Saturday, February 15, 2014

Two snapshots that might feel at home in a Ransom Riggs book

These two found snapshots could be a part of the universe in Ransom Riggs' two novels built around vernacular photos — Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and Hollow City. Photos that come with no captions or identifying information always have an air of mystery to them.

Tambourine Girl
Scribbled on the back in pencil is "1942." The license-plate number is 15093, but I can't make out what state it's from.

Bicycle Boys
There's no information on this tiny snapshot. What can we tell from the clothes they're wearing? Is the person on the porch related to the boys?

If it's your birthday, enjoy this postcard featuring sheep


Also, sheep.

This "Best Birthday Wishes" postcard features a small flock of sheep in a pastoral setting, with a small house in the background.

The card was pasted into a scrapbook at some point and, upon its removal, most of the back came off, too. It's possible the postmark is from Landisville, Pennsylvania. (But that's a guess. The only letters I can see are NDISVIL.)

Other posts featuring sheep and goats

Friday, February 14, 2014

Six dandy old valentines that students gave to their teachers

For Valentine's Day, here are some pretty awesome vintage cards that were delivered to teachers many decades ago.

1. A Valentine For Teacher

This heart-shaped card was given "To My Teacher" by Ruth Ramsey. The text on the inside states: "I couldn't speak before the others ... Couldn't tell you o'er the phone ... But I'd like to whisper softly ... Just for your ear alone— ... MY TEACHER is A-NUMBER 1."

2. I've The Nicest Teacher in the World

This heart-shaped, globe-themed valentine was for Miss Spott, from Fyetta.2 There is no text beyond that. (As a minor aside, the depiction of North and South American on the globe is fairly poor, don't you think?)

3. To My Teacher

My, what rosy cheeks! This valentine was given to Mabel Spotts by Pearl Waterman.2 The card opens up to give the following pre-printed message:
"Though I'm not big enough to say
Most anything the grown-up way
Of this I'm sure as sure can be
My teacher means a lot to me!"

4. A Valentine For My Teacher

This mathematics-intensive card was given to Miss Spotts by George M. The illustration of the desk folds out to the left, and an additional message states: "NORTH, SOUTH, EAST OR WEST ... OF ALL THE NICE TEACHERS MY TEACHER'S THE BEST."

5. You Pass All the Tests, Be My Valentine

This card, made in the United States, simply states "RONALD" on the back. I'm thinking the teacher's use of the bell was a bit antiquated, even for the decade that this card was produced. But I could be wrong.

6. You're My Valentine Today

Remember when school days didn't start until 9 a.m.? The front of the card states: "I May Be Late For School Today ... But Do Not Scold Me, Please." And the inside finishes: "I'll Never Be Too Late to Say that you're my Valentine today."

So, do we think the apple is sufficient to get her out of trouble? Will she still have to go bang out the erasers behind the schoolhouse?

The card was given to Mrs. Mabel Geiger by Margaret Ann.

See all of Papergreat's vintage valentines

1. Two other cards refer to her last name as Spotts, so we'll have to assume, though from a tiny sample size, that Spotts is correct.
2. Alas: "Your search - 'Mabel Spotts' 'Pearl Waterman' - did not match any documents."

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Pax Lectio: Some reading selections to get through the latest snowstorm

Who names a snowstorm Pax, anyway?

There's not much peace about what Pax is bringing to the eastern United States this week. We're in the process of getting what will amount to somewhere between 6 and 18 inches of snow, according to the various forecasters, right now in southcentral Pennsylvania.

Whatever it ends up being, it's a great excuse to kick back and read. It's been a while since I posted one of my eclectic roundups of reading suggestions. This isn't quite #FridayReads, but if you have power or Wifi, you can consider these your Pax Links to pass the time when you're not shoveling, salting or throwing logs on the fire.

This year's oddest vintage valentine

I have many questions...

