And a Merry Christmas to you all, dear readers - plus, of course, glad tidings to those of you who do not celebrate this festival. But if we came together a little closer we would discover that there are many similarities between us, which would warm our hearts with equal fire.
Anyway I am not going to tell you it has been a hectic week, for I am certain we can all say the same, whatever our religion we all have to navigate the same pre Christmas hazards and jams - we all have things to get before everything closes down, and there are way more people in the streets and in the shops, and going endlessly round the car park hoping someone will pull out just as you get there, and also the crush on public transport (though I was the only person on the bus this afternoon - I felt quite guilty getting off and leaving it empty).
So this week we have tried to give you a flavour of Christmas on every day of our diary dates - and we succeeded, I think. So let us introduce our stars - the humble radish - the evergreen - a "pud" - the little wren - and two trips to Neverland, with a break, for a glass of beer, in the interval....
Holden & Robinson [trade : agricultural requisites : O/S : USA] Advertising Card 1/3 (1885)
Let us start our strange parade with "The Night of the Radishes", at last, for at last I have a card, showing not just one radish but a couple.
Now there is nothing to stop you joining in with this festival, even though you may be miles away from Oaxaca, Mexico, which is its traditional home. In fact it may be better for you, because if you find a radish at all it will be small, and their contest revolves around size. The idea is to carve the largest radish you can possibly find into a wonderful creation - and to hopefully take home one of the many prizes.
Now a quick look online has discovered similar cards of what is called a white turnip but might be a white radish, as mentioned in our link and called a Criollo - and a light and dark brown vegetable I do not know but the seller calls it a rutabaga. Never heard of that but according to the search engine it is a hybrid of a turnip and a cabbage. Does anyone know of any more?
Anyway if you look to the left, just above the bottom border you will see a smudge, which actually reads "Copyright Clay & Richmond Buffalo NY 1885". The Turnip man is also dated the same, but the rutabaga man has no date.
Now at the time this card was issued Holden & Robinson were at Chase`s Block in Hudson Massachusetts, and it seems to be a huge enterprise, selling seeds, agricultural equipment, hardware, woodenware, cutlery (which often meant hunting knives), hunting and fishing supplies. The card also hearks back to their origins, because when it was opened in 1874 by Messrs John Holden and John Henry Robinson it was purely a General Store - and they would have almost certainly started with horse-drawn tools, like the Yankee Horse Rake and the Bullard Hay Tedder.
Starline [trade/commercial : cards : O/S : USA] "Americana" (1992) 16/250
And we continue our Christmas connections by telling you that a hundred years ago today, the 24th December, 1923, the first National Christmas Tree appeared at the White House, and it was lit by the current President Calvin Coolidge.
However this may not be strictly true, because although there are few details of how the first few Presidents celebrated, we do know that they kept the festivities completely out of view from the general public.
The first tree that is recorded as being in the White House was in 1889, but again it was not on view to the public, it was in the family quarters. That was put up by Benjamin Harrison, and the lights were just candles. However electric light bulbs for Christmas trees had been invented, in 1882, so we are not sure why President Harrison did not take advantage of them. President Grover Cleveland did though, in 1894.
The first time the tree left the family areas was in 1912. However this may well have been because President Taft and his First Lady were away on tour, and someone there thought it would not matter, just this once. Sometimes we get those devilments. The cat`s away etc. But in any event it was not intended to be seen by the general public.
Anyway, on December 24, 1923, President Calvin Coolidge did ceremonially illuminate a balsam fir, measuring forty-eight foot tall. This was sited very prominently in the middle of the lawn - and you can read all about that at The US National Archives/CoolidgeTree
Now these attractive cards were sold in foil packs of twelve cards, and you can see a checklist at the Trading Card Database / Starline Americana. They do not seem to keep to any kind of date order, but there are some super cards there and they are very well printed. However they seem quite elusive as far as any information. Maybe someone knows more and can educate us?
Upper Deck [trade/commercial : cards : O/S : USA] "Goodwin`s Champions" (2012) 160/1888
Still sticking with the Festive Frivolity, here we have James Francis Galvin, born today in 1856, and celebrated by this super modern card. And, as it says on this card, he was known as "Pud" Galvin.
