Mystery Language

Divided back, unused, Real Photo Postcard. AZO stamp box. Circa 1904 – 1918. Printed in Canada.

Price:  $8.00

The snow is piled up in front of two stylish ladies (check out all the trim on the young woman’s coat) who have posed for this photo. Their dog is beside them, and prominent in the background is what looks to be a church, just from the shape of the windows, and next to the church, a house. The branches of the bare trees are beautiful in this scene, too. Possibly the postcard photo originated in the same area as the sender’s address, so the card may be of historical interest for Saskatoon history buffs, as well as any Abrams descendants.

Baffled….for now

But the note from the sender of this card is a stumper. What language is it written in?  Deciphering can be tricky for old postcards in other languages due to abbreviations and sometimes misspelled words or former spellings of words used, let alone a person’s particular style of cursive, although the name and address are easily read on this one as:   “Mrs. Wm. Abrams, Saskatoon, Sask.”

Without being able to decipher but one or two words on the back (if that) we turned to searching for the receiver of this card to find their native tongue as stated on census records. There is a William Abrams and his wife Maria and their children listed on the 1911 and 1916, residing in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. This would coincide with the postcard date of circa 1904 to 1918, per the AZO stamp box (all four triangles pointing upward, along with divided back starting December 1903 in Canada.) William was born in Russia and Maria in Germany. William’s declaration of intent, in his U. S. naturalization process, appears to show that he was born in Ekaterinoslav, Russia, which is now called Dnipro and lies within Ukraine….No other possible Abrams were found to fit our postcard, so this is all good info, even though it doesn’t help us figure out the writing on the back. Hopefully, we’ll get some help on the translation from somewhere!

Sources:  Year: 1911; Census Place: 30 – Saskatoon Ward 1, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Page: 26; Family No: 236. (Ancestry.com).

Year: 1916; Census Place: Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, 03B; Roll: T-21944; Page: 22; Family No: 247. (Ancestry.com).

National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Washington, D.C.; Naturalization Records of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, Central Division (Los Angeles), 1887-1940; Microfilm Roll: 21; Microfilm Serial: M1524.

Dnipro. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dnipro (accessed January 16, 2018).

CDV By Mrs. E. B. Chappell

Carte de Visite, circa 1870s – mid-1880s. Photographer:  Mrs. E. B. Chappell.

Price:  $10.00        Size:  About 2 and 1/2 x 13/16″

Like the last post, here’s a beautiful child posing for a Carte de Visite photo, also in that common “casual” style pose (just my take on it, as in….It’s casual Dudette 😉 but all about what to do with placement of arms and hands, etc. in a photo, so as not to look awkward)  standing, with one arm resting on the fringed armrest of the photographer’s chair and a leg crossed at the ankle. The little girl in the image wears a watch or pendant chain necklace as well as a  bracelet on both wrists, so perhaps the family was somewhat well-to-do.

Sort of a mystery

The photographer, Mrs. E. B. Chappell of Sturgis, Michigan, was not verified in directories or census records. Several websites have a little info on her as Mrs. Eliza B. Chappell, operating in Sturgis and Athens, Michigan, with dates ranging from 1884 – 1889 on Cabinet Cards, but finding a Mrs. Edith Chappell living in Sturgis on the 1870 Federal Census (maiden name Reeves in other records) leaves one to wonder if they could be the same person. (Edith changed to Eliza?…middle initial “B” as the next letter in Elizabeth?) Edith and her husband Edward Chappell had three children, Charles, William and Sarah (Sarah died in infancy in 1873.) Edith and Edward were both born in England, and it seems they might have separated (she is on the 1870 in Sturgis with her boys in August, but almost a month earlier the family is together on the 1870 in Jackson. By the 1880, Edward Chappell is still in Jackson, has the boys with him, and is listed as single. Edith is not found on the 1880 census (nor is Eliza B.) This is just a theory for now. And true, there may be city directories for Sturgis and/or Athens that list the photographer, but if they exist, they are not online, so a more in-depth search is needed.

Sources:  Year: 1880; Census Place: Jackson, Jackson, Michigan; Roll: 585; Page: 294A; Enumeration District: 117. (Ancestry.com).

Willliam Henry Chappell. Find A Grave Memorial #79180039. Findagrave.com (accessed January 12, 2018).

Julia Driver Collection of Women in Photography. General Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.

