Saturday, November 21, 2015

Awesome 1939 linen postcard of Starved Rock Lodge in Illinois

This vintage postcard1 highlights the huge centerpiece lounge — called the Great Room or Great Hall — at Starved Rock Lodge in Starved Rock State Park, in northern Illinois.

It looks like it would be a fabulous place to spend a day reading a book in front of the fireplace. Especially on a snowy day. In fact, as I type this, it's about 27 degrees and snowing lightly at Starved Rock.2 So I'm guessing that the fireplace is roaring. Cool.

The lodge, which was built between 1933 and 1939, still looks very similar to this today. Here's a link to a recent photo on Starved Rock's Facebook page.

Here are some historical tidbits about the lodge, from Wikipedia:

  • The lodge and cabins were built by the Depression-Era Civilian Conservation Corps, at a cost between $200,000 and $300,000.
  • The lodge and cabins were designed by Joseph F. Booton.
  • "On its exterior, the lodge is primarily constructed of stone, unhewed logs, clapboard and wood shingles. Booton's design intended to impress upon visitors the idea of a 'woodsy retreat.' This is seen in the way he designed round log purlins whose unevenly hewn ends extend beyond the lodge's eaves."
  • The lodge and cabins were listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places on May 8, 1985.

According to the website for the Starved Rock Lodge & Conference Center, it's available for weddings, corporate retreats, weekend getaways and as a base for hikes and other outdoor activities. Or you can just go there and flop down in front of the Great Hall fireplace with a book.

Finally, getting back to the old postcard, I can't read the date on the postmark. But this card was mailed with a 3¢ stamp, and that U.S. postal rate for postcards was in effect from August 1958 to January 1963, when the rate rose by one cent.3 The card was mailed to a woman in Waukegan, Illinois, and had the following, fairly mundane, message:
"Dear Mom,
We stayed here our first night. It's beautiful — a perfect spot for a whole vacation. Going to Springfield next.
Alice & the kids"

1. The 9A-H2167 notation on the lower-right corner of the front of the postcard helps us to date this Genuine Curteich-Chicago card. The cards produced in the 1930s were tagged with the letter A and the 9 indicates that it was 1939. The H tells us that that the card was printed using the C.T. Art Colortone method. All of this information is detailed nicely at eBay's "Guide to Dating Curt Teich Postcards."
2. According to today's forecast from AccuWeather: "Snow totals of 6 to 12 inches with locally higher amounts will be recorded in northern Illinois and from northwestern Indiana to southern Lower Michigan." I am jealous.
3. Here's a handy chart on the history of U.S. postcard rates.

Friday, November 20, 2015

#PeaceForParis #PeaceForRefugees #PeaceForMali #PeaceForTheWorld

The terrorist attacks in Paris began one week ago at this time (3:20 p.m. EST, 21:20 CET). In the past week, there has been plenty of rhetoric (plenty of it hasty and politicized) in the United States and abroad about ISIS, the war on terror, Syrian refugees and border controls. I hope cooler heads, empathy and compassion prevail. But history, especially history since 9/11, tells us how the months and years ahead are most likely to play out.

One week ago, a hole was torn in the heart of Paris. Today should be a day for reflection. He are some beautiful vintage postcards of the city.

Many of us are trying to emphasize that now is a time for people of the world to come together, not build walls. The point that we're all in this together was further driven home by an email I received this morning from a woman in Russia who received one of my Postcrossing cards:
Thank You for the super gorgeous autumn postcard. ...

Unfortunately, we had not nice time around Halloween, because of terror attack of Russian air plane (224 people died). There were 15 people from my hometown, cause it's the closest airport (in St. Petersburg), where we go from my hometown. So, friends of my friends died too =(

But I hope you had a nice day.

Have a stunning weekend. Take care. Best wishes for you and your nearest and dearest.


That a Russian citizen who is essentially in a state of shock and mourning would take the time to send well wishes to (essentially) a stranger in the United States is inspirational, and makes me want to re-triple my efforts in finding the small ways that I can spread compassion, smiles and wishes for peace around the globe.

I also found hope in an article this morning in The Washington Post, an article that is a welcome beacon in a time of hateful rhetoric. It's titled "What if every U.S. college campus offered to house a Syrian refugee family?" You should check it out.


Episode 1707: The One with the Deltiology Doppelgänger Incident

I had a bit of an uncanny moment here last night at the Papergreat World Headquarters and Research Facility.

Some background: Wednesday's rambling post was titled "Notes, scribbles and doodles on the back of an old postcard," and this is the postcard that was featured...

