Saturday, September 9, 2023

Your future partner, as "determined" by a 1940s vending machine

This is one type of misogynistic card you might have gotten out of a "Vacuumatic Card Vender" made by Exhibit Supply Co. in the middle of the 20th century. You could drop a nickel in the "FOR MEN ONLY" side or the "FOR WOMEN ONLY" side and "Get a photograph of your future partner and family with a fortune of your married life." (Heterosexual relationships only, sorry.)

You can get a nice look at some of these vending machines on this webpage. The machines were in service primarily from the late 1920s through late 1950s and, in addition to "Future Partner" cards, they could dispense cards with famous athletes, hot rods, "bathing beauties," and cartoons. There were also many other relationship-themed cards, including "marriage prescriptions," romantic "advice" for women, and love letters.

The cards are the same size as postcards. It's easy to find them floating around on eBay and Etsy, including sets and uncut sheets. At a nickel apiece they must have been quite the novelty moneymaker back in the day. If my math is right, a nickel back then is about 80 cents today. I guess you could keep plugging in nickels until you got a partner you liked, and toss the other cards in the trash.

Sunday, September 3, 2023

Snapshots from a day of tidying the ephemera cabinet*

*Not to be confused with the ephemera closet or the ephemera desk. 

Sunday afternoon of Labor Day weekend turned out to be a good time to get some of the paperstuffs slightly more organized. Plus it was nice that I had some help from Joan, and some "help" from the cats in dealing with all of the boxes and piles of postcards, photographs and other ephemera. There was even a small amount of healthy pruning, although that mostly involved giving things to Joan, including a stack of maxicards.

Here are some pictures I snapped of the process, from beginning to end.
Above: Mama Orange oversees the sorting of real photo postcards, regular postcards, QSL cards and old photographs.
Joan provided a label for a handmade volume of ephemera scrapbooking that predates Papergreat and will take its place next to the many printed volumes that preserve this blog's 3,000-plus posts.
Toffee (top) provides some oversight.
And here's the mostly finished product. Maybe it doesn't look a whole lot different, but a lot of stuff is grouped together better, and Joan later provided a bin for my most recent Postcrossing arrivals.

Up next: the closet.

1970s folklore rarity: "ghost, ghouls and golems."

Author Nina Antonia was the first to put this staplebound booklet on my radar, when she tweeted about it on July 27.It's titled ghost, ghouls and golems. — I'm keeping the lowercase and the period intact — with the subtitle "THIRTEEN DEVONIAN GHOST STORIES."

It was published circa 1975/1976 by the Beaford Centre Community Arts Project. 

The 60-page booklet is, as of this writing, listed on eBay for £50. It seems to be quite the rarity from nearly a half-century ago and I think it's worth documenting what we can about it here, for posterity. There will be no second printing. What we know comes mostly from the pictures attached to the eBay listing.

Beaford is a small village in Devon, England. The Beaford Centre, now known as Beaford Arts, was established in 1966 to promote and support artists in that rural region of Devon. A short paragraph in this booklet of ghost stories explains how it came about: "These thirteen stories were chosen from among the entries to a Ghost Story Writing Contest organised by the Beaford Centre Community Arts Project in the autumn of 1975. We would like to thank the authors of the stories for allowing us to print them. We would also like to thank Barbara Woodland for typing them out, and Graeme Rigby for designing and printing the booklet."

Thanks to the photos with the eBay listing, here's the table of contents, along with the 13 authors.

  • Rose of Marsland, by E.W.F. Tomlin
  • The Powers That Be, by Jane Reed
  • The Warning, by Veronica Warner
  • The Grey Lady, by S. Gorrell
  • The Captain's Cabin, by John F. McKno
  • The Devil: A Bit Of Hot Stuff, by G.H. Hackett
  • Black Dog, by Geoffrey Skinner
  • The Old Evil, by M.A. Russell
  • The Power Of The Megalith, by E. Clay
  • "My Grandfather was Walking," by M. Incledon-Webber
  • Mahala, by M.J. Wreford
  • First You Dee It, Then You Don't, by W.J. Nott
  • Owing To The Depression, by Ruby Ewings

I'll leave it to someone else to try researching all of those Devonians. 

Antonia's tweet this summer led to a little discussion about the booklet and local folklore in general. I think parts of that are worth saving, too, before they become a lost corner of the internet.
  • @HooklandGuide: Persactly this. I still have my childhood booklet on Essex’s Black Dog Paths.
  • @NinaAntonia13: Have you dared to venture down any of them?
  • @HooklandGuide: I think you can guess that I spent a lot of my very early teens cycling down then and exploring them thoroughly.
  • @NinaAntonia13: I would have expected nothing less! :)
  • @MelanieWoods65: That looks like a little gem. I love these kinds of publications & it being about ghosts is a double bonus.
1. Antonia has long been one of my favorite people to follow on Twitter, with past tweets inspiring the pre-pandemic posts Regarding Estella Canziani and Who wants to join me in buying a crumbling, haunted British estate?