Saturday, September 15, 2012

Saturday's postcards: An alley in France and an asylum in Lancaster

Happy Saturday!

First up is this undated, unused Les Editions postcard featuring an awesome alley in Collioure, a centuries-old village of about 3,000 people on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea in southern France.

Collioure is part of France's Côte Vermeille, or vermilion coast.

The centerpiece and main attraction of Collioure — a place that has inspired many writers and artists over the years1 — is Château Royal de Collioure, a huge castle with portions that might date to the 7th century (or even earlier).

This postcard fits into one of my favorite subcategories on Papergreat: Alleys and walkable communities. Other scenes featured have included:

Also, these alley shots always have so many wonderful little details hidden within them.

Did you notice, for example, the girl on the balcony in today's postcard? She's shown at right, in a magnification.

Today's second postcard brings us back to Pennsylvania. This card, which has had its stamp and corner torn off, was postmarked 105 years ago — on July 10, 1907.2

Printed on the card is County Alms and Asylum, Lancaster, Pa.

And someone has added the note "A familiar scene" followed by something illegible.

The construction of the building dates to 1799. When it opened, it was primarily intended for the social control of the poor. To read more about it, here are two excellent websites, full of history and photos:
This building and its history are topics I'd like to dive into further in a future post. But, if you can't wait, those two links above will serve you quite well.

One final tidbit from this Lancaster postcard. It was published by The American News Company, which was based in New York but had most of its printing done in the German citeis of Leipzig, Dresden and Berlin. This was its logo:

Update: Readers discuss postcard of old Lancaster asylum

1. Those who were captured by the spell of Collioure included Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Tsuguharu Foujita and historical novelist Patrick O'Brian.
2. There was a solar eclipse on July 10, 1907.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Neat stuff from an 1880 volume of Edgar Allan Poe's works

This well-worn 1880 edition1 of "Select Works of Edgar Allan Poe, Poetical and Prose," besides having a fairly comprehensive selection2 of Poe's works in its 676 pages, features the kinds of little treasures that we love here on Papergreat.

First up, here is gorgeous gold lettering and design in the middle of the green front cover. (Chalk this up as another example of "Things you can never experience with an e-book.")

Second, check out the vintage bookplate for Louis Kaplan, one of the book's previous owners.3

But who was Louis Kaplan? And do we know exactly when he purchased this book? I believe we do, thanks to this extremely specific inscription at the front of the book.

It states:
Leary's Book Store
August 9, 1944
4:09 p.m.

Louis Kaplan
1041 Langham Avenue
Camden, New Jersey
And so we know exactly when this book was purchased.4 And where it was purchased.

Leary’s Book Store was a famous bookstore on South 9th Street in Philadelphia. It had been in business for nearly 100 years when it closed in the late 1960s.

Here are some neat tidbits about Leary's from Wikipedia:
  • It was within a three-story building with basement (all of them full of books).
  • Books were piled everywhere — on shelves and tables — for readers to browse through.
  • Additional books were placed outside on shelves in an alleyway separating it from Gimbels. Most of the time, the books and browsers were at the mercy of the weather.
  • The store tied its advertising to the “The Bookworm,” an 1850 painting by German painter and poet Carl Spitzweg. A cropped portion of this painting (shown at right), featuring the bookworm on a ladder, was used in Leary’s advertising.
  • The store purchased large collections of books from private libraries and offered them individually for sale. It claimed to have "twenty thousand square feet of books, representing nearly five hundred thousand volumes."
  • After the store closed, its remaining book stock was cataloged for auction. A number of extremely old documents were found among its contents, including an original broadside of the Declaration of Independence dated to 1776. It sold for more than $400,000 at auction.

1. The publisher was W.J. Widdleton of New York. Based upon the advertisements in the back of the book, Widdleton specialized in repackaging Poe's works in various shapes and sizes, including a four-volume "half calf" edition of his complete works for $15 (the equivalent of $334 today!) and a Blue and Gold Edition of Poe's poems for $1.
2. In addition to the standard stuff, some of Poe's humorous writings and essays featured in this volume include:
3. If you're a bookplate fan, here are some previous Papergreat posts in which they are featured:
4. Also on August 9, 1944:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A plumbing repair that cost just $2.20 ... in 1906

Wow! Have I really not posted an old receipt here since February?

Well, here's one. It shows that on February 6, 1906, a Mr. Henderson of 1508 Walnut Street1 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, needed his water pipe repaired.

In came I.R. Lyme & Co., plumbers and gas fitters. The fix required seven feet of half-inch galvanized pipe, a union, and three hours of the plumber's time.

