Saturday, March 9, 2013

Saturday's bonus postcard: A man and his cows



This is a neat homemade postcard from the past.

Someone trimmed the edges of a standard, flowery postcard and then pasted a black-and-white photograph of a man and two cows onto the front, leaving a border. The card now measures 4¾ inches by 3 inches.

It was never written on or used.

From the look of the trees, I would say this photograph may have been taken in early spring. Beyond that, I would say that this photographer had the same problem that we have constantly with our cats. Taking pictures of black animals — especially on dark backgrounds — can be a daunting challenge.

Bonus bonus
For absolutely no reason, I have employed cutting-edge CGI techniques to seamlessly insert a chicken into this photograph. You're welcome.

Saturday's postcard: Old building over the water and a neat note





This unlabeled old postcard features a photo of a wooden structure built over a pond or slow-moving creek.1 There's a boat on the right, and the smaller portion of the structure, on the left, might be a spring house.

The postcard was never mailed, as there is no stamp or postmark. (And no room was left for an address!) So it was either (1) hand-delivered, (2) mailed inside an envelope, or (3) never sent.

The note on the back is dated October 17, 1912.2 It is written in pencil and cursive and reads:3
Dear Niece,
I will ans. your card. We are all well because we haven't time to be sick. Are you a little out of season with your strawberries? It seems to me we are having fresh tomatoes and radishes from the garden. Watermelons, peaches and pears and tomatoes are still going to market by the wagon load yet. Eggs are 29 cts, butter 35, oats 40, young chickens 13 cts alive, sweet potatoes 65, Irish 75. How is school? Did N.Y. get all right? Write Soon. Aunt Sarah

Footnotes
1. English is a wonderful language. Other names for creek or stream include branch, brook, beck, burn, crick, gill, ghyll, kill, lick, mill race, rill, river, syke, bayou, rivulet, streamage, wash, run and runnel.
2. Albino Luciani was born on October 17, 1912. He went on to become Pope John Paul I and served for 33 days in 1978 before his death.
3. The only thing I've added is some punctuation, to help with readability.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Paperback cover of 1951 edition of "Life on Other Worlds"



This is the colorful cover of the 1951 Mentor paperback edition of astronomer H. Spencer Jones' "Life on Other Worlds," which was originally published in 1940.

In a nice example of Otto Family Synergy, it pairs nicely as a then-and-now companion with an online "Astrobiology and the Search for Extraterrestrial Life" course that my wife recently completed and documented on the Our School at Home blog.1

Spencer Jones was England's Astronomer Royal from 1933 to 1955.2 The book includes chapters about the necessary conditions for the existence of life, the evolution of Earth's atmosphere, Venus, Mars, the origin of our solar system and much more. Generally, Spencer Jones thought the existence of life on other planets was likely, as evidenced by these excerpts from the book:

  • "Though conditions are heavily weighted against suitability for the existence of life, it is concluded that there must nevertheless be many other worlds where the appropriate conditions are to be found and where therefore we may suppose that life in some form or other does actually exist."
  • "Yet though these restrictions severely winnow down the possible abodes of life in the universe, we cannot resist the conclusion that life, though rare, is scattered throughout the universe. It may be compared to a rare plant, whose distribution is widespread, but of which never more than a single specimen is found at a time."

Spencer Jones also makes the following statement, though, regarding Mars:
"The evidence that there is vegetation on Mars is almost conclusive, and affords very strong presumptive evidence that life will appear when conditions are suitable for it."
The notion that there might be plant life on Mars persisted in the scientific community until at least the late 1950s. And the overall debate about any kind of life on Mars remains alive and well today.

Footnotes
1. Of the online course, Joan writes:
"The interesting thing is, there are about 139,000 people taking this class with me. The discussion forums and Facebook group are actually too much to keep up with most of the time, and my fellow students range from gifted 12-year-olds to 70-year-old Ph.D.s and everyone in between, which makes it a MUCH more diverse experience than traditional college was for me."
2. While Spencer Jones was optimistic about the idea of life on other worlds, he had his doubts about the practicality of space travel and might or might not have uttered the quote "Space flight is bunk" in the late 1950s. (It's debated.)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Two postcards of Japan's Kinkaku-ji (Rokuon-ji) in winter

With today being a Snow Day here in the Northeast U.S., here are two wintertime postcards of Kinkaku-ji, a famous Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan.

The top one is a photo postcard, while the second one is an old illustrated card that was published by Hyogensha Co. of Kyoto.





Kinkaku-ji translates to "Temple of the Golden Pavilion." The temple's official name is Rokuon-ji, or "Deer Garden Temple." The site's history dates to 1397, but the grounds suffered extensive damage during World War II and the pavilion itself burned down in 1950. The current pavilion was rebuilt in 1955.

A short video about the temple can be seen here.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

This will relieve your stiff neck, croup, sore throat and chilblains



Wait. What are chilblains?

Oh, here we go. Chilblains is a medical condition affecting the extremities of certain people in extremely cold or humid environments.1

Chilblains could apparently be relieved by Maść Żywokostowa Ucco Salve, the product being advertised in English and Polish on the above old sample envelope from Universal Medicine Co. of Chicago. The salve — King of Them All — was also touted for its relief of sore throat, tonsilitis, stiff neck, neuralgia, rheumatism, congestion, sprains, sore muscles, bruises, bronchitis, croup, headache, lumbago, frosted feet, pains and aches of the back or joints, and colds in chest. Also: "It often prevents Pneumonia."

Quite the wonder drug!

Or not quite.

