Temple Guardians, Bali, Indonesia

Divided back, Real Photo Postcard, unused. Circa 1910s – 1930s. Publisher:  Gevaert.

Price:  $75.00

This seems to be a rare card – we’re not finding any duplicates online – and the subject matter is great!

It was after a couple of days of research, and at the point of giving up (much online scrutiny of gods, deities, masks, carved repeating patterns, etc. in a surprising number of potential countries) that the location in question was happily revealed. Not surprisingly, it was the larger figures in the postcard photo, with their protruding top teeth, tongues hanging out, curving tusks, bulging eyes and bull-like nose, that took us (in that moment of certainty – like a space-warp instant travel) – to the island of Bali, Indonesia. (It would be nice to be able to identify each carved figure but that turns out to be more challenging:  There can be multiple manifestations, including both female and male representations of the same god.)

Below, our Google search result, and see the link in “Sources” for more information from the Bali Culture Tours website:

Sources:  “Balinese Gods With Their Manifestations And Their Meanings.” Bali Culture Tours. (accessed July 26, 2022).

“Images of Indonesia Deities.” Google.com search. (accessed July 26, 2022).

Sphinx And Pyramids, Gevaert RPPC

Divided back, Real Photo Postcard, unused. Publisher:  Grevaert. Circa late 1930s – early 1940s.

Price:  $8.00

This one is in okay shape, good except that the card is curling, rather than laying flat. And it’s not necessarily rare; there seem to be plenty of surviving similar-view vintage cards, since the subject matter is so…..we normally take it for granted – incredible). I bought this postcard thinking about my great-great-grandfather, Giovanni Oliva, who, I had been recently surprised to learn (from a reputable family source,) traveled from his home in England, to work on the Suez Canal, stopping on the way to or from the work site to see the Sphinx and the Pyramids at Giza. (A Genovese Italian living in or near Liverpool who had traveled to Egypt – the stories he must have brought home!) Did he know of that other Giovanni from Genoa? explorer and Egyptologist, Giovanni Battista Caviglia (1770 – 1845). (I picture my great-great-grand sending a salute and a grin across the years.)

To try to pin down a date for the card, we turned to an old newspaper article, from November 24, 1936:  This was the first, in modern times, that the complete structure had been uncovered.

Sources:  Great Sphinx of Giza. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Sphinx_of_Giza (accessed July 9, 2022).

Giovanni Battista Caviglia. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giovanni_Battista_Caviglia (accessed July 9, 2022).

“Ancient Grandeur of Sphinx Revealed.” The Ithaca Journal. (Ithaca, NY). November 24, 1936. Tuesday, p. 1. (Newspapers.com).

Bicharin

Divided back, unused postcard. Circa 1910s – 1920s. Publisher:  The Cairo Postcard Trust.

Price:  $15.00

Here’s a striking portrait of a handsome young man, a member of the Bichari tribe. As per usual, we wish we knew his name and more about him (note the scars) as an individual, not just someone indicative of a tribal group. And it hits home – the lack of education most of us have about our fellow travelers on this planet, past and present. Here’s a great site, if you have time:  Africa 101 Last Tribes.

Sources:  Bishari. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bishari_tribe (accessed June 17, 2022).

Africa 101 Last Tribes. http://www.101lasttribes.com/tribes2.html. (accessed June 17, 2022).

A Detroiter, Circa 1910s by Photographer Charles J. Merz

Real Photo Postcard, circa 1907 – 1918. Detroit, Michigan. AZO Stamp Box.

Price:  $10.00

We’re taking liberties with the title of this post by presuming that the subject above lived in Detroit. In any case, he’s a handsome guy, here in dark suit, light-colored tie and pocket handkerchief, and a detachable collar. He’s seated in a carved wooden chair, which most likely, belonged to the photographer. And we wonder if this chair could have folded – is that a seam we’re seeing on our right above the armrest, or is it just part of the carving?

