Till 1999

Shocked & saddened by the sudden passing of a musical legend. I was leafing through the Paleogreetings archives while grieving and came upon this card from 1911. Between the purple flowers, "1999" reference, and fact that it was published by G.K. PRINCE, I thought it was too eerie not to post.

RIP Purple One.

Leap Year

There are many interesting and wacky themes and motifs repeated in antique postcard designs - the "water wagon", Dutch children of dubious intelligence, and of particular interest on this Leap Day, the concept of Leap Year as it relates to intergender romantic customs.

Just as now, it was traditional during the early-20th century that the man would propose marriage to the woman and not the other way around - that is, unless it was a Leap Year, in which case it was open range for a woman to snare her unsuspecting gentleman caller in the web of marriage!

The origins of this practice are not wholly clear. Irish folklore has it that a 5th-century Irish nun asked St. Patrick to grant women permission to propose, as many were sick of waiting around for their reticent men to do it (what else is new!?).  The Leap Day was chosen to provide a small window of opportunity to those women truly in need. Regardless of whether this story is true, the practice appears to have deep roots, especially in the British Isles.

There is a certain element of the bloodthirsty spinster as predator in many of these cards. Paleogreetings doesn't necessarily endorse this view of women, though some of the designs do bring a smile to the face.

Regardless of your marital status, Paleogreetings wishes you a happy Leap Year and Leap Day! The sense of "free time" inherent in February 29 is quite exhilarating. Make the most of it!

 
 

This Day in Postcard History (February 13, 1957)

With the East Coast locked in yet again in a death grip with the Polar Vortex, close your eyes and imagine yourself bathing in sun beams and warm breezes while luxuriating on piles of juicy Florida grapefruit, as Connie Curtis in Brasher Falls, NY must have done 59 years ago today. 

For the record, the noon-time temp in Brasher Falls today was -11 deg. F.

Stay warm out there! 

vintage_florida_grapefruit

Sent from Saint Cloud, FL, on February 13, 1957 to Brasher Falls, NY. "Dear Connie, How would you like this pile of fruit? It lies on the ground down here like apples do up home. Love, Grandma."

This Day in Postcard History (February 7, 1909)

An interesting hypothetical...

 
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 Posted to Mr. George Bussemer in Zanesville, Ohio.

Posted to Mr. George Bussemer in Zanesville, Ohio.

George's response was not available.

In other news, Paleogreetings is now on Instagram! Follow us for more frequent postings of beautiful, funny, and interesting bits of postcard history.

Eternal New Years Resolutions

A new year is here, filled with hope & optimism for lives more filled with love, meaning, and all that good stuff! In that vein, we share here some vintage-inspired resolutions that seem to carry eternal relevance around this time of year. May your 2016s be happy & healthy!

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May 2016 be the year you hit your home run to financial independance!

millionaire
 Sent from Olean, NY to Allegany, NY on April 4, 1912. "Dear Friend Willard - Why dont you come down it is lonesome down here I dont like it here - I went to the skaten rink last Saturday night had a good time. Well goodbye -Gertrude Robbins."

Sent from Olean, NY to Allegany, NY on April 4, 1912. "Dear Friend Willard - Why dont you come down it is lonesome down here I dont like it here - I went to the skaten rink last Saturday night had a good time. Well goodbye -Gertrude Robbins."

May your physical vessel on this Earth be a source of pride (not like this little doggie)!

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...and the same for your wardrobe!

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2016 will be the year you start living healthy!

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....buckle down at work (while eliminating unneeded stress!)....

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Sent from Bloomington, IN to North Vernon, IN on March 2, 1913. "I don't suppose that you have the measles yet. I have had them. This term will soon be over. I won't care how soon either. I shall have gone to school for just a year then without stopping. -B.J. Malott."

work_is_healthy_reverse

....and find true love.

wish_i_had_a_girl
all_i_need_now

It will require making some tough decisions and developing priorities.

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And perhaps cutting back on the drinking....

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Resolutions are tough to stick by after the wide-eyed optimism of the New Year wears off and the daily struggle of cleaning, commuting, working, and all that crap gets in the way. But keep them in your mind, be forgiving of yourself, and know that the same bunch of problems and aspirations have beset us humans for time immemorial. You are not alone.  2016 will be sweet - all the best from Paleogreetings!

 Little French P.I.M.P. wishes you a  Bonne Année!

Little French P.I.M.P. wishes you a Bonne Année!

A Vintage Christmas

On this eve of Christmas Eve, enjoy a choice selection of turn-of-the-century Christmas postcards from the Paleogreetings archive!

 A nice Rotograph-published photo postcard circa 1906.

A nice Rotograph-published photo postcard circa 1906.

 French-made card ca. 1908 (love the cotton snowman!).

French-made card ca. 1908 (love the cotton snowman!).

 Austrian-made card ca. 1905. The somewhat "otherworldly" colors of this and other contemporaneous European cards results from hand-coloration of a black & white original.

Austrian-made card ca. 1905. The somewhat "otherworldly" colors of this and other contemporaneous European cards results from hand-coloration of a black & white original.

