — along with the doors , cabinets and sections of the ceiling — with flowers, folk designs and portraits of Karin and their children. ...

"The Larsson home grew in intervals, with the help of local craftsmen and carpenters. Room after room was built onto the original cottage, so that in time the house seemed to wander across the yard. But it never seemed 'big,' because the rooms were always small, simple, and cozy and were attached at odd angles, with doors and stairways in the most unexpected places.

"Every nook and cranny was different — shelves of richly-illustrated books were built into the walls, flowers and ivy adorned tables and window sills, and colored panes of glass were set in the windows to soften the bright summer sun. Walls and trim work were splashed with color — green, rose, and sunny yellow.

"For over twenty years, 'Little Hyttnäs' grew and changed with the Larsson family (Carl and Karin had seven children), and today it is considered one of the most unusual and striking examples of the beauty of a hand-crafted home."

What a wonderful home! For more information on Little Hyttnäs, which is located in the village of Sundborn in central Sweden, check out these links:

1. The contents of this issue include:
  • "Has Winter Come?" by Wendy Watson
  • "The Clown of God" by Tomie de Paola
  • "All Those Mothers at the Manger" by Norma Farber
  • "Zlateh the Goat" by Isaac Bashevis Singer
  • "Christmas Treats from Sweden" by Ulf Löfgren
  • "A Family" by Lennart Rudström (the article about the Larsson family)
  • "Banana Twist" by Florence Parry Heide
  • "Bells, Bells, Bells" by Bernadine Bailey

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Betty Crocker shares her steamed holiday pudding recipe

Anyone planning to have a lovely steamed holiday pudding this month?

Here is the recipe from the 1971 edition of The Betty Crocker Recipe Card Library published by General Mills.1

  • 1 cup Gold Medal flour*
  • 1 teaspoon soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¾ teaspoon mace
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1½ cups cut-up raisins
  • 2 cups currants
  • ¾ cup finely cut-up citron
  • ⅓ cup each cut-up candied orange and candied lemon peel
  • ½ cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 1½ cups soft bread crumbs
  • 2 cups ground suet (½ pound)
  • 1 cup brown sugar (packed)
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • ⅓ cup currant jelly
  • ¼ cup fruit juice
*Note: If using self-rising flour, decrease soda to ½ teaspoon.

Grease well 2-quart ring mold or turk's head mold. Measure flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, mace and nutmeg into large bowl. Stir in fruits, nuts and bread crumbs. Mix suet, brown sugar, eggs, jelly and fruit juice; stir into flour mixture. Pour into mold; cover with aluminum foil.

Place rack in Dutch oven and pour boiling water into pan up to level of rack. Place mold on rack; cover Dutch oven. Keep water boiling over low heat to steam pudding 4 hours or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. (If necessary to add water during steaming, lift lid and quickly add boiling water.)

Unmold; cut into slices and serve warm with your favorite hard sauce. 16 servings.

1. Here are the other Papergreat posts featuring the The Betty Crocker Recipe Card Library:

Old-style illustration of a boy carrying a Christmas tree

This is just a holiday illustration I wanted to share this afternoon.

It's from a category I made up called "Loose Leaf Ephemera." It's the front cover of a Christmas card that was cut off and separated. The reverse side is blank. So I have zero identifying information.

For all I know, it's a "vintage reprint" card from the 1980s or 1990s. Even so, it's still a neat illustration.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Festive Christmas matchbook from D.F. Stauffer Biscuit Co.

I never thought I'd call a matchbook a piece of art. But this one is.

This beautiful Merry Christmas/Happy New Year matchbook was produced by the D.F. Stauffer Biscuit Co. right here in York, Pennsylvania.

When closed, it measures 3⅜ inches by 4¼ inches. The matchbook is promoting Stauffer's Nifty-brand cookies, crackers and pretzels.

There is no year listed anywhere on it.

(If anyone has any idea what year this was produced, or any other information about it, I'd love to hear from you in the comments section.)

Stauffer’s Biscuit Company (official website, Facebook page), which claims to be "the original animal cracker company", originated in York in 1871. In 2004, it became a fully owned division of Meiji Co. Ltd. of Japan.

According to Stauffer's history page:

"Each day Stauffer’s produces more than 250 tons of animal crackers1, cookies, and snack crackers on fifteen oven lines using only the finest ingredients. Taste the rich cheddar cheese flavor of Whales available in several package sizes. Stauffer’s produces a variety of scrumptious cookies, such as Ginger Snaps, Lemon Snaps, Shortbread Cookies, Snickerdoodles, Vanilla Wafers and Graham Stix."

And Stauffer's is famous for upping the ante during the year-end holidays with its seasonal products, including Dark Chocolate Stars and Milk Chocolate Stars. Again, from the website:

"Celebrate the holidays with a delicious assortment of Stauffer’s cookies. Our signature item is the holiday tin collection, which is produced once a year and has become a much sought after collectors item. Enjoy the rich taste of Stauffer’s Chocolate Stars, Gingerbread Men, and White Fudge Holiday Cookies."

What's not clear to me at this time is whether Stauffer's still makes any products that are branded "Nifty," as mentioned on the matchbook.

And, no, I haven't forgotten about the matchbook. Here are two more images — from the other side of the cover and from the inside of the matchbook.

Like I said, it's an absolute work of art. And a neat piece of York County's manufacturing history.

1. Why are there holes in Stauffer's animal crackers? The company answers this in its FAQ: "The holes in the Animal Crackers are called 'dockers.' The holes are there to let some of the air out of the crackers and reduce the rising process. This helps retain the animal cracker shape."

Stauffer's, helpfully, also provides an online Animal Cracker Identifier.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Very old Christmas card (and more) inside 1890's "Triumphant Songs"

All sorts of wonderful things became apparent when I cracked open this copy of 1890's "Triumphant Songs Nos. 1 and 2 Combined" by E.O. Excell, and I'm not even sure where to start.

Talk about a holiday treat!

So fasten your seat belts and prepare for a whirlwind tour through a 19th century book and all of the cool stuff tucked away inside.

The book is an omnibus edition of two previous song books — "Triumphant Songs No. 1" had been published in 1887 by Excell, and "Triumphant Songs No. 2" had been published in 1889. The combined edition is packed with more than 400 pages of religious music and lyrics arranged by Excell and others.

The price of this combined edition ranged from 45 cents to 75 cents, depending on the quantity ordered and whether you wanted a cloth cover. (For perspective, a book that cost 45 cents in 1890 would cost about $11 today.)

Edwin Othello Excell (pictured at right), lived from 1851 to 1921 and was a well-known publisher, composer and song leader. He served as author or contributor to about 90 song books. While not all of his work involved religious music, he became noted for his 1909 arrangement of "Amazing Grace."

Much of his early work was done in western Pennsylvania, including Brady's Bend, East Brady and Oil City. In 1883, he moved to Chicago and his music-publishing business truly took off.

Excell's "Triumphant Songs" series spanned five volumes from 1887 to 1896.

As I said, this well-worn volume from 1890 contains numerous treasures inside. One of the first owners — perhaps the first owner — was Bettie Shultz, who wrote her name in pencil on the first page in 1891:

There were a number of pieces of ephemera tucked away inside the song book. Here is the rundown on a few of them:
  • A list of numbers — 306, 232, 313, 430, 196 and 59 — that almost certainly refers to songs in the book.
  • A single-sheet Bible lesson, torn from a book or booklet, for July 3. The lesson is titled "Pictures of the Kingdom" and is copyright 1894 by David C. Cook.
  • A partial page torn from a program. The event, whatever it was, featured discussions with titles such as "Making Our Beliefs Count," "Choosing Our Life's Work," "Ideals for Social Relationships," and "Discussion Groups for Adult Workers." The inspirational address was delivered by Rev. Hunter B. Blakely, who was, according to a quick online search, a 1919 graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary.

That brings us to the pièce de résistance — a tiny Christmas card I found inside the song book. It measures only 2¾ inches by 4 inches. The card has separated into two pieces at the center fold. Here are images of the front and the inside:

The long-ago note inside the card reads: "Hearty greetings and good wishes for a happy Christmas. From Jno. J. Fix"

Believe it or not, "Jno." was most commonly used as an abbreviation for John, although there are some instances of it being an abbreviation for Jonathan. While it might seem odd, I guess it could be argued that Jno. represented a 25% savings in time and letters over John.

On the back of the Christmas card, in super-small type, is this credit line:

Raphael Tuck & Sons, London, Paris, New York
Designed at the studios in England
and printed at the Fine Art Works in Bavaria

Above that text is this logo (shown greatly magnified):

Raphael Tuck & Sons, according to Wikipedia, began business in City of London in 1866. The company enjoyed immense popularity with its production of pictures, greeting cards and, especially, postcards.

The company produced its first Christmas card in 1871. A Tuck & Sons holiday card similar to the one I discovered can be seen on this history page.

Sadly, the company's headquarters, Raphael House, was destroyed on December 29, 1940, by Nazi bombing during The Blitz. The original artwork and photographs that the company had been storing in its archives for decades was mostly lost.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Old postcard: Forest scene near Wernigerode, Germany

This undated vintage postcard (or postkarte) doesn't exactly fall into this month's category of Christmas Posts, but I think it fits nicely into the season all the same, with its serene forest and snow-covered evergreens.

The caption on the front reads:

Partie am Ottofels b. Wernigerode

That translates, roughly, to "Excursion to Otto Rock near Wernigerode."

The Ottofels (Otto Rock) is a rock outcrop and national monument near the scenic mountain town of Wernigerode in central Germany.

Otto Rock, made of granite, is about 1900 feet above sea level and towers 118 feet.

A series of ladders (which you can see in the Wikipedia photo at right) allows for public access to the very top of the formation, which is named after Prince Otto of Stolberg-Wernigerode (no relation).

Here's a gratuitous photo of Wernigerode Castle, also from Wikipedia: