Mae at the Iowa River Dam, Iowa City, 1908

Divided Back, Real Photo Postcard. Postmarked January 15, 1908, Iowa City, Iowa.

Price:  $15.00                Size:  About 5 x 3 and 1/2″. Card is slightly cropped. 

For old times sake…….

Addressed to:   “Mr. L. G. Johnson. Denver Colo. Box 4. 40th St.Station.”

The sender wrote:   “For old times sake I send you this. Mae.”

The Iowa River is a tributary of the Mississippi and measures about 323 miles long. We found some similar images in old postcards currently on eBay and then the ad below from Duluth Lumber in 1909 confirming that Mae’s location was indeed the Iowa City Dam, today called the Burlington Street Dam. The building in the background should be the power station. And enlarge the postcard twice to get a much better view of Mae’s hat. (It’s quite nice!)

Sources:  Iowa River. n.d. (accessed September 17, 2023).

Burlington Street Dam. (accessed September 19, 2023).

Duluth Lumber Co. Ad. Iowa City Press-Citizen. March 12, 1909. Friday, p. 3. (

Sweetwater Dam, Near San Diego, California

Undivided back, unused postcard. Circa 1906. Publisher:  E. P. Charlton & Co., San Diego, California. Number or series:  788.

Price:  $6.00

The Sweetwater Dam is located about twelve miles east of San Diego, and was first constructed in 1888, but raised and retrofitted several times over the next few decades. The construction process back in 1888 for the dam involved horses and mules carrying stone from the quarry to the site in carts.

This card is one from our Lena Davis Collection. Click below to see the beautiful flourish-y details of this portion of the reverse from the publisher:  a great design (as is the easier-to-see stamp box).

Heartfelt wishes and wistful thoughts, from the sender:

“Dear Friend Lena. Many thanks for the Kind greetings and in stead of an Easter card will enclose photos hoping you will read in it heartiest wishes for a true Easter as its name implies. So sorry Mrs. Hall is so poorly. Give her my best wishes. And dear girl how I wish for the sake of my boys and girls, I were better looking. When looking at it think how much I love you and desire for you the best in life and may our heavenly Father bless you abundantly. Love to all from your old friend Dee French. Mar. 1914.”

Source:  Sweetwater Dam. n.d. (accessed June 12, 2017).

Grand River Dam And Lake, Northeastern Oklahoma

Divided back, unused postcard. Publisher:  Dewey Post Card Co., Dewey, Oklahoma. Printer:  Curt Teich. Genuine Curteich – Chicago. “C. T. American Art.” No. or series:  2B88 – N. Circa 1953.

Price:  $5.00

“Length of dam 5680 ft., height 150 ft., length of lake 60 miles with 1000 miles shoreline. A playground of four states. Power plant capacity 200,000,000 KWH. Four 20,000 h. p. turbines, four 16,000 KVA generators.”

There’s a few similar-view-of-the-dam linen postcards that we see online, however none at the moment by this publisher, the Dewey Post Card Co. Per the publisher research we’re estimating the date of this postcard at 1953.

The Grand River Dam is an a.k.a. for the Pensacola Dam, in Northeastern Oklahoma, which is the longest multiple-arch dam in the world. Construction was started in 1938 and completed in 1940.

Source:  Pensacola Dam. n.d. (accessed June 12, 2017).

Old American Locks, Sault Ste. Marie

Undivided back, used postcard. Postmarked July 29, 1906 from Sault Sainte Marie, Michigan. Publisher:  S. W. Kirvan. No. 1820. Made in Germany.

Price:  $12.00

The addressee, “Miss Ada” of # 89 Second Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA, was not found in census records or city directories. What’s her surname? Hmmm. Dempsey? And 89 could have been only an apartment number, and maybe Ada was a middle name. Still she wasn’t located. So, moving on to some other points of interest….It’s a beautiful card, nice colors, slightly heavier than many postcards, but about the description:  It must have been a misprint, and should read as:  Old American Locks, 1855 to 1881, Sault Ste. Marie.