Thursday night, I was sorting postcards, because that's how I roll during an off night from work1 and because the collection is getting a little out of hand and needs some order brought to its chaos.2 As I was sorting through the postcards, separating out vintage shots of Pennsylvania cities, steamships, bear cubs and Led Zeppelin, I did a double take when I came across this postcard...

What are the odds, one might ask, that a modest collector of postcards in York, Pennsylvania, would have doubles of the same obscure vintage postcard illustration?3 (The answer is that there are way too many variables to actually figure those odds. It was a rhetorical question, really.)

The second card is in near-pristine condition, much nicer than the one I wrote about on Wednesday. It's about 3/16ths of an inch taller and it has a different publisher. Wednesday's example was published by N.W.D. & S., which I believe was a based in Norway. Today's example is from Mittet & Co., a Norwegian publishing house that dealt primarily in postcards and children's literature in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Here's a look at the two postcards, side by side...

So, here's the other crazy thing about this. The illustrations are not identical! In the one on the left, there's a knothole in the second wooden wall plank from the top. Also, the circular white markings on the man's green vest are different in the two illustrations. What other differences can you find? It's like one of those Double Check challenges in Highlights magazine.

Finally, here's the inscription from the back of today's Doppelgänger postcard:

Godt Nytaar is Norwegian for Happy New Year. I think it's safe to assume that "1/1 03" refers to January 1, 1903. But I doubt we'll ever know for sure who this particular Hilda Knudsen was. Or if she knew Mabel Eleanor Thevenet.

1. That's not the only thing I did. Sarah and I also played baseball on the PS3, watched a couple episodes of Friends and read some more of Annie Jacobsen's Area 51: An Uncensored History of America's Top Secret Military Base.
2. The categories for the preliminary round of sorting included Keep, Donate to Budding Deltiologists, Mail to Postcrossers, Modes of Transportation, and Near-Future Papergreat Posts.
3. A Google image search does not reveal any other instances of this illustration online.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Notes, scribbles and doodles on the back of an old postcard

It's not often that the reverse side of the postcard is the first image in one of my posts. In this case, though, it's the more interesting side of a cool old postcard.

Written in various spots on the card are:
  • Miss Mabel Eleanor Thevenet
  • 371 Seymour Avenue
  • William

And then there was a word — presumably the name of a place — that was written twice and spelled differently each time. Here it is:

Through a little triangulation and luck, I was able to determine that this word is supposed to be Weequahic, which is a neighborhood in the South Ward of Newark, New Jersey.1 There's a Seymour Avenue in that neighborhood.2

Mabel Eleanor Thevenet lived from 1895 and 1983 and her father was Wilhelm Friedrich Thevenet (1869-1958), who immigrated to America after being born in Baden, Germany. Mabel's mother was Helga Klara Pauelsen (1868-1942), who was born in Oslo, Norway.3

So, Mabel was a German-Norwegian-American.

Changing gears, the back of the postcard also features this doodle of a person's head. (Or maybe it's supposed to be the sun.) I wonder if "William" was the artist. Or perhaps it was Mabel.

And then there's the front of the postcard, which shows a man and woman who are wearing decidedly European-looking outfits.

There's no caption. But the initials "N.W.D. &" appear in the lower-right corner. The full credit might "N.W.D. & S." or ""N.W.D. & S. Eier," and the postcard might be of Norwegian origin.

I found a few other examples of materials published under those initials, including a Norwegian forest fairy.

There are at least four gorgeous examples of N.W.D. & S. cards in the Wikimedia Commons, which I will post here to add some smiles to your day.

ca. 1880-1890 / Wilhelm Larsen (1854-1893) / N. W. D. & S. / National Library of Norway

ca. 1890 / Wilhelm Larsen / N. W. D. & S. / National Library of Norway

ca. 1900 / Oscar Wergeland (1844-1910) / N. W. D. & S. / National Library of Norway

ca. 1890 / Wilhelm Larsen (1854-1893) / N. W. D. & S. / National Library of Norway

This whole post, of course, has been courtesy of a scribbled-upon, never-mailed postcard that has survived many, many decades without being tossed in the trash. Without it, we could never have made all these connections and discoveries. What little surprises will we leave in our drawers, desks, books and chests for future generations?

1. Fun facts about Weequahic:
  • A. According to Wikipedia, it's "pronounced wih-QWAY-ik, though many locals say WEEK-way."
  • B. Weequahic is Lenni-Lenape for "head of the cove".
  • C. Author Philip Roth grew up in Weequahic.
  • D. The 2009 documentary Heart of Stone, by Beth Toni Kruvant, details the history of Weequahic High School and how it, through some mighty struggles, forged a new identity and built new successes as the neighborhood around it changed.
2. There is an Alana Thevenet connected with a house on Seymour Avenue, according to this page on
3. I also found her name listed as "Helga Clara Eleonore Thevenet."

