Saturday, October 13, 2012

Saturday's postcard: Illustrated map of Tokyo with taijitu symbol

This cool vintage Fukuda postcard1 features a fanciful illustrated map of the Tokyo area, with the Imperial Palace at the center.

I'm not sure if the road system was actually built this way or if it's just a creative interpretation by this illustrator, but it's interesting to see an approximation of taijitu — the symbol for the concept of yin and yang — woven into the design.

I didn't find a good answer to that question, but I did stumble upon this neat 2010 post on Travora about great metro maps of the world while doing some research.

1. Here's what the Metropolitan Postcard Club of New York City has on its website about Fukuda Card Co., which was in business in the 1950s and 1960s and was based in Yokohama, Japan:
"A publisher of books and postcards. Their cards, produced in offset lithography and as Fuku Color photochromes were made in Japan. They did work for the Japanese Travel Bureau and their cards were designed for a duel audience with titles printed in both English and Japanese."
The pegasus-themed company logo shown at right is from the back of today's postcard.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Seven sons from Lancaster County family served during World War II

This newspaper clipping comes from the August 13, 1944, edition of Grit.

The short article from nearly seven decades ago describes the Barto family of Manheim, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.

Ivan Barto and his wife had 14 children, according to the article, seven of whom were serving in the U.S. military:
  • Staff Sgt. Daniel Barto, 30, in France
  • Master Sgt. Myron Barto, 28, in Italy
  • Pfc. Lewis Barto, 26, in France
  • Pfc. Clair Barto, 24, in France
  • Cpl. Dale Barto, 22, in England
  • Pfc. Irvin Barto Jr., 21, en route to a foreign station
  • Albert Barto, 18, recently inducted into the U.S. Army

I don't know if all of the Barto brothers survived World War II. According to notes by Margie Barry, daughter of Albert, on The Albert Barto Family Home Page, most of the Barto siblings lived in Manheim for the rest of their lives. Myron, however, "lived much of his life in York, Pa."

Having five or six or even seven brothers serving in World War II was not that rare. The most famous (and saddest) instance was the five Sullivan brothers of Waterloo, Iowa, all of whom died during or shortly after the sinking of the USS Juneau in November 1942.

Right here in York County, and across the Susquehanna River from the Barto brothers in Manheim, we had the seven Hake brothers of Wrightsville, all of whom saw combat in World War II. The transcript of an oral history interview with Charles K. Hake, one of those seven brothers, is housed at the University of North Texas library.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

MLB in '44: "An additional one dollar to take care of a midnight snack"

Thought you might enjoy this clipping from a summer 1944 issue of the Grit newspaper.

In case you're wondering, though, that was a good amount of money in 1944 and is roughly equivalent to what athletes receive today.

A $7 bill in 1944 ("three squares" plus the $1 midnight snack) would be the equivalent of $88.30 in 2011 dollars.

Here's what I found concerning current per diems:
  • Major League Baseball, $92.50
  • NBA, $120
  • NFL, $95
  • NHL, $98

What's ridiculous, of course, is that Alex Rodriguez, Cliff Lee, Jayson Werth and all of those other athletes with nine-figure contracts are still getting $92.50 per day, too, for their meals.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Victorian trade card: Decker pianos and a naked toddler

This old Victorian trade card for Decker Brothers pianos and the Reading (Pennsylvania) Music House measures 3½ inches wide by 4⅝ inches tall.

And, no, I don't know what naked toddler with a full head of hair has to do with pianos. That's how it goes with Victorian cards. Spooky nights are used to selling baking powder. Little children are used to sell coffee. And cats are used to sell soap.

Decker Brothers was in business from 1865 until about 1900, which helps to date this card somewhat.

According to the text on the back of the card, Decker Brothers' "matchless pianos" could be found at 33 Union Square in New York City. That's the location of the 33-foot-wide Decker Building, which was built in 1892 on the same site as the piano company's first building.1

The Decker Brothers were David and John. According to Wikipedia, their pianos were "known for their exceptional quality in knowledgeable piano circles, and The New York Times wrote that they had 'a wide spread and enviable reputation for their superior quality'. However, they did not achieve the notability of some of their counterparts, specifically Steinway & Sons and Chickering and Sons, even though widely acknowledged as being equivalent in quality."

Indeed, this trade card states that Decker pianos are "indorsed and preferred by the best musical authorities."

The other business listed on this card is Reading Music House, located at 850 Penn Street in Reading, Pennsylvania. The proprietor was one F.S. Greenawalt. I couldn't find much about the music store or Mr. Greenawalt, which isn't surprising, given that this piece of paper is 110 to 140 years old.

The final interesting thing to note is the tiny and faint name on the bottom of the front of the card. Here's a super magnification:

I thought Joseph P. Knapp might be the illustrator. But it appears that he's actually the card's publisher. According to the website of the Metropolitan Postcard Club of New York City:
"Joseph P. Knapp became the [American Lithographic Company's] first president and his old Knapp Co. became the art publishing branch of the new firm in 1900. Together they became the largest printers in the United States controlling about 80 percent of the market. They printed all types of material including early chromolithograph postcards such as the official cards of the 1893 Columbian Exposition for Charles W. Goldsmith. By 1900 most of the separate printing facilities of all these firms had been consolidated into a single plant."

1. The Decker Building was designed by socialist-anarchist architect John H. Edelmann, who might have provided the inspiration for fellow architect Louis Sullivan's maxim "form follows function." Another aside: The Decker Building was the home of Andy Warhol's studio, The Factory, from 1968 through 1973.

Monday, October 8, 2012

From the readers: Cinderellas, Bonnie & Clyde, Manson and more

It is time, once again, to turn things over to my awesome readers for another batch of fun and insightful comments...

A plumbing repair that cost just $2.20 ... in 1906: Jim Fahringer writes: "These old billheads are really neat. Recently I sold some on eBay from the York area. They are actually quite collectable. You translated the billhead for any reader who could not read the fancy cursive handwriting. One of the things that I really like about these old billheads is the beautiful cursive writing. What is really sad is that in about 20 more years, most people will not be able to read any cursive writing since it is no longer being taught in most schools!"

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Top of an old box of Tiddledy Winks: Leslie Ann, who blogs at Lost Family Treasures, writes: "I love the game Tiddly Winks! Just a few months ago I found a game of Tiddly Winks (packaged in a tin) in Gander Mountain. I haven't seen this game since I was a kid, so naturally I had to buy it."

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Saturday's postcard: Wanamaker's and the 1911 World Series: Wendyvee of Wendyvee's writes: "I've been to Philly scads of times but I've never made it to Macy's (Wanamaker's). ... Maybe I'll give it a whirl around Christmas. It's such an iconic building! Nice research on the 1911 Series."

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Vintage photo of a 1936 Ford: Anonymous writes: "Oh, wait! For a minute there I thought this was an unpublished photo of Bonnie and Clyde!"

Note from me: Hmmm. Maybe there's a little resemblance. (See photos at right.) Of course, Bonnie & Clyde never lived to see a 1936 Ford. They were gunned down on May 23, 1934.

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Turning my negative thoughts about ephemera into positives: Wendyvee writes: "I can't even begin to imagine how many negatives end up in landfills every single day. Kudos to you for giving some a bit of an afterlife. Love the woman in the kitchen. What a classic slice of life!"

And Justin Mann of Justin's Brew Review writes: "I absolutely love the title of this post. Admittedly, you had me fooled for a minute. I couldn't figure out how you could possibly be having negative thoughts about ephemera! This is a really interesting look at negatives, which I had just about forgotten. They've gone the way of flash bulb sticks. Like roadsidewonders, I love the negative of the woman in the kitchen. As always, nice work!"

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Neat stuff from an 1880 volume of Edgar Allan Poe's works: Dianne writes: "Loved Leary's bookstore [in Philadelphia]! My Dad would take us there for an annual road trip. We were each allowed to choose books from Leary's children's section for our personal libraries. Fabulous place!"

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Vintage poster stamps from Highland Linen Writing Paper: Wendyvee writes: "One of my fondest memories of my Grandmother's house involves 'Cinderella Stamps'. She saved Christmas Seals — and various other stickers that used to be common with junk mail marketing campaigns — in a shoe box in her dining room closet. When we visited three or four times per year, she would give me the box and a stack of notebook paper and I was in sticker heaven."

And crimsoncat05, who writes the blog "life in the AZ desert," writes: "These are really neat; thank you for the explanation of Cinderella stamps, and for showcasing these tiny pieces of art! My Grandma saved postage stamps, Easter seals, and Christmas seals (now I know what they're called — cool!) in small ring-bound leather notebooks. I have fond memories of when I got to help out by gluing her newest cache of stamps into the notebook. She passed away a number of years ago; I now possess those notebooks full of stamps, and I cherish them."

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Birthday gift from the Class of 1943-44: Wendyvee writes: "What a sweet card. Good work on your part chasing down some leads on these sixth graders from yesteryear. So jarring to think that some of the young sixth graders would grow up to serve in yet another war just a few years later. I bet the teacher/recipient would have been proud to know that he/she had a future microbiologist in the mix."

