Saturday, May 19, 2012

Saturday's postcard: Japanese girls imitate the three wise monkeys

This awesome old postcard features three Japanese girls in elaborate kimonos doing a version of the three wise monkeys -- also known as "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil."

Here are some quick facts about this maxim, from Wikipedia:
  • The monkeys have names: Mizaru (covering eyes), Kikazaru (covering ears) and Iwazaru (covering mouth)
  • The origins of the saying might date as far back as China in 4th century B.C., when there existed a phrase that translates to: "Look not at what is contrary to propriety; listen not to what is contrary to propriety; speak not what is contrary to propriety; make no movement which is contrary to propriety."
  • The Italian version, "Non vedo, non sento, non parlo," (I see nothing, I hear nothing, I say nothing), expresses the Omertà, a code of silence enforced by criminal organizations such as the Sicilian Mafia.
  • Mahatma Gandhi's one notable exception to his lifestyle of non-possession was a small statue of the three wise monkeys.
This postcard was never used. The reverse side has an ornate border and a reference to Union Postale Universelle.

If anyone can translate this Japanese text on the back of the postcard, I'd be very appreciative. And it might lend a bit more insight to this card.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Oh, the melodrama! Excerpts from 1919's "Only a Mill Girl"

I believe that "Only a Mill Girl" was the only book that Eric StC. Ross published.

Once I read a few passages, it was easy to see why. Call this the #AntiFridayReads.1

The 240-page novel was published in 1919 by The Arthur Westbrook Company of Cleveland, Ohio. It is described in other corners of cyberspace as "scarce" and "exceedingly scarce" -- details that have nothing to do with its quality as a piece of literature.

It's possible that Ross' novel inspired a play, a British silent film and/or an operetta. But no source seems to know definitively.

The novel is billed as "A Thrilling Story" on the title page. And the page after that reveals the full title:

After those words comes the prose. And, oh, what prose it is.

I'm going to give away some elements of the plot now, including the ending, so if you were planning on reading this novel at the beach this summer, please stop now. Go read Ephemeraology or something. Spoilers are ahead.

Scene. -- A meadow lying between Fairy Lane and Blackmoor, near what is now called New Bury Road.

Time. -- Thirty years ago.

The atmosphere green and murky -- a brazen moon gleaming weirdly through the haze upon the two persons standing beneath the Fairies' Trysting Tree.

* * * * *

"I tell you," cries Mark Newman, "that I will never give you up. Nothing but death can come between us."

"Hush, Mark!" said Maud Mostyn. "You terrify me."

"Why, then, not yield to my overpowering love?" remonstrates Mark tenderly. "I cannot remember when I have not loved you; there is not a hair of your head that I could not worship, and if you will give me but a little encouragement I will prove myself a better man than I have been."

"I cannot love you, Mark, and you have no right to torment me thus."

"I know! Dick Rathbone has supplanted me here, as he has done everywhere. Curses on him, but I will sweep him from my path as relentlessly as I cut down these nettles that grow here by the hedge," Mark hissed between his teeth, as he laid his walking cane mercilessly about him.

Random passages from the middle
  • They went out into the street, smiling like angels, or bearing faces similar to that we imagine angels have.
  • "Terence, ye omadhaun! Look there, isn't that the body of a woman floating?"
  • "Weel, lass," he answered, "awn gaun a long way roond. Awm gaun by Tidsley, an' Chowbent, an' Wigan, an' Bowton, before I turns on t' Manchester way, and thou'rt too delicate like to sleep on t' straw i' my caart."
  • It is imperative that we go back an hour or two from the time of the rescue of the fugitives of the Ritchison Mills, so that our readers may understand why three able-bodied men should depend upon a weak woman -- only a mill girl -- for the salvation of their lives.
  • When Mr. Enumenides had recovered from his unusual paroxysm of emotion, his first act was to look for the letter he had dropped.

The final passage
We are back in the old hall. Dick and Kate have returned from the honeymoon. There is feasting everywhere, and pleasure provided for all classes of people, from the presiding peer in the county to the humblest worker in the mills.

Dick and Kate -- our Kate, Kate o' Fulford's -- appear on the terrace facing the lake, and the repetition of the jubilation of a month ago at the cathedral happens.

A giant figure stands upon the pedestal of a broken Archilles.

"Long life and prosperity to the young master and mistress!" shouts the well-known voice of Gommy, now an overseer in the works.