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

19th century advertising card: Liebig Company's Fleisch-Extract

This colorful card is advertising Liebig Company's Fleisch-Extract (Extract of Meat). It measures approximately 4¼ inches wide by 2¾ inches tall.

Fleisch-Extract was, essentially, highly concentrated and spreadable meat that was sold in bottles and tins. It is described as "a thick, dark, syrupy beef extract paste" on Cook's Info. While it was used in different ways over the decades, its primary use, for flavoring, has been replaced by bouillon cubes.1 (Bovril, a modern product, is a meat extract that is similar to Liebig's Fleisch-Extract.)

Advertising trade cards were a major part of the product's marketing (as they were with Echte Wagner margarine cards, which I wrote about earlier this year). Here's an excerpt from Cook's Info:
"The company released beautiful, coloured lithograph trading cards throughout its history. ... There are over 7,000 sets in all, in different languages. The earliest cards in English date from somewhere between 1873 and 1878, appearing both in England and in America. Many of the cards were advertising, but many were also meant to be educational on topics from plants to fish to music, at a time when many families couldn't afford books. They were produced up until about 1964 in most places; 1974 in Italy."

The card featured in this post has German-language text. The caption on the front states: "Der Sperling mit der geschlitzten Zunge. (Japanisches Kindermärchen) No. 1."

The translates to: "The sparrow with the slit tongue. Japanese children's story."

Shita-kiri Suzume ("Tongue-Cut Sparrow") is a Japanese fable that, at its essence, has a similar theme to other worldwide fairy tales2, including "The Three Little Men in the Wood."

One version of the story, titled "The Sparrow with the Slit Tongue," appears in Andrew Lang's The Pink Fairy Book, and it can be read for free on Read it to your kids as a bedtime story tonight!

Here's the back of this Liebig Company's Fleisch-Extract card.

1. Did anyone else out there suck on bouillon cubes as a kid? Oh look, there's a Facebook page for that.
2. The tale is classified as Aarne-Thompson type 480, "The Kind and the Unkind Girls."

Monday, November 16, 2015

Sorry folks, you missed this antique flea market

Because it was 14,702 days ago. Back when current President of Russia Vladimir Putin was 22, current President of France François Hollande was 21, current U.S. President Barack Obama was 14 and current President of Syria Bashar al-Assad was 9.

To most, this mailed advertisement for the 12th Outdoor Antique Flea Market in Boalsburg, Pennsylvania, on August 16, 1975, is a piece of junk mail that should have been thrown out 40 years ago. I might even agree, grudgingly, with that sentiment.1

But it survived four decades. It might be the last of its kind! And it does have value in that it's a record of A Thing That Happened. (Or, at least, A Thing That Was Scheduled To Happen. I suppose it's possible that a herd of local goats got loose and organizers had to cancel the flea market.)

Wouldn't it be fun to go back in time and see what kind of antiques and prices were available at this event? It bet the baked goods were tasty, too.

1. I would, however, like to additionally note for posterity that the advertising card was mailed by Betty J. Gates in Boalsburg, to Phyllis Antiques on Buford Avenue in Gettysburg.

Welcome to Jurassic Park — Sinclair Oil style

This illustrated postcard showcases Sinclair Dinoland, which was one of the pavilions at the 1964/1965 New York World's Fair.1 It was a popular exhibition a half-century ago, seen by millions2, because, you know, dinosaurs!

There are plenty of websites devoted to the exhibit and its history, and I'll get to those in a moment. But, first, a little more about this used postcard. It was mailed with a 4-cent Lincoln stamp in June 1964 and mailed from the Church Street Station in Manhattan.

The addressee was:

Plant Wire Chief
Bell Telephone Co.
31 S. Mercer St.
New Castle, Penna.

And the note states:

This was a nice exhibition. We didn't even wait in line. We are enjoying ourselves but we will be glad to be back on the job for a rest.
Pauline & Jerry"

Not to be too harsh, but are Pauline & Jerry the reason that Americans today can't relax or take time off from work? They're at the World's Fair and they can't wait to return to work so they can rest? Maybe those Bell Telephone jobs were a bit too cushy.

Anyway, we're not here to judge. Much. We're here for dinosaurs!

