Posts Tagged ‘post card’

Bicentennial of the Battle of Lake Erie – Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry’s Victory

August 28, 2013

There is much activity around South Bass Island and the village of Put-in-Bay over Labor Day weekend, 2013, since celebrations, re-enactments, tall ships, music and more are planned 08/29/2013 through 09/10/2013.  The latter date is the bicentennial of the Battle of Lake Erie, in which the American ships under the direction of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry prevailed over the British fleet. This postcard depicts the monument which was erected in the early 1900s to commemorate the centennial of Perry’s victory:

Sohio_Perry_Monument_obverse Sohio_Perry_Monument_reverse

Sometime after March 3, 1919 and prior to  June 13, 1920, the National Board of Memorial Commissioners published a fourteen-page Official Souvenir booklet entitled ‘The Perry’s Victory Memorial — Put-in-Bay — South Bass Island, Ohio’.  The booklet is in the public domain, and the copy owned by the Library of Congress is available for viewing as a digital image or as plain text, and for downloading in PDF format.  The publication is worth a look for its nine half-tone reproductions of period photographs.  The plain text version of the document, however, is rife with typographical and punctuation errors, due to the inability of the optical character reader (OCR) to properly interpret the characters of the text.  Example: ‘Amund the walls <if the rotunda are carved stone tablets iji\-ins4- the names of the American shi])s, and the killed on board, engaged in the Battle o{ Lake Erie.’  Here is the brochure text, with typos and punctuation edited to match the PDF version:


The Perry’s Victory Memorial at Put-in-Bay, South Bass Island, Ohio, was erected under the auspices of the United States Government and the States of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, New York, Rhode Island, Kentucky and Massachusetts (the states being here mentioned in the order in which their Commissioners were appointed, except Massachusetts, which made no provision for Commissioners) in commemoration of the victory of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry and his men over the British fleet under Commodore Barclay in the Battle of Lake Erie, commonly called Perry’s Victory, fought and won September 10, 1813; and in commemoration of the Northwestern Campaign of General William Henry Harrison in the War of 1812 and of the hundred years of peace ensuing between Great Britain and the United States. In connection with the construction of the Memorial, National and State legislation provided for a Centennial Celebration of the Battle of Lake Erie, which was duly observed under the direction of the Inter-State Board of the Perry’s Victory Centennial Commissioners, September 9-10-11, 1913. These joint enterprises originated in legislation by the State of Ohio, the first Commissioners being appointed by that state in 1909.

The Memorial, plaza and approaches are constructed in their entirety of pink Milford granite from the quarries at Milford, Massachusetts. Its geological composition is particularly adapted to the objects of a monument destined to endure through the ages. The color effect is pure white. The foundations of the column and the plaza rest directly on rock. The Memorial stands on the isthmus of South Bass Island, overlooking the waters of Lake Erie and the scene of Perry’s Victory off West Sister Island. The great Doric column rises 352 feet above the Lake level. It is the highest monument in the world, excepting the Washington Monument; the greatest battle monument in the world and the most massive column ever attempted by ancients or moderns.

The column is forty-five feet in diameter at the base and thirty-five feet and six inches at the neck; thickness of the walls at the base, nine feet and nine inches, and at the neck five feet. The diameter of the clear space in the interior of the column is twenty-six feet, six inches. There are seventy-eight courses of stone in the height of the column. Two flights of granite stairs built in the thickness of the walls afford communication between the four entrance vestibules adjacent to the rotunda and the elevator floor above it. At this level the elevator and staircase start and run to the top of the column. The elevator, protected by all modern safety devices, ascends in one minute. The stairway to the top is composed of 467 steps. From the upper platform a door leads to the outside parapet or spectator’s gallery, capable of accommodating two hundred people in the open air. The entire column is lighted electrically.

From the parapet, 329 feet above Lake Erie, is disclosed a scene of unrivaled beauty. Surmounting the spectator’s gallery is an imposing great bronze tripod, holding the beacon light of the Memorial, which is a glow upward. The tripod is of solid bronze, twenty-three feet in height, its greatest diameter twenty feet; weight, eleven tons; cost, $14,000. It was designed by the architects of the Memorial and cast by the Gorham Company, of New York. It supports a massive bowl for illumination purposes, the top of which is of ground plate glass one half inch thick, having two hundred incandescent lamps beneath it.

The main approach to the Memorial is from Put-in-Bay Harbor. The granite steps ascending to the plaza are sixty-seven feet wide. Entrance to the rotunda of the Memorial is obtained through four bronze doors marking the diameter of the column and facing the cardinal points of the compass. The rotunda is faced with Indiana limestone, and the floor of Tennessee marble, with a centerpiece and border in color. Beneath it, at a spot appropriately marked, repose the remains of the three Americans and three British officers killed in the Battle of Lake Erie, which for a hundred years lay buried on the shores of Put-in-Bay, where they were interred after the battle. They were disinterred by the Commissioners of the Memorial and placed in the Memorial with impressive services September 13, 1913. one hundred years from the date of their original burial on the shore. The seamen killed in the Battle of Lake Erie were buried at sea. The officers killed, whose remains now rest within the Memorial, were (Americans) Lieutenant John Brooks of the brig “Lawrence”: Midshipman Henry Laub, of the “Lawrence.” and Midshipman John Clark, of the schooner “Scorpion”; and (British) Captain Robert Finnis. of the brig “Queen Charlotte”; Lieutenant James Garden, of the Royal New Foundland Regiment, and Lieutenant John Garland. of the ship “Detroit.” Around the walls of the rotunda are carved stone tablets giving the names of the American ships, and the killed on board, engaged in the Battle of Lake Erie.

