Saturday, January 14, 2012

Saturday's postcard: A barrel organ in Amsterdam

(Warning: This post features a tangent into 1970s European prog rock. Who said postcards were boring?)

Today's postcard is an undated, unused postcard produced by Kruger. The multiple-language caption on the reverse side states:

Barrel - Organ
L'Orgue de Barbarie

A barrel organ is described by Wikipedia as "a mechanical musical instrument consisting of bellows and one or more ranks of pipes housed in a case, usually of wood, and often highly decorated. The basic principle is the same as a traditional pipe organ, but rather than being played by an organist, the barrel organ is activated either by a person turning a crank, or by clockwork driven by weights or springs."

The following text appears on the front of this barrel organ:


G. Perlee Draaiorgels in Amsterdam still exists and has a Dutch-language website. With the help of Google, I translated some information and history:
  • The company dates to 1875 and still has organs throughout Amsterdam.
  • The founders were Leon Warnies1 and Gijs Perlee.
  • Names of some of the company's organs (assuming the translation is correct) include The Arab, The Hindenburg, The Pod, The Puntkap, The White, The Flamingos2, The Three Wigs, The Trembling and The Rummage.
On Flickr, a user named "Canadian Pacific" has posted a photo and a 15-second video clip of "The Arab," which now resides in a museum.

Getting back to the postcard, I'm not sure what's up with the folks to the left of the barrel organ. It looks like a staged scene to me. But I'm not exactly sure what is being staged. Are the two girls giving something to the men? Thoughts?

1. According to this genealogy message board, Leon Warnies was born in the Netherlands in 1835, moved to Paris in 1840, moved to Rio de Janeiro in 1872, and returned to Amsterdam in 1875 with his wife "with the intention of showing off their newly-modified Street organs."
2. OK, this is fun: On "See See the Sun," a 1973 album released by the Dutch progressive rock band Kayak, the song "Mammoth" features G. Perlee's "Flamingo" barrel organ. Per Wikipedia, "The organ, The Flamingo, was too big to get through the studio entrance. Therefore the melody was recorded outside. Being a manually operated organ, the pace varied all the time, making it very hard to fit the piece into the rest of the song."

The opening lyrics of the song are: "Yes I feel like a mammoth today, Like I'm going to die."

And, best of all, there is a video for 1973's "Mammoth." I am offering a full money-back guarantee that this the most awesome YouTube clip you will watch today!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Seeking help on book of fairy tales featuring Oona

I have a mystery this morning that perhaps we can crowd-source the answer to.

I rarely log in to my Wikipedia account these days (although I use the site all the time). But I logged in yesterday to find that I had a message from someone named Simon back on December 21.

Here is Simon's message:
"This is a real long-shot but I wondered if you might be able to help me. My grandmother is in the early stages of senile dementia, and with this in mind the family have recently been making an effort to talk to her about her childhood, which she still remembers vividly, rather than more recent events (which sadly she does not).

"In our last conversation she was reminiscing about a book she read repeatedly during her childhood. She could not remember its title, only that it was a book of fairy tales, and that the main character was a fairy called Oona (she was certain of that spelling). She said she read it between the ages of 7 and 9, which would mean c. 1932-35 (although of course the book may have been published before that).

"I have been trying to see if I can identify the book, and get hold of a copy, since I think it would mean a lot to her to read it again. My research indirectly led me to the Ruth Manning-Sanders page, which it appears you are largely responsible for, although it appears that only a handful of her publications are early enough to fit the bill. And sadly I can find no details of those books anywhere.

"Any advice you could offer would be greatly appreciated. Does the name Oona ring any bells? Are there any other online resources or catalogues that might prove fruitful?"
I'm going to do some searching this weekend. But I wanted to throw it out there to all of you, to see if we can come up with as many leads as possible for Simon and his grandmother. Spread the word!

Leave anything you find in the comments or email me at

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Potluck Day: Two inscriptions and photos from France

Here's a fun collection of odds and ends on a wet and chilly Thursday here in southcentral Pennsylvania.

Stricklen's stamp and signature

My copy of "The 'Canary' Murder Case (A Philo Vance Mystery)" by S.S. Van Dine -- with its wonderful front-cover graphic design pictured above -- contains both the stamp and signature of its long-ago owner, R.L. Stricklen, Jr.

Here's a scan of the stamp. (Full disclosure: I futzed with the brightness and contrast to try to make it a little more readable.)

So, the stamp reads:

Library of Fact and Fiction
1649 W. Beverly St.
Staunton, Va.

And here's his signature:

So, who was Mr. Stricklen? In the early 1930s, there was an R.L. Stricklen, Jr. Advertising Agency. It seems one of the agency's specialties was advertisements targeted to black Southerners. These two classified appeared in 1930 issues of Popular Mechanics:1
  • September 1930: "REACH Southern Negroes through their own newspapers. Write R.L. Stricklen, Jr., Box 661, Staunton, Va."
  • December 1930: "25 WORD Classified ad in five southern Negro newspapers (circulation 14,650) -- Only $1.00. R.L. Stricklen, Jr., Staunton, Va."
In addition, the R.L. Stricklen, Jr. Advertising Agency published "Reaching Dixie's Constantly Growing Purchasing Power," a 27-page book, in 1931.

Editorial comment in a math book?

I found this inscription added to the title page of 1915's "Plane Geometry" by Webster Wells and Walter W. Hart. I'm thinking it speaks for itself.

Hidden gems in photos from France

I've been going through some photos that my late grandmother, Helen Adams Ingham, took during a trip to France in the early 1970s. Most of the shots are of buildings and other famous landmarks. In a few photos, though, sometimes in the corners of the shot, she captured everyday French people going about their lives.

Through the wonders of modern technology, I've been able to crop and magnify those shots. And so I present "Great Snapshots From France My Grandmother Never Knew She Took":

1. Links to those two Popular Mechanics references via Google Books: September 1930 and December 1930.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Maps, maps and more maps

I've been coming across a higher number of maps than usually lately, mostly by sorting through books and peering at their endpapers. So I thought it might be interesting to share images of some of those maps this afternoon.

From "The Robe" by Lloyd C. Douglas

Douglas' 1942 novel take place during the reign of the Roman Empire in the first century. Locations and peoples noted on this portion of the map include Londinium, which was established by the Romans around 43 AD; Belgica; Lugdunum; Cisalpine; and Marcomanni, a Germanic tribe.

From 1964's "European History Atlas Without Text"

This map, intended for students, highlights medieval commerce and industries, including the scope of Hanseatic League. I thought it was interesting to note the various products listed, including wax, hemp, flax, furs, honey, pitch, wool, skins, wheat, tar, grain, amber, iron, horses and slaves.

From 2007 Taschen calendar "Maps from the Atlas Maior of 1665 by Joan Blaeu"

The Atlas Maior was, according to Wikipedia, "a comprehensive world atlas, conceived by Willem Blaeu of Amsterdam, but compiled by his son Joan Blaeu, and completed in 1665. The original work consisted of eleven volumes, in Latin, containing 594 maps."

This map features Gotland, a region within Sweden. An English translation of the original text on the map states: "Gotland is a region of Sweden covered with forests and mines. The air there is relatively temperate and devoid of infection and the soil is fertile."

From "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich"

Key locations from the European front of World War II are shown on this map, which appears in "The Rise of the Third Reich," a map featured at the front endpapers of William L. Shirer's epic work. The map on the back endpapers details "The Fall of the Third Reich."

A very tough city in "Halo in Blood"

I love when novels contain maps of their settings. This one appears at the front of John Evans' 1946 Bantam paperback "Halo in Blood" (a tough mystery about a tough guy in a very tough city). It includes hero Paul Pine's office, apartment and "Where Pine gets conked." Not only does the book contain a map, but it also includes a "Cast of Characters." One of the characters is "Pasty Face," who is described thus: "D'Allemand's muscle-man, had a toadstool complexion."

Sue Tatterson's trip to Scranton Lace Company

What is the meaning of this tattered old ticket to a 1936 American Legion event? To find out, you need to go read Sue Tatterson's new blog entry on Spirits of the Abandoned.1 It's about her recent exploration of the shuttered Scranton Lace Company complex in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and a tiny shred of ephemera that she found there.

It comes with the highest recommendation. It's one of the best pieces I've read about photography, history and the compulsion to explore -- whether it's by traveling somewhere or spending hours combing through Google searches.

So go check out her blog. And you can see some of her photos from Scranton Lace Company, including a jaw-dropping shot of the clock tower, on her Facebook gallery page.

I'll be back with a new entry later today.

1. Tatterson's terrific work was previously mentioned in my post about the swimming pool at Buck Hill Falls.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Reader comments: Allie Dillon, microcomputers and more

Today brings another wonderful and insightful collection of reader comments:

Fairy tales: From laxatives to Littlestown to Johnny Depp: Here's a comment from an Anonymous who I wish had left his or her name. The comment refers to the illustrations in "Famous Fairy Tales for Children," a 20-page staplebound booklet published in 1930 by Pepsin Syrup Company:
"Every once in awhile, I search for work by my grandmother, Allie Dillon. This little booklet is one of those examples. I think she was just in her teens when her work was first published in St. Nicholas Magazine. She studied at The Chicago Art Institute and was a student of Frank Dillon. They married in 1911. As was customary at that time, they added his name and possibly a little of his hand to her work to facilitate selling it commercially."
Great note! The illustrations by Allie Dillon within this little booklet are terrific. Two more of them are pictured with today's post.

"Objectionable Words and Terms" from an 1884 cyclopedia: Two comments on this one.
  • Mel Kolstad of Ephemeraology writes: "Good lord, the writers of this cyclopedia would have died of heart attacks if they heard people speaking today!"
  • And Mom writes: "Shall we add your own modifications of the English language when you were a toddler? Instead of Peek-a-boo, you'd cover your eyes and say 'dis-me-appear'! And I won't mention how you destroyed the word helicopter!"
Advertisements from the August 1963 issue of Farm Journal: Jo Ott, a frequent commenter on Only in York County, writes: "Couple of things, Chris: I have a jar of 'Fruit Fresh' in the pantry which is similar to the product in the ad. It contains dextrose, ascorbic acid (vitamin C), citric acid & silicon dioxide (anti-caking agent). It is put out by Ball, the canning jar company, and 1/4 tsp. (1 g) contains contains 230% vitamin C. Also, I have the 1976 edition of the Farm Journal's cookbook titled 'America's Best Vegetable Recipes.' If I remember correctly, years ago the only way one could acquire a copy of this cookbook was to subscribe to their monthly magazine. I was never a subscriber nor do I remember how I got this copy."

Mystery photo of couple on New Year's Eve: Good friend Mike McCombs, who I hope restarts his fine Raising Two Americans blog some day, notes "that looks like a Marines uniform."

Old booklet for Harrisburg's Capital Roller Rink: Sharon writes: "Chris, where did you find this booklet!? I was cleaning out my closet this morning, and dug through a box of my grandfather's business items and came across a paper embosser (seal) of the Capital Roller Rink (dated 1947). He used to co-own the place! Googled it and found your blog! Awesome write-up!"

Christmas 1971 and a vintage greeting card: Justin Mann of Justin's Brew Review writes: "About 'brand-new' (I just had to address it!): What can I say? It's definitely an 'improper' use of a hyphen. (Not sure why? Check out the book 'Eats, Shoots & Leaves' by British author, Lynne Truss. It's an amusingly informative approach to grammar!) But why should we care all that much? As long as there is no chance for miscommunication, I say forget about whether it's 'right' or 'wrong' and just say it! Of course, be prepared to tick off the guardians of the language, as you've noted. They'd probably read that and say 'Ouch! that punctuation has caused our boat to start sinking!'"

It's beginning to look a lot like 1956: York Daily Record/Sunday News co-worker Scott Blanchard writes: "That's really cool. What's the significance of the words 'Daily Memorandum' under the month/year? Something to make it seem more sophisticated than just a calendar?"

Advertisements from a 1982 issue of Creative Computing: Two commenters on this one.
  • Justin Mann writes: "Wow! It's amazing to see how far computer technology has come! While I don't have any specific suggestions for future computer-magazine history posts, I very much look forward to reading the sequels!"
  • Jeff Salzman of the Vintage Volts writes: "That very same VIC-20 advertisement was also used in poster form (minus the quoted price). I remember back in 1981 when my parents took me around to different stores to buy my very first computer. One of the last places we went to look for a computer was the Computerland store out on Prospect Road.

    "I never really knew about Commodore computers at the time. Computerland was mainly an Apple shop, but they did stock the Commodore PET and (at the time) a brand new 'Friendly Computer', the VIC-20.

    "The salesman pointed to the VIC-20 poster and it piqued my curiosity. After being led to the demo machine, I was hooked. I almost picked a Radio Shack TRS-80 CoCo as my first computer until I saw the VIC-20. It had everything I wanted and at a great price.

    "I still own that same VIC-20, and it still works. I hook it up to a TV from time to time to (ahem) play some of the few games I have for it. You know, just to make sure it works, right? (wink, wink)

    "An interesting note about computer magazines at the time is the scope of the content.

    "Magazines like Creative Computing 'generalized' computer information and abstracted the finer details so the public could understand basic computing concepts.

    "To really dig into the details about computers at the time, one would need to choose from the many brand specific computing magazines. Of course, ads in those magazines were more for peripheral and software add-ons and not necessarily for advertising the computers themselves."

Monday, January 9, 2012

Dust jacket of "Your Dream Diary and Dream Book"

The tattered and torn dust jacket of 1938's "Your Dream Diary and Dream Book" presents some interesting points for discussion.

The cover of the jacket is nicely designed. The bottom half features a black-and-white photo of a pretty young lady, taken by Ewing Galloway.1 Above her, the white title letters are set against a background that's nearly midnight blue.

The blurb on the front cover states:
"It's the latest rage to keep a record of your dreams and their interpretations. This book provides the space for keeping your dream diary day by day and Gabrielle Rosiere, the well-known authority, tells you their meaning and significance."
The first three-quarters of the book consist of Rosiere's dream dictionary, while the final quarter of the book contains mostly blank pages (still blank in my copy) intended for the reader's dream journals. The pages state "Keep this beside your bed and use it first thing in the morning."2

Here are some of Rosiere's dream-dictionary insights from 1938:
  • Corn: Increase in fortune or family
  • Lettuce: Healthy and many good things
  • Eggs: Happiness and wealth
  • Broken eggs: Lawsuits
  • Rotten eggs: Disgrace
  • Boa constrictor: Great danger from powerful foe
  • Clams: Sorrow through stupid lack of kindness
  • Outdoor moth: Dangerous flirtation
  • Indoor moth: Losses through employees
  • Mothra: [Rosiere provides no entry]
  • Pirate: A very fortunate adventure
  • Pope: A warning against evil conduct
  • Mustache: Vanity causes humiliation
  • Girdle (new): Honors and love
  • Girdle (old): Hard work and trouble
  • Ice cream soda: Happy times with lovers or friends
  • Torpedo: A startling occurrence causing great excitement, perhaps horror
  • Sponge: Unreasonable demands from family and friends
  • Debts: Temporary embarrassment
  • Hearse: Illness
  • Hearse (empty): Slight illness

Meanwhile, the back of the book's dust jacket is used to tout more books by publisher Grosset & Dunlap.

The marketing pitch is fairly amusing. There's a sad-looking man in a suit and the quotation "If I Could Only Express Myself." The pitch continues:
"Millions of men and women, ambitious for success in life, eager to get ahead, anxious to make a good impression upon their friends, associates, employers are held back because they cannot command the right word at the right time, because they cannot express in their correspondence, their conversation, their writing what they really want to say."
Thus, some of Grosset & Dunlap's books can help this man from being so sad. Some of the books promoted on the back cover include:
  • Roget's Thesaurus
  • Crabb's English Synonymes3
  • Similes and their Use
  • A Desk Book of 25,000 Words Frequently Mispronounced
  • Shakespeare's Complete Works
  • Words We Misspell
  • One Thousand Sayings of History
  • How to Speak English Effectively
  • How to Use English
  • A Working Grammar of the English Language

And those are only some of the Grosset & Dunlap titles!

I don't know. Perhaps the thought of having to purchase all of those books and keep them at his desk is what's really making the guy depressed.

1. The photo probably wasn't taken by Ewing Galloway, but by his agency. According to the Syracuse University Library, Galloway (1881-1953) was a journalist and photo editor who ran the Ewing Galloway Agency in New York City. More from Syracuse's biography:
"In 1920 he opened his own photographic agency on 28th St. in New York. Although he had relatively few photographs at first, he soon expanded his stock and 1925 purchased a collection of 8000 images of Africa and Asia. ... By handling only general topics as opposed to time-sensitive news photographs, Galloway established a profitable market niche while pioneering the photographic interpretation of industry, transportation, and commerce. ... The 'Ewing Galloway' byline that appears under many photographs reproduced in books, magazines, schoolbooks, and encyclopedias, refers to the agency and not to Galloway himself, who learned to operate a camera only later in life. The caption was an advertising device: it could be left off, but the photograph would cost more without it. The lack of records from the company makes it impossible to identify the actual photographers."
Posters of some of the more famous Ewing Galloway photos that have stood the test of time -- including trains, train tracks, bridges and lighthouses -- can be found at
2. My foray into writing down what I remembered from my dreams lasted all of one day when, a couple of years ago, I jotted down the following in my notepad one morning: "Things I received in a dream: exercise bike; 2 folding chairs; plate; mental hospital diary; calendar book w/ days marked w/ paperclip + reminder cards; tennis racquets; Life in a Northern Town; broom that made train noise to keep cats out of the way; items to get you to NYC." Good luck with that, Gabrielle.
3. The quick pitch for "Crabb's English Synonymes" states: "What the slide rule is to the engineer this volume is to the person who reads and writes."

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Advertisement for Murine Eye Remedy Co. in "The Rival Heiresses"

The most notable thing I discovered within the 1897 potboiler "The Rival Heiresses" by Dora Delmar1 is the full-page advertisement for Murine Eye Remedy Co. opposite the first page of text.

Even in older books, which tend to have more advertising, it's not too often that I come across product pitches in such a prominent position.

This advertisement boasts that the purpose of Murine Eye Remedy is "To Refresh, Cleanse and Strengthen the Eye. To Stimulate the Circulation of the Blood Supply which Nourishes the Eye, and Restore a Healthful Tone to Eyes Enfeebled2 by Exposure to Strong Winds, Dust, Reflected Sunlight and Eye Strain. To Quickly Relieve Redness, Swelling and Inflamed Conditions."3

Prices for Murine Eye Remedy included:
  • DeLuxe Toilet Edition - For the Dressing Table, $1.25
  • Tourist - Autoist - in Leather Case, $1.254
  • Murine Eye Salve in Aseptic Tubes, 25¢ and $1.00
  • Granuline - For Chronic Sore Eyes and Trachoma, $1.50
It seems, however, that Chicago-based Murine Eye Remedy Co. had some troubles in the first half of the 20th century. According to this excerpt from the Museum of Vision website:
"Drs. James and George McFatrich founded the Murine Eye Remedy Company in 1897 in order to sell their patent eye water. Eventually the business expanded to salves, tonics, baths, powders and pills to help cure various eye ailments.

"In 1912 The American Medical Association blasted Murine for using false advertising. ...The AMA tested the eye water and claimed that its composition was not uniform between sample bottles. It also noted that the simple solution cost the company approximately 5 cents a gallon, but the public was being charged $1.00 for an ounce. ... Murine continued to be investigated by various groups and federal agencies through the 1940s. After that time, Murine eliminated outrageous claims from its advertising and today Murine is still a top seller of over the counter eye drops."
For more, check out the Museum of Vision website, which also has some interesting articles and history about medical quackery.

1. Chapter 1 opens with characters named Lady Glynne and Sir Huldibrand and contains the following ridiculous passage:
Yet they were sitting in a kind of fairy-land, in a place that ought to have been sacred to youth and beauty.

Lansmere Court is the chief attraction of the beautiful and fertile county of Devon. It stands in the rich, green heart of the land, and has every charm that either nature or art can give -- the charm of the whispering trees, of purple hills, or shady woods, of broad streams, of running brooks, of meadows and valleys; the charm of a bright sky, of clear, fragrant air; the music of innumerable birds. Nature had done its best for Lansmere, and art had assisted her.

The picturesque, grand old building, with ivy-clad turrets, gray towers, oriel windows, and a massive Gothic porch. It belonged to no particular style of architecture, the ancient and modern were so wonderfully and strangely intermixed.

Lansmere Court had been sketched by artists and sung of by poets; it was one of the "free, fair homes of England," for which the land has ever been famous.
Lansmere Court is entirely fictitious. Thank heavens.
2. "Enfeebled" is a great word. We should use it more in modern times.
3. You have to Love how Many Words are Unnecessarily Capitalized in some Advertisements, don't You?
4. While "The Rival Heiresses" was first published in 1897, this reference to the "Autoist" version of Murine indicates to me that this advertisement might be appearing in a slightly later edition of the book. Perhaps sometime between 1910 and 1920.

Great links: Confessions of a Bookplate Junkie

After I wrote about Herbert W. Rhodes' early 20th century bookplate last week, I got a note from Philadelphian Lew Jaffe, the author of Confessions of a Bookplate Junkie.

I'm so glad he got in touch, because Jaffe's blog is outstanding and I hadn't known about it. He has been blogging consistently -- about 65 long, in-depth posts per year -- since 2006. So you could lose yourself for hours in his archives! His self-description states: "I have been collecting bookplates for well over thirty years and am always interested in buying collections or exchanging duplicates with other collectors."

I knew Jaffe was a man after my own heart when I saw that his first post of 2012 was titled "If I had more disposable income I would be dangerous."1 How true!

Some of Jaffe's posts include:

Between Confessions of a Bookplate Junkie and Hotel Stationery, I feel like I've added a pair of home-run links to the Cool Stuff Elsewhere section of Papergreat in the past couple of weeks!

1. Cue stern look from wife. "What did we just get you for Christmas?" she would ask. Indeed, my Christmas haul included oodles of wonderful books and ephemera from my wife, mother, mother-in-law and good friend Nina Zeiders of "Aspiring Memories by Nina." But that doesn't mean I can't look at other pieces of paper, right?