Friday, October 4, 2013

Let's get the whole gang together for a picture

This is one of those photographs that deserves to be magnified, as the original (tattered) image is only three inches wide.

There is no information at all on the back.

So we're left to wonder:
  • Is this a school class picture?1
  • What year or decade was this taken?
  • What did all these children grow up to do?

Unrelated Halloweeny Footnote
1. If you've never read the short horror story “This Year's Class Picture” by Dan Simmons, I recommend that you track it down.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Victorian trade card for Magic Yeast Cakes (plus a creepy bonus)

A colorful bird appears on the front of this Victorian trade card, which is slightly smaller than a standard postcard. According to the reverse side, "The way to get a card like this is to buy a package of MAGIC YEAST CAKES."

It's interesting to think that late 19th century consumers would have been motivated to buy one product over another because of the presence of a picture of a bird. But it's also extremely hard for us to imagine the enthusiasm with which the public of that time embraced and collected these cards.

Magic Yeast Cakes were a product of E.W. Gillett of Chicago. In 1929, E.W. Gillett merged with four other companies to create Standard Brands. And, in turn, Standard Brands become part of Nabisco in 1981.

In doing some other research into Magic Yeast Cakes and Gillett, I came across a creepy piece of ephemera.

A publication called Happy Hours was apparently once distributed free to buyers of Magic Yeast Cakes. And this link shows one of the illustrations that appeared within. Boo!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Poetry excerpts from 1921's "Autumn Leaves" by Samuel C. Frey

Here's one final autumn-themed post before signing off for the day.

Pictured at right is Autumn Leaves, a purple-covered book of verse written by Samuel C. Frey and self-published here in York, Pennsylvania, in 1921. (It was printed by an outfit called Dispatch Print.)1

Frey's 212-page book has sections titled Concerning Poetry, Patriotic, Religious, At Weber's Dinner, Tributes, Limericks and Miscellaneous. It is dedicated to "all who have music in their souls."

In the preface, Frey writes: "The verses in this book were, with few exceptions, written after the author's sixtieth year — this suggested the title. They were prepared for special occasions, or where something original was called for."

There is a list of roughly 400 "subscribers" whose "pre-publication support" apparently made the printing of this volume possible.

The intriguing list, full of names that are certainly of local historic interest, includes N. Appell, three Dempwolfs, A.B. Farquhar, George Hay Kain, S. Forry Laucks, Geo. W. Pfaltzgraff and six Smalls.

Here are some samples of Frey's verse...

I thought I'd write a little poem
'Bout autumn leaves, you see;
Because it seem that autumn leaves
Were very much like me.

All summer long they have no cares;
To them time endless seems;
But when Jack Frost comes 'nipping round,
They wake up from their dreams.

Who is a Patriot? It's not the man
Who skins the Government whene'er he can;
Who uses a stamp for the second time;—
He's surely subject for warmer clime.

Not he who so craftily falsifies
In making out tax return, and thus tries
To beat the collector, and, when found out,
He claims the benefit of the doubt.

Bill Miller and his son-in-law
Are quite a funny pair;
Bill's always busy asking folks
More of his shoes to wear;
While Joe says we all walk too much.
How can we ever please
Two men of such contrary views
And diverse minds as these.

Carl Witmer and young Beitzel, too,
Are financiers of note;
They're taking money all day long,
Just as a thing of rote.
In other ways these two agree;
They both are found of sports.
For Carl doth play piano forte,
And Will on tennis courts.

Wayne G. McFall, he plays baseball,
Just as a recreation;
And while he plays, he umpire baits,
Just as a new sensation.
They make George Leber tired of life,
Wayne and his friend, Sam Ruby,
But when Sam tries to catch some flies,
He looks just like a booby.

Down in old Hopewell township, where
The watersheds divide;
Where little rivulets abound
And through the meadows glide;
two springs, but a few hundred feet
Apart, come bubbling forth;
One Southward to the Deer Creek flows,
The other, to the North.

From East and West come sister streams
And merge in one embrace;
Now smoothly flow through pastures green,
Now rush at rapid pace.
To West they turn; from Winterstown
A tributary flows;
From Hametown and red Lion, too.
The stream in volume grows.

Last March, as Winter receded,
The warnings of friends he unheeded;
The temperature fell,
He went to — well,
Where underwear never is needed.

There was a young man from near Etters',
Said his dogs had invisible fetters
For they never would go.
His friend said "That's so;
Because them dogs is both setters."

Two stages ran daily their courses;
Were driven by two different forces;
The Dillsburg tramps
Used acetylene lamps;
East Prospect, a set o' lean horses.

There was a young lady from Dover,
Who walked in a field of new clover.
Her stockings were thin,
The bee's stinger went in;
The girls said "Darn" and moreover.

At a famous hotel called "The Brogue,"
Election day's fights were the vogue.
Or loser or winner,
A saint or a sinner,
There was fighting by good man and rogue.

1. For another post about a York County poet, check out "Piggy Pork: His Odyssey" by Thomas Yost Cooper.
2. Other names mentioned in Personals include Harry McNeal, George Rudy, Joe Radcliffe, Bob Fluhrer, Charles Craumer, Harry Wiest, Charles Kline, Jake Stager, C. Leroy Blair, Joe Wallazz, Lloyd Myers, G. Edward George, Harvey Gross and Luther Melhorn.