Around the walls of the elevator floor above, on bronze tablets, are names of all persons engaged in the battle and who received prize money from the government in connection with it—507 names in all. The ceiling of the rotunda takes the form of a dome. At the main entrance are bronze tablets containing the names of the Federal Government, the States and their Commissioners participating in the erection of the Memorial. The Memorial is surrounded by a reservation of fourteen acres, five hundred feet in width between the waters of Put-in-Bay Harbor and those of Lake Erie. Operations to clear the site, originally an unbroken forest, were begun in June, 1912; ground broken for the construction of the Doric column, October 1st, 1912; cornerstone laid, July 4th, 1913; the Memorial opened to the public, June 13, 1915.

Including all items of incidental and necessary expense, the cost of the Memorial was approximately $700,000. For actual construction purposes the Federal Commissioners segregated from the United States funds, $240,000; the Ohio Commissioners, $126,000, and $20,000 additional for the improvement of the grounds; Pennsylvania, $50,000; Michigan, $25,000; Illinois, $30,000; Wisconsin, $25,000; New York, $30,000; Rhode Island, $25,000; Kentucky, $25,000; and Massachusetts, $15,000. Total, $611,000. These figures, however, do not include the necessary cost of the purchase of the Memorial site, of the architectural competition, superintendence of construction, fees for engineers, electrical conduits, retaining walls, and the organization necessary to promote and carry on the work over a period of years.

The architect and designer of the Memorial was Joseph H. Freedlander, of New York, with whom was associated A. Duncan Seymour, of New York. The successful design was determined in the largest architectural competition ever held in this country or Europe. The competitive designs were exhibited in the National Museum, Washington, and the judges of awards were the members of the National Fine Arts Commission, consisting of David H. Burnham, architect, Thomas Hastings, architect, Cass Gilbert, architect, Daniel C. French, sculptor, Frank D. Miller, painter, Frederick Law Olmstead, architect, and Charles Moore, art connoisseur. The Building Committee of the Memorial, authorized by the Inter-State Board of Commissioners, consisted of President-General George H. Worthington, chairman; First Vice-President-General Henry Watterson; United States Commissioner Nelson A. Miles; with Secretary-General Webster P. Huntington as secretary. The Doric column was constructed by J. C. Robinson & Son, of New York and Chicago, and the plaza and approaches by the Stewart Engineering Corporation, of New York, both under the supervision of Superintendent of Construction C. E. Sudler. The Custodian of the Memorial is S. M. Johannsen, of the Ohio Commission, residing at Put-in-Bay.

The Commissioners appointed by the President of the United States and the Governors of the States participating in the erection of the Memorial organized the Inter-State Board of the Perry’s Victory Centennial Commissioners at a meeting held at Put-in-Bay, September 10th, 1910. This organization has since continued and is now known, by act of Congress, as the Perry’s Victory Memorial Commission. At the period of the Centennial Celebration in 1913 it was composed of the following Commissioners:

General Officers: President-General, George H. Worthington, Cleveland, Ohio; First Vice-President-General, Henry Watterson, Louisville, Kentucky; Secretary-General, Webster P. Huntington, Columbus, Ohio; Treasurer-General, A. E. Sisson, Erie, Pennsylvania; Auditor-General, Colonel Harry Cutler, Providence, Rhode Island; Financial Secretary, Mackenzie R. Todd, Frankfort, Kentucky.

Commissioners: For the United States Government, Lieutenant General Nelson A. Miles, U. S. A., Ret., Washington, D. C.; Rear Admiral Charles H. Davis, U. S. N. Ret., Washington, D. C.; Major General J. Warren Keifer, Springfield, Ohio.

Ohio: John H. Clarke, George H. Worthington, Cleveland; Webster P. Huntington, Columbus; S. M. Johannsen, Put-in-Bay; Eli Winkler, Nicholas Longworth, Cincinnati; Horace Holbrook, Warren; William C. Mooney, Woodsfield; Horace L. Chapman, Columbus; George W. Dun, Toledo.

Pennsylvania: A. E. Sisson, Milton W. Shreve, Erie; Edwin H. Vare, Philadelphia; T. C. Jones, McKeesport; George W. Nefi, M. D., Masontown.

Michigan: George W. Parker, John C. Lodge, Detroit; Arthur P. Loomis, Lansing; Roy S. Barnhart, Grand Rapids; E. K. Warren, Three Oaks.

Illinois: William H. Thompson, James Pugh, Richard S. Folsom, Nelson W. Lampert, Adam Weckler, Chesley R. Perry, William Porter Adams, Willis J. Wells, Chicago; General Philip C. Hayes, Joliet; W . H. Mcintosh, Rockford ; H. S. Bekemeyer, Springheld.

Wisconsin: Rear Admiral Frederick M. Symonds, U. S. N. Ret., Galesville; John M. Whitehead, Janesville; A. W. Sanborn, Ashland; Louis Bohmrich, Milwaukee; C. B. Perry, Wauwatosa; S. W. Randolph, Manitowoc; Sol P. Huntington, Green Bay. (Joseph McBell, Secretary, Milwaukee.)

New York: William J. Conners, George D. Emerson, William Simon, John F. Malone, Edward D. Jackson, Buffalo; Simon L. Adler, Rochester; Martin H. Glynn, Albany; Clinton B. Herrick, M. D., Troy; William F. Rafferty, Syracuse; William L. Ormrod, Churchville; Jacob Schifferdecker, Brooklyn.

Rhode Island: John P. Sanborn, Newport; Louis N. Arnold, Westerly; Sumner Mowry, Peace Dale; Henry E. Davis, Woonsocket; Colonel Harry Cutler, Providence.

Kentucky: Henry Watterson, Colonel Andrew Cowan, Louisville; Samuel M. Wilson, Lexington; Colonel R. W. Nelson, Newport; Mackenzie R. Todd, Frankfort.

The General Officers of the Inter-State Board have been annually re-elected since 1910.

The Memorial and Reservation are the property of the United States Government, and the Reservation a national park, both under the direction and control of the Perry’s Victory Memorial Commission, created by Act of Congress approved by President Wilson March 3d, 1919. The property contained in the Reservation was originally purchased from private owners, for the objects to which it has been dedicated, by condemnation proceedings brought in the name of the State of Ohio, and the title vested in that State. By act of the General Assembly of Ohio the property was ceded to the United Slates, and the title was accepted on the part of the United States by the Act of Congress referred to.

The view from the top of the Memorial is never forgotten by those who have had the privilege of ascending. By day the picture grows upon the senses with charming allurement, while night reveals a fairyland of starlit skies, shadowy forms and shimmering reflections.

From an architectural standpoint the Memorial is one of the great works of the ages, happily destined to endure as long as any reared by human hands. Scientifically, it has been the subject of unbounded admiration on the part of experts of both hemispheres. The public has not been slow to realize the educational value of a visit to Put-in-Bay and the Memorial. The Island is readily accessible by daily boats from Sandusky, Toledo, Cleveland and Detroit. The throngs of visitors to the Memorial therefore naturally include many organizations and societies. Special rates for transportation and hotel accommodations may always be obtained.


Detail of the Perry's Victory Memorial, the world's largest Doric column.

Detail of the Perry’s Victory Memorial, the world’s largest Doric column.

The present-day (2013) name of this National Park is “Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial”.

Washington Park and Sloane House Hotel – Sandusky, Ohio

June 24, 2012

Washington Park and Sloane House, Sandusky, O.

Rectangular, approximately 3 1/2″ X 5 1/2″ (~86mm X 136mm) (standard postcard size)

The Illustrated Postal Card Co., New York & Leipzig

47-2 (lower left corner of back)

Undivided back



A glimpse of the center of Sandusky, Ohio as it existed over a century ago.  This post card is undated, but was likely printed between 1900 and 1906, before the beginning of the divided-back postcard era in early 1907.  Although not postally used, there is an ink inscription along the vertical white strip on the right side of the front.  One can deduce that this postcard was enclosed in a letter with other postcards, since the inscription reads, “In the P. C. ‘Washington Row,’, notice the Sloane House with porch & balconie [sic].”  Indeed, there was a postcard titled “Washington Row, Sandusky, O.”, that was printed in the same time-frame as this postcard, but I do not have that postcard.  The inscriptions on some postcards are self-referential, such as “I visited this place today.”, but this is an interesting example of a postcard inscription that refers to a different postcard!  Although the printed postcard title identifies the major structure as the “Sloane House”, I call it the Sloane House Hotel, in order to distinguish the hotel, which was built in 1880 and razed in 1957, from the still-standing Sloane House, which was the personal residence of Rush R. Sloane, and is currently listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  The original photograph for this printed postcard was taken from the vantage point of one of the upper floors of the Erie County Courthouse, which is located on Columbus Avenue on the other side of Washington Park.  That explains the flower bed in the postcard image that has the flowering plants arranged to spell the word “COURTHOUSE.”  One of the more well-known guests of the Sloane House Hotel was Katherine Hepburn.  She and another actor, Ann Harding, were touring in the autumn of 1940 to promote the film “The Philadelphia Story”, and stayed a night in the Sloane House Hotel.  Apparently, Ann Harding was a descendent of Rush Sloane.

Sandusky, Ohio is the County Seat of Erie County, and is located on Lake Erie at the mouth of the Sandusky River.  Visitors from all over the world come to Sandusky to go to nearby Cedar Point amusement park.Sloan House Hotel Sloan Hotel

Bluebird of Happiness — Happiness of Bluebirds

March 13, 2011
Solid glass bluebird made by Fenton Glass

Solid glass bluebird made by Fenton Glass

For my birthday anniversary several years ago, my sister Susan (contributor to This Old Paper and Ditalini Press), presented me with a beautiful Fenton Glass bluebird. I have it on the fireplace mantle, where I can admire the cobalt-blue glass bird from my work desk.

In thanks for the pleasure derived from this solid-glass bluebird of happiness, I am mailing to Susan the original of the vintage postcard featuring bluebirds illustrated here:

Bluebirds postcard by Stecher (623 D) - obverse

Bluebirds postcard by Stecher (623 D) – obverse

Bluebirds postcard by Stecher (623 D) - reverse

Bluebirds postcard by Stecher (623 D) – reverse

The printed inscription on the front of the postcard is, “The Bluebirds bring to you my Greetings”. In the foreground, a pair of bluebirds are depicted perched on a rustic, wooden roost, while two more bluebirds can be seen soaring in the puffy-clouded sky in the background. A woman walks up the path toward the front door of a log cabin that features a red brick chimney. The grass is a verdant green, and two stout trees in full foliage round out this picturesque rural scene. in addition to black ink, the other colors of ink used to create this postcard appear to be brown, blue, red, and two shades of green. The entire perimeter is slightly embossed, as are the following features: The foreground bluebirds, the rustic wooden roost and the tufts of grass around the base of the roost, both trees, and the woman. The design is not artist signed.

This card is published and copyright by Stecher Lithographic Company, located in Rochester, New York. The small, circular Stecher logo is located in the lower left corner of the front of the post card. It reads: STECHER LITH. CO. ROCH. N. Y. around the circumference of a circle with a C in the middle of it:

Stecher Lithographic Company (623 D) - Detail of logo

Stecher Lithographic Company (623 D) – Detail of logo

A short company history of the Stecher Lithographic Company is found in volume XXXV (1982) of the University of Rochester LIbrary Bulletin, in an article entitled “Nineteenth Century Rochester Fruit and Flower Plates” by Karl Sanford Kabelac. The article is available online at the University of Rochester‘s River Campus Libraries website, posted by the Department of Rare Books, Special Collections and Preservation. Scroll nearly halfway down the webpage for the section about The Stecher Lithographic Company. Although the focus of the article pertains to printers in the Rochester, New York area who made plates (prints) of fruits and flowers to illustrate the catalogues of the botanical offerings of local nurseries, the Stecher Lithographic Company also printed numerous postcards during the golden age of postcards. Wikipedia mentions that Frances Brundage illustrated for the Stecher Lithographic Company, although the entry does not specifically state that she illustrated postcards for Stecher, which also printed illutrated books.

On the reverse of this bluebirds greetings postcard, we find out that this is Stecher’s postcard Series 623 D (lower left corner). The ‘D’ indicates that this postcard is the fourth design in series 623. In addition to being sold individually, postcards often were sold in packets, and the postcards in a thematic packet would bear the same series number, but each unique postcard design within the packet would have its own letter designation. For example, if a packet contained twelve postcards, each with a unique design, then the postcards typically would have letter designations from ‘A’ through ‘L’ following the series number.

The back of this postcard has the phrase “MADE IN U. S. A.” located about a third of the way from the top of the message side. The phrases “FOR CORRESPONDENCE” and “FOR ADDRESS ONLY” (each underlined) are symmetrically located at the top of the vertical divider line, on the left side and the right side, respectively. The stamp box in the upper right corner of the reverse is defined by two, nested thin lines, and is nearly square, being only slightly higher than wide. Inside the stampbox are three lines of text:




The words “POST CARD” are centrally featured across the top of the back of the postcard. The letters have slight serifs, and the serifs at the ends of the horizontal bar of the “T” both point out (away from the central, vertical bar of the “T”).. The “C” of CARD has lots of curvilinear flourishes emanating from it.

The card is postally unused, but there is a name written in pencil, toward the top of the address side of the postcard. The name is crudely scrawled, and written over an erasure, but appears to be “Mr. A. Teribery”. Having never passed through the United States Post Office, there is no postmark date to use as a temporal guide. However, since the postcard has a vertical divider line, allowing for a message to be placed on the back of the card, then the card must have been printed after March 1, 1907, which is the date that the U. S. Post Office allowed a message to be written on the side of the postcard that had previously been reserved for the address only.  Based on the physical characteristics of the card, as well as the postmarks of other Stecher Lithographic Company postcards in my collection, a reasonable estimate of publication date for this particular postcard is in the range of 1907 to around 1925.

“For your Happiness”, here is another Stecher postcard featuring bluebirds:

For your Happiness - Stecher Series 683 D - obverse

For your Happiness – Stecher Series 683 D – obverse

For your Happiness - Stecher Series 683 D - reverse

For your Happiness – Stecher Series 683 D – reverse

The above postcard is in the Stecher Series 683, and also just happens to be the ‘D’ design of the series. The front of the postcard features a four-line verse in the upper-right quadrant:

I’m sending these Bluebirds

As a merry sign

Of the Joy I’m wishing

A friend of mine.

The font of the verse is an italic, sans-serif font, printed in black ink. Underneath the verse are two large bluebirds in flight, with wings intersecting, as well as a smaller bluebird in flight near the bottom of the postcard. The other major design element of the postcard front is a vignette of a rural farm scene, with a stylized birch tree in the foreground, just to the left of a winding dirt path that leads to a farm house and barn in the background. There is a flag flying on a flagpole to the right of the barn, and a tall, conical structure behind the farm house, which might be meant to represent a silo. The left side of the design is bordered with eight daisy-like flowers, on green stems of varying lengths. Underneath the farm vignette is printed in black ink: FOR YOUR HAPPINESS, with flourishes on the ‘F’, ‘R’, ‘H’ and “N’. The entire edge of the postcard is bordered in light blue, and the Stecher Lithographic Company logo (identical to the Stecher logo in the first postcard) is printed in black ink in the lower-left corner. The bluebirds and the daisies (stems included) are lightly embossed. As with many, if not the majority, of the postcards that feature a small vignette as the primary design element, this postcard is not artist signed.

The printing on the “For your Happiness” postcard back is identical to the printing on the reverse of the first Stecher postcard. This postcard, however, bears a stamp, although it is not postally used. The inscription, is written in black ink with a fountain pen:

“Many happy returns of the Day, is the wish of your friend”

is signed by Alwine Buth, and addressed to:

Miss Tena Memken.

1459 Bates Ave.


Using only online search engine queries (without recourse to databases available through special library-only access), I was able to determine that the “City” is Springfield, Illinois. Please comment below if you figure out what search terms were used in the online search to identify the name of the city. Arriving at a credible estimate of the date that the postcard was printed or used is a bit more challenging, since the postcard, although stamped, was probably hand-delivered by Alwine Buth to Tena Memken, or was included in a letter written by Alwine Buth to Tena Memken, and thus was never postmarked by the U. S. Post Office.* However, the stamp itself reveals at least an earliest date that the postcard could have existed. This one cent, green stamp bearing the likeness of George Washington is similar to the style of postage stamp that was affixed to untold thousands of vintage postcards. Stamps that all look pretty much identical to the postage stamp on this postcard were issued for nearly eleven years, from February 12, 1912 tthrough January 16, 1923. Without close examination, these one cent stamps all look the same. However, there are subtle differences in the stamp as it was released and rereleased by the Post Office Department. This particular stamp happens to be “Perf 11”, both horizontally and vertically, meaning that there are eleven perforations per each two millimeter length. The perf 11 version of this one-cent was issued on March 23, 1917, so this postcard was produced by Stecher (and then used by Alwine Buth) sometime after that date. Since (according to Alwine Buth was born in 1900, and Tena Memken was born in or about that same year, that would make Alwine seventeen years old or older at the time of penning this happy thought, and would explain why Tena was still a “Miss”, being in her late teens or early twenties.

*I favor the theory that, after wrting the postcard and placing a postage stamp on it, Alwine decided to write a longer message in the form of a letter to Tena, and thus included the postcard inside of the envelope that contained the letter, even though she had already put a postage stamp on the postcard. I base this theory on the evidence of two small (about one-qurter inch deep) tears in the top edge of the postcard, separated by approximately one and three-eigths of an inch, with semi-circular stress marks between the tears. I surmise that these might have developed when the postcard was (accidentally) mishandled while being removed from the envelope, the recipient not expecting there to be an enclosure other than the letter.

Let us now examine a non-Stecher vintage postcard featuring bluebirds:

The Bluebirds for Happiness - Obverse

The Bluebirds for Happiness – Obverse

The Bluebirds for Happiness - Reverse

The Bluebirds for Happiness – Reverse

This postcard features a four-line poem, entitled “The Bluebird for Happiness”

This merry little feathered friend,

So cheery, bright and blue,

Because he brings true happiness,

I’m sending him to you.

The postcard has been mailed, with a postmark cancellation from Swanton, Vermont, postmarked February 27, 1920. The postcard has been used as a birthday greeting, with this undated inscription, written in black ink using a fountain pen:

“Hello Dad, Many Happy Returns for your Birthday. You’ll soon be as old as I. Also wishing you many more Birthdays. Dorothy.”

The card is addressed to a Mr. B. E. Stearns, Swanton, Vermont, #5. 24. (Probably meaning Rural Route 5, Box 24.). The actual date of Mr. Stearn’s birthday anniversary is not stated. I wonder if it might have been February 29th, since 1920 was a leap year? Aha!! His birthdate WAS most likely February 29th!! I had been puzzled about the inscription of his daughter, but it is quite clear now! Talk about a conundrum! I couldn’t figure out why Dorothy would write: “You’ll soon be as old as I.” The only way that a father can credibly be said to be younger than his daughter is if the father has only one birthday anniversary every four years! Since Dorothy’s handwriting appears to be well developed, she was probably older than elementary-school age. This would mean that on February 29, 1920, her father would have been one of these ages (actual age/leap-year age): 52/13; 56/14; 60/15. My guess is that Dorothy was born when her father was 44 years old. If that were the case, then, when Dorothy was sixteen years old, her father would be celebrating his fifteenth leap-year birthday (actual age: sixty years old), and the postcard would make the most sense. That was fun! If I get an opportunity, I will try to research archival records to determine if my theory is borne out (Apologies for the intentional pun). Update: Research using Library Edition tells a different story. The Vermont death certificate for Burton E. Stearns gives a date of birth of February 19, 1857. Since 1857 is not a leap year, my solution to the puzzling birthday greeting message is disproven. By the way, Dorothy may have been named for her grandmother on her father’s side, since Burton E. Stearns was the son of Eldad A. Stearns and Dorothy Stearns (per the 1880 Federal Census), AKA Dolly Stearns (per the 1860 Federal Census).

Along the left edge of the reverse (back side of the postcard) is printed: Series 727, Messages — 24 Designs. Indeed, there is a very faint 727 in the lower left area of the obverse. I have not yet determined the printer or the publisher of this postcard, but the words “POST CARD” are distinctive, in that the angled descender of the letter R is a gentle arc that connects to the middle of the bottom of the letter D. Another distinguishing feature of POST CARD is the presence of a small dot in the center of the letter C. If anyone reading this post can shed light on the publisher, please comment below. The card is not embossed, but the front has what I term a pigskin surface, composed of fine, irregular indentations, probably to allow the ink to form a stronger bond with the surface of the card stock. Also of note is the white border around the front image, which indicates that this postcard was most likely printed in the United States rather than in Germany, probably sometime between 1914 and early 1920.

For some stunning photos of bluebirds in North Carolina, have a look at this post by Sweetbay, titled “Bluebirds in the Snow“.


The Difference of Night and Day

February 28, 2010

I have a few postcards in my collection that claim to depict a view at night.  But close examination of the supposed nighttime view almost always shows much brighter detail than would have been visible if the view had been originally photographed after the sun had set.  So, there must be a different way to depict a night scene than starting with an original photograph that had actually been taken after dark.  What I discovered is that at least some — and probably most if not all — of pre-photochrome night time postcards really show a daytime view that has been altered to make it appear to be a nighttime scene!  I have chosen two linen-era[1] postcards to demonstrate my thesis.  Shown below is “AUDITORIUM AND CONVENTION HALL BY NIGHT, ATLANTIC CITY, N. J. — 5“.[2]  

The eye is immediately drawn to the spectacular shafts of colored light emanating from spotlights mounted atop the front facade of the auditorium:  Three yellow spotlights, two red and two blue lights, and one central purple spotlight.  The windows of the auditorium and the surrounding buildings are aglow with yellow light, and a large sign on the right side of the auditorium proclaims GOLF in bright red letters, apparently illuminated from within.  The right side of the auditorium is adorned with ten flags:  A United States flag at each corner, with varicolored pennant flags in between.  The beach in front of the auditorium is dotted with people, right up to the seashore, and a multitude of people are wading and swimming in the ocean, enjoying the waves and water.  A not implausible scene, taken as a whole, but, on reflection, the beach — and especially the water — would most likely be almost bereft of people after dark, even at such a popular vacation spot as Atlantic City, New Jersey.  Still, in lieu of evidence to the contrary, we can hypothesize that this postcard view of the auditorium truly is based on a photograph that was taken at night.   





 Matched set of postcards: NIGHT – Above   |||   DAY – Below





Now consider the above postcard.  Obverse top caption: “9  ATLANTIC CITY AUDITORIUM AND CONVENTION HALL, ATLANTIC CITY, N.. J.”  Obverse bottom caption: “LARGEST CONVENTION HALL IN THE WORLD, SEATING CAPACITY 40,000, BALL ROOM 5,000”  

Close examination reveals that both this daytime view as well as the nighttime view are based on the same photographic original!  Note especially the identical pattern of the breaking waves as they approach the shore.  The most telling piece of evidence, however,  is that the distribution of people both on the beach and in the water is exactly the same in both the daytime and nighttime postcard views!  

There are some minor differences between the two postcards.  The GOLF sign lighted in red in the night view is completely absent in the day view, and the day view shows the American flag flying at the top of each of the ten flagpoles along the right side of the auditorium, whereas the night view has pennant flags in the second through ninth positions.  How can this be?  Most of us are familiar with the magic that can be accomplished with PhotoShop and other software programs that can be used to alter a digital photograph in ways both major and minor.  Well, the photographers and printers of years gone by had similar techniques at their disposal, albeit in analog form.  The GOLF sign actually existed in the day view; it has simply been removed to better show off the architectural lines of the auditorium.  In the day view, a very close examination of the portion of the side of the auditorium that was obstructed by the GOLF sign shows a slightly lighter building color with the same outline as the GOLF sign.  

As for the flags, it is probable that the original photograph upon which both views are based showed flags atop the flagpoles, but it is highly unlikely that all of the flags would have been flying straight out at the moment the photo was taken.  Thus, all of the flags in both the day view and the night view almost certainly have been manually added.  American flags are more impressive in the day view, and the replacement of eight of the American flags with pennants gives the night view more splashes of color.  It is also possible that the auditorium had no flags at all, and that the flags – flagpoles and all – were added to the postcard view to supply more visual interest.  One would have to reference contemporary real photo images of the auditorium to verify.  Keep in mind that until the advent of the photochrome postcard, all view postcards were either printed in black and white, or black and white that was colorized.  The selection and placement of color was under the complete control of the printer, as was the design, even when the design was based on a photographic original.  I intend to explore the altering of postcard images in an upcoming post.  Suffice it to say for now, when it comes to a postcard view, you can’t always believe what you see!  

Some postcards are more amenable to a nighttime version than others.  Postcards that lend themselves to a night view are ones that would typically have light or illuminated elements after dark.  Postcards that depict a skyline or an areal (sometimes called a bird’s eye) view can show all of the windows in the buildings lit up in the night version.  Views of ships often work well in an “at night” version, since they were often equipped with one or more searchlights, to which the color artist would add a shaft of white light.  Too, light would be shown emanating from each of the windows or portholes of the ship.  Postcard views of lighthouses also lend themselves well to both nighttime and daytime editions.  

Just one more observation concerning vintage postcard night views.  Many of the night scenes that do not have an obvious terrestrial light source (and even some that do) will show a full moon in the sky, which would lead the viewer of the postcard to assume that the light of the full moon was the light source for the night scene.  Nope!  The postcard was almost certainly based on a photograph that had been taken in bright sunlight, with the sky that had been colored light blue in the daytime view version of the postcard replaced with a dark blue-black color for the nighttime version.  Then, the creation of a full moon was one of the easiest tricks up the postcard color artist’s metaphorical sleeve:  Simply leave a circular area in the dark sky without any color!  A full moon in the night sky on an older view postcard is almost a dead giveaway that the view is really a daytime view that has been turned into a faux night view.  

To the best of my knowledge, the Atlantic City Auditorium is the only day-and-night matched set in my collection, but I do own one half of two other sets.

I have the daytime version of “New Flyer of the Lakes, Steamer Put-in-Bay, Detroit Put-in-Bay Sandusky” (a Lake Erie steamer):

New Flyer of the Lakes__Put-in-Bay__DAY__obverse

New Flyer of the Lakes__Put-in-Bay__DAY__obverse

New Flyer of the Lakes__Put-in-Bay__DAY__reverse

New Flyer of the Lakes__Put-in-Bay__DAY__reverse

Its nighttime counterpart is listed on eBay as ”Antique POSTCARD “New Flyer of the Lakes” Ship, Detroit”.  This eBay seller uses photo hosting by Auctiva, so you can click on the front image in the item description to see an enlarged view.  Close examination of the night view will show that it is merely the day view printed with a different palette of colors.  Note especially that the wave pattern is identical in both printings.  A shaft of white has been added to the searchlight anchored above the captain’s bridge, the windows of the ship have been printed with yellow ink, and the nearly obligatory full moon has been added to the sky.

Here is the nighttime version of “Birds Eye View of Albany N. Y.”:

Birds Eye View of Albany N. Y.__NIGHT__obverse

Birds Eye View of Albany N. Y.__NIGHT__obverse

Birds Eye View of Albany N. Y.__NIGHT__reverse

Birds Eye View of Albany N. Y.__NIGHT__reverse

Its daytime counterpart, titled Lower Portion of Albany, New York 1910, is posted in the “Albany, New York Postcards & Old Photos” area of  Note that the designer-printer of the night version has not only drawn in a full moon, but also has drawn a star-studded sky over the skyline of Albany.  It may be hard to see in the image provided above, but the stars have been drawn with points, just like the star that tops a Christmas tree!  Also, the artist must have known at least a little about constellations, since there is a star pattern on the right that approximates the Big Dipper (Ursa Major).  Also, the star cluster located beneath the full moon could be a representation of the Pleiades (“The Seven Sisters”).  Although I’m sure that the artist was striving for an overall pleasing effect that would sell more postcards rather than for astronomical accuracy, whether by accident or design, the star cluster is drawn showing six stars, the seventh star being much fainter than the other six when viewing the Pleiades with the naked eye.

With a bit of patience and diligent searching, a postcard collector could acquire a number of day-and-night matched sets such as the above examples, which would make an unusual and informative display at a local library, museum or postcard show.  Also, such a collection could form the basis for an interesting lecture presentation at a postcard club meeting.  I would like to know of other day-and-night matched sets that you may find!  

So, what is the difference between night and day?  When it comes to vintage postcards, the only difference is the color of the ink!  However, when it comes to music, perhaps this composition by Indiana’s own Cole Porter explains the difference (note the faux full moon backdrop in the final video footage of this YouTube video):

As we close this exploration of night and day scenes on old postcards, if we have gained a little knowledge, we can truly proclaim, “I’m beginning to see the light!”  Or, we can sing along with Ella Fitzgerald (with Duke Ellington and his orchestra):

This post is being submitted to the Festival of Postcards, coordinated by Evelyn Yvonne Theriault, since the theme of this Festival (7th Edition) is “Light.”  Please do view the dazzling array of entries at A Festival of Postcards (7th Ed.) – Light | A Canadian Family!

Designated trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners.


  1. ^ Both of these linen era postcards are unused, so cannot be dated using a postmark date, but the daytime view is printed by Curt Teich and Company, Chicago, Illinois, and so can be dated to 1933 by the postcard number 3A-H1235.  The “3A” indicates the 3 year of the 1930s.  I have not found a way to date the unused nighttime postcard, published by the E. C. Kropp Company, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, based on identification marks on the card (31465 at the top middle area of the address side of the reverse and EJY at the bottom of the dividing line text on the reverse), but if anyone knows of a guide to dating E. C. Kropp postcards, please let me know.  In any case, the fact that the nighttime card has a linen finish (on both sides) and has explanatory text on the reverse is consistent with a printing date in the mid-to-late 1930s, roughly contemporaneous with the daytime card.
  2. ^ The reverse of the card has further commentary: “The Convention Hall, possibly the largest in the world, covers seven acres of ground and can seat the entire permanent population of Atlantic City at one time, with room to spare. The main Auditorium is used for exhibition purposes, ice-skating carnivals, and even made into a full-sized football field.”



U. S. Postal Card Club

December 13, 2009
U. S. Postal Card Club postcard - Blanche

Obverse of BLANCHE in the U. S. Postal Card Club series

This is one of those postcards that is more interesting for its reverse (address/correspondence side) than for its obverse (picture side).  The obverse simply has the name Blanche in all capital letters, printed diagonally with a positive slope.  Each letter is solid green with a gold border and a brown shadow effect, and is decorated with a gold floral pattern sporting four-petaled red blossoms.  The background has a light green border that fades to white toward the center, and sports a gold floral accent in the upper-left corner that matches the design on the letters (sans the red coloration of the blossom petals).

Blanche, besides being a woman’s name, is also the French spelling of the word white.  Blanche was a more popular name around the turn of the twentieth century than it is at the present time, according to the chart on, dropping in popularity from around 0.5% of all births in the 1880s to under 0.005% of all births in the 1960s and succeeding decades.  If you are named Blanche and attending a large party, and somebody yells across the room, “Hi, Blanche!” the chances are pretty good that they are talking to you!

The reverse of this “Blanche” postcard has the following advertisement printed in black ink: 

NOTICE–The holder of this card is a MEMBER
of the U. S. P. C. Club, and is entitled to membership prices.
On receipt of 10c  Coin) we will mail you 8 of these up-to-date postal cards.
     Make your selection from the following list:   ORDER TODAY 

Love         Leave For      My Pet      How R. U.        Farewell
Stung       Will C. U.      Regards    Y. Don’t U.       Au Revoir
I love U.    Kisses          My Darling     U  R. E. Z.   Good Luck
Dream of Me                 Will U. Go        Kisses—Lovers Sweets
My Sweetheart              Best Wishes    Silence Gives Consent
I’m Waiting for You        Please Write    Better late than never
Congratulate U All         Will U Come      Birthday Greetings
Will Write U. From        Father’s Baby    Having a good time
I dream of thee             Sweet dreams    Many happy returns
Will U. B. Mine            My Honey Boy       With fond hope
Love me and I’m thine   We R All Well        Yours forever
Make money honest, but make it           Also all Popular Names. 

