Saturday, November 24, 2012

Saturday's postcard: An old alley in Nice, France

This old (but undated) Les Éditions Frank postcard features an alley in Nice, France.

The caption on the front — "Une rue de la Vieille Ville" — translates to "a street in the Old Town."

Nice is the fifth-largest city in France and one of the oldest cities in Europe. It is believed to have been founded around 350 BC (as Nikaia) by the Greeks.1 The city has some unique demographics.

At the outset of World War II, Nice became a refuge for many displaced foreigners, including some Jewish people fleeing the Nazis. Today, the largest immigrant populations in Nice hail from Tunisia, Italy, Morocco, Algeria, Portugal and Spain.

It's interesting to look at the young people in this photo and wonder who they were and what their lives were like. Here are some closeups:

1. The general region of Nice is thought to be the location of one of the oldest human settlements in Europe. The Terra Amata archaeological site, discovered in 1966, was originally a prehistoric beach. Henry de Lumley and his fellow archeologists discovered tools that dated to about 400,000 BC. The evidence uncovered by de Lumley, according to Wikipedia, "suggested that the inhabitants lived in huts on the beach. In the center of each hut was a fireplace, with ashes showing that the inhabitants had domesticated fire. These vestiges included low walls of stones and beach pebbles, placed to the northwest of the fireplaces, which would have sheltered the fire from the strong Mistral wind. De Lumley believed the inhabitants built the huts of animal skins supported by poles, with a hole in the center for the smoke to escape. Twenty to forty people could gather in such a shelter." The theories put forth by de Lumley were later disputed.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Holiday gift ideas off the beaten path

If you're looking for some holiday shopping ideas that don't involve Target, Macy's, Best Buy, Sears, Kmart or JCPenney1, here are some suggestions that fit in nicely with the theme of what I explore every day here on Papergreat.

If you have other suggestions along these lines, please add them in the comments section!

Mel Kolstad's artwork

Mel Kolstad, the author of Ephemeraology, is also an outstanding artist, and her ephemera-themed works are for sale on

She offers collages, miniature collages, pendants, clocks and more.

But the one-of-a-kind pieces can sell quickly, so shop early.

"Spirits of the Abandoned, Maryland"

Earlier this year, I wrote about Sue Tatterson's photographic exploration of the shuttered Scranton Lace Company complex in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Tatterson had previously published "Spirits of the Abandoned, Maryland," a 114-page book of her finest, and most jaw-dropping, photographs from 12 different abandoned sites across Maryland. (Many of the photos have been featured on her website.)

The large-format book is available from Blurb.

J.W. Ocker's grimpendiums

I want J.W. Ocker's life! The talented author of the Odd Things I've Seen blog writes about his "visits to oddities of art, nature, history, and culture across the country and world."

His unique travel writing has been gathered in two books that would make great gifts for that reader on your list who's looking for something different:
  • The New England Grimpendium: "A rich compendium of macabre and historic New England happenings, this travelogue features firsthand accounts of almost 200 sites."
  • The New York Grimpendium: "It’s definitely a wild ride from a jar full of the harvested brains of dead killers to horror movie filming sites around the state; from a ships’ graveyard to lake monster sightings. If it’s in New York and it’s bizarrely noteworthy or wonderfully wacky, you’ll find it in The New York Grimpendium."

The Shorpy Gallery: Fine art prints

The amazing website was first mentioned on Papergreat back in April.

Its easy to lose yourself on, which hosts thousands of high-definition vintage photos dating as far back as the 1850s. (Many come from the Library of Congress research archive.)

And many of those photos are available for purchase as fine-art prints through Juniper Gallery. Sizes from 8½x11 to 53x44 are available, and prices range from a very reasonable $15-$20 up to $400 for huge canvas prints.

With more than 4,000 prints available on topics including sports, Atlantic City, New York City, aircraft, amusement parks, Civil War, Dust Bowl, military, railroads, skyscrapers and "spooky," there's sure to be something for everyone.

Two books from Forgotten Bookmarks

Michael Popek's Forgotten Bookmarks is the Rolls Royce of found-ephemera websites. Even if you're not checking out all the fabulous things Popek, a New York bookseller, finds tucked away inside old books, you should be visiting his website or following him on Facebook or Twitter to take part in his regular (and extremely generous) giveaways.

