Friday, February 18, 2011

Pierrot and Columbine – 1920s

Shrove Tuesday falls on March 8 this year, but in Italy the sweets and pastries that one traditionally eats during Carnevale have been on offer in bakeries all over Rome for some weeks now, the pavements are already sprinkled with confetti, whilst on Sunday afternoons small children decked out in fancy dress costumes can be seen out and about in town. Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday or Pancake Day...Carnevale (or Carnival) has many names and is celebrated all over the world, but this vintage French postcard from the 1920s reminded instantly of the Italian celebration.

Published by prolific Paris printers Lèo of Pradot, this is yet another striking example of the hand-tinted real photograph vintage postcards that were so popular at the time – this one must surely win the prize for most garish colours, however! There's no colour enhancement with this scan – those pinks really are that bright on the original card!

This uncirculated postcard features the lovestruck Pierrot, a famous stock character from Italian pantomime, wearing his classic loose white gowns, frilly collar and black skullcap, wooing a 1920s version of Columbine, who in the traditional pantomimes or Commedia dell'Arte plays breaks his heart when she leaves him for another very famous character - Harlequin. In the late 17th-century an Italian troupe of players performing in Paris called the Comédie-Italienne made these Italian masked plays popular in France, so it seems particularly appropriate that this should be a Parisian postcard.

Whilst doing a little research for this post I was reminded of a favourite song from 1980 that illustrates the enduring popularity of the Pierrot motif – David Bowie appeared as the character in the video for Ashes to Ashes, although his Pierrot sports the conical dunce's cap. Watch that blast from the past below or click here to watch it on YouTube!

Check out the Vintage Postcard Store for more Pierrot postcards.

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, February 4, 2011

The Greyhound Station, Kalamazoo - 1951

Kalamazoo...What a wonderful name! So varied, in fact, are the theories behind this strange name that was given first to the river and then to the city, county and township, that Wikipedia has dedicated a whole page to the Etymology of Kalamazoo. What would seem certain, however, is that this evocative name was derived originally from the languages of indigenous peoples of what is now the US state of Michigan.

I just knew I had to have this vintage real photograph postcard of the old Greyhound Bus Station in Kalamazoo when I came across it on a market stall in Rome last weekend. The postcard was issued by the enormously prolific LL Cook Co., Milwaukee, so probably isn't particularly rare, but topographical postcards of US cities aren't that common here in Europe – in fact, this card wasn't even posted to Italy, but was instead sent to an address in Brussels, Belgium, on May 10, 1951.

I was even more excited when I discovered that it records a part of “lost” Kalamazoo – the old Greyhound Bus Station at 318, West Michigan Avenue, back in the days before it moved to the Amtrak depot. The neighbouring Paris Cleaners is another historic venue; opening its doors in Kalamazoo in 1903, the dry cleaning company moved to its current location on the corner of Crosstown Parkway and Westnedge Avenue back in 1956 – this photograph shows an even earlier site. Wanting to track down the very spot, I took a virtual stroll along West Michigan Avenue thanks to Google Maps Street View, until I stumbled upon the exact location! Looks like Jim Lum's Cafe was a place called the Copy Cup when the Google Maps camera passed by, although a quick search has revealed that it is now known as Pistachios, whilst the Grehound station itself is now a branch of the Bank of America.

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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