The time-frame for the card is based on the AZO stamp box, all four triangles pointing up, and the fact that it is a Divided Back card.

As for the photographer:  Charles John Merz, son of Christian Merz and Elizabeth Trost, was born September 14, 1872, in Michigan. Both parents were born in Germany. He married Buffalo, New York native,Tillie Bischy on June 5, 1901. Their daughter, Olive, was born about 1905. And, it turns out that Merz was in the photography business for decades, which is unusual for the time, given that most photographers (and there was so many that went into the trade) had either a rather short-lived career, or had moved on to other occupations by the 1920s. (It would be interesting to see statistics on this subject.)

Charles appears to have gotten started in the photography business around age 20, or a little earlier. The 1893 city directory shows he was working for, or with, photographer, Herman Baron, at 49 Monroe Ave in Detroit. By 1896 he is with the C. M. Hayes & Co. studio, and listed as a printer. The most recent city directory with the Michigan Avenue business address was found for 1919. On the 1920, ’30 and ’40 census records he is listed as a commercial photographer. By 1930 he, Tillie and Olive, are living in Livonia.

In searching for other photographs or cards several can be currently found for sale online. But, the Clements Library at the University of Michigan holds an old album containing photos from 1888 to about 1910, about 147 total, including a self-portrait. These images are not online but see the link below for more info.

Sources: “Real Photo Postcard Stamp Boxes A-B.” (Playle.com). https://www.playle.com/realphoto/photoa.php. (accessed May 24, 2022).

Year: 1880; Census Place: Frenchtown, Monroe, Michigan; Roll: 595; Page: 399B; Enumeration District: 178. (Ancestry.com).

R. L. Polk & Co.’s Detroit City Directory, 1893. pp. 232 and 847. Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995.

R. L. Polk & Co.’s Detroit City Directory, 1895. p. 961. Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995.

Year: 1900; Census Place: Detroit Ward 10, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: 751; Page: 3; Enumeration District: 0109; FHL microfilm: 1240751. (Ancestry.com).

Michigan Department of Community Health, Division of Vital Records and Health Statistics; Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952; Film: 73; Film Description: 1901 Tuscola-1902 Branch. (Ancestry.com).

Year: 1910; Census Place: Detroit Ward 14, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: T624_686; Page: 13B; Enumeration District: 0217; FHL microfilm: 1374699. (Ancestry.com).

Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918.

R. L. Polk & Co.’s Detroit City Directory, 1919. p. 2840. Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995.

Year: 1920; Census Place: Detroit Ward 15, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: T625_814; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 457. (Ancestry.com).

Year: 1930; Census Place: Livonia, Wayne, Michigan; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 1015; FHL microfilm: 2340810. (Ancestry.com).

Year: 1940; Census Place: Livonia, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: m-t0627-01833; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 82-177A. (Ancestry.com).

“Charles J. Merz Photograph Album (1888 – ca. 1910).”  Charles J. Merz photograph album, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan. (accessed May 24, 2022).

Three Women Carrying A Trunk

Real Photo Postcard, Undivided back, unused. Circa 1904. Eastman Kodak Stamp Box.

Price:  $25.00

This seems like a photo taken on a tropical island or at least somewhere exotic from our North American viewpoint. A clue to location should be the sign (mid-right in photo) showing “Hotel Continental” displayed atop two pillars, forming an entranceway. Behind, we notice part of a white building. Maybe that was the hotel. But Hotel Continental is, of course, a common name. When this postcard was made there were plenty such proud establishments, worldwide:  Atlantic Beach, Florida; New York City; Algier, Morocco; Havre, France; Vigo, Spain; Port Said and Cairo, Egypt; Cologne and Schwalbach, Germany; Bagni di Lucca, Capri, Genoa and Naples, Italy; Christiania, Norway, just to rattle off the ones we came across. Obviously some of these could be ruled out. But after browsing old photos of many locations (really too long of an endeavor), we didn’t get any closer to figuring it out. Also possibly, the Hotel Continental in this image was not too fancy or large, and might not have made it into old travel destination journals or onto old postcards which survived (except inadvertently, this one).

