Saturday, February 22, 2014

Saturday night's all right for reading

What books are you reading this week? Right now, I'm working on Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart and Marvel Comics: The Untold Story by Sean Howe.

If you're looking for something shorter to peruse, here are some of the best things I've stumbled across on the web during the past 10 days or so. Most of them are current articles. A couple of them are great reads from the past that I came across while doing research. And one them is mostly just a collection of jaw-dropping photos. Enjoy!

A child's traced and colored pictures from long ago

Last year I came across about 20 loose pages of artwork that had previously been stored in a notebook or binder. They are the work of a child named Charlotte.

It appears that they were created by tracing the outlines of existing illustrations and coloring them in.

Most of the pictures deal with issues of health of hygiene — brushing your teeth, taking a bath, using a handkerchief, eating balanced meals, etc.

There are, in fact, a few handwritten pages that contain hygiene tips. Some examples:

  • "Do not pick the ears with a pin or a toothpick or a match. If there is much wax in them, have it removed by a doctor."
  • "Never poke rubbers, pencils, sticks or beans into your nose. The lining of the nose may be injured, and often small objects such as beans become lodged in the nose and cause a great deal of pain."
  • "Clean your teeth every morning, every night, and after each meal. Brush them in front and in back, across, and up and down. Then rinse your mouth with clean water."
  • "Never put a foreign object, such as a bean or button, into the ear."

Apparently, improper use of beans was a big problem with schoolchildren of the past.

Here are some more of Charlotte's illustrations...

This next one is interesting. A man is pasting up a sign that states: "SCARLET FEVER WITHIN." Scarlet fever could be fatal before an antibiotic treatment was eventually perfected. It remained a feared infectious disease in the United States through the 1920s and 1930s.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Mystery: John Briden's Circus in Newark, New Jersey

Here's a stumper. I came across the front of an envelope that was postmarked in 1958. Half of the business-size envelope features an illustration and return address for Briden's Circus.

Briden's Circus billed itself as "the enormous little circus," with more than 600 hand-carved figures. The proprietor and address were:

42 Isabella Avenue
Newark 6, New Jersey

Granted, this envelope dates back 56 years. But does anyone have any information or memories of Briden's Circus? Alas, Google has very little to say.

I'm guessing that it was either (1) a shop where circus-themed miniatures — perhaps for use with model railroads? — could be purchased, or (2) an elaborate display that people paid money to see, along the lines of Roadside America in Shartlesville, Pennsylvania, or The Choo Choo Barn in Strasburg, Pennsylvania.

But those are just guesses.

The only additional clue that I was able to find online was in The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art's online collection.

"Miniature Circus: Lion Head" (pictured at right) is a featured piece of art (an ink-on-paper illustration), and the maker is listed as John P. Briden. It is part of the Tibbals Digital Collection.

That's it.

Comments and leads welcome!

Pennsylvania postcards: Lancaster sects and Rolling Green Park

A pair of old Pennsylvania postcards on a dreary Friday...

Religious sects of Lancaster County, Pa.

I cannot read the year on this card's postmark. Also present are a green, one-cent George Washington stamp and a stamp cancellation with the words GIVE and RED CROSS FUND.

The card was mailed from Lancaster to York and the message states:
"Dear sister; well I'm all moved and settled and would like you to come see me soon, I've been so busy had no time to write or do other than my work, lost no time but surely am tired. Write. With love, Lena."
Regarding the plain sects pictured on the postcard, Lancaster County has a deep and diverse background of religions. According to Wikipedia, "in 1989 Donald Kraybill counted 37 distinct religious bodies/organizations, with 289 congregations and 41,600 baptized members, among the plain sects who are descendants of the Anabaptist Mennonite immigrants to Lancaster County."

Rolling Green Park,
between Sunbury and Selinsgrove, Pa.

This postcard was postmarked at 6 p.m. on August 3, 1925.1 It was mailed with a red, two-cent George Washington stamp. The short note on the card states: "Arrived O.K. Lots of fun. Margaret, Stewart, Theda & Russ."

The card was published by Haines Stationery Store in Sunbury.

Rolling Green Park was a trolley park in Snyder County that was in operation from 1908 until 1971 or 1972. I wrote about it in-depth in this November 2011 post.