What is this boy wearing?
What is he doing on the roof?
Is it even HIS roof?
Why is he grinning like that?
How is he going to get down?

This is the oddest vintage Valentine's Day card that I have to offer up this year. I'm not sure if it's as creepy as last year's postcard or as unsettling as the red-lipped cat from 2012, but it's certainly a contender.

Here's hoping you never have a kid like that on your roof.

Two adorable handmade valentines for Mrs. Geiger

I picked up these old handmade valentines, along with a bunch of others, last year at an antiques store in northcentral Pennsylvania. There's no date, so I would just guess 1930s or 1940s.

The first one, pictured at right, has the following text on the inside of the card, written in cursive and in pencil:

I'm always lonely.
I'm always blue.
I'm always longing.
Just for you.

The card was made for Mrs. Geiger, from Mary and Florence.

Do you think the sketch of the little girl with bows in her hair is traced? It looks to me like it might be. When I hold the card up to the light, I can see a watermark that reads "MODERN FORM" in bubble letters. The paper isn't transparent enough, though, for normal tracing. The student would have needed a light source underneath. If it wasn't traced, that's certainly a very good piece of artwork.

Here's the second of the two cards. The front has a circle cut out of the middle of the clock.

And here's the inside of the card.

The illustration of the little girl is quite similar to the one on the first card. And, in fact, this one is from Florence to Mrs. Geiger.

Handmade valentines took a lot more time and skill than just buying one of those jumbo packs of small, pre-printed valentines with a Care Bears or Batman theme.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Two old Valentine's Day postcards, circa 1907-08

Continuing with the Valentine's Day-themed ephemera, here are a pair of postcards that are more than a century old. It's interesting to see how pink, green and white were the predominant colors on these postcards. Now, that could just be a small sample size. But red is certainly not the overwhelming color in these illustrations, as it is today.

Above: The postmark is blurred on this To my Sweet Valentine postcard. It appears, however, to be from February 1907. The reverse side does not have a divided back and is for the address only, which fits in with early 1907. It wasn't until March 1, 1907, that the U.S. Post Office allowed messages on the back of a postcard. This postcard was mailed to Miss Mae McGinnis at Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. It was produced by Raphael Tuck & Sons.1

Above: This postcard features a Cupid-like figure, with some dangerous-looking arrows, on the front. It was postmarked at 7:30 p.m. on February 12, 1908, in Jersey City, New Jersey.2 And it was mailed to Miss Naomi Snyder in Spry, Pennsylvania.3 The note simply states "FROM SAM." The postcard was printed in Germany.

1. Previous posts featuring Raphael Tuck & Sons:
2. Also on February 12, 1908, French mathematician Jacques Herbrand was born. He would only live to age 23, as he died in a mountain-climbing accident in the French Alps, but he left an important legacy in his field.
3. Of minor interest: I found a Mary Naomi (Snyder) Smith Figdore, who is buried in Spry, on Find A Grave. But she lived from 1911 to 2010, which means she was born three years after this postcard was sent. Her mother's name was Dollie V. Snyder, so that's a dead end, too.

Monday, February 10, 2014

The March 1956 SNAPS pamphlet

This is the cover of SNAPS, a four-page pamphlet that was included in a long-ago customer's package of photographic prints and negatives.

I believe this "issue" is from March 1956, because there is a small advertising mention of NBC's Screen Directors Playhouse, which only lasted one season and was originally broadcast during the 1955-1956 television season. So that makes this pamphlet about 58 years old.

The pamphlet mostly just encourages people to use their cameras often — for Easter morning, for spring blossoms, for school activities, and, yes, to take pictures of cats.1 A sample of the advertising text:
"[P]ass out the latest snaps to your school friends. You'll want to capture on film those 'teen' years' activities."
The back page also serves as an order blank to purchase extra prints and enlargements from Crystal Photo Service. You could get one 5x7 for 60 cents, or three for $1.50. That might not seem like much, but 60 cents in 1956 is the equivalent of $5.00 today — for a single print.

Here are some additional pages and closeups from the pamphlet...

(Check out the white gloves the mother and daughter are wearing.)

1. At this moment, the overwhelming majority of photos on my iPhone are of cats. I suspect I am not the only one for whom that is the case. This is especially easy to accomplish when you have five cats in your house.

Three old Valentine's Day cards featuring cute animals

I have a bevy of vintage Valentine's Day cards that I'll be posting throughout the week. First up are these three animal-themed cards, featuring puppies, a cat and a hippopotamus standing upright.

Above: An undated A-MERI-CARD, which was made in the United States.

Above: This card was written to Mabel E. Spotts, from Robert.

Above: This card was made in Canada. It was given to John Wiser by John Clark.

Previous Valentine's Day posts

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A trio of U.S. postage stamps from the 1970s

Here are a few 1970s United States postage stamps that I came across recently at an estate sale.

It All Depends On Zip Code

According to the Mystic Stamp Company, this 10-cent stamp was issued on January 4, 1974. Mystic Stamp, which offers mint copies of this stamp for 50 cents, adds:
"This colorful stamp was issued to publicize ZIP Codes. The Zoning Improvement Plan, hence the name ZIP Code, was introduced by the U.S. Post Office Department in 1963. ... The design, which shows different forms of transportation used to carry the mail, was taken from a pop art poster created by artist Randall McDougall."
On the Alphabetilately website, William M. Senkus adds the following information:
  • McDougall was a Postal Service illustrator.
  • Nearly 717,000,000 copies of this stamp were printed.
  • There was one major color error during printing. Some stamps were printed with the yellow omitted. Those can sell for $50, but forgeries abound, too.

13¢ North Dakota stamp

This stamp was issued on February 23, 1976, as part of America's bicentennial celebration. It was part of a sheet of 50 stamps, one for each U.S. state. According to Mystic Stamp:
"Issued as part of the ongoing Bicentennial celebration, the 13¢ State Flags pane was a first in U.S. history. This was the first time a pane with 50 face-different stamps was issued. Each state is represented by its official flag, with the stamps arranged on the sheet in the same order each state was admitted into the Union."
You can still buy a full sheet featuring the 50 13¢ stamps from some vendors on Amazon.

1975 Merry Christmas stamp

This stamp has some neat and notable history. Notice that it doesn't have a postage amount listed. Janet Klug explains why in this excerpt from a article:
"[This is] the first United States Christmas stamp to prominently feature a bell in the design, the nondenominated (10¢) stamp (Scott 1580) issued in 1975. The design, taken from an early Christmas card by artist Louis Prang, features a cherub ringing a bell festooned with holly.

"This common stamp is interesting for a number of reasons. That it is nondenominated is a curiosity, because the 10¢ letter rate had been in effect since 1973. Why create a non-denominated stamp if the rate had not changed for two years?

"There is a simple explanation. The U.S. Postal Service expected a rate increase before the stamp's Oct. 14, 1975, issue date, but there would not be sufficient time to print Christmas stamps with the new denomination. The work-around was to issue Christmas stamps without denominations and then instruct post office clerks to sell them at the prevailing rate.

"As it turned out, the postal rate increase did not occur when expected and the nondenominated Christmas stamps were sold at the old 10¢ rate. The delayed rate increase to 13¢ occurred in early 1976."
Wikipedia has some in-depth information about the history of non-denominated postage, if you're still curious about the topic.

Vintage photographs of kids playing in the snow

Hey, it's snowing again here in York this afternoon. For adults, snow means shoveling, salting, navigating icy spots, dealing with power outages, fretting about tree limbs, and other worrisome stuff.

For kids, snow means FUN.

So here are some vintage snapshots of American children all bundled up and enjoying the winter weather.

And here's Yours Truly, in early 1976...

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