So great was he, even in a time without specially fast equipment, or modern nutrition, or specialised training, that he won 92 out of 143 games, and his total innings stands at almost one thousand three hundred. No wonder that he is in the Baseball Hall of Fame. nearly a quarter of his career total, while compiling 143 complete games en route to nearly 1,300 innings.
He is rather portly, but that is not why he got his nickname - it is, reputedly, rather because he made pudding out of his opponents, in the way we still say "made mincemeat".
The Trading Card Database/PudGalvin tells us he first appeared on a card in 1887, and, strangely, that was issued by a Goodwin - the original, Goodwin & Company, who issued the first ever large base set of baseball cards, with its "Old Judge" and "Gypsy Queen" Cigarettes, between 1887 and 1890. This had over two thousand cards and each was a photoprint, in the days when they were not produced by computer - but by eggs. For these were albumen prints, where the thin paper was coated with a layer of egg white (or albumen), and salt, then a thin silver-nitrate solution is added over the top. These react together and form a kind of silver/salt mixture on the paper, and then, when a glass negative is pressed on top, the image is transferred to the negative. And then that is printed, in daylight. For each image.
However his last card was issued in 1889. This is not because he died, as he lived until 1902. However he did fall from favour, and his weight grew to a size that would not allow him to play effectively, so he was dropped. After that he was lost, and when he died he had so little money that his funeral had to be paid for by fundraising, some of which went to support his family too, for he had eleven children.
Though he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1965, his climb back into the public eye was undoubtedly helped ten years later, by his inclusion in a set by Fleer, called "Official Major League Patches - Pioneers of Baseball".
Now this card was issued by another Goodwin in 2012 as part of their Champions series, and it is a lovely card, with a dark black border. However the backs are not so pleasing, and very difficult to get anything out of at all by scanning. But hopefully it is visible, if slightly altered in hue.
And you can see the entire checklist of this huge set, almost rivalling the original in number, at Last Sticker.com/2012Goodwin
Gallaher [tobacco : UK] "British Birds" (1937) /48 - G075-545 : G12-75
Now this is a curious custom, for in some places, notably Ireland, today is Wren Day. Long ago, this was celebrated by groups of "Wren Boys" who paraded the streets in their most worn out attire, carrying poles with holly at the top. They would carouse their way from house to house and at each one they would be given food and drink and maybe even gifts.
Well, there is no clear answer to this. Some say that the noise they made drove out the evil spirits, or that those spirits saw that all the food and drink was being given away and so chose to leave before they starved. e of this Christmas celebration. However this ignores the wren.
This tiny bird is a symbol of good luck, and friendly feeling much as our robin is. But it rural areas it has been associated with spying, always hopping about, watching, and today, St. Stephen`s Day, has special meaning, because he was hiding in a thicket when he was betrayed by a wren, chittering about him. Also there is a tale that when a group of brave Irish patriots were trying to ambush a Viking encampment a wren came along and either sang loud and clear, or even tapped on a drum on which the Vikings had left breadcrumbs. Either way, the Vikings woke and the ambush did not end well.
And I have to say it is noticeable that the band who go from house to house are all male, and of fighting age.
I am sure I have used this set before but never mind it will all sort itself out when I finally find a replacement card of Winston Churchill, who is blocking me severely at the moment.
Or am I getting confused with the set(s) of 100 cards from artwork by George Rankin, which was issued in 1922? Anyway our set is of just 48 cards, and it was issued in 1937.
It is described in our original Gallaher reference book, RB.4, published in 1944, as
1937. 48. BRITISH BIRDS (titled series). Size 2 1/2" x 1 7/16. Numbered 1-48. Fronts, printed in full colours by offset-litho, black marginal lines white margins and subjects titled. Backs, printed in brown, with descriptions, "Issued by Gallaher, Ltd., Virginia House, London & Belfast." Printed by E. S. & A. Robinson Ltd., Bristol.
