Saturday, May 17, 2014

Some magazine pages pasted into someone's old scrapbook

These large illustrations, which I'm fairly certain came from magazines, were pasted into a large scrapbook I came across earlier this year.

Do you (or did you) keep a scrapbook? What's inside it? Many people collect magazine clippings, newspaper clippings, ticket stubs, postcards, and so many other kinds of ephemera via the scrapbook format. Coming across them gives a fascinating glimpse into the past (even if the glue or paste utterly ruins the ephemera).

Above: This colorful illustration is simply titled "The Crossing." There is no other information and I cannot find the illustrator's signature anywhere.

Above: This is titled "The Girl I Left Behind Me" and is from the painting by Marion Powers. It appear in the supplement to Pictorial Review of July 1917.

Above: This montage illustration is titled "Mothers of All Times." It is a painting by Charles Mark (C.M.) Relyea (1863-1932).

Above: This is a detail of "Fairy Tales" by Ivan G. Olinsky. The original painting was, at the time, housed at The Butler Art Institute in Youngstown, Ohio.

I'll be doing additional posts about some of the other interesting things found on this scrapbook's pages.

Real photo postcard by Penn Park Photograph Gallery in York

This unused real photo postcard features a young man wearing a snazzy outfit and standing in front of a wooden fence.

Presumably, this photograph was taken in York, Pennsylvania, because the tiny logo on the front denotes "Penn Park Studio" and "York, Pa."

And, on the back — which is divided, dating this card to 1907 or later — is the following information: "Penn Park Photograph Gallery, 25 West College Ave., York, Pa."

What I don't know is whether Penn Park Studio and Penn Park Photograph Gallery were one and the same.

I do know that, according to the "News of the Past" feature in the March 4, 1947, issue of The Gazette and Daily of York, under the "Twenty-Five Years Ago" header, it states:
"The Penn Park photograph gallery, College and Cherry avenues, went out of business after being run for 15 years on the same spot by Charles Y. Hake."1
That would mean the studio closed circa 1922.

So that officially dates this postcard to sometime between 1907 and 1922, which probably would have been our guess anyway, generally speaking.

Here's a closer look at the young man in the photograph...

This person, by the way, was almost certainly alive when the photograph was taken, unlike a minor incident we had here on the blog earlier this week.

Let's zoom in even closer.

1. Here are some more fun tidbits from that 1947 "News of the Past" feature:
  • Fifty years ago (1897): August C. Kruger, crack marksman and pigeon fancier, Wrightsville, visited friends in York.
  • Fifty years ago (1897): Martin Tryor, declared officially dead in 1892 in Lancaster county after and absence of 12 years, surprised his relatives by paying them a call.
  • Fifteen years ago (1932): The Lancaster-York Inter-County bridge commission decided to plant Japanese cherry blossoms at the approach to the Columbia bridge.
  • Fifteen years ago (1932): A new lake created at Long Level by the damming of the water of the Susquehanna river brought about a condition by which choppy high water was menacing the summer homes of the small colony.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Wouldn't life be more fun if we all had ultrasonic cycloplanes?

  • Title: Tom Swift and His Ultrasonic Cycloplane
  • Author: Victor Appleton II
  • Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap
  • Year: 1957
  • Cover illustration: J. Graham Kaye (who also did some work for The Saturday Evening Post over the years)
  • Notes: The cycloplane in this photograph from the archives of the San Diego Air and Space Museum looks nothing like Mr. Swift's contraption. ... This book one of the "New Tom Swift Jr. Adventures." These titles in this series were not subtle. They involved flying labs, jetmarines, rocket ships, giant robots, atomic earth blasters, diving seacopters, deep-sea hydrodomes and, my favorite, "the caves of nuclear fire." ... Here is how Ultrasonic Cycloplane begins...
    "YOU mean this little gadget can rev up a big enough storm to fly your new cycloplane?"

    Through the greenish quartz-glass window of his protective helmet, Bud Barclay stared in amazement at his pal, Tom Swift.

    The young inventor chuckled. "An ultrasonic storm, Bud. You can't see it or hear it, but it packs a terrific wallop!"

Related posts

Thursday, May 15, 2014

An unfortunate oversight by me

I have become a cautionary tale.

This is why ephemera bloggers should be wary of trying to inject humor into their writing.

Earlier this week, I authored the seemingly witty post "Authentic vintage postcard of Chewbacca holding a York baby."

These parts were true:
  • The AZO real photo postcard dates to between 1904 and 1918
  • The postcard was produced by Simon & Murnane of York, Pennsylvania
  • The photo shows an infant in a long, white gown

This part was not true:
  • Chewbacca appears in the photo

Also, while amusing myself with my hip Star Wars humor, I missed one fairly important detail about the photo postcard: The baby pictured is not alive.

