Saturday, August 22, 2015

Beachy cover of Life magazine from 85 years ago today

Before it became an iconic photojournalism magazine in 1936, Life was a weekly humor and general interest magazine from 1883 until 1936. This was its goal:
"We wish to have some fun in this paper.... We shall try to domesticate as much as possible of the casual cheerfulness that is drifting about in an unfriendly world.... We shall have something to say about religion, about politics, fashion, society, literature, the stage, the stock exchange, and the police station, and we will speak out what is in our mind as fairly, as truthfully, and as decently as we know how."
The August 22, 1930, cover of Life, shown above, is certainly fun. I love the myriad colors of the umbrellas and the way they pop out against the bright-yellow sand. The level of detail is tremendous, too.

The artist is Russell Patterson (1893-1977), who did numerous covers and illustrations for this early iteration of Life. Patterson became famous across many platforms — magazine illustrations, Hollywood costumes and set designs, cartoons — but was perhaps most influential for his style of drawing women and their outfits and accessories. His illustrations helped to affirm and even create fashion trends, especially that of the flapper.

You can browse other early Life covers — and there are many that are super-cool — at 2Neat Magazines.

Note: This is one of those rare ephemeral items that I post despite not actually having it in my possession at the time. It was just so cool that I wanted to share. I originally came across it on Pinterest.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Ephemera for Lunch #11:
Sarsaparilla and some dogs

Let's finish this week with some animals used in advertising. The small text on the bottom of this dog-filled Victorian trade card states: "Take Hood's Sarsaparilla. 100 doses one dollar."

The back of the card is filled from top to bottom with Hood's long-winded advertising pitch. Here's an excerpt:
"100 Doses One Dollar can only be truthfully applied to Hood's Sarsaparilla, and is an unanswerable argument as to strength and economy. Hood's Sarsaparilla is made from Sarsaparilla, Yellow Dock, Wild Cherry, Dandelion, Juniper, Pipsissewa, Stillingia, Mandrake, and other selected roots, barks, and herbs in a combination and by a process peculiar to itself. We challenge any preparation to show a home appreciation so throughly vouched for."
That's followed by a series of testimonials in which customers and druggists claim that the product, produced out of Lowell, Massachusetts, could cure:
  • Serofula
  • Salt Rheum
  • Catarrh
  • Dyspepsia
  • Any blood disease
  • Scrofulous sores
  • Poor appetite
  • Bowels all out of order
  • Indigestion

Not surprisingly, Hood's Sarsaparilla has an entry on The Quack Doctor website. And, not surprisingly, there was an ingredient, not listed above, the likely spurred the medicine's popularity. An excerpt from The Quack Doctor:
"Analysis by the BMA [British Medical Association], reported in Secret Remedies: What they cost and what they contain, showed that the mixture contained only '2.0 parts of vegetable extract per 100 fluid parts.' Instead, its popularity might have been down to it being nearly 20% alcohol."

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Ephemera for Lunch #10:
P. Fleischner & Co.

This Victorian trade card doesn't have any information on the back, so we can only go by what's listed on the front — P. Fleischner & Co., Favorite Ladies' Shopping Resort, 208 North 8th St.

No city is listed, but a little searching indicates that this "Resort" was located in Philadelphia. The company ran advertisements in The Times of Philadelphia in December 1879, urging readers to do all their Christmas shopping there.

The advertising and horseshoe didn't bring much luck, as it appears the store didn't last very long. A short blurb in the February 1, 1881, edition of The American Bookseller states:
"M.H. Pulaski, of the firm Guggenheim & Pulaski, of Philadelphia, has offered the creditors of P. Fleischner & Co., of that city, thirty cents on the dollar in notes at six months, and the committee appointed by the creditors has recommended that the offer be accepted, as they believe this is more than can be obtained in any other way."

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Ephemera for Lunch #9:
Gilbert S. Graves' starch

Here are two colorful cards for Gilbert S. Graves, a 19th century starch manufacturer out of Buffalo, New York. Their products included mirror gloss starch1, family starch and laundry starch. Both cards feature a complete 1882 calendar on the back.

These are both great illustrations, but I think the second one is my favorite, because I like winter illustrations. That's a great scarf the girl has on, too.

1. Corn starch remains a bit of a magical secret ingredient for cleaning glass and mirrors. Here's an excerpt from a 2010 post titled "Battle of the Homemade Glass Cleaners" on the Crunchy Betty blog:
“What the …. cornstarch?” you ask.
“Yes,” I reply. “Cornstarch.”
It’s absolutely, without a doubt the secret ingredient to clean, shiny, amazing mirrors (and windows, I’m sure). I kinda freaked out a little at the effectiveness of this one.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Ephemera for Lunch #8:
Soapine, the dirt killer

Here's a well-dressed young lady on ice skates, showing off her box of Soapine, which appears to feature a whale on the front.

Indeed, it is a whale. The Boston Athenaeum Digital Collections feature another Soapine advertising card. And, in that one, the Kendall Mfg. Co. product works so well that a beached whale has been scrubbed snow white.

It's kind of sad and creepy, what happened to the whale. Buy, hey, it was a great soap!

P.S. — A 32-page booklet titled Soapine Did It! An Illustrated History of Kendall's 19th Century Soap Advertising Campaign, written by Dave Cheadle and W.H. "Bill" Lee, was published in 2000. No used copies are currently available through Amazon, but there may be other ways to acquire a copy, if you're interested.