Our World Tobacco Issues Indexes truncate this to "BRITISH BIRDS. Sm. Nd. (48)"
Sniders & Abrahams [tobacco : O/S : Australia] "Butterflies and Moths" (1910-15) 15/60 : S587-110.2 : S88-13.2 : [RB.30/S88-13.2] : RB.20/16.II :
And now off we go to the theatre, because today in 1904, at the Duke of York`s Theatre, Nina Boucicault became the first ever Peter Pan.
She was born in February 1867, so she was not very young when she took the part. Her upbringing was certainly theatrical though, for her father was the Irish Playwright Dion Boucicault, and her mother was an actress. She also had three brothers and two sisters.
She retired from theatre in 1927, but did make several films, the last in 1938, and she was married three times. And she died in 1950.
Despite this, I failed to find her on a card, either as this name, or her altar ego, Mina Boucicault - but if you have one, please send us a scan of the front and back and the butterfly will go and flutter elsewhere, back or forth in time.
Actually it is a moth, but that is rather apt because just as the butterfly resembles a moth Peter Pan resembles a boy, but is habitually played by a lady, in tights, or, as here, in brown close fitting trousers.
This set is first described in our Australasian Miscellaneous Booklet, RB.20, published in 1951, as
16. BUTTERFLIES AND MOTHS (adopted title). Size 68 x 40 m/m. Fronts in colour, without captions. Black "Peter Pan" backs (type 12) with descriptive text. There are two series, both with identical back format and both numbered 1-60 but consisting of different subjects. Issued 1910-15 period.
I - Captions on back, in SMALL LETTERS, thus : No. 1 - Eratura Leptocirata"
II - Captions on back in CAPITAL LETTERS, thus : "No.1 - TROIDES POSEIDON". This series is found on both white and on cream board.
There are a number of variety cards in II, two cards with the same number and text on back being found with two entirely different butterflies on front, each facing a different direction.
On normal cards butterflies face left, ie the top of the left wing points to the bottom left corner of the card. The variety cards face right ie the top of the left wing points to the top right of the card
[There then follows a list, which I will eventually scan in]
It will be seen from the above that the varieties, which are caused by complete sheets of fronts being fed in to the printing machine the wrong way round, represent complete inverted sets, ie No.1 (normal No. 60) down to No.60 (Normal No.1)
Allen (Australian trade) issued a series believed to number 72, consisting of a selection of subjects from I and II above; this Allen series will be referred to as Set 16-III
Its next appearance is in the original World Tobacco Issues Index, in 1956, where it appears as :
BUTTERFLIES AND MOTHS (A) Sm. Nd. "Peter Pan" brand issues. See RB.20/16
1. Captions on backs in small letters (60)
2. Captions in capital letters (60). Each subject with two different numbers, one being error card.
This is reprinted exactly in our updated edition.
After that it also appears in a slightly different format, in our 1983 "The Australian and New Zealand Index", as :
S88-13 Butterflies and Moths (1910-15) See RB.20/16
1. Captions in upper and lower case letters (60)
2. Captions in capital letters (60)
Anyway, if you please, there will now be a brief interval...
Molson Breweries [trade : brewing : O/S : Canada] "Expo 67" (1967) 1/45
.....because today in 1763 John Molson was born, near Spalding in Lincolnshire - and, in time, he would go on to found a brewery, in Montreal in Canada.
He started by emigrating to Quebec, at the age of eighteen, in a ramshackle vessel that leaked so badly that the passengers had to be transferred to another one en route. Then, he started to find friends, and, in 1783, moved in with one, a man called Thomas Loid, who had grand dreams to become a brewer. John Molson was intrigued, and soon became a partner, taking the whole business over in 1785. He hired staff too, including a housemaid, who would become his wife.
Apart from the brewery, he built the first steamship and the first public railway in Canada - plus a hospital, a hotel, and a theatre. Today his company sponsors the National Hockey League (Ice Hockey), and award an annual cup, called The Molson Cup, to the player with the most three star honours, as voted by the media.
They also issue trading cards, especially ice hockey related, and playing cards. But in 1967 they issued these - in two languages, French and English - to celebrate the 1967 Montreal Expo, and this very one shows the "Breweries of Canada" exhibit.
Now despite their curious shape, they were issued, as a full set, in a small squareish box, the sort that usually contains those little table mats for glasses. Though on the front of the box there is a cut out section which is the same shape as the cards, but slightly smaller so they stay inside.
