Friday, October 29, 2010

Mysterious Rock Formation - 1909

This uncirculated real photograph postcard must surely rank as one of the most mysterious in my collection. The postcard has a standard divided back and a distinctive Kruxo stamp box on the reverse with clubs in the corners, which dates the card quite precisely to 1909 and tells us that it was printed on photographic paper made by the Kilborn Photo Paper Co., of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, one of the lesser known early pioneers in the photographic industry. The actual event recorded on the postcard is unknown, however. The postcard was probably never intended for mass distribution, but was meant instead, to record a local event or landmark. Which brings us to the million dollar question – where was the photograph taken?!

I've posted this image in a very large format – if you click on the image above one can view it much larger. It shows a woman posing beside a strange rock formation – either a landslide of sorts, or even the passage of lava after a volcanic eruption (this was suggested to me by the chap who sold me this card on a market stall here in Rome) - certainly, it was a noteworthy local geological phenomenon. I assume the photograph was taken somewhere in the United States as I've only ever seen Kilborn paper used on US images, but other than that I'm at a loss.

As luck would have it though, it's Postcard Friendship Friday so I though I'd throw this question out there – if anybody recognises the location or has any other thoughts I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!
Find more vintage postcards over at Beth's postcard blog The Best Hearts are Crunchy and join other collectors on Postcard Friendship Friday.

Postcard Friendship Friday

Friday, October 15, 2010

Blog Action Day 2010 – Water!

This is a vintage postcard blog entry with a difference! Today - 15 October 2010 - is Blog Action Day, when tens of thousands of bloggers from over 125 different countries around the world join together to write a post about one important topic. This year the focus is on water.

Nearly 1 billion people across the globe lack access to clean water, which inevitably leads to horrendous hardship, preventable diseases and even death. Of course, the sad truth is that almost all of us in industrialized countries are guilty at some time or another of water over-consumption in our daily lives. Whilst people living in the developing world face a water crisis, we consume far more than our fair share. The simple truth is that we can all make small changes that collectively make a huge difference: from turning off running water whilst brushing our teeth, to spending less time in the shower. And if we take a bath, let's keep the water level low, and consider re-using the water in our gardens before we let it all go down the drain.

This vintage French postcard was printed using the offset lithographic method - in fact the colours are very slightly out of register and it has a dull surface. It was imported from Germany and published by Rokat (Robert Kathmann of Leipzig), probably during the 1930s. Its image of an oblivious reader caught up in a gripping book whilst sitting in an overflowing bath seemed to fit very well with the water wasting theme of this post!

Blog Action Day 2010: Water from Blog Action Day on Vimeo.

Today is also Postcard Friendship Friday too of course!
Find more vintage postcards over at Beth's postcard blog The Best Hearts are Crunchy and join other collectors on Postcard Friendship Friday.

Postcard Friendship Friday

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Joan Sutherland – 1979

Some very sad news appeared on the Internet yesterday when it was announced that Australian opera singer Dame Joan Sutherland – alongside, Callas and Pavarotti, one of greatest operatic voices of the twentieth century - had died at the age of 83 at her home in Switzerland.

This vintage Metropolitan Opera Guild postcard from 1979 was published for the benefit of the Metropolitan Opera in New York and depicts her as she appeared in the role of Elvira in Bellini's I Puritani in the 1976 production at the Met, in which she starred alongside Luciano Pavarotti, Sherrill Milnes and James Morris, with Richard Bonynge, the singer's husband, conducting. Remarkably, she would reprise the role again in 1986 to celebrate her 25th anniversary with the company, an incredible vocal feat considering she was by then a 60-year-old soprano. No wonder that she was known as “La Stupenda”!

Listen to her below singing Vien diletto in celo luna from the Second Act of Bellini s I Puritani at the 1976 Metropolitan staging or click here to listen to the track on YouTube.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Happy Days (Hands Across the Sea) – 1918

Vintage Hands Across the Sea postcards are easy to come by in flea markets and never cost much more than a few cents or pennies – they were presumably produced in great numbers in the early part of the last century. If the postcard was sent during war years, however, when families and loved ones were separated by conflict, they often have a story to tell – and for collectors of paper ephemera, sometimes those stories are the true intrinsic value of these cards. This particular postcard, published by UK company “National” Series, is just such an example.

This lovely example of a chromolithographic print with gold lettering features a bunch of poinsettias and the usual clasping hands motif common to all Hands Across the Sea cards, in this case, female hands, judging by the cuffs. Poinsettias are a popular Christmas decoration, but this card was posted on 16 May, 1918, six months before the armistice of the First World War on 11 November 1918, and carries a postal cancellation encouraging the British people to "Buy National War Bonds". These campaigns must have been highly effective as War Savings Certificates, or War Bonds, proved a huge success and continued throughout the inter-war years too.

The card is addressed to a woman with the amazing name of Violet Light. The message on the reverse of the card was written in ink with a very fine nib and is quite faint:
Dear Violet
Just @ [PC?] to
let you know I reach
Taunton quite safe
& I was sorry I
did not see you
before I left but
I think I will see you again. I am
leaving for the ship tonight
Wednesday so cheer up.
I will send you my address on the next letter
remember me to all at home. Good Bye from
There is a note on the left hand side that adds:
forgot to
send it
from Taunton
so sent
it from the
Indeed, the postmark is stamped as Plymouth, which was an important port during World War I. Curiously, Taunton - the place in which Harry was stationed over night – is my home town!

One cannot be certain, of course, but looking at the effusiveness of the kisses at the end, this would seem to be a romantic farewell, whilst mention of catching a ship in 1918 points to an overseas posting for Harry in the Great War. “I think I will see you again” in this context becomes incredibly moving and one cannot help but wonder as to whether Harry ever saw his Violet again.
Find more vintage postcards over at Beth's postcard blog The Best Hearts are Crunchy and join other collectors on Postcard Friendship Friday.

Postcard Friendship Friday