 A beautiful & ethereal reindeer real photo postcard, either Danish or Norwegian in make ca. 1915.

A beautiful & ethereal reindeer real photo postcard, either Danish or Norwegian in make ca. 1915.

nervous_breakdown_xmas
 Real photo postcard, ca. 1910 and likely delivered by hand (or possibly enclosed in an envelope, perhaps due to the sensitive medical nature of the content!): "Dear Troise [?] - Have been sick for about 2 mo ( nervous breakdown ). Just able to crawl around a little. Now Lucy is in bed with tonsillitis. Wonder how you all are. I will try and write you again. However we all write in sending love and best wishes for a Happy New Year. To All Lovingly, Your Irene."  Hope your Christmas goes a bit better than this person's did!

Real photo postcard, ca. 1910 and likely delivered by hand (or possibly enclosed in an envelope, perhaps due to the sensitive medical nature of the content!): "Dear Troise [?] - Have been sick for about 2 mo (nervous breakdown). Just able to crawl around a little. Now Lucy is in bed with tonsillitis. Wonder how you all are. I will try and write you again. However we all write in sending love and best wishes for a Happy New Year. To All Lovingly, Your Irene."

Hope your Christmas goes a bit better than this person's did!

 

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Merry Christmas to all you postcard fiends out there!

Would the Hotel?

Is this the earliest recorded use of the modern, slang version of the word "ho?"

 Normally I hate puns, but this one is pretty amusing!

Normally I hate puns, but this one is pretty amusing!

Multiple sources indicate that the etymology of the word "ho" (etym-ho-logy?) is as an African-American dialectical pronunciation of the word "whore" which arose in the 1960s. Amazingly, this postcard was postmarked in 1911 - and I think it's pretty hard to imagine an alternate meaning of the card's pun. 

As is often the case, the reverse of the card has pretty much nothing to do with the front: 

 Sent to Buffalo, NY in September 1911. "My Dearest Lillian - Got your card today. Was sure glad to hear from you. Are you still at the falls? Or are you back to your work. I am just as busy as ever. Still on the go. The stork has not yet come to visit us, he is slow this time."

Sent to Buffalo, NY in September 1911. "My Dearest Lillian - Got your card today. Was sure glad to hear from you. Are you still at the falls? Or are you back to your work. I am just as busy as ever. Still on the go. The stork has not yet come to visit us, he is slow this time."

So is this the earliest example of the word "ho?" It seems crazy that it predates the previously documented origin of the word by 50 years. But again, what else could it mean!?

Frameshop Now Open!

Hey guys, it's been a while. But good things have been cooking over here at Paleogreetings. For one, our framed postcards are now on sale in our Frameshop. Each piece is real vintage with the original sender's message visible on the reverse under glass:

Sent from Paris to Chateaugay, New York, likely in the late-1910s. "They have been trying to take the wheel down - they are having great difficulty. The cars are as large as a street car. Y E G."

Check out some of the great designs available. Search for your birthday (have a friend in Montana born on February 24?) or by keyword. New pieces posted regularly. And custom orders always welcome! Hope that everyone had a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

Cherry Blossom Time

The blossoms are peaking in D.C. this weekend, and the weather couldn't be any finer. Incidentally, this 1930s linen cherry blossoms postcard was the very first vintage postcard I ever bought. Even today, with 10s of 1,000s of additional cards in my collection, I still prize the deco-styling and vivid coloration of this superb Curteich design.

 
vintage_cherry_blossoms
 

Most know that the famous cherry trees ringing the D.C. Tidal Basin were gifted to the city by Japan in the 1910s, as indicated by this 1920s postcard which depicts, "a bit of old Japan transplanted to Potomac Park - the Misses Sumi and Sadi Tamura, daughters of...former Third Secretary of the Japanese Embassy, out for an early morning stroll."

 

What fewer know (including myself until today) is that an original 1909 gift of trees was burned upon arrival after USDA inspection revealed that the trees were infected with a number of invasive pests, including nematodes! An additional three trees were cut down by an anonymous vigilante four days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Thankfully, despite these early set-backs, the visionary gift has endured and bestows its ephemeral beauty to residents and visitors year after year. I hope the spring in whatever locale you might be reading this is as sweet.

 Photo credit: A. Riely, 2015

Photo credit: A. Riely, 2015

Valentine's 1910

Advice to all the wannabe lovers out there - double your odds by doubling your Valentine's Day efforts this year. Take a cue from this anonymous 59 year old fellow in 1910.

Homemade, real-photo Valentines postcards (unposted, so they were likely hand delivered or not at all). Ruby sounds exotic but I'll take Edna any day.

Happy Valentine's Day from Paleogreetings!

Canadian Sojourn

Paleogreetings has been on a brief hiatus while spending the month of January in that classic winter getaway...Quebec! 

 
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 It was a beautiful sejour full of snow, ice, poutine, and many kind, new Quebecois friends.

One perilous moment did occur on the slopes of Mount Royal - the eponymous, mountain park located in the center of the city - when Paleogreetings sustained a very serious sledding accident by unknowingly careening into a concrete ledge barely hidden below the snow at the end of a municipal sledding track. Aie!   