It is, in fact, deceased.

Which instantly makes everything about my blog post not very funny at all.

My mom, a longtime reader and insightful commenter, was the first to point out this grim fact. In the comments section, she wrote:
"Not to spoil your fun with the York Chewbacca baby, but this might actually be a post-mortem photograph ... aka 'dead baby picture.' It was something some grieving parents did during this era."
A bit later, after further analysis, she sent me this email:
"Sorry, but this is definitely a post-mortem photo. If you look closely at the eyes in the closeup ... you can see the irises are artificial and the baby's real eyes are looking up and you can only see the bottoms of them. Plus, a baby would never have stayed still long enough for a photograph."
Here is a decisive closeup of the "eyes" and the evidence to which Mom is referring...

And so we are left with this poignant memento mori from about a century ago. Sadly, there is no name or identifying information on the back of the postcard (beyond the mention of the York photography studio). Wouldn't it be nice if we could put a name to this sweet face?

Post-mortem photography was at its peak from the mid 19th century through the early 20th century. In Photography: A Cultural History, Mary Warner Marien writes "post-mortem photography flourished in photography's early decades, among clients who preferred to capture an image of a deceased loved one rather than have no photograph at all."

Here are some links if you are interested in learning more about post-mortem photography and viewing some galleries:

Post-mortem portraits are still taken today. In some cultures and parts of the world, they are quite prevalent. They are less common in the United States, although there exists a non-profit organization called Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep. Its mission to "to introduce remembrance photography to parents suffering the loss of a baby with a free gift of professional portraiture. ... We hope the gift we provide will bring some peace and comfort during this very difficult time."

Which is really all that grieving relatives wanted in the 19th and early 20th centuries, too.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Authentic vintage postcard of Chewbacca holding a York baby

UPDATE: This was meant to be a silly post.
But I really should have paid more attention to the postcard

Chewbacca is real, y'all! And I have photographic proof.

This AZO real photo postcard dates from between 1904 and 1918, according to the stamp box on the back. And it clearly shows an infant in a long, white gown being held gently by Chewbacca, the famous Wookiee co-pilot of the Millennium Falcon.1

This postcard was produced by Simon & Murnane — York, Pennsylvania, photographers who were located at 227 West Market Street ("At the bridge," according to the postcard).2 Obviously, Simon and/or Murnane must have been personally acquainted with Chewbacca in order to get him to agree to pose for this photograph.

We like to say that everything connects to York, and now the city — through this postcard — has a tangible link to some key events that transpired in a galaxy far, far away.

I'm hoping, as such, that this connection can be included in the next episode of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, and I shall be in touch with Neil deGrasse Tyson this week.

Moving forward, further research will be needed. Who is this baby? Did the child retain any memories of its time with Chewbacca? Maybe they became pen pals, and additional Ephemera of Historic Importance will be uncovered one day. Such ephemera could be in a trunk in your attic at this very moment.

Isn't digging through history GREAT??

May the Force be with you.

1. The Millennium Falcon, you might recall, made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.
2. For more on Simon & Murnane and other studio photographers of York, see my wife's 2011 post on Only in York County titled "Even more memories of photo studios in York County."

Sunday, May 11, 2014

A postcard mailed in 1910 and some Sunday night reading

First up tonight is the front and back of a postcard that was postmarked on August 8, 1910.

The odd illustration1 on the front of the card is supplemented by the following note from the sender: "While out driving this is your dog Limey." (At least, I think the name written there is Limey.)

The postcard was mailed with a 1¢ stamp to Jim Wells [?] of Etters, here in York County, Pennsylvania. The recipient's further address was RFD No. 2, Box 41. Etters, a neighborhood in the northern part of the county, is still the name of a post office.

The Post Card Union of America, based in Philadelphia, was apparently the early 1900s version of Postcrossing. Its members were able to exchange postcards across the nation and world. Here are a few classified advertisements from magazines, all circa 1907-1908:

  • 10,000 POST CARD EXCHANGERS are members of our Union. Oldest, largest — covers the world. 50c. lists your name, making you a member, with full outfit. Post Card Union of America, 1020 Arch Street, Philadelphia.
  • 10,000 Post Card Exchangers read the Post Card Union Magazine, official journal of the POST CARD UNION OF AMERICA. The Army and Navy Boys have a special department under which their names are listed. Your name will be listed, with a full membership outfit and two copies of the Magazine, for 50c., every month. Your name will reach all our members and you will receive many handsome cards. The Union also furnishes post cards to its members at Low Rates.
  • 10,000 POST CARD EXCHANGERS read the Post Card Union Magazine, 25c lists your name, including two-year subscription, cards, rubbers stamp and membership in the POST CARD UNION OF AMERICA, 1044 Arch St., Philadelphia.

