Saturday, May 10, 2014

Miller Organ Company advertising card featuring a cute dog

Cute things help sell products!

Here's an old Victorian trade card that might date back to the 1890s (and has seen its share of wear and tear over the decades). The puppy in the bassinet is helping to advertise the Miller Organ Company of Lebanon, Pennsylvania. It's a good thing they had an adorable animal, because the advertising slogans are not memorable:

Here's a little bit about the Miller Organ Company, which was established in 1873, from the Antique Piano Shop website:
"The firm was known for building very elaborate, high quality organs during the late 19th Century and early 20th Century. In 1903 ... [t]he firm then began building pianos due to the decline in the popularity of the organ and the name of the firm [was changed] to The Miller Piano & Organ Company [in 1904]. There is no mention of the firm after World War 1, indicating that they [likely] went out of business very early in the 20th Century.", however, indicates that the firm made organs through at least 1922. It adds that "the factory capacity was 1800 organs per year in 1899."

The most detailed history of the company that I found was this 2010 article by Sue Bowman in Lancaster Farming. It includes this information about the craftsmanship that went into the organs:
"In addition to being excellent-sounding musical instruments, Miller organs were also works of art in themselves. Most were made of black walnut, but other woods like quarter-sawn oak or red birch could also be ordered. With Victorian gingerbread carved woodwork panels and options like beveled glass mirrors and stands for oil lamps, Miller organs were a treat for the eyes as well as the ears."
Other links:

Friday, May 9, 2014

Old receipt from Wallick's Garage in eastern York County

Here's an old receipt from Wallick's Garage, which was located a half mile east of "Hellam." (Here in York County, the tiny borough of HALLAM, named after the English township of Hallamshire, is surrounded by the larger municipality of HELLAM Township. So, as you can imagine, there are many instances of people using Hallam and Hellam interchangeably and incorrectly. It was one of those little style points we had to learn to employ correctly at the York Daily Record.)

Wallick's Garage offered:
  • Day and night service
  • Chevrolets
  • Used cars
  • Tydol gas and oil
  • General repairing
  • Washing and greasing

If I'm reading the cursive writing on this receipt correctly, it's dated August 27, 1953, and is for a customer named Barley.

Barley's car presumably needed a new drive shaft at a cost of $11.37. That would be the equivalent of about $98 today. Does that sound about right to those of you with more automotive knowledge than me (which would be nearly everyone)?

And the $4 charged for labor would be the equivalent of about $34 today, bringing the total bill to $15.37 ($132 in modern dollars).

This receipt, with its lovely artwork at the top, was made by Metro Printing Service of Newark, New Jersey.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Nice find at a yard sale for 25¢

It doesn't take much to make me happy when I'm browsing for books or oddball items at yard sales.

This past Saturday, I had a chance to make a leisurely walk around the Wills-Ford Community Yard Sale in nearby Dover Township. It's a sprawling sale the takes up a few residential blocks. It even has its own food vendors.

I was pleased when I came across this nice reading copy of We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson.

It had been on my (long) list of books that I wanted to pick up and read some day, so it was pretty cool to snag a copy for 25¢.

I also snagged three other interesting books — all for 25¢ apiece — from a different vendor:

And here are a few pictures I snapped at the community yard sale...

1. Here is one of the stories:
A wiseheimer tourist had breakfast on a farm in Pa. and when he saw the farmer eating pigs feet and tongue ridiculed the farmer.

"You'd never catch me eating a tongue from an animal's mouth. What a filthy habit that is! I'll have two eggs, please!!"

QSL cards: The Beers and a doggy

The first of today's QSL cards is for the Beer family of Leechburg, Pennsylvania. The hand-colored card for KJI1147 indicates that the clan consisted of:
  • Ellsworth Beer, aka Buttermilk Man or "Sus"
  • Charlotte Beer, aka CB'er
  • Patty Beer, aka Poodle Lady

The Beers lived at 240 Diamond Avenue in Leechburg and were members of the Kiski Valley CB'ers, according to a tiny logo on the left side of the card.