1. On that date, the Philadelphia Phillies were swept by the Pittsburgh Pirates in a doubleheader at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh. The Phillies lost both games by a score of 3-2. Lew Fonseca had three hits for the Phillies in the first game, and Johnny Mokan had four hits in the second game. That second game went 11 innings, and both starting pitchers — the Phillies' Johnny Couch and the Pirates' Vic Aldridge — went the distance.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

From the readers: Cheerful cards, stamp collecting, cats and more

Continued thanks for all the comments and insights that you send to Papergreat!

Cheerful Card Company can help you earn extra money for the holidays: Anonymous writes: "How funny. I am 66 and was just telling my wife how I used to dress up and carry my briefcase with me ... I was 11 or 12 ... knock on the door and say, 'I represent the Cheerful Card Company of (somewhere) New York and I would like to show you our line of Christmas Cards.' I didn't always make a sale but I did score milk and cookies on numerous occasions. I remember making enough one Christmas to shock my Dad and he wasn't shocked easily. What a fun read."

Some vintage board games you probably won't get for Christmas: Tom Smithyman, a former roommate of mine at Penn State, writes: "Thanks for posting these, Chris. I don't think I ever owned any of these, but the Manhunt game reminded me of this scene from The Kentucky Fried Movie."

The movie scene Tom references is a fake advertisement for Scot Free, a wildly inappropriate board game surrounding the investigation of the JFK assassination. Oliver Stone would approve.

Celebrating J. R. R. Tolkien's twelvety-second birthday: Bonnie Jeanne (aka PostMuse) writes: "That font looks like Harry Potter, not Lord of the Rings."

Interesting point. I kind of see what you're saying.

But given that these hardcovers were published in 1965, which is also the same year that J.K. Rowling was BORN, I think "firsties" go to the LOTR designers. Perhaps, many decades later, when seeking dust jacket inspiration, the Potter book designers perused some of the 1960s-riffic Tolkien cover designs?

Enjoy these vintage recipes for the Everhot Electric Roasterette: A reader writes: "CE Swartzbaugh is my great-grandfather. I have enjoyed collecting some of the items made by the Toledo Cooker Company and successor Swartzbaugh Manufacturing Company's Everhot brand kitchen appliance and products. The Everhot brand was sold in around 1948-50 to McGraw Electric (later McGraw-Edison)."

More snow in southcentral Pennsylvania: Anonymous writes: "Beautiful photos. I'm in Mechanicsburg looking at the same thing right now. Don't like driving in it, but it sure is an ethereal sight. Found your page while looking up Benders/Alpine Road Cemetery (as we just visiting there yesterday after ice skating at Pinchot Park). Great stuff on your site — keep up the fascinating work!"

A trio of U.S. postage stamps from the 1970s: Jim Fahringer writes: "Thanks for the post about these interesting stamps. The sheet of 50 state flags is still one of my favorite U.S. stamp designs. The fact that this sheet of stamps was the first time the U.S. Post Office printed a sheet of stamps with 50 different designed stamps makes this stamp issue quite interesting to collectors. Normally, you would have several million sheets of a U.S. Stamp sheet printed with 50 stamps of the same design. Let's say the Post Office printed 5 million sheets with each sheet containing 50 stamps of the same design; that would give you a grand total of 250,000.000 million single stamps of the same design. That stamp would not be very rare with 250 million copies being made. On the other hand consider the stamp issue of 50 different state flags. Let's say the post office printed 5 million sheets of that stamp. Because there was only one design of any one one state in the sheet, you would only have 5 million copies of let's say the Pennsylvania state flag stamp. Any one particular stamp design of a state is much more scarce than if the sheet had contained 50 of the same design. That is why the 50 state flag stamps are more valuable than most other commemorative stamps.

"However, with the issue of this stamp, another problem was created for stamp collectors - especially the young and those who didn't have a lot of extra cash. Now instead of buying just one mint stamp from a sheet of 50 for your stamp collection, you had to buy 50 stamps from the sheet for your collection. To keep your stamp collection up to date and include all stamps, you now found yourself in the position to spend 50 times more than what you would normally spend for a new stamp issue. Not to mention, if you collected first-day covers, you now how to purchase 50 different covers instead of just one. Coupled with several other Post Office decisions, you began to see a decline in stamp collecting. That is sad."

