Posts Tagged ‘vintage postcards’

A Stylish Birthday Anniversary Present

August 8, 2013

Can you find the Flatiron Building in this postcard?

SEEING NEW YORK -- Ain't She Stylish!

SEEING NEW YORK — Ain’t She Stylish!

SEEING NEW YORK -- Ain't She Stylish! (reverse)

SEEING NEW YORK — Ain’t She Stylish! (reverse)

Knowing that I had an affinity for views of the Flatiron Building in New York City, for my birthday anniversary this year, one of my sisters presented me with this vintage postcard.  She had found it while browsing through a stack of old postcards at a local flea market.  The couple from the country are dressed in relatively plain garb, and apparently making their first visit to the Big Apple.  While the phrase, “Ain’t she stylish!” is supposed to refer to the New Yorker woman in the fancy outfit, it is no accident that the designer of the postcard, Irwin M. Kline, has staged the NY woman directly in front of the Flatiron Building.  such that the reader soon realizes that “Stylish!” could refer to the Flatiron Building just as much as to the woman in the fancy hat.  The design is copyright 1907, which is roughly five years after the Flatiron Building (originally named the Fuller Building) was constructed.  The new edifice adorning the New York City skyline was an immediate ‘must see’ attraction for visitors to the bustling metropolis.  This post card is number 365 in the”ANGLO LIFE SERIES”.  As of 08/08/2013, there were no “SEEING NEW YORK Ain’t She Stylish!” postcards to be found as active items on eBay, although another postcard in the ‘SEEING NEW YORK’ subseries of the ANGLO LIFE SERIES had recently sold.  That postcard was number 364 in the series, and depicts the same rural couple staged in front of the exact same background image as this postcard.  The man is looking directly at the Flat Iron Building, and the caption reads, “By gosh!  If it should fall!”


Walk-Over Shoes – The George E. Keith Company – Katharine Maynadier Browne

October 26, 2010

The fashion in shoes one hundred years ago was quite different from the footwear designs of the twenty-first century, yet at least one shoe manufacturer, the George E. Keith Company, was as eager to use one of the most popular media of the early nineteen hundreds — the picture postcard — for advertising purposes as shoe companies of the two thousands are to use the world wide web as an advertising vehicle.  Presented here are four vintage postcards that advertise Walk-Over shoes for women:

*+*+*+*  BEGIN POSTCARD 1  *+*+*+*

The Walk-Over Shoe - storefront display - obverse

The Walk-Over Shoe - storefront display - obverse

The Walk-Over Shoe - storefront display - reverse

The Walk-Over Shoe - storefront display - reverse

Walk-Over shoes postcard 1 — The advertising slogan on the reverse reads:  They’re as stylish as comfortable and as durable as they are stylish–Walk-Over shoes

*+*+*+*  END POSTCARD 1  *+*+*+*

*+*+*+*  BEGIN POSTCARD 2  *+*+*+*

The Walk-Over Shoe - three children – obverse

The Walk-Over Shoe - three children – obverse

The Walk-Over Shoe - three children – reverse

The Walk-Over Shoe - three children – reverse

Walk-Over shoes postcard 2 — The advertising slogan on the reverse reads:  Fashion’s favorite–Walk-Over shoes

*+*+*+*  END POSTCARD 2  *+*+*+*

*+*+*+*  BEGIN POSTCARD 3  *+*+*+*

The Walk-Over Shoe - dog cart – obverse

The Walk-Over Shoe - dog cart – obverse

The Walk-Over Shoe - dog cart – reverse

The Walk-Over Shoe - dog cart – reverse

Walk-Over shoes postcard 3 — The advertising slogan on the reverse reads:  Fair weather friends and stormy day comrades–Walk-Over shoes

*+*+*+*  END POSTCARD 3  *+*+*+*

*+*+*+*  BEGIN POSTCARD 4  *+*+*+*

The Walk-Over Shoe – Dutch door – obverse

The Walk-Over Shoe – Dutch door – obverse

The Walk-Over Shoe – Dutch door – reverse

The Walk-Over Shoe – Dutch door – reverse

Walk-Over shoes postcard 4 — The advertising slogan on the reverse reads:  Comfort’s choice–Walk-Over shoes

*+*+*+*  END POSTCARD 4  *+*+*+*

Here is a detail-image of the Walk-Over shoes for women logo that appears in the lower right corner of the obverse (front) side of each postcard:

Walk-Over shoes - Logo detail

Walk-Over shoes - Logo detail

The printing quality of these post cards is quite low, but you can get a much better idea of the Walk-Over shoe for women logo by looking at the second image at the  WALK-OVER SHOES blog posted by Vintage123.  That post consists mainly of images of a vintage Walk-Over shoes catalog published by the manufacturer.   The catalog is undated, but from the looks of the shoes displayed in the catalogue, the era is probably right in the 1907-1908-1909-1910-1911-1912-1913 era.  The logo consists of a wasp-waist woman walking over an oversized  Walk-Over shoe with a confident stride.  The slogan or motto of the Walk-Over shoe is “The Sign of Satisfaction”.  The illustration goes on to proclaim “Walk-Over Fashions”, and gives the location of the shoe manufacturer as:  The WALK-OVER Plant, Campello, Brockton, Mass, U. S. A.

Here is a link to a fascinating history of the Keith family who settled in the  the vicinity of Bridgewater, Massachusetts, including Brockton, Massachusetts and the neighborhood on the south side of Brockton, Campello. Note especially entry (VIII) for GEORGE ELDON KEITH, who is the Geo. E. Keith of the George E. Keith Company, Inc.   This snippet from his biography is as much food for thought today as it was when written in 1912:  “Whether the elements of success in life are innate attributes of the individual, or whether they are quickened by a process of circumstantial development, it is impossible to determine clearly; yet the study of a successful life is none the less interesting and profitable by reason of the existence of this same uncertainty. So much in excess of successes is the record of failures that one is constrained to attempt an analysis in either case, and to determine the method of causation in an approximate way. The march of improvement and progress is accelerated day by day, and each moment seems to demand a man of broader intelligence and greater discernment than did the preceding one. Successful men must be live men in this age, bristling with activity; and the lessons of personal history may be far-reaching to an extent not superficially evident.”

Each of these postcards is what is termed an “artist signed” postcard.  This does not mean that the postcard contains the handwritten signature of the artist/designer of the postcard image.  In fact, not even the printed signature of the artist.  The term artist signed is applied to any postcard that has the attribution of the artist printed on the postcard, usually on the image (front) side.  On the front of each postcard is printed (in small font): “KATHARINE MAYNADIER BROWNE 1909”, but printed using four lines, thus:





Using web-based research, I discovered that Katharine Maynadier Browne was the illustrator of the 1909 childrens’ book (with 84 pages):  Little Stories About Little Animals for Little Children by Susan Holton, published in Boston by Leroy Phillips.  According to a listing on the website of Carpe Diem Fine Books, Katharine Maynadier Browne also was the designer of the decorative endpapers for the book Madame Angora, a later printing of the 1901 book by Harriet A. Cheever. The endpapers by Browne are dated 1910.   This book was published by Dana Estes, also of Boston, Massachusetts.  Perhaps oddly, Katharine did not also supply the illustrations in the book.  That may be a good thing, though, since, according to the Carpe Diem listing, the illustrations are by Jo J. Mora.  Apparently, bibliophiles cotton to books illustrated by Jo Mora, whereas Katharine M.  Browne exists in relative obscurity.  I deduce from her supplying artwork for two books printed in Boston in the 1910 era, that Katharine was a Boston-area artist/illustrator who received a commission to create a series of picture postcards for the George E. Keith Company.  Note that the postcard images themselves are not particularly footwear-centric, except postcard number 1, which shows Walk-Over shoes in a store window display.  Also, postcard number 2 shows an American girl wearing shiny leather shoes, perhaps patent leather shoes, sitting on a dike between a Dutch boy and a Dutch girl.  In fact, all of the other persons illustrated on the postcards are Dutch, and shown wearing wooden shoes.  Of all of the kinds of shoes that were manufactured by the George E. Keith Company, I have found no references that cite the production of wooden shoes!  What can explain the presence of wooden shoes on postcards meant to entice people to buy leather WalkOver shoes?  Well, almost anything Dutch was wildly popular during the golden age of postcards, so the presence of the Dutch scenes (windmills, Dutch doors, dikes, wooden shoes) helped ensure that the postcard series would be a good seller.  I use the term “series” loosely, because although the four postcards presented here were obviously printed on or around the year of the illustration copyright (1909), the postcards are not numbered or sequenced in any way.  The numbering scheme for the postcard images above is simply the order of presentation or appearance in this blog.  There are many more vintage postcards in this series, some that were copyright 1909 such as the ones presented here, and others that were in a nearly-identical (in theme, not in illustration) series published (or at least with illustrations copyrighted) the next year, 1910.

I solicit comments from anyone who has more information on this enigmatic artist/illustrator, Katharine Maynadier Browne, who seems to have appeared on the art scene in the Boston area in 1909, and then dropped below the radar after 1910.  Does anybody have any earlier or later examples of Katharine’s artwork?

This post is part of a ‘Festival of dollparts: October 13th – 26th’, in support of our friend Michelle’s dollparts Kickstarter campaign. The theme is any kind of old paper and ephemera about apparel and fashion. Read her Kickstarter profile page :: here :: and throw in $1 or more for a very worthy fashion project. Any other bloggers, feel free to dig for mercantile magic flatstuffs and join the festival.


Unusual locomotion in Hartford, Connecticut – circa 1910

August 21, 2010

Let us take a glimpse into the Hartford, Connecticut of the early twentieth century, focusing on some unusual forms of locomotion.  We shall use as our looking glass the lens of vintage postcards, four to be exact, and let them weave a story.

FIRST postcard – Combination Car

Combination Car, Engine House No. 2, H. F. D., Hartford, Conn.

A Combination Car used by the Hartford Fire Department, circa 1910

Obverse caption:  Combination Car, Engine House No. 2, H. F. D. , Hartford, Conn.

A combination car was used by the fire department as a conveyance for both chemicals and hoses.  Note the polished brass chemical fire extinguisher mounted next to the driver of the fire engine, and the coiled fire hose directly behind him.  An extension ladder also can be seen attached to the far side of the vehicle.  Since this card is postmarked in 1910, the combination car pictured is a very early model that used gasoline as its motive power instead of horses.  The drive train consisting of chains and gears is visible in front of the rear wheels.  The gas tank is barely visible under the front of the vehicle, and the gasoline engine was most likely mounted under the center of the car, since the crank between the O and M of COMBINATION was probably used as the engine starter.  A beacon or searchlight is mounted on the front of the fire engine, and two kerosene lanterns are affixed to the upper corners of the rear body.  Five uniformed firemen of the Hartford Fire Department, Engine House Number 2, are seated in the machine, ready to spring into action should the fire bell ring.  A young man in the background admires the shiny new piece of firefighting equipment.

SECOND postcard – Life Net

A dozen Hartford firemen demonstrating the life net

Life Net, Engine House No. 14, H. F. D., Hartford, Conn.

Obverse caption:  Life Net, Engine House No. 14, H. F. D., Hartford, Conn.

In this vintage post card, another item in the firefighter’s arsenal is displayed:  The life net!  While the life net is not in itself a means of locomotion, it certainly can be considered the life-saving brake when a person, trapped by flames and suffocating smoke, must jump from an upper-story window and use the force of gravity as the sole means of locomotion.  Eleven firemen of the Hartford Fire Department, Engine House Number 14, hold the circumference of the sturdy rope-mesh life net with a firm grip, while a twelfth firefighter stands ready to direct the others to the exact location required to ensure a safe deceleration and gentle return to terra firma.

Dave Dube of Old Paper Art inquires about the “HOSE” lettering above the middle bay doors:

Detail of HOSE over bay door on Life Net postcard

Detail of HOSE over bay door on Life Net postcard

The font is somewhat unusual, being slightly wider than high, which gives the letter O the appearance of an egg laying on a table.  Perhaps the stone engraver felt constrained by the dimensions of the keystone.  I do not know why that particular bay is labeled, whereas the bays on either side of it appear to be nameless.  One of the more interesting aspects of this postcard view is the reflections that can be seen in the large glass windows of the bay double-doors, and even in some of the smaller glass panels.  Apparently, the fire house building was constructed across the street from a park or vacant land, or at least a tree-lined roadway, since trees easily can be seen in the reflections.  The trees are leafless, indicating that the original photo upon which this lithochrome postcard is based must have been taken in early spring or late autumn.

THIRD postcard – Police Station

A horse and carriage look diminuitive compared to the massive gray facade of the Hartford Police Department building

Police Station, Hartford, Conn.

Obverse caption:  Police Station, Hartford, Conn.

The impressive stone edifice of the Hartford, CT. Police Department dominates the obverse of this card postmarked on June 23,1910.  A carriage whose motive power is a one horsepower engine – meaning, that is, a single horse – is parked outside of a main entrance to the building.  The vehicle bears signage on the black-paneled side, but the words are not legible at the resolution of the litho-chrome printing method employed by the printer.  So, one can speculate that this might be some sort of official conveyance, perhaps the police cruiser or paddy wagon of its day.  It could also be a horse-drawn taxi cab, or the carriage used by one of the local Hartford businesses to deliver supplies to the police department.  The sender of the postcard has written in the upper-right corner of the postcard front: “That is where they’re going to put me next”

FOURTH postcard – Knabenshue Air Ship

Dirigible piloted by A. Roy Knabenshue in Hartford, Connecticut 1907



The airship – or dirigible – pictured on the obverse of this postcard was not an everyday fixture of the City of Hartford, Connecticut, but rather was a special feature brought in by its owner, Augustus Roy Knabenshue – aka Roy Knabenshue – just for the Decoration Day festival held in 1907.  The dirigible was powered by a small gasoline engine that drove a propeller, and A. Roy Knabenshue was able to pilot the lighter-than-air craft with amazing dexterity.  It’s a good thing that the airship would make a nearly vertical ascent, because it would be well-nigh impossible to navigate along the ground through the sea of hundreds, if not thousands, of eager onlookers.  Perhaps the Hartford fire department was on hand, ready with their combination car to aid Roy Knabenshue if his hydrogen-filled gas bag caught on fire.  The emergency crew should bring the life net to the scene, too, in case Mr. Knabenshue fell from the dizzying heights that his wonderful air-ship could take him.

Now here are the images of the backs of the postcards.  These are not presented in the same order as the fronts (above), since the first three postcards are all from the same sender (C. E. L., Jr.) to the same recipient (Miss Elsie Flansburg), and are presented in chronological order according to the postmark date.


Life Net, Engine House No. 14, H. F. D., Hartford, Conn. - reverse

Life Net, Engine House No. 14, H. F. D., Hartford, Conn. - reverse

Life Net reverse (Postmarked May XX, 1910 10:00 AM from Elmwood, Connecticut):

Dear Elsie: I received your picture and thank you very much.  Charles E. and I are going to have some little pictures taken.  I will send you one of those and one of Dick and me when I get some finished.  Yours C. E. L., Jr.

Then at the top of the back of the postcard, C. E. L. has written: P. S. We play a game at Pope Park 1st diamond Sat. afternoon.



Combination Car, Engine House No. 2, H. F. D., Hartford, Conn. - reverse

Combination Car, Engine House No. 2, H. F. D., Hartford, Conn. - reverse

Combination Car reverse (Postmarked June 2, 1910 6:00 PM from Elmwood, Connecticut):

Dear Elsie:  We won the game Sat. 11-12.  We came near getting beat but Chas. Elwood brought in the winning run.  If you come over to any of our games bring another girl because there is none that go from here.  The message is unsigned, but is evidently from C. E. L., Jr.

Then at the top of the back of the postcard: Come out before you go away. WLOL





Roy Knabenshue airship reverse (Postmarked July 16, 1910 10:00 AM from Elmwood, Connecticut):

Dear Elsie, please let me know when you go out to South Bethlem. And your address.  I wish you could come out before you go away.  I don’t know much this morning.  I have got to go after ice this afternoon. I wish you could come.  Yours, CEL., Jr.



Police Station, Hartford, Conn.

Police Station, Hartford, Conn.

Police Station, Hartford, Connecticut reverse (Postmarked June 23, 1910 9:00 PM from Hartford, Connecticut):

Hello old chap didn’t mean to make you wait so long.  Have been busy with the girls and got careless about writing.  Hope you are getting along good with the girls and don’t kiss them too much.  Please excuse writing awful bad pen ain’t got a cent to buy another.  Ans soon Ed. B.


These vintage postcards are presented as the entry in the Festival of Postcards 9th Edition: Locomotion.

23 Skidoo – The Flatiron Building – New York City

April 28, 2010




Please see Note 1 for description of Greetings from New York City postcard.



Above:  Map of the Flatiron District of New York City, courtesy of MapQuest.

The metaphorical intersection of architecture, idiomatic phraseology, and – at least to some extent – postcards, all converged on the geographic intersection of Fifth Avenue, Broadway, and 23rd Street in New York City in the very early 1900s to produce what some lexicographers consider to be the first fad phrase to sweep the entire nation: “23 skidoo” (sometimes spelled “23 skiddoo”).  There are many theories as to the origin of 23 skidoo, but the following explanation is the one  that seems most believable to me.

Around 1902, construction was completed on one of the tallest buildings in New York City, the 21-story Fuller Building, which would house the headquarters of the Fuller Construction Company.  Chicago architect Daniel Burnham designed the structure to fit on the slice-of-pie-shaped parcel of land formed where Broadway and Fifth Avenue intersect at a sharp angle with 23rd Street.  Since the triangular outline of the resulting skyscraper resembled a flat iron, the building was referred to as the flat iron building, and the name officially was changed to the Flatiron Building soon after construction.







Please see Note 2 for description of Fifth Avenue and Flat Iron Building postcard.

Both Broadway and Fifth Avenue are major thoroughfares in the city, and air currents would flow along those streets much like air is channeled through a canyon.  Due to its location on 23rd Street at the convergence of these two canyon-like roads, the air currents mixed and swirled around the apex of the Flatiron Building, causing unusual wind patterns that included the occasional updraft, which would tend to lift the long skirts worn by women in the very early 1900s.  As soon as it became known to the local male population that this was the case, men began to gather on Twenty-third Street at the base of the Flatiron Building to gawk.  The intersection was already one of the busiest in New York City, so police would be on foot patrol in the area to shoo away these thrill-seeking loiterers who were clogging the sidewalks.  My tattered old Webster’s Dictionary defines “skidoo” (actually, the entry is spelled “skiddoo”) thus: “to go away; leave: usually in the imperative.”  So, the officer’s command to the loitering men, “Leave immediately!” became known as the “23 skidoo”.