S. W. was Samuel W. Kirvan, found as such in a Google book snippet for “Souvenir of the Soo: Scenes Around La Saut De. Ste. Marie, Michigan” described as four pages, for which Kirvan was author and publisher. More on the publisher in the next post.

Sources:  Soo Locks. n.d. (accessed May 28, 2017).

Kirvan, S. W. “Souvenir of the Soo: Scenes Around La Saut De. Ste. Marie, Michigan.” (1893) snippet view. (accessed May 28, 2017).

The Fake Niagara Shot


Real Photo Postcard, circa 1915.

Traveling northeast from our last post, at least in theory, we find ourselves at Niagara Falls. But no, really, this has to be a photographer’s backdrop made to look like the Falls…..but in any case, showing a beautiful, smiling young woman, smartly dressed in skirt and double-breasted long jacket with velvet collar, and a nice wide-brimmed hat with wide ribbon. She poses standing, looking into the camera, with hands folded behind her back. The backdrop artist did a good job, going to the trouble of painting a house in the distant background….and are those silhouettes of tiny spectators at a viewing point at one side of the falls? Looking closely again, maybe not. And then there’s the “mist” we see rising up above the woman’s left shoulder, or was that just a problem with the photo? The reverse side of this card shows only the rest of that black photo album type-paper that it was glued to. We’re unable to see any clues at all, not even a partial stamp box. The card was sold to us in a plastic sleeve with “Niagara Falls, 1915” written on it. So, whoever sold or donated the card might have known the date it was taken, unless it was just a general estimate. One more thing to note:  if you look closely at the bottom right of the scene, that looks like the corner of a table.

Minnehaha Falls Lithograph

Minnehaha Falls Litho tc1

This is possibly part of an old advertisement or trade card. It had been trimmed and glued to a piece of paper. The gold border is not part of the original, but was just for scanning purposes. We can see that it says “Minnehaha Falls and” so some other wording was cut off. But what a fanciful picture: (I swear I’m picking up the lingo of the Regency Era.) The plant life framing the scene being so much larger than the people viewing the falls, especially the sheaves of wheat-looking objects on the right. If this image looks familiar to anyone, the back might help, with the lower half (ish) of a line of print, and centered underneath that in parentheses, the word Appleby’s?.

Minnehaha Falls Litho tc2

Partial trade card or advertising. Circa 1890s.

Price:  $5.00

Horse Shoe Falls, Niagara, Canada

Horse Shoe Falls Niagara Canada pc1Horse Shoe Falls Niagara Canada pc2

“We will try and come up Sunday if it does not storm to hard. So won’t get there to Breakfast – good Bye. G[?] Hall.  will drive”

Addressed to:   “Mrs. Vern Moyer, Baldwinsville, N.Y.”

Dating the postcard

The postmark on this card looks like it might be 1910, so it seems the sender used an old pre-divided back era card. In Canada, the divided back started in December of 1903. A similar card, with the same beautiful back header design, was found online postmarked 1904. So, perhaps the one we have here was made in the United States, and since it depicts the Canadian side of Niagara, the producer included one of the Canadian emblems with flags and beaver, or maybe it was made in Canada for U.S. use.


Phoenix, per the postmark, is six or seven miles northeast of Baldwinsville, New York. And about four miles northeast of Baldwinsville, is the town of Lysander. The 1910 Federal Census for Lysander, Onondaga County has Vernon Moyer and his wife Stella. Both are about age 32 (born about 1878) and both born in New York. They are farming. No other matches were found in the area, so Stella is likely the addressee for this postcard.

Undivided Back, used postcard. Postmarked January 1910 or ’11? from Phoenix, New York. Souvenir mailing card. Publisher unknown.

Price:  $10.00

Sources:  A Brief History of the Postcard. (accessed August 23, 2015).