I came across the following court case and ruling concerning the product's misbranding in the U.S. National Library of Medicine archives:
"On December 11, 1936, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, acting upon a report by the Secretary of Agriculture, filed in the district court libels praying seizure and condemnation of 44 pages of Musterdone, 48 packages of University Kidney, Liver and Stomach Tea, 30 bottles of of Bol Lecznik Liniment, 30 packages of Universal Brand Stomach Drops, 68 packages of Universal Brand White Pine Cough Balsam, and 32 jars of Masc Zywokostowa Ucco Salve at New Orleans, La., alleging that the articles had been shipped in interstate commerce, on or about October 7, and charging adulteration and misbranding of the Bol Lecznik Liniment, and misbranding of the remaining products in violation of the Food and Drugs Act as amended."
An analysis had shown that the Masc Zywokostowa Ucco Salve merely contained menthol, camphor, eucalyptol, oil of wintergreen and salicylic acid incorporated in petrolatum.

Misbranding was alleged "for the reason that the ... statements borne on the labeling, regarding the curative or therapeutic effects of the article, were false and fraudulent." So, in fact, it didn't provide relief for all of those ailments. Imagine that!

The ruling concludes: "On January 6, 1937, no claimant having appeared, judgments of condemnation were entered and it was ordered that the products be destroyed."

You might think that was end of Maść Żywokostowa Ucco Salve. But I'm not sure that it was. Products with that name exist today.

Here are some rough translations of excerpts from this Polish-language web page:
"COLOUR ŻYWOKOSTOWA ... friendly skin ointment, relieve muscle tension ... It can be used for therapeutic massage and after exercise. It has a relaxing effect. The ointment is also applied to the irritated skin from external factors. It has an astringent. Especially recommended during rehabilitation after fractures. ... Externally, the frostbite, burns, eczema, ropniach and difficult to heal wounds. ... NATURAL INGREDIENTS."
But please don't take that as an endorsement from Papergreat!

Footnote
1. If you want to get into really old medical treatments, Bald's Leechbook, compiled in the 9th century, recommended that chilblains be treated with a mix of eggs, wine, and fennel root.

Monday, March 4, 2013

1920 receipt from Magee Furnace Company of Boston



This 1920 receipt was issued by Magee Furnace Company ("Manufacturers of Highest Grade Heating and Cooking Apparatus") of Boston, Massachusetts, to Harry D. Bunker of North Conway, New Hampshire.

Bunker's $4.40 bill would be the equivalent of about $50 today — certainly not chump change!

It appears that Bunker bought some repair parts or accessories for a stove.1

Here's a closer look...



There's a #88 Essex fire box end, a short center, a 12-pound oven front, a short bar and some bolts. The items were packed in a 60-cent barrel.

It also appears that "Express 1.12" has been written on the receipt in pencil.

Here's a little bit about Magee Furnace, excerpted from 2007's "Goods for Sale: Products And Advertising in the Massachusetts Industrial Age" by Chaim M. Rosenberg:
"The Magee Furnace Company, founded in 1864 in Boston, grew to become one of the largest stove and furnace makers in the country. A huge Magee manufacturing plant was built on Marginal Street in Chelsea with the rear of the building facing the harbor. Ships came in to unload iron for the factory and took on board the completed ranges and furnaces. ... [In the 1920s], the Magee Furnace Company teamed up with the Edison Company to use a combination of coal and electric power to heat a kitchen range. ... [C]oal and wood were fast being replaced by electricity and gas. Magee, however, ... did not successfully make this transition."
Compared to the 1907 receipt for L.B. Hantz that was featured here in 2011, this is more of a no-frills receipt, with no illustrations of any of the Boston company's products.

Footnote
1. Harry D. Bunker & Son Inc. is still listed as a licensed plumbing contractor in North Conway, New Hampshire, according to a Google search. But it's not clear whether that business is still active.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Gratuitous and manipulated photos of a graveyard at dusk

On the same day that Joan and I visited the cemetery on Alpine Road in York County, we also visited another tiny old graveyard, and I was able to snap a few shots before the sun set.

So I thought I'd throw them on here, just for fun.

And I played around with the filters in Pixlr, too, just for fun.

Click on any of the photos to view a larger version. (And thanks for humoring me as I occasionally dabble in the visual arts and stray greatly from the world of ephemera.)

PHOTO #1: The shot has been desaturated and given heightened contrast. It has a bit of a gothic feel, maybe?



PHOTO #2: The original shot. The color is actually decent, given that the sunlight was fading fast.



PHOTO #2: The "glamour glow" filter gives the graveyard the blurry look of a bad dream. Or a bad 1970s movie with John Carradine.



PHOTO #2: The cross-processing has taken a creepy scene and given it a look that's even more unreal and discomforting. Maybe this could be the cover of an Algernon Blackwood anthology?



Which image is your favorite?

If you want, feel free to download one of the above images, apply your own filters and editing techniques, and send your new image to me at sportseditorotto@gmail.com.

Inscription: Grandma doesn't approve of cutting cane as a career

This pencil inscription appears on the first page of 1945's "Flight From China" by American journalist Edna Lee Booker.



"Elsa
Why not strive to a foreign news correspondent instead of cutting cane. A better way of learning to know people of other nations. Grandma"

Booker was quite the role model. According to Wikipedia, she was an American journalist who worked in Shanghai, starting in the 1920s, as foreign correspondent for the International News Service and also as a reporter for the China Press. She was the first female foreign correspondent to interview Chinese warlords Zhang Zuolin and Wu Peifu.

I wonder if this note from Grandma and this book inspired Elsa to do anything!