Friday, December 19, 2008

Hard Times Christmas Postcard

This postcard is about 100 years old, but it would be appropriate for this year when many people are cutting back on holiday giving because of "hard times."

It is published by B.B. London, Series No. X101, and printed in Germany.

Country Club Plaza Christmas Lights

Country Club Plaza in Kansas City is the country's first shopping center. It began in the early 1920s.

The Plaza lighting traditon began in 1930. The buildings have been lit for the holiday season every year except 1973 when President Nixon urged curtailing the use of Christmas lights to reduce dependence on foreign oil imports

2008 is the 79th year of the tradition. It takes months to hang the lights and take them down each year. The lights are turned on at 5 p.m. each evening until January 11, 2009.

The date of this postcard is unknown (probably pre-1963).

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Sterling Lindner Davis Christmas Tree

Sterling Lindner Davis department store of Cleveland was a combination of three smaller stores — Sterling & Welch Co., W.B. Davis Co., and Lindner Co. The store closed in 1968.

This postcard was mailed in 1952. The description on the back of this postcard is as follows:

Each Christmas season, thousands of Clevelanders and visitors from miles around come to see the magnificent spectacle of Sterling Lindner Davis' traditional Christmas tree, towering in the Great Court. A live, 50 ft. tree, festooned with 60 lbs. of 'icicles', 1000 yds. of tinsel, 1500 ornaments, and illuminated by 6 banks of 750 candle-watt spotlights. It requires 650 man-power hours to trim by swinging stages suspended from the skylight, Once again, our Christmas tree awaits you…proud symbol that "There's Magic in a gift from S-L-D.!

The Sterling Lindner Christmas Tree tradition was started in the late 1920s and continued until 1967 (the three names were combined in 1950 and the Davis was dropped from the name in 1958). I also have a couple of different Sterling Lindner Christmas Tree postcards from the 1960s. On the 1960s postcards the tree is described as 60 feet tall — "America's tallest inddoor tree, symbol of Christmas in Cleveland for well over 30 years."

The Cleveland Memory Project has black-and-white photos of some other Sterling Lindner Davis Christmas Trees.

Jim Beam 1956 Political Bottles

This Jim Beam Distilling Company advertising postcard shows the 1956 political bottles containing Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Pictures of Beam Political Bottles for presidential election years 1956 to 1988 can be found at POLITICAL DECANTERS SERIES (these 1956 bottles are described there as ashtrays).

Advertising message on the back of this postcard:

Good for any "Party"
Ideal for use as:
The Beam Bottled in Bond Ivy Planter Tray bottles were especially designed for the 1956 Election Year. both Donkey and Elephant bottles are hand crafted in genuine Regal China.
These outstanding packages available at no extra cost.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Wall Street, New York City

This linen postcard view of Wall Street credits "Photo by Keystone," but it has been stylized so much that it looks more like an illustration. It was mailed in 1942 with a 1¢ defense stamp and a postmark urging one to "Buy Defense Savings Bonds and Stamps." The sender wrote "P.S. Too tired to write a message."

More informative is the description on the back:

Wall Street derived its name from the wall built by Peter Syuyvesant in 1653 to defend New Amsterdam at this point. It is now the foremost financial center in the world and the most powerful banks and brokers have their headquarters here.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Minneapolis Aquatennial Canoe Race

This is the 69th year of The Minneapolis Aquatennial which is held the third full week of July. The dates for 2008 are July 12-27.

This postcard was published in 1950. The long canoe race has not been held since 1960. There is an interesting article "Aquatennial Canoe Derby Was Test Of Stamina" about the race and Gene Jensen who was a race winner four times in 1948, 1949 1950 and 1960.

The description on the back of this postcard is as follows:

The Mando-Aquatennial Canoe Derby, co-sponsored by the Minnesota and Ontario Paper Co., is held in conjunction with The Minneapolis Aquatennial, the nation's greatest summer festival. It is now the world's greatest canoe racing event and attracts top-flight canoeists from all parts of the United States and Canada. Starting at Bemidji, Minnesota the course extends 450 miles down the challenging, unpredictable and ever-changing Mississippi River to end at Minneapolis.

Aquatennial History

Friday, May 23, 2008

Van's Cafe, Brainerd, Minnesota

Another popular Brainerd postcard subject was Van's Cafe. This postcard dates from 1950. A similar view, differently colored, is available as an art print from Internet poster sellers.

Description from the back of the card:

Located in BRAINERD, MINN., opposite the Tourist Information Tower on Highways 371 and 210 is
newly streamlined, remodeled and air-conditioned
Folks drive miles for VAN'S "Sizzling" steaks, fried chicken, home made chow mein, barbecued ribs and delicious TURKEY DINNERS served daily.

Van's Cafe was started in 1923 and was owned by Van Essens.

