Saturday, September 20, 2014

Farmers, this is what happens when you leave pigs and goats unattended

This amusing illustration (almost certainly from the 19th century) was done by Palmer Cox (1840-1924), a Canadian artist and author who was best known for his series of works featuring The Brownies, a cute gang of creatures based on Scottish folklore.1 Cox lived in Granby, Quebec, in a sprawling residence called Brownie Castle. You can read more about his former home on Enchanted America, and you can read an excellent article about his Brownie Empire in this 2011 Winterthur Museum blog post by Jeanne Solensky.

There's a poem that accompanies the above illustration. It's not clear whether Cox wrote the poem, too.

See-saw, goat and pig,
On the ladder, what a rig!
Now the goats are in the air,
Sonny the piggy will be there.

Who can wonder when they see
Such a smile upon the three,
That the boys and girls should stay
On the tilter half the day?

1. Coincidentally, yesterday's post featured five vintage postcards from Scotland.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Dust jacket from "Farm on Fifth Avenue" is too cool not to share

I'm guessing that not too many folks stumble across this slim volume from 1951 anymore. It's called Farm on Fifth Avenue and it's by Elisabeth Naramore. The subtitle is "A collection of figures from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, depicting Farm Folk, Barnyard Animals, and Wild Creatures of Field and Stream."

What obviously stopped me when I came across this book was the vibrant and detailed illustration on the dust jacket. Naramore describes it thusly: "The cover is the reproduction of a needlework picture in the Collection of Judge Irwin Untermyer and is used with his permission. It was made in England during the eighteenth century. We like to think it was the Lady of the Manor who stitched these rural scenes and loved them well."

There are all sorts of wonderful details within the bucolic scene. What's your favorite part?

Untermyer, by the way, lived from 1886 to 1973. According to this biography:
"He was a well-known collector of European decorative art. A number of books have been written about his collections of English furniture, porcelain, textiles and silver, including English Furniture With Some Furniture of Other Countries in the Irwin Untermyer Collection, by Yvonne Hackenbroch (1958). His silver collection was bequeathed to the Metropolitan Museum of Art."
Naramore's book is filled with pictures and short descriptions of all sorts of figurines and assorted knickknacks, including a Japanese praying mantis incense burner, prancing goats from Mycenae, hedgehog oil jugs, and clay baby rattles in the form of a pig.

It's an interesting book to browse through. But if you seek out a copy, make sure it has the dust jacket!

Alba in five vintage postcards

Alba is the Scottish Gaelic name for Scotland.

On Thursday, the citizens of Scotland voted to remain part of the United Kingdom. (The Guardian's excellent coverage can be found here. And Wikipedia has, for the historical record, a comprehensive summation of the referendum.)

Here are five vintage postcards that speak to the culture, history and geography of the country that occupies the northern portion of Great Britain.

The islands of Rhum and Eigg

The full caption states: "The islands of Rhum and Eigg from Mallaig, Inverness-Shire." Rhum is now correctly called Rùm and it has a population of fewer than two dozen. It was called Rhum for part of the 20th century on account of an owner who preferred that spelling. Eigg is a larger island and sports a population of about 80. It is an important breeding ground for raptors. Mallaig, meanwhile, is a small village that makes much of its livelihood from its port status. Children are still taught Gaelic in the schools. This postcard was published by J.B. White Ltd. of Dundee. It is part of the Best of All Series.

Loch Duich and The Five Sisters

The caption on the back states: "A picturesque view of this beautiful sea-loch, with its splendid mountain group known as the 'Five Sisters.' The highest peak is Sgurr Ouran, 3505 feet." Sgurr Ouran must refer, I believe, to Sgùrr Fhuaran, a name that itself is clouded in obscurity. Loch Duich, meanwhile, has a local legend regarding fishermen and seal-maidens. This is a Valentine's Post Card and was printed in Great Britain.

Duntulm Castle, Skye

Not much remains of Duntulm Castle, as you can see. It was first built in the 14th and 15th centuries. Many of its former stones were used to construct a house for a Sir Alexander MacDonald, five miles to the south. This postcard is also by Valentine's.

Best of luck from Edinburgh

This postcard, which likely dates to the late 1950s, shows off some of the main locations in Scotland's capital city: the main thoroughfare of Princes Street, Edinburgh Castle (a site that has been occupied since the 2nd century) and Scott Monument, Forth Bridge and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, which serves as Queen Elizabeth's residence one week per year and is open to the public for tours the other 51 weeks. This is a "Valesque" postcard that was published by Valentine & Sons Ltd. of Dundee and London.