They were issued as a souvenir but also for educational purposes, and according to the box the set ought to have been called "Expo 67 Pavilions", but nobody does - though I did find some called "Expo 67 Cards". Perhaps this is only because that wording was on the box and it got thrown away.
Anonymous / B.A.T. [tobacco : O/S : Malta] "Beauties - 2nd Series" (19) 20/50 - ZA08-080.2.A.a : ZA8-1.2.A.a : RB.21-232.A.1
Ooh quick the curtains are re-opening, but this time they are before a silver screen, on which Peter Pan again dashes about - and this is the first day of the film`s release, so don`t miss it - however this time she is Betty Bronson, the choice of J.M. Barrie, no less.
And I am totally thrilled to say that you can see the entire film, all hour and forty five minutes of it, via Wikipedia/PeterPan1924.
She was aged just seventeen at the time, and she was picked from a hundred girls who auditioned. And that is not including film luminaries, including Mary Pickford, and Gloria Swanson, who did everything to make the part theirs. However it was not Betty Bronson`s first film part, as is often written. That was "Anna Ascends" in 1922, a curious film about the perils of a big game hunt - though she was not mentioned on the cast list, and it was not the greatest of parts, in fact her character did not even have a name.
Now we have had this set before as well, but it is Christmas! In any event it was also issued by other firms, so if anyone has this card with another back we would be grateful of a scan.
It appears first in our British American Tobacco Company booklet, RB.21, issued in 1952. as :
232. BEAUTIES - 2nd Series. Size 63 x 41 m/m, except in printing A2. Fronts in black and white, some printings hand coloured. Back in black, see Fig 232. Numbered series of 50. The numbering in A1 and B is similar. In A2 the numbering has been re-arranged. A few cards only have been seen in C.
A. Anonymous issues, with letterpress on back.
1. Back per Fig,232.A1 (a) Front uncoloured (b) Front hand-coloured
2. Back per Fig 232.A2 Size 63 x 44 m/m. Front hand-coloured. This printing is not inscribed "2nd Series" and the back format is identical to Fig.231-A2; the subjects in the two series can only be distinguished by reference to the listings
B. Players Overseas issue. Back per Fig.232-B. Front un-coloured. See RB.17/22
C. Wills Overseas issue. Back per Fig.232-C. Front un-coloured. See W/143.
There then follows a listing, which will be scanned one day. However until then the difference is that A1 is our set, A2 has the same format but not the top lines which is "2nd Series / of / Beauties" - whilst B and C are named for their issuers.
And in that A2 set, our card appears as number 41, which in our set is the space occupied by Dorothy Devore.
In our original World Tobacco issues Index it is hard to track down but I found it. It is catalogued with several other Beauties sets, but the description for our set is
BEAUTIES. Sm. Black and white photos.
2. 2nd Series. See RB.21/232A. Nd. (50)
(A) Back headed "2nd Series of Beauties". Size 63 x 41. Inscribed "This Real Photograph . . .". Front (a) un-coloured, with numerals 1 1/2 m/m high (b) hand-coloured, with numerals 2 m/m high
This week's Cards of the Day...
Ok, it was never going to be in much doubt that this week`s theme would be Father Christmas, who did exist - being the Bishop of Myra, during the Roman Empire in the fourth century.
However we were rather cunning with our clues, and, believe it or not, these three are just a few of the things that Father Christmas, Kriss Kringle, Sinterklass, Santa Claus, Santa, or St.Nicholas is the patron saint of.
Saturday, 16th December 2023
So the first clue was the name of the team - that being Aberdeen. And the reason is simply because they are a city with a harbour, and harbours are places that are popular with those on our next clue card ...
But there is also another link to Aberdeen with our next clue card too, so read on.
These first appear in our reference book to Ardath, RB.6, originally published in 1943, where they are described as :
Sept. 1936. 165. PHOTOCARDS. SERIES "D" (titled series). Size 3 1/2" x 2 1/4". Numbered 1-165. Real photographs of Football Teams of Scotland, toned black and white, glossy finish, titled, white margins. Backs printed in black with descriptions with "D" at bottom right. Issued with "Kings Cigarettes". Expanding Albums, price 6d., were issued.
