Saturday, March 2, 2013

Saturday's postcard: Illustration of Hänsel und Gretel

This creased old postcard features an Otto Kubel illustration of a scene from "Hansel and Gretel."1 I love the attention to detail — the hanging basket, the father sleeping in the bed, the white cat and the firewood piled by the door.2

Kubel was a German painter who lived from 1868 to 1951. It appears that one of his specialties was scenes from fairy tales, and one of his pieces of Little Red Riding Hood artwork is available as a modern reprint.

The back of the postcard is unused and features an lengthy German-language excerpt from "Hänsel und Gretel." Using Google Translate and a little editing, it comes out roughly like this:
"1. A poor wood hacker had two children, Hansel and Gretel. When inflation was high, he could no longer afford their daily bread. In the night, the parents3 agreed that they would take the children into the woods and leave them, so that they could no longer find the way home. Hansel heard this and collected stones from around the house. He wanted to spread them out to find the way back home."
And thus we have the clever Hänsel collecting stones in the Kubel illustration.

Finally, here's the logo from the back of the postcard.

Here's what the Metropolitan Postcard Club of New York City has to say regarding Uvachrom:
"A Uvachrom is the product of a subtractive mordant dye tone process for the printing of color photographs, patented by Arhur Traube in 1916. It required multiple transparencies making it a difficult and expensive technique so it never gained widespread commercial use. This method was used to produce color postcards published under the Uvachrom name, and book illustrations for the Union of Color Photography (Farbwenphotographie)."
1. A few random and unrelated things:
  • "Hansel" and "Gretel" are shortened forms of Johannes and Margarete, according to Wikipedia.
  • SurLaLune Fairy Tales offers a fabulous annotated version of "Hansel and Gretel" that features 59 in-depth footnotes. Fairy-tale geek heaven!
  • "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters" looks really stupid. I feel a rant about all of these modern TV and movie retellings of the classic fairy tales coming on one of these days.
2. I think I might question the artist's depiction of the house in the forest as having a red-brick-and-mortar foundation.
3. The "parent" driving this decision was, of course, the children's evil and abusive stepmother. A lot of otherwise-decent men made poor choices when picking their second wife in fairy tales.

Card: Domestic Sewing Machine and J.A. Altland of Farmers

This is a colorful Victorian trade card (copyrighted in 1886) for Domestic Sewing Machine. Two good websites I found for information on that company are the International Sewing Machine Collectors' Society and Sewalot. Here are some tidbits culled from those sites:

  • The company was established in 1861, although it was not officially called the Domestic Sewing Machine Company until 1869.
  • William A. Mack was the company's founder and produced its first machine.
  • The company produced 10,000 machines in 1871 and skyrocketed from there.
  • During its height, Domestic also made typewriters and sewing machines for Williams & Co. of New York.
  • It had its headquarters on the corner of Broadway and 14th Street in Manhattan. This was one of several offices. The primary factory was in Newark, New Jersey, and there was also a sprawling factory at 16 Exchange Place in lower Manhattan. (See a picture of that factory about halfway down this Sewalot page.)
  • It remained independent until 1924, when it became a subsidiary of the White Sewing Machine Company.

The most interesting part of this card, however, is the faint stamp on the back.

For those of you who don't want to squint, I believe the stamp reads:


Farmers (without the apostrophe) is an unincorporated village along U.S. Route 30/Lincoln Highway in western York County. It's roughly four miles east of Abbottstown.

I found another reference to J.A. Altland in the "Report of the Auditor General on the Finances of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for the Year Ending November 1896." In that report, J. A. Altland & Co. of Davidsburg, York County, is listed as paying taxes on the sale of fertilizers.

Does anyone else know more about J.A. Altland? Is he connected with the famous Altland House in Abbottstown?

Friday, March 1, 2013

Three nifty Ruth Manning-Sanders dust jacket covers

For your Friday afternoon enjoyment.

(Full disclosure: These are from Internet image searches, not my collection.)

Thursday, February 28, 2013

The ephemera of a serial killer

The following excerpt is from "In the Footsteps of a Killer," an article recently written for Los Angeles Magazine by True Crime Diary blogger Michelle McNamara:

"In his office, [Paul Holes, the chief of the Contra Costa Crime Lab] taps at his computer keyboard, calling up an image that can’t load fast enough. It shocks me how quickly I lean in, primed to memorize everything I see. I realize how hungry I am for new information about the bogeyman who’s wormed his way into every corridor of my brain.

"A faded, hand-drawn map pops up on the screen. Hand drawn, the police believe, by the Golden State Killer. ...