Popek has also published two terrific compilations of his found ephemera:

Manto Fev: Ephemera and one-of-kind art supplies

Oh, Manto Fev is always such a dangerous website for me to browse! This online store carries materials and supplies for collage, assemblage, art dolls, art quilts and scrapbooking.

But, to me, it's really all just a bunch of wonderful ephemera — that you can purchase by the piece.

For example...
  • 10 pages from a vintage Russian book for $1
  • 30 miscellaneous old postage stamps for $1
  • 3 vintage postcards from India for $1
  • 10 pieces of Chinese Joss paper for $3
  • 3 old cardboard milk caps for $1
  • 4 vintage handwritten receipts for $1
  • and much more
I think I might have to go do some shopping myself now!

1. Yes, that was a gratuitous bit of SEO chicanery there. I'm not above it.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

1971 Thanksgiving gift edition of Ideals magazine

This small, glossy-covered magazine was put out by Ideals Publishing Co. of Milwaukee in 1971.1

Ideals magazine began publication with its Christmas 1944 issue. It can trace it roots, according to the Ideals Books website, back to "the early 1940s, [when] Van B. Hooper began adding bits of poetry, prose, quotations, and art to the company publication he edited for the Louis Allis Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Interest in the publication grew, with requests for it coming in from outside the company and industry." In 2000, Ideals was acquired by Guideposts.

This particular edition of Ideals was intended to be given as a gift. On the first page, there is a spot marked "from" and, decades ago, someone penned

"Happy Thanksgiving."
from Gertrude

on that page. The editor of this issue was Maryjane Hooper Tonn (perhaps the daughter of Van B. Hooper?) and the managing editor was John H. Hafemeister.

The magazine is filled with inspirational passages, verse, songs and idyllic photos. Here's a typical two-page spread:

Among the authors featured are Louis Bromfield, Josephine Millard, Jessie Wilmore Murton, Edgar A. Guest, Margaret A. Wilson, Edith Schumaker, Garnett Ann Schultz, Enola Chamberlin, Brian F. King, Hal Borland, Fairy Walker Lane2, Wilferd A. Peterson, Milly Walton, Paula Sampson, Charles Ruggles Fox, Juanita Johnson, Kirby Page and Margaret Rorke.

Here are a couple more pages from the 1971 magazine, including the one that features Enola Chamberlin's poem. I love the opening stanza:

How much we love the witchery of November,
Blue days with white clouds pinned to their lapels;
Crisp nights when fires burn slowly to an ember,
When frost-clear stars exert their magic spells.

1. The magazine measures 5⅜ inches by 7¼ inches. It is staplebound and features 32 pages (including the covers).
2. There is very little on the Internet about Fairy Walker Lane. She is mentioned as being a contributor to the 1961 book "Kansas Folklore" with the following passage:
[Collected from Fairy Walker Lane, Wichita, Kansas by S. J. Sackett, 1957. Mrs. Lane said the song was popular in 1898 in Melvern, Kansas. It is sung to the tune of "There'll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight."]

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

William L. Freyhof's cool bookplate

They don't make 'em like this any more.

This black-and-white bookplate for Wm. L. Freyhof was pasted inside the 1904 edition of "A Book About Doctors" by John Cordy Jeaffreson.1

The illustration of the a pipe-smoking man and his dog by a fireplace2 was done by "T. Tyler," according to the small printing in the lower-right corner.

If you're a vintage bookplate fan, here are some previous posts in which they are featured:

1. The book, published by The Saalfield Publishing Co., was part of "The Doctor's Recreation Series."
2. It looks like this guy has some action figures from Leni Riefenstahl's "Olympia" on the mantle above his fireplace. Which is kind of awkward.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Guide to Papergreat's Christmas 2011 posts

I know it's early, but clearly some of you are starting to hang the lights, watch the Christmas TV specials and address the Christmas cards.

So here's a handy guide to last year's Christmas-themed Papergreat posts, for your browsing convenience and pleasure during the extended holiday season.

There will, of course, be a whole new batch of Christmas-related ephemera posts this year, but those won't start any earlier than December 1st. I'm trying to keep this expanding season reined in!

(Also, I'm not going to consider it the holiday season until I see some snow on the ground here in southcentral Pennsylvania. Do you hear that, Mother Nature?)


Greeting cards

Miscellaneous cards





Monday, November 19, 2012

Rock of Ages: An invitation to visit the world's deepest granite quarry

Speaking of cemeteries, here's a 64-year-old advertisement for the Rock of Ages Corporation in Graniteville, Vermont.1

The ad appears on the inside front cover of the August 1-15, 1948, issue of The Key, a staplebound tourist guide to central Vermont that was distributed in hotels, tourist cabins and transportation hubs. (I'll be delving into some of the other cool stuff in this issue of The Key — and there's a lot — in a future post.)