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Creepy and dilapidated structures of the eastern United States, Part 1: Regarding a photo of the Golden Rule department store in Belington, West Virginia, "Anonymous" fesses up and writes: "I spray painted 'Free Manson' on there. It's hilarious to see it on the Internet."

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A time-honored school tradition: The excuse note: Regarding a small item that had been tucked away inside an old book, Anonymous writes: "Fishburne Military School perhaps? The colors seem right."

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Old mail and lists tucked away inside "The Valley of Decision": Regarding a grocery list that is featured in this post, Justin Mann writes: "That's a LOT of cheese for just two mouse traps. Either they were really big mice or there were a bunch of them."

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Selections from the 1967 Top Value Stamps catalog: Anonymous writes: "I bought a 1966 Chevy Impala. I opened up the glovebox. There was a Top Value book. Most of the pages are complete, but what is this worth? It is near-mint condition? Maybe I'll save it and put it in the car shows with my owner's manual."

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Saturday's postcards: Two neat vintage scenes from Norway: Wendyvee writes: "That is, indeed, the most kick-ass stroller ever!"

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Celebrating Papergreat's 600th post with chickens, past and present: Wendyvee writes: "I'll be the first to sign up for the 'Papergreat Napkin-Ring-Of-The-Month Club'. I'll collect the entire set and impress my friends and neighbors."

Sunday, October 7, 2012

An old bookseller label from Bozeman, Montana

I keep coming across the tiniest ephemeral evidence of bookstores that no longer exist.

In this case, sadly, it's from a bookstore that was alive and kicking for 115 years before its "fade to black" moment this summer.

Today's bookseller label is for Phillips Book Store in Bozeman, Montana. It is affixed to the inside back cover of the 1939 hardcover edition of "The Incredible Era, The Life and Times of Warren Gamaliel Harding."1 The name "Dr. W.S. Bole" is inscribed on the inside front cover.2

One old reference I found for Phillips appears in the May 1933 issue of "The Frontier: A Magazine of the Northwest":
"In its 'News from the States' a recent Saturday Review of Literature characterizes S.G. Phillips Book Store as an outpost of the book trade in Bozeman, Montana, and cites its sale of over seventy copies of CHARLES M. RUSSELL's Good Medicine, edited by Mrs. Russell, with foreword by Will James (Doubleday, Doran & Co.). The Bozeman correspondent of the Review, Polly Robertson, identifies ROGER SCARLETT (Murder Among the Angels) as Dorothy Blair, daughter of a Bozeman pioneer. Miss Blair admits to only half that identity, since EVELYN PAGE of Philadelphia is co-author with her of the mystery novels appearing under that signature. Both were formerly on the editorial staff of Houghton Mifflin & Co. MISS EDNA COBBAN, of Phillips Book Store, reports continued sale of Linderman's Red Mother, Lomax's Cowboy Ballads — which she commends — and other westerns."
When the end finally came for Phillips in July, of Billings, Montana, put things into historical perspective:
"Thomas Edison patented his movie camera, the first shipment of gold from the Yukon arrived in Seattle and Sherman Phillips opened a store to sell typewriters in downtown Bozeman [115 years ago]. ...

The business agreement that created Phillips Books to sell Blickensderfer typewriters was signed 10 days before Bram Stoker published his novel, "Dracula." William McKinley had been sworn in as our 25th president just two months prior. Now, this business is going the way of the Blickensderfer typewriter. ...

"A little disappointing, you know, a 115-year-old business. We're probably one of the four oldest that I'm aware of in town. So, you know you hate to see that go, but businesses come and go, times change, and we have to be willing to make the change. Before I wasn't ready to do it, I'm ready to do it now," [owner Rick Radovich] said. ...

Phillips outlived its typewriter company origins almost five times over. Blickensderfer only lasted 25 years, 90 less than Phillips Books."
Radovich had been in the business for a long time. According to The Bozeman Daily Chronicle, he took over the store from his father-in-law, Harold Arnold, who started working for the store’s original owner, Sherman G. Phillips, in 1937. Radovich ran the operation for 31 years.

1. Raise your hand if you knew President Harding's middle name was Gamaliel.
2. I found a short Associated Press obituary for Bole from November 1954. It states:
"Bozeman, Mont. (AP) -- Dr. W. S. Bole, 72, of Bozeman, substantial owner of interests in the Great Falls Tribune and allied companies, died here Monday of a heart attack.

Bole had been an invalid for several years but had entered a hospital only recently. Bole's father was an editor and co-owner of the Tribune and also formerly owned the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

Services were held Tuesday in Great Falls. His widow and two daughters survive."