Here is an example of just how windy the conditions could be:

(Please note that this video must fully load before it begins to play.)  At the Foot of the Flatiron (filmed November 2, 1903). 24 seconds into the film, watch as a man enters the scene from from left to right.  As he turns to look at the movie camera,  the wind lifts his hat right off of his head!  Also, at about 1 minute 40 seconds, a lady purchases a newspaper from a newsboy just out of the movie camera view (they enter from the right).  She huddles against the base of the Flatiron building to read the newspaper, but the wind is whipping around so fiercely that the newspaper is completely unmanageable, and she exits the scene to the left, clutching the crumpled remains of what had just moments before been a pristine paper!  Also, one or more local beat policemen are seen at three different times in just this short film that is less than three minutes in length.

23 skidoo might have remained an idiomatic phrase merely local to NYC, perhaps even just to Midtown Manhattan, were it not for the fact that in the second half  of the first decade of the 1900s (1905, 1906, 1907, etc.), the picture postcard was becoming extremely popular as a means of sending quick, short messages.  Having just been built in 1902, and being one of the tallest buildings in New York at the time (the Park Row Building, built in 1899, was the tallest), the Flatiron Building was a natural as an image to grace the front of a picture postcard.  Some postcard publishers, banking on the knowledge that the unusual air patterns around the Flatiron Building were liable to cause what might today be called a “skirt malfunction”, even pictured women with skirts aflutter in front of the famous building.  Here is an example of one such post card, with the caption:

A flat iron is a good thing for doing up skirts

Such postcards were sent across the nation, and even around the world, and so it is that the postcard may have been instrumental in the viral spread of the phrase 23 skidoo.

The term itself is the subject of this postcard:





The sender saw no need to send the recipient a long “Dear John” letter.  It took only this one sentence on a suitably chosen postcard to end the relationship:  “Well Jess, I thought it over and this is the ans on the other side.”  Note that along the bottom of the obverse is “COPYRIGHTED 1907  D HILLSON”, indicating that the term 23 skidoo was already so well known by 1907 that it had its own postcard!  The postmark on the reverse is unreadable (the card is printed on card stock that is coarsely textured on both sides), but the one cent stamp commemorating the founding of Jamestown in 1607 was issued in 1907 (for the tercentenary anniversary), so the postcard was almost certainly sent in 1907 (commemorative stamps were only available at the post office for a limited time).  According to the address, the recipient lived in the area of Scio, Ohio, and so the sender must have assumed that someone in  the little village of Scio (Harrison County) in southeast Ohio would have understood that “23 skidoo” meant “scram” or “skedaddle”.

Update of 01/03/2011:  Happy New Year 2011!  As if to celebrate the arrival of this newly minted year, the blogsite 23 skidoo postcards today posted images of  hundreds of postcards that relate to the phrase “23 skidoo” either by having 23 or skidoo or both on the front of the postcard.   I am officially adding 23 skidoo postcards to my blogroll.  I noticed in their “Police” and “Messengers” section the images of several postcards that were published by Barton & Spooner, so I present one as a way of officially welcoming 23 skidoo postcards to my postcardiness blogroll:

Barton & Spooner:  "I SHOULD WORRY...Doctor" obverse

Barton & Spooner: “I SHOULD WORRY…Doctor” obverse

Barton & Spooner:  "I SHOULD WORRY...Doctor" reverse

Barton & Spooner: “I SHOULD WORRY…Doctor” reverse

Note especially the presence of the distinct outline of the Flatiron Building in the panorama of buildings that forms the background of the illustration.  Note, too, the prominent “23” emblazoned on the brass badge across the front of the messenger’s cap.  Although many postcards feature “23” or “skidoo”, very few actually link the terms with the Flatiron Building on the same postcard.  This postcard, however, provides irrefutable postcard evidence that “23”, and — by extension — “23 skidoo” were linked in the popular imagination with the Flatiron Building.  So, welcome 23 skidoo postcards!

The phrase 23 skidoo is still in use today, although it is not as wildly popular as it was in the early twentieth century.  23 skidoo lives on in the name taken by the hip-hop-for-kids (and adults!) artist Secret Agent 23 Skidoo.

Here is his “Gotta Be Me”, available on the recently released CD “Easy“:

Fun facts:  The address of the Flatiron building is 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.  The Flatiron Building has its own facebook page.

Being so tall and narrow, most postcard views of the Flatiron Building are composed vertically, so that the image is properly viewed when the postal card has the shorter edges at the bottom and top, and the longer edges on the left and right side.  In fact, postcards of the Flatiron Building that are meant to be held in the normal, horizontal, position are only found infrequently.  But just one such card that shows the skyline of the Flatiron District with the Flatiron Building in the center is featured as the seventh (and final) postcard in We are well and HAPPY, posted by Susan E. of  This Old Paper.  It is well worth a look, since such a view is so unusual.  You can click on the image to get an enlarged view.  The post chronicles the honeymoon in New York City of Emily and Joseph Schifferli in August, 1906, by way of the postcards that they sent back to relatives in Buffalo, New York.  Most people think of Niagara Falls as a honeymoon destination, but for the newlywed Schifferli couple, apparently the Flatiron Building, only four years old, already was a “must see” destination while in New York City.

For your viewing pleasure, more postcard views of the Flatiron Building are provided below.   Your comments about any aspect of this post are solicited!

This post is being submitted to the Festival of Postcards, coordinated by Evelyn Yvonne Theriault, since the theme of this Festival (8th Edition) is “Geo.”  July 16, 2010 update:  The Geo edition of the Festival has been posted!