Year: 1910; Census Place: Lysander, Onondaga, New York; Roll: T624_1054; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 0063; FHL microfilm: 1375067. (

The Dam, Eaton Rapids, Michigan

The Dam Eaton Rapids Michigan pc1The Dam Eaton Rapids Michigan pc2

Wow, I’m a Michigander but didn’t know this until now:  Eaton Rapids is known as the Island City – it’s downtown is surrounded by water – the Grand River and the Grand’s Spring Brook tributary. The city has fourteen bridges and an island park, and holds an annual Dam Festival in June. Historically, it was known as “The Saratoga of the West.” See the Eaton Rapids Area Historical Society for lots more.

Some baseball trivia:  The Davidson Mill was established around 1921 in Eaton Rapids by Philadelphia-born John B. Davidson, Sr. This mill supplied 95% of the wool yarn for major league baseball, as well as high-grade yarns for other purposes. (per Wikipedia).

Related Eaton Rapids posts at Laurel Cottage:  G. Meachum Millinery and Dr. W. Derby’s Croup Mixture. There’s a millinery connection in this second link also. Hmmm, coincidence, or might it help to solve the Meachum mystery? (See EARHS’s Facebook page re G. Meachum.)

As to the age of this postcard on the dam, a semi-educated guess would be around 1910 – 1915 or so. The publisher E. C. Kropp went under the name of Kropp prior to 1907, but this fact doesn’t help us, as this is a Divided Back, so we already know this card was from at least 1907. The E.C. Kropp Co. sold it’s business to L.L. Cook in 1956.

Divided back, unused postcard. Publisher:  E.C. Kropp Co., Milwaukee. Circa 1910 – 1915.

Price:  $6.00

Sources:   Eaton Rapids Area Historical Society. (accessed August 23, 2015.)

Ogg, Aaron. (2012, July 16). Eaton Rapids is ‘Island City’ surrounded by Grand River and Spring Brook tributary. The Grand Rapids Press. (

Eaton Rapids, Michigan. n.d.,_Michigan. (accessed August 23, 2015).

E.C. Kropp Co. 1907 – 1956. Accessed August 23  2015.

Bortree Duplex Corset Trade Card

Duplex Corset1Duplex Corset2

Bortree Manufacturing Company, Duplex Corset Trade Card. Circa 1884. Card printed by The Krebs Lithographing Company of Cincinnati.

A wonderful, colorful, slightly comical, (depending upon how this strikes you) trade card for Duplex corsets and the Bortree Manufacturing Company. This lithographed card shows six (maybe four, depending upon interpretation) different scenes:  three gentlemen in a sailboat with other sailboats in the background; a couple taking a drive in the country in a cart pulled by two horses; two couples tobogganing; a country scene showing four artists, two of whom are accompanied by their dog; a ballroom dancing scene. The details in this card are wonderfully done:  the different poses of the couples dancing cheek to cheek; the smitten-looking gentleman with his lady love on the toboggan; the lively “movement” of the horses; the dogs in the artists scenes that are naturally intent upon their own interests; the concentration of the woman artist in the rowboat; the understandably happy expression of the gentleman (or lady in trousers?) that is either on his or her way to the plein air site, or heading home, well satisfied with the day’s work.

There are also a few puzzling things about this lithograph:  the name on the sailboat, the two brownish objects on the left, and the type of plant in the border. The sailboat name looks like Merrur or Merkur; maybe these were the initials of the artists involved, or maybe mer for sea and then the artist’s initials, or maybe it’s a street name in Cincinnati, but I only see Mercer (this speculation could go on forever) or after looking at the back of the card again, maybe it’s a reference to the New York City address of No. 7 Mercer St. As to the two unknown, rather highlighted objects on the left – could these be buckeyes or flax seeds? Maybe, but the shapes for either don’t quite seem correct. And the plant making up the border seems familiar but if it is supposed to depict a real plant, I’m not able to verify it. Maybe some horticulture experts will come across this post and be able to solve the mystery.

