Saturday, August 13, 2016

Old postcard with Claude Grahame-White and a note to Tessie

This creased, torn and taped old postcard is labeled "Grahame-White and Sidney McDonald" and features some men doing what looks like purposeful work on a dirt field. I'm near-certain that the man in the foreground is Claude Grahame-White (1879-1959), an English aviation pioneer. And, according to a news article in the October 29, 1910, issue of the Oakland (California) Tribune, Sidney McDonald was "the birdman's manager."

This postcard, per the white text on the bottom, is "Copyright By Aram, Boston."

There is no date or postmark on the back of this postcard, which was sent with a one-cent stamp to West Kennebunk, Maine.

The cursive note, to the best of my ability to decipher it, states:
Dear Tessie: I write to tell you we have a sunshine meeting at Mrs. Inring's [?] on Sat. night and she wants all to be there and we always have a good time at her house. Can't you and Archie come you will try wait you for I want you to know of some of our work now. I went to see a sick and crippled boy this week and it is a sad sight for he has got to be so as long as he lives. I should want to die now.
OK, then. I didn't realize that note was going to be so depressing when I started to decipher it.

Here's something from the archives to cheer you up.

Spool cotton trade card: Girl and cat attempting to enter our dimension

This Victorian trade card features a little girl and her white cat attempting to tear through the very fabric of reality and enter our universe. I've been keeping a close eye on it since I first came across it. I think the tears are getting larger. I wonder if there's some secret government agency that I should contact, to inform them of this extra-dimensional breach in progress.

This isn't an isolated incident, either. An online search found some other Victorian trades that point toward a coordinated assault from the denizens of the Two-Dimensional World.

It's all a little too creepily reminiscent of that Stephen King novella "The Sun Dog." (Although I might generally be OK with cats from other dimensions coming here, because all cats are cool.)

This trade card's parallel-universe rupture is sponsored by Willimantic Thread, which was just one of a half-dozen (or more) thread companies that prospered in Willimantic, Connecticut, during the 1800s. You can read much more about that history at, a website that is far more educational and far less silly than this post.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Stock up cheaply with the Science Fiction Book Club [circa 1971]

Shown above are portions of an advertisement for The Science Fiction Book Club that was bound inside a paperback edition of No Time Like Tomorrow, a collection of short stories by Brian Aldiss.1

These types of heavier stock advertisements (this one had a perforated edge) used to be quite common within paperbacks, especially in the 1970s. (Paul Collins wrote about the history of the practice, and the proliferation of cigarette ads, in a 2007 essay in The New York Times.)

No Time Like Tomorrow was first published in 1959. This book club advertisement is inside the Signet/New American Library T4605 edition (pictured at right). Even the mighty Internet Speculative Fiction Database cannot determine a publication date for this specific edition. But there was another edition with this same cover published in 1971, so that year is a very fair guess.

The Science Fiction Book Club was founded in 1953 and is still around today (with a much different membership model, of course). Here's just a little bit about the club's extensive history, from the Internet Speculative Fiction Database:
"Doubleday created the Science Fiction Book Club in 1953, offering one selection per month, with the first book appearing in March. This practice continued until July 1969, when the club began offering a second selection. Both books were sent to members who chose to receive them (or forgot to mail back the selection card!) Around this time additional selections were offered in seasonal announcements (Winter, Spring, etc.) This gave members a choice of up to 32 new books each year, while occasionally making available 'alternate selectons' and cross-over selections from other Doubleday book clubs. These alternate selections were not automatically sent to club members. The practice of offering alternate selections gradually grew over the decades, from one or two in the 1970s, to a dozen or more in the late 2000s.

"In the beginning the selections were mostly reprints of books originally published by Doubleday's trade division, and were of comparable quality. As the years went by, more publishers' books were made available as the monthly selection. These printings had to be reset to conform to Doubleday's printing presses, and were mostly of cheaper quality."
In this advertisement from about 45 years ago, the club offered three books for just $1 (plus shipping and handling) as an enticement for new members. After that members had to purchase just four books (at $1.49 apiece, plus shipping) during the subsequent 12 months in order to satisfy their membership requirements. That doesn't seem too bad, depending what the shipping costs were. You would pay $7 for 7 books, if my math is correct. That's the equivalent of about $41 (for seven new books) today — about $6 per book.

Some of the books that were available via this new-member offer were The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, edited by Robert Silverberg; The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov; 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clark; Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert C. Heinlein; and The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin.

The advertising copy states: "You'll be offered other equally exciting books — to build your own hall of fame ... you own science fiction library — at a fraction of their regular cost. That's what membership in The Science Fiction Book Club is all about."

1. Ashar saw this and said, "Ooh, neat. ... It's an ephemera about books, Dad. What could go wrong?"

Inscription, illustration found inside 1908's "The Yale Cup"

This copy of The Yale Cup, one of the volumes within the the suitably-snooty-sounding Phillips Exeter Series by Albertus T. Dudley (which sounds like a name from the Potterverse), was published in 1908 by Lothrop, Lee & Shephard Co. of Boston, Massachusetts.

The book is dedicated "to the many PLEASANT YOUNG FRIENDS who, consciously or unconsciously, have assisted in the making of this book," a phrasing which could be read in an unsettling light, if the reader so chooses.

The Yale Cup features chapters titled "Mr. Worldy Wiseman," "The Fury of a Patient Man," "The Socialist," "Lessons in Hurdling," and "Honk, Honk."

At the end of the book — SPOILER ALERT — the Yale Cup is won by Samuel Wadsworth Archer.

Here's the inscription that was penned in the front of the book more than 107 years ago...

It seems that people had as much difficult with the proper use of quotation marks a century ago as they do in modern times. Was Thomas J. Kean Jr. truly a "good" boy? Who is "Aunt Minnie," really?

Finally, with the track and field events scheduled to begin at the Rio Olympics in a few days, here's a look at The Yale Cup's frontispiece, which is an illustration by Charles Copeland. Those are some really high hurdles!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Postcard from the first year of Santa's Village in Jefferson, N.H.

MORE IMPORTANTLY: This is a picture of a goat drinking from a water fountain!

This black-and-white photo postcard was mailed in September 1953, after Hope and Ed (last names unknown) took their children to Santa's Village in Jefferson, New Hampshire. The village was then in its first year of existence and is now — 63 years later — still open and going strong. Hope and Ed wrote briefly of their experience then: "Hi Joan — weather fine, food is swell. This place is just perfect for children — we stopped here today. See you soon."

These days, Santa's Village — not to be confused with Santa's Workshop — has rides called The Skyway Sleigh, Santa's Express Train, Little Elf Flying School, Poogee Penguin's Spin Out Coaster, Yule Log Flume, You Tubing1, and Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree. There is an Elf University and a "Silly, Spooky Halloween Extravaganza" in the autumn.

Food choices include the Burger Meister Food Court, the Doe-nut Factory2 and the Polar Expresso.

If it rains, the park will issue you — wait for it — a rein-check.

Santa's Village is also apparently the favorite place in the world of former pro wrestler Mick Foley.3

That's all well and good, but, most importantly, Santa's Village still has goats.

(Yes, I just embedded the goat-laden YouTube vacation video of a family I don't know. We had a short discussion regarding whether or not that was creepy, and then I decided I didn't care. Also, I used the phrase "goat-laden.")

Moving along, here's one last neat thing from this postcard. It was mailed with a 3-cent Newspaperboys stamp.

We've had a bit of a newspaper delivery theme recently here on Papergreat, what with Sunday's post about Gritboy and my continued mention of the Brian K. Vaughan comic Paper Girls, which I highly recommend if you have a hankering for a nostalgic tale in the vein of 1980s science-fiction and adventure movies.

Anyways, this cool, violet stamp was issued on October 4, 1952, in Philadelphia to honor the nation's newspaper delivery boys, in recognition of their "important service rendered their communities."

1. Oh, that's a bad pun.
2. Another bad pun. Also, by definition, does don't have nuts.
3. According to Wikipedia:
Mick Foley wrote in his autobiography The Hardcore Diaries that he has a Christmas fixation and that "every good thing in my life somehow leads me back to Jefferson, New Hampshire, and the trip to Santa's Village my parents took me on when I was only three years old". In his list of top ten amusement parks, Foley placed Santa's Village first, writing that "[w]hat it lacks in rides, it makes up for in personal nostalgia, a beautiful location, and the magic of Christmas in the summer".

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Some more summer links & books

Gifford Pinchot State Park, York County, Pa. (July 2016). Instagram photo by me.

If you have already worked your way through the links in my Summer Reading post from late June, here are some more quality and compelling reads (and some fun stuff) for your endless summer nights...

Books I recently finished
  • The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell
  • Paper Girls, Volume 1, by Brian K. Vaughan
  • The Vision, Vol. 1: Little Worse Than a Man, by Tom King
  • Two Old Women: An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival, by Velma Wallis
  • Ink, Ark., and all that: How American places got their names, by Vernon Pizer

Books I'm currently reading
  • The Shepherd's Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape, by James Rebanks
  • The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, by Robert A. Caro
  • Feynman, by Jim Ottaviani
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Book 1, by Minna Sundberg

Monday, August 8, 2016

An important message from
J.P. Lippincott Company in 1900

Of minor note, in a recent book I came across, is this green slip of paper that was bound — like an errata slip — in front of the title page of 1900's Boy by Marie Corelli.

The slip of paper contains a publisher's note from J.P. Lippincott Company of Philadelphia. It states: "This New Story is the longest and most important work by MISS CORELLI published since the 'Sorrows of Satan.'"

Corelli (1855-1924) was a popular author who, according to Wikipedia, "sold more copies than the combined sales of popular contemporaries, including Arthur Conan Doyle, H. G. Wells, and Rudyard Kipling." Her Faustian horror novel The Sorrows of Satan (1895) was "widely regarded as one of the world's first bestsellers."

She wrote more than two dozen novels, including A Romance of Two Worlds, The Soul of Lilith, The Mighty Atom, The Strange Visitation of Josiah McNasson: A Ghost Story, and The Secret Power. As you might guess from some of those titles, some of her books fell within the genre of what was then termed "scientific romance" and would today be called "science fiction."

Given how well her books, including The Sorrows of Satan, sold, I suppose it makes sense that Lippincott would include this enticing green slip inside Boy, which, by itself, doesn't exactly have a title that cries "bestseller." I bet they wish she had titled it Beelzebub's Boy.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

1970s summer comics nostalgia with Thing and Vision, Episode VII

One thing you could find in comic books of the late 1970s, almost without fail, was an advertisement touting to kids the financial benefits of delivering Grit, a weekly newspaper that was still based in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, at that point. It had three editions — national, Pennsylvania-wide and the official Sunday newspaper for Williamsport/Lycoming County — so, clearly, a lot of carriers were needed.

The May 1978 issue of "Marvel Two-in-One" contains one of the many different types of ads by Grit. This comic-style ad — you can click on it to see a bigger version and read everything — touts the weekly earnings and special prizes for "Gritboys." (I guess the idea of girls delivering newspapers didn't have much momentum until the 1980s. The tiny coupon with the advertisement, does ask, though, for prospective Gritboys to indicate their gender. Were any of you readers early, trend-setting newspaper delivery girls?)

In the advertisment, we read about Blake, who earns $10.50 a week — the equivalent of a cool $38 a week today — and won a rubber raft after 1¾ years.

And then there's the big prize earned by Gritboy Chris...

According to the advertising pitch, Gritboys kept 12 cents from each 35-cent newspaper they sold and delivered. So that TV Magic Set was just the cherry on top for Chris.

Other posts featuring Grit