Thursday, May 10, 2018

Girl Power: A pair of awesome Victorian advertising cards

First up is this vintage trade card for Acme Soap, which measures 3⅛ inches wide. It's labeled E1 in the lower right corner, and there is a small credit for Gies & Co., of Buffalo, New York. There is no information on the back. I guess they figured "It's Acme Soap. What more do folks need to know?"

The illustration strikes me as a cross between Cosette from the famed Broadway poster of Les Misérables and a benevolent young witch.

I discovered that this illustration has been used for the cover art on a modern reprint of Strange Pages from Family Papers by T.F. Thiselton-Dyer. The book was described in the late 19th century as: "From the histories of the great families of Great Britain are taken the remarkable and romantic incidents and episodes gathered together under the following headings: Fatal curses; the screaming skull; eccentric vows: strange banquets; mysterious rooms; indelible bloodstains; curious secrets, the dead hand; devil compacts; family death omens; weird possession; romance of disguise; extraordinary disappearances; honored hearts; romance of wealth; lucky accidents; fatal passion." Cool!

* * *

This second trade card is three inches wide and features a young woman with a cape and a short sword touting Red Star Cough Cure. The card is credited to Mayer, Merkel and Ottmann of New York. That back is filled with text promoting Red Star's lack of addictive, poppy-based narcotics such as morphine and opium:
"To the thousands whose systems instinctively shrink from the use of Morphia and Opium, and especially to mothers, who justly dread the evil and, at times, fatal effects of these dangerous drugs, the Red Star Cough Cure must prove a boon.

It is not only entirely free from all opiates, poisons and emetics, (a thing which not one cough preparation in ten can boast), but it is altogether an original and most happy combination of the best remedial agents, and is as harmless as it is effective."
What were the ingredients? Other advertising from the company claimed it contained "valuable vegetable ingredients." But here is one independent guess, from 1911's The Secrets of Specialists, by Alfred Dale Covey:
"We purchased a bottle of it and have submitted it to examination, and find that it is a syrup preparation of wild cherry bark, with a little tar and slight trace of chloroform or chloric ether, with possibly a little bitter almond added. It is put up in a green panel bottle containining full three fluid ounces. It is a clear reddish-brown syrup, of thick substance, has a very faint acid reaction; but has pronounced bitter-almond flavor, and tarry taste and odor."
The price was 50 cents per bottle. Using a rough guess of 1890 for this card, that would be the equivalent of about $14 today, which isn't too out of line for a high-end cough medicine.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Two of my great-grandmother's nieces in Atlantic City in 1939

Here are two more selections from the endless Family Photo Sorting. These are full 8-by-10 prints, which makes them a little more persnickety when it comes to long-term storage. They are professional shots that were taken in August 1939 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, by Fred Hess & Son of 166 S. Virginia Avenue.

The subjects are two daughters of Dr. Swithin T. Chandler (1888-1961) and Louise Montgomery Chandler (?-1985?). Swithin was the older brother of my oft-mentioned great-grandmother, Greta Miriam Chandler Adams (1894-1988). So these two girls pictured below are Greta's nieces and contemporaneous (but slightly younger) first cousins of my grandmother, Helen Chandler Adams Ingham (1919-2003).

Here are the pictures from 79 years ago, taken the same month The Wizard of Oz debuted in theaters and as Germany was preparing to lead an invasion of Poland on September 1, starting a war that would result in the deaths of more than 3 percent of the world's population.

Shown above is Swithin and Louise's older daughter, Dorothea Louise Chandler.

Dorothea was married on January 30, 1944, at St. Luke's Church in Germantown, Philadelphia. An article in The News Journal of Wilmington, Delaware, states:
Of much interest in Delaware was the wedding yesterday afternoon in St. Luke's Church, Germantown, when Miss Dorothea Louise Chandler, daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Swithin Chandler of Mount Airy, Philadelphia, became the bride of Corp. James Phineas Magill II, U.S.A., son of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Henderson Magill of Germantown. The Rev. Taggart Steele, Jr., officiated. The bride's family has many local connections. Dr. Chandler gave his daughter in marriage. Miss Helen Montgomery Chandler was maid of honor for her sister. ...
James Phineas Magill II died just over one year after the wedding.

Serving with E Company in the 78th Infantry Division, he was killed in action on February 14, 1945 — Valentine's Day — during fighting near Schwammenauel Dam in Germany (see details here and here). He is buried at Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial in Belgium.

* * *

And here is the younger sister, Helen Montgomery Chandler, the aforementioned maid of honor at Dorothea's 1944 wedding.

I haven't been able to find much information on the later lives of Dorothea and Helen. I know that Dorothea remarried after being widowed and Helen was also married. That information comes from their father's obituary, printed in the November 17, 1961, edition of The Morning News of Wilmington, Delaware. It states, in part:
"Also surviving are two daughters, Mrs. Robert G. Standen of Philadelphia and Mrs. T. Frank Decker of Jenkintown, Pa."
Helen Montgomery Chandler wedded T. Frank Decker around 1951 and they were married for 59 years, until her death in 2010. That's according to his obituary in the March 24, 2012, edition of The Philadelphia Inquirer. They had met as teenagers at Penn Charter. Frank and Helen had three children, and I'm going to see if I can get in touch with one of them and send them the 1939 photo of their mother.

Other Atlantic City posts

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Family telegram #2:

This second telegram from the family scrapbook is from nearly 61 years ago, and it's a sad one. I do not know the "Ellen" who wrote it, but I was able to figure out who she was.

It's an official Western Union telegram, measuring eight inches across. According to the key, the NL at the start of the message indicates that this was a Night Letter.
I suspect that the wording and abruptness of this isn't terribly different from how a text-message exchange might go down in 2018.

Using the date, location and the first names, I determined that the deceased was John G. Capps Sr., who must have known my great-grandfather from their shared occupations in electrical engineering in Indiana. Here is Capps' obituary from the July 15, 1957, edition of The Times of Munster, Indiana:

Damaged but dandy dust jacket: "Mystery at High Hedges"

I absolutely love this dust jacket — even with its big chunk missing and even though the identity of artist is unknown — on a book I discovered at The York Emporium.

  • Title: Mystery at High Hedges
  • Author: Edith Bishop Sherman
  • About the author: Edith Bishop Sherman wrote children's books and magazine articles. She died at age 81 on February 19, 1971, at her home in northern New Jersey, according to The New York Times. Her other books included Mistress Madcap, Polly What's-her-name and Upstairs, Downstairs: A Boarding School Mystery for Girls.
  • Cover illustrator: Unknown. But see more about the cover below.
  • Publication year: 1937
  • Publisher: The Goldsmith Publishing Company
  • Original price: Unknown
  • Pages: 251
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Provenance: The following is written on the first page...
    Property of Mary Pride [or Prill]
    153 S. Beaver St.
    York, Pa. — 1944
    [and then in a different style of handwriting]
    School — Hannah Penn
    Grade — 9-6
    Present from Polyanna Mary Distefano for Christmas
  • Dust jacket blurb: "Marcia turns up her nose at spending the summer in a poky little New Jersey town, but what with haunted houses, mysterious disappearances and a near drowning, the summer is anything but boring. A mystery story told with the inimitable charm and brilliance of this famous writer of girls' books."
  • First sentence: Her eyes searching the crowd of upturned faces upon the dock below her, Marcia Lambert followed a heavily-laden porter down the gang-plank from the big transatlantic liner Ile de Mer.
  • Last sentence: "High hedges are all right, Aunt Hattie, only I hope there'll always be a hole in mine — somewhere — big enough for folks to come through!"
  • Random sentence from middle: "The Heel Woman! It's the Heel Woman!"
  • Online commentary: Here's an excerpt of what Diane Plumley wrote about the book on The Bookshop Blog in July 2011: "It’s a simple story, nothing elaborate, or scary, or even very mysterious, but for me, it rang true then and and still did. ... I suppose we all have some book from our youth that remains on the edge of our consciousness. Be it a on of the Hardy Boys books, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Secret of the Old Clock etc. If we’re lucky, we get a second chance, and maybe a third, fourth, fifth to experience the thrill the book gave us when we were young and just starting to become lovers of books."

* * *

But wait, there's more!

While nosing around online and trying to discover more about Mystery at High Hedges — and especially the identity of the dust-jacket illustrator — I discovered that the original jacket illustration, and its color guide, were sold at a 2006 auction! There were still no clues as to the identity of the artist, but it offered a rare look inside the design process of a book that's more than eight decades old.

One handwritten note states: "Can we leave out yellow under black so it won't be yellowish black when printed wet yellow & black — and could we print blue over black to make black shine."

Here are some screen shots from the page on Heritage Auctions.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Family telegram #1:

Here's the first of two telegrams that I came across while (still) sorting through family scrapbooks and ephemera.

This one is torn and incomplete, but I'm fairly certain that it was addressed to my grandmother, Helen Chandler Adams Ingham (1919-2003), from her then-mother-in-law. This would have been during or shortly after World War II. It states:
Tyler could refer to either a place in Utah or, more likely, Texas. Helen and Jack spent time together in both places. It probably won't surprise you too much, reading this telegram, to know that Helen and Jack were eventually divorced.

* * *
Check back tomorrow night for Family Telegram #2.

Old postcard: Toddler getting a bath from the family pets

This undated comic postcard is right up Brad Marchand's alley1. It's an illustration by an artist named Rutherford of a cat and dog licking a crying toddler. We don't recommend that you try this at home, parents. The dog appears harmless enough, but that cat doesn't look like it should be trusted.

The caption printed onto the card states "Company or no company I won't be washed." I'm not sure who the market was for this postcard, other than just someone seeking a guffaw. The short note scrawled on the front of the postcard states: "Now Gladys don't get sassy when your face is washed. Simmy."

I'm guessing that Gladys was a young girl, and we can hope the card cheered her up. Miss Gladys Downing, per the address on the reverse side, was a patient in one of the wards of Hahnemann Hospital in Philadelphia. I hope she recovered, went home and saved this postcard in a drawer for the remainder of her long life.

And, yes, I know that might not have been the case, especially with childhood illnesses a century ago. But in lieu of solid information, we'll just write our own happy endings here at Papergreat.

1. That would be topical humor. See this actual news story with this actual headline: "NHL warns Bruins' Brad Marchand to stop licking opponents"

D'oh! I bet Ruth Manning-Sanders had a cow when she saw this in 1932

In 1932, Ruth Manning-Sanders saw her seventh novel released. It was titled She Was Sophia, and it was published by Cobden-Sanderson of London. While I'm sure the novelty of being an author had worn off a little bit, there must still be a fresh rush of excitement that accompanies each new book reaching the public.

Here's the first page of that Manning-Sanders book...

And here's the title page...

And, alas, here is the spine of the book...

You had one job, bookbinder! I'm sure Ruth's heart sank, and perhaps she also uttered a curse or two, when she saw that her book's title had been misspelled as She Was Sofia on the spine. For what it's worth, the book's title is spelled correctly on both the front and spine of the dust jacket, as seen in the picture to the right (which I found in an online search). But it's definitely wrong on the spine of the actual book.

As this was one of Manning-Sanders' more obscure novels, the misspelling has created a lot of confusion and incorrect information about the book's title to be circulated over the decades. I know that I'm guilty, and believed the title to be She Was Sofia until I actually got my hands on a copy of the book.

But let the record clearly state: It's She Was Sophia.

The novel's first sentence provides even further reinforcement of Manning-Sanders' intentions: "The creation of Sophia Cavendish had been a somewhat casual event in the lives of two people whose minds were, generally speaking, entirely concerned with other things — John Jarvie's with his painting and Hannah Cavendish's with her business of buying and selling."