Treadwell, T. K. and Darrah, William C., comp., Photographers of the United States of America. (National Stereoscopic Association, copyright 1994. Updated 2003).

Death Records. Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics, Lansing, Michigan. Ancestry.com. Michigan, Death Records, 1867-1950.

Year: 1870; Census Place: Jackson Ward 1, Jackson, Michigan; Roll: M593_678; Page: 143B; Family History Library Film: 552177. (Ancestry.com).

Year: 1870; Census Place: White Pigeon, St Joseph, Michigan; Roll: M593_700; Page: 345A; Family History Library Film: 552199. (Ancestry.com).

Filipina In Baro’t Saya, Real Photo Postcard

Divided back, unused Real Photo Postcard. Juan Dela Cruz Studio. AZO stamp box, circa 1924 – 1949.

Price:  $12.00

A beautiful young woman in the traditional Filipino dress, baro’t saya, is posing for this portrait that was taken at the Juan Dela Cruz Studio. An unrelated online image was found on Flickr listing this studio location as Tondo, Manila, Philippines, and with an estimated date for that image as 1927. Our photo above of the unknown beauty may have been taken around this time, as well. The broader time frame of circa 1924 – 1949 comes from the AZO stamp box style on the reverse of the card.

The sender of this RPPC signed the back of the postcard but unfortunately, her signature is mostly covered by the black photo album paper the card had been glued to. We can only read what looks like the last two letters of her name (e-t). She wrote:

“Dear Aquiong, A Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year. Lovingly….”

Sources:  Ensemble-Philippines-The Met. Metropolitan Museum of Art. https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/158138. (accessed December 30, 2017).

De Leon, Eduardo. “A studio portrait of a Filipina named Loleng. Juan Dela Cruz Studio, Tondo, Manila. 1927.” 25 Nov 2014. Online image. Flickr. 30 Dec 2017. https://www.flickr.com/photos/edlei/15695528537/in/photostream/

“Real Photo Postcard Stamp Boxes ” AZO (squares in all four corners). Playle.com. (accessed December 30, 2017).

Glad Jul

Divided back, unused Real Photo Postcard. Circa 1890s – 1910s.

Price:  $7.00

This postcard is addressed to:   “Matilda Pettersson”  so the assumption would be that she is not the young woman in the photo, though we can’t know for sure. But she’s beautiful and unmarried (no wedding ring) and is no doubt of Scandinavian descent. She wears a dark, long sleeved dress or skirt and blouse, with a stunning lace jabot, and is posed seated on a wicker chair. That is a photographer’s backdrop that shows the background scene of a table with flowers, rich draperies and wall mural or tapestry. Nicely done, as it’s maybe not immediately noticeable that it is a backdrop. This was given at Christmastime, with “Glad Jul”  (Merry Christmas) written in script:

Source:  Jabot (neckwear) n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jabot_(neckwear) (accessed December 18, 2017).

Four Varied Expressions

Divided back, Real Photo Postcard, unused. Circa 1907 – 1917. VELOX stamp box.

Price:  $7.00

Besides the stylish winter coats and hats that these beautiful ladies are wearing, one might be struck by their expressions, each so different from one another. The eye of the beholder is purely subjective, of course, but for me, left to right of the grown women and then the little girl:  Uplifted, sardonic, distrusting and joyful….(How would you describe them?) But we’re not trying to pin a label on anyone, as for one thing, it’s just one moment in time, for another the sun was bright, and anyway it’s a good thing maybe to not feel you have to do the “automatic smile” when posing for a photo.

Confident, In An Ostrich Feather Hat

Divided back, unused, Real Photo Postcard. Circa 1907 – 1918. AZO stamp box.

Price:  $10.00 

Here’s an awesome “big hat” (wide brim crowned with ostrich plume) photo of a radiant young woman, dressed warmly for the weather in a long coat, scarf and holding a muff. Note the braiding at the sleeve cuffs and note the coat buttons – too bad we can’t see more detail on the buttons – we picture them now residing in a bin in an antique store somewhere. The spring/summer look to the photographer’s backdrop is a little at odds with the lady’s cold weather outerwear, and if you look closely at the bottom of the image you can see that the floor covering had gotten mussed, revealing the type of tile on the actual flooring. Too bad there was no name written on the postcard, but these unidentified types can be wonderful for anyone researