Saturday, September 2, 2017

Postcard: Château de Prény

Labor Day Weekend Postcard Blogathon #8

Continuing with the castle theme, here's a real photo postcard that has been labeled — right on the print — Ancient Castle - Preny W.S. 82.

This never-used postcard was published by AZO sometime between 1910 and 1930, based on the stamp box.

The "ancient castle" in question here — ruins, really — is Château de Prény in northeastern France, not far from the borders of Germany, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, and Belgium. It dates to the 11th century, though its full origins are unclear. It has been the site of numerous battles and seiges over the years, as you might imagine, including some long and nasty ones in 1262 and 1266. Although it was already in ruins by the 19th century, it was further decimated by fighting that took place in and around it during World War I.

Here's an illustration of Château de Prény in its better days.

Postcard: Scotland's Edinburgh Castle and Ross Fountain

Labor Day Weekend Postcard Blogathon #7

This postcard is younger than me, so it's one of the more recently produced pieces of ephemera featured on the blog.

The gorgeous card features the Ross Foundation, which was built in the 1800s in France and was subsequently purchased and gifted to the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, where it was installed in 1872. In early July of this year, the fountain was dismantled for a significant renovation project that is expected to cost £1.5 million. According to an article by Fiona Pringle in the Edinburgh Evening News:
The operation is part of the Ross Development Trust’s plans to regenerate the gardens.

The arms and buttocks of the two-tonne statue were removed before it was cut away from the rest of the fountain and then lifted down by a crane.

The rest of the fountain is being dismantled today and will be reunited with the statue before both are transferred to a trailer with built-in hydraulics and transported to Wigan, where conservation experts will carry out the work.
How long will the restoration take? One source in Pringle's article stated: "When you’re dealing with a fountain that’s 145 years old it’s not just a case of giving it a lick of paint. It’s going to be a fairly lengthy process."

The postcard also features, in the background, historic Edinburgh Castle, parts of which date to the 12th century.

This card was mailed to an address in Yonkers, New York, in 1978. The note, clearly written by a child, states:
Dear Aunt Beverly,
We are in scotland enjoying our vacation. thank you for your letter and picturs. I have to go and eat breckfast now.
Love Allison

The elementary school in the City Behind the Fence

Labor Day Weekend Postcard Blogathon #6

This unused postcard features an aerial view of Cedar Hill Elementary School in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. As the card itself states, this is "The City of the Atomic Bomb."

Alternately known as the Secret City, the Ridge, or the City Behind the Fence, Oak Ridge was a key production site for the Manhattan Project in the 1940s. Its location within a 17-mile valley and its low population (initially) helped the federally controlled town remain a secret, even as its population boomed by tens of thousands for the war effort. Even while the top-secret facilities were being constructed, they also built up a town around them to support the civilian workforce. Oak Ridge blossomed with movie theaters, restaurants, more than a dozen grocery stores, a library, churches, ballfields and, of course, schools.

According to Oak Ridge Schools website: "The Oak Ridge School District was born in the shadow of the Manhattan Project in 1943. Like the project that brought together the nation’s greatest minds for a common goal, the school system set the bar high for educational excellence from the beginning."

Cedar Hill Elementary School grew outdated and was demolished in the 1980s. A playground was established on the site in 1988.

The school district now has four elementary schools — Glenbrook, Linden, Willow Brook and Woodland.

This vintage postcard's photo was taken by J.E. Westcott, and one source pegs the date it was taken as March 1946. It was published by the Standard News Agency of Knoxville, Tennessee. And it was printed by Graycraft Card Company of Danville, Virginia.

Real photo postcard with a distressing lack of information

Labor Day Weekend Postcard Blogathon #5

As longtime readers of this blog know, I'm as enthusiastic as anyone about ephemera mysteries — old photos and postcards and inscriptions that leave us with very few clues to go on. But sometimes the mysteries get tiring. Sometimes there are too many mysteries, and you wish that someone, a century ago, had taken 30 seconds to jot down a name or a location or what phase the moon was in that night.

This real photo postcard is utterly lacking in identifying information. All I know is that it's an AZO postcard that was produced sometime between 1904 and 1918, based on the four upward-pointing triangles in the stamp box. I bought the postcard in Pennsylvania, so there's a reasonably good chance that this house was in Pennsylvania. But that's it. There's so little hope that this mystery will ever have a resolution.

I'm half-tempted to be an Ephemera Prankster.1 To get some black ink and write — in an old style of script I think I can replicate — some fake identifying information. Then I'd tuck the postcard inside an old book and donate it to a used-book sale.

What would I write? Should I go for something realistic enough to fool future historians?


Or, if I really wanted to throw someone for a loop...


1. Prior to the publication of this post, a Google search returned the following: No results found for "ephemera prankster". I'm glad we've rectified that.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Rooster-themed Postcrossing card

Labor Day Weekend Postcard Blogathon #4

One of my recent Postcrossing arrivals is this modern postcard featuring a reproduction of a late 17th century [?] illustration of a rooster, filled in with text. The original was published by Carel Allard, who you can read about at The Public Domain Review.

The postcard came from Jannat, a resident of Switzerland, who wrote:
Dear Chris,
My daughter Ariel and I are having vacation here so we'd like to send you a kind greeting from Taiwan! As you may know, this year is the Year of the Rooster. We collected a lot of cards with chickens and roosters. Ariel picked this one for you from her collection. We hope you like it! It is surprising that a four-year-old can be so obsessed with Postcrossing. She loves to receive postcards and always wants to write but yet she can't spell at all plus she doesn't speak English. We hope you have a wonderful summer.
I love it! A 4-year-old who digs postcards (and chickens). I'll be sending her a thank-you card from my collection of dandy original postcards by Ryan Conners, who has her own fair share of chicken portraits.

Postcard: Wood carriers of Amalfi

Labor Day Weekend Postcard Blogathon #3

Here's another postcard that was mailed — approximately 1,313 full moons ago — to Lizzie Williams of Newville, Pennsylvania. (Here's the other one to Lizzie.) This sepia-toned card is from the beautiful 6th century seaside town of Amalfi, Italy.1 Portatrici di legna translates to "wood carriers," which is certainly what the woman on the left is doing, quite impressively. She looks like she wants the photographer to hurry up and finish his business, so that she can be on her way.

This postcard was published by A. Fusco Dipino and was mailed with a red 10-centesimi (cent) stamp. The note reads:
Naples, July 7, 1911
Dear Sister,
We reached Naples Wednesday morning and since then I have visited the ruins of Pompeii and have gone to Capri and Sorrento. To-morrow afternoon I expect to start for Rome.

1. A bit of Amalfi history, from Wikipedia: "First mentioned in the 6th century, Amalfi soon afterwards acquired importance as a maritime power, trading grain from its neighbours, salt from Sardinia and slaves from the interior, and even timber, in exchange for the gold dinars minted in Egypt and Syria, in order to buy the Byzantine silks that it resold in the West. ... In medieval culture Amalfi was famous for its flourishing schools of law and mathematics. Flavio Gioia, traditionally considered the first to introduce the mariner's compass to Europe, is said to have been a native of Amalfi."

For another Papergreat post featuring Amalfi, check out "8 stupendo vintage postcards of Italy."

Vintage postcard of City Park in Reading, Pennsylvania

Labor Day Weekend Postcard Blogathon #2

This old postcard, printed on heavier-than-usual stock, is labeled "VIEW IN CITY PARK, READING, PA." It features well-dressed individuals sitting on benches, along a tree-shaded path. A park bench, with a nice book, seems like a good weekend spot for Labor Day Weekend 2017, don't you think?

City Park is, indeed, the full name of this location in Reading, and it still exists, under the guidance of the Reading Recreation Commission. It even has a Facebook page.1

This postcard is undated and was never used. It was published by the Mt. Penn Souvenir Card Company of Reading.

1. Some Facebook comments about the park:
  • "City Park is one of the jewels in the city. The Summer Concert series has proven that City Park is a beautiful venue. The basketball courts are home for many of the city youth in the Blacktop League. To stroll around the paths of the park and take in the beauty and the history of all the monuments is also a nice afternoon."
  • "This park used to have a castle until it deteriorated and had to be torn down. It also has a bunch of basketball courts for people who want to live out their hoop dreams."
  • "Homeless people were urinating in [the castle], doing drugs and leaving needles, bags, etc, and having sex and leaving 'debris' in it. That's why they tore it down! It reeked!"
  • "City park is a great place to sit and relax and reflect on the gift of life we're given."

Colorful illustration on 1926 Red Star Line postcard

Labor Day Weekend Postcard Blogathon #1

Happy September! I'll be celebrating Labor Day weekend by working five straight night shifts, starting tonight. Somebody has to put the "Labor" in Labor Day, I guess. And there are no days off, except for the occasional Christmas Day edition in some towns, from getting that morning newspaper onto your doorstep.1

But, although I'm working, I squirreled away a bunch of quickie postcard posts for your enjoyment. Don't expect any Woodward-and-Bernstein levels of research on these, just some quick vintage ephemera goodness to help you pass the time.

First up is this colorful illustration on a Red Star Line postcard that was mailed from Plymouth, England, in June 1926 with a red three-halfpence stamp.2 The Red Star Line was an American-Belgian ocean passenger line that was in business from 1871 to 1935 and later became the Holland America Line.

I found another occurence of this illustration on a 1927 Red Star Line breakfast menu that's featured on this Dutch-language blog. There's a Red Star Line Museum and website, if your curiosity is further piqued.

This postcard was mailed to Mrs. Lizzie Williams, Retired Merchant, in Newville, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. The note states:
Near Plymouth, England, June 19 / 26.
Dear Sister, - With the exception of fog we have had a good voyage and little excuse for sea sickness. These large ships are steady although all roll more or less especially in stormy weather. Love to all.

1. Actual doorstep not included.
2. But it's not the original Three Halfpence Red, which was issued during the 1870s.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Mystery photos: The Bow Tie Man and his family

These two found photographs — each with an image that measures just 3 inches across — have no names, dates or identifying information whatsoever. So all we're left with are the mystery and the questions. Both photos feature a man, wearing a striped dress shirt and a bow tie, and a young girl who we can probably assume is his daughter.

The first photo is on the steps of a house and also includes two young men who could be the Bow Tie Man's sons. The one sitting closest to him definitely bears a strong resemblance.

The second photo is inside, where there are some interesting furnishings. The girl (with her doll) is sitting on the man's lap and they are looking at a book. (Well, the man is looking at the book. The girl is, somewhat hauntingly, looking right at the unknown person wielding the camera.)

Here's a closer look at the man and the girl in each of the photos...

And those eyes...