As of today, there are a nearly equal number of Google hits for She Was Sophia and She Was Sofia. I hope that this post, plus my fixing of the bibliography on Manning-Sanders' Wikipedia page, will turn the tide in favor of the correct spelling.

Here is the full set of vital statistics, for posterity:

  • Title: She Was Sophia
  • Author: Ruth Manning-Sanders
  • Publisher: Cobden-Sanderson, London
  • Year: 1932
  • Pages: 320
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Folklore reference #1: " a brisk walk 'widdershins' all round the island."
  • Folklore reference #2: "The porch reminded Sophia uncomfortably of the oven in the story of Hansel and Gretel..."
  • Review in The Guardian (December 2, 1932): "The novel with a child as hero is apt to annoy the sophisticated palate. Either it is cloyingly sweet or else it has a bounce and vigour which make the reader longer for an old-fashioned Papa to walk into the pages with his slipper prepared for administration. In Mrs. Manning-Sanders' new book there is nothing but delight. Her Sophia is only seven at the end of the story, but she is a child of so much authentic life and interest that she scarcely needs her surrounding chorus of men and women. Sophia was born of a chance encounter between Hannah Cavendish, shopkeeper, and John Jarvie, artist. By another twist of fate she, as "adopted niece" of Hannah, meets her father the first time when she is seven years old, on a small island off the Cornish coast. In this situation are a dozen pitfalls for sentimentality, and the author avoids them all. She handles the tragedy of illegitimacy with the same dexterous coolness that she gives to John Jarvie's warped and lovesick landlady, to Sophia breaking a valuable bowl in her efforts to study the 'rude' horse painted on it, to Nat Willis consoling himself through his schooldays by thoughts of the hell-fire sermons he will later deliver. The book is full of good scenes and rounded personalities. It is gay, shrewd, well written."

Here are some other reviews She Was Sophia garnered, from an advertisement in the November 20, 1932, edition of The Observer of London:

* * *

Note: This post, as you now realize, has absolutely nothing to do with The Simpsons. I just thought those expressions made for a fun headline. My original thought for the headline was "I bet Ruth Manning-Sanders had a hissyfit when she saw this."

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Book cover: 1966's "Science Fiction Oddities"

  • Title: Science Fiction Oddities
  • Editor: Groff Conklin (1904-1968)
  • Cover artist: Don Punchatz, according to Internet Speculative Fiction Database
  • Publisher: Berkley Publishing Company (Berkley Medallion S1311)
  • Cover price: 75 cents
  • Year: 1966
  • Pages: 256
  • Format: Paperback
  • Back-cover blurb: "Here is the most unusual collection of science fiction stories ever to be put between two covers. Each one of the nineteen stories included has been selected so as to give you an experience as curious as it is fascinating — science fiction with as odd little twist such as you've never known it before."
  • Sampling of authors included (in addition to those whose names are printed on the cover): Alan Arkin (the actor/screenwriter), R.A. Lafferty, Robert Nathan, John Novotny and Edward Mackin.
  • Number of male authors: 20 (one story is co-written)
  • Number of female authors: 0
  • Random sentence #1: "Which, owing to a linguistic peculiarity, could mean pumpkin or several kinds of squash, but not calabash."
  • Random sentence #2: "Examine the period and see how many really sad songs were popular in the years 1980 and 1981." (From a story published in 1964.)
  • Random sentence #3: "Buffie knew that when the aliens gave you something it was money in the bank."
  • Goodreads rating: 3.07 stars (out of 5.0)
  • Goodreads review excerpt: In 2012, Kolya Matteo wrote: "I think Groff needs to come clean and admit that these are just some stories he had lying around and decided to slap into an anthology — but now that is a secret he took to his grave."
  • Amazon rating: 3.6 stars (out of 5.0)
  • Note: You can find an exhaustive list of Conklin's anthologies, and the stories contained in them, on the blog "Jerry's House of Everything."