"World leader in the Mobile Home and Musical Instrument industry"

This rounded-corner postcard from the 1960s touts Elkhart, Indiana, and shows off its vibrant downtown. The text on the back of the postcard states: "World leader in the Mobile Home and Musical Instrument industry. A good place to live and work."

The city remains well-known for those two industries a half-century later. According to Wikipedia:
"Elkhart is best known for two industries: recreational vehicles and musical instruments. It has been referenced as the 'RV Capital of the World' and the 'Band Instrument Capital of the World' for decades. ... Numerous manufacturers of musical instruments and accessories, of which most of the surviving companies have been absorbed into the Conn-Selmer conglomerate, have a long history in the city. Elkhart is also home to the Robert Young Rail Yards, which are the second-largest freight classification yards in the world."
Since 1988, Elkhart has also been known for its summer Elkhart Jazz Festival (which makes sense, given all the musical instruments produced there.)

Some things I notice upon taking a closer look at this card were:
  • P.W. Woolworth Co.
  • Hotel Elkhart
  • Keene's
  • Ziesel's
  • Kresge [?]
  • The Parent Trap (first released in 1961) was playing at the local movie theater

This postcard was mailed with a 4-cent stamp from Elkhart to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and postmarked on March 6, 1965. The note on the back, written in cursive, states:
"Dear Emeline: I mailed you a box before we left — the bracelet is for you and the watch for Tommie [?] — give the scarf to Skip or Jerry or whoever needs it. We got here Fri afternoon — had a nice trip — good weather until Fri when it snowed all day. It was melting this morning which helps. We want to wash the car — sure is dirty. We expect to call you tomorrow or maybe tonite. Thought you could send our mail here. We'll be here until next Wed. Our address is Echo Motel, 801 W. Bristol St., Elkhart, Ind. Love, Esther and Larry."
(These folks were away for what appears to be less than two weeks and wanted their mail forwarded to a hotel??)

Oh, one last thing. While looking at a magnification of this postcard, I noticed a very small automobile. Looks foreign. Anyone know what make/model this is?

Monday, August 17, 2015

Vintage fill-in-the-blank postcard if you're lonesome

Before the widespread use of telephones, before cellphones and pagers, before email, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Skype, and Yo ... there were postcards.

It was probably a little embarrassing to let postal workers and anyone else who was in a position to glance at your mail know that you were lonesome. But the only viable alternative was writing a private letter and putting it inside an envelope. Perhaps the public nature of this postcard was the whole point. If you sent one to Charlotte in Dubuque, her parents, siblings and mailman1 would all know that you were lonesome and that Charlotte was your target.

This card was never used. As you can see, no city or address or meeting place has been written within the green pennant. The reverse side of the split-back postcard was never written on. The only identifying information is "No. 628 — Lovers' Pennants — 32 Des."

So it could still be deployed for its original purpose. At least you would know that it wouldn't get lost in a spam filter or be subject to a cellphone dead zone.

1. Henry.

Ephemera for Lunch #7:
Higgins' German Laundry Soap

And this week's theme of "Ephemera for Lunch" will be Victorian advertising trade cards. Partly because they're so cool and partly because it's a good way to work through my backlog of these.

First up is Higgins' German Laundry Soap (not to be confused with Ɯberweiss), which has the following caption on the front:
"Kind Captain, I've important information,
Sing, hey, the gallant Captain that you are."
Higgins' German Laundry Soap is the best.
It's OK. I don't get it, either.

The back of the advertising reads like a miniature almanac page, with a recap of all of the U.S. presidential elections through the controversial election of 1876. It also lists the number of electoral votes for each state and reminds people that the next presidential election is set to occur on November 2, 1880.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Some "From the Readers" and some links to great reading

It's been a fairly light summer in terms of reader comments here on Papergreat. Some of that, of course, is certainly the result of my reduced posting frequency in 2015.

So here's the latest small batch of reader comments, plus some links to great things to read around the web on this sweltering August day here in Pennsylvania.

A label for Frostie Root Beer (a jailhouse-born beverage): Rosemary Paul writes: "I grew up in Monessen, Pennsylvania, where my dad worked in the steel mill. Every payday, we would get to go to this small drive-in type place. It was called Frosties and the sign was exactly like Frostie himself. When you ordered a root beer float (my favorite) it would come in a boot mug and you got to keep the boot mug. Between my brother and I, we must have had 12 of those mugs! I still love Frostie and buy it whenever I see it. But here in the South, I cannot find it anywhere. That drive-in is long gone now, as are the mills and my parents, but Frosties root beer is still with us."

Thank you so much for sharing your memories, Rosemary! Does anyone else have memories of Frostie Root Beer, Monessen, or the root beer floats served in a boot mug?

Guy Brown Wiser, artist and World War I aviator: BroHogan writes: "Old thread, I know, but I had to write this. Guy Brown Wiser illustrated a 1940 science book How and Why Discoveries. I read and reread that book many times as a kid. Today 50 years later I still remember the illustrations. They made such an impression that I recently bought a used copy of that book. It was wonderful to look through it again and there wasn't an illustration that I didn't remember. They were the most illustrative illustrations that I have ever seen."

Indeed, the books we fall in love with during our childhood are the best books of all!

Ye Olde Papergreat Post No. 1,600, con pollo: Joan writes: "This makes me THE MOST HAPPY."

Psychogeography snapshot from the City of York: Joan writes: "I love this a ton. Randomly, yesterday, we happened on a 'poetry garden' in an alley in downtown York and I decided to take a photo. ... And I didn't even know that was called something!"

Great links for your reading pleasure