Saturday, January 19, 2013

Photo: "Aunt Rose & me" just sittin' on a log over the water

Here's a miscellaneous vintage photo. The only identification is "Aunt Rose & me" on the back, in pencil.

As always, if either one of these women belong to your family, let me know and we'll get this photo back to its rightful home.

Postcard with dramatic view of Walzin Castle in Belgium

This vintage Nels postcard features Castle Walzin, an 11th century cliffside estate along the River Lesse, near Dinant, Belgium. (Technically, my understanding is that the castle is within the hamlet of Walzin.)

The castle is privately owned and not open to the public.1 Its remote location, and the challenge of the river, also make it difficult for the average tourist to see or photograph it, as a travel blogger discovered in 2008:
"The fun part is how to get there. As you only can view the castle from the river you have two ways to get there. One is driving up there or you can choose the more fun way and park your car at the train station of Anserremme and hike the dirt path along the left bank of the river Lesse. This way you have to walk about 5km along the river through the forest. It is much more fun than driving to the castle. However no matter how you get there to get a good view of the castle you have to cross the river and there is no bridge so you only option is to wade through the river, the river is never really deep."

Here is some history of Castle Walzin, most of which is taken from a Google translation of the French-language page on Château de Walzin.

  • The castle, one of the largest in Belgium, was built in the 11th century to serve as a monitoring station and forward defense for Dinant. The only access to Dinant from the south passed through this location.
  • In 1489, the castle housed William I de La Marck, also known as the Wild Boar of the Ardennes because he was as fierce as his favorite hunting prey. During his time, there was a new wave of sieges and destruction as the castle was caught up in larger continental battles.
  • In 1581, Adrienne de Berlaymont-Brandenburg rebuilt the destroyed parts of the castle and also expanded it.
  • The castle suffered considerable damage in 1793 at the hands of French revolutionary armies, who also destroyed all of its records.
  • Restorations in 1881 by architect Charles-Émile Janlet and from 1930 to 1932 by architect Octave Flanneau created the basic facade that it is known by today.

Here's another interesting old image of Castle Walzin, a photograph from 1880 that is described as "one of the first halftones."

1. According to the Wikipedia page on the House of Limburg-Stirum, "Count Alexis de Limburg Stirum married in the Castle of Ussé (France), with Countess Béatrix de Blacas d'Aulps, daughter of the 7th Duke and Prince of Blacas d'Aulps." They live in Walzin Castle.

Friday, January 18, 2013

1973 women's fashions as featured in The Workbasket

Who's excited about hitting the ski slopes this weekend? This gal is!

She was the cardigan-and-dickey cover model nearly 40 years ago (February 1973) for The Workbasket and Home Arts Magazine.

And, actually, she might be the most reasonably dressed woman in the entire issue.

Here's a small gallery of some other outfits that are featured...

And, finally, there's this unspeakable horror.








Thursday, January 17, 2013

Very old book containing a birthday card and neat inscriptions

The old book is about the size of a small banana.

There were some neat treasures inside this 19th century book.

According to the spine, it's part of "The Young Peoples Library." The book contains six short stories, hence the sprawling title: "Narratives of the Swedish Nurse-Maid, The Swiss Peasant, Mary Eliza, The Rescued Brand, The Bayman's Wife, and Muckle Kate."1

It was published by the American Tract Society, which was located at 150 Nassau Street in New York City.2

An advertising page at the back of this slim volume indicates that The Young Peoples Library included thirty volumes, which came in a case.3

Tucked away inside the book was this 4¼-inch by 3⅛-inch "Happy Birthday" card, which is signed by someone named Paul. There is nothing on the reverse side of the card.

While the birthday card is a great find and well-preserved for its age, the best thing about this book, to me, are the numerous inscriptions on the inside front cover and the first page.

They give us some neat insight into history of those who used it:
  • Canadochley Sunday School
  • No. 103
  • AD 1876
  • Presented to Catharine Cosgrove Sept. 13, 1928 By Mrs. Nathaniel Keller
  • grandpa Died on September 16, 1928
  • Frances A. Keller
  • AD 1876
The inside front cover really is a thing of beauty...

"Canadochley" is almost certainly a misspelling of Canadochly, which is a distinctly York County, Pennsylvania, name. We have Canadochly Elementary School and Canadochly Evangelical and Reformed Church, for example.

According to the Canadochly Elementary School website:
"The name Canadochly is considered to originate from the Indian name 'Conejohela', which was an Indian tribe thought to have settled in the Susquehanna Valley. Conejohela means 'At the Place Of The Boiling Kettle.' Early settlers then changed the name to Canadochly."

1. "The Swedish Nurse-Maid" sounds like a story that would contain some ribald and naughty bits. Except, of course, for the somber facts that it was written by Mrs. Rev. Dr. E. Henderson and was published by a religious society. The Swedish nurse-maid's name, by the way, is Louisa Söderberg. Also, and I don't know why you've read this far into a silly footnote, I wanted to say that Muckle Kate would be a good name for a band.
2. The American Tract Society was founded in 1825. In 1894, it built a 23-story headquarters near Broadway and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. The building still stands.
3. Other sets for young people included The Youth's Library (70 volumes), Youth's Gems (32 volumes), Children's Library (72 volumes), Little Children's Library (24 volumes) and Hannah More's Stories for the Young (eight volumes).

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Hand-drawn and hand-colored QSL from Newport Beach, California

I haven't posted any QSL cards — confirmations of the receipt of a radio transmissions that are used by amateur radio operators — in about half a year. (See past posts here.)

So here's one that seems a bit unique. It's also undergone some revisions. The undated card is for Eileen and Fred Inns of Newport Beach, California.

The best parts are the two hand-colored illustrations. One is a logo for "The 10-99 Club." In ham radio lingo, 10-99 typically means "mission completed, all units secure."

And then there's this...

It kind of looks like an alien with Spock-like ears in a blue jumpsuit. He's wielding a sledgehammer and looks like he's about to strike a slightly-off version of the international radioactive trefoil symbol.1 Anyone care to offer an interpretation?

1. In 2007, a new ionizing radiation warning symbol (below right) was introduced to supplement the traditional international symbol for radiation (below left). According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the red symbol — which was tested on groups in Brazil, Mexico, Morocco, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, China, India, Thailand, Poland, Ukraine and the United States — will "help reduce needless deaths and serious injuries from accidental exposure to large radioactive sources."

But will the skull-and-crossbones and the running man work 100,000 years from now, when future generations will still need to be warned about the nuclear waste that we're responsible for? Here are a few more articles that take a look at this difficult question:

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Imaginary H.P. Lovecraft postcard

I was almost fooled.

Author Nick Mamatas recently posted an article titled "Brattleboro Days, Yuggoth Nights" on the website of a publication called The Revelator.1

In it, Mamatas discusses the above-pictured H.P. Lovecraft postcard that came into his possession a few years ago...
"But I did love the [Brat­tle­boro] book­stores, espe­cially a used paper­back house called Bas­kets Bookstore/Paperback Palace. ... One day [Sher­wood, the owner] handed me a post­card sent between H.P. Love­craft and Arthur H. Good­e­nough, an ama­teur press enthu­si­ast liv­ing near Brat­tle­boro. ... Sher­wood had found the post­card at an estate sale. It had been pro­tected from the ele­ments because it had been used as a book­mark in a 1935 num­ber of The Rev­e­la­tor, and that num­ber was a spe­cial issue ded­i­cated to the 'gothic tales' of Isak Dinesen. I bought the card and kept it with me for years."
Now, there are a half-dozen red flags in the above excerpt, especially in retrospect. But if you're operating under the assumption that Mamatas is writing a piece of non-fiction, it all seems possible.

Mamatas, in a wonderful piece of writing, goes on to describe how the postcard represents a back-and-forth conversation2 — with increasingly tiny writing — between Goodenough and Lovecraft, and how he spent years trying to transcribe all of the scribblings. He concludes the piece with a transcription of the entire postcard.

The article went viral. Most notably, it was picked up by Boing Boing, which published an article titled "Interview-by-postcard that HP Lovecraft filled in with a sewing needle dipped in ink and a magnifying glass" on Sunday.

I was going to tout The Revelator piece here, too, as an example of a wonderful item found tucked away inside a book. One of the coolest things ever found inside a book, in my mind!

But, in performing my due diligence, I went to Mamatas' website and then made my way to his LiveJournal, where he reveled in the attention his piece of fiction has received:
"The piece was a popular one: it got tweeted around a bit, and even Fine Books & Collections shared the link in its twitter feed. Then one of the guys from Lovecraft Ezine Facebooked it and it started showing up all over the place. Germans, even!

"And then today, it got BoingBoinged. Clearly, I had to come clean. I had to explain everything, before the sorts of nerds who spend their days arguing on bulletin boards about nubs and ink and fountain pens and shit came after me. And I did, I did, I wrote to Cory and admitted everything, like a craven animal, like a naked beggar crawling in the filth of the gutters!"

And so that led to Boing Boing's Cory Doctorow appending the following to his posting:
"Update: The joke's on me. Nick Mamatas sez, 'Thanks for the ink, but I should tell you that my piece in The Revelator is fiction. The "From the Vaults" feature of the magazine is always a fiction that purports to be a true story or interview connected with the largely imaginary history of The Revelator itself.'"
And so there you have it. The Lovecraft postcard is very cool. And clearly a labor of love by whoever the artist was who created it. But it's a work of fiction.

I tweeted at Mamatas: "Here's the rub: Wonderful things like that ARE found inside old books every day, if people would just look. Still, well played sir."

So, who knows, maybe there is a REAL H.P. Lovecraft postcard floating other there somewhere, waiting to reveal another facet of the Cthulhu mythos. So check those old books, folks!

1. The Revelator describes itself thusly, which is the first clue that should keep your guard up when reading it: "THE REVELATOR was first pub­lished in 1876 and has been pub­lished ever since then in a vari­ety of for­mats. Broad­sheet. News­pa­per. Eight-tracks and cas­settes. Mono and stereo. Some­times free. Some­times in expen­sive lim­ited edi­tions. But what­ever its for­mat, THE REVELATOR has always been the first place to look to for a no-holds barred approach to the truth and damn the con­se­quences. It was in THE REVELATOR, in fact in its very first issue, that one found an eye-witness account of the North­field bank rob­bery. It was in THE REVELATOR that the first authen­ti­cated pho­tographs of the Thun­der­bird, the Unk­te­hila, and the giant squid appeared. And it was THE REVELATOR that first pub­lished the unex­pur­gated Water­gate tran­scripts."
2. Using the same postcard more than once reminds me of this story of relatives who sent the same Christmas card back and forth for 17 years.

Monday, January 14, 2013

1946 Texaco magazine advertisement

This bright-red 1946 Texaco advertisement1 is touting the newest version of "Fire-Chief Gasoline." The brand, which met the octane requirements for fire engines, was first introduced in 1932. Fourteen years later, the gas got an upgrade:
"Pre-war, wartime, post-war ... you've never known a Texas Fire-Chief gasoline like this! It's better than ever before! It was made possible by Texaco's intensive wartime research."
Some of the other products mentioned in the advertisement include Sky Chief Gasoline2, Havoline and Texaco motor oils, and Marfak Lubrication. (Man, if I had original signs or containers for those products, instead of just a paper advertisement, I bet I could get some nice coin from Mike and Frank.)

The advertisement also promotes "Texaco Star Theatre," which was still a Sunday night radio show at that point. (It didn't make the move to TV until 1948).

James Melton is the host listed in the advertisement. He had followed in the footsteps of Ed Wynn (The Fire Chief), Eddie Cantor and Fred Allen. When Texaco Star Theater moved to television, of course, it made Milton Berle famous.

1. I think the advertisement is from National Geographic, but I can't be 100% sure, because it was already loose-leaf when it came my way.
2. Sky Chief Gasoline was introduced in 1938. According to Wikipedia, it was dispensed from a silver gas pump, as opposed to the red pump used for Fire-Chief Gasoline.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Old postcard of a suspicious-looking man mailing a letter

This postcard, which was originally mailed in 1914, features a questionable-looking individual mailing a letter.1

I didn't need to do much research on what "To my Mariutch" means within the context of this postcard. A fellow ephemera blogger has done that for me. Here is what author Kihm Winship2 wrote about the same postcard in September 2012 on Read, Seen, Heard:
"'To My Mariutch' is an allusion to a popular song from 1907, with words by Andrew B. Sterling and music by Harry Von Tilzer, 'Mariutch Down at Coney Isle' (aka 'Mariutch Dance Da Hootch-A-Ma-Kootch'). The song tells the comic tale of a man in New York who believes his wife is far away in Italy. To take his mind off his sadness, he goes to Coney Island, where he discovers his Mariutch performing the hoochie koochie. In 1930, the song appeared as a sing-along with the bouncing ball in a popular Max Fleischer cartoon."

If you love postcards, as I do, I suggest that you add Kihm's blog to your bookmarks. It's full of cool stuff.

So at least we know why this individual in the postcard looks cranky. He misses his wife. And he's going to become crankier, one would imagine, when he learns she's not in Italy, but on Coney Island, doing a belly dance.

The back of the postcard indicates that it was printed in Germany. It was postmarked in Milwaukee on January 30, 1914, and mailed to Miss Clara Fosler.3 The note, from a guy named Harry, is pretty lame:
"Dear Ladies!
I got through with my business (?) pretty quick, so I have time to send you the best regards from here."

1. If you want to get meta, you could say that man is either (1) glaring at the postcard artist, who is standing a few feet away and drawing a picture of him; or (2) glaring at US, the postcard viewers, as he stands there, eternally trapped within the confines of the illustration, like some Sun Dog.
2. Kihm describes his blog as: "Bits of wisdom, images, postcards, stuff I feel the need to share." He is the author of "Skaneateles: The Character and Characters of a Lakeside Village" and "The Adirondack Run."
3. Two semi-notable actors were born on January 30, 1914: John Ireland and David Wayne. Wayne guest-starred as Dr. George Wyler on three episodes of "St. Elsewhere" in the mid 1980s.