It also tells us there are differences between the captions on the front of the card and the back in some cases - and gives a list. However, in most cases this is simply that on the front of cards 10, 15, 16, 29, 59, 93, 131, 146 and 163, the initials "F.C." follow the name of the team on the front title, but on the reverse of the card the words "Football Club" appear instead. The only exception is card 20, which is "Aberdeen City Police Club (Football Section)" on the front and "Aberdeen City Police Club (Football Sec.)" on the reverse.
In our original World Tobacco Issues Index, none of these changes are mentioned and the set is simply described as part of a long list headed "PHOTOCARDS - Numbered Series" as set "4. Inscribed "D". Football Teams of Scotland. (165)". However this gives us our first card code, because the Ardath booklet does not number the sets, only list them in alphabetical order.
There is a slight difference in our updated volume, but only to the header, which reads :
"PHOTOCARDS - Numbered Series. Md. Black and white photos. Nd. Many cards found overprinted in red-brown : "Packed with Ardath Kings - 10 for 6d. - The Longer Cigarette."
The text describing the cards remains the same.
Sunday, 17th December 2023
Now his patronage of sailors is based on fact, because whilst sailing as a passenger to Jerusalem, a sudden storm whipped up, almost destroying his ship, but he remained calm, and also calmed the seas. And it is not just sailors that he protects, but fishermen and travellers.
The fisherman link is unusual, because it is claimed that he was a fisherman himself, before becoming a Bishop. This links rather well to St. Peter, and to St. Andrew, who as you may remember, were fisherman before becoming disciples of Jesus Christ. And Aberdeen Cathedral is St. Andrew`s Cathedral, which is yet another reason for that link.
However, some people go further and say that St. Nicholas` family were businessmen, whose interests included a fleet of fishing boats.
Now this set has a huge write up in our original Wills reference books parts I and II, but it is not until the five parts were combined in a single hardback volume that it was revealed that it was issued in stages, courtesy of the dates of issue that were printed in Wills` Works Magazine" in the late autumn of 1936. These stages were "Naval and Military" (coming first in 1895), "Soldiers" (1895 as well), "Kaffirs, etc" (1896) and "Cavalry" (1897).
By the way both sets are lithographed in full colour.
The data runs over four pages, but most importantly, this set was originally written up as part of "Soldiers of the World", which had to be changed because there was "a proportion of Naval subjects". This suggests to me that the set was titled from the first few cards that were seen, which were all Soldiers, and then Sailors appeared, and then it was realised that quite a few were Sailors, at least a fifth.
In actual fact another facet of this title was debated subsequently, and there must have been still a trace of ill feeling when the first Wills book was printed, for it adds "It will be noted the subjects in these sets, with the exception of Great Britain, concern European powers, consequently it is wrong to say "Of the World".
I am not sure if it was originally recorded, in the 1930s, as yet another part of the main "Soldiers of the World Set", but I might find that out when my indexing has finished and I start to glean the earliest of the magazines for information to add to the cards of the day and the newsletter cards.
Anyway the description of the set is printed as follows :
SOLDIERS AND SAILORS.
Series of fifty. Size 2-5/8 ins x 1-3/8 ins. Unnumbered.
Printed by Jonas Wolf & Co. Issued 1895.
FRONTS. Printed in full colour.
A. No frame lines round subjects.
B. Grey frame lines round subjects
BACKS. Star and Circle ornamental design, with "Ld." in the circle.
A. Printed in grey.
B. Printed in blue.
There then follows a list of the titles, in alphabetical order, by country, starting with Austria, and within each country in alphabetical order by the soldier`s name
By the time of our original World Tobacco Issues Index it appears as :
SOLDIERS AND SAILORS (A). Sm. Unnd. (50) See W/13
A. Grey scroll back.
B. Blue scroll back.
It is slightly altered in our updated World Tobacco Issues Index, and appears as
SOLDIERS AND SAILORS (A). Sm. Unnd. (50) See W/13
A. Grey scroll back, no frameline on front.
B. Blue scroll back, with frameline on front.
Monday, 18th December 2023
Now I thought that the patron saint of archers was St. Sebastian, but it turns out that St. Nicholas is as well. In fact there is a contest in archery called The St. Nicholas, and it involves shooting four dozen arrows at forty yards, plus three dozen at thirty yards, on a target which is 122 c/m across. The top score ever, which has been equalled but not beaten, was 84 arrows in the gold section.