The bill came in two days later: $2.20

In case you can't read the fancy cursive writing, here's the breakdown:
  • Pipe: 70¢
  • Union: 30¢
  • Three hours labor: $1.20
  • Total: $2.20

That was no small sum, though. According to The Inflation Calculator, $2.20 in 1906 would be the equivalent of $52.69 in 2010 dollars. The labor itself was still cheap, though. The 40 cents per hour would be the equivalent of $9.58 per hour today. I'm guessing plumbers charge more than that, though I generally prefer not to find out.

I.R. Lyme was, for a time, the treasurer of the Master Plumbers' Association of Harrisburg. And I found this interesting news item in Volume 38 of The Plumbers Trade Journal, published in 1905:
"The annual picnic of the master plumbers' association of Harrisburg, Pa., was held at the Creek Club House recently. ... The club house is a beautiful spot situated on the banks of the Yellow Breeches Creek. Many games were indulged by the plumbers, among which the baseball game was of especial interest. Two teams, captained by C.W. Fisher and I.R. Lyme, played an interesting game, which was won by Fisher's team by the score of 15 to 3. C. Nauss pitched for the victorious side, while J.W. Reeser did the twirling for the losers. J.W. Neill umpired the game, and there were whispers of partiality. ... The 'Creek rollers,' a specialty act by Lyme, Bayles, Bumbaugh, Crabbe was the crowning success of the day and was enjoyed by all."
1. This address is now the home of the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

This bookmark from a 1980s Scholastic book is just aces

This Ace of Clubs1 was tucked away inside the pages of the 1988 Scholastic edition of Margaret Mahy's "Leaf Magic and Five More Stories."

What could it mean?

In fortune-telling, the Ace of Clubs signifies wealth, prosperity and unexpected gain, although, as one website states, "this money may disappear almost as quickly as it appears."

So maybe it means that Joan and I are going to win Powerball tomorrow (we already have a lucky-looking ticket2), but then the money will quickly blow away, like the autumn leaves on this book cover.

Or perhaps the other side of the playing card can provide more insight as we attempt to interpret the delicate strands of this mystery involving aces, clubs, wealth, autumn and foliage...


Never mind.

1. For this post, I enjoyed discovering what the playing card suits are named in other countries and historic regions. For example, they are Hearts, Bells, Acorns and Leaf/Grass/Greens in German. And, in Swiss German, they are Roses, Bells, Acorns and Shields.
2. If our Powerball ticket — which contains my day of birth and a reference to Pi — isn't a winner, I can just stick it into a big manila envelope for a future ephemeraologist to enjoy. Perhaps I'll scrawl on the back, "I bought this ticket the morning after having a dream that Joan drove our car off a mountain." That will cause the future researcher some consternation, for sure.

Trying to get inside this fellow's head (the 1916 "Library of Health")

When you were a kid, did you ever lose an afternoon to browsing, entranced, through medical textbooks or anatomy books?1

Well, 1916's "Library of Health" — not its full title2 — must have been quite the attraction for curious children nearly a century ago.

The book, edited by three doctors3, has nearly 1,800 pages and is copiously illustrated with halftone and color plates. And the coolest feature: There are several multiple-layer, cross-section illustrations of body parts such the eye (shown above), ear and torso. Readers can lift the external illustration to get a glimpse of what lies beneath in the human body.4

Of these cross-sections, my favorite is a five-layer look inside the human head. Pretending to be Hannibal Lecter, readers can slowly peel away the skin and other layers of a fine-looking Caucasian gentleman.

Here are the layers, in order (click on any image for a larger version):

"A Picture of Good Health"

In case you were wondering where your mirthfulness is located...

My, what nice teeth you have...

For some odd reason, one of the few things I remember from my college psychology class is the part about severing the corpus callosum to cure some patients of their seizures.

Give him red eyes, and he'll be ready to chase Linda Hamilton.

1. No, wise guys, Playboy is not an anatomy book.
2. Yes, this is one of those books with a really long official title. It is (deep breath):
"Library of Health, Complete Guide to Prevention and Cure of Disease, Containing Practical Information on Anatomy, Physiology and Preventive Medicine; Curative Medicine, First Aid Measures, Diagnosis, Nursing, Sexology, Simple Home Remedies, Care of the Teeth, Occupational Diseases, Garden Plant Remedies, Alcohol and Narcotics, Treatment by Fifteen Schools of Medicine, Beauty Culture, Physical Culture, the Science of Breathing and the Dictionary of Drugs."
3. The authors of this book, which was issued by Historical Publishing Co. of Philadelphia, were B. Frank Scholl, Frank E. Miller and Anne McFarland Sharp, the last of whom also penned "Nervous Trouble Among Women." As a final aside, I found it mildly amusing that the copyright page states "All Rights Reserved, Including that of the Translation into Foreign Languages, Including the Scandinavian." Not sure why the Scandinavians had to be singled out there. Were they notorious copyright scoundrels?
4. The illustrations were done by E.J. Stanley. You can see more of them in this March 2012 blog post titled "The Diminishing Craft of Book Making (deprivation of the e-book)." Also, interestingly, The New York Times used Stanley's medical illustrations to jazz up this 2008 "How Much Do You Know About Your Body?" interactive online quiz.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Cool 19th century signature of the day: J.J. Dillan (or is it Dillon?)

