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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Winter Wednesday Postcard Promenade #5: Bits of History and a Challenge


It was hard to decide where to go today for the winter’s last postcard promenade, so many possibilities presenting themselves, and in the end, I went for history rather than geography. That is, rather than going to some top Michigan destination like Mackinac Island, today--not counting the greetings from my birthplace above, home of the team responsible for my mother’s love of baseball, the Aberdeen Pheasants--we’ll be looking at features of the cards other than what they illustrate. Most are in black and white or, in the case of the example below, sepia and white.



This card intrigued the bookseller in me. I had no idea that publishers’ publicity departments were advertising new titles with postcards back in one-cent stamp days, but here’s the evidence. The book, “with frontispiece in full colors” [sic] is available for only $1.50 net. You can put a stamp on the card and mail it for a penny to place your order or send the card in an envelope (for a little more postage) with your remittance. I wonder how many copies of The First Hundred Thousand were sold this way.

Look carefully at the next pair of black-and-white postcards. Can you tell which one is the real photo postcard (RPP), Moose River or Veteran’s [sic] Monuments? (I presume more than one veteran is being honored here.)




Moose River is the RPP. Your clue is the graininess in the closeup. I’ll post a better image of the monument here especially for Gerry, though, because I know how she is about veterans.


Here are some more soldiers, all lined up at Fort Sheridan, Illinois (going by the postmark).


“Dear Sis,” the writer has scrawled in pencil, “A picture of me, I marked it to be sure you could find me. Love Jim.” This card was postmarked (October 22, 1945) but mailed without a stamp, with the word “free” written over the “Place Stamp Here” box, a privilege of the military. I’ll show a closeup so you can see Jim a little better.


Doesn't he have a nice smile? His sister lived on Barlow Street in Traverse City.

I love this RPP from the Pioneer Village at Salem, Massachusetts, showing “Dug Outs, Saw Pit, and English Wigwams.” (English wigwams?) The bottom corner of the card is the second clue that this is an authentic RPP. Then on the back are the words “ACTUAL PHOTOGRAPH.”




Can you tell the difference between the next two? Look closely.



The sepia-tone view of the Virginia gorge is the RPP, printed on Kodak paper, as the back of the card indicates, while the Nova Scotia lighthouse with sailboat (Amy-Lynn! A card from Nova Scotia!) is printed from a photograph but is not itself an actual photograph.

A certain Miss Litchfield received many postcards from friends. One from Nova Scotia bears a 2-cent Canadian stamp and reads, “Hi Doris, I bet you were surprised to find me gone. Well here I am up in Parrsboro. I still have about two hundred and twenty-five miles to go. Glenda.”


Another friend mails Miss Litchfield a card in 1942 with a one-cent stamp showing the Statue of Liberty with the words “INDUSTRY AGRICULTURE FOR DEFENSE.” The writer was enjoying a vacation from serious matters, however: “Here I am enjoying fresh air, ocean bathing and lobster my favorite sea food. This afternoon I took a sun bath and now I am burning up!”

Maine has always been a popular vacation destination. Many of the postcards from Maine almost look like places in Michigan. Here’s a colorful one:



I find the back of this card interesting, too. Like the one from the publisher, this one has an advertising message. “GOOD FISHING” is to be had in Maine, and back in the days of penny postcards you could rent a family kitchenette on Lake Maranacook for only $20 a week from Mr. Charles Brown.

Now here’s the POSTCARD CHALLENGE. Of the three cards below, all RPPs, can you tell which one was developed on Devolite Peerless rather than Kodak Paper? Be the first with the right answer, and you win the card.




How’s that letter-writing commitment going, by the way? Does it seem like a long way to Memorial Day? If you’re having a particularly busy week, it wouldn’t be cheating to send a couple of postcards in place of a single letter. The cost of postcard stamps has risen over the years, but it’s still a bargain. The current polar bear stamps make me think of Grand Marais, Michigan. Go, Polar Bears!


And now, let’s hear it for the fast-approaching vernal equinox and the end of winter! Birds were singing in our farmyard at dawn. That's a sure sign.

2 comments:

Gerry said...

Can't tell beans about the paper, but I'll go ahead and guess the Chapel in the Pines is on Devolite Peerless.

The "English wigwams" are very absorbing. I'm thinking they might be a settler adaptation of the longhouses? The structures in the right background that look like thatched quonset huts.

I like these postcard posts. I can see how it could become addictive.

P. J. Grath said...

I'm mildly addicted to postcards (6 on a 1-10 scale) but am relieved to have the equinox looming so I can be done with the weekly commitment. Getting it together this morning almost did me in.

Won't tell you yet if you're right or wrong about the paper, Gerry. Let's see if anyone else hazards a guess.