And we did not touch on his patronage of brewers, children, merchants, pawnbrokers, repentant thieves, unwed people, and students from Belgium, Bulgaria, Georgia, Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia and Slovakia...
But that may be useful info for next year!
Now this is another version of a card we featured previously, but branded by Hignett. You will find that one as our Card of the Day for September 18th 2023 - which was the last version to be issued in this country, eight years after the Mitchell version, and fifteen years after the Wills ones, though it was again issued, two years later still, by John Player, overseas!
That was a home issue, issued here in the United Kingdom, but this version of this set was only distributed overseas. In fact none of the W.D. & H.O. Wills versions of this set were issued in this country; in Australia they were branded for "Capstan", "Havelock" and "Vice Regal", all of which made their debut in the same month, November 1910, whilst in the Channel Islands, and other areas where British Garrisons were located, they were issued the month after, but with yet another brand, that being "United Service".
Our original Wills reference book part III describes all their sets as :
38. 50. ARMS & ARMOUR. Fronts lithographed in colour; backs with descriptive text. Issued 1910.
AUSTRALIAN ISSUES :- backs in blue :-
A. With "Capstan" advertisement (a) "Capstan Navy Cut. For pipe smokers is unequalled" (b) "Capstan Navy Cut. Also obtainable in Plug Form."
B. With "Havelock" advertisement
C. With "Vice Regal" advertisement
D. No brand advertised (anonymous issue)
"UNITED SERVICE" issue :-
E. Backs in brown.
Similar series issued by Hignett, Mitchell and Player.
Our World Tobacco Issues Indexes lists these Wills sets slightly differently, and it must be said, still quite lengthily. The header (which is section 3 in the original WTII, and section 4 in the updated version) also tells us that these were "AUSTRALIAN ISSUES. Without I.T.C. Clause. Issued through B.A.T. Small size 67-68 x 36 m/m, unless stated".
It catalogues them as :
ARMS & ARMOUR. Sm. Nd. (50). See W/38.
A. "Capstan" back (a) with (b) without "Also obtainable in plug form" at base.
B. "Havelock" back. Brand Issue.
C. "Vice Regal" back.
The only change in the updated version is another cross reference, following the W/38, that directs the reader to H.273. However that merely lists the other issuers.
Tuesday, 19th December 2023
So here is another Atmore & Son`s "Celebrated Mince Meat and Genuine English Plum Pudding" advertisement card, and again printed by Ketterlinus, but this time there is a difference as this card has a printed back, which announces that "Average daily sales in the season twelve tons".
The story of Atmore and Sons was told on November 29th 2023 - when we featured a card from this series with a plain back. But as to why this is here on this week, well, take a look, and you will see that the festive fare is being delivered by Father Christmas himself ! And note the size of the pudding he brandishes - bigger than his head... Then there are the two tall industrial chimneys, which I thought may be the factory, but I have not tracked the truth of that down yet.
Notice, too, whilst you are looking, that there are only six reindeer pulling the sleigh. This is odd, because the original 1823 poem "A Visit from St. Nicholas" it clearly says that he came in "a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer". Perhaps they just would not all fit on the card, but the artist did not realise this until he neared the border, though it would have been easy enough to make the front pair appear as tails only, and be zooming out of the card.
Wednesday, 20th December 2023
Today we have a big change in the appearance of Father Christmas, for he has a red coat. This is often stated to have been given to him by Coca-Cola in 1931 to tie him to their official colour. However, this is not true - though it is, falsely, supported by the fact that in the Victorian era he did not have a standard colour for his robe, and he was seen in all manner of hues, from the greens and browns and blacks (which had been his attire when he was the more religious, Sainted Nicholas), up to brighter hues like yellows and blues, but not in red. However in 1881, he was depicted in red for the first time, by Thomas Nast.
