Saturday, January 7, 2017

Photo: Sitting in front of the fireplace, with stockings hung above

On the heels of yesterday's post, here's another found photo, one that I probably should have included among last month's Christmas-themed posts.1. It's a tiny thing — the image is just three inches across — and I wonder if it was a proof print, because it has ragged edges. (Or maybe it was just intended to be a wallet-sized photo.) There is nothing written on the back and nothing to indicate a year.

Are these three girls sisters? The age span from oldest to youngest could be as much as 15 or 16 years. It looks as if they were going for a posed shot in which all three of them were gazing into the fireplace (waiting for Santa Claus?), but the toddler had other ideas. I like how the stockings, hung with care, mirror the three girls.

1. I already have a starting pile of four or five Christmas-themed items for December 2017. Taking bets on whether I lose track of that pile between now and then.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Found photo: 1928 dinner at Snyder Middleswarth Forest

This found photo1, which measures 5¾ inches wide and has a slight sepia tint, features four women sitting on an outdoor swing or bench.2 The cursive, handwritten caption on the back states:

Snyder-Middleswarth Forest
May 20, 1928

This locaton is now Snyder Middleswarth Natural Area, and it's located in Snyder County in central Pennsylvania. It is named for a pair of Snyder County politicians whose lived in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Located within the greater Bald Eagle State Forest, Snyder Middleswarth is one of 27 National Natural Landmarks in Pennsylvania.

Here's a closer look at the four women...

Their names and lives are a mystery. Age-wise, they could be anywhere from their late 20s to mid 40s, I suppose. So some (all?) of them were definitely born in the late 19th century.

May 20, 1928, was a Sunday. It was a weekend that feature a federal election in Germany and a horrific mine explosion in Mather, Pennsylvania, that claimed 195 lives. That would be a bad week for mine incidents. On May 22, a mine explosion in Yukon, West Virginia, killed 17, and, a mine explosion in Kenvir, Kentucky, killed eight.

1. According to Wikipedia, University of Central Florida associate professor Barry Mauer "lists four practices of looking that influence inferences made in regards to the origin of found photos; voyeurism, Sherlock Holmes' style deductive reasoning, Surrealism, and with the eyes of a cultural anthropologist." I think that's a great list. With regard to the Surrealism, I definitely like the idea of "found photo as unintentional art photo."
2. And, fortunately, you can see all of their legs.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Postcard: Great old desk in Gloucester, Massachusetts

This never-used Plastichrome postcard features a wonderful wooden desk in what is described as the Beauport Museum in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Here's the full text from the back of the card:

Gloucester, Massachusetts
Society for the Preservation of
New England Antiquities

A ship's log recorded in the 1830's [sic] lies open on this desk in a quiet corner of the MARINER'S ROOM. Overlooking Gloucester Harbor, it houses a fine collection of various nautical items.
Photo by J. David Bohl

Rather than just Beauport Museum, this museum and landmark is now called, more specifically, the Sleeper-McCann House. It was once the home of interior decorator and collector Henry Davis Sleeper (1878-1934) and was later purchased and left intact by Mr. and Mrs. Charles McCann. According to Historic New England, "the interior and exterior of the house contain Sleeper’s lifetime collection of curiosities, colored glass, folk art, china, and silhouettes in every nook and alcove. Each of the forty rooms is distinguished by a historical or literary figure, theme, color, shape, or object."

Here is another image, from Historic New England, of the Mariner's Room and the desk, which is made of pine. You can see many pictures from the the Sleeper-McCann House at this link. Just scroll down to Browse Collection.

Related posts

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Old postcard of Port Austin, Michigan: Winter on the rocks

One of the cool things about postcards is that they can connect a tiny village in one corner of the world to a huge city in a different corner of the world.

This postcard features an icy photograph labeled "Winter on the rocks." The location is Port Austin, Michigan, a lakeshore village of fewer than 1,000 residents on The Thumb of Michigan. The village is only one square mile in size and, as of the 2000 Census, more than half of its residents declared themselves to be of either Polish or German ancestry. Port Austin is known for its farmers' market, held every Saturday from May through October. There is also a well-reviewed business that calls itself the Blue Moon Ice Cream Shoppe! (with exclamation point) on Facebook.

The icicles in this photo remind me of the 5th post in Papergreat's history — Old photo stirs up a blizzard of mystery.1

So, this postcard of little Port Austin was mailed in July 1923, with a 2-cent stamp, to Miss Grace Phelps, who at that time was in Paris, France.2 The short note, which appears to be written in cursive by a child, states:
Dear aunt Gracie,
thank you for the card. Swimmming nearly every day. Hop you are well. We are all well.
Love from Anne
1. This, meanwhile, is the 2,109th post in Papergreat history.
2. Grace's address was 4 Rue Eduard VII, a street that's written as Rue Édouard-VII in French. Interestingly, it appears that Grace was on a tour, and the card was first sent to Rome before being readdressed and forwarded to Paris. That's pretty good service for two cents.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

From the readers: Ceresota Flour, axes, needles, root beer and more

I hope your 2017 is off to a dandy start. Here's the latest collection of comments and contributions from Papergreat's readers...

Another Victorian trade card featuring a child in imminent danger: This post concerned a Victorian trade card for Consolidated Milling Co. of Minneapolis. It features a young boy cutting toward himself, with a sharp knife, as he slices bread. I thought it looked horrifyingly dangerous.

Ruth Walker emailed recently to let me know about a 2014 Facebook post in which Albert Browne discusses the history of this illustration, which is more extensive than I could have imagined:
"Interesting little piece of family history: I was recently reminded that my grandfather Browne was a journeyman printer, photographer, and lithographer. While working in Minneapolis in the 1890s, he did the image for the Ceresota Flour label. This is the picture of the little boy with a floppy hat, sitting on a wooden stool and trying to cut a slice of bread from a loaf almost as big as the boy. My grandfather posed the picture, photographed it, and did the lithography. At that time, Minnesota was a major exporter of flour, and it was shipped all over the world. And everywhere it went, the label on the sacks and barrels was that same little boy. In its day, this logo became as well known as the Coca-Cola logo is today. You could buy a sack of flour in Turkey or Tibet, and see that same image. According to my aunt Amy, the little boy was a next door neighbor to the Brownes, and his parents were paid one dollar for the rights to use that image."
Indeed, here are some examples, from Google, of how the illustration was repeatedly used...

A few commenters on the Facebook post mention, as I do, the dangers of cutting toward yourself with a large knife. Others say that's just how it was done "back in the day." Browne himself states: "And as crazy as it looks, that's how people sliced bread a hundred years ago. At least, both of my grandmothers, (One Luxembourger, one Austrian) were still doing it in the 1940s."

Christmas-gift dust jacket on 1919 Harold Bell Wright novel: More fun with sharp objects. Mom writes: "Why is the guy walking down the path with his girl ... and AN AXE??!!! Talk about creepy."

Vintage Halloween postcard: "Make a ring of pumpkin seeds...": Venus, who lives in the Philippines and often leaves nice comments about Papergreat on Facebook, writes: "So now I know the relationship between pumpkins and Halloween."

"Prinzess Victoria" and a tiny old package of sewing needles: Patricia Lange writes: "I have EXACTLY the same packet of needles, but only 2 remain. The case is slightly damaged, however, I fancy the round zippered leather case and embroidered top. I wonder how much this is worth. It has sentimental values as it was my grandmother's and have no interest in selling it."

I'm guessing its value is extremely minimal, in terms of money. But, as you say, it is priceless in terms of family sentimental value.

Christmas Eve mashup: Infocom and Dan Fogelberg: Michael (‏@MadRadMike) commented on Twitter: "Friggin gold. Love the song and classic adventure games. Pretty clever!"

And Mom added: "Loved your Zorkesque piece in Papergreat. Sad at the end, though."

A label for Frostie Root Beer (a jailhouse-born beverage): A commenter dubbed "DayQuil" writes: "First tasted Frostie root beer when we moved to Texas in 1958. It had a distinctive taste then and the formula does not seem to have changed; it tastes the same now as it did then, which is a very good thing.

"In south Texas, Arlens Supermarkets stocks Frostie line and our store carries root beer, diet root beer, orange, grape and I believe cherry limeade. Their root beer is still a great beverage and I think their concord grape is the best of commercial grape soda.

"Keep up the good work, Interstate. It's nice to have a product retain its quality for almost 60 years of my life."

Check out Papergreat's ghosts of Christmases past: Sandy writes: "Wanted to let you know I enjoy your blog — really some interesting things you post here."

Thanks, Sandy! It means a lot that you took the time to post that. I'm glad you enjoy it.

Summer fun: Roller-skating, swimming and more at Playland: This comment from Ruby is almost certainly spam, but I found it amusing: "I have success in lose weight by skating. And now I love roller skating everyday."

1920 receipt from Magee Furnace Company of Boston: Maurice Guertin writes: "I own and (this time of year) regularly use a Magee Ideal 772 that has '1911' cast into the doors. It came with the house, originally built in 1850, that I purchased in 2015."

A Tyrannosaurus matchbox label, phillumeny and thoughts on Godzilla: Flemming Henningsen, who lives in Denmark and has been a phillumenist since the 1960s, writes: "I have now a new website showing a part of my Worldwide Collection. Please feel free to take a look here:"

Thanks for writing and sharing your link, Flemming. I can confirm that it's a great, deep site that y'all would enjoy, if you love ephemera.

Early 1900s Oilette postcard from Tuck's featuring snowball fight: Mom writes: "In today's postcard, it looks like they're doing the 'mannequin' thing that lasted about 2 weeks about 2 weeks ago. In my day, this was called 'statues'. Yes, we did it too."

Monday, January 2, 2017

Real photo postcard: Young woman wearing glasses

The first mystery real photo postcard of 2017 is a true mystery, as is often the case. And it's one that will likely never be solved.

There's no identifying information or writing on the front or back. The AZO stamp box on the back, with all four triangles pointing upward, sets the date range for this photograph between 1904 and 1918, according to

I do have one thought, though. The young woman on this postcard could be the same woman who appears on the postcard that I featured in February 2016. Here they are, side by side...

And, full disclosure, it's likely I purchased these two postcards at the same time, but I can't be 100 percent sure any more. If they are from the same batch, that would lend more credence to the idea that it's the same woman. Of course, that doesn't get us any closer to knowing her name. But that's another matter.

Other mystery RPPCs

Original Robin Jacques illustration for "A Book of Dragons"

Here's a beauty. It's the original version of an illustration that Robin Jacques created for Ruth Manning-Sanders' A Book of Dragons. That book was first published by Methuen in 1964 in the United Kingdom. My personal copy is the E.P. Dutton hardcover, which was published in the United States in 1965. This illustration does not appear in my E.P. Dutton edition.

I believe — and this is pure, potentially-poppycock speculation on my part — that this image was first created and used exclusively for the Methuen paperback edition of A Book of Dragons, which was published circa 1977. That cover is shown at right. You can see that it's a cropped version of Jacques' original illustration and that it has been colored differently.

Regardless of when Jacques drew this and when and where it has been published, the illustration is gorgeous.

And it's for sale.

Now all you need to do is win Powerball.

This original piece of artwork is being offered by Blackwell's Rare Books for £1,750. As of this morning, that would be about $2,150.

Here is Blackwell's description of the item:
"ink drawing with water-colouring in blue, pink and yellow, 21 x 19.5 cm (image size 16 x 17cm approx) residue of adhesive tape and blue paint dab on verso, stored in envelope, excellent condition"
So, the image itself is only 16 centimeters wide, which is about 6.3 inches. That gives you a sense of how much incredible detail Jacques, who used the stippling technique, was able to pack into his illustrations.

This illustration should be framed and hung in a children's library, preferably next to a whole shelf of Manning-Sanders fairy-tale books. I think it would surely inspire new generations of children to read, dream, imagine and create.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Cool illustrations: The New Human Interest Library (Part 11)

Getting back into the swing of things with the 1929's The New Human Interest Library, we wrap up the "Drawing Made Easy" section of "The Do-It-Yourself Book" with these cartooning instructions by Cobb Shinn. (You can read about Shinn's background in the November 23 post.)

Shinn guides those who aspire to draw better through the creation of a stork, a bear, an elephant, a clown, and a little Dutch boy. (There are also instructions on drawing a racist caricature that I will not include here.) I like the elegant way in which Shinn uses easier-to-draw familiar objects, such as horseshoes, bells and ice-cream cones, as starting points for drawing more elaborate creations. The elephant is especially inspired.

Happy drawing!

Viel Glück im Neuen Jahre
Good luck in New Year

This cheery and peaceful old postcard has the German greeting Viel Glück im Neuen Jahre on the front. That translates simply to "Good luck in New Year." I think that's a sentiment that most of us can agree with, especially coming out of 2016.

The back of the postcard contains an oval logo with the word "Amag" inside. That means, I believe, that it was published by Albrecht & Meister of Berlin, a company that produced postcards both before and after World War II. The card was postmarked on December 30, 1957, and sent to an address in Paris, France. The note is written in German cursive, which gives me an extra level of difficulty in trying to translate it. I started, but my first attempt resulted in the partial translation "we lick you," so I gave up. So much for that New Year's resolution to learn to read German cursive.

Anywho, the other nifty thing about this 60-year-old postcard is the two stamps that were used.

These stamps are from Switzerland, so that must be where the card was mailed from.

Helvetia is a goddess who serves as the national personification of Switzerland, in roughly the same way that Uncle Sam does for the United States (but with a much longer, deeper history). Helvetia is used on coins, postage stamps and some official documents.

These two stamps were part of a set focused on "technology and landscape" that was first issued on on August 1, 1949, according to, where you can see the whole set.

The orange stamp on the left shows the viaducts near St. Gallen, while the purple stamp on the right shows the reservoir at Grimsel Pass. There is a rarity version of the Grimsel Pass stamp, detailed by, that is worth $4,000 in mint condition and $70 in good used condition. The stamp on this postcard is not the rarity.