But, it’s a great photo. Imagine the scenario:  a tourist snaps this shot while walking behind these ladies, who are balancing this large trunk above (and on two of) their heads. Not something you see everyday, a definite Kodak moment (!) The time-frame is wonderful for clothing – the women all wear long (of course) skirts with striped shirtwaists, corsets underneath. The road they’re on is dirt, or at least, rustic; the wall of the building on their left, a little crumbling or aged, and with greenery growing on top. A short stone wall runs on their right. A gentleman, head down, in a dark suit and hat walks beside them, but is seemingly on his own, or at least unconcerned with needing to help with the trunk, or maybe feeling embarrassed he was not allowed to. (The ladies work for the hotel?) Notice his pant cuffs seem to be rolled up a little. Was this a seaside location somewhere and he had recently exited a small boat? Back to the trunk – it looks almost square, definitely well-used and…..did you assume, like me, that it was heavy, or at least full? (Thinking of photos of women carrying jugs of water, or whatever, on their heads?) Or, did you automatically assume the trunk was empty?

There are two other people in the photo, a woman busily occupied with something and a man behind her, barely discernible, wearing a tall hat (at least that’s my interpretation right now). Above them, some balconies, kind of rough-looking…..Wouldn’t this, wherever it was, have been a great place to stay?

As for the 1904 date for the card, this comes from the excellent, Playle’s website, as a date that’s been verified for this particular stamp box:  The design is a profile of a man with a pipe (Mr. Eastman?) looking through a camera, with the instructions, “Place One Cent Stamp Here”. And it may be likely that the photo was taken in the U.S. since it was found here, but always possible it was taken elsewhere and processed when the person returned home.

Sources:  “European and Eastern Hotels.” Cook’s Tourist Handbook for Switzerland. Thomas Cook & Son. London, 1895. (Google.com books).

Cook’s Tourist Handbooks Health Resorts. Thomas Cook & Son. London, 1905. (Google.com books).

“Real Photo Postcard Stamp Boxes, D-E.” https://www.playle.com/realphoto/photod.php. (accessed May 18, 2022).

John B. Hawkins Street Scene RPPC, 1920s – 1930s

Real Photo Postcard, divided back, unused. Circa 1920s – 1930s.  Made by:  John B. Hawkins, Marion, Massachusetts.

Price:  $12.00

This is possibly a Marion, Massachusetts, or neighboring town street view – showing a line of parked cars in front of stores, a man on our left about to cross the street, and another on our right, seated, at the curb. Surprisingly, we’re not finding any age-appropriate records for photographer John B. Hawkins, in all of Mass, though city directories online in Plymouth County (1910 – 1940) are only scattered pages of certain years. We’d therefor, have to contact a local historical society or local libraries for resolution to some of the mysteries herein. And, the image is not of the best quality for clarity, but may be of value to someone, for sure.

It’s disappointing to be unable to read the store names or signs after enlarging the image……Wait, we can just make out “Ice Cream” and the brand or shop name in two words…….but it’s indecipherable. (Sometimes if you gaze at almost-readable signs long enough, you get inspiration, but not happening for me, this time.) But still, every picture evokes a feeling….Staring at the scene (if we could just connect to a Hogwarts kind of thing, it would come to life and we’d see that guy actually cross the street, and maybe someone come out of one of the shops, and some movement from our friend on the right) but, primarily, in our “fixed moment” that the camera is offering, we might focus on that slightly dejected-looking gentleman, seated on the curb with head down, shoulders a little slumped – is he thinking about the cares of the day/month/year that are weighing on him……or is he just waiting for a ride? Whatever the case, he kind of makes you want to jump into the frame and go and offer him a friendly arm around the shoulders.

Baseball Player At Bat Old Postcard

Undivided back postcard. Circa 1906. Publisher or Printer:  Stationers Manufacturing Co., Quincy, Ohio.

Price:  $4.00

I had wanted to get this card up for MLB opening day, but it didn’t make it. No biggie, anyway it’s showing a young ball player at bat (or in the bullpen). (I really bought it for the design on the back, which is nice.)

But who was the artist? We found another postcard online, same image, with “Copyright 1906. J. Tully.” printed on it. Our card, per the reverse, was printed by Stationers Manufacturing Company in Quincy, Ohio. Tully was out of Chicago, per other cards online, but no records were found for him (either as artist or in the card publishing/printing business). Some postcard sellers list him as artist, but he could have been a publisher, especially given the fact that initials “CNB” or “NBC” appear at the bottom right of the ball player, leading one to think that they could be the artist’s initials. On the other hand, oftentimes the “C” in initials like that stood for “Company.” So, the actual artist could have been an unnamed one within that company.

For a better understand of the complicated world of postcard printers, publishers, jobbers, artists and photographers, see the various web articles under  Metropostcard’s “Metropostcard Guides.” (Proof – as if we needed it 😉 – that things are almost always more involved than we imagine.)

Only one minor reference, in 1907, was found for Stationers Mfg. – in a trade journal listing under wholesale and retail stationers, no address listed.

Source:  “Metropostcard Guides.” Metropostcards.com. (accessed May 16, 2022).

Artist-Signed Postcard Birds in Pine Tree

Divided Back, deckled edge, unused, artist-signed postcard. Number or series 206. Publisher:  Alfred Mainzer, Inc. 39-33 29th Street. Long Island City 1, New York. Printed in Belgium. Circa 1940s – 1950s.

Price:  $12.00

This is a beautiful card that I’ve had for awhile and finally got around to posting. The variety of bird, or if it even exists, is unknown. It may be something from the artist’s imagination (that very distinctive spotted-feather crown) as I don’t see this type of guy online, or in the bird reference book from my bookshelf. The artist appears to have been Swiss-born Eugen Hartung (1897-1973), he is best-known for doing the cats in clothing funny cards that were first published by Max Kunzli, then later by Alfred Mainzer. Here’s a crop of the signature that appears in the lower right corner:

Source:  Eugen Hartung. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eugen_Hartung (accessed May 11, 2022).

Smiling Young Man in Shaped Border RPPC

Divided back, Real Photo Postcard, unused. Circa 1920s. AZO stamp box.

Price:  $7.00

A happy guy, great pose for the camera, wearing a large-check patterned suitcoat, pencils in the pocket (maybe he was an accountant, an architect, an artist….), tie, hat pushed back, and glancing up and left. He chose a nice, diamond-shaped border to frame the image, it might remind you of a Native American (i.e. design on a Navajo blanket). See our category “Shaped Borders” from the Home page for more.

Avenida Juárez, Guanajuato, México

Vintage Mexican postcard, unused. Publisher info:  Ediciones Guanajuato – Jardin Union No. 5, Teléfono 2.87.- Guanajuato, Gto. Series G-202. Circa 1950s.

Price:  $10.00

Avenida Juárez, circa 1950s

A beauty of a card with all those colors. The central Mexican city of Guanajuato is surely one of the most colorful in the world! The large building with the rounded roof is Mercado Hidalgo, an enormous market for pretty much anything you would like to buy – produce, clothing, souvenirs, jewelry, etc. Built on the site of an old bullring, the building was initially designed to be a railway station. Construction started in 1905 and was finished in 1910, when the market’s grand opening coincided with the centennial celebrations of Mexico’s independence.

Source:  Diaz Cornejo, Mireya. “El Mercado Hidalgo de Guanajuato.” https://www.revistabuenviaje.com/conocemexico/viajemistico/mercado-hidalgo/mercado-hidalgo-guanajuato.php# (accessed April 15, 2022).