"Who is proud to own, lads," responded Handsome Dick, "that once upon a time she was:


1. Don't know what #FridayReads is? Here's a primer.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Linen postcard of a bear cub having lunch in Maine

A late-night treat. You can't go wrong with cute baby animals, right?

This undated linen postcard of a bear cub is titled "Lunch Time in Maine." Linen postcards, according to this 2007 article by Charles Hopkins, "are easily identifiable by the type of high rag card stock they were printed on which was produced with a linen finish; a textured pattern distinguished by parallel and intersecting lines resembling linen cloth."

The bulk of linen postcards were printed from roughly 1930 through 1945.

This postcard was published by American Art Post Card Co. of Brookline, Mass. The company also published at least two other variations of this same basic baby-bear image, which can be seen at Lazy B Ranch Antiques and Collectibles and The Postcard Attic.

According to the Metropolitan Postcard Club of New York City's website, which is oft-quoted here, American Art Post Card was based in both Brookline and Boston and was in operation from 1915 to 1953. More from Metropolitan:
"[American Art Post Card] was a publisher of black & white collotypes, and tinted halftone view-cards. They used the trade name Photolux on many cards. Most of their white border cards were contracted out to Curt Teich. These cards are often recognizable by their blocky titles and numbers."

Reader comments: Dynamite, cheese, vampires, hob and Horgheim

Here's another dandy batch of reader comments. Thanks for all of your contributions, which add so much to this blog!

Plucked from a yard sale, Part 4: This and that ... and Scott Baio! Wendyvee of Wendyvee's writes: "You beat me to the Willie Aames reference. I don't remember SuperMag, but I'm quite sure that I had pages of Dynamite plastered everywhere. I loved the lucky days when the teacher magically produced a stack of Scholastic Book Club flyers."

* * *

View of Assmannshausen, Germany, from 1910 book: Anonymous writes: "Maybe the vineyard belonged to the church below and the cross was there to bless the grapes?"

That's the best guess I've seen so far. Anyone else have thoughts on the matter?

* * *

Saturday's postcard: Cheese market in Alkmaar, Netherlands: Michelle writes: "Yay Dutch cheese!!! My luggage weighed a lot coming back from Amsterdam the other year, because I stuffed it with OVER $100 WORTH OF CHEESE. There was no way I was going without back in the States!!! Oh, gouda.... Since then, I've started collecting bits and pieces of Nederlanse Kaas related ephemera -- a 1970s Gouda sticker here, a couple of old cheesebearer pins there... Slowly but surely...!"

Sounds like a great collection, Michelle! And I'm glad you weren't nabbed by airport security.

* * *

The (new) oddest stuff I've found tucked inside a book: Debraacts, of Wilmington, N.C., writes: "Wonderful! I'm trying to find info on Cynthia Mills, as my mother crochets and has in her possession a crochet book -- obviously old but I can not find a date on it -- and it talks about Cynthia Yarn. My mother is 80 and had never heard of Cynthia Yarn. So I was trying to find information about it. A quick search brought up your article. Thank you!"

* * *

"Sun, Moon and Stars" and a look at Mr. Roy G. Biv: Anonymous writes: "Are you sure 'Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter' and 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies' weren't inspired by 'Dick and Jane and Vampires'?"

Looks like the publication dates for the monster mash-ups are as follows:
  • "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" (April 2009)
  • "Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters" (September 2009)
  • "Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter" (March 2010)
  • "Dick and Jane and Vampires" (August 2010)
* * *

Sarah wants to know whose black cat from 1968 this is: On my wife's Facebook page, her friend Nate Martin checked in with the following scoop on the kitty's history:
"The cat in question was to be used as a promotional mascot for the debut of the 1968 Japanese horror movie Kuroneko or 'The Black Cat'. Unfortunately the Cannes Film Festival was canceled that year due to massive labor strikes and the cat, jobless and forced to fend for itself, took to the streets of Paris looking for work. Fortunately it was adopted by a passing troupe of circus performers on their way to America. Midway through their cross Atlantic trip one of the elephants, in a fit of rage upon finding his wife sleeping with the head lion (he liked 'em big), punched a hole through the hull causing the ship to sink. Thus startling development forced the cat onto a liferaft with the ships cook, three monkey's, and the ring leaders attractive daughter. The cat quickly asserted himself as the leader and ruled over the raft as an iron-fisted dictator; or at least he did until they were rescued by a passing fishing boat. Upon reaching shore the ringleaders attractive daughter, at this point quite smitten with the forceful cat married him. However their love was not meant to be as federal legislation passed that forbid their union and the cat was forced to go on the run. Several days later a photography student from the local college spotted the cat taking a dump in the woods, snapped a picture, and won the class prize for his picture showing a bitter satire of US politics at the time. As for the cat he went on to have even more incredible adventures, but that's a story for another time."
Wow! Shall we give Nate an "A" for creativity?

* * *

Quaker Oats takes you "Around the World with Hob": Gulliver Arkham (which is a flat-out terrific name) writes: "I believe 'hob' is an old English name for the devil."

Of course! The oatmeal-loving, bird-riding voyeur must be Old Scratch himself. According to Wikipedia, some of the definitions for "Hob" are:
  • a devil
  • a generic term for various dwarf-like and elf-like magical creatures in Germanic folklore
  • a household spirit in northern England (A famous hob called the hobthrust lived near Runswick Bay in a hobhole, and was said to be able to cure whooping cough.)
* * *

The "Imposing Troldtinder" in Horgheim, Norway: Horgheim writes: "Hi. Horgheim is a family farm, not a village."

Thank you for the correction. That was a really tough post to research, as it was a stereographic card from more than 85 years ago, and information on the Internet was scant.

I found evidence of Horgheim being both a village and family farm, so what I originally wrote was: "Horgheim appears to be a village (or perhaps even the name of a family farm) in central Norway, not far from the Norwegian Sea (Norskehavet)."

I shall revise the blog and update that statement. Thanks again!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Update: Ulrike Monecke's photo from her Manning-Sanders play

Earlier this year, I mentioned an email conversation I had with Ulrike Monecke of Germany, who wanted to make a "puppet play" based on the Ruth Manning-Sanders tale "Unfortunate," which is featured in "A Book of Enchantments and Curses." Ulrike wrote:1
"I'm a puppet player and I want to make a new play, and I find Manning-Sanders and her humor beautiful. ... I found the original story, but the story from Ruth Manning-Sanders is much nicer. I want to know how and where she found the story, and something about her thoughts and how she works. I like her words."
I couldn't really offer anything useful regarding Manning-Sanders' methodology. But I asked Ulrike to send me a picture from the adaptation of "Unfortunate," which is what you see at the top of this post.

Her show had its premiere on April 3, and Ulrike said it's for "children from [age] 7 and for adults."

Trying to find some more information about Ulrike and her theater, I came across the German-language website Westflügel and used Google Translate to translate this biography of her:
"Ulrike Monecke studied puppetry at the University of Drama 'Ernst Busch' in Berlin and is a trained carpenter. Since 1998 she has worked as a freelance puppeteer etc. as a member of the Theater o.N. (Zinnober) in Berlin. In 2006 she founded her own company, Theater Ozelot. Guest performances have taken her to the most important German figure theater festival. She was nominated for the Berlin Theatre Prize Ikarus and gives workshops for school children and puppet theater students."
And you can see a nearly eight-minute video of Ulrike's awesome work here on the Theater Ozelot website.

Check back tomorrow for a full roundup of other recent reader comments!

1. I cleaned up her English -- which is way better than my German -- very slightly for publication.

Prince Wilhelm of Sweden endorses Melachrino cigarettes

Question: What's better than having Major League Baseball players endorse your cigarettes?

Answer: Getting members of European royalty to endorse your cigarettes.

This is a late 1920s advertisement1 for Melachrino cigarettes. These particular cancer sticks are touted as "The One Cigarette Sold the World Over."

And they receive a prestigious endorsement from Prince Wilhelm of Sweden (1884-1965), who states: "This is to inform you that I have smoked the very excellent Melachrino cigarettes and found them to possess a very mild and agreeable aroma."

I wonder how much Melachrino paid the prince for that puff of prose.

Prince Wilhelm wasn't the only member of royalty or the upper class to endorse Melachrino products. According to this 2009 post on the Women's Lens blog, other endorsements came from Prince Clemente Rospigliosi of Italy, Paul of Greece, Grand Duke Boris Vladimirovich of Russia and...
(deep breath)

Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, ADC, PC
2 3


Here is some more from the Women's Lens blog on Melachrino cigarettes:
"Militiades Melachrino was a successful late 19th century Cairo, Egyptian cigarette manufacturer. In 1904 he expanded his operations to the United States and began making his cigarettes in New York. ... This Egyptian style cigarette was manufactured from the finest Turkish tobacco, and was famous throughout the world with some help from the British army. When soldiers that had been stationed in Egypt went to other posts globally, their enchantment with the cigarettes was far-flung. The advertisements sometimes used distinguished people, whose 'purple' prose was quite lyrical, as in the translation of a French advert: 'The Melachrino cigarettes are enchanting. They are the gift of the Orient to the Occident. They are a joy and a dream that evaporate in geometric spirals. The Melachrino cigarettes are rest, luxuriousness and forgetfulness.' The cigarette boxes and tins were very colourful and stylish."
And what about the endorser of Melachrino in today's advertisement?

Carl Wilhelm Ludvig -- Prince Wilhelm -- was the prince of Sweden and Norway and, officially, Duke of Södermanland.4

He was the second son of Gustaf V. In addition to enjoying mild cigarettes with an agreeable aroma, Prince Wilhelm was an author and photographer.

In 1908, he married Grand Duchess Maria Pavlovna of Russia. They had two children, but the marriage didn't work out and they divorced in 1914. According to Wikipedia:
"[T]he marriage eventually broke up when Maria discovered that there were as many restrictions on life at the Swedish court as at the Russian and that her husband Wilhelm, as a naval officer, had little time to spend with her. She found him 'cold, shy, and neglectful', and when she tried to approach him he walked away from her in tears. On a five-month trip to Siam in 1912, as representatives to the coronation of the King of Siam, Maria had an opportunity to meet other men and flirt with them, which she enjoyed.5. On another trip, to Germany in 1913, Marie told her husband she wanted a divorce."
After his divorce, Prince Wilhelm had a long relationship with Jeanne Leocadie de Tramcourt, which lasted until she died in a 1952 car accident in which Wilhelm was driving. He died 13 years later, at age 80.

1. It measures 5 inches wide by 7⅝ inches tall. On the other side, there is an advertisement for Kelly Balloons.
2. Herbert Kitchener is the man featured on Alfred Leete's 1914 British World War I recruitment poster, the design of which served as the inspiration for the campaigns of Uncle Sam, Smokey Bear and Apollo Creed.
3. Herbert Kitchener is not related to the Kitchener Ironworks.
4. Södermanland is an ancient, historical province on the southeastern coast of Sweden. It was first settled in the early Stone Age. Two notable relics from Södermanland are the Skåäng Runestone and the Gripsholm Runestone.
5. Maria Pavlovna spoke six languages, which probably helped with international flirting.

Monday, May 14, 2012

AMF Monorail flyer from the 1964 New York World's Fair

World's fairs generate a huge amount of paper and other collectibles. I have small assortment of items that I've picked up from various sources, but I've never really written about any of it.

(One exception is a pair of postcards from from Expo 58 in Brussels, Belgium, that I featured in February.)

There are a couple reasons I haven't done much with world's fair ephemera -- postcards, souvenir photos, slides, brochures, posters, guidebooks, etc.1 First, the pieces aren't organized; they're just lumped in with everything else in the ephemera warehouse at this point. Second, I will never be an expert on the stuff. So I won't be telling anyone anything new when I feature this stuff on the blog. I'm the amateur in a field of collectors who take their world's fair ephemera very seriously.

On the other hand, this stuff is too cool to let go unpublished. So I will start featuring world's fair pieces more often. The fabulous artwork and photos of long-gone sites are captivating.

Today's piece is a flyer for the AMF (American Machine and Foundry) Monorail at the 1964 New York World's Fair. The suspended monorail is billed as "exciting," "thrilling," and "unforgettable."

According to the back of the flyer, the monorail cost more than $5 million to construct, which would be at least $35 million today.

The entire setup featured a 160-foot AMF Monorail station and seven two-car trains, each with air-conditioning and a capacity of 80 passengers.

I could go into more detail. But, as I said, there are a lot of stellar world's fair websites already out there. One of them is, a site where you could lose yourself for hours reading about all the space-age attractions that were introduced to the public 48 years ago at Flushing Meadows–Corona Park in Queens. The website has a page about the AMF Monorail that can certainly answer any remaining questions you might have. Go check it out!

1. Apparently, world's fair spoons are a major collectible.