 Note 1
Obverse: “Greetings from New York City”.  Stylized street map with the following labels:  Trinity Church, Woolworth Building, City Hall, Empire State Building, Metropollitan Opera, Times Square, Madison Square Garden, New York Coliseum, Laguardia Field, United Nations, Eastside Airlines Terminal, Grand Central Station, Chrysler Building, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Radio City, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of History, Hayden Planetarium, St. John the Divine, Museum of New York, Columbia University, Grant’s Tomb, Polo Grounds and Yankee Stadium.  Reverse:  The numeral 142 in the upper left corner.  The caption identifies the numbered items on the map, including the Statue of Liberty.  The text in the vertical divider strip is printed from top to bottom: Acacia Card Company, 256 Broadway, New York 7, N. Y.  The use of a station number rather than a ZIP code indicates that the card was printed before 1965, most likely in the late 1950s or early 1960s.


 Note 2
Obverse:  In upper left corner:  “Fifth Avenue and Flat Iron Building, New York City”  In lower left corner: © by American Studio, N. Y.  Reverse: Caption heading in upper left corner: FIFTH AVENUE AND FLAT IRON BUILDING, NEW YORK CITY, with caption: Fifth Avenue here crosses Broadway and 23rd Street, the intersection of Broadway and Fifth Avenue forming a triangle, which is the site of the Flat Iron Building  Known as the first steel frame skyscraper erected in New York.  Along left side (from bottom to top): PUBLISHED BY MANHATTAN POST CARD CO., NEW YORK, N. Y.  Centered in the divider strip (from top to bottom): C. T. AMERICAN ART COLORED, with a 30 in a circle at the top of the divider strip, and the Curt Teich Company, Chicago logo at the bottom.  To the left of the stamp box is POST CARD in a large font, with “THIS SPACE FOR ADDRESS ONLY” in smaller font underneath.  Inside the stamp box is “PLACE ONE CENT STAMP HERE”, with the number 77870 under the text.
Here are more picture postcards that feature the Flatiron Building, presented in roughly chronological order:
*+*+*+*+* BEGIN POSTCARD ONE *+*+*+*+*



Obverse: “NEW YORK.” in upper left.  “FLATIRON BUILDING. BROADWAY & 23 RD STREET.” in upper right.  Reverse: Undivided back, printed with brown ink..  Three dotted lines for the name and address, with the number 128 under the bottom line, to the right.  “Post Card” printed in a Gothic font in upper center, with “This side is for the address.” printed in the lower left.  “Place the Stamp Here  One Cent for United States, and Island Possessions, Cuba, Canada and Mexico.  Two Cents For Foreign.” is inside of the stampbox formed of small dots.  General comments:  This view is taken at street level, and must have been based on a photograph of the Fuller Building taken soon after construction was completed (circa 1902), since the extension to the ground-floor apex of the building — sometimes called the cowcatcher — had not yet been constructed.  Another indication that this is one of the earliest views of the completed Flatiron builing is the presence of placards placed across the apex windows on the second, third, fourth and sixth floors.  The text on the placards is illegible, but most likely indicated the name of the construction company, the architect, and perhaps some of the occupants.  This view also shows one of the best views of the standalone sidewalk clock, located adjacent to 200 Fifth Avenue, on the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street.  There are just a few sidewalk clocks left in Manhattan.  The Museum of the City of New York claims that only four remain.  Some websites state that the sidewalk clock at Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street (across from the Flatiron Building) was erected in 1909, at the time that a new, sixteen story building was constructed on the site adjacent to the clock, formerly occupied by the Fifth Avenue Hotel.  However, this cannot be true,   Since the sidewalk clock exists in this undivided back postcard, it must have been installed by March 1, 1907 (the date that the divided back era began in the USA).  The Flatiron District is rich in large timepieces.  The clock tower of the Metropolitan Life Building — AKA the Met LIfe Tower — was constructed in 1909 (construction proposed in 1905) as an addition to a preexisting building which had been built in 1893.  The Met Life Building is located at 5 Madison Avenue, one block from the Flatiron Builiding, with Madison Square Park occupying the intervening space.  The four clocks on the Met Life Tower — each twenty six and a half feet in diameter, one on each side of the clock tower, would afford the tenants of all but the lowest floors of the east side of the Flatiron Building an unobstructed view of the clock tower.  So, with the standalone sidewlk clock at street level, and the Met Life Tower clocks high in the sky, an occupant of the Flatiron Building would have little need to refernce a wrist watch or pocket watch.

Note also (in the lower left corner of the image) the scaffolding in the middle of Broadway, where a freestanding streetlight fixture is under construction to better illuminate this busy, six-way intersection at night.  The completed street light can be seen in postcard six, below.  This unused, undivided-back postcard was printed pre-March 1, 1907.

*+*+*+*+* END POSTCARD ONE *+*+*+*+*





C. V. 123_Flat_Iron_Building_UDB__obverse

C. V. 123_Flat_Iron_Building_UDB__reverse

Obverse: Borderless image with a 3/8 inch white area (for a written message) at the bottom.  Caption is printed in red ink, positioned just under the image, left-justified.  Text is all caps regular (not bold) sans-serif font, printed in red ink.  “C. V. 123 – FLAT IRON BUILDING.  NEW YORK.  Reverse:  Undivided back.  Printed using black ink.  “Post Card” in a fairly fancy serif typeface, decorated with straight as well as curved lines, and with seven stars at the lower left of the decoration.  “THIS SIDE FOR THE ADDRESS.” is in the lower left area of the back, printed in a bold, serif font.  In a small font, centered along the left edge is “MADE IN GERMANY.”, printed in a regular, sans serif font.  There are two solid lines, indicating the places where the name and address of the recipient is to be written.  The bottom line is positioned directly beneath the top line.  The stampbox design resembles a double-sided picture frame, with circular embellishments at each corner and at the center of each side.   “PLACE STAMP HERE  DOMESTIC ONE CENT  FOREIGN TWO CENTS” is centered in the stampbox.  General comments:  I have been unable to find any information on “C. V.”, which are likely the initials of the postcard publisher or printer, although it is possible that it could stand simply for City View.  Please comment if you have any information!  Note that this is the undivided back version of the divided back postcard illustrated next.

