Saturday, February 25, 2012

Saturday's postcards: Longfellow's Wayside Inn in Massachusetts

Above: The Old Kitchen at Longfellow's Wayside Inn

Above: The Old Bar Room at Longfellow's Wayside Inn

Today's two unused and undated postcards are from Longfellow's Wayside Inn in Sudbury, Massachusetts. The inn stakes claim to being the oldest operating inn in America, dating to 1716.

The postcards were produced by The Albertype Co. of Brooklyn, New York.

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania has a huge collection featuring 43 boxes of Albertype Company photographs. According to the historical society: "The Albertype Company was founded by Adolph and Herman L. Wittemann in 1890 as a postcard and viewbook publishing company. The Brooklyn-based company used the recent technological innovation of the collotype, or albertype,1 to photomechanically reproduce images. Amassing photographic negatives of towns and cities across the United States, the Albertype Company produced over twenty-five thousand collotypes before its closure in 1952."

Here is some more about Albertype's history from the fabulous Metropolitan Postcard Club of New York City website:
"Adolph Wittmann [sic] was the photographer of many of these images. Their postcards were not numbered and their name appears within the stamp box on their early cards. When the divided back postcard was authorized, the Albertype company created a line down the back of their cards with the words Post Cards of Quality and later with The Finest American Made View Post Cards2. Many publishers large and small printed cards though the Albertype Co. They were purchased by Art Vue Post Card Company in 1952."
Much more about Albertype is available on the Metropolitan Postcard Club of New York City website, where you could lose yourself for days if you love postcard history.

As for Longfellow's Wayside Inn, here are some cool facts about that historic building, excerpted from its website:
  • "The Inn's Old Bar room [one of today's two postcards] represents the oldest room in the Inn. Originally the first floor chamber of David Howe's 1707 two-room homestead, this room eventually became his tavern in 1716, and is still in use today."
  • "Henry Wadsworth Longfellow visited the Howe Tavern in 1862. Inspired by the coziness of the Inn’s atmosphere and pastoral landscape, Longfellow wrote a series of poems focused on a group of fictitious characters that regularly gathered at the old Sudbury tavern. The poems were published in 1863 as the Tales of a Wayside Inn."
  • "Many overnight rooms at the Inn are packed with letters and notes from members of the Secret Drawer Society! The Society was formed in the late 1950s when then innkeeper Francis Koppeis entertained visiting children with stories about the hidden drawers found in many of the Inn's antique desks. Koppeis would hide small candies for his young guests to find, but soon people of all ages were leaving notes and treasures for other guests. Today, people record their unique experiences of the old Inn and stash them in the drawers of desks and bureaus in our guest rooms for future generations to ponder."3
  • "David Howe, the first Howe family innkeeper from 1716 to 1746, married Hepzibah Death on December 25th, 1700! Many of the traditions we recognize today as part of the Christmas holiday were non-existent in early New England. Our Puritan forefathers had no tolerance for the 'excessive revelings' associated with Christmas, so the day passed like any other until well into the middle of the19th-century."
1. According to the Wyoming Tales and Trails website, albertype was "a process invented by Austrian photographer Joseph Albert (1825-1886). The process using a collotype coating on glass plates permitted high speed mass production of photographs for the first time. Albertype photos also have an advantage that although the paper may yellow, the inks, unlike normal photographs, do not fade."
2. The Finest American Made View Post Cards is the slogan that appears vertically on the back of these two Longfellow's Wayside Inn postcards.
3. Papergreat strongly approves of this tradition.

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