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.

Friday, February 24, 2012

1970s gang graffiti inside
a 1928 book of plays

I was leafing through 1928's "Plays Old and New"1 in anticipation of sending it to its final resting place, as it has a fully detached spine and multiple loose pages.

Then I came to the inside back cover, where I found some interesting graffiti for the Black Spades of the Bronx (18th division).

The Black Spades were an African American street gang in New York City in the 1970s. According to Wikipedia:
"The gang originated in 1968 in the Bronxdale Houses in the Soundview section of the Bronx as the Savage Seven and began terrorizing the neighborhood. As the gang grew, they changed their name to the Black Spades. The gang quickly spread to nearby housing projects and throughout the Bronx, with divisions in almost every precinct and they had over 50 divisions in New York State alone. ... Afrika Bambaataa was the warlord of the Black Spades before becoming a famous hip hop DJ. He later went on to form the Universal Zulu Nation [an international hip hop awareness group in which reformed gang members organize cultural events for youths] on November 12th, 1973; Many Black Spades gang members followed Afrika Bambaataa into the group."
The page facing the inside back cover in "Plays Old and New" also features some graffiti:

I'm not sure what the "The Saints" specifically refers to.

It's interesting -- but not surprising -- to see "Dr. J" written on there. Julius Erving played for the ABA's New York Nets at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum (on Long Island) from 1973 to 1976.

1. The book, edited by Stella B. Finney, features a dozen plays, including "The Philosopher of Butterbiggens" by Howard Chapin; "Robin Hood in Sherwood" by Alfred Noyes; "The Farce of the Worthy Master Pierre Patelin" as translated by folklorist and anarchist Moritz Jagendorf; Alice Gerstenberg's adaptation of "Alice in Wonderland"; and "The Golden Doom" by Lord Dunsany, aka Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany.

Dunsany was one of the most important and influential fantasy authors of the early 20th century. Writers he influenced include H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, J.R.R. Tolkien, Jorge Luis Borges and modern author Neil Gaiman. Among Dunsany's writings were more then 150 tales featuring the character of adventurer Joseph Jorkens. The Jorkens tales established the popular literary subgenre known as the club tale.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Reader comments: Esso, THON, Koester's Bread and more

I have awesome reader comments rolling in from every direction these days, including Facebook (do you like the Papergreat page?) and e-mail. So let's dive right in and get to your insights and feedback...

Esso touts the oil culture in these 1950s books for kids: Melanie Pancho wrote: "I remember books like this! (Dating myself, I know, but that's okay!) They must have been illustrated by the same person who did the Dick and Jane books, which were still in use when I was learning to read. By the way, you should use that last pic as your avatar right here on Facebook, it's fantastic!"

Mel Kolstad of Ephemeraology, who blogged about gas stations on the same day as my post, wrote: "YES!!! It MUST be your new avatar. Wonderful post, and great minds think alike - we posted an hour apart and we both did gasoline-related posts today! WEIRD!"

(Note from Chris: OK, I didn't use it as my Facebook pic, but I did follow through and make Beaming Boy my Twitter avatar.)

Finally, Anonymous wrote: "Funniest thing about the first picture is the coin changer the Esso serviceman is wearing."

* * *

"Wallpaper Does It," courtesy of Western Electric: Of the tricks and tips mentioned in this 1955 booklet, Linda Chenoweth Harlow wrote: "Design tricks still used today. Thank goodness the patterns are better!"

* * *

Memories of Penn State's 1993 Dance Marathon: I am humbled and happy to say that this post was shared quite bit among THON participants, past and present, and was able to bring back some poignant memories for a lot of people.

More importantly, I am thrilled to report, if you haven't already heard, that last weekend's THON raised $10,686,924.83 for the fight against pediatric cancer. Absolutely unbelievable effort by those Penn Staters!

Ashley Akright, Nick's little sister, shared this touching message on the first night of THON: "Mom and I read this in the hotel room tonight, with tears running down my face. So glad my family could inspire Chris and so many other dancers throughout the years. I wore my 1993 THON shirt tonight and brought the referenced red sweatshirt. Donate now if you haven't already to, so no one else needs to shed a tear over a child's battle against cancer."

And Bud Akright, Nick's dad, wrote this: "Chris, After reading your words, I am reminded of how proud I am of all the Thon students, especially my daughter, who continued the fight even after Nick left us. Love you all, THON on!"

Ashley also found her 1993 THON hat, which I had autographed for her at the time. It's pictured here. In the meantime, Nick's 1993 letter, as promised, is in the mail to the Akright family.