*+*+*+*+* END POSTCARD FOUR *+*+*+*+*

*+*+*+*+* BEGIN POSTCARD FIVE *+*+*+*+*

C. V. 123_Flat_Iron_Building_DB__obverse

C. V. 123_Flat_Iron_Building_DB__reverse

C. V. 123_Flat_Iron_Building_DB__reverse

This postcard is nearly identical to postcard number four.  However, this postcard has a divided back, and there are some minor differences on the front, too.  It is instructive to detail the changes to this postcard as it was reprinted in the divided back era.  Obverse: The image is identical, although printed with a little more yellow and a little less red.  The caption text is identical, but the type has been reset using a bold font.  Reverse:  Divided back.  Printed using black ink.  “Post Card” in a much plainer, barely-serif typeface than postcard four.  The decoration around Post Card has been redesigned.  There are now only six stars, and they have been repositioned.  The curved lines are now clearly supposed to represent tails on the two largest stars, suggesting shooting stars.  “FOR THE ADDRESS ONLY.” is cradled in the tail of the right shooting star.  The divider line consists of two solid vertical lines.  There are two dotted lines in the address area, the bottom line positioned directly beneath the top line.  The type of “MADE IN GERMANY.” has been reset in a slightly larger font.   The stamp box, too, has been redesigned, The border is now three nested, solid lines with curved corners.  The outermost rectangle has points in the center of each side.  The phrases “PLACE STAMP HERE”, “DOMESTIC ONE CENT” and “FOREIGN TWO CENTS are now separated by small hollow circles.  The overall design of this divided back era postcard is decidedly less Victorian than the design of the undivided back era postcard, this one showing hints of Art Deco.
*+*+*+*+* END POSTCARD FIVE *+*+*+*+*
*+*+*+*+* BEGIN POSTCARD SIX *+*+*+*+*




Obverse: “Flat Iron Buillding, New York.” in upper right corner, printed case-sensitive in red ink using a small, serif font.  The view is taken at ground level, looking directly at the apex of the subject building.

Reverse: Printed using green ink.  The lettering of “Post Card” is in a pseudo-case-sensitive, curvy serif font.  “THIS SPACE MAY BE USED FOR WRITING” is to the left of the undecorated vertical divider linle, and “THIS SIDE FOR THE ADDRESS ONLY” is to the right side.  Beginning just to the right of the divider line, along the bottom right edge of the card, is printed “Success Postal Card Co., Publ., New York.  No. 1006”.  The stampbox consists of at least a solid rectangle, but the interior of the stampbox is covered by the affixed one cent U. S. Postage Stamp.  The postmark is dated June 15, 1911 at 10:30 PM, from New York, N.Y. Station G.  The card is addressed to Dr. A. E. Sherman, 106 Main Street, Aurora, Illinois, with the following undated pencilled message: “Hello Doc!  I am going to bring you this building. W”.

General comments:  Although a divided-back postcard, postmarked in 1911, the view appears to be adapted from a photograph shot very soon after construction was completed on the Flat Iron Building, circa 1902, since the “cowcatcher” extension of the first floor apex has not yet been constructed.  In fact, it was probably taken just shortly after the photo that was the basis of POSTCARD ONE (above).  Note that all of the placards visible in postcard one have been removed in this image, except the placard on the sixth floor.  Also, the multi-globed light fixture located in the middle of the intersection that was under construction in postcard one is now completed in this view.  The stand-alone sidewalk clock — although somewhat obscured by a horse-drawn carriage — is visible in this image, located in front of the Fifth Avenue Hotel at 200 Fifth Avenue.  The Fifth Avenie Hotel would be razed just few years later, to allow construction of a new office buildling completed in 1909.  This postcard also provides a fairly good view of the red-brick building at 935 Broadway, adjacent to the Broadway side (left side) of the Flatiron Building, which was the headquarters of Pach Brothers Photography for many years.  If you look closely at the sign on the roof of the building, you can make out “PACH BR” on the top with “PHOTOGRAPH” on the line beneath.  The right-hand side of the signage is blocked by the Flatiron Builidng.  The history of the Pach Brothers Photography studio is fascinating:  A synopsis can be found at the Guide to the Pach Brothers Portrait Photograph Collection, maintained by The New York Historical Society.

*+*+*+*+* END POSTCARD SIX *+*+*+*+*

*+*+*+*+* BEGIN POSTCARD SEVEN *+*+*+*+*




Obverse: Printed in red ink, three lines of text in upper left corner. First line: “Flatiron Building,”; second line: “New York.”; third line: “COPYRIGHT, 1910, BY IRVING UNDERHILL, N.Y.”. The first two lines are printed using an italic, serif, case sensitive font, whereas the bottom line is a much smaller font type that is all caps, sans serif. The view is of the front of the Flatiron builiding, taken from an elevation estimated to a fifth or sixth floor vantage point.
Reverse: Divided back, all printing in brown ink. The vertical dividing line is positioned approximately three-eighths of an inch left of center. “POST CARD.” is in all caps, with exagerrated angular serifs and a wavy embellishment flying to the left from the tip of the letter “A”. Underneath “POST CARD”, on the left side of the dividing line, is “THIS SPACE FOR COMMUNICATION.”, in a small, all caps, sans serif font. On the right side of the dividing line is “ADDRESS ONLY”, printed using a slightly larger font. Near the left edge of the back is “14 — M. & Co., N. Y.”, printed vertically reading from bottom to top. The stampbox consists of a thick rectangle enclosing a thinner rectangle with embellishmnets emanating from the inside of each corner. Inside the stampbox is printed: “Place Stamp Here Domestic One cent Foreign Two cents”. The card is postmarked July 14, 1911 at 10:30 PM from Brooklyn, N.Y. Station, and is missing the postage stamp.

The postcard is addressed to Geo. H. Olmsted, 134 Owasco, Auburn, N. Y., and the message, dated July 14, is as follows: Dear Papa, This afternoon we’re going to the Met. museum of arts. Last night we had a fine ride the whole length of Broadway and saw it all lighted. I am sending Mrs. Eisenhower a letter card now and grandma too. Its funny she didn’t get my other one but perhaps I didn’t address it right. We saw a piece about that girl drowning in paper. Tomorrow we go to Utica. Love, Mary”. All written in a small, legible handwriting using a fountain pen.  When studying postcards for genealogical purposes, sometimes hints are hiding in plain sight:  We would not know Mary’s relationship to George Olmsted, except that she took the time to write the salutation “Dear Papa”, a formality often lacking on postcards.  So we now know Mary’s surname, at least pre-marriage: Mary Olmsted.

