Saturday, October 1, 2016

Endpapers and title page for 1920 primer: "The Winston Readers"

Here is a look at the dandy illustrated endpapers for The Winston Readers: Primer, which was published in 1920 by The John C. Winston Company, based in Philadelphia. The book was illustrated by Frederick Richardson (1862-1937), who also, more famously, did illustrations for the books of L. Frank Baum, Hans Christian Andersen and Andrew Lang.

If you're interested in checking out more illustrated endpapers, this post from July is a good jumping-off point.

Long ago this textbook was the property of the Mohnton School Board in Mohnton, Pennsylvania (just southwest of Reading). A history of Mohnton public schools can be found here. The book is still in very nice, filled with stories that are accompanied by full-color illustrations. Some of those stories include The Gingerbread Boy, The Little Red Hen, There Was a Crooked Man, Lambikin, The Three Bears and The Wee Wee Woman.

Not much history is available on this series, which is a bit of a bummer. The books were also known as "The Winston Companion Readers," and they focused on silent reading.

Here's a look at the title page. You can never go wrong with a chicken, of course.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Found photo: She's waiting for someone to throw flowers with

Clearly, this cute little girl is just waiting for a Friend to shamble by, so that she can teach him how to throw flowers into the water. Right?

Of course, it's all fun and games until someone runs out of flowers...

Happy October, everyone!

This old photo is 2¾ inches wide, and I'm not sure if it has a date or not. There's a very faint circular stamp on the back and part of the text appears to be "Se'38." Does that mean September 1938? Maybe.

That would be, speaking of Old Bolt-Neck, about seven years after the original Frankenstein (1931) was released in movie theaters and chilled audiences. Regarding The Monster and the little girl, here are some fun tidbits from

  • In one scene, the Monster walks through a forest and comes upon a little girl, Maria, who is throwing flowers into a pond. The monster joins her in the activity but soon runs out of flowers. At a loss for something to throw into the water, he looks at Maria and moves toward her. In all American prints of the movie, the scene ends here. But as originally filmed, the action continues to show the monster grabbing Maria, hurling her into the lake, then departing in confusion when Maria fails to float as the flowers did. This bit was deleted because the censors objected to the violent end of the little girl. This scene is restored in the DVD reissue.
  • During production, there was some concern that seven-year-old Marilyn Harris, who played Maria, would be overly frightened by the sight of Boris Karloff in costume and make-up when it came time to shoot the scene. When the cast was assembled to travel to the location, Marilyn ran from her car directly up to Karloff, who was in full make-up and costume, took his hand and asked "May I drive with you?" Delighted, and in typical Karloff fashion, he responded, "Would you, darling?"
  • Harris had done several takes of the drowning scene, none of which turned out quite right. Although wet and tired, she agreed to do one last take of the scene, the one that appears in the finished film, after director James Whale promised her anything she wanted if she would do so. She asked for a dozen hard-boiled eggs, her favorite snack. Whale gave her two dozen.

Coincidentally, Young Frankenstein was on TCM on Thursday night, as part of a tribute to the late Gene Wilder. I love that movie's twist on the original's iconic little-girl scene, as the Mel Brooks version has her exclaim, "Oh dear. Nothing left. What shall we throw in now?" followed by Peter Boyle's perfect deadpan look into the camera. And then the teeter-totter...

* * *
You can look forward to many spooktacular posts this month, along with "normal" (as opposed to Abby Normal) posts, too. Last year was the Fortnight of Mild Fear and back in 2011 there was the Halloween Countdown of Horrifying Ephemera. What's a good label for this month's haunted ephemera?

Great links, #FridayReads and Clifford D. Simak

Happy damp and chilly last day of September! One of my #FridayReads is Clifford D. Simak's 1951 science-fiction novel Time and Again, the awesome Ace Books cover of which is pictured above. (The artwork is by Jack Gaughan.) I read Simak's Special Deliverance (1982), one of his last novels, earlier this year and really enjoyed his writing, so I picked up a bunch of his old paperbacks. I want to read through them chronologically, so Time and Again is where I'm starting. I'm about a quarter of the way through and really enjoying how thought-provoking it is.

Simak doesn't excel at writing hard science-fiction, full of precise and correct details about the physics of space travel and such. But he does excel at exploring both sides of debates over philosophy, civilization and humanity. There's one thing he appears to have gotten very wrong, though: The book is set about 6,000 years from now, and people are still getting morning newspapers delivered to their door. (Also, everyone still smokes.)

My other current and recent #FridayReads:

  • The Shepherd's Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape, by James Rebanks (almost finished; highly recommended)
  • Rare Books Uncovered: True Stories of Fantastic Finds in Unlikely Places, by Rebecca Rego Barry (my Goodreads review)
  • Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, by Ivor H. Evans (my Goodreads review)
  • Ms. Marvel #11, by G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa and Adrian Alphona
  • Paper Girls #8 and #9, by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang and Matt Wilson

And now for the latest collection of links to great things to read online...

Ashar staying cool at the York Fair earlier this month. Photo by me.

Current events


Books, reading & writing



And I'll leave you today with this laugh, from the mind of Francesco Francavilla...

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Facebook reminds me of
a pre-Papergreat moment

Mark Zuckerberg's "Your Memories on Facebook" feature reminded me this evening of a Facebook post I made six years ago today — on September 29, 2010.

This was almost exactly eight weeks before the launch of Papergreat, so you can tell from this Facebook memory that I was starting to get the itch to share books and the like with an online audience. Indeed, if I had come across this volume of Jack the Giant Killer and Other Stories a few months later, it might well have been a Papergreat post.

Now, six years later, it sort of is.

Here's a look at what that title, which was published by A.L. Burt Company, looks like in good condition. They sure don't make 'em like they used to.

Dramatic postcard featuring a dragon and a ghost [help needed]

This old postcard features a striking illustration of a monk (or similar holy man) sitting on a rock outcropping of a mountain and reading from a scroll. A flame-spouting dragon has appeared, and it carries the figure of a ghostly woman on its back. Other monks are praying and hiding their faces in fear.

So, what's the story with this bit of Japanese folklore?

I think we can solve this fairly easily with the help of someone who can read Japanese. Here's the text that's printed on the back of the postcard. Please pass this along if you know someone who can read this. Comments can be left below or emailed to chrisottopa (at)

Successful translation few key phrases from that passage should be enough to help us find the tale that this represents within Japanese folklore and its many magical creatures.

We're going to need human help, though. I tried running the image of the text through i2OCR, a free online Optical Character Recognition (OCR) program. I then plugged those results into Google Translate. The results were not very good. Some of the words and phrases gleaned from this method include rope, diamond, embroidery, tears, woman, "ice year," "living rope," pigeon, pike, eel, tooth, "deer rope" and swollen. Also, quite oddly, the word "turbocharger," which I'm fairly certain is not part of Japanese folklore.

Proper nouns from the OCR include Hanare, Tsukuba, RinHanare, Atsushi Me, Nirrana Tei, L Peng, Kaano, Ru Dea, Tsu Nawapa, Eshin and Sunrihokoraburu Homareko.

So I can definitely still use some help.

I'll revise this post and add feedback and updates as they roll in.

For now, I'll leave y'all with the image of the stamp box on this unused postcard.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Some Pennsylvania Dutch recipes and tiny illustrations

On this rainy, breezy September night in southcentral Pennsylvania, here are some excerpts and images from the Pennsylvania Dutch Cook Book of Fine Old Recipes.

The cover of this staplebound book is mostly off and badly damaged, as you can see, but everything inside is in good shape, so I just need to enact some sort of cover preservation/restoration program. Maybe I can get a government grant for that. This 48-page book was published by William K. Dorman and Leonard Davidow of Reading, Pennsylvania, and there's no publication date. A note on the title page states: "The publishers will be delighted to receive recipes which are definitely Pennsylvania Dutch, which may have been omitted from this volume, for possible publication in a future edition."

In addition to containing dozens of recipes, this book is filled with tiny illustrations accompanied by their labels in Pennsylvania Dutch, English and German. So, as you can see from the top of the post, the Germans call a turkey a tryt hahn and the Pennsylvania Dutch call it a welsh hawna. I included another series of these illustrations and definitions at the bottom of this post.

First, though, here are some recipes for you to enjoy from the Pennsylvania Dutch Cook Book of Fine Old Recipes.

Hasen Kucha (Rabbit Cake)
Boil rabbit until meat is tender; separate from bones and cut fine. Make potato filling (see below) and place on a plate a layer of filling then a layer of rabbit meat with one tablespoon of dressing made from the juice from the rabbit mixed with flour. Make three layers with the rabbit meat on top. Put in oven and cook until brown.

Potato Filling
  • 5 potatoes
  • Parsley
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ onion sliced
  • celery sliced
  • bread cut in cubes
  • green pepper sliced
  • salt and pepper
Boil and skin the potatoes, and mash. Mix with beaten egg and season well. Melt the butter in skillet and brown onion in it. Add the bread and brown. Mix in the parsley, celery, and green pepper. When thoroughly cooked together, add the potatoes and let cook for several minutes.

Brown Flour Soup (Braune Mehlsuppe)
A lump of cooking fat the size of an egg is melted in the bottom of the soup kettle. Into the melted fat stir ten level tablespoonfuls of flour, and continue to stir it over a low flame until the flour has attained a golden brown. Now add five cupfuls of cold water (slowly at first, to prevent lumping). When all is well blended ad salt and pepper to taste; cover the pot and allow it to simmer for two hours. Sprinkle each bowlful with grated cheese just before serving.

Lancaster County Lima Beans
  • 1 lb. lima beans
  • 4 or 5 potatoes (more if desired)
  • 1 pint milk or more
  • Butter, size of walnut
Boil beans until nearly done, then add diced potatoes. When potatoes and beans are boiled, drain off water. Then add milk and butter and serve. This makes a very good dish and the cost is low.

Peanut Mojhy
To one cup of brown sugar add one cup of molasses syrup and one cup of water. Boil until it hardens when dropped in cold water. Just before taking from the fire add two ounces of butter and ¾ pound hulled peanuts and mix well. Pour into well-buttered tin.

Moselem Springs Apple Butter
  • 4 quarts of apples
  • 2 quarts of water
  • 1½ quarts of cider
  • 1½ pounds sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
Wash and slice the apples into small bits. Boil until soft and press through a sieve to remove skin and seeds. Bring cider to a boil and then add pulp and cook until it thickens, constantly stirring to prevent scorching. Then add spices and cook until it is thick enough for spreading. Seal in jars.

Other Pennsylvania Dutch posts

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

All good things must end. So this will be the final installment of "1970s summer comics nostalgia with Thing and Vision." It's an appropriate time, too, because summer officially ended recently. This series has had everything from Twinkies to toy dolls to career guides to Star Wars. (You can see a complete list of all the posts at the bottom of this one.)

For the final post, I thought I would delve into the actual story content of this May 1978 issue of "Marvel Two-in-One." It's a 35-cent tale that was written by Roger Slifer (1954-2015) and illustrated by Ron Wilson and Pablos Marcos. Pete Iro was the letterer, George Roussos (1915-2000) was the colorist and the editor of the book was Archie Goodwin (1937-1988).

I'm going to take the fine work by those men and try to boil the story down to six panels (from the 130 in the issue). That's impossible, of course, but it was an interesting exercise. So here's a very broad look at the issue's story arc, which includes The Thing (Ben Grimm), Vision, Daredevil, Yellowjacket, some evil android Visions and main villain the Mad Thinker. There are also pop-culture references to NHL star Phil Esposito and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Left on the cutting-room floor in editing the issue down to six panels were a skateboarding city kid and a bad-guy robot named X-719.

So away we go...

Summer Comics Nostalgia: The Complete Series

Mid-century advertisement for Roamer watchers

This old advertisement touts the watches sold by Roamer, a Swiss company that has been making timepieces since 1888 and is still doing so today. (Interestingly, there are official Roamer store locations in Chile, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan and somewhere called Vanuatu, but there are no United States stores locations listed on the company's website.)

This ad appeared on the back cover of a 3½-inch-by-4¾-inch staplebound booklet for the prestigious Hotel Bellevue Palace in Bern, Switzerland, where my great-grandmother once stayed.1

Roamer watches are lauded for being 100% waterproof, shock resistant and antimagnetic in the advertising copy. According to the history section of Roamer's website, the company employed 300 workers in the first decade of the 20th century, production grew to one million watches per year in the early 1920s, the workforce soared to 1,200 people in 1940, and a patented watertight watch case was introduced in 1955.

A website and blog by Kris Bubendorfer include more history and many pictures of timepieces the company has produced through the years.

I'll write more about the contents of the 32-page Hotel Bellevue Palace booklet in a future post.

1. Room 133.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Odd old foreign postcard

This old postcard reminds me, and probably just me, of that famous still from the 1961 art film Last Year at Marienbad — the surreal image in which people are posed in a garden where the shadows don't follow the basic rules of nature. This one has a similar sense of people posing awkwardly in a frame that doesn't quite capture reality as we know it. Or, at least, that's the vibe I got. You might just see it as an old, too-dark postcard. And that's fine, too.

The caption at the bottom states "Türkenschanzpark, Brücke."

Brücke is the easy part. It's the German word for bridge. And there's clearly a bridge in this image.1

Türkenschanzpark is a park in Vienna, Austria. It opened in 1888 and is located on the historic site of the 1683 Battle of Vienna. The land, once cornfields and meadows, was almost converted into a cemetery before the final decision to make it a park. It was created partially in the style of an English landscape garden. It contains ponds, streams, fountains and monuments to poets and composers. Today, it also includes a skate park.

The back of this postcard contains what might be a series of names or signatures. I'm not quite sure. Here's a look...

Finally, the Austrian-issue stamp is called, in English, "Farmer from Traun, Upper Austria."

It was part of series focusing on costumes and folk customs and was first issued in 1934.

1. Related post with a brückeOld postcard showing Teufelsbrücke (Devil's Bridge) legend.