I was able to discover that Ellsworth Beer lived from 1902 until 1986 and married Charlotte Pifer. Ellsworth was the son of Cyrus Everhart Beer (1873-1944) and Ada Gertrude Lucas (1882-1965). He was buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Leechburg.

And here are two fun facts regarding Leechburg: 1. Former Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Mickey Morandini attended Leechburg Area High School. 2. According to Wikipedia, Leechburg Elementary was one of two schools in the United States that taught Russian to all students.

And this second QSL card comes from London. It was the G3DOG card (get it?) for Richard F.C. "Dick" Crowther.

The message portion on the back of the card states (the bold portions below were pre-printed; the rest was filled in with pen):
To Radio W9ZHK.
Confirming with thanks our CW QSO of 17/4/49 at 18:43 GMT 14001 KCS on 20 Metre Band.
Your signals were RST 4/5.69. QRM Bd.
The Rig here is TX PP.TZ40's. Input 150 Watts. Ant 2x h/2 Dipoles N/S fed in Phase. RX HRO.
Remarks Vy psd contact u DM thru bd QRM for first Wisconsin. Plenty noise from Wis in W2's hi.
Your QSL appreciated PSE Direct or via RSGB
Hoping to contact you again soon
without QRM.
Dick Crowther
QRM means "interference" in Q code. This card was mailed to Grover Hutchinson (W9ZHK) in Wisconsin 65 years ago.

Related update
I am sorry to report that, so far, nothing has come of my fun little QSL card experiment that I wrote about on March 30. Bummer. I know how you feel, puppy.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Pocket notepad to keep track of duck and turkey eggs in 1925

This red pocket notepad – which is just 2½ inches wide – was distributed as a complimentary product by the Lancaster Chemical Company.

The company, which was based in both Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Perryville, Maryland, manufactured "High-Grade Animal Bone Fertilizers." There were special formulas for tobacco and vegetables, potatoes, wheat and other crops.

The blank pages inside the book were used long ago by a farmer who wanted to keep daily track of his or her Pekin duck eggs. The first page, shown below, indicates that anywhere from 1 to 5 duck eggs were produced each day between February 25 and March 31 in 1925.

The next two pages detail the daily totals in April (which ranged from 2 to 5) and May (in which there wasn't a day with more than one egg until the 13th).

After that, there were only a few scattered reports from days in June and early July. Overall, the best month seemed to be April, when there were nine days with five eggs and fifteen days with four eggs.

The middle pages of the notepad are blank. Toward the back, there are some other interesting pages. One has the following:

Duck eggs set
April 10th 42
April 28th 56
May 29th 30
June 9th 5
July 8th 11

Another focuses on the economic side of the equation:

Duck Eggs Sold
March 14th 1 dozen @ .35 .35
March 21st 1½ dozen @ .35 .53
March 28th 2½ dozen @ .35 .88
April 13th 2 dozen @ .35 .70
May 18th 1 dozen @ .35 .35

Finally, there is a page focusing on an different type of egg:

Turkey Eggs Set
April 28th 31
May 7th found turkey with 11 eggs
May 12th set turkey on 12 eggs
May 29th 18
May 30th found turkey with 11 eggs
August 8th found turkey with 12 eggs

We don't seem to put much focus on the turkey egg industry in the United States today. Mostly because, although they're very healthy, they're too expensive and not economical to mass-produce. To read more about turkey eggs, check out "Why don't Americans eat turkey eggs?" on Slate and the "Eating turkey eggs?" thread on the message board.

In the meantime, I'll close with a photo of some Pekin ducks. They are way too cute to eat but, sadly, about 95 percent of the duck meat eaten in the United States is Pekin duck (even though they make wonderful pets).

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Images of America's past:
Two old mystery photos

Nothing elaborate this morning. Just a pair of interesting old photos from the Mystery Files...

First up is this abused real photo postcard. According to the design of the AZO stamp box on the back of the card (which was never used), it was produced sometime between 1910 and 1930.

Here is a closer look at some of the young men's faces.