General comments: Areas of excessive age-discoloration at the bottom front. This postcard shows the ground-floor extension of the apex of  the Flatiron building, sometimes called the cowcatcher, so the original image from which this card was designed must have been taken after the construction of the extension. I could not find a date of construction of the extension, but United Cigar Stores, a first-floor tenant of the Flatiron building in 1917, turned the cowcatcher extension into a mock fort and U. S. Army recruiting station for the Wake Up America parade that was held on April 19, 1917. A good close-up is available here.  The Flatiron Building was not built primarily to house retail stores, but the first floor would have lent itself well to one or more retail establishments.  Garden City Estates, a real estate company, occupied the third floor in 1910, as we learn from an ad placed in the February 24, 1910 issue of the New York Tribune newspaper.  The ad reads, “FOR RENT – THE ENTIRE THIRD FLOOR OF THE FLATIRON BUILDING 23d St. and Fifth Av., containing about 6,000 sq. feet now occupied by the GARDEN CITY ESTATES.  HANDSOMELY FINISHED.  Sign priveleges.  Apply to C. B. Paul, 120 B’way.  Telephone 151 Cortlandt.”  The ad also was published in the February 25, 1910 issue of the same newspaper.  The sign priveleges were exercised by the Garden City Estates, who had a sign with the company name attached to the building facade outside the third floor,  Each letter of the company name was inset with electric light bulbs, so as to be able to be illuminated at night. The history of the electronic outdoor sign is a fascinating one, and, from most accounts, begins in 1892 at the very site now occupied by the Flatiron Building! More to come on this topic soon, perhaps in an upcoming post.

*+*+*+*+* END POSTCARD SEVEN *+*+*+*+*

*+*+*+*+* BEGIN POSTCARD EIGHT *+*+*+*+*




Descriptive commentary coming soon!
*+*+*+*+* END POSTCARD EIGHT *+*+*+*+*
*+*+*+*+* BEGIN POSTCARD NINE *+*+*+*+*




Descriptive commentary coming soon!
*+*+*+*+* END POSTCARD NINE *+*+*+*+*
*+*+*+*+* BEGIN POSTCARD TEN *+*+*+*+*




Obverse: Photochrome era depiction of the upper stories of the Flatiron Building.  The architectural detail of the terra cotta face of the building is most evident in this image.  Although there are no statues on top of the flatiron building, perched at the highest point of the apex of the structure are two figures – either terra cotta or carved marble – that flank a wreath that surrounds a shield.  Under the shallow ledge located under the top two floors are placed figural elements – the head of a lion alternates with a circular design reminiscent of the sun or of a daisy flower.  There are ten lion heads and nine sun discs per side.

Reverse:  All printed in black ink.  Upper left top line: REINHART WOLF  Upper left second line:  Flatiron Building, New York 1980  Bottom left top line: Serie 69  Reinhart Wolf, New York  Bottom left bottom line:  Karte 5 von 10     Bestell-Nr. 69/5   Dividing line consists of text in all capital letters, reading from left to right when card is rotated counter-clockwise:  GEBR. KÖNIG    POSTKARTENVERLAG     BREITE STR. 93     D-5000 KÖLN 1     PRINTED IN GERMANY

There are three thin, solid, horizontal lines of the same length to use as a guide in addressing the postcard, and there is no stampbox.

*+*+*+*+* END POSTCARD TEN *+*+*+*+*


As always, your questions or comments are most appreciated.

The midnight ride of Paul Revere – 235 years ago

April 20, 2010

It was 235 years ago — beginning late at night on April 18, 1775 — that Paul Revere stepped out of his Boston home and into the history books, for it was on that night that he began a short journey to alert the local populace that British troops were amassing for an attack on Lexington, Massachusetts.  

The unused, linen era postcard, below, has a caption on the front that is centered in  the top of the white border that reads:  


and has the number 42143 in the lower right corner.  

Paul Revere's Ride, Boston, Mass. - obverse

Paul Revere's Ride, Boston, Mass. - obverse




Astride a horse in full gallop. Paul is depicted pointing  determinedly behind him.  His urgent gesture is directed to a young couple standing on the front porch of their home, apparently awakened by the the noise of approaching hoofbeats.  The man has a rifle in his hand, and it looks as though he is about to respond to Mr. Revere’s warning, and head over to nearby Lexington to join the other Minutemen.  The wife is cowering in the background, with folds of her long, flowing robe gathered in her hands held up to her chin, perhaps for warmth in the chilly Spring night air, but more likely for fear of what might become of her husband in the battle that was soon to follow.  The scene is bracketed by two Grecian marble columns, each topped with just a hint of a Corinthian capital.


Paul Revere's Ride, Boston, Mass. - reverse

Paul Revere's Ride, Boston, Mass. - reverse


The reverse (back) of the postcard has this explanatory verbiage:

”  PAUL REVERE’S RIDE.  On the 19th of April, 1775, Paul Revere rode through slumbering villages to Lexington and Concord awakening the farmers from their slumber to warn them of the approach of the British soldiers.”

It must be pointed out immediately that the short account of the famous ride is incorrect in one major respect:  Paul Revere never made it to Concord; he was captured and detained by British sentries before he could get to Concord.  His ride was thus cut short, a mere twelve and a quarter miles.  He did manage to escape, but the British had taken the horse, so he walked to Lexington.  The exact route is unknown, but a map of the approximate route taken by Paul Revere and the two men who also were sent to alert the Patriots of Lexington and Concord, William Dawes and Dr. Samuel Prescott, is available here, aslong with a somewhat more detailed account of the midnight ride. 

The postcard is printed by the Metropolitan Postcard Company, Everett, Massachusetts, and published by United Art Company, located — appropriately — in Boston, Massachusetts.

The Publishers Directory (“M” Page 1, the very bottom entry) of gives this short description of Metropolitan:

“Metrocraft (Metropolitan)   1940’s-1984
Everett, MA

A major printer of linen and photochrome postcards displaying a variety of subjects. They also printed postcards for many other publishers.  

A good number of Metrocraft’s early photochrome postcards retained the use of retouchers that had worked on their linens. These cards have a very distinct look before they went over to a completely uniform photographic means of natural color reproduction.”

The same website, about halfway down the “U” webpage of Publishers, gives this description of the United Art Company:

United Art Co.   (1936-)
Boston, MA

A publisher of view-cards depicting the greater Boston area first in linens and later as photochromes. They used a variety of different printers.”


The United Art Company logo is prominent in the lower left corner.  The logo consists of a U superimposed on an A, with an O cradled inside of a C, which in turn is cradled in the closed area defined by the bowl of the U and the bar of the A.  The Metropolitan logo is as diminutive as the United Art logo is oversized:  A small circular mark along the bottom, just left of the vertical divider strip.  In between the concentric circles is “MADE BY METROPOLITAN EVERETT MASS”, and a stylized M graces the inner circle, with a tiny dot directly under the vee of the M.  This postcard is somewhat unusual in that “THIS SPACE FOR WRITING” and “THIS SIDE IS FOR THE ADDRESS” are positioned along the bottom of the card, whereas most postcard have the writing and addressing directions located above their respective areas.

Magnolia Tree in a Tulip Tree State

April 11, 2010

A few days ago, Eva of Eva and Daniel Sutter posted Hi magnolia, with a photo of the young magnolia tree that she has planted in her front yard, in the hopes that it will grow to look like the magnolia tree in Nonna’s (her grandmother’s) yard.  Then, Susan E. of This Old Paper posted two photos of Nonna’s magnolia tree in Magnolia Dreams, one taken in the Spring of 1971, and the other taken on April 6, 2010.  Nonna’s grandson, Luke Leger, of latent chestnut fame, posted Trees in Spring, which featured photos that he had taken of the magnolia tree and the weeping cherry tree in Nonna’s front yard.

This is another view of Nonna’s magnolia tree, taken April 11, 2010:

Nonna's magnolia tree - April 11, 2010
Nonna’s magnolia tree – April 11, 2010

The tree, located in central Indiana, is over fifty years old.  I knew that the state tree of Indiana is the tulip tree (technically the tulip poplar tree), but the beauty of the blossoming magnolia tree led me to wonder whether the magnolia had been adopted as the official state tree of any state in the union.   According to the State Trees webpage of State Symbols U S A, the magnolia is the state tree of Mississippi.  Here is a “Greetings from Mississippi” postcard that pictures — in the bottom center of the obverse — a stylized twig of magnolia with one bloom and two buds:

Greetings from Mississippi - obverse

Greetings from Mississippi - obverse

Greetings from Mississippi - reverse

Greetings from Mississippi - reverse

The Glossary of postcard terms defines a big-letter postcard as one that “shows the name of a place in very big letters that do not have pictures inside each letter”, and a large-letter postcard as one that has “the name of a place shown as a series of very large letters, inside of each of which is a picture of that locale.”  Since each letter of Mississippi has a scene in it, this is an example of a large letter postcard.

Lucy the elephant

October 21, 2009

Lucy the Elephant as pictured on three postcards, each from a different postcard era.  The linen era postcard proclaims in the bottom border:   THE ONLY ELEPHANT IN THE WORLD YOU CAN GO THROUGH AND COME OUT ALIVE.   Lucy the Elephant (also known as the “Margate Elephant” or “Lucy the Margate Elephant”) was recently in the news; a tent that was blown from its moorings by high winds on September 11, 2009 gave Lucy a smack on her backside that broke her tail!  Hmmm, do you call a vet or an architect?    The 65-foot high wood and tin structure was struck by lightning (not for the first time) over the fourth of July weekend of 2011.  Update of November 1, 2012:  Lucy survived Hurricane Sandy intact, according to this news feature (includes aerial photo).  Lucy the Elephant was the brain-child of James V. Lafferty, a land developer who wanted to attract attention to his 1880s South Atlantic City (New Jersey) development project.  Two other mammoth elephant buildings were constructed around the same time:  The Elephantine Colossus was a truly massive building in the Coney Island amusment park in Coney Island, New York.  Over twice the size of Lucy the Elephant, if the Colossal Elephant could have lumbered into New York City and paraded to the intersection of Broadway and Fifth Avenue, it might have stood about a third or more the height of the Flatiron Building.  The Elephantine Colossus, also known as the Elephant Hotel, succumbed to a devastating fire in 1896.  A third elephant-shaped building, this one named The Light of Asia, was constructed at the site of another land development project, this one in South Cape May, New Jersy.  Here is an excerpt from entry for Cape May, New Jersey:  “…the entire community of South Cape May fell victim to the encroaching waters of the Atlantic. A land developer named Theodore Reger purchased much of the shoreline between the lighthouse and the town of Cape May in 1882. Three years later, Reger had constructed a huge wooden and tin elephant, known as the Light of Asia, to attract interest in his development at South Cape May. For a dime, tourists could enter the elephant through its hind legs, climb a spiral staircase to a hall in its belly, and then proceed up a second set of stairs to the howdah or viewing platform on the elephant’s back. Several cottages were built in South Cape May, but erosion has wiped away almost all signs of human (and elephant) habitation, and the area is now the Cape May Migratory Bird Refuge managed by the Nature Conservancy.”

Thus, Lucy the Elephant is the sole survivor of a memory of elephants in architectural form.

This architectural quadruped has been submitted into the Festival of Postcards, coordinated by Evelyn Yvonne Theriault. 

Elephant Hotel.  Divided back era - obverse

Elephant Hotel. Divided back era – obverse

Elephant Hotel.  Divided Era - reverse

Elephant Hotel. Divided Era – reverse

   The sender has written on the back of the post card this message:  “Dear Harry & all, I will send you this little fellow and you can play with him.  Hoping you are all well as we are the same.  From Earl V. Florence  ans. soon.”  The postcard is addressed to Master Harry Crouse, Aaronsburg, PA Center Co.   Since the postcard has not been postally used (no postage stamp and thus no postmark), There are only three possibilities:: 1.)  The postcard was hand delivered to Mr. Crouse, 2.)  It card was enclosed in an envelope containing a letter from Mr. Florence to Mr. Crouse or another person in the Crouse household, or 3.)  The postcard was never sent at all, so Harry Crouse would have never known of its existence.  This postcard is an example of what I term a “self-referential” postcard, since the written message contains a reference to the subject matter depicted on the front of the postcard.

Elephant Hotel. White border era.

Elephant Hotel. Linen era.

%d bloggers like this: