Saturday, November 18, 2017

1974 magazine advertisement for then-Soviet airline Aeroflot

I had to change gears on this morning's post when I realized that my first choice for a "quickie" involved what appears to be the signature of a notable Civil War cartographer. So that one is going to need some more research.

Instead, here's the advertisement from the back cover of the December 1974 issue of Sputnik, which was essentially the Soviet Union's version of Reader's Digest and was primarily intended for Western readers.1 The advertisement touts Aeroflot, the oldest and biggest airline in the Soviet Union/Russian Federation.

This is a bit of a simplification, but what become Aeroflot was "founded" in 1923 as Dobrolyot, which was the civil division of Lenin's Soviet aviation efforts. In 1932, Dobrolyot and all civil aviation were consolidated into Aeroflot, a state-run enterprise that is now, in the Russian Federation era, 51 percent state-owned and otherwise partially privatized. (There will be a quiz on this Monday.)

Here is the advertising text that surrounds the Soviet stewardess in her — fuschia? magenta? crimson? amaranth? ruby? — outfit:

Transit through the USSR is the shortest and most convenient way from Europe to Japan, the countries of East and South-East Asian, and the Middle East.

AEROFLOT has direct flights to and from the capitals and other big cities in more than 60 countries.

AEROFLOT can fly you from London, Paris or Copenhagen to Tokyo with a single stop in Moscow.

Soviet air-liners IL-62, TU-154, TU-134 — the best of the Soviet civil aviation — have a world reputation for speed and comfort.2

AEROFLOT is always at your service.

1. I'll be writing more about this issue of Sputnik in the near future.
2. According to Wikipedia, the TU-154 and T-134 can be "operated from unpaved airports."

Thursday, November 16, 2017

1920s postcards: A walkable street and an adventurous path

Here are two old postcards that were mailed way back in the 1920s...

  • Caption on front: Bruges, Eglise St. Jacques [St. James's Church]
  • Postmark: August 26, 1926 [indicated as "26 VIII" on the postmark]
  • Stamp: Blue, 75-centime Louis Pasteur, issued by France in 1924
  • Sent from: Paris, France
  • Sent to: Media, Pennsylvania
  • Message: "Aug. 26. Paris. Aunt Dora and I have just gotten back from a trip up in Belgium. I enjoyed seeing the Bruges more than any place we've been. Most of the house are built in the old Flemish architecture and there are lot of canals [thru?] the city. Love Louise."

  • Caption on front: The Trail and Cold River, Mohawk Trail, Mass.
  • Postmark: July 30, 1922
  • Stamp: Green 1-cent George Washington stamp, issued in 1917
  • Sent from: Pittsfield, Massachusetts
  • Sent to: Media, Pennsylvania (different addressee than first postcard, though)
  • Message: "270 miles first day. Sunday 7 A.M. Dear Mr. Fronefield: Arrived here in Pittsfield Saturday evening 7:45. Raymond saw Harry Barton in an automobile along the curb, as we entered the town but we did not stop. Perfectly wonderful trip. All happy. Sincerely, Margaret.

1912 letter to my great-great-grandfather from Bessie T. Capen

This serves as a companion post to February's "1912 softball team at Miss Capen's School for Girls." Miss Capen's School was a Massachusetts preparatory school, run by Bessie T. Capen, that was connected with Smith College. It was founded in the second half of the 19th century and closed in 1920.

My great-grandmother, then Greta Miriam Chandler, attended the school for a year or so. Featured today is a letter that Bessie herself wrote to my great-great-grandfather, Lilburn Chandler, in 1912. Here is a full transcription of the note, which takes up the front and back of a small piece of Capen House letterhead:
Mr. Lilburn Chandler
601 Equitable Bldg.
Wilmington, Delaware

My dear Mr. Chandler,
I have your letter in regard to Greta's studies this year. I think it is best for her to take hold of practical work, like the Domestic Science and Sewing.

We have a good two years course in Domestic Science, with a year of elementary and a year of advanced work.

With kindest regards to Greta — and hoping to see her on the nineteenth.

I am very truly yours,
Bessie T. Capen
Sept. 7, 1912
If you have read some of the previous posts about my great-grandmother, you will surely know that Domestic Science never became any sort of fit for her, which makes this all the more amusing. It wasn't that long after this letter that she met my great-grandfather.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

1907 book cover: "Under the Ocean to the South Pole"

  • Title: Under the Ocean to the South Pole
  • Subtitle: The Strange Cruise of the Submarine Wonder
  • Author: "Roy Rockwood" (pseudonym used by Howard Garis for the Stratemeyer Syndicate)
  • Publisher: Cupples & Leon Co.
  • Year: 1907
  • Pages: 248
  • Format: Hardcover
  • First sentence: "Hand me that wrench, Mark," called Professor Amos Henderson to a boy who stood near some complicated machinery over which the old man was working.
  • Last sentence: "We shall see," said Mr. Henderson with a twinkle in his eyes.
  • Random sentence from the middle: For a while the struggle between the force of man represented by the engine, and the power of nature, embodied in the whirlpool, seemed equal.
  • Previous book in this series by "Rockwood": Through the Air to the North Pole, or The Wonderful Cruise of the Electric Monarch
  • Notes about the story: Professor Henderson is described as being 65 years old and possessing of a "fund of knowledge." He companions are Mark Sampson, Jack Darrow and — my great apologies — "the colored man, Washington White." ... The name of the submarine is the Porpoise, and it is described as being eighty feet long and, at the widest point, twenty feet in diameter. It was powered in this way: "The engine was a turbine, and steam was generated from heat furnished by the burning of a powerful gas, manufactured from sea water and chemicals. So there was no need to carry a supply of coal on the ship." ... During a shark battle, the sharks are described as having "horrible eyes, and big mouths with rows of cruel teeth, striking terror to the hearts of all." I think Quint would approve of that description. ... At the end of the book, there seems to be a setup for exploration of a "strange island with a big hole in the middle that seems to lead to the centre of the earth." Professor Henderson plans to explore it while traveling in a balloon. That Verne-esque adventure ended up being Book #3 in The Great Marvel Series, which also included trips to Mars and moon.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A whole bunch of Edward Gorey

I have written about Edward St. John Gorey (1925-2000) — or, more specifically, his artwork — a couple of brief times here on Papergreat.1 But I never really knew much about Gorey himself. That changed over the past few weeks.

First, I listened to the excellent Stuffed You Missed in History Class podcast about Gorey's life, which was an eye-opener and really piqued my curiosity. I didn't know, for example, that Gorey obsessively attended all of the performances of the New York City Ballet during the many years George Balanchine was its primary choreographer.

And, much to my shame, I think, I did not know that Gorey was the creative force — his stamp is obvious — behind the 1977 Broadway revival of Bram Stoker's Dracula. I knew the Broadway play had been a launching pad for 1979's film version of Dracula, starring Frank Langella. But the Langella play and Langella film were very different; on Broadway, it was truly all Gorey's vision, and he won a Tony for costume design.

The image at the top of this post is from the paper-cutouts toy theater that is based on Gorey's Dracula and remains for sale today.

After listening to the podcast, I continued to bump into new things about Gorey on social media during the post-Halloween season. Here are a couple of them:

(Note: I'm going to repeat those two images at the bottom of the post, in non-embedded versions, for archival purposes. Otherwise, they won't appear in the book version(s) of Papergreat.)

Cats! Books! Beautiful old desks! Piles of stuff! More books! More cats! What's not to love about all this. I think I want be be Edward Gorey.

So, is your interest piqued now, too? If so, here are some websites where you can explore more about Gorey...

1. See these posts:

Images of Edward Gorey

Solve air pollution with volcanoes?

This is a portion of an advertisement from M.R.S. Sunshine Enterprises, Inc., that's featured on Page 70 of Dragon magazine #62 (June 1982).

The ad copy touts Helenite, artificial glass that is "fused volcanic rock dust from Mount St. Helens [which erupted two years earlier] and [is] marketed as a gemstone," according to Wikipedia.

The copy itself calls Helenites the "newest gem on Earth," as created by "Earthman." Which is a fancy way of admitting that it's a manmade stone. I found about 500 pieces of Helenite for sale on eBay this morning, with prices ranging from $10 to $460, though the higher-end pieces are set in silver. There was also a 10-pound hunk of Helenite for the Buy It Now price of $1,499.99.

This 1982 advertisement is pitching a special piece of jewelry — a Helenite-studded dragon. The creative but confusing ad copy attempts to tie together volcanoes, dragons, pollution and possibly climate change:
Released by the Volcanic Eruption of Mt. St. Helens, whose GOAL is to burn up the pollution threatening Earth's atmosphere. Cast in Solid Sterling Silver body and wings, and copper fire set with 3 Helenites spewing forth from its mouth!

The jewelry was designed by Monica Roi Saxon and offered by the aforementioned M.R.S. Sunshine Enterprises of Delhi, New York. I can't find much of what became of either the artist or the company. And I wonder how many of these Helenite dragons they sold, given the 1982 price of $110, which would be about $277 today.

Cool illustrations: The New Human Interest Library (Part 25)

"The Kiddies of Polygon Land"

Shown below are pages 216 and 217 from 1929's The New Human Interest Library. This is part of the section that was penned by Winifred Sackville Stoner (aka Mother Stoner), who was discussed extensively, along with her daughter, in the previous post. Here is how Mother Stoner introduces the educational tool known as Geomies:
"By showing the children various geometrical designs on the wall and in carpets and tapestries they become interested and love to hunt for Friend Geomies thus gaining practical knowledge of design and of forms which they will meet in later life and concerning which they must have some knowledge. Winifred, Jr., has told children about Geomies in interesting little rhymes. ... On the following pages we see a lot of the Kiddies of Polygon Land and we can make their acquaintance."
Winifred Jr.'s Geomie rhymes are to the tunes of songs like "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" and "Auld Lang Syne." And so we get lines such as "But DUODECAGON can boast, With twelves lines it has the most" and "GEOMIES that have seven sides the HEPTAGONS are named."

Early Minecraft inspiration?

Sunday, November 12, 2017

1908 postcard exchange between Belgium and Cuba

Here's the front and back of a postcard that was sent from Antwerp, Belgium, to Havana, Cuba. Note that the single red stamp has been applied so that it starts on the back but folds over to the front. The postmark states the following:
Anvers is the French word for Antwerp. My guess is that the date for this postmark is September 24, 1908. That leaves the "9-10" undeciphered by me. I have seen similar postmarks from this Belgian era that also have hyphenated consecutive numbers, including this one and this one. My guess is that it's some sort of regional office designation, but that could be way off.1

The postcard image features the "skyline" of Antwerp, with the Cathedral of Our Lady dominating the view. The cathedral dates to 1352, contains a 14,000-pound bell installed in 1507, and is the burial site of, among many other notables, painter Jan Wildens.

The correspondence — or briefwisseling2 — on the back of the postcard is written in a tiny cursive handwriting, but it's in English, so here's my stab at transcribing it:
Mr. Franco,
I accept your offer for the exchange of postcards. I already have from Habana: Obispo street; — Avenida de Marti; — Castle of Chorrera3, — Dwelling house of the Dos Hermanas estate; — Central Park; — Francisco Square; — Clerk Association Building; — Daily Marina Building; — City Jail. —
Yours faithfully,
F. Vorlab. [?]
It's nice to see that postcard swaps and postcard collecting were in full swing in 1908. Those folks would have loved Postcrossing!

1. Also, in researching this postmark, I discovered the Wikipedia page for coded postal obliterators, which I did not know were a thing.
2. Briefwisseling, which is Dutch, is one of my new favorite words. Its most precise translation, according to Google, is "exchange of letters."
3. Castle of Chorrera could refer to TorreĆ³n de la Chorrera.