As for the three little images of the Duplex corset, one appears on a shield, another inside some nice scroll work, but the placement of the one on the waterfall is priceless! (Is the artist furthest in the background seeing corsets in the waterfall? Is this depicting our litho artist himself, and showing that the inspiration for the card has come to him while gazing at a waterfall?)

As you can see, this card was glued in someone’s scrapbook or glued somewhere, so a little of the wording is missing, but the Bortree Manufacturing Co. had a factory in Jackson, Michigan, and as the card indicates, had an office and salesroom at 7 Mercer St., New York, NY. According to an online article by Leanne Smith at on Jackson, Michigan’s corset industry, “Bortree Corset Co., 112 W. Cortland St., was the first corset company founded west of New York. Moses Bortree, who migrated to Michigan from Pennsylvania in 1866, opened the factory in 1868 to manufacture crinoline skirts and bustles. In 1875, Bortree switched to corsets. Within five years, he was producing 50,000 to 300,000 corsets per year. In its heyday, the company employed almost 400 people, 350 of whom were women.”  This trade card would have to be from at least 1884 though, per the date on the image of the medal shown on the back, that was awarded to Bortree at the Cincinnati Industrial Exposition.

The Krebs Lithography Company was established in about 1875, but had evolved from Ehrgott & Forbriger, a company founded in 1856 by Peter Ehrgott, a “practical lithographer” and Adolphus Forbriger, “an excellent artist.” The company had a reputation for it’s fine artistic work, and was located in the Carlisle Building at 4th and Walnut in Cincinnati. When Mr. Forbriger died in 1869, German-born lithographer, Adolph Krebs, became partner with Mr. Ehrgott in November of the same year, and the company became Ehrgott & Krebs.  In 1874 Peter Ehrgott left the partnership, and Adolph Krebs became president of the company. The American Stationer, in a March 1883 publication, made note of The Krebs Lithography Company’s plans to build a new factory on Sycamore St, as by this time, they had outgrown the 4th and Walnut location. The new factory was located at 138, 140 and 142 Sycamore St., between 4th and 5th, in Cincinnati, and comprised six floors with a basement. Adolph Krebs died September 1884 at age 53 (unfortunately before he could see the completion of the new factory.) His son, Hermann T. Krebs, was then elected as the new president, having been with the company for about 8 years. The 1888 City Directory for Cincinnati shows Hermann as president, along with the other company officers, and that the company was still at the same Sycamore St. address. The company’s name changed to Henderson Achert Krebes Lithographing Company on February 22, 1889, according to an annual report to the governor showing corporate name changes.

Trade card, circa 1884.

Price:  $20.00

Sources:  Michigan Historical Collections, Volume 2, Michigan Historical Commission. Pioneer Collections Report of the Pioneer Society of the State of Michigan, Together with the Reports of County, Town and District Pioneer Societies. Vol. 2, 2nd edition. Robert Smith Printing Co.State Printers and Binders, Lansing, MI, 1901. Page 342 (Google eBooks)

Peek Through Time: Corset business thrived in Jackson during the early part of the 20th century. Leanne Smith article dated July 9, 2010. (

Leading Manufacturers and Merchants in Cincinnati and Environs. The Great Railroad Centre of the South and Southwest. An Epitome of the City’s History and Descriptive Review of the Industrial Enterprises that are making Cincinnati the source of Supply for the New South. 1886, International Publishing Co., 102 Chambers St., New York, Boston, Cincinnati and Chicago. Page 67. (Google eBooks)

The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd. (

Artists in Ohio 1787 – 1900. A Biographical Dictionary Compiled and Edited by Mary Sayre Haverstock, Jeannette Mahoney Vance and Brian L. Meggitt. Kent State University Press, 2000. Page 500. (Google eBooks)

The American Stationer. Vol. XIII – No. 11. New York, March 15, 1883, pg. 358. (Google eBooks) U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.

Annual Report of the Secretary of State to the Governor of the State of Ohio for the Fiscal Year Ending November 15, 1890. The Westbote Company, State Printers. 1891. Page 447. (Google eBooks)