Now this card is not long after that, and we know that because this strange looking typewriter, made by The Simplex Typewriter Company of New York, was once the marvel of the modern age. However, as happens still, today, new tech gets out of date very quickly, and in an attempt to clear the unsold, left in stock, someone has a brainwave, and it is advertised as a good way to get children used to a slightly older and simpler system before they get their own latest model. This sort of typewriter started to be seen as outdated around the late 1890s, and so here it is, being offered as "The best gift for boys and girls....They fit in with the educational idea and hold the child`s interest as any toy" (reverse) - and - "The most instructive and useful gift to give any child, boy or girl" (front).
As they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
However there is a funny twist to this tale, as originally when this machine was retailed, it was written that :"This machine is not to be placed in the category with other so-called Typewriters, selling for $1.00 and thereabouts, which are utterly useless for any purpose except that of a toy."
Now there are several versions of this card, and many different wordings on the paper that protrudes downwards as extra advertising space. There are also many different addresses, so the card seems to have been either supplied blank for the retailer to insert their own particulars, or printed to order. As there are several cards which appear to be typewritten I suspect that there were also ones which were supplied entirely blank in that area, maybe for a lower price.
The model of the typewriter that he holds in his hands also changes, ours is more of a black and white line drawing, but there are other cards which show a slightly different model in colour - like the one(s) which you can see below in Santa`s sack. They all appear to be slanted at children, and one even says on the reverse "teaches children reading, writing, and spelling".
Thursday, 21st December 2023
Now this card is not so bright, and not so exciting, as many, but from this came the biggest toy store in the world, so famous that it appeared in Hollywood Movies and everyone knew its name. If you watch Home Alone 2 this year, look out for it. And show your grandchildren this card of how it all began.
The family came from Germany, and ended up, as so many, in New York. They were not rich, but they remembered the little wooden toys of their childhood.
The son, Gustave, opened his shop in 1859, in Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, the store on this very card, and it lasted until the mid 1880s.
His father Henry Schwarz found a partner, a fellow German, and opened a Toy Bazaar in 1862. Then something happened, and there was a split. We do not know either what happened to his partner, but Henry Schwarz was running the Schwarz Toy Bazaar all on his own at a new shop on Broadway - and advertising it as the most complete toy shop in all the city. He also made no secret of the fact that his items came from all over the world, the like of which most New Yorkers had never seen.
When Henry died in 1903 and Gustave took those premises too. If you count both branches, this made him the owner of the largest toyshop in the World. But if you only count a single premises that honour goes to Hamleys, founded in Holborn in London in 1760, and relocated to Regent Street in 1881.
Friday, 22nd December 2023
So here we have Christmas as it ought to be, Father Christmas red and jolly and a small child delighted with a bar of soap. Mind you it is a large bar of soap.
N.K. Fairbank operated out of New York and Chicago, later also from St. Louis, and ran a scheme where the wrappers could be exchanged for gifts. In fact though this is an advertising card, it is mainly a list of the gifts that you had to save up for, wonderful things, starting with pictures and fishing tackle, but moving into jewellery, sheet music and musical instruments, baseball kit, even the magical offer of your photo on a button - which most of the users could only dream of being able to do.
However there was also a reason for the scheme, because it prevented anyone stealing the soap and selling it unwrapped at a bargain rate. And this was very clever indeed.
Now although this card shows Santa Claus and the soap is named after him, they also made Fairy Land Soap, presumably for the summer months so that the name remained in the public eye, and was then magically altered just in time for Father Christmas to come into view.
And so I must adjourn. And not only because my charger has disappeared and my battery but a sliver of its former self. But I will catch up with my charger in the morning, where-ever it has wandered.
It only remains for me to thank you for popping by all these weeks, perhaps even since I started in 2019, and thought what a good idea it would be to have a weekly newsletter. There have been times I have wondered if that was the best idea ever, but I have learned lots, and it has been such fun. And I look forward to keeping them going for as long as I possibly can.....
And thanks for coming tonight, on the night when it starts to stay lighter again in the evenings, albeit by really small increments. However it is on its way! And that gladdens my heart immensely.