"Trails. building. A lake. It looks like a rough map of a planned community; in fact, that’s what Pool and other investigators believe it is.

"The notebook pages were collected at the scene of a rape in Danville, in Contra Costa County, in December 1978 by a now-deceased criminalist. The Golden State Killer, who was then known as the East Area Rapist, was definitely the offender. Shoe prints and two independent bloodhounds established his exit route, a trail that led from the victim’s house to some nearby railroad tracks.

"The paperwork, which is referred to as 'the homework evidence,' was collected at the location where the trail stopped abruptly, indicating the rapist got into a vehicle. Investigators believe he dropped the pages unintentionally, perhaps while rooting around in a bag or opening his car door. ...

"The third page is the hand-drawn map. Investigators examined the unusual markings on the land area and figured out they represented a change of grade and elevation for drainage purposes. ... Further analysis led investigators to believe the mapmaker possibly dabbled in landscape architecture, civil engineering, or land-use planning. They’ve tried unsuccessfully to find the area depicted on the map. Pool believes the drawing resembles Golden State’s preferred attack neighborhood, and that it’s a fantasy."

So, the above map was sketched by one of the most notorious unidentified serial killers in recent U.S. history. It's being made available now as investigators attempt to use crowdsourcing to find new leads in the cold case. Per McNamara, tips on the case should be forwarded to either or

If you're not weak-stomached, I recommend that you check out McNamara's Los Angeles magazine piece. Here are the links:

So much time for researching and writing, but so little ephemera

Strike that.
Reverse it.

Profuse apologies for the lack of new posts this week. I haven't had much time to focus on writing and blogging. But my list of items that I want to research and write about keeps growing!

Here's a peek at some of the topics I'm aiming to tackle in 2013:

Every one of these books has
a cool cover, illustration,
inscription, or item tucked away
inside that I want to blog about!

  • All of the cool ephemera tidbits my wife gave me as an awesome Valentine's Day present
  • Seth Seiders and his 1920s advice for the "Pivot Man"
  • A series on obscure sci-fi and fantasy fanzines from the 1950s through 1970s
  • My latest discoveries in researching the life of Ruth Manning-Sanders
  • Recipes, recipes and more recipes
  • Delving into the world of vinyl records and, yes, square dances
  • More groovy World's Fair stuff
  • A disturbing old advertisement for Excelsior ginger ale
  • A stack of U.S. military technical manuals
  • A collection of ephemera from Luray Caverns that spans many decades
  • Plenty of new mystery photos
  • A bunch of vintage advertising ink blotters I recently acquired
  • Postcards, postcards and more postcards (including themed cards for St. Patrick's Day and Easter, plus plans for a blogathon)
  • Several 1940s issues of The York-Hoover Herald
  • Several old York Little Theatre programs
  • Plenty of nifty stuff that fits into the School Days category, for those who love those nostalgia trips
  • More entertaining advertisements from "old" computer magazines
  • Plans for another "Plucked from a Yard Sale" series
  • A 1940 issue of Bob Hoffman's Strength and Health magazine
  • Ephemera from a 1971 trip to Las Vegas for The Showmen's League of America banquet and ball

So stay tuned!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Emporia receipt for dealer in "fruits, groceries, fresh and salt meats"

Will the receipts of today be regarded as works of art 100 years from now?

Certainly, they will contain a lot of data — the exact date and time of a transaction, down to the minute; the name (or number) of the waitress or cashier; a detailed list of products or services; and precise information about taxes, forms of payment and how much the consumer "saved."

But it's hard to say that they're aesthetically pleasing. This blank sales slip, on the other hand, has a certain style and beauty to it — to my eye, anyway.

It's for Pearl Harris, a long-ago dealer in "fruits, groceries, fresh and salt meats" in Emporia, Kansas. The business was located at 418 Commercial Street and was managed by O.P. Hill. The unused receipt is pre-dated for 190_.

I found a couple of online references that relate to this business. First, this blurb in the Emporia Weekly Gazette of April 05, 1906:
Sire of the two best mules exhibited last year in the United States. Mules owned by M. Pyle and took first prize at the American Royal in Kansas City, October, 1905. Black Prince will make the breeding season of 1906 at my farm, 6 1/2 miles north of Emporia. I also have the O.P. Hill jack and two Norman draft horses.

And this passing reference appeared earlier, in the November 21, 1901, edition of the Emporia Weekly Gazette:

"Mrs. Alice Short has a job as book keeper and cashier at O. P. Hill's meat market."

It's neat to think that Alice probably used slips just like the one pictured above in her work more than 110 years ago!