Oddly, similar magazine advertisements list 1022 Arch Street and 1042 Arch Street as the organization's address. So I don't know what the deal was with its office location.

* * *

Moving along, here is my latest collection (I'm trying to do this twice a month) of links to interesting stuff the caught my eye online. It leads off with a rare article that mentions author Ruth Manning-Sanders. There are also some good reads about ephemera, modern culture and lifestyles, history and the environment. I hope you find something that piques your interest!

Visual footnote
1. With regard to the postcard illustration, this is a magnification of the artist's signature...

From the readers: Mystery photos, Sanka and spam, spam, spam

It's always wonderful to hear from Jim Fahringer, and, as we kick off another installment of "From the Reader," his feedback pertains to the recent post Images of America's past: Two old mystery photos:
"The soldiers look like First World War soldiers drilling. They could also be WWI era National Guard soldiers. They don't look quite like Pennsylvania National Guards.

"The second photo looks like a small rural fire house with the fire engine parked in the firehouse. The volunteer firemen are sitting on chairs in front of the firehouse. When I was a child, most firemen sat out on chairs in front of their fire departments, especially in the warm spring and hot summer. Often these firemen sat out all night on their chairs just talking and joking. The guys in the picture don't really look like they are dressed to fight a fire. Some are wearing ties. I especially like the guy on the far right. [pictured above] Could you imagine fighting a fire with a tie and black-and-white saddle shoes (although brown-and-white saddle shoes were more popular during this period)? Those saddle shoes would not be very white after fighting the first fire. Speaking of saddle shoes, I wish they would come back into style. If you search the internet, you will see that saddle shoes are beginning to make a comeback with many new color combinations. The one thing that seems to be missing in this photo is a Dalmatian dog. As kids we often stopped and talked with the firemen who sat outside the firehouse and chatted with them — they were always very friendly and seemingly appreciative of their young visitors and they always had a Dalmatian firehouse dog. Oh, I almost forgot the guy on the far left. He is wearing pure white bucks and what appears to be pure white slacks and shirt. Could you imagine fighting a fire dressed in white buck shoes, white pants and a white shirt — all that is missing is a white hat!"

Guide to Papergreat's photos of graveyards and old buildings: Sandi writes: "Love this! Old cemeteries are also one of my favorite photo ops."

Friday night's vaguely creepy vintage snapshot: Anonymous writes: "Sign says: 'Lovely new hairstyles for clients of the Guillotine'."

A nostalgic peek at a kitchen from eight decades ago: Anonymous writes: "My Grandma used to always order 'Sanka' when she was out for lunch. I believe it was one of the first decaf coffees. They always had pots of coffee and Sanka ... didn't use the work 'decaf.'"

Great links: Which movies gave you the biggest fright? Anonymous writes: "One of the scariest: The Woman in Black (original, not the one with Harry Potter) ... the ending almost gave me a heart attack."

5 awesome vintage Easter postcards (aka The Cute Chicks Gallery): Anonymous writes: "I like the lamb with the giant chicks. The little boy with the cigar is scary."

Book cover: "Best Ghost Stories of J.S. LeFanu": Paul of Freaky Folk Tales writes: "You might enjoy my blog and book of 'new' Victorian ghost tales." [Thanks for sharing, Paul!]

See these old milk caps and share your morning-delivery memories: Anonymous writes: "Our Abbotts milkman used to come early Saturday mornings, walk into the house, shout 'MILKMAN' and put our milk and whatever else we'd requested right into the fridge. We'd left our empty bottles outside of the front door with our order for how much milk, cream, and butter we needed on a note stuck between the bottles."

* * *
A higher volume of spam comments has been sneaking past Blogger's spam filter lately. I've had to do twice-daily pruning just to stay ahead of them, these dandelions of the web.

But we can have some fun at their expense, at least. Here are some amusing (to me, anyway) snippets from some of the bot-generated spam comments that have forced their way past the sentry.

  • [My wife will appreciate this first one.] "If you point out that your body part or shell, roll up all put together to Coach Factory Outlet Coach Factory Outlet Coach Factory Outlet Coach Factory Outlet sanity, you should always be fairly expensive."
  • "Best of all, because vacuum trucks remove debris and water, is is very unlikely to further injure a victim during rescue operations."
  • "Spiders are perpetually encyclopaedism just about many techniques."
  • "This is where you'll need to think slightly outside of the box, but your favorite momma to be AND her family will be blown away by your thoughtfulness. These can adapt themselves to a hot day (think Gazpacho or chilled Borscht and a mixed vegetable salad) or a cold one (a clam chowder or a Ribollito with a warm potato salad) very easily. Some people like to write a poem from the baby's level of view or only a short, poem to say thank you. Feel free to visit my blog; fun baby shower activities"
  • "butt on the set."