The Trossachs

The Trossachs is one of the most scenic natural areas within an extremely scenic country. Its name in Scottish Gaelic is Na Trosaichean. This postcard includes images of highland cattle, Loch Achray, and Loch Katrine. The beauty of the Trossachs inspired some of Sir Walter Scott's most famous works. This postcard was also published by Valentine & Sons Ltd.

Note: This is Papergreat's 1,400th post.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Checking out a 1953 issue of Electricity on the Farm

This advertisement is featured on the back cover of the May 1953 issue of Electricity on the Farm, a magazine that was published by Case-Shepperd-Mann Publishing Co. beginning in 1927. It took decades, obviously, to get American farmers hooked up with proper electricity and proper running water systems. So I suppose Electricity on the Farm was there throughout, telling farmers how to modernize their operations and letting advertisers pitch to them the wide variety of products that were available.

The advertisement, which does not tout any specific company, shows how an electric water system can help farmers establish irrigation systems, fire protection, watering units for livestock, and better household plumbing. The ad copy states: "A growing farm needs a growing supply of running water at the turn of a tap. An out-of-date water system will slow down production ... cost you time and labor ... impair the health and safety of your family."

Elsewhere, this magazine from 61 years ago has articles titled "Better Drying for Better Hay," "Lightning Protection Factors," "Automatic Cattle Feeder," "One Man Seed Drier," and "Hot Biscuits Mmmm!"1 There are advertisements for De Laval combine milkers, ClearStream pipes, Master-Bilt refrigeration systems, and wagon unloaders made by the Flinchbaugh Company of York, Pennsylvania!2

The magazine also includes this note from editor W.J. Ridout Jr.:
In Yugoslavia, defeat has been conceded in the effort of the government to collectivize farming. From what we hear agriculture is well along the road back to private ownership in that country. Stubborn resistance is also taking place in the Russian satellite countries. The farmers in these countries will certainly draw new strength from the victory scored in Yugoslavia. Without freedom, incentive is lost, with incentive, hope is lost.
And what about private ownership and farming in the United States today? Tom Philpott of Mother Jones is one reporter who has done a good job covering this topic. He points out that while there is no doubt that behemoths such as Monsanto, Syngenta, Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill are the main players on the agriculture scene3, the actual farming is still overwhelmingly handled by "family farms." But Philpott also notes that we are moving into a new phase in which financial firms are eyeing up the purchase of U.S. farmland because it represents a "reassuringly tangible commodity."

Circling back to the idea of modernizing farms and upgrading their water systems, the issues nowadays have shifted and are focused on electrical energy efficiency on farms and the reality that water is an endangered resource that is already at the center of some of the biggest battles in the United States.

Related posts

1. Secret ingredient for a batch of tasty biscuits: ¼ teaspoon mustard
2. Flinchbaugh, founded in 1936, is still going strong here in York County.
3. For a sad giggle, check out the comments section on the recent io9 post titled: "Could An Evil Mega-Corporation Ever Exist In Real Life?"

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Roundup: Reads that are riveting, educational and/or just plain fun

Here it is, folks. The latest collection of links that have caught my eye. Hope some of these are new to you and that you find something compelling or thought-provoking.

Side note: Are you following me on Twitter? I retweet cool links all the time. Many more than are listed here. I get pretty silly, too.

Sketch of Theodore Roosevelt inside 1902 U.S. history textbook

This seems appropriate this afternoon, given the new Ken Burns seven-part documentary, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, that debuts tonight on many PBS stations across the nation.1

The above sketch of President Theodore Roosevelt was made many years ago on the inside front cover of the 1902 edition of The New Eclectic History of the United States by M.E. Thalheimer. (I bought this at a bookstore in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a couple of months ago.)

The sketch is not bad! I think my only quibble would be with the artist's work on the hands. Roosevelt's right hand looks too small and awkward. And his left hand seems to disappear into nowhere. Still, it's a very nice piece by the amateur artist. (Or perhaps a bored student.)

And who was that artist? Our only clue is the name written on the page opposite the sketch.

Of course, we cannot know for certain if one-time textbook owner Hubert E. Miller of St. Vincents College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, was also the Roosevelt artist. Surely, this book was used by others.

There are no other doodles or marginalia in the textbook. So the artist limited himself (or herself) to the inside front cover when it came to "defacing" the book.

Related posts

1. Ken Genzlinger, a critic for The New York Times, writes of the new documentary: "If you commit to the whole series, which begins on Sunday on PBS, you’ll also be getting, at no extra charge, a survey of an amazingly transformative half-century that made the United States what it is today. How transformative? The Roosevelt era began with a charge on horseback during the Spanish-American War. It ended, it could be argued, with the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan."