Friday, November 27, 2009

Iroha-Saka Highway in Japan - 1950s

It's not often that I happen upon vintage Japanese postcards here in Italy so I my eyes were quickly drawn to this uncirculated 1950s postcard when I saw it the other day on a market stall. There are no indications as to the postcard publisher or the date of issue, but from the style of the bus winding its way up the Iroha Slope to Nikko I'm guessing it's a mid 1950s to early 1960s card at the latest.

As luck would have it I have an email friend - Gaye Rowley - who lives in Japan and is an expert on all things Japanese. She explained a little more about the name of the road - I-ro-ha are the first three letters of the Japanese syllabary, so the name of the highway would be like the "A-B-C Slope" in English. It is so called because there are as many twists and turns in the road as there are letters in the syllabary!

Gaye was also able to translate the text in the bottom right hand side of the postcard:

Nikko, Iroha Slope
From Umakaeshi (meaning "the place on a mountainside where the horse can no longer carry you and you have to dismount") up to Chuzenji (a famous temple), there is a modern sealed road called "Iroha Slope" because of its twists and turns. During the maple-viewing season, it provides the best views in Nikko.

Thanks Gaye!

Find more vintage postcards at Marie's Cpaphil Vintage Postcard Blog and join other collectors on Postcard Friendship Friday.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving Greeting by Mary LaFetra Russell - 1916

Rather like Christmas in the UK, Thanksgiving in the US is a major turkey consuming event and as a vegetarian I usually steer clear of the all the turkey references in greetings cards at this time of year, however, this artist signed postcard is such a gem that I couldn't resist buying it and sharing it here! I spent quite a while pondering on the signature "MLaFR" but finally worked it out...this postcard features a design by the celebrated children's book illustrator Mary LaFetra Russell who is probably best known for her drawings for a collection of Mother Goose nursery rhymes.

The postcard has a matte surface and a very light linen finish and the colours are still very bright, although the image was slightly marred at the time of posting - on 28 November 1916 - by the smudge of the postal cancellation which also appears on the picture side of the card. The company logo in the bottom left of the back of the card is a large letter "G" inside an artist's palette which I believe may represent one of the various incarnations of the Cincinatti-based Gibson Art Co. - if I'm wrong please leave a comment below! Certainly, the strongly coloured illustration floating at the centre of a white background with no border is typical of their house style of that period.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Shirley Temple in 'Curly Top' - 1936

This lovely uncirculated vintage movie star postcard features a heavily disguised Shirley Temple in a scene from the 1935 Fox musical Curly Top. Directed by Irving Cummings, this film was another hit movie starring the then seven year old Hollywood star and was a Shirley Temple vehicle all the way. This particular scene is the moment in which she sings When I Grow Up (lyrics by Edward Heymand and music by Ray Henderson) dressed as an elderly woman who suddenly gets up and tap dances at the end of the number! The song itself also went on to become a hit of the day and sold thousands of sheet music copies.

When I get very very old I'll stay at home all day,
But I haven't quite made up my mind, it's much too far away.
I think that I would like to be like the lady on the wall,
She looks so nice and comfy in her rocking chair 'n' all.
With that little cap upon her head she looks real pretty, too,
I like her long and funny dress, I like her hair, don't you?
It must be oh, so quiet you can hear the tick of the clock,
But it must be fun to have nothing to do but rock, and rock, and rock.

This Italian postcard was printed by the Florence postcard company Ballerini & Frattini (1912 - the present day) and issued in 1936 a year after the film's original US release.

As an interesting footnote, the date on the back of the card is "Anno XIV" rather than the more conventional "1936", a reminder that this card was issued during Italy's darkest period - that of Italian Fascism. There was a serious attempt to displace the Anno Domini system in those years by using Roman numerals to denote the number of years since the establishment of the Fascist government in 1922. Therefore, in this case, 1936 was year XIV.

Click here to watch a video clip of Curly Top. Her appearance dressed as she appears in this postcard is at approximately 3.08 minutes.
Find more vintage postcards at Marie's Cpaphil Vintage Postcard Blog and join other collectors on Postcard Friendship Friday.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Coldstream Guards Marching to Petersfield Manoeuvres - 1905 -1910

Lest we forget...Today, 11th November, is Armistice Day so I thought this image of the marching Coldstream Guards on their way to Petersfield Manoeuvres would be a timely addition to the blog.

Her Majesty's Coldstream Regiment of Foot Guards is actually the oldest regiment in the British Regular Army which has seen continuous active service since its founding in 1650 by General George Monck at Coldstream in Scotland. Whilst not so instantly identifiable in this image, they are known the world over by being one of the Queen's five foot guard regiments that wear the striking red uniforms and distinctive bearskin hats - they've surely been photographed whilst standing sentry by every tourist who ever visited London!

This uncirculated postcard was published by Max Ettlinger & Co. Ltd. as part of Series 4841 which appears to have been dedicated to the Coldstream Guards and was issued under the Royal Series name. They published many real photograph hand coloured postcards, but this particular example looks to be a printed card, although without the use of a magnifying glass the effect looks very much like a hand-tinted example. Certainly the title of the scene and the company logo in red on the front of the card were hand stamped. There is also a slightly textured surface over the card - a barely perceptible stippled effect.

Like most of their postcards, this was printed in Germany and is a perfect example from the so-called Golden Age of postcard production. The First World War would effectively bring that period to an end and Max Ettlinger & Co. Ltd. would close shop in 1916.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Scudding Dhow by Arthur H Firmin - 1950s

This real photo postcard of a traditional Arab sailing vessel - a dhow - used to this day along the coasts of East Africa, is in almost mint, uncirculated condition and was issued by the studio A.H. Firmin, A.I.B.P., A.R.P.S. The location is somewhere in the Lamu Archipelago in Kenya.

As is often the case when I start looking into the history behind a postcard on this blog, an hour or so on Google will throw up some amazing stories! On this particular occasion it emerges that the rather formal photographer's credit A.H.Firmin refers to the well known Nairobi photographer and passionate mountaineer Arthur Firmin who took numerous photographs of Mount Kenya. Born in Kenya in 1912, he returned to his birthplace in 1937 after having been educated in England, joining the Kenya Police Force, in which he served throughout the war in the role of official photographer. He eventually left and set up his own business in 1946.

Tragically Arthur Firmin died of pneumonia in 1957 after a fall in which he broke his leg during the Mountain Club of Kenya's failed attempt to climb Himal Chuli in the Himalayas. He is remembered today on Mount Kenya by Firmin's Tower, a pillar of rock on the north face of Batian, one of the mountain's twin peaks, which he scaled in 1944.

Read more about Arthur Firmin here.

Find more vintage postcards at Marie's Cpaphil Vintage Postcard Blog and join other collectors on Postcard Friendship Friday.