Saturday, February 2, 2013

A few captivating vintage stamps, including one for Project Mercury

Project Mercury

This Project Mercury stamp was postmarked at 11 p.m. on February 20, 1962, in Baltimore, Maryland. That's the date of John Glenn's historic Friendship 7 orbital space flight.

According to Joe Frasketi's Space Covers:
"305 post offices all over the country released the Project Mercury stamp for sale to the public at 3:30 p.m. upon the successful splashdown of astronaut John Glenn Jr. This stamp was designed and printed in secret and distributed to the 305 post offices. Even these post offices did not know what they had received until word was given to open the packages and put the stamps on sale. Since this was a surprise stamp issue, many post offices only had the stamps on sale for a couple of hours. Collectors did not have much time to prepare first day covers and they used whatever envelopes were handy."

Joe Frasketi's website contains much more information about this stamp, and I recommend that you check it out.

More great information about the stamp's history can be found within this article. Here are some fun tidbits:
  • "The Post Office Department wanted to keep the stamp a secret in case the mission failed. Keeping the production and distribution of more than one million postage stamps a surprise though, required some creative logistics."
  • "The stamp's designer, Charles Chickering, worked from home to create the blue and yellow depiction of Friendship 7 circling the Earth while all along claiming to be on vacation. The picture engraver also gave the impression he was on leave, but came in at night. Another engraver who did the lettering worked on weekends."
  • "Without a way to coordinate nationwide, collectors couldn't know however if such 'first day covers' existed for all 305 stations. To this day, 50 years later, as many as 20 cities are still missing examples. ... [I]n Warren, Pa., the mailbags were not opened until after the office's customer windows had closed.1 ... Covers have [also] yet to be found for Fort Lauderdale and Tallahassee, Fla., Atlantic City, NJ and Durham, NC, for example."
The 4¢ Project Mercury stamp itself is considered a common, according to several websites I consulted. It can usually be purchased for 20¢ or less. Among collectors, it trades for face value or less. The price of the first-day covers varies according to the city's rarity. (Also, Glenn says he has autographed "thousands" of the covers over the years.)

TANGENTAL NOTE: Check out my wife's homeschooling learning guide for space exploration and the solar system. (It is not, however, updated to included the Iranian space monkey.)

Chinese stamps

These are two of the four stamps that appear on an envelope that was mailed from China to Edith and Julia Jones of Catonsville, Md. The date is unknown (to me) because the postmarks are in Chinese.

The pre-printed return address is for E. Pearce Hayes of "Foochow, Fukien, China."

Foochow is a no-longer-in-use romanized spelling for Fuzhou, a city of 7.2 million in eastern China.

Fukien is a no-longer-in-use romanized spelling for Fujian, the province that includes Fuzhou.

Does anyone know what the Chinese structure is that's shown on these stamps?

California Pacific International Exposition

Finally, this 3¢ stamp appears on an envelope that was postmarked on October 5, 1935, in Elkins, West Virginia. It commemorates the California Pacific International Exposition, which was held in 1935 and 1936 in San Diego, California.2 The stamp shows the exposition grounds and, according to Wikipedia, more than 100 million were printed, making it a very common issue. There was also a commemorative silver half dollar featuring Minerva, the head of Medusa, and a California grizzly bear.3

The California Pacific International Exposition stamp, by the way, appears on an envelope that commemorates another event all away across the country — the sixth annual Mountain State Forest Festival in Elkin. That festival is still going strong!

1. Yes, indeed, there are two previous Papergreat posts involving Warren, Pennsylvania:
2. One of the odder exhibits at the exposition was the Zoro Garden Nudist Colony (link contains nudity!), which was essentially a peep show. The site has since been turned into a butterfly garden.
3. Sarah is now studying Greek and Roman mythology and, to complement that, we recently watched 1981's "Clash of the Titans."

Friday, February 1, 2013

Friday night mystery: Crown? Medal? VM logo?

OK, I'm going to need some crowdsourcing help with this old piece of ephemera.

It's about the size of an index card and the back is entirely blank.

Overall, it looks like an illustration of a medal. At the top is a gold crown with a star and the number 1105 within.

At the bottom, the letters V and M appear within a circle that's surrounded by crosses pattée.

Your thoughts?

Who's up for a Super Bowl smorgasbord at Sweden House?

