Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The inspiration provided by Carrie Frances Fisher

I used to have a small pile of yellow-bordered Topps Star Wars cards that had stayed with me through the years (alongside zillions of baseball cards), traveling from Clayton to Montoursville to Largo to Wallingford to State College to Gettysburg to York to Spartanburg and back to York. These were the "Series 3" cards that were first issued in 1977. (I also had a couple red and orange cards — Series 2 and 5, respectively — but most of mine had the yellow border).

My cards were in rough shape, with rounded corners and plenty of edgewear and scuffing; not nearly as nice as the example shown above. I finally gave most of mine away a few years ago, forgoing any remaining sentimental attachment. But I couldn't remember whether I gave them all away, so I spend last night doing a light search to see if I still had one or two around. No dice.

While there was a lot of focus yesterday, in the wake of the death of Carrie Fisher, on the thoughts and memories shared by her Star Wars co-stars and Hollywood friends, the tweets that I found the most interesting came from everyday people who shared what Fisher meant to them and how their lives were inspired by her. Here's a sampling...

Monday, December 26, 2016

Book cover: "Lost Tribes & Sunken Continents"

  • Title: Lost Tribes & Sunken Continents
  • Subtitle: Myths and Method in the Study of American Indians
  • Author: Robert Wauchope (1909-1979)
  • Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
  • Date of publication: 1962
  • Price: $3.95, per the dust jacket
  • Pages: 155
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Dust-jacket excerpts: This entertaining book reports on a longstanding feud over the ancestry of American Indians, between the anthropologist Ph.D.'s — the "Phuddy Duddies" — and Atlantis, Mu, Kon Tiki, and similar enthusiasts — the "crackpots." ... Mr. Wauchope considers particularly the "mystic" jargon of some of the starry-eyed laymen, but concludes to that, while they have been too lyrical, the professionals have no been lyrical enough.
  • First two sentences: When Columbus discovered the natives of the New World in 1492, there was no doubt in his mind that they were east Asiatics, and he promptly began referring to them as Indians. He is said to have carried this belief with him to his grave.
  • Last two sentences: However, the scientist has not competed seriously for the reading public; the average professional anthropologist cannot or will not write the kind of book that people in any great numbers will want to read. For the most part he has surrendered this function, usually somewhat condescendingly, to the journalist, the travel-book writer, the sensationalist, and the devoted mystic, all of whom will prefer, any day, a lost continent, a lost tribe, or a lost city, to Lo the Poor Indian plodding through the snow and the centuries to his cultural destiny.
  • Random sentence from middle: There is something vastly amusing to professionals in this implied picture of anthropologists surreptitiously passing secret papers to fellow conspirators in order to guard the Fearful Truth of Wheeled Toys from a brain-washed public.
  • Review from In 2013, "Dixie" wrote: "Entertaining and enlightening. A very fun book to read and debunks some of the downright dumb theories still being presented in mainstream media."
  • Notes: Wauchope was the director of the Middle American Research Institute and a professor of anthropology at Tulane University when this book was published. ... The original price of $3.95 in 1962 would be the equivalent of about $31 today. So this was a pricey volume, especially considering how slim it is. I would guess that price was geared toward it being purchased only by libraries and academics. In good news, there are plenty of copies now available on Amazon for less then $2. If only those libraries had waited! ... During his career, Wauchope was the author or editor of a number of other books related to archaeology and anthropology, but I also came across this title in his bibliography: Invisible Inzi of Oz. A mistake? Nope. And it's a hell of a story. Here's an excerpt from a 2012 post on Hungry Tiger Talk:
    "In 1919, sometime between May and December, a sister and brother, Virginia (age fourteen) and Robert Wauchope (age nine), began playing with their Ouija board. They were also big Oz fans. Well, the Ouija board started dictating an Oz story which Virginia dutifully wrote down sentence by sentence. There has always been an implication that the story was 'dictated' by L. Frank Baum to the children shortly after his death. In 1923 the children's mother typed up the story from Virginia's penciled manuscript and the kids sent a copy to Baum's widow. Maud Baum responded kindly and suggested the children submit the story to the children's magazine A Child's Garden, which they did. It was accepted for publication and serialized in the magazine from February 1925 through March 1926."
    So, a crazy little slice of Oz fan-fiction (or is it?) was brought to the world by a child who would grow up to become an Mu- and Atlantis-debunking archaeologist. You can also read a little bit about this tale on The Royal Blog of Oz.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas and, as Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller wrote...

Bydded heddwch ar y ddaear.
A gadael iddo ddechrau gyda mi.

Es werde Frieden auf Erden sein.
Und fange mit mir an.

يجب ألا يكون هناك سلاما على الأرض.
والسماح لها تبدأ معي.


Пусть будет мир на земле.
И пусть это началось со мной.

اجازه دهید وجود داشته صلح بر روی زمین.
و اجازه دهید آن را با من آغاز خواهد شد.

Hebu kuna amani duniani.
Na basi ni kuanza na mimi.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Eve mashup:
Infocom and Dan Fogelberg

Original implementers: Dan Fogelberg, Infocom.
Release 1.0 / Serial number 122416 / Post 2100.0

It is Christmas Eve, and a light snow is falling. You have been dispatched to acquire whipping cream for Irish coffee...

Grocery store
The holiday hustle and bustle is going at full steam. Carts squeak urgently across the floor. You smell gingerbread. Departments include fresh foods, a bakery, and, in the back, frozen and refrigerated foods.


Back of grocery store
The eggnog and apple cider have been well-raided. Scanning the shelves for whipping cream, you notice someone in your peripheral vision. She is wearing a blue coat and standing in front of a case of frozen desserts. Your heart skips a beat.


You are now standing behind her, as she continues to examine the frozen pies. Without thinking, you gently touch her coat sleeve. She spins around, a bit startled, looking exactly as she did at age 20. After a short moment of confusion, she recognizes you, her eyes opening wide. The two of you move simultaneously for a hug. But, as you do, half the items in her purse spill to the floor.


Laughing, the two of you crouch and pick the items off the floor. The scene seems absurd to both of you, and you can't stop laughing. You get a few odd looks from other hurried customers, which only feeds your laughter. Tears form in the corner of your eye.

After composing herself, she adds an apple pie to her cart. "I should go pay for all this," she says.


Grocery store checkout
You head up front together. The groceries are totaled up and bagged. The two of you make small talk, and the conversation lags a bit.


Time passes.

Through the big glass window at the front of the store, you see that it's still snowing. The groceries are bagged up, and she's ready to go.


"Do you have time for a drink or two?" you ask.

She smiles. That old smile. "Absolutely."


In front of grocery store
You carry her bag as the two of you exit the store. The street continues to the north and south.


Northern end of street
You see two bars, but they are both closed. It is Christmas Eve, after all.


In front of grocery store
The snow picks up a little.


Southern end of street
Another closed bar. But there is also a six-pack store, still open.



"We should get out of the snow," she says. "Let's drink it in my car."


Inside car
You set the groceries in the back. The two of you sit up front. Snowflakes plop upon the windshield.

She hands you a beer and opens one for herself.

"To our youthful innocence," she says.


Your score has gone up by one point.


"And to now," you say, tapping her bottle with your own. You both take a sip.

Your score has gone up by one point.

The two of you are silent.


You don't how how to do that.


Time passes and snow falls as the two of you drink. The conversation turns to how your lives are now. She tells you that she married an architect; he keeps her warm and safe and dry. But then she pauses, clearly leaving something out. She never did like to lie.


They are the bright blue eyes you remember so well.


"The years have been a friend to you," you say. "You look great."

Her blue eyes flash. You know that flash, but aren't sure what it means this time. Doubt? Gratitude?


Time passes. The moment is lost.

"Your career must be going really well," she says. "I see your records in the store all the time."

You lapse into your standard reply: The audiences are heaven, and life on the road is hell.

More beers are cracked open.


You drink again to innocence, and again to now. Bottles are tapped and tilted upward.

Your score has gone up by two points.


You don't how how to do that.


Time passes.

You are on your last bottles now. She glances at her bottle. "Last toast, I guess," she says, looking at you. "This one to innocence ... and time."


"Should old acquaintance be forgot," you sing, and then you finish off your beer. She giggles.

Your score has gone up by two points.

It grows silent.


There are six empty beer bottles. You are starting to feel tired.


What do you want to say?


You don't have anything left to say.

"Well, it is Christmas Eve," she says, finally. "I should be going. But it was so good to see you."

She leans over and gives you a kiss.

"Merry Christmas," you both say, simultaneously. You laugh again.


In front of grocery store

The store is closed now. There are only a few cars parked here. You stand and watch the tail lights of her car as she drives away. You start to feel a little lightheaded. You close your eyes...

...School, many years ago...

It is a beautiful autumn afternoon. The two of you are on the campus quad, parting ways. Sunlight pours through the golden leaves as she walks away from you, never glancing back. This is a familiar pain.

In front of grocery store

You are standing here alone. The snow has turned to rain.


Friday, December 23, 2016

Panel from a merry Marvel Christmas in the 1970s

Okay, you really have to click on this comic panel to embiggen it and see all the holly-jolly detail. It's from the March 1975 issue (meaning it was probably for sale in December 1974) of "Marvel Two-In-One." The Christmas scene features various members of the Fantastic Four, plus Medusa (the one with the ridiculous red hair) and Sub-Mariner's cousin Namorita, among others. Also in this 42-year-old issue, Ghost Rider and Thing dress up as two members of the Three Wise Men. (Sure.)

Perhaps, someday, there will be a Christmas issue of a Marvel comic in which Baron Von Papergreat reads Ruth Manning-Sanders' "The Christmas Crab Apples" to a group of young Inhumans.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas greetings sent overseas to France in 1913

The front of this postcard does not explicitly make it a Christmas postcard. It's a nice illustration, in greens and purples, of a child gazing at a field of sheep. The title is, indeed, "Lazy Sheep" and the postcard is copyright 1912, by Augener Ltd., which was located in London.

The caption of the back further states:


That would be Dutch illustrator Henriette Willebeek le Mair (1889-1966), who would have been just 23 when this postcard was published.

This postcard has been given a CHRISTMAS GREETINGS addition on the back, on the left-hand side, with the additional copyright of John Martin's House Inc. I can't tell if the addition is a well-placed stamp or if a special set of the cards was printed separately. You can see what the postcard looks like without the CHRISTMAS GREETINGS here.

This was postmarked on December 17, 1913, in Brooklyn, New York, and mailed — for just two cents! — across the Atlantic to Miss E.M. Whiley at the U.S. Consulate in Marseille, France. The postcard was sent by Aunt Mable, an uncle whose name I can't quite decipher and cousins David, Donald and Nelson Grainger.

A final fun fact: While researching this postcard, I came across a Joe Silvia article on titled "The curious cases of mailing children in 1913-1914." I think you'll find it an interesting rabbit hole to go down.

Old holiday card: Best wishes from the Laurelettes

I first shared the front of this vintage Season's Greetings card on December 4. When you open it up, it's a glorious 12½ inches wide and includes the printed message "All Best Wishes for the Holiday Season to You from the Laurelettes." Beneath that are the names of four Laurelettes. There is no other writing or identifying information anywhere on the card.

Who the Laurelettes are is a bit of mystery. I can think of three possibilities: (1) they are the members of a family with either the last name Laurel or perhaps even Laurelette; (2) they hail from a location with the name of Laurel; (3) the Laurelettes are an all-girl band, not unlike Josie and the Pussycats.

Even will all of these names, though, it remains a challenge to figure out who these folks are. It's going to take someone recognizing these names and contacting Papergreat [chrisottopa (at)], I think. Let's take a closer look at these Laurelettes...

P.J. appears to the chef of the group, as she's holding what appears to be a small roast turkey or chicken. Barb, meanwhile, is preparing to hit the ski slopes, though she's probably going to have to change out of that outfit.

Peggy isn't going to let Barb be "the athletic one." She's ready to hit the links for a round of golf. Peggy is also the shortest and possibly also the youngest of the Laurelettes.

And then there's Beth, who should clearly be the favorite of the Papergreat crowd. Not only is Beth a book lover, but she also has the superhuman strength to hold six heavy books aloft with a single hand, while keeping her other hand on your waist. You don't want to mess with Beth.

So there you have it. What do you think of the Laurelettes? Is this a mystery we'll ever solve?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

1945 magazine advertisement for Strathmore Magic Toys

I get a little bit bummed when a cool piece of ephemera is too large to fit on our home scanner. This Christmas-themed advertisement appears on the back cover of an oversized magazine titled "Children's Activities for Home and School."1 The magazine — this issue is from December 1945 — was a whopping 9½ inches by 12½ inches.

The whole cover wouldn't fit on the scanner, so I snapped a smartphone picture, which appears at right but won't have the same level of resolution as an image from the scanner.

The advertisement touts Strathmore Magic Toys, which are pitched as "educational fun for millions of ... boys and girls." Three of the products involved "Magic Slate Blackboards" — a fancy precursor to those gray pads that were cheap and ubiquitous in the 1970s and 1980s. You write on the board with a stylus and then lift off the covering sheet of plastic to erase whatever you were working on and start fresh. Strathmore offered a standard Magic Slate, a Mickey Mouse version and a deluxe Mother Goose Color Magic board that was 20 inches wide and 15 inches tall. That last item cost $1.50 (the equivalent of $20 today) and promoted the fact that it encouraged neatness.

This was the other item offered by Strathmore in the advertisement:
Full parlor magic outfit and beautiful full color Storybook BOTH in one Gift! Mystify family and friends. Put on shows. Book tells Peter's Life Story ... also how to do each trick. Complete with Wand and all Tricks in 4-color Gift Box, only $1.
If you look closely, the box touts "Mrs. Rabbit's Mystery Knife" as being one of the parlor tricks. I'm sure it was completely safe.

Here is a look at the full back-page advertisement, cobbled together from two different scans and, unfortunately, sitting a little bit askew.

1. This magazine, which was published by Child Training Association Inc., is worth its own post, which I'll get to another day. Fiddle-dee-dee!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Some great reads, if you need a break from Santa, Krampus & Belsnickel

Instagram image by me.

As we count down the days and hours until Christmas and the myriad versions of "Last Christmas" playing on the car radio, you might need a short break from the carols and eggnog and wrapping paper. That's what we're here for.

Collected below is the latest set of Great Reads, as curated by Papergreat's crack staff. This time around, they're sorted by Serious and Not So Serious, so that you quickly find something that suits your mood, and skip the heavy stuff if desired.

Not So Serious


Christmas postcard mailed to Mattoon, Wisconsin, in 1910

This is hardly an exciting Christmas postcard, but it was mailed 106 years ago — when William Howard Taft was president and Henry Fonda, Greta Garbo and Howard Hughes were all 5 years old — so that should count for something interesting, right?

The postcard was mailed with a one-cent stamp to Miss Ethel Pollock of the tiny village of Mattoon, Wisconsin. I think I found the obituary for Ethel; there's an Ethel Mabel Wood (née Pollock) who lived in Wisconsin from 1903 to 1988.

The postmark on the card is December 21, 1910. The note states:
A merry Xmas Ethel
How are you, anaway [sic]. We are all fine, very happy and busy as well. Now Ethel write me all the news, I get loneson [sic] once in a while for all of you. A merry Xmas to you all.
With love Mrs. Patzer

* * *
Because that's all I have from this postcard, I'll tack on a little bonus. Here's an image from the Matchbloc Instagram account, which very specifically exists for the purpose of "revelling in the graphics of Eastern Bloc matchbox labels." And so, of course, I follow them.

From the readers: Yes, people still go caroling in 2016

Three years ago, I wrote about an old "Carols for Christmas" pamphlet published by The Prudential Insurance Company of America. And I asked the question: "Do people still go caroling?" The quick answer, based upon a whirlwind of Google searches, was that caroling, though not as common as it once was, definitely still happens.

This week, an anonymous reader added a new comment on that 2013 post, further reassuring us that caroling is still alive and well:
YES! Folks still get together and go out caroling at Christmas time. One small troupe has been doing this in East Rutherford, New Jersey, EVERY December 23rd since the 1980s.

The friends are mostly past members of the Stevens Institute of Technology Glee Club. They were inspired to do this in honor of the founder and director of the Stevens Glee Club — Professor William F. Ondrick. Each year he would have the Glee Club perform an evening of Christmas songs on campus, complete with sing along. Then later he would host a Christmas party for the students, somehow making room for everyone in his home.

Everyone looked forward to those hours of song, fun and food.

In that same spirit we gather each December 23rd at the home of Connie and Joe DeFazio in East Rutherford. (Both were members of the Glee Club and Connie, being an accomplished Music Teacher and Choir Director in her own right, took over the reins of directing the Glee Club when Professor Ondrick retired.) The group tours the neighborhood singing the songs featured in that Prudential Insurance Pamphlet — in four-part harmony of course!
What a wonderful story and piece of Stevens Institute history. Thank you so much for sharing!

Any other active carolers out there with stories to share?

Monday, December 19, 2016

Early 1900s Oilette postcard from Tuck's featuring snowball fight

Are all of your Christmas cards mailed? Today's Christmas-themed ephemera is a Tuck's postcard that was postmarked eleven decades ago, in 1906. It features, perhaps unusual for the time, a full color photograph. It shows a rather unenthusiastic snowball-fight standoff, with a little girl dressed in red stuck in the middle. (I'm sure we can find some symbolism there.)

This is an "Oilette" card that was published by Raphael Tuck & Sons and printed in England. According to the website Tuck DB Postcards (, which has an extensive history of Tuck's, the Oilette cards were first published in 1903:
"This was a type of card used by Tuck, starting in 1903, with a surface designed to appear as a miniature oil painting. Early 'Oilettes' had a brush stroke simulation, but the vast majority of Tuck 'Oilettes' have a smooth surface. Many collectors refer to any facsimile of an artist's work as an 'Oilette'. The cities of New York, Quebec, Montreal, Toronto, Atlanta, New Orleans, Baltimore, Santa Fe and Ottawa were all well covered by Tuck 'Oilettes'. State views of Maine, the Adirondacks in New York, Jamestown Virginia, and others are well represented among the 'Oilettes'. Many 'Oilettes' also exist for many of the other countries in the 'Americas'."
Written across the bottom of this postcard is: "With best of wishes, Maud."

The card is addressed to Miss Mae McGinnis of Mahoningtown, Lawrence County, Pennsylvania. Mahoningtown is a neighborhood within the city of New Castle. It is also referred to as Motown, though I suppose we would have to specify "Not That Motown."

Lawrence County, by the way, also contains a borough named Wampum (birthplace of Dick Allen), census-designated places named Chewton and Frizzleburg, and an unincorporated community named Energy.

Related snowball posts

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Christmas tradition: R.L. Ripples and the @TweetsofOld

The @TweetsofOld Twitter account (aka R.L. Ripples) is wonderful to follow throughout the entire year, when it is often on-point in contrasting current news with past sentiments.

But I really treasure @TweetsofOld during the Christmas holiday season — just as I used to love those red-and-green, softball-sized sugary popcorn balls — when it tweets out real "Dear Santa" requests pulled from old newspapers.

I did one of these roundups of my favorite R.L. Ripples gems back in 2014, and it's time for another one. Enjoy.

And be sure to follow @TweetsofOld!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Holly-jolly book cover:
"The Cotter's Saturday Night"

  • Title: The Cotter's Saturday Night
  • Author: Robert Burns (1759-1796)
  • Cover artist: Possibly F.A. Chapman, who did the interior illustrations
  • Publisher: The John C. Winston Company, Philadelphia
  • Cover measurements: 6½ inches by 8 inches
  • Date of publication: 1872
  • Pages: 68
  • Format: Hardcover
  • About the author: Burns was a poet and lyricist who was widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland. According to Wikipedia, "he is regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic movement, and after his death he became a great source of inspiration to the founders of both liberalism and socialism." The first country to put him on a postage stamp was the Soviet Union, in 1956.
  • What's a cotter? A peasant who performs labor in exchange for the right to live in a cottage.
  • Is this book valuable? It's a lovely book, but no. There are multiple copies of this specific edition selling online for less than $10.
  • Is it about Christmas? No, despite the festive cover. But one Amazon reviewer wrote this in 2013: "The Cotter's Saturday Night is a tremendous compass pointing to exactly what the modern family needs: weekly downtime taken together to rest, reflect and be with each other. This really makes me desire these things from the days long gone, reminding me of Christmas at my grandparents!" I think we can all agree with that sentiment.
  • Excerpt #1: "The toil-worn Cotter frae his labour goes, This night his weekly moil is at an end, Collects his spades, his mattocks, and his hoes, Hoping the morn in ease and rest to spend, And weary, o'er the moor, his course does hameward bend."
  • Excerpt #2: "At length his lonely cot appears in view, Beneath the shelter of an aged tree; Th' expectant wee-things, toddlin, stacher through To meet their dad, wi' flichterin noise an' glee."
  • Excerpt #3: "Then, howe'er crowns and coronets be rent, A virtuous populace may rise the while, And stand a wall of fire around their much-loved Isle."

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Papergreat is now part of canon in the Marvel Comics universe (sort of)

Back in the halcyon days of 1989, Marvel Comics launched a new superhero team dubbed The Great Lakes Avengers. They were essentially the comic relief of the Avengers pantheon, a bumbling squad featuring the likes of Big Bertha, Flatman, Doorman and Mr. Immortal. In a sporadic series of appearances over the past quarter-century, they have squabbled with other superheroes, changed their team name regularly, played some poker, cycled through a number of new members — the most famous being Squirrel Girl — and botched many jobs that Captain America probably could have handled during his lunch break, while holding a bologna sandwich in one hand.1

Basically, they stunk at the whole superhero gig. (Which was kind of the point.)

They were shelved and mostly forgotten within the long shadow cast by more successful Marvel film, TV and comic properties.

Earlier this year, though, Marvel launched a new comic-book series for The Great Lakes Avengers, with Zac Gorman (writer), Will Robson (artist) and Tamra Bonvillain (colorist) serving as the dandy creative team for the reboot.

Four of the team's founding members are back, with the tagline: "They used to be Avengers. They weren't very good at it and a bunch of them died. But maybe the world is finally ready for ... The Great Lakes Avengers."

At the end of the joke- and action-packed first issue, there was a note to readers calling for new recruits, possibly because this is a superhero team with an unusually high mortality rate.2 It states:
"The Great Lakes Avengers will take anybody -- ANYBODY!!! Do you have an intimate understanding of the physics of Jenga? Can you shove more marshmallows in your face than anyone else? Do you always manage to go to the bathroom right after the toilet paper roll has been refilled? Send letters detailing cool stuff you can do ... and you might just become an honorary member of the Great Lakes Avengers! (They're super desperate!!!)"
As someone who can relate with "super desperate," I figured this might just be the big break that the Papergreat Ephemera Empire was looking for. What if Papergreat was more than just a blog title or a questionable philosophy toward brittle paper products? What if Papergreat was a person? What if Papergreat was a superhero?!?!

So I wrote to the modern-day Marvel Bullpen.

And ... Yahtzee!

In the recently published issue #2 of The Great Lakes Avengers, my submission made it onto the letters page:
After reading your first issue, I believe that the skill set of my alter ego, Baron Von Papergreat, could benefit the Great Lakes Avengers. He is, to my knowledge, the only ephemera-centric super hero.

Papergreat's powers include the ability to decipher any handwriting, no matter how loopy or chicken-scratchy, on old postcards; the ability to find clues, currency and gum wrappers tucked away inside old books; and the ability to save worthless piles of old papers from certain destruction and hoard them for future evaluation.

I believe this kind of paper-focused perspective could help an Avengers-level group. Or, if you prefer, he's also willing to just answer the phone, sort the mail and do light dusting.
So, for the record, I just got the words Papergreat, ephemera and chicken-scratchy published in a real live Marvel comic book.

Better yet, this was "GLA hiring director" Zac Gorman's response:
Dear Baron Von Papergreat,
You had me hooked with your powers but you reeled me in with "light dusting." You're hired!
You're hired! This, my friends, is called canon.

It exists in print. It can't be taken back. The door is now officially ajar, ever so slightly, for Baron Von Papergreat to be a fictional character in the Marvel Comics universe. It is theoretically possible that he could go on thrilling adventures with Flatman and Big Bertha, sit behind a desk and accept a collect call from Tony Stark, go on a dimension-hopping date with Patsy Walker, or be squished by MODOK within the single panel of his sorry existence in the Marvel universe. All things are possible!

He's canon, baby!4

(Sort of.)

I figure two things need to happen next. First, we need a proposed character sketch for Baron Von Papergreat. I would like to find a Real Artist™ to handle this, because I wouldn't want him to look like Mr. Bird, minus the beak.

Second, Baron Von Papergreat needs a fleshed-out history and origin story. So I should probably get to work on that, as it would clearly represent a wise use of my limited free time. But it will be worth it when he has his own spin-off comic book, Pop! figure and Netflix series, battling Bi-Beast and White Rabbit.5

Canon, baby!

Related posts:
1970s summer comics nostalgia with Thing and Vision

1. I have no idea if Captain America likes bologna. And, if he does, whether he's a mayonnaise guy or a mustard guy.
2. Except for Mr. Immortal. He can't die. Duh.
3. Go ahead, call me a middle-aged nerd. You know you want to.
4. Other Great Lakes Avengers recruits mentioned in the letters section of issue #2 include Awesome Shucks Man and Cheesemonger.
5. Lorina Dodson, to her friends.

Another cozy Christmas postcard

This vintage, embossed postcard isn't specifically pegged to Christmas, but I think it still works as a cozy holiday card. It was published by the Douglass Post-Card Company, located at 27 North 10th Street in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It was printed in Germany.

The postcard was never used and printed on the back is "This side for the Address," meaning that it might date to before March 1907, which is when divided-back postcards were first allowed in the United States. Before that, only the address — nothing else — was permitted to be written on the back.

It's high time for this postcard to serve its original purpose. So I'll be using it to send out some holiday greetings this month.

Christmas postcard with a crinoline and a black cat

I learned some new: A crinoline is a structured petticoat configured to poof out a woman's skirt — sometimes, in the extreme, to a circumference of six yards. They were widely popular for a few decades in the mid 19th century before going out of style, but not before thousands of women died needlessly from skirt fires or accidents involving machinery and carriage wheels. Crinolines weren't the smartest fashion fad ever cooked up.

The front of this vintage postcard, postmarked in 1931, features an illustration of a woman wearing a modest crinoline and this verse:

Christmas Greetings
Crinoline is out of style,
Fashion varies — customs too,
But friendship does not
change the while,
And so I send this card
too you.

Yes, it says "too you" at the end, which is clearly a mistake. Postcards need editors, too.

The illustration also features a playful black cat and an interesting fabric pattern that appears on both the curtains and the chair cushion. (I believe that's a Windsor chair, by the way.)

The postcard was mailed to an address in Two Rivers, Wisconsin, one of two cities that attempt to lay claim to the title of Birthplace of the Ice Cream Sundae. The short note on the back reads "To wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year."

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Christmas-gift dust jacket on 1919 Harold Bell Wright novel

Today's Christmas post is presented by Mr. Angelino, who is excellent at sleeping, but is always intrigued by a fine old book or piece of ephemera.1 What he has beside him is a copy of the 1919 novel The Re-creation of Brian Kent, by Harold Bell Wright.2 This is the second novel by Wright to be featured on Papergreat; the first one, way back in 2011, was Helen of the Old House, which had some mystery photos tucked away inside.

What makes this Wright book interesting is that is has a second dust jacket, sitting atop the original jacket, which sort of doubles as a Christmas gift wrapper. Here's a look...

There are two inscriptions on this "Greetings of the Season" jacket. The first one is actually part of the illustration. It mentions Auntie Sue and Betty Jo, who are characters in the novel.3 Below that, we see that the book was gifted to Francois, from "Des Cones (HS and Co.)." I'm a little stumped about whether Des Cones is a person, place or thing.

While the gift dust jacket is, understandably, a bit worn, it's done a nice job of protecting the original dust jacket underneath.

Both dust jacket illustrations are the work of artist J. Allen St. John (1872-1957), who is well known for his artwork for Edgar Rice Burroughs novels and has the sweet moniker, according to Wikipedia, of "The Godfather of Modern Fantasy Art," inspiring the likes of Frank Frazetta.4

This novel was published by The Book Supply Company of Chicago and had a price of $1.50, which would be about $21 today.

One final cool thing is this "Ye Librarie Of" bookplate for Frances Jenkins, which is affixed to the inside front cover. Frances, I would guess, is "Francois."

1. Mr. Angelino, our youngest cat, is also known as Mr. A and Mystery. Mr. Angelino is the name he had at the shelter, so we didn't change that.
2. Despite being nearly a century old, The Re-creation of Brian Kent is well-reviewed on Goodreads.
3. This same illustration serves as the book's frontispiece.
4. Frank Frazetta is featured in the February 2016 post "'Creepy' would like to you drop that expensive smoking habit."

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

1911 holiday postcard sent to Hortonville, Wisconsin

This simple, peaceful postcard was postmarked on January 2, 1911, in Grand Rapids, Wisconsin.1 It was addressed, somewhat sloppily, to what looks like "Gertrout Meshke" of Hortonville, Wisconsin.2 There have been some people named Gertrout, but I'm guessing it's more likely this was a misspelling of Gertrude or Gertraud.

The short note, written somewhat like a haiku, states:

how are you
folks all
we are all
good by
in care of the
Hotell Dixon

Here is an old postcard showing the Dixon Hotel in Wisconsin Rapids.

1. On that same date, according to Wikipedia, Ray R. Myers, "the world famous armless musician", was born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Now I totally have to look that guy up.
2. Not to be confused with Hortonhearsawhoville.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Cool illustrations: The New Human Interest Library (Part 10)

Pictured below is a full-page from "The Do-It-Yourself Book" section of 1929's The New Human Interest Library. (We're going through the book from front to back, by the way, and this is Page 57 of 397.) The illustrator for this collection of famous-building silhouettes is listed as "F.X.H." at the bottom. That's Frank X. Henke, an artist for whom biographical informational is scarce online.1

On this page, Henke illustrates well-known structures such as the Pyramids of Giza, the Parthenon, the Taj Mahal, and Westminster Abbey.

There are also a number of structures that might not be as familiar to the general populace these days. The second row continues three mighty edifices from what is now Khorsabad, Iraq, but was once, many centuries before Christ, the Assyrian capital of Dur-Sharrukin.

King Sargon II's city included this observatory2 and grand palaces. It was excavated during the middle of the 19th century, when Dur-Sharrukin was, for a time, mistaken for Nineveh, a later Assyrian capital that is believed to have once been the largest city in the world.

In March 2015, Khorsabad, which is about 12 miles northeast of Mosul, was extensively damaged and ransacked by the terrorist/military group ISIS. Last month, National Geographic provided an update, with the help of satellite imagery, of what is currently known about Dur-Sharrukin/Khorsabad. The article is title "Iconic Ancient Sites Ravaged in ISIS’s Last Stand in Iraq."

1. Interestingly, though, it looks like his name kept being handed down. I found multiple online references to businessmen who I can only assume are his descendants — Frank Xavier Henke III and Frank Xavier Henke IV.
2. Some illustrations of the "Observatory," which is also called a temple by some: 1. Conjectural Restoration at All Mesopotamia Tumblr, 2. 1867 engraving of reconstruction, from Getty Images, 3. "Actual Condition of the So-Called Observatory," and illustration from an 1884 book.

When that Christmas holiday angst creeps up on you

2¾-inch by 3½-inch Victorian trade card with no identifying information.
Now back to thinking about what you're giving your Aunt Rufetta for Christmas.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Vintage Christmas postcard featuring dangerous escapades

Don't try this at home, kids!

This colorful Christmas postcard features a not-so-bright boy who is simultaneously:
  • ice skating
  • blowing a trumpet
  • holding onto the leash of a harnessed, running dog

If this postcard was part of a series, the next one likely involves bruises, scrapes, tears ... and possibly much worse. His Christmas might not be "joyful."

There are a lot of good details on this vintage card, such as the snowman, the chain of beginner skaters, and the boy's multicolor shirt. Also, the tree closest to the forefront looks a little odd, doesn't it? Sadly, there is no artist listed, nor is a publisher for this postcard noted. It was never mailed. The stamp box on the back calls for a one-cent stamp in the United States, which still allows for a wide range of years of publication.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Cool illustrations: The New Human Interest Library (Part 9)

For today's illustrations from 1929's The New Human Interest Library, we're still in the "Drawing Made Easy" section and we're back to some work by Cobb Shinn, the artist who was also featured in Part 7. These drawing instructions detail how to create Humpty Dumpty, Little Tom Tucker, and a Japanese woman. The page has some doodles and blemishes, so this was obviously a book that was used, which I think is also part of its charm.

There are also instructions, which I have not included here, for drawing Uncle Sam, a coffee pot, a doll, and a character with the unfortunate and quite racist title of Ching Chong.

Vintage Christmas greetings featuring a holly-jolly snowman

This vintage Christmas postcard features a cute little girl with knee-high red boots hanging out with an snowman who has a branch of holly and hat that looks like a brass bucket or pitcher.

No artist or manufacturer is listed for the postcard. The only words of note on the back are "Printed in Saxony" and "Import." I was able to find, in an Internet image search, a very similar card with different wording and some slight changes in the illustration. Here they are, side by side...

My card is dated December 22, 1915.1 It wasn't mailed, but it was addressed simply to "Ethel Deibler."

The short note states: "Wishing you a Merry Xmas and a Happy new year from Ellen."

1. Also on that date, Barbara Billingsley was born. And that's no jive.