Brainerd Water Tower

The Brainerd, Minnesota water tower was built from 1919 to 1922. It is on the National Register of Historic Places. It was the first all-concrete elevated tank used by a municipality in the United States.

A Look At Water Towers, an article on Minnesota water towers, notes that for many communities, a water tower is a part of its identity. This Brainerd water tower has not been used since 1960, but it remains as an attraction and symbol of the city of Brainerd.

Paul Bunyan is another attraction and symbol of Brainerd, and the water tower has become associated with Paul Bunyan in several ways — as his knife handle, his golf tee, his flash light, and his hitching post for Babe.

The Crow Wing Historical Society has historical photos of the construction of the Brainerd, Minnesota water tower.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Singer Sewing Machine Factory--Bridgeport, Connecticut

This postcard is the standard height of 3½ inches but is double width—11 inches. It was meant to be folded in half before mailing. Although unusual and uncommon, this size is usually ignored by postcard collectors.

When examining this card, I was intrigued by the fine print on the sides of the buildings. The buildings are named Wheeler & Wilson Sewing Machines, not Singer. Wheeler and Wilson was founded in 1851 and moved in 1856 to Bridgeport, Connecticut. In the 1850s and 1860s Wheeler and Wilson sewing machines were the most popular. Eventually Singer sewing machines became more popular, and Singer bought out Wheeler and Wilson in 1905. Singer company history dates the opening of their Bridgeport factory as 1907.

An interesting account of early sewing machine manufacturing history is found on the International Sewing Machine Collectors' Society (ISMACS) website. There is reproduced information and pictures from a 1873 tour of the Wheeler and Wilson Sewing Machine factory by a reporter. At that time the factory employed 6,000-7,000 in various capacities. The pictures are excellent views of workers at work with the manufacturing machines used at different stages of the manufacturing process.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Minnesota Centennial Postcard & Stamp

Minnesota celebrated its Statehood Centennial 50 years ago in 1958. This postcard was published by the Minneapolis Post Card Club. On the back is the stamp commemorating Minnesota Statehood and a First Day of Issue cancellation on May 11, 1958.

In 2008 Minnesota is celebrating it Sesquicentennial. A stamp celebrating Minnesota's 150th anniversary as the 32nd state will be issued on Saturday May 17. A first-day-of-issue ceremony will be part of Statehood Weekend Festival scheduled for May 17 to 18 on the State Capitol grounds in St. Paul.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Willie the Walleye Statue

Willie the Walleye is located in Baudette, Minnesota. The statue weighs 9,852 pounds, is 40 feet 4 inches long and has a girth of 21 feet 4 inches. This statue was constructed in 1959 and is the largest of the big walleye statues.

Baudette is located on Lake of the Woods and the Rainy River in northern Minnesota. Baudette claims to be the "Walleye Capital of the World," but a number of other towns both in Minnesota and other states have claimed the same title. Lake of the Woods Tourism officials in Baudette recently were able to obtain the Minnesota trademark to this title. They have apparently abandoned an effort to obtain a national trademark. Baudette has an annual "Willie Walleye Days" festival in early June.

The walleye is the Minnesota state fish. The 2008 Minnesota walleye season opens May 10. According to the Minnesota state DNR website

The walleye is the most sought-after fish in Minnesota. Its thick, white fillets, handsome shape and coloring, and elusive nature make it the ultimate prize among anglers. Each year, anglers in Minnesota keep roughly 3.5 million walleyes totaling 4 million pounds. The average walleye caught and kept is about 14 inches long and weighs slightly more than 1 pound. The walleye is named for its pearlescent eye, which is caused by a reflective layer of pigment, called the tapetum lucidum, that helps it see and feed at night or in murky water.

For more on the "Walleye Capital" controversy see Walleyed War of the Walleye Capitals.

Albany Tulip Festival

This undated postcard shows a scene from Albany, New York's Annual Tulip Festival where "Colorful pageantry and entertainment mark the festivities preceding the selection and crowning of the new Tulip Queen."

The 2008 Albany Tulip Festival runs from May 9 to May 11. This is the 6oth anniversary of the festival which was created after the tulip became Albany's official flower in 1948. Over 200,000 tulips are planted in the fall before the festival. The tulips bloom throughout Albany in the parks, street islands, and in front of public buildings.

The Tulip Festival celebrates Albany's Dutch heritage. Events include entertainment, arts and crafts shows, food vendors, and the crowning of a Tulip Queen.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Pope Pius XII & 9th National Eucharistic Congress

This linen postcard of Pope Pius XII commemorated the 9th National Eucharistic Congress held at St. Paul - Minneapolis in June 1941. The pope did not atttend the Congress but spoke over the radio to those assembled for the Congress.

Cardinal Pacelli, the future Pope Pius XII, was appointed Vatican Secretary of State in 1930. In 1936 he toured a number of cities in the United States. The trip covered about eight thousand miles in seven days, mainly by chartered plane.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Paul Bunyan at Escanaba Smelt Jamboree

This 1940 linen postcard shows Paul Bunyan and Sourdough Sam with Paul's Smelt Fryin Pan at the Escanaba Smelt Jamboree.

Smelt are small slender fish with silvery bellies. Smelt ascend tributary streams from the Great Lakes to spawn. Nets are used to dip the smelt from the streams. A 1941 release from the Department of Interior Fish and Wildlife Service describes the smelt as "one of the most delicious of pan fishes, the flesh being lean and sweet with a particularly delicate flavor."

Escanaba's first Smelt Jamboree was in 1935. Time Magazine had an April 18, 1938 article "Smelt v. Tourists" describing the fourth Escanaba Smelt Jamboree. Twenty thousand tourists reportedly attended. Events included a Smeltiana comic opera, coronation of a a Smelt King and Queen, banquets, smelt-eating contests, a parade, and bonfire.

Large smelt runs appear to be a thing of the past. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has current information on "Smelt Dipping Opportunities." The smelt dipping season is mid-April to early May, depending on temperatures and location.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Maps of Keweenaw & Upper (Northern) Peninsula, Michigan

Here are some linen postcards showing the location of Michigan's Upper Northern Peninsula and the Keweenaw Peninsula at its northern tip (the area of record snowfalls described in the previous post). Maps of localized areas such as these are an interesting and educational subcategory within the maps category and are less common than maps showing entire states.

Record Snowfall--Keweenaw County

The Keweenaw Peninsula, the most northern part of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, averages more snowfall than anywhere in the United States east of the Mississippi River. The large snowfalls in this area are attributed to a "lake effect" of storms crossing Lake Superior.

These postcards show the sign recording what was once their record snowfall: 294.5 inches in 1964-1965. This record has since been surpassed a number of times. The current record of 390.4 inches was set in 1978-1979. Average snowfall is 241.9 inches. The 2007-2008 snowfall through March 26 was 258.2 inches with 34 inches on the ground.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Boring Postcard from Wahoo

There are two types of boring postcards: interesting boring and boring boring. I enjoy collecting the kind of boring postcards that are not really boring (at least to me). Of course, which category a boring postcard belongs in is a matter of personal preference. After spending several hours last week searching through a collection of 11,000 boring postcards, I ended up buying about 65. One of them is this Wahoo, Nebraska postcard that I consider to be a real gem among boring postcards.

A couple of years ago I reviewed the book Boring Postcards USA. I recently found some newer blog entries on the subject of "boring postcards" by michael5000. Included was a list of what makes a boring postcard collectible.

The Wahoo postcard has many fine boring features:
  • An unusually poor framing of the scene

  • A politically incorrect pun: "Home of good Indians / we say this without a reservation."

  • A teepee-shaped "A" in WAHOO

  • Boosterish claim to be a "City of Opportunity"

  • Claim to fame as the "Home of Five Famous Men" that most people have never heard of and whose names are almost illegible on the postcard

  • Added afterthought "Future home of Youthland USA" (Has anyone ever heard of that?)

Wahoo's website has a list of Fun Facts about Wahoo. First on the list is that "Wahoo has been the Home Office of the Late Show with David Letterman since March 1996." Wahoo is still claiming to be the home of Five Famous Men. Although the five men were alive in 1967 when this postcard was mailed, the last one died nearly twenty years ago.

For a recent version of the Wahoo sign, see The famous men of Wahoo.


Sunday, January 6, 2008

Florida Weather

Comparing Florida weather to weather "up north" was a popular topic on Florida postcards of the linen era. Some of the other postcards in this category compare picking oranges to throwing snowballs, water skiing to snow skiing, or sun to ice.

Actually it has been known to snow in Florida, but not very often. There was one of the rare snow events this week. The Associated Press reported on January 3, 2008: "Flurries fell across the Sunshine State today, but it appeared that growers were spared the deep freeze they feared would devastate the nation’s citrus supply."

Wikipedia has a list of other snow events in Florida.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A Happy New Year Postcard 1908 & 2008

Year date postcards were most common during the years 1908-1910. This 1908 year date New Year postcard was published by the Rotograph Co., N. Y. City. It is a "Real Photograph on bromide paper."

The sender of this card apologized for this "postal" being "not very pretty" and not getting around to sending the card in time for New Year (it was postmarked Feb. 6). She also wrote: "This card is a mix up." I'm not sure what she meant by that. Possibly this refers to the fact that the back is printed upside down relative to the front.

I had some fun playing with this postcard in Photoshop. By isolating the last two digits of 1908 and making a duotone, I was able to create a new postcard design suitable for 2008:

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