Saturday, January 12, 2013

Another Victorian trade card featuring a child in imminent danger

What was wrong with people 100 years ago?

Yesterday, I feature a Victorian trade card showing a young girl precariously perched atop the head of a bull.

And now we have this trade card for Consolidated Milling Co. of Minneapolis.

At best, this boy, who looks like he's about 4 years old, is about to cut off all the fingers on his left hand.

At worst, he's going to decapitate himself. Which will just ruin everyone's day.

IF YOU LEARN ONE THING FROM READING EPHEMERA BLOGS, LET IT BE THIS: NEVER CUT TOWARD YOURSELF WITH A KNIFE. (I learned this the hard way, with a box-cutter, during my brash younger days.)

Once you get to the back of the trade card, there's no mention of the child-in-jeopardy illustration on the front. It's just a bunch of blather about flour.

If Consolidated Milling Co. had truly cared about its customers, perhaps it could have included helpful safety tips on these cards. For example: "Always remember to knead your dough thoroughly before putting it into the pan. And mind that your child doesn't plunge a carving knife into his eyeball."

Help me with official Papergreat Market Research™

One of my goals for Papergreat this year is to try to stretch the bounds of what I can do with all this wonderful material in the Otto ephemera warehouse. A movie deal seems a bit out of reach at the moment, but I've been mulling the possibility of pulling some of this content off the blog the publishing it as a book.

So if you could take a moment and vote in the survey below, I would appreciate it greatly.

And if you have any ideas or comments beyond the poll, I'd love to hear them in the comments section below.

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Vintage baseball photo to help tide you over until spring training

Enough with the NFL playoffs and the return of the NHL. We need some baseball!

We'll get it in 31 days.

The Philadelphia Phillies' pitchers and catchers report to Clearwater on Tuesday, February 12.

In the meantime, here's an old picture of a man wearing catching gear. He looks a wee bit like John Kinsella, don't you think? Unfortunately, there's no identifying information on the photograph.

Here are some other baseball-related posts, to help tide you over until hope springs eternal once again. I also have new baseball-ephemera posts in the coming weeks, to keep the hot stove warm.

Postcard featuring a much safer way for a child to ride an animal

On the heels of last night's Victorian trade card child-safety debacle, here's a tattered old postcard featuring a kid — I'm pretty sure it's a girl — atop a burro.

Written in pencil and cursive on the back of the postcard is:

Miss Valera Sell
From George Strickler

That's it, unfortunately.

The other thing of note about this postcard comes when you zoom in closer and look at the child's hat.

Those crossed rifles are the insignia of the Infantry Branch of the United States Army. The "42" above the rifles likely refers to the 42nd Infantry Regiment, which was constituted in 1917.

I'm not sure what the "SV" below the rifles refers to. Any experts on this topic out there?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Victorian trade card for George Boepple, bologna manufacturer

Victorian trade cards were just weird sometimes.
Does anyone have any insight into what's going on here?
Is that a bull or an ox?
What is that girl wearing?
What the heckfire is she doing?
Were children really left alone to do terribly unsafe things like this?

Just curious. This is, you know, not something you see every day.

The back of the card indicates that the card was issued as an advertisement for George Boepple Co., a bologna manufacturer and provision dealer.

A Google search for "'George Boepple' and bologna" nets zilch. Some other searches, however, indicate that this company was located in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Here's a snippet from a Worcester directory published in 1920 that confirms that John Reichert (along with Fritz and Jacob Bauer) was involved in the sausage-making business with George Boepple Co.

But none of this, as is typical with Victorian trade cards, has anything to do with the Theater of the Bizarre going on with this card's illustration.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Mystery photo of an old, old relative

Here's a mystery photo of one of my 19th century relatives. The photograph is on a thin metal plate that measures 2⅜ inches by 3½ inches. It is not labeled.

Mom is pretty sure it's either my great-great-grandfather or great-great-great-grandfather.

The interesting aspects, especially now that we can magnify the image, include the fake backdrop and the man's uniform. What do you think of this fine-looking fella? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Who needs a trillion dollar coin when you have the Magic Money Tree?

"The Magic Money Tree" — Frontispiece from 1929's "Wonder Tales From China Seas" by Frances Jenkins Olcott

The idea of a Trillion Dollar Coin is getting a lot of, ahem, currency these days as our United States politicians and pundits debate all things fiscal and cliff-like. There was even a tongue-in-cheek (I think) opinion piece in The Washington Post last month advocating the sale of Alaska to help pay off the national debt.

Clearly, though, what we need more than a Trillion Dollar Coin is a legendary Magic Money Tree, complete with a Helper Monkey™ to toss the coins down from the branches.