For the basic background on the exhibit, here's an excerpt from one of the Sinclair Oil website's history pages:

"Sinclair decided upon a re-enactment of earth life during the Mesozoic age based upon the work of Dr. Barnum Brown, of the American Museum of Natural History, and Dr. John H. Ostrom, of Yale University's Peabody Museum of Natural History, for their 1964-65 New York World's Fair exhibit. Nine life-sized fiberglass dinosaurs were designed and constructed by world-renowned wildlife sculptor Louis Paul Jonas. Animals for the exhibit included the fearsome Tyrannosaurus Rex, the horned Triceratops, the plated Stegosaurus and of course the ever lovable Apatosaurus.

"Integrating cutting edge animatronics for the day, the beasts took three years to build with a team of paleontologists, engineers and robotics experts. Upon completion, the dinosaurs were barged 125 miles down the Hudson River to the site of New York's World Fair."

And here are some links to articles and videos that will give you additional Dinoland enlightenment:

1. Previous posts about this Fair:
2. Total attendance for the World's Fair, spread out over 12 months in the spring/summer/fall of 1964 and 1965, was 51 million. According to Sinclair Oil, about 10 million fair-goers viewed the Dinoland exhibit.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

1942 U.S. Civil Defense tips, courtesy Strack & Strine Funeral Home

This 73-year-old booklet is a relic of World War II in the United States. The 3¼-inch-wide staplebound booklet — the perfect size for a shirt pocket — is titled "Civil Defense Index" and was published by R. Lichter.1 It was distributed by Strack & Strine Funeral Home in York, Pennsylvania, which got advertising space on the front and back covers in exchange for, I'm guessing, underwriting all or part of the printing costs.

It was published in 1942, months after the attack on Pearl Harbor and the United States' entry into World War II.

Civil defense and the possibility of homeland attacks by foreign nations was obviously very much on everyone's minds, and emergency preparedness took on much greater everyday import.

Here is some of the information from the booklet:

    Keep it handy. Study it; know WHAT to do and what NOT to do when an emergency occurs. BE PREPARED!
  • Keep calm; obey orders; avoid crowds and panic; keep up the morale; ignore rumor-mongers and calamity-howlers.2
  • Enroll in Civilian Defense Classes and in the Red Cross First Aid Course so that you will KNOW the right thing to do — to give relief and save lives.
    There are suitable jobs for everyone — the following are a few of them:—
    FOR MEN — Auxiliary Firemen and Police, Demolition and Clearance Squads, Disaster Relief Service, Electrical Repair Units, Rescue Squads, Road Repair Units.
    FOR WOMEN — Disaster Canteen Corps, Mobile Kitchen, Motor Corps, Nurses' Aid Service, Production Service, Staff Assistance Corps, Telephone Operators, Volunteer Home Services.
    FOR BOTH MEN AND WOMEN — Air Raid Wardens, Blood Donors, Decontamination Squads, Emergency Medical Forces, Fire Watchers.
    The ALL-OUT Alert signal usually consists of short blasts of rising and falling pitch on whistles, horns or sirens. It means enemy bombers are approaching and a raid is expected in about five minutes.
    The ALL-CLEAR signal is usually a continuous signal of about two minutes duration.
    1. For windows, prepare heavy dark drapes and means for fastening them securely, or build screens or shutters of wood or heavy wallboard. (Skylights and glass doors must also be blacked out.) A good blackout screen must also afford protection against flying glass. It should overlap the window on all sides by at least eight inches.
    1 - Get your hose, pumps, etc., to the scene at once.
    2 - Shoot a jet of water directly at the bomb without delay.
    3 - Use jet quickly to douse all bomb fragments and fires.
    4 - Be absolutely sure all fire is out before you leave.
    5 - Use fine spray only where inflammable material may be near bombs and scattering of metal must be avoided.
    6 - Use sand only if you have no water or if fire will not spread.
    Select a Family Air Raid Warden to be responsible for all household precautions. Plan your course of action if an air raid comes. Then have periodic air raid drills and check-ups to see that all precautions are in good working order.
    England has found that the safest place of refuge during a bombing to be in your own home refuge room. However, intermediate floors in many large steel buildings as well as well-ventilated basements and sub-basements are quite safe. There are also many excellent specially constructed shelters. Ask your Senior Post Air Raid Warden what your best refuge is.

1. Regarding the information in the booklet, there is this statement: "Acknowledgment is made to U.S. Office of Civilian Defense, U.S. Public Health Service, Bureau of Mines, British Ministry of Information and other authoritative sources."
2. Calamity-howlers is a great term. We should use it more.
3. This is printed in red in the margins of one of the inside pages. I presume it was a hasty update added in the final stages of the booklet's production.