In the United States, the Super Bowl marks a time for much eating. And this Sunday's game between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers is no different. Many Americans will be feasting on pizza and wings and dip during the game. But how many of you might be hitting a smorgasbord (technically, smörgåsbord) or buffet before kickoff?1

This vintage and undated postcard features Sweden House and its fine-looking smorgasbord. The back of the card states:
Every day — Hot dishes — Cool sparkling salads — World's finest smorgasbord service. Fine food and gracious dining without extravagance. Locations in Florida: Boca Raton / Bradenton / Clearwater / Disney World Area — Orlando / Ft. Lauderdale / Ft. Myers / Gainesville / Merritt Island N. Miami Beach / N. Palm Beach / Ormond Beach Plantation / South Miami / St. Petersburg / Tampa • Naperville, Illinois.
I don't think Sweden House is around any longer. There's a dearth of information about it online. Best guess is that the company went under in the mid-1980s.

Here are some links to other blogs and websites that discuss Sweden House memories:

1. For a wonderful look at the famous smorgasbords of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, check out this series of 2010 articles by my York Daily Record/Sunday News colleague, Frank Bodani.
2. One of the comments on the Ultra Swank post states: "I remember the smorgesboard [sic] in Claremont, California called Griswolds. I was a college student and would pig out on the pickled herring, in sour cream. My dad had loved it too, but wouldn't let us eat much as it was very expensive in the little jars. Still love that stuff. I guess it is no longer around, but where is a good Swedish restaurant?"

Three vintage Valentine's Day cards

People are already gearing up for Valentine's Day, which is less than two weeks away now. One way I know this: The top two search terms leading people to Papergreat in the past month have been "vintage valentine" and "vintage valentines cards."1

So I wanted to give readers (and web surfers) more than just last year's Valentine post to check out as the holiday approaches. Here are some more vintage cards — small and perfect, not billboard-sized and covered with lace and foil, like the kind you find new in card stores today.

Here are three more from my modest collection:

Above: "All Steamed Up To Be Your Valentine." Made in U.S.A. Pencil inscription on the back states "To Thelma From Opal." This one is my favorite from today's lot.

Above: "Will You Be My Valentine." Printed in Germany. Only 1⅞ inches across. No inscription.

Above: "To one I love." Made in Germany. Pencil inscription on the back states "Wilma" and, under that, "Mrs. Putman."

1. Other top recent search terms leading to Papergreat include:
  • toledo spain
  • map of poconos bushkill
  • advertisement
  • chickens
  • envelope
  • 1870 food trademark
  • queen elizabeth
  • young abraham lincoln pictures
  • henry k wampole
  • church bingo cards

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Fun excerpts from 1884's "What Every One Should Know"

The subtitle of "What Every One Should Know" lets you know that, indeed, you are in for a doozy of a book:
"A Cyclopedia of Practical Information. Complete Directions for Making and Doing Over 5,000 Things Necessary in Business, The Trades, The Shop, The Home, The Farm, And the Kitchen. Recipes, Prescriptions, Medicines, Manufacturing, Processed, Trade Secrets, Chemical Preparations, Mechanical Appliances, Aid to Injured, Antidotes, Business Information, Every Day Law, Ornaments, Home Decorations, Art Work, Fancy Work, Agriculture, Fruit Culture, Stock Raising, and hundreds of other useful hints and helps. Gathered from the Most Reliable Sources."
Here are some entries I came across while flipping through the text:
  • Abscess: (Never mind. I see the word "pus". Let's skip this one.)
  • Black Tongue in Cattle: (Nope. Skipping that too.)
  • Canaries, care of: Never put canaries in a painted cage, as they will pick the wires and thus imbibe poison.
  • Fire, what to do in case of: Do not get confused; admit no one to your house except firemen, policemen or neighbors. If a lady's or child's dress takes fire, endeavor to roll the person up in a rug, carpet, or any piece of woolen stuff.
  • Flesh-worms on the skin: (No.)
  • Goose (Roast): Boil and mash some potatoes; fill the goose with them. When half roasted, take out the potatoes and have ready a stuffing of sage, bread-crumbs, parboiled onions; fill the goose and finish roasting. This is a great improvement on the old mode, as it draws out the fat, and makes the fowl very delicate.
  • Guano, home-made: (Pass.)
  • Harvest Drink: Mingle together five gallons of pure water, one half gallon molasses, one quarter of vinegar, and two ounces of powdered ginger. This drink is very invigorating.
  • House, how to set on fire: 1. Rub your furniture with linseed oil, and preserve carefully the old greasy rags used for this purpose, in a paper box in an out-of-the-way place. 2. If the fire in the stove does not burn well, pour benzine or kerosene on it from a well-filled gallon can. 3. When you light a cigar, or the gas, throw the burning match - no matter where, and don't look after it even if it gets into the wastepaper basket. 4. Put a burning candle on the shelf of a closet, and forget about it. 5. Always read in bed until you fall asleep with a light burning near you. 6. Always buy the cheapest kerosene you can get.
  • Stiff Neck, treatment: Warmed molasses and mustard make a good plaster for stiff neck.
  • Toads are Useful: Toads, according to Professor Miles, live almost entirely upon slugs, caterpillars, beetles and other insects, making their rounds at night, when the farmer is asleep - and the birds, too - and the insects are supposed to be having their own way. French farmers understand these facts so well that they purchase toads, at so much a dozen, and turn them loose.
  • Tumors, to remove: (Absolutely not.)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Two quickies: Nifty book cover and Tom Swift illustration

Above: Cover of an undated book titled "How to be a Man: A Book for Young Men" by W. Nicholson. Inside, the subtitle states: "Comprising directions for being useful and happy, agreeable and respected, successful in business, and honoured through life." It was published by W. Nicholson & Sons of London.

Chapter titles include Behaviour at School, Behaviour at Table, Education of the Body, Reading, Writing, Indolence, On Doing One Thing at a Time, On Finishing What is Begun, Amusements, Governance of the Tongue, Importance of Being Able to Say No, and Profitable Reading.

A much nicer copy of this book (mine is falling apart) is available on AbeBooks for £50.

Above: The inside back cover of the 1955 Grosset & Dunlap hardcover "Tom Swift and His Outpost in Space." This was part of The New Tom Swift Jr. Adventures and was penned by Victor Appleton II.1

I think just about every 10-year-old boy has taken part in a scene similar to this at some time. Usually it involves a cardboard box with some dials drawn on the sides and an active imagination. That's how we journey into outer space. Or back in time. Or to the bottom of the sea.

1. According to Wikipedia: "For the Tom Swift Jr. series the books were outlined mostly by Harriet (Stratemeyer) Adams, head of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, attributed to the pseudonymous Victor Appleton II. ... Most of the books were written by James Duncan Lawrence, who had an interest in science and technology and was faithful to the canon of the previous Tom Swift series."

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Ink blotter for Ticonderoga pencils with Frances Tipton Hunter artwork

This old ink blotter for Ticonderoga pencils1 features an absolutely wonderful illustration by Frances Tipton Hunter. (Confession: It took me some guessing and Googling before I was able to correctly read the blurry artist's signature in the lower-left corner.)

Hunter (1896-1957) had a style that was similar to Norman Rockwell and was one of the top female illustrators of her era, contributing 18 covers to The Saturday Evening Post in the 1930s and 1940s.2

A biography of Hunter on the Curtis Publishing website reveals that she was born in Centre County, Pennsylvania, but then moved in with her aunt and uncle in Williamsport, Lycoming County, at the age of 6, following the untimely death of her mother. After graduating from Williamsport Area High School3, she moved to Philadelphia and continued to develop her artistic talent.

In addition to The Saturday Evening Post, her work was published in Woman’s Home Companion, Collier’s, Liberty, Good Housekeeping and Ladies Home Journal. But it was Hunter's artistry with paper dolls, according to the Curtis Publishing biography, that provided her most lasting fame:
"In the early 1920s Hunter created a series of paper dolls that first appeared in Ladies Home Journal. Hunter’s dolls created such a following that six beguiling youngsters would find their way on a regular basis into the publication. So successful was this series, that the Whitman Publishing Company of Racine, Wisconsin, published The Frances Tipton Picture Book, which featured 20 color and 12 black and white illustrations of children and their pets, accompanied by verses and stories by Marjorie Barrows. The popularity of this book inspired the publication of a compendium of her doll artwork, Frances Tipton Hunter’s Paper Dolls."4
For more on Hunter, here are two additional links:

One last thing. The Dixon Ticonderoga Company has a gallery of company-owned and company-related artwork. It includes the Hunter illustration that appears on the ink blotter ... sort of. Here are two illustrations, side by side. On the left is the ink blotter illustration. On the right is the illustration featured on Dixon Ticonderoga's gallery.

Whoa! Why are there differences? My guess: The illustration on the right is the original. For the ink blotter (and presumably other Ticonderoga promotional use), the blackboard background was created and the seated boy's book lost its cover illustration, so as not to be too distracting. Whatever the case was, it's pretty neat to note the differences.

Just for fun: More ink blotters

1. Did you know that there is a whole platoon of blogs devoted to pencils and writing implements? I had no idea! One of the more notable websites seems to be Pencil Revolution. And Pencil Revolution's home page features a dizzyingly comprehensive blogroll of other pencil blogs. Anyway, the reason I bring it up is that Pencil Revolution had this review of Dixon Ticonderoga Classic in 2005.
2. Norman Rockwell, by comparison, contributed a whopping 317 covers to The Saturday Evening Post over 47 years.
3. Fun piece of trivia: Williamsport Area High School's nickname is the Millionaires.
4. At least two modern reprints collect Hunter's paper dolls: "Little Busybodies Paper Dolls in Full Color: The Classic Series" and "Alden Family Paper Dolls in Full Color."