* * *

Coupons from the E.H. Koester Bakery Co.: This post from March 2011 generated a number of great reader comments and memories.

One more came in early December, when this email from Linda Durkos finally made its way to me:1 "I am always looking for Koester’s Bakery paraphernalia and I saw on your blog that you have two bread coupons for the bakery. Koester’s has a warm spot in my heart as my grandmother worked there during the 1920’s through her retirement in 1964 as an office manager and this is where I developed my sweet tooth. Anyway, to get to the point, I was wondering if you would be interested in selling these coupons as I have several other pieces of advertising from the bakery – bakery window decal in gold with black outlining; bakery window decal of twins; bread wrappers and believe it or not, an ashtray with the twins on it. I use it for soap. These would be a wonderful addition to my collection if you are willing to part with them."

How could I refuse a request like that? Of course, I wouldn't hear of taking any money for the Koester’s coupons. I just mailed them to her and told her that, if she had a few pieces of ephemera laying around that she wasn't interested in, she could send them my way. A good, old-fashioned Ephemera Swap!

I forgot all about it until a couple days ago, when my wife told me there was a package for me and my jaw dropped at the size of the box.2 It was jam-packed with ephemera. There are enough postcards, envelopes, pamphlets, brochures, newspaper clippings, ticket stubs -- and more -- within this box to sustain two months worth of Papergreat entries. I am truly floored. Thank you so much, Linda! I cannot wait to dive in!

* * *

Only six days until Valentine's Day! Anonymous wrote: "Eons ago when I was in elementary school we used numbered letters from the alphabet to sign our valentines to classmates (a-1, b-2, ... z-26). If that's what the sender is using here, it would be JEC, which may be the perp's initials!"

* * *

Violet Anderson and Kenneth Lehman will sing and play: Blake Stough of Preserving York did some excellent sleuth work and wrote:
"I'm always interested in stories about York County...

"It appears there were several 'Green Valley Ramblers' around during the 1900s. I've found references to bands of that name in newspapers from the 1930s to the 1970s. The locations I came across via were:
  • Hamilton, OH (1937)
  • Frederick, MD (1938)
  • Connellsville, PA (1951)
  • Lebanon, PA (1967)
  • Burlington, NC (1972-1977)
  • Uniontown, PA (1976)
  • Chester, PA (1977)
  • Gettysburg, PA (1978)
"The Gettysburg listing mentioned that the 'Green Valley Ramblers' playing there were from North Carolina, so it seems THAT particular band may have traveled quite a bit.

"Not much help, but perhaps a nudge in the right direction."
Thanks, Blake!

* * *

New occasional series: The Wanamaker Diary 1910: Mom wrote: "We had that Underwood typewriter when I was young. Mom bought it second (or third or fourth?) hand in the 1950s. If you typed too fast on it, the strikers would jam up and stick together. Easily fixed. Those machines were built to last. Not like the junk they sell today. And you could buy red/black ribbons. With a stroke of the right keys it would shift the position of the ribbons and you could type in one color or the other. High tech in those days!"

* * *

A very old Jules Verne book cover and a 1960 band photo: Finally, Scott Downs, the publisher of the Lebanon (Pa.) Daily News, checked in on Facebook to say that he liked this post: "Great cover art. I love the art used on antique books."

Scott then sent me some images of favorite book covers from his own collection, which I am happy to share here:

Above: From 1910, "The Boy Aviators in Nicaragua or In League with the Insurgents." This was the first book in "The Boy Aviators" series.

Above: From 1894, "Cruise of the Midge," of which only 1,500 copies were printed.

Above: From 1899, "Triumphs and Wonder of the XIXth Century."

1. You have to love the Internet. Linda got in touch with me by contacting the The Gettysburg Times, a newspaper I haven't worked for since 1994! (Fortunately, someone in Gettysburg knew that I was still working in nearby York.) In trying to find me, Linda wrote: "Good afternoon: I would like to get in touch with Chris Otto and my search has led me to the Gettysburg Times. I am not having success on his blog and, since according to my children I am an electronic Neanderthal, this is the only avenue I can find. If you could forward this to him, I would appreciate it." Hey, it worked! So Linda gets full credit and bonus points for creativity.
2. Using my favorite standard unit of measure, this box could have held 1.5 Gwyneth Paltrow Heads.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Get your Wanamaker office supplies

Today's installment in the 1910 Wanamaker Diary series (see the initial post) focuses on advertisements for Wanamaker-brand office supplies.