Speaking of the Trillion Dollar Coin, here are some Twitter one-liners on that topic from Ryan Teague Beckwith, the politics editor at Digital First Media's Project Thunderdome:
  • That $1 trillion platinum coin is going to be the MacGuffin in "National Treasure Part VI" in 2024.
  • National Treasure 3: With the debt ceiling looming, Nic Cage must find a $1 trillion coin owned by John Quincy Adams.1
  • IDEA: Obama coins $1 trillion coin, puts "DEFAULT" on one side and "PAY DEBTS" on the other. Boehner flips.
  • If Ron Paul were still in Congress, we'd be arguing whether the $1 trillion coin should be gold instead of platinum.
  • Barack Obama? RT @TheStalwart: HUGE! A Nobel Prize winner joins the #MintTheCoin movement
  • I love that the trillion-dollar coin idea first came from someone named "Beowulf."
  • House Republican proposes bill to prevent Obama from using trillion-dollar coin. Reminder: Obama would have to sign that bill into law.
If you're still confused, Beckwith ties everything together nicely in this explainer. There's no mention, however, of the Magic Money Tree idea. Maybe we should leave that one for the Green Party.

1. It will be a lot easier for Nicolas Cage to acquire the lost coin if he's actually a ... vampire.

The Incomplete Lada Draskovic

One the most interesting lives I've come across while writing Papergreat is the that of Lada Draskovic.

Her story, as I know it, remains incomplete. And it's not just incomplete, but scattered across several different posts.

So I thought I'd compile everything I know about her in one place, for the sake of completeness and perhaps to make it easier for someone who's seeking (or sharing) information about Draskovic and her Sweetniks.

Part I: The Photo

I was flipping through the 1961 Compton Yearbook in early 2011 and came across the interesting entry for "Toys." The entry includes this photo, the caption for which reads: "BEATNIK DOLLS. These unusual dolls, called 'sweetniks,' are shown with their creator, Yugoslavia's Lada Draskovic, in Rome."

Beatnik dolls? Sweetniks? Lada Draskovic? The mystery was afoot. I asked readers to help out as we worked together to discover more.

Part II: Some Digging Online

While I asked readers to help find information about Draskovic and her dolls, I also did some digging of my own. This is what I came across.

In 2003, Edgar Chavasse, who served in the British military in World War II, posted a note on Rodoslovlje, the website of the Serbian Genealogical Society, seeking information on the three children of the Draskovic family. Chavasse wrote: "The eldest Dejan (?) went to University in Italy to study Law. The daughter Lada was also in Italy and the youngest Stojan was killed in 1944/5 and is buried in a small cemetery by the water near Kotor. Their father did not survive the war and their mother was in Dubrovnik in 1947/8. I knew Dejan and Lada in Florence 1944-1946 but then lost touch. If they are alive they will be nearly 80 by now but I would be very grateful for any information."

Chavasse had some success with his research and checked back to the same forum with this update in 2005. (Note: I have cleaned up some typos and punctuation in the following excerpt.)
"Let me set out what I know. The family Draskovic was resident in Kotor Bokarska until World War II. I believe that the father may have been executed by Tito's Communist forces in 1944 and that this was reported in the local press. The mother moved to Dubrovnik where she was living in mid 1947 when I visited her there whilst still in the Army and attached to The British Embassy in Belgrade. I also visited and photographed Stojan's grave and was told he had been killed in action against the Germans in 1944. As to Dejan I think he was possibly at Bologna University rather than, say Padova. He was with a group of Italian Partizans north of Assisi and, after the liberation, fell gravely ill in Gubbio during October 1944. I took his sister [Note from Chris: That would be Lada] over to get him from there and brought him back to Florence, where he recovered. That was a hair-raising journey by jeep with no windscreen in bad weather. At the time I was part of a small unit waiting to go into Bologna, but we never achieved it. Lada was working as a receptionist at The Excelsior Hotel in Florence from after the liberation in 1944 until late 1947, when she may have married an Italian businessman in the hardware business. At that time the Excelsior was an Officers Rest Hotel run by the US Army. Unfortunately all their staff records were lost in the postwar flood disaster. The then-manager, "Boris", was transferred to the Danieli in Venice, but has died so there are no leads there."
Later in 2005, Chavasse mentions in a post that he has "succeeded in tracing Lada Draskovic," but doesn't specify what that means or give any further information. And that part of the trail has ended there, barring future contact with Chavasse.

Part III: A Sweetnik Owner

An email from Deborah Greife helped with the furthering of this story.

She wrote me the following note: "I have one of the Sweetnik dolls from Italy. I have been trying to research and find more information on them, but this blog is the only place I've found any reference to them at all, other than a PDF someone has that is a scanned image of a newspaper page with the same photo you have here. I'm really trying hard to find out more about these dolls and their creator. Any help would be appreciated."

This is the PDF newspaper image that Deborah Greife is referring to. It's from the February 8, 1960, edition of The Leader-Herald in Gloversville-Johnstown, New York. While it is the same photo featured previously on Papergreat, the caption is different and sheds some new light on Sweetniks:
"DOLLSVILLE -- Unusual beatnik dolls, called 'sweetniks,' naturally, surround their creator, Lada Draskovic, in Rome. The dolls are dressed in loose-fitting sweaters, toreador pants and sandals. Their straggly, woolen hair is done in bright red, blue, orange and green. Selling like hotcakes in Rome, the way-out dolls may soon be introduced to U.S.-ville."
Deborah and I exchanged some further emails and she sent me some great photos (shown below) of her Sweetnik doll. She adds: "I attached some pics of my doll and her cat. I forgot to mention that she has a cat! The cat has no tags but she is wearing 2 bangle bracelets and 1 bracelet has a tin tag that reads: SWEETNIK on one side and the other side reads: 'Brevettato Patented Made in Italy.' ... Maybe with some luck we will get to the bottom of the mystery of the sweetnik dolls. I will contact some doll collector sites and see if I can get more info as well."

Deborah also added, on Collectors Weekly, this description of the doll: "She is made of sticks with a ceramic or clay head, her arms feel like pipe cleaners, her dress is cardboard covered in felt."


So that's where this story and ongoing mystery stand as of January 2013. (See this 2018 addendum for more information.) I'll keep digging when I have time. And if anyone has anything to share about the Draskovic family or Sweetniks, please contact me in the comments section below, by email at, on Papergreat's Facebook page, or on Twitter @Papergreat.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Illustrated cover of 1919's "At War with Pontiac"

Given that it's been around for 94 years, I think the pasted-down illustration on the front cover of 1919's "At War with Pontiac" by Kirk Munroe has held up quite well.

It has that kind of vintagey goodness that some people look for when they decorate their summer houses and guest rooms, don't you think?

Some more tidbits from the book:
  • Its alternate title is "The Totem of the Bear."
  • Jerry gave Dick this book as a gift on August 21, 1942, according to an inside front cover inscription.1
  • John Brake of Greenville, Virginia, acquired it on July 9, 1977.
  • The opening sentence contains 47 words and two semicolons: "A glorious midsummer day was drawing to a close; its heat had passed; the tall forest trees, whose leaves were pleasantly rustled by the cool breeze of approaching night, flung a bridge of tremulous shadows across the surface of Loch Meg, and all nature was at peace."
  • Chapter XXVII is titled "How the Paymaster Navigated Lake Erie in a Tub."
  • The final passage get a bit mystical: "They were married in the quaint little chapel of the fort, and, as Pontiac gave his beautiful daughter into the arms of him, who was now become doubly his son, he said: — 'May the Great Spirit, the All-seeing Eye of the Magic Circle, who looks alike upon his red children of the forest, and his white children from beyond the salt waters, forever bless this union of the Totem of the Beaver with the Totem of the Bear.'"

1. Also on August 21, 1942, the New York Yankees defeated the Washington Senators, 17-7, in front of 10,024 fans at Yankee Stadium. Phil Rizzutto had five hits for the Yankees, and the Senators' cleanup hitter was Bobby Estalella, the grandfather of one-time Phillie Bobby Estalella.

I hope your coach isn't a Jailer, Mumbler or Sad Sam

I was leafing through 1975's "Coaching Girls and Women: Psychological Perspectives" and getting ready to place it in the donation box when one page caught my eye.

In a discussion of coaching styles, the authors — Patsy E. Neal and Thomas A. Tutko — cite a 1971 study by Lloyd Percival in which he outlined coaching types that served as positive forces and coaching types that served as negative forces.

What I found interesting were the labels Percival (or perhaps those he interviewed) used for the negative and positive types. I think the language is a neat reflection of the era (late 1960s, early 1970s). We certainly don't use all of these phrases any more to describe our coaches.

Positive Types
  • Counsellor
  • Mr. Cool
  • Democrat
  • Appreciator
  • Inspirer
  • Organizer
  • Orator
  • Planner
  • With It
  • The Doctor
  • Explainer
  • Salesman
  • Tourist
  • Supporter
  • Shrink

Negative Types
  • Insulter
  • Shouter
  • Avenger
  • Choker
  • Shakey
  • Tough Guy
  • Molder
  • Hero
  • Rocker
  • Whiner
  • Fast Mouth
  • Blister
  • Rapper
  • Black Catter
  • General Custer
  • Critic
  • Super Friend
  • White Cane
  • Sulker
  • Sloppy Joe
  • Hitter
  • Mumbler
  • Sad Sam
  • Scientist (Genius)
  • Jailer

Many of these terms are also included and explained on "What Type of Coach Are You?" — a tip sheet that was put together by diving coach Hobie Billingsley in 2002. Interestingly, Billingsley uses the negative term "Hitler" instead of "Hitter." I wonder if that was a typo in the 1975 book.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Illustrations of two characters from Sir Walter Scott's Waverley Novels

Here are the neatly detailed frontispieces from two of Sir Walter Scott's Waverley Novels, as published more than 100 years ago by Harper & Brothers.1

Shown above is Guy Mannering, the title character from 1815's "Guy Mannering." He is a military man and an amateur astrologer, which would explain the telescope and what appears to be an astrological globe next to him.

And above is Mr. Jonathan Oldbuck of Monkbarns — the amateur historian, archaeologist and collector at the center of 1816's "The Antiquary."

He is surrounded by piles of cool stuff, including numerous old books and a helmet from a suit of armor. But my favorite thing in this illustration — being the owner of four of them2 — is his black cat.

Here is the wonderful passage from the novel in which the cat makes its first appearance:
"It was indeed some time before Lovel could, through the thick atmosphere, perceive in what sort of den his friend had constructed his retreat. It was a lofty room of middling size, obscurely lighted by high narrow latticed windows. One end was entirely occupied by book-shelves, greatly too limited in space for the number of volumes placed upon them, which were, therefore, drawn up in ranks of two or three files deep, while numberless others littered the floor and the tables, amid a chaos of maps, engraving, scraps of parchment, bundles of papers, pieces of old armour, swords, dirks, helmets, and Highland targets. Behind Mr. Oldbuck's seat (which was an ancient leathern-covered easy-chair, worn smooth by constant use) was a huge oaken cabinet, decorated at each corner with Dutch cherubs, having their little duck-wings displayed, and great jolter-headed visages placed between them. The top of this cabinet was covered with busts, and Roman lamps and paterae, intermingled with one or two bronze figures. The walls of the apartment were partly clothed with grim old tapestry, representing the memorable story of Sir Gawaine's wedding, in which full justice was done to the ugliness of the Lothely Lady; although, to judge from his own looks, the gentle knight had less reason to be disgusted with the match on account of disparity of outward favour, than the romancer has given us to understand. The rest of the room was panelled, or wainscotted, with black oak, against which hung two or three portraits in armour, being characters in Scottish history, favourites of Mr. Oldbuck, and as many in tie-wigs and laced coats, staring representatives of his own ancestors. A large old-fashioned oaken table was covered with a profusion of papers, parchments, books, and nondescript trinkets and gewgaws, which seemed to have little to recommend them, besides rust and the antiquity which it indicates. In the midst of this wreck of ancient books and utensils, with a gravity equal to Marius among the ruins of Carthage, sat a large black cat, which, to a superstitious eye, might have presented the genius loci, the tutelar demon of the apartment. The floor, as well as the table and chairs, was overflowed by the same mare magnum of miscellaneous trumpery, where it would have been as impossible to find any individual article wanted, as to put it to any use when discovered."
Sounds like my kind of room!

1. Another one of these frontispieces was highlighted in the July 10, 2012, post.
2. Send some good thought-waves over to our Mr. Bill, who has been struggling with multiple bladder blockages since Thanksgiving and is still feeling quite under the weather.

"Only A Tract" from the Full Salvation Tract Society

This one-sheet religious tract caught my eye because it was published by the Full Salvation Tract Society in nearby Hanover, Pennsylvania.1 The Society was located at 214 High Street in Hanover, which now appears to be the address of a residence. The following note is added on the back: "Tracts Free as The Lord Supplies The Needs. Samples Sent Free. (Postage Appreciated)."

The tract measures three inches by five inches. On the front is a picture of door with the writing "JESUS SAID, I AM THE DOOR. BY ME, IF ANY MAN ENTER IN HE SHALL BE SAVED."

On the reverse side is a 28-line piece of verse titled "Only A Tract."

There aren't many other online references to "Only A Tract," though I'm sure it was a verse that was available freely for use elsewhere. The verse appears in the May 2, 1908, edition (Vol. I, No. 5) of Gospel Herald, which was published out of Scottdale, Pennsylvania.2

1. Joan and I acquired a bunch of old religious tracts as part of a box lot at an estate sale last autumn. The majority of them were produced by the still-active Pilgrim Tract Society of Randleman, N.C. In November, Joan wrote about one of those tracts, which was titled, "The Lamentable Death of Polly Yost, Who Died in York County, Pa." I'll post a gallery of some of the more interesting vintage Pilgrim tracts — and there are a bunch — at a later date.
2. Radio reporter Herbert Morrison (1905-1989) once lived in Scottdale. He was best known for his live report of the Hindenburg disaster — "Oh, the humanity and all the passengers screaming around here."