Postcard of "Autumn Woods" by American artist George Inness

Here's another postcard featuring an autumn scene. It pairs nicely, I think, with last month's "Farben-Aufnahme direkt nach der Natur."1

The artist is George Inness (1825–1894), an American landscape painter who was a major part of the tonalist movement. His works, many of which can be seen here, included numerous depictions of autumn, including Early Autumn Montclair, Autumn Oaks, Autumn Gold, Autumn Meadows and Spirit of Autumn.

This one is titled Autumn Woods, was created very late in Inness' life, and has long been property of The Art Institute of Chicago. It is an oil-on-canvas work.

I look at the house in the background of Inness' painting and imagine that, on a windy and rainy October night, this woman is sitting inside.

The postcard itself is unused and was published by The Detroit Publishing Co., which was in business from approximately 1880 to 1936.

According to an extensive history of The Detroit Publishing Co. provided by Metropolitan Postcard Club of New York City:
"Originally a printer of religious books and calendars, the Detroit Photographic Company Ltd. shifted production in 1897 when owners William A. Livingstone and Edwin H. Husher saw the potential in postcards. After negotiations with Orell Fussli, Detroit became the sole American company to license the Swiss photochrom process, which they would eventually register in 1907 under the name Phostint."

1. And if you want to get your Complete Autumn Ephemera Fix, here is a list of past Papergreat posts:

Here's Uncle Willie from Hartley, just sitting in the hay

Greetings! I'm hoping to have a trio of autumn-themed posts for you today.1

First up is this cabinet card, which measures 6½ inches by 4¼ inches. Written on the back, in pencil, is: "Uncle Willie from Hartley June 1897."2

Besides that note, I don't know a thing about Uncle Willie. Hartley is common location name. There are Hartleys in Texas, Iowa and California, among other places. So I think, beyond those few words written in pencil, this photo will remain forever within the category of Mysteries.

Here's a closer look at Uncle Willie. He doesn't look terribly pleased to have been plopped into the hay.

1. It is not, however, feeling very autumnal here in York, Pennsylvania. Today is the first of five consecutive days in which temperatures are forecast to be in the 80s. Here, we'd call that an Indian Summer. In other parts of the world, autumn heat waves are (or have been) called:
  • Saint Martin's Summer (formerly used in Britain)
  • Old Wives' Summer (formerly used in Britain)
  • Veranillo de San Miguel or Veranillo de San Martín (Spain)
  • Verão de São Martinho (Portugal)
  • Brittsommar (Sweden)
  • Altweibersommer (Germany and Austria)
  • Vénasszonyok nyara (Hungary, where the white spiders seen at this time of the year are associated with the norns of Norse folklore or medieval witches)
  • Bobų vasara (Lithuania)
  • Intiaanikesä or Akkainkesä (Finland)
2. I know, of course, that June is not an autumnal month, but the pile of hay sure gave me that autumn vibe. So there.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Old postcard: 1368's Altes Haus in Bacharach, Germany

The peaceful-looking setting in this vintage illustrated postcard features the streets of Bacharach, Germany. The town, which now has a population of fewer than 2,000 but a robust tourism business, sits in the Upper Middle Rhine Valley in western Germany.

The German caption on the back of the card states:
"Das alte Haus in Bacharach ist eines der schönsten Kleinode altdeut-cher Baukunst am Rhein. Welch hohe architektonische Bedeutung dem aus dem Jahre 1368 stammenden Hause zukommt, beweist der Umstand, daß es im Jahre 1897 auf Staats und Provinzkosten ausgebessert wurde."

Roughly, that translates to:
"The Old House in Bacharach is one of the most beautiful early German architectural gems on the Rhine. Its high architectural significance, dating from the 1368, was proven by the fact that it was repaired in 1897 with state and provincial funds."

The Altes Haus (“Old House”), a medieval timber-frame structure, remains one of the top tourist draws in tiny Bacharach.1

It is with mixed feelings that I report that the building is now a restaurant.

Here's a 2003 Flickr photograph taken by by Roger Wollstadt...

The good news, anyway, is that the restaurant garners very good reviews on TripAdvisor2 and is ranked as the #1 attraction in Bacharach.

As a final note, the producer of this postcard is listed on the back as "Astudia-Karten vom Rhein. Verlag von Hoursch & Bechstedt-Köln."

1. Other attractions in Bacharach include:
  • The Wernerkapelle Ruins, which are detailed nicely on the Carrotspeak blog
  • On old town wall that still circles parts of the city
  • The well-preserved (compared to elsewhere in Germany) town wall towers, which according to Wikipedia, are: Diebesturm (“Thief’s Tower,” remnants), Zehnt-turm (“Tithe Tower”), Spitzenturm (“Pointed Tower,” remnants), Postenturm (“Post Tower”), Holztor (“Wooden Gate,” also called Steeger Tor), Liebesturm (“Love Tower”), Halbturm (“Half Tower,” remnants), Kühlbergturm (“Kühlberg Tower,” remnants), Sonnenturm (“Sun Tower,” remnants), Hutturm (“Hat Tower”), Kranentor, Markttor (“Market Gate”), Münztor (“Mint Gate”), and Winandturm (“Winand’s Tower”)
  • Stahleck Castle, which sits above the town
2. One reviewer highly recommends the riesling soup. They also offer a cheese-and-bread plate that I know my wife would love.