Here's a gorgeous signature that I believe is worth its own post.

It's a piece of art, really. You don't see cursive writing like that these days.

It's the signature for J.J. Dillan (or is it Dillon?) and it appears on the title page of Harper & Brothers' 1854 edition of "Lives of the Queens of Scotland and English Princesses Connected with the Regal Succession of Great Britain (Volume IV)" by Agnes Strickland.1

My original guess would have been that the last name on the signature is "Dillan," but research points to this possibly being the signature of J.J. Dillon, who resided in the Midwest in the 19th century.

Here's an excerpt from Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska:
"J. J. DILLON, dealer in stock and grain, P. O. Sterling. Mr. Dillon was born and reared in Sangamon County, Ill.,, where he took up the stock business, and successfully followed it there till 1866, when he came here, and has been actively connected with the stock and agricultural industries of this county since. In 1868, he was married to Miss Sophia J. Irwin, who was born and reared in his native county. They have a family of two sons -- Joshua S. and Robert E. Mr. Dillon has been an active worker in the development of the social and business life of his county since coming here."
I guess he's as good a possibility as any for the fellow who put him name in this old book.

1. I don't get to write too many posts about 1854. And you know how I like connecting dates from pieces of ephemera to moments in history. So I am pleased to present this tidbit from baseball in 1854 from Brian McKenna's It's a newspaper article about the state of the sport in that year, and includes this wonderful line: "About forty-five members were present, and enjoyed themselves in a manner that indicated that ball-playing does not seriously diminish the appetite for either physical or intellectual enjoyment."

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Vintage poster stamps from Highland Linen Writing Paper

These poster stamps were pasted, decades ago, into a small notepad that I recently picked up at the great antiques store in York New Salem.1 The five colorful stamps measure 1½ inches wide by 1¾ inches.

A poster stamp is defined by Wikipedia as:
" advertising label, a little larger than most postage stamps, that originated in the mid-19th century and quickly became a collecting craze, growing in popularity up until World War One and then declining by World War Two."
Poster stamps are a subset in the larger category of Cinderella stamps, which encompass not just advertising, but anything resembling a postage stamp but not issued or intended for postal purposes.2

They are fondly referred to as "Cinderella stamps" because, just as Cinderella was not allowed to attend the ball, these non-postal stamps are usually not considered acceptable for inclusion in official stamp shows.

There is a lot of great information out there about poster stamps and Cinderella stamps. Here are a few links to get you rolling:

These Highland Linen Writing Paper stamps promote the fun and enjoyment of writing letters.3 There are quotations purportedly from Miguel de Cervantes ("Visit me with thy merrie words — they cheer my soul") and Benjamin Franklin ("Tis as much a pleasure to write thy friend as have they friend write thee").

Other stamps state "letters are the fuel in the fire of friendship" and "half a page rather than no letter."

Most of the references that I find for Highland Linen Writing Paper are from the time period of roughly 1900 to 1930. I don't know much about it, or Eaton's Highland Linen, beyond that.

I did find the following anecdote in a 1908 issue of Printer' Ink:
"When you go away on your vacation drop a box of Highland Linen paper in your trunk. When you write a letter never apologize for the paper you use! Have the kind of paper that requires no apology — rather that kind that will elicit comments on your good taste. Highland Linen is a refined paper for refined people, and it is usually found on every desk that sends out good letter writing — a paper that neither absorbs the ink nor trips the pen." From an advertisement of Dives, Pomeroy & Stewart, Harrisburg, Pa.

Some Highland Linen poster stamps, in much more pristine condition than the ones I have shown here, can still be purchased on eBay. You can find them by doing a search for "Highland Linen".

1. The owner of the York New Salem store, John Robinson, wrote a little about himself and his store in a 2007 letter to the York Sunday News. An excerpt:
"I now own a former general store and post office building (W.A.H. Schwartz's). I am also owner of a former soda fountain pump cabinet from the Haines shoe house, when Dave Keller owned it. I bought it from him, and now use it for my kitchen sink."
2. Other types of Cinderella stamps include "tax paid" stamps, license stamps, trading stamps (such as those needed to purchase items from the 1967 Top Value Stamps catalog), and Christmas and Easter seals.
3. In 2009, Psychology Today published an article titled "Does Anyone Write Letters Anymore?"