This Criterion Office and Library Paste1 is touted as being good for "mounting photographs, general office and home use."

(As an aside, I must point out that pasted and glued items are much harder for historians and ephemeraologists to salvage and preserve.)

It's also noted that the paste "dries very quickly and will not discolor anything."

The 1910 price for one quart of the stuff is 50 cents. That might not seem like much. But it would be the equivalent of $11.55 in 2010 dollars, according to The Inflation Calculator.

These Wanamaker Criterion Lead Pencils aren't cheap, either. The price is 50 cents for a dozen. (Again, $11.55 in 2010 dollars.) Or $4.50 for a gross of pencils. A gross is equal to "a dozen dozen" -- or 144 pencils. The cost for those 144 pencils is indeed gross -- in 2010 dollars it's $103.96!

I guess we can be happy that pencils are among the few things that have gone down in relative cost over the years.2

Finally, here's an advertisement for Wanamaker Commercial Fluid.

The copy states: "It writes a Beautiful Blue, changing to permanent Black in a few hours, and is absolutely free from sediment."

The cost for a whole quart is just 30 cents, which would be a reasonable $6.93 in 2010 dollars.

The fluid came in the following sizes: quarts, pints, half-pints, four ounces and two ounces.

I hope the Wanamaker Series can bring back a lot of memories for folks throughout the coming year. Papergreat reader Dianne left this great comment after the first entry:
Wanamaker's was a fabulous place! I worked in the toy department one Christmas for my first post-college job, 1971. Children and parents could ride a monorail that ran around the entire ceiling of the 8th floor toy department. Kids often spit out the windows of the monorail.3

Tours were given of Wanamaker's well-hidden office. Even though he died about 1922, it was kept much as he left it. The office had large windows overlooking downtown Philly while most of the store was windowless.

The store had a post office and a furnished model house in the furniture department. People would joke about spending a weekend in the model house. Wanamaker's in-store bank was on a lower level. We carried cash to the bank before checking out.

The Wanamaker Christmas show was a treat with a multi-story display of flashing lights and the Wanamaker organ music. We watched from the balcony cafe (3rd floor) or the Crystal Tea Room on the 9th floor. The organ was built for the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. Wanamaker purchased it in 1909, but the installation took 2 years with nearly 10,000 pipes.

Strawbridge & Clothier had the brass wild boar, unimpressive in comparison to the Wanamaker eagle in the Grand Court. The eagle was THE place to meet in the store.
Thanks for sharing those great memories, Dianne!

1. Note how "Criterion Office and Library Paste" is printed on the side of the jar, but "Photo and Office Paste" is printed on the lid.
2. One example of many: 144 pencils for about $15 on
3. That's a wonderful detail! Also, "Ewwwwwwwwwwwww."

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Wonderfully illustrated postcards from Belgium and Japan

I'll let the images do the talking with today's quartet of gorgeous postcards from the middle of the 20th century.

First up is two illustrated cards by an artist named Browne from Expo 58 in Brussels, Belgium, which was the first major world's fair after World War II.1

Second, these two postcards from Japan feature woodblock prints by Tomikichiro Tokuriki.

1. Expo 58 was also known as the Brussels World’s Fair, Brusselse Wereldtentoonstelling or Exposition Universelle et Internationale de Bruxelles. As an interesting aside, Orson Welles' "Touch of Evil" was awarded top prize at Expo 58.

Monday, February 20, 2012

1961's World Flag Game About the United Nations

Among the miscellaneous items that I picked up last year from a local auction were the playing cards and instructions for the 1961 Parker Brothers1 game "World Flag Game About the United Nations."

The original box, playing board and information booklet were NOT included.2

The flag cards are very small, measuring just 2½ inches wide by 1⅝ inches tall.

Here's an excerpt from the introduction in the playing rules:
"This game has been published in cooperation with the Office of Public Information of the United Nations. With four exceptions all of the countries appearing on the board were members or prospective members of the United Nations as of July 31, 1960. The four exceptions are the two German Republics (both appear in the same square), Switzerland, and the Peoples Republic of China. These important land areas are essential to the play of this game."
Here are six of the playing cards the piqued my interest:

Above: Switzerland got the "NOT A MEMBER OF UNITED NATIONS" stamp, even though one of the organization's primary headquarters is located there. Switzerland did not join the United Nations until 2002.

Above: The Federation of Malaya was in existence from 1948 to 1963. It was reconstituted as Malaysia in 1963 and kept the same flag.

Above: The Republic of the Congo (Léopoldville) was, according to Wikipedia, "an independent republic established following the independence granted to the former colony of the Belgian Congo in 1960. The country's post-independence name remained only until 1 August 1964, when it was changed to Democratic Republic of the Congo, to distinguish it from the neighboring Republic of the Congo, formerly French Congo." (Phew!)

Léopoldville is now known as Kinshasa3, a city of 10 million in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Above: This two-country card was stamped with "NOT MEMBERS OF UNITED NATIONS." The Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) both were admitted as members in September 1973.

Above: The Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (1920-1991) was one of the four original founding members of the Soviet Union in 1922. It became the Republic of Belarus (Беларусь) in 1991, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Its flag remained similar after 1991, with the golden hammer and sickle and the red star being removed.

Above: The Mali Federation was sort of the Moonlight Graham of countries. It barely had time for a cup of coffee in the majors. According to Wikipedia, it was formed by a union between Senegal and the Sudanese Republic and became entirely self-governing when it gained independence from France on June 20, 1960. Two months later, on August 20, 1960, the Mali Federation collapsed when Senegal withdrew over political disagreements.

The Sudanese Republic was renamed the Republic of Mali in September 1960. The flag's color pattern remained the same, but the human figure quickly disappeared.

Why? According to, "A 'kanaga' symbol was used on the first Mali flag, until it was abolished in 1961. The symbol is a black human-like image and it was removed because of pressure from Muslims who do not approve of making images in the human form."

1. Another Papergreat post about a Parker Brothers board game: Top of an old box of Tiddledy Winks
2. has an informative entry for this game, complete with a slideshow of images. The users have given it a rating of 5.57 out of 10. But a few commenters have fond memories of it, including one who states: "An old 'classic' that I played in my youth. Recently acquired and still greatly enjoying it. I contemplated giving this game a '10' for it's longevity. My children like the game too, although they don't understand the subtle strategy involved. Still love it!"
3. Former professional athletes Dikembe Mutombo and Tim Biakabutuka were both born in Kinshasa. Their full names, by the way, are Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo and Tshimanga Biakabutuka.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A very old Jules Verne book cover and a 1960 band photo

Today's two items come from school books decades apart...

First up is an undated, but quite old, hardcover featuring two works by Jules Verne. Pictured at right is the cover of the volume, which contains 1865's "From the Earth to the Moon" and 1870's "Around the Moon."1

It was published by A.L. Burt of New York, and, if I had to hazard a guess, I'd say it was issued sometime between 1890 and 1905.

Written in neat cursive handwriting on the inside front cover is the following:

No. 14.
Property of
Sch. No. 3 Dis't. No. 8.
Chas. Co. Md.

I'm sure that I could find, somewhere, a history of the numbered schools and school districts within Charles County, Maryland.

Getting back to the cover -- it's scuffed, worn and faded, but you can see how beautiful the full illustration must have been before time took its toll. One thing I find interesting is that the bookshelf is curtained, which one might imagine would be an enviable design touch for certain areas.

If you narrow in on just the young man and bookshelf, you get this attractive cropped image:2

While Verne's fantastic fiction was written in the wake of the Civil War, today's second book was published in 1958, after two 20th century world wars had taken place. It's volume one of "World Civilizations" by Edward McNall Burns and Philip Lee Ralph.

But what caught my eye was not Burns' and Ralph's text encompassing the Stone Age to the Commercial Revolution.

No, in leafing through the book, I was stopped by the discovery of a single snapshot tucked away inside.

The photo, dated September 1960, shows a band practicing somewhere more than a half-century ago. The back of the photo reveals only that it was taken by Eze Obi and that it was printed on Kodak Velox Paper.3 Here it is:

I doubt we'll ever be able to identify what band this is, practicing on a lined football field. But, just in case there are any clues to be found, here are a couple closeups of the band members:

1. Interestingly, the title page contains a slight variation on the title of the sequel. It lists the two novels as "From the Earth to the Moon, and Round the Moon" (not "Around the Moon"). Furthermore, according to Wikipedia, the two novels were later officially combined into one novel titled "A Trip to the Moon and Around It."
2. In case you missed it, these were my favorite Papergreat images of 2011.
3. Although the photo is dated on the front, the words "Kodak Velox Paper" on the back could have helped us to generally date the photo, too, according to David Rudd Cycleback, who writes on that "If the back of the photo has the three line printing 'Kodak/Velox/Paper,' the photo dates circa 1950s-60s."