Saturday, December 26, 2020

New edition of Ruth Manning-Sanders' "A Book of Witches"

On this Boxing Day, I have some dandy book news. MAB Media recently published a gorgeous new edition of A Book of Witches, which was written by Ruth Manning-Sanders, illustrated by Robin Jacques and first published in London in 1965. It was the fourth volume in the Manning-Sanders/Jacques "A Book of..." series. And it's full of great witchy fun.

Additionally, I am honored and humbled to have penned the introduction for this new edition of A Book of Witches. It was a wonderful opportunity to help spread the story of Manning-Sanders' amazing life (check out the 60+ posts on this blog for more) and to share my enthusiasm for these volumes with a new generation of readers. MAB Media plans to publish new editions of other Manning-Sanders books, complete with the Jacques illustrations, in the near future. It's a wonderful opportunity for folks to enjoy the tales and the delightful illustrations without having to track down increasingly rare and/or expensive used copies online.

A Book of Witches is available in both hardcover and paperback from or any of your favorite booksellers.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Christmas Day mystery RPPC

Merry Christmas! Vrolijk kerstfeest. Crăciun fericit. 圣诞节快乐

For today's holly-jolly merriment, we have this studio-posed real photo postcard of four girls sitting in a sleigh that's being "pulled" by what appears, sadly, to be a taxidermied white-tailed deer, presumably serving as a stiff reindeer substitute.

The background is a nice, if not entirely convincing, matte painting of a snow-covered landscape, complete with some sort of estate or mansion. The girls are coordinated with their white outfits/dresses. It was certainly a Big Deal that they went to the studio to have their group photograph taken.

I've always wondered how many postcards people received for such studio RPPCs. Was it possible to get more than one RPPC of the same photograph? That would make them possible to send out to friends and family. I might be naive in this thinking, though, especially depending which decade we're talking about in the early 20th century. Experts on the topic would certainly know better.

One reason I wonder whether multiple copies were made of some of these RPPCs is because I come across so many blank ones. The postcard was never sent and no one ever annotated the back, giving us names, dates and places. Was this because they were an "extra" card from the lot? Or, in this case, is it even possible that this was an RPPC "proof," given the "3" scratched in the corner?

This particular blank mystery RPPC was produced by PMC, according to the stamp box on the back, as identified through Its two upward arrows and two downward arrows date it to between 1907 and 1915, according to Playle. So, these girls were all born before the Great War.2

Here's a closer look at them and the "reindeer." 
Christmas Day footnotes
1., which has been an invaluable resource for Papergreat over the past decade, has this note on its website: "IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Postcard Sales and Auction site will be closing soon. Sales will cease on December 22, 2020, and the site will close on December 31, 2020. The deltiology information areas of the site will remain open. If you have any questions, please email us at Thank you for your support over these many years."

Big bummer. I am glad the "deltiology information" areas will remain. They are important knowledge for historians and ephmeraologists.

2. And so Happy Christmas (war is over)
We hope you had fun (if you want it)
The near and the dear ones (war is over)
The old and the young (now)

Thursday, December 24, 2020

She was very serious about you having a Real Happy Christmas

I have no idea who she is, of course. But she is extremely serious. And possibly ticked off. Possibly about being on this postcard. (And imagine how ticked off she'd be to know we're still looking at her photograph 112 years later. Will this postcard haunt us??)

This Christmas RPPC, with its redundant messages printed on the front, is from the Davidson Bros.' Real Photgraphic Series and was printed in England. It was postmarked in New Haven, Missouri, in December 1908 and mailed to Miss Martha Radtke in Morrison, Missouri, about 23 miles to the west, as the crow flies.

Here's my best guess at the message on the back, which was written in cursive pencil:
I would like to be in your neighbor hood Xmas., but can't say for shure that I'll be up. Would certainly like to meet you again.
A Friend (A.H.J.)

A.H.J is my best guess on those initials, by the way. Joan, who is the only other person I know who looks at as much old cursive as I do, concurs. Is A.H.J. the woman on the front? If so, why did she sign as A Friend and with her initials, instead of her name? These mysteries will never be solved! Now I'm as ticked off as she looks.

Enjoy your Christmas Eve.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

"Dear Santa" through the years

Delving into the newspaper archives, I pulled out some "Dear Santa" letters that have been published in American newspapers over a stretch of more than a century. Some things never go out of style; some things very much do go out of style. Enjoy!

Cumberland (Maryland) Evening Times, 1899

The Winona (Mississippi) Times, 1934
The Eunice (Louisiana) News, 1978
The Kilgore (Texas) News Herald, 2011

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

"Fröhliche Weihnachten" German Christmas postcard

Fröhliche Weihnachten means "Merry Christmas!" in German. This Post-Karte was mailed from Germany on December 25, 1906, with a red Germania Deutsches Reich stamp with a value of 10 pfennig. It was postmarked again on the front when it arrived at its destination of Eureka, California, sometime in early January.

It was sent to Hermann Schulze and his family.

Here's a closer look at the front of the card and then a look at the back...

Monday, December 21, 2020

"Bright Star of Hope" vintage Christmas postcard (with cat)

As the final countdown to Christmas continues, this vintage postcard, mailed to Alice McClintock way back in the day, features a woman in green, a young boy in yellow, a young girl in pink and red, and, stealing the show, a cat who doesn't give a damn about any of it. 

It's possible that these three are attempting to break into a house through a window and the cat is doing very little to stop them. 

Or maybe I'm just overthinking it all.

The text on the postcard states:

Loving Christmas Greetings
On this Christmas kind greeting I send thee,
My wish would keep joy by they side,
With Fortune's glad sun ever shining,
And the bright Star of Hope for they guide.

Simon [or insert a turn-of-the-century struggling writer's name here] probably got paid half a shilling to write that hokum before being told to move on to the Easter postcard verses. Or to go find Bartleby.

And, no, it's not a famous verse or a stolen poem. Google tells me: "No results found for 'With Fortune's glad sun ever shining.' " So we're making SEO history tonight on the blog again. Break out the saké.

This week in the reality that is 2020, the "bright Star of Hope" is the alignment of Jupiter and Saturn, as seen from the Earth. They haven't come this close, from our vantage, since 1623, and, according Marina Koren in The Atlantic, "The last time the planets appeared this close and could be seen from the ground was in 1226," when Notre-Dame de Paris was still in its early decades of construction. 

Here's a look at the back of the postcard:

Sunday, December 20, 2020

"Fraught with happiness" Christmas postcard

This postcard, with its Christmas hot pinks and baby blues, was mailed on Christmas Eve 1912 from tiny Colfax, Wisconsin, to tinier Leeds, North Dakota. The card was published by E.A. Schwerdtfeger & Co. of London, New York and Berlin. 

"Fraught with happiness" seems like an odd turn of phrase for the final line of verse on the front, but maybe it wasn't as odd a century ago with that usage. Or maybe it's just a bad line. It happens.

The card, which was sent to Miss Goldie Skeie, includes this short, uninformative note:
Colfax, Wis. Dec. 23.
A merry Xmas and a happy new year to you all, from all here.
Bertha Berg

Bertha does have nice cursive handwriting, at least. And I suppose we have Goldie and perhaps her descendants to thank for this postcard's continued existence. More Christmas postcards to come as the week continues!