Thursday, January 28, 2016

From the readers: Bookplates, yarn, chocolate and much more

During the past month or so, I have received a tremendous amount of feedback — comments, emails and more — from Papergreat readers. It's really humbling. And wonderful. I have had the opportunity to chat with some terrific people thanks to this blog. And that, I think, is what's most gratifying about still writing it after 1,700-plus posts.

In recent days, I have already shared some of these recent reader interactions: Robin's Cheerful Cards photos and personal story, Donna Lou's memories of her father's ham-radio hobby, and Christopher Dunnbier's shared passion for authors Ruth and George Manning-Sanders.

But that's not all! Here are some other thoughts, gems and inquiries from readers during the past month, starting with a trio of comments about bookplates...

Left: Antioch Publishing Company bookplate featured on Papergreat; Right: Variation of same bookplate, submitted by reader.

Peering inside 1944's "Strange Fruit" by Lillian Smith: With regard to a bookplate featured in this July 2011 post, a reader who I will call "Valentine" writes: "This [bookplate] was printed in the early 1970s by Antioch Publishing Company of Yellow Springs, Ohio. They came neatly in a specialty box of gold top and black bottom, both of which had printing upon them and a 26th plate on the display. They issued several color combinations. I happen to have turquoise and lime green on a brown background."

Thanks for sharing! Other than the color combination, it's interesting to see the other slight variations between these two attractive bookplates.

Herbert W. Rhodes' early 20th century bookplate:
David Rhodes writes: "I have just read your 'Papergreat' article about the Herbert W. Rhodes bookplate. I have the same bookplate in a copy of Zane Grey, The Rainbow Trail, dated June 1915. On the final page, HWR has initialed and dated it 1918, 1942, 1952 and 1961. ... I have dated it 1999 when it was lent to me and then given me in 2001 by Sylvia Elliot because I am called Rhodes ... no known links to HWR. I am a retired architect and did know an architect in Manchester [England] called Herbert Rhodes (no relative) and no obvious link to HWR. It is a fine bookplate and the camera, microscope and bicycle could be general or specific. Clearly the name is printed as part of the whole design, not just added to a purchased bookplate. My own bookmark is an embossed press, Ex Libris in the middle and the name David Rhodes around the edge. On Wikipedia ... there are photographs of a WWI soldier and I have traced a UK Pickhill village war memorial with a Herbert W. Rhodes and I feel he might be the the WWI photographed soldier. Hope all this is of interest, use."

I certainly find it all interesting. And perhaps these leads and tidbits will be of current or future use to a historian or genealogist, too.

William L. Freyhof's cool bookplate: Anonymous writes: "I have one of William's calling cards, that he wrote 1801-7 Union Bldg. Cincinnati, Ohio on the back. He gave it to my grandfather, probably around 1908-09."

1905 stereographic card: Manchurian orphans near Port Arthur: W. Mack writes: "I have a complete set of T. W. Ingersoll's (1905) stereographic cards of the Siege at Port Arthur. Cards # from 101 to 200. I wonder if you could give me an idea of the value for the whole set. I found them while on vacation in an antique shop along the coast of Washington State in 1990. I would appreciate any help. Thank you."

I will preface my response by saying that (1) I am by no means an expert on any of these matters, (2) generally speaking, niche collectibles are only worth what someone is willing to pay, and finding a buyer can be an uphill battle.

That said, we do live in the era of eBay, and it can be a decent platform for gauging the value of an item. Based on various "sold" listings on eBay, I would guess that an interested buyer might pay $75 to $125 for this complete set. Or there might be a buyer out there who has been seeking this EXACT THING his/her whole life and would pay a premium.

For more and better information, I would recommend checking with either an auctioneer who deals specifically with collectibles and/or an antiques dealer who deals with vintage ephemera.

The (new) oddest stuff I've found tucked inside a book: Deborah writes: "Four years ago you wrote a post on Papergreat about finding yarn and labels from Cynthia Mills in an old book. I found your site while researching Cynthia Mills and my grandfather John L. Barry, who invented the pull-skein. I had already found the patent (and another one of his) on the internet. According to family lore, my grandfather's pull-skein patent enabled the education of three generations of Barrys (including me!). Before the pull skein, yarn was sold in shanks or balls, which were cumbersome for the knitter. The pull skein kept the yarn intact while allowing the end to be pulled free from the center (think of a ball of string today). In addition to yarn, Cynthia Mills manufactured embroidery and darning threads.

"I don't know how my grandfather got connected with the firm, but eventually, I think owned it with his father-in-law (I wonder if they bought it from the 1917 owners listed in your posting — maybe I can do more research). Unfortunately my 90-year-old mother, the last surviving daughter doesn't remember. He was born in 1890, so would have been 34 when the patent was filed. He graduated from MIT in 1909 with a degree in mechanical engineering. Like most of the other New England textile mills, the firm eventually succumbed to cheaper labor in the south and WW II.

"Do you still have the yarn and labels? If you do, and don't care to keep them, I would love to have them to share with my 11 cousins. Thank you so much for doing the research. It never ceases to amaze me how much you can find on the internet!"

What a wonderful email! I would love to mail Deborah the yarn and labels that I wrote about in 2012. But I could not find them in my first search through the Papergreat warehouse, and I must admit that, after four years, I'm not 100 percent sure that I still have them. But I do remember carefully putting all of them into a little plastic bag, so I will keep looking. If I find them, I will definitely send them Deborah's way. They belong with her family!

Who wants sauerbraten, bacon muffins & tangle britches? Linda Chenoweth Harlow, commenting on Facebook, wrote: "Born and raised in Maryland, but my mother of German heritage made sauerbraten with gingersnap gravy and it was delicious. It's one of my favorites."

Mystery vintage photo of figure on snowy steps: Tom from Garage Sale Finds writes: "Is it possible the writing was scratched into the negative and prints made from that? This could have been sent to multiple people as a Christmas card. Maybe as a joke. The date looks like 1949 to me."

I think all of those are good possibilities. But we'll almost certainly never know for sure!

Late 1930s college expenses logged in The Scribble-in Book: Adira writes: "I loved reading this article! I found a Scribble-In book (color: navy) at a used book store in southern Vermont about 5-6 years ago, and picked it out for a couple dollars — and it's totally blank! It makes me feel a little less guilty about all the blank books I've bought to use like George Miller here did, but never got around to filling. Some part of me is fascinated by having a book that's still patiently waiting to be 'scribbled in' after all these years, but it was great getting a view into George's life. At least now I know about how old this book of mine might be!"

Klein Chocolate Co. of Elizabethtown analyzes Fannie's butter fat: Jojo writes: "Just about every day on my way home from elementary school, I would stop by the candy store on Edgemont Street, owned by Dominic and Dolores. Scanning the candy display cases, looking at all those wonderful confections, I always go back to the Klein's 'Lunch Bar' or a few squares of 'GRADE A' chocolate. ... Such fond memories of simple pleasures."

And thank you for sharing those memories. They should be preserved! (P.S. — Are you referring to Edgemont Street in Philadelphia?)

Phonic Talking Letters from 1941: Beth Brase writes: "I have been trying to describe these letters to people for years and have been looking for a set of these cards to help teach my grandkids to read. I only wish I could have found them when my sons were learning. If anyone has a set I would love to get even a photo copy of them. Please!"

As I've mentioned before, I have long since sold this set of Talking Letters, which I wrote about in 2012. But maybe there's someone else out there who can help Beth out. It seems this set is ripe for revival by a modern manufacturer.

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