U. S. Postal Card Club, Williamson Bldg, Cleveland, O.
For correspondence 

U. S. Postal Card Club postcard - Blanche

Reverse of BLANCHE in the U. S. Postal Card Club series

Some of the messages that a member of the Club could order are incredibly similar to typical 21st century text messages, especially in regards to the use of abbreviations!  The advertisement for the U. S. Postal Card Club takes up nearly half of the space usually allotted for the sender to write a message, so the printer added a solid line under the last line of the ad, with “For correspondence.” printed underneath the line.  It is apparent that the postcard would normally be printed without the advertisement, since the reverse of the card is printed in brown ink, whereas the ad is printed in black ink.  Another indication that the ad is an addition to the regular printed reverse is the presence of “For correspondence” [partially trimmed] — printed in brown ink — in the very upper left corner of the card, indicating that a postcard without the ad would have had the entire left side of the reverse available for a message. 

Many divided-back postcards have a vertical line separating the left side (message side) from the right side (address side).  However, some publishers use the vertical separator to print company or other pertinent information, and this postcard falls into the latter category.  If the card is rotated 90 degrees counter-clockwise, the text of the separator can be easily read: 

System Patent Pending.  Levaur Lithograph Post Card Co., Cleveland, O. 

The following text is inside the stamp box, which is delineated by dotted lines: 

Place Stamp

 Canada, Cuba
    Porto Rico
      1 Cent 

      2 Cents 

The remaining printing on the reverse consists of “POST CARD”  in a large bold sans-serif font and “This side for Address” underneath it, both being located to the left of the stamp box.  There are also four dotted lines on the address side of the reverse on which to pen the address of the intended recipient.  The last tidbit of printing is “No. 42”, located just above and to the right of the separator text.  That number makes at least some sort of sense, since there are forty obverse messsages listed in the ad, not including  “Also all Popular Names.” , to which the finger is pointing.  One can speculate that the obverse messages that a member of the Club could order might have been numbered 1 through 40, with perhaps mens’ names being No. 41 and womens’ names being No. 42.  Just a conjecture; input from readers is welcome! 

You might have noticed that the postcard is not perfectly rectangular.  This is because the top and both sides have been cut by the sender.  This postcard was enclosed in an envelope when mailed to the (unknown) recipient.  The proof that the postcard was mailed within an envelope is the presence of a faint embossed circle exactly the size of a postal mark on the obverse underneath the N of BLANCHE.  The circle is only faintly embossed; however, its presence can be tactilly detected as well as visually, but to be visible, the postcard must be held such that light reflects off of the obverse at just the right angle to reveal the blind-stamped postmark as a shiny circle.  The circle is shiny because its ever-so-slightly raised surface is more susceptible to rubbing than the rest of the matt surface of the obverse.  Apparently, postcards were inexpensive enough “back in the day” that they were sometimes used as stationery.  It might be fun to see if any of the postcards in your collection have this telltale sign of having been mailed under cover.  (A “cover” is a fancy term for an envelope that has been mailed, since the envelope covers the letter.)  My conjecture is that this postcard was trimmed by the sender so that it would fit in the envelope in which it was mailed. 

The sender, using a fountain pen with black ink, has written the following message: 

I, am sendïng Pa a lovely card to-day.  I, am sorry poor Carrie ïs gone.  And a hard horse master, Clark knows him well for he keeps him in Hay. 

This leaves Violet in Bed with a bad sore-throat & taking 3 kinds of medicine.  Hope Evelyne wïll soon be better.  I, am making the Girls light blue silk dresses for X’mas night to speak in.  Grace. 

Grace is most likely of German extraction, since she uses the umlaut diacritical mark over the letter “i” three times.  Her reference to Christmas indicates that the message was probably written in late November or in the month of December before the 25th.  However, the year the message was written remains a mystery, although it is very likely to have been written between 1907 and 1917.  This time frame is based on these parameters:  Divided back postcard, one cent domestic postage, and lack of white border around the obverse. 

Would anyone care to hazard a guess as to whether Grace was left- or right-handed? 

The Williamson Building, which the U. S. Postal Card Club called its home, was born with the 1900s, having been started in April, 1899 and completed one year later.  It was 17 stories tall, and was the headquarters of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, among other prestigious tenants, per the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History (link will open in a new window). <Begin funny thought>  A person having business for the first time with the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland inquires at the front desk of the Williamson Building for its location.  The receptionist replies:  “The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland?  It is located on the fifth floor, just down the hall from the U. S. Postal Card Club.” <End funny thought>   The Williamson Building was sited on Public Square in the heart of downtown Cleveland, Ohio, and is called “the monumental gateway to Euclid Avenue” by the encyclopedia cited above.  The building was demolished in 1982, but there are undoubtedly many postcard views that picture it. 

The most intriguing aspect of this postcard is the U. S. Postal Card Club.  I could find NO online information about this club, nor any info about the Levaur Lithographic Post Card Company publisher.  Any information on the Levaur Lithographic Post Card Company and the U. S. Postal Card Club would be most welcome.  Also, it might be fun as well as instructive to browse through your collection for postcards bearing any of the forty obverse messages that were available from the Club! 

This BLANCHE postcard is being submitted to the Festival of Postcards, coordinated by Evelyn Yvonne Theriault, since the theme of this Festival is “white.”  Please do view the dazzling array of entries at Festival of Postcards (6th Ed.) – White!

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