[Fahringer shared other memories of stamp collecting in this post last February.]

Found recipes, Part 2: Whose box (and turketti recipe) was this? Ty Walsh writes: "The recipe cards with the old-fashioned stove and sleeping kitty are cards that my paternal grandmother used. Her name was Jean Ulrich. There is a story behind her use of these cards. She lived on the beach in Rockaway, Oregon. When you walked in the front door on your immediate left side was a stove just like that one. The cat under the stove resembled a cat that my mom and Grandma Jean had saved several times. The cat had been brought to where I lived and given to us. His name was Little Joe from Cocomo. Grandma told me that Grandpa Gil named the cat. I have 2-3 of her recipes on those cards. Would love to find some blank ones."

Thanks for sharing those great memories, Ty. I am sorry to say that I don't have any blank cards of this type. One good place to look for them is on Etsy, which features numerous vintage recipe cards.

Space-age pictures from a 1964-65 Futurama brochure: Sandi writes: "My parents went to this fair. I remember well all the fascinating information they brought back. Still waiting on that future life."

Mystery real photo postcard: Who were these three kids? Bart Ingraldi, who authors the ephemera blog, writes: "At first glance the card look European. The children look Italian, even the boys outfits give a hint to this."

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Just another Piero Fornasetti item found at a Pennsylvania yard sale

Here's an odd item — a paperweight, perhaps? — that I picked up last year at a Dover-area yard sale. It came in cardboard box that is shaped like a book and covered in gold-colored foil.

The guy selling it had discounted it from $8 to $1.50 and said he was about to throw it away at end of the day.1 He didn't really know what it was or what was the deal with the text and illustration. But he had an idea.

"We typed it into The Facebook, but nothing came up," said the guy. "It's from Romeo and Juliet."

Ashar, who was with me, disagreed.

"I think it's Rapunzel," he offered.

I can safely say they're both wrong.

Here's what we do know:

1. The paperweight is four inches tall, ceramic and shaped like a book — just like the box it came in.

2. Printed along the spine is "NAVIS STULTIFERA."

3. The odd illustration features a group of musicians, most of whom are wearing jester-like outfits, performing underneath a second-floor window. A naked woman is pouring out the contents of either a chamber pot or wash basin onto the performers. This is taking place at night, based upon the moon and stars in the upper-right corner of the illustration.

4. The text printed under the illustration states: "Nouvelle explications en vers de la nef de fols."

5. The back of the paperweight is felted in red and has a gold stamp that tells us this item was made in Milan, Italy, by Fornasetti. That would be Piero Fornasetti (1913-1988), who is no longer with us, yet has a robust and somewhat bizarre website.

So, what about the text? "NAVIS STULTIFERA" is the easy part. That's the Latin title for Ship of Fools, a religious satire published in 1494 by German Sebastian Brant.2

The text under the illustration, curiously, seems to be in French. (Curious, because Fornasetti lived and worked in Italy.) Using Google Translate, "Nouvelle explications en vers de la nef de fols" could be translated as one of these:

  • New explanations to the Ship of Fools.
  • New explanations of a verse in Ship of Fools.
  • Further explanations about the Ship of Fools.

Or something along those lines.

This paperweight was probably created in the 1950s. Fornasetti lived and worked in Italy for most of his life, except for a period in Switzerland in the mid 1940s.

According to his obituary in The New York Times:
"Mr. Fornasetti was internationally known for his original and boldly graphic black-and-white ceramics and furniture that ran the gamut from coasters to multipanel screens - and included whimsical and decorative umbrella stands, trays, cabinets, chairs and china. Mr. Fornasetti worked with glass, fabric, porcelain and wood. Mr. Fornasetti's fanciful pieces were always witty and imaginative. In his motifs, he favored Piranesi-like engravings, the sun, moon and stars, playing cards, animals and surrealistic images."

His popularity waned in the 1970s, but the market for his vintage items has been growing in recent years, according to the artist's official website (which, of course, has a vested interest.)

There are a number of Fornasetti paperweights available for sale online. Some are shaped like books, some come in other forms. Some are vintage, some are remakes.

For giggles, I think I'll post this Ship of Fools paperweight on eBay. Given that it cost us $1.50 (and was about to be thrown out), it won't take much to swing a profit and get this into the hands of a collector who will truly appreciate it.

* * *
February 27 addendum: I am both thrilled and embarrassed to report that this paperweight sold for $407 in a recently concluded online auction. I think it's safe to say this will go down as my "Yard-Sale Pick of a Lifetime." And, more importantly, I'm glad this treasured piece of art ended up with a collector and not in a trash can in Dover.

1. The guy also told me: "Best place to find me is at street fairs. I'm the guy in the wide-brim hat."
2. According to Wikipedia and other sources, however, the paperweight has it backwards. It's supposed to be Stultifera Navis.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Two handwritten comfort-food recipes here in the dead of winter

Who's ready for some warm comfort food? Here are two handwritten recipes — one for Chicken Supper Soup and some Apple Raisin Krisp for dessert. The recipes were pulled from plastic yellow box that was first featured in a pair of 2012 posts.1

If you make either of these, let us know how they turned out!

Chicken Supper Soup
  • 4 strips bacon diced
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 2 lbs. chicken breasts or legs
  • water
  • 1 can (1 lb.) tomatoes
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 10 oz. pk. baby limas
  • 1 10 oz. pk. okra
  • 1 tbs. worchestershire
  • salt and pepper
In Dutch oven saute bacon. Remove when chrisp [sic]. Add onions to bacon fat & saute until golden. Add chicken & saute until brown. Add water, tomatoes and cook over low heat 30 min. Add lima beans & okra and cook for 30 min. more. Add corn, Worchestershire sauce, salt & pepper to taste. Heat & serve. 6-8 servings.

Apple Raisin Krisp
  • 6 medium tart apples pealed and sliced
  • ¾ cup raisins
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup flour
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • pinch of salt & cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup butter
Arrange apples in buttered 8-inch pan. Sprinkle with raisins. Combine oats, sugar & seasonings until mixture is crumbly and well blended. Spread over apples. Bake at 350 for 30 to 40 min. until apples are tender & top is chrisp & brown. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.

1. Here are those links:
Several other selections from the box have been featured in posts in the Recipes category, too.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Five cool things from 1935's "Elements of Business Training"

The "New Edition" of Elements of Business Training by John M. Brewer, Floyd Hurlbut and Juvenilia Caseman was published in 1935 by Ginn and Company. Its chapter titles include "Telephone and Telegraph," "Saving and Investing your Money," "First Positions in Business," and "Handling the Mail."

Here are five cool things from the book.

1. The cover
The cover, both serious and classy, has a bit of an Art Deco flair.

2. The bookplate
The previous owner's full name was Carl E. Walker, per a stamp found elsewhere in the book.

3. A Typical Information Bureau
The photo caption states: "When you ask for 'Information,' you are connected with one of these operators. Notice the number of reference books in front of each operator."

This was, of course, before Google.

4. The Use of Codes
Here's something I didn't know: "Many business houses make use of code in telegrams and cablegrams. Code reduces the cost and insures greater secrecy."

Here are some examples of telegram code:
  • ABYSS — Will they accept?
  • CUSAC — The cost will be
  • CUCHO — What will be the cost of
  • FEAXY — What is the freight
  • DUMBO — Freight prepaid
  • DIXIE — Freight collect
  • MITEN — One dozen
  • KRETA — Barrel(s)
  • QUIST — Please quote lowest possible price
  • SAKER — Ship at once

5. Intercity Motor Coach
Check out this snazzy bus! The caption states: "This provides seats and sleeping-accommodations for twenty-six passengers. The man at the center window of the lower deck is eating a meal prepared by a the chef who may be seen in the white uniform."

Sleeping accommodations? A chef? I'd love to know more about this particular bus. Who made and operated it? How many were manufactured? How much did a ticket cost? Did it make money, or was it a big bust? Also, are any of these buses still around? If anyone has any leads, let me know in the comments section.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Classified advertisements from a 1932 issue of Hobbies magazine

It's interesting to see what collectors were seeking and selling 82 years ago in the early years of the Great Depression.

The September 1932 issue of Hobbies, "The Magazine for Collectors," offers some fascinating insights on that topic.1

Some of the areas covered by the magazine were antiques, autographs, books, butterflies, numismatics, dime novels, firearms, gems and minerals, "Indian Relics," prints, stamps and steer horns.

Here are some of the specific small-type advertisements from that issue:2
  • FOR SALE — ALMANACS, 1792 to 1900, many rarities. Send 3¢ stamp for list. — Faye DeCamp, Camden, Ohio.
  • FOR SALE — I HAVE for sale a small fine collection of Indian relics suitable for an advanced collector; small spears and other pieces for retail. I have no cheap trash at all, two spinning wheels, two Kentucky rifles. — H.L. Johnson, Clarksville, Tenn.
  • WANTED TO BUY — PONY EXPRESS envelopes, Wells-Fargo, Steamship, Mining scenes, Stage Coaches, Overland covers, Via Nicaragua, California Miners' Letters, British Columbia, early Hawaii to U.S.A., Confederate Covers, Letters written by Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Poe, Whittier. Immediate cash. Address — James Hardy, P.O. Box 206, Glencoe, Illinois.3
  • WANTED — Circus Parade Pictures, Snap Shots, Photos, Herald, etc. Anything showing Circus Parade Scenes. Write — L. Melvin, Box 980, St. Thomas, Ont., Can.
  • OLYMPIC GAMES Athletic Signatures of all nations over 100. Some by World's Champions. Best offers. — John Gallucci, 3065 Island, San Diego, Calif.
  • FOR SALE — Genuine elk teeth for watch charms, lodge emblems and jewelry mounting purposes. Write for price. — P.R. Winkler, 276 E. Washington Avenue, Washington, N.J.
  • FOR SALE — One of the finest U.S.A. Butterfly Collections. Value exceeding $1,500.00. For the sacrifice price of $200.00. An exceptional opportunity for collectors. M. Deschl, 135 West 42nd Street, New York City.4
  • 1000 BALKAN STAMPS — Roumania, Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro, Turkey, Old Serbia. (Old Pictorial, Jubilee, War, Air Mails, new Issues, etc., excellent assorted.) Dollar, $15.00-$25.00 catalog value for only $1.00 Bank Note and 30 cents in unused stamps. Post free. Charles A. Buffan Stamp Co. Caransebes (Banat), Roumania.
  • WANTED — Items pertaining to Abraham Lincoln. — A.H. Griffith, Fisk, Wis.
  • WILL SELL my old arithmetic compiled in 1814 by a Kentucky schoolmaster. 144 pages, all hand done with quill pen. Beautifully executed. Deals extensively in Vulger [sic] Fractions. A first, last and only edition. Best offer. — Elois Roberts, Phoenix, Ariz.
  • WANTED — TOBY JUGS MADE BEFORE 1800. Give full description and price. — I. Turner Moore, 34 South Fifth St., Reading, Pa. [Pictured at right is a Toby Jug image from Wikipedia.]
  • FOR SALE — Six Aztecan Head pieces, temple details and mortar. perfect condition, weighing 25 pounds. Petrified mastodon bones. Best offer. — LX Hobbies, 2810 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill.
  • PREHISTORIC RELICS FROM SOUTHWEST ARKANSAS. Grooved axes, double bitted axes, celts, stemmed hoes, chisels, notched flint hoes, arrow and bird points, scrapers, drills, spears. Satisfaction guaranteed. — E.S. Bylington, DeQueen, Arkansas.
  • BEAUTIFUL collection of German War money, 525 all different new bills, some very rare, mounted in album. Will exchange for used Zeppelin stamps or foreign airmail on or off cover. — W.H. Peters, 48-29 58th Lane, Woodside, New York City.

1. An advertisement from the December 1944 issue of Hobbies was featured in this recent post.
2. Hobbies must have made a ton of money on these classified advertisements. The "FOR SALE" rate was five cents per word. The rate went down if you wanted your advertisement to appear in multiple issues. So, for example, it was only two cents per word for 12 issues. So, a 20-word advertisement appearing in 12 issues would cost .02 x 20 x 12 = $4.80. That's the equivalent of nearly $80 today.
3. James Hardy did not mess around.
4. In modern dollars, Deschl was offering his $25,000 butterfly collection for $3,300.