 Paleogreetings associate brandishing shattered sled on the Mount Royal toboggan run ( not pictured - shattered hip, shattered dignity ).

Paleogreetings associate brandishing shattered sled on the Mount Royal toboggan run (not pictured - shattered hip, shattered dignity).

Injuries aside, the sledding track is a wonderful and unexpected feature that I can't imagine existing in the litigious US. Based on some postcards in the Paleogreetings collection, it appears that a sledding park has been maintained on the winter slopes of Mount Royal (albeit on a higher grade) since at least the early-20th century.

 Now that looks fun.

Now that looks fun.

  Sent from Montreal, QC, on March 20, 1908 to Old Chatam, NY.&nbsp;  "Dear Alicia, How are you all. I have been waiting for you to write and I have not heard from you in so long that I thought I would write you a postle. How is every one. We are all well. How did you enjoy St Patrick's day. They did not celebrate it much up here this year. The Irish people up here are too slow. Write soon. Remember me to all - Cecelia."

Sent from Montreal, QC, on March 20, 1908 to Old Chatam, NY. "Dear Alicia, How are you all. I have been waiting for you to write and I have not heard from you in so long that I thought I would write you a postle. How is every one. We are all well. How did you enjoy St Patrick's day. They did not celebrate it much up here this year. The Irish people up here are too slow. Write soon. Remember me to all - Cecelia."

 We were not the first to have a little spill while tobogganing in Montreal, it seems.

We were not the first to have a little spill while tobogganing in Montreal, it seems.

 Sadly, the 2015 Montreal Ice Palace was canceled due to budget cuts.

Sadly, the 2015 Montreal Ice Palace was canceled due to budget cuts.

All in all, it was a good time and a good change in perspective. We're well-rested, thawed-out, and ready to bring you more slices of postcard history. Stay-tuned.

The Cold Grey Dawn of the Morning After

nye_cat_front
 Sent from Cleveland, OK&nbsp;on February&nbsp;16, 1910&nbsp;to Urban Clement in North Vernon, IN.&nbsp; "Hello Urban I am still thinking of the good old times I wand you to tell me hoo&nbsp;sent me all of their valentine and I will dance at your weding in a hog trough ho ho -Chas."   Hope everybody had a great New Year's and is waking up in better shape than this poor cat. Happy 2015 from Paleogreetings!

Sent from Cleveland, OK on February 16, 1910 to Urban Clement in North Vernon, IN. "Hello Urban I am still thinking of the good old times I wand you to tell me hoo sent me all of their valentine and I will dance at your weding in a hog trough ho ho -Chas."

Hope everybody had a great New Year's and is waking up in better shape than this poor cat. Happy 2015 from Paleogreetings!

Malted Milk, Sandy Milk

It's been a few weeks since a substantive post. I've been quite occupied with the day job, the night job, and the like. So when I saw the card below it piqued my interest. 

thompson's_hemo_front.jpg
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Now that you mention it,  tired and nervous are apt descriptors of my demeanor of late (and I suppose I am a business man)! In another era, I might have dosed myself with some Hemo, the flagship product of the now-defunct Thompson's Malted Food Company in Waukasha, Wisconsin. The stuff appears to have been a potent brew. According to a 1914 volume of the Medical World periodical, Hemo contained "the iron of spinach, the juices of prime beef, the tonic properties of selected malt in powdered form and the richest sweet milk." A sort of weird antecedent to the $10 fresh juices you see around D.C. these days.

All this Hemo talk got me thinking about another cool milk-related card in the Paleogreetings collection.

milk_sediment_front.jpg

The card was produced by the Chillicothe, Ohio City Laboratory for recording milk characteristics, including sediment content, total milk solids, and number of bacteria cells (?) per cubic centimeter (cc). It appears that the batch of milk collected on August 10, 1944 was of questionable quality - earning a middling grade of 2 out of 5 with regards to sediment, but carrying a whopping 310,000 bacteria per cc (compared to 10,000 bacteria per cc recommended for "clean, rich milk" on the front). I'm not sure who George Rittenour was and why he sent this card to himself instead of just recording the information in a notebook, but I sure hope he flagged the batch.

You might wonder where all this sediment and bacteria is coming from. I would have wondered the same, until I spent a short spell milking goats on a farm a few years ago. Those damn goats constantly kicked dirt, straw, and even little goat turds into the milking bucket. We would just pick the debris out as best we could and pass the milk through a coffee filter before adding renet for cheese making. I doubt it would have received an A grade from the health department, but I never suffered any ill-effects from eating the milk and cheese during my time on that farm. Such experiences definitely gave me a sense that we are overly squeamish regarding food safety in this country. But I suppose it is nice to know that the good people at the Chillicothe milk department and others like it are keeping an eye on the supply for our benefit. And I'm sure I'll change my mind if/when I get food poisoning some day.

 Hanging with some goats in my pre-postcard days.

Hanging with some goats in my pre-postcard days.

Anyways, stay vigorous and drink clean milk - Thanksgiving break is on its way! 

Reference: The Medical World, Volume 32, December 1914.