Borealis and Sleigh Ride

Antique circular print. Artist and publisher unknown. Circa 1880s – 1900.

Price for circular print without background:  $5.00        Size:  About 3 and 3/4″ across.

This was just a circular cutout from somewhere, that someone had saved, back in the day. It had made its way to one of the paper fairs or maybe an antique store, I don’t remember. The top and bottom had gotten a little scrunched but you can’t notice it in the image. And in looking for a background to scan it on (always a fun search!) I noticed our wall calendar for this year which was all photos of the Aurora Borealis. So, I got kind of enamored of the idea of this couple, and their team and sleigh, sort of floating in space in a sky of magical Borealis colors and lights (What would be the translation into music? Surely something so beautiful!)

And note in the closeup below, the carved figurehead with draping wings of what is probably a peacock. Searching online we find that there were many stunningly ornate sleighs crafted in prior centuries, including those with figureheads. Click here to see some examples that others have posted.

Source: search result for “ornate antique open air sleighs with figureheads.” Accessed 12/29/19.

Reward Of Merit For Charles Schindler

Reward of Merit. Circa 1880s – 1890s.

Price:  $10.00         Size:  About 3 and 7/8 x 5 and 1/4″

What fun! That must have been the perfect sledding hill. 😉 This really is a nice Reward of Merit card, still in decent condition. The artist and printer are unknown, but it’s lovely, with all those “snow colors” contrasting with the burnt orange jacket (and hat) and the blue trim and the brighter blue on the sled rope. And there’s a great example of gaiters, the tan leggings that button up the side. It’s tempting to try to locate which Charles Schindler received this card from which teacher N. Mulcahy, but there’s about thirty possibilities in the 1900 Federal Census records for Charles with an estimated year of birth from 1870 to 1890, so that would take way too long.

May The Fleeting Seasons

Divided back, used postcard. Postmarked December 23, 1922 from Sacramento, California. Publisher unknown.

Price:  $4.00

“May the fleeting seasons as they come and go

Each their richest gifts on you, my friend, bestow.”

We wish they were a little less fleeting, but here’s to beautiful moments in every season, with love and friendship to all! And this is a cute one, quite worn, but very adorable, and of course, part of our Alice Ellison collection. The “city” in the addressee’s “direction” to borrow an old term, is of course, Sacramento. And we find that postcard senders often distinguished this part of the address in just such a fashion, as this card was, for the time being anyway, staying within the city limits. The sender wrote:

“With best regards to you and the other girls from, O. K. Hughes. W. C. Co.”

Addressed to:   “Miss Ella Ellison, % Ennis Brown Co., City.”

The W. C. Company wasn’t found, though we did not spend too much time in the search, but here’s an Ennis-Brown ad from the California Fruit News, December 1922. Ella likely worked as a clerk for this fruit and produce company.

Source:  California Fruit News, December 16, 1922, Vol. 66, Number 1796. p. 16. (Google eBook).

Soapine Trade Card

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Soapine Trade Card, Circa 1880s. Lithographer:  William Karle, Rochester, New York.

Price:  $15.00.    Condition:  Very good, lays flat, no water damage or tears (click trade card images to see condition.)         Size:   About 5 and 1/4 x 3 and 1/2″

Beauty, eh?  Et elle montre un Québécois sans doute!  This trade card shows a man tobogganing (I like his style) wearing a white wool coat with blue and red stripes. (One might recall the Hudson’s Bay Company blankets. I see a vintage blanket at the time of this post on Etsy, with the red, blue and yellow stripe, though the yellow in our man’s coat appears as part of the barely visible lining.) And there’s his ceinture or sash, as in the days of the voyageurs. This card looks to have been one of a set of five, per a current eBay offering which includes another with the toboggan and three with a snowshoe theme.

Whale Oil?

There are hundreds of Soapine trade cards online, many, like the portion below from Google images, show the trademark whale, which personally I find hard to look at, but it was a different day and age back then, when whale oil was used for a variety of things, including in the making of soap and margarine.

Soapine Google Images

A short article from an 1881 Boston trade journal described someone’s analysis of Soapine in comparing it’s components to that of  “good Castile soap.”  

1881 Soapine Analysis

Predating the above, an ad was found dated July 11, 1879 in the Bangor Daily Whig and Courier.


Jumping back to the trade card…Can you find the lithographer name on the back?

Barely noticeable is the stamp from the lithographer that appears on the back of the card, just under Kendall Mfg. Co. which reads:  W. Karle, Rochester, N.Y, deciphered thanks to the eBay set of five, mentioned up top, where the name is much more discernible.

W. Karle is identified from the 1880 Federal Census for Rochester as William Karle, born in New York, occupation Lithographer; age 25; married to Mary (Eyer) Karle, born in Bavaria, age 28; their daughter, nine-month old Emila; and head of household on this census, Mary’s mother, Mary Eyer.

Below, an entry from the University of Rochester Library Bulletin, Vol. XXXV, 1982 regarding Rochester fruit and flower plates, by Karl Sanford Kabelac:

Karle & Co.; Karle & Reichenbach
William Karle (Rochester, September 19, 1854-Rochester, December 4, 1932) began his own lithographic company in Rochester in 1879. Anton Rahn was his partner for the first several years, and an 1881 guide to Rochester industries noted that Rahn & Karle had nine experienced employees, with Rahn responsible for the art work and Karle the engraving. From 1881 to 1883, according to the city directories, William F. Reichenbach was his partner. The firm was called Karle & Co. and then (1883) Karle & Reichenbach. Beginning in 1884, Karle is listed without a partner. Karle & Co. continued until 1932, when it merged with Stecher Lithographic (q.v.).

Looking very much like a business card, an 1879 city directory ad for William Karle.

Wm Karle Ad in 1879 Rochester City Directory p. 526

And back to Soapine again….

From an October 18, 1896 Boston Post article about Kendall Manufacturing, which mentioned a great company line that was seen at their exhibit at a food fair:   “Rain makes mud, mud makes dust and dust makes soap – necessary.”

Home Soapine Ad

Below, a nostalgically humorous by today’s standards, 1947 advertisement from the Troy Record.

1947 Soapine Ad

According to Kevin MacDonnell (MacDonnell Rare Books) Kendall Manufacturing lasted into the late 1950s, quite a long run from their established date of 1827! See his research regarding trade card artist Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Soapine and Kendall Manufacturing.

Sources:  “5 Fabulous Vict. Trade cards- Soapine- Snow shoe and Toboggan- 1880s.” eBay. Web accessed February 20, 2016.

Nichols, M.D., James R., ed. “Analysis of Soapine,”  The Boston Journal of Chemistry, Journal of Chemistry Company. Vol. XV. (1881):  pp. 136 – 137. (Google eBooks).

Bangor Daily Whig and Courier. Bangor, Maine. Fri, Jul 11, 1879 – Page 2. (

Year: 1880; Census Place: Rochester, Monroe, New York; Roll: 863; Family History Film: 1254863; Page: 57B; Enumeration District: 094; Image: 0701. (

Kabelac, Karl Sanford.  “University of Rochester Library Bulletin:  Nineteenth-Century Rochester Fruit and Flower Plates.”  Vol. XXXV. (1982). River Campus Libraries. ( Web accessed February 20, 2016.

Drew, Allis & Company’s Rochester City Directory, 1879. Vol. XXX p. 526. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995.

Boston Post. Boston, Massachusetts. Sun, Oct 18, 1896 – Page 21. (

The Troy Record. 27 Feb 1947. Thurs. p. 7. (

MacDonnell, Kevin  “Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Trade Card Designs.”  The New Antiquarian, Blog of the ABAA. Web accessed February 20, 2016.

Sleigh Ride, 1916

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Winter fun one hundred years ago to the month!

It says “Jan 1916”  on the back of this wonderful black and white photo, which shows four ladies and three men (perhaps the driver jumped down to capture the moment) all bundled up for the weather with long overcoats and hats, riding in a horse or mule-drawn sleigh. The location is unknown; a small town probably somewhere in the U.S. When was the last time you went on a sleigh ride?

Black and white photo, January 1916.       Size:  4 and 3/8 x 6 and 1/4″

Price:  $15.00

Sledding In The New Year

Sledding In The New Year pc1Sledding In The New Year pc2

Divided back, embossed, used postcard. Postmarked January 2, 1916 from San Diego, California. Design copyright:  R. G. Rasquin. Series or number 627 – 11.

Price:  $15.00

“Every New Year Joy may be yours”

Here’s a charmer, just over 100 years old, and continuing with our winter theme…showing a design of a little boy sledding downhill. A pretty steep hill at that! He appears in an oval frame with snow and icicles gathered at the bottom of the frame, and just underneath, some Christmas-y looking plants and a colorful bird, who is looking at the boy with interest. (Awww!)  Was thinking “snowberry” for the plant with the white berries. Probably not even a plant – but no, sure enough, that is exactly what that is. The red flower is likely representing a poinsettia, and the birdie…hmmm, artistic license? He’s got a finch or sparrow look and is green with a yellow belly and red cap. Maybe the artist was inspired by the Gouldian Finch. 😉 Love the icicles hanging from the top of the embossed border, too. There really was a lot of thought that went into these old postcards, not that we should be surprised by that. Note also how the artist has created the feeling of the snow flying up from the motion of the sled, and the pale blue portion of the background, the perfect color blue to fit with snow and ice.

R. G. Rasquin, the printer and/or publisher of this card, is Robert G. Rasquin.

Addressed to:   “Master Monte Canning. 161 – 23rd Ave. (Richmond Dist) San Francisco, Calif.”

The sender wrote:

“San Diego, Cal. Dec. 31, 1915. Dear Monte:  May you have a very happy birthday and many more to come. Auntie Mel was a little slow in getting your package started but I know you’ll forgive her, won’t you?”

Monte, born in January 1911 (so he was receiving this postcard for his 5th birthday) is Montgomery John Canning, son of Montgomery J. Canning and Louise E. Styles. He had an older sister, Leslie, born in 1909. The 1915 city directory for San Francisco shows Monte’s parents at the same address as the postcard and that Montgomery J. is in the car business under Canning & Vinton Auto Co. “automobiles, 453 Golden Gate Av.”

Below is a 1910 Canning & Vinton ad for their used autos.

Canning & Vinton Ad

Sources:  Crocker-Langley’s San Francisco Directory for the year ending June 1915. p. 412. ( U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995)

San Francisco Call, Vol. 108, No. 5. June 5, 1910. p. 59. (California Digital Newspaper Collection.)

“Montgome J. Canning.” and “Leslie B. Canning.” California Birth Index, 1905-1995.

Bortree Duplex Corset Trade Card

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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)