Saturday, June 17, 2017

Saturday's postcard: Miss Hilda Trevelyan (and cat)*


This undated, never-used postcard features Miss Hilda Trevelyan and a cat in a basket. Presumably, it's her cat. There is also a very nice shelf of books behind them.

This is a bit of a "trading card" postcard. Trevelyan (1877-1959) was a famous English stage actress (who assumed her stage name years after being born as Hilda Marie Antoinette Anna Tucker). She created the role of Wendy in J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan and played it on stage nearly 1,000 times. Here's a short excerpt from a 1979 article by Andrew Birkin in The New York Times about the play's history:
"Barrie's first choice for Wendy was expecting a baby, so they settled on another young actress, Hilda Trevelyan. Hilda's nervous excitement at being offered the part, of which she had been told nothing, heightened into sheer anxiety when she received her first rehearsal notice: 'Rehearsal — 10:30 for Flying.'"
Trevelyan also had a tiny, uncredited role in Hitchcock's The 39 Steps.

This postcard was part of the "YES OR NO" Series and has a stamp box that asks for writers to affix a halfpenny stamp.


Historical footnote
*-The first "Saturday's postcard" on Papergreat appeared on February 5, 2011.

Box of Dennison DeLuxe Gummed Reinforcements

Seriously, though, who titles a blog post "Box of Dennison DeLuxe Gummed Reinforcements"? Who even reads that?


This is a slice of my life: I'm sitting at Mom's old desk, which is positioned inside my bedroom closet, which has been turned into a desk alcove to make the most efficient use of space, because I'm all about efficiency, which is important when you're trying to make everything fit. My laptop takes up half the desk. To my right is my off-from-work-day checklist. To my left is the Box of Dennison DeLuxe Gummed Reinforcements. A few inches further to the left is the dictionary stand from Oak Crest Lane, with the 1951 Webster's New International Dictionary of the English Language, Second Edition, sitting atop it, opened to Page 1332 (Jegaal ... Jeopardy Assessment) and Page 1333 (Jepard ... Jessamy Bride).1 The shelves underneath the dictionary are stacked with books to be blogged, books to read, books I couldn't yet part with, and an old family Bible, or two, with serious binding issues. At my feet is another book I want to blog soon, so that I can subsequently donate it and get it gone from the bedroom, and the Summer 1967 issue of Saucer News. Because of course.

The cats have been fed, so I have a semblance of peace for writing.

So ... "Box of Dennison DeLuxe Gummed Reinforcements." I was around a lot of old office and desk supplies during my teen years. When we moved from Florida to Oak Crest Lane in Wallingford in 1986, my sister and I were entering the house at its peak accumulation of Stuff. From the 1950s through 1980s, my grandmother and great-grandparents had been saving everything, forgetting about half of it, and buying more. There were never yard sales or spring-cleaning events. There were only drawers and closets and shelves and dressers and rooms filled with things. That included office supplies from the 1960s and 1970s, many never or rarely used.

Things got better between 2005 and 2015, when Mom and I — it took a decade of weekend visits — slowly sorted and removed Stuff, trashing things like petrified glue and donating the rest to charity. But it wasn't a clean sweep. Some of the Stuff survived all of the purges and made the westward trip from Wallingford to Aspers in 2015. And then, after Mom's death earlier this year, it made another trip from Aspers to Dover.

And, thus, the matchbox-sized "Box of Dennison DeLuxe Gummed Reinforcements" is sitting here beside me, being just interesting enough to receive some Papergreat love before heading to the landfill or recycling center.

So here's a little bit about Dennison: It was founded in 1844 in Brunswick, Maine, to make jewelry boxes. In 1898, the enterprise moved to Framingham, Massachusetts, where the Dennison Manufacturing Company became the towering center of the local economy, an era described in this 2014 article in the MetroWest Daily News. In 1990, Dennison merged with the Avery International Corporation to create Avery Dennison.

I believe that the woman shown on the back of the Gummed Reinforcements is supposed to be Spee-d-ADA. She appears on other Dennison products of this time period, as you can see on KookyKitsch.com, Wild Goose Chase, and K is for Calligraphy.

Some of those aforementioned websites want to sell you old office supplies.

I'm good, thanks.

Footnote
1. Jegaal? Jeopardy Assessment? Jepard? Jessamy Bride? I can see why the editors dropped a quarter-million entries between the second and third editions of Webster's unabridged dictionary.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Three nifty old sports-themed book covers

Full disclosure: Between the inventory from Mom's estate and my recent move (reminders that we rarely control the timing of Big Events in life), I have a moderately dire need right now to downsize quickly, before I become like the Collyer brothers. This post will allow me to move three books — a substantial space savings — on to their new Forever Homes. So you might be seeing a few more posts like this in the coming days, as The Lessening continues.


  • Title: Ethel Morton at Sweetbrier Lodge
  • Series: The Ethel Morton Books
  • Author: Mabell Shippie Clarke Smith (1864-1942)
  • Cover illustrator: Unknown
  • Publisher: The Goldsmith Publishing Company, Cleveland
  • Year of publication: 1915
  • Pages: 247
  • Excerpt: "You want to repeat in the furniture the colors of the rug," she said. "They give you a wide range of tones because these Oriental rugs may have as many as twenty-five shades of blue, so finely graduated that you can hardly tell them apart, except with a reading glass."
  • Notes: The dust jacket indicates this hardcover's price was 50 cents. ... The tennis game on the cover illustration is a bit misleading, with regard to the contents of the book, which seems mostly to be about interior decorating, travel, history lessons and finding a husband.


  • Title: Paul Jones, The Naval Hero of 76
  • Subtitle: The Fearless Fighter and Commander of the American Revolution
  • Author: Lieut. John Troy Burden
  • Publisher: Hurst & Company, New York
  • Year of publication: 1900 [?]
  • Pages: 399
  • Excerpt: But Jones, whatever he might think, was not of the temperament to which the cultivation of maize and tobacco — which in America about that period must have comprehended "the rural life in all its joy and elegance" — could long remain the favorite scheme.
  • Notes: Once again, the cover is misleading. The ice hockey player must have been a generic illustration used for a series of Hurst & Company books aimed at a young audience. The book itself is a rather dense history of the life of the famed naval commander. It's thick with long excerpts from letters and other works, and it isn't exactly light reading. ... Three names of former owners are written on the title page:
    • 1. Ray Bailey, Xmas 1905
    • 2. For Richard Frederick Birthday. 13 year old. From Aunt Gertrude F. 1938.
    • 3. John Brake 1972



  • Title: Marjorie Dean, High School Senior
  • Series: Marjorie Dean High School Series (Book 4 of 4)
  • Author: Pauline Lester (pen name for Josephine Chase)
  • Cover illustrator: Unknown
  • Publisher: A.L. Burt Company, New York
  • Year of publication: 1917
  • Pages: 302
  • Excerpt: The "witches' deadly brew" proved to be very excellent chicken boullion [sic], which did not come amiss after Marjorie's ride in the cool autumn air. By the time she had finished it, her goblin conductor had scurried away to answer the ring of the door bell, leaving her to mingle with the other sinister shapes that wandered singly or in twos and threes about the room.
  • Notes: Following the Marjorie Dean High School Series, there was the four-book Marjorie Dean College Series and the six-book Marjorie Dean Post-Graduate Series. ... The name "Anna Kass" is written in cursive on the first page. ... There are 16 pages of advertisements at the back of the book for other juvenile series, including The Ranger Boys Series, The Radio Boys Series, Princess Polly Series, The Virginia Davis Series and The Merry Lynn Series.

See also

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Old bookplate featuring a beard-grabbing skeleton


This bookplate for Edward Stewart Gifford Jr. is either humorous or spine-tingling, depending on your point of view. (I choose humorous.) It features a skeleton grabbing the beard of a surprised scholar. Or maybe he's an alchemist whose experiments to revive the dead had an unexpected outcome. Details in the illustration include a microscope, a flask, the edge of a globe and a small shelf of books that includes Gray's Anatomy and Plays.

The is also a painter's palette and several brushes that have been attached to the wall in an odd manner.

Skeletons and skulls are not an uncommon element of bookplates. Scott D. Haddow wrote a short post about them on the blog A Bone to Pick in 2012. He states: "At the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century, the design of bookplates became more personalized, with heraldic elements slowly replaced by increasingly symbolic/allegorical representations. ... The focus on mortality reminds me of the medieval allegorical themes of the Danse Macabre, i.e. the universality and egalitarianism of death."

Some additional skeleton-themed bookplates can be see at the BibliOdyssey blog, the blog of Harvard's Houghton Library, and the website 50 Watts.

The Duke University Medical Center's digital repository has a copy of this same bookplate (within the History of Medicine Collection of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library). According to Duke, the illustrator is Virginia Mason Gifford (there is a tiny V in the lower-left corner and a tiny M in the lower-right corner). Edward and Virginia were married.

Edward Stewart Gifford Jr. was, according to a short obituary notice in the May 12, 1994, edition of the Philadelphia Daily News, an ophthalmologist for more than 50 years and also a published author. His books included 1958's The Evil Eye: Studies in the Folklore of Vision, which actually sounds pretty cool.1

Virginia, who created her husband's bookplate, died in 2003. In 1988, she published a book titled Glimpses of My Family's Past.

This bookplate was inside a copy of the 1929 Peter Smith reprint edition2 of A Diary from Dixie, as written by Mary Boykin Chesnut, "wife of James Chesnut Jr., United States senator from South Carolina, 1859-1861, and afterward an aide to Jefferson Davis and a Brigadier-General in the Confederate Army." The book was part of Mom's estate. I cannot remember whether it was on her bookshelves because it interested her (she loved diaries by women) or my great-grandfather (who loved books about the Civil War).

Footnotes
1. An Amazon reviewer wrote this in 2015: "If you're looking for a how-to, this isn't the book. But if you're looking for a fun, exhaustive cultural history of The Evil Eye across history and many different cultures, you'll love this book. Written by an eminent eye-doctor who had a passion for collecting eye-related lore and artifacts, it's information-dense, wit written with a wry sense of humor that stops it from becoming dry and text-bookish. Amongst the topics he covers are the beliefs and traditions in casting an evil eye, the ways it's been combated and how magic and medicine have been used to heal and protect more mundane eye problems as well."
2. Peter Smith, who died in 1982 at age 85, was according to The New York Times, "the dean of the branch of publishing that reissues hard-to-find books for libraries, scholars and collectors. Nearly 1,000 titles were issued under his imprint."