Rock of Ages was founded in 1885. Its workers continue to mine a "deep hole" quarry of Devonian Barre Granite, which is considered to be some of the finest rock in the world. Granite is, of course, highly sought for its uses in sculpture, architecture, gravestones and the sport of curling.

Here are some of the highlights of the 1948 advertising text (so that you don't have to squint or otherwise hurt your eyes):
An Invitation to visit the WORLD'S DEEPEST GRANITE QUARRY


  • HUGE DERRICKS, 110 feet tall, hoisting tremendous blocks — some weighing 50 tons
  • THE QUARRIERS, dwarfed by their surroundings, drilling into solid granite 350 feet below you
  • THE FASCINATING HILL-CLIMBING LOCOMOTIVES operating over 10 miles of private railroad
  • HOW THE MARVELOUS VEIN of Rock of Ages came to be here
Note: — Years ago, Rock of Ages actually quarried one whole block of granite which weighed 65,000,000 lbs. It took 1728 freight cars to move the granite supplied by this one block.

If you're interested in more information, here are some pages to check out on the Rock of Ages website:

1. Rock of Ages was also mentioned, in passing, in the August 2012 post "Try a whiskey sour at Montpelier Tavern."
2. I don't know what they told people in 1948, but I found a couple modern references to this supply of granite lasting another 4,500 years.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

1910 advertisement for West Laurel Hill Cemetery (Wanamaker Diary)

This advertisement comes from the 1910 Wanamaker Diary that I've been blogging about throughout the year. It's for West Laurel Hill Cemetery, which is located in suburban Philadelphia.1

West Laurel Hill opened in 1869 to serve as a companion rural cemetery to Philadelphia's Laurel Hill, a famous necropolis that is the final resting place of Peter A.B. Widener, David Rittenhouse, Phillies announcer Harry Kalas, Declaration of Independence signer Thomas McKean and Gen. George Meade (the victorious general at the Battle of Gettysburg), among other notables.

West Laurel Hill doesn't have quite the name power that Laurel Hill does, but it still has its fair share of celebrities, including:
  • David Hayes Agnew (pictured at right), a noted surgeon who operated on President James Garfield's fatal gunshot wound
  • John Cromwell Bell, whose claim to fame was serving as governor of Pennsylvania for three weeks in 1947
  • Anna Jarvis, who "invented" Mother's Day and then spent the rest of her life fighting its commercialization

West Laurel Hill Cemetery was already doing pretty well by 1910. According to this advertisement, its fund for perpetual care was in excess of $174,000.

The prices for grave lots look like bargains by today's standards. But, make no mistake, this was a pricey cemetery. For $155, you could purchase 10 lots. That's the equivalent of a $3,600 price tag today.

You did get better bargains by bulking in bulk. If you bought 10 lots, you paid $15.50 per lot (the equivalent of about $370 per lot today). If you bought only three lots, you paid $19.33 per lot (the equivalent of about $460 today).

Today, single burial sites can cost anywhere from $400 to $10,000 per plot, according to And that's just a small part of the overall costs associated with a funeral. A “regular adult funeral” these days will cost at least $9,000, according to the aforementioned website, which breaks down all the options regarding burial clothes, caskets, flowers, the guest register book2, the hearse, the grave marker and more.

My personal thoughts about my eventual funeral and burial are that I want it, first and foremost, to be cheap. It shouldn't cost your relatives an arm and leg to dispose of your body.3 And, secondly, the focus should be on biodegradability. I think it's pretty dumb to stick a dead body inside something that's made of metal, fiberglass or treated hardwood and is hermetically sealed and designed to survive a nuclear strike. Give me something that will rot away as soon as possible — banana husks, wool, or (and wouldn't this be appropriate?) recycled paper.

So, there you go. I wasn't expecting this post to digress into a Mitford-esque discussion about modern funeral practices, but I guess it did.

1. The cemetery is located within Bala Cynwyd, an unincorporated community within the Welsh Tract of Lower Merion Township.
2. You can expect to be charged between $25 and $80 for the guest register book, according to
3. If you think about it, though, that's the one time you could afford to pay an arm and leg — or two arms and two legs. You're not going to miss them at that point.