This second photograph, featuring a group of old men in chairs and one young lad, is dated September 7, 1941, on the back. There is no other identifying information. All of the older men must have been born in the 19th century, while the boy, if he's still alive, would be in his middle to upper 70s today.

Interestingly, the first few times I looked at his photo, I did not see the man in the straw hat lurking in the background. Here's a closer look at him.

Share your thoughts and speculations on these two photos in the comments section.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Today's theme: Ephemera of Lancaster, Pennsylvania

This is a Plastichrome postcard that was published by Stel-Mar of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The photograph is copyright 1976 by Marshall Dussinger. The caption on the back states: "An Amish family on a Sunday afternoon. Living 'by the book', the Amish have retained the customs and beliefs of their ancestors."

I have a new job!

Today is my second day of work at Lancaster Newspapers Inc., which hired me to serve as sports editor for the Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era, Sunday News and LancasterOnline. To mark the occasion, here are some links to previous Papergreat posts that featured content from Lancaster County.

And I have some new Lancaster-themed posts planned for this week, so stay tuned!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Blue and gold bookseller's label for Frederick Loeser & Co.

This tiny bookseller's label — it measures just seven-eighths of an inch across — is affixed to the inside front cover of Doubleday & McClure Company's 1899 edition of The Day's Work by Rudyard Kipling.1

Frederick Loeser & Co. was a major department store in Brooklyn, New York, for nearly a century, from 1860 until 1952.

Co-founder Loeser (1833-1911) was born in Mergentheim, Germany, the son of a poor silversmith. He came to America in 1853 with $2.50 and a silver watch. Less than a decade later, he partnered with Moritz Dinkelspiel to open Loeser and Dinkelspiel in Brooklyn. It was from that business venture that Frederick Loeser & Co. eventually sprang.2

The company went bankrupt in 1952 and a month-long liquidation sale was held, according to the Brooklyn Eagle. The proceeds were divided equally between management and the employees.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has more than a dozen pieces of apparel from Frederick Loeser & Co. in its collection. And, in 2010, museum curator Plácida Grace Hernández put together an interesting presentation that folded in history of Loeser & Co. with what could be learned from vintage garment labels. Here is an excerpt that details some of the department store's history:
"By March 1887, Loeser's moved into a new five-story building at 484 Fulton Street. ... The first three floors were dedicated to sales. The fourth held administrative offices and the top floor was reserved for 'washrooms, ladies' fitting apartments, [and] rooms for buyer's samples, etc.' The new building had every modern convenience, including elevators, electric lights, and telephone service. Seven years later, Loeser's expanded again, constructing an annex that extended to Elm Place. Loeser's also unveiled a pneumatic-tube payment system; to complete a sale, clerks placed documents and cash in a small capsule; the capsule then rode a cushion of air through pipes that led directly to the cashier's department, where the transaction was completed."

Regarding the book store within the department store, I found two advertising pitches that had been used by Loeser & Co. in a 1909 book titled Advertising Cyclopedia of Selling Phrases:3
  • "New members or those who renew their subscriptions to the Booklover's Library will for a limited time receive without charge six books which may be selected from a considerable list. These books have been withdrawn from the Booklover's Library for complimentary distribution, and the published prices range from $1.10 to $3.00. They include fiction, travel, history and biography and some of the most popular books of the past year."
  • "One dollar and twenty-five cent bound books, 15c. Books fine enough for gifts — one more of the notable offerings from this splendid book store — the store that is generally accepted as the only complete book store in Brooklyn and the lowest priced book store anywhere. These books are neatly bound in buckram, with uncut edges."

More bookseller labels

1. Doubleday & McClure Company, founded in 1897 by Frank Nelson Doubleday and Samuel Sidney McClure, is now simply Doubleday. The Day's Work was, according to Wikipedia, one of the company's first bestsellers.
2. The biographical information in that paragraph was culled from Loeser's August 1, 1911, obituary in The New York Times.
3. The book's subtitle is: "A collection of advertising short talks as used by the most successful merchants and advertisement writers; classified and arranged so as to facilitate the expression of ideas and assist merchants in general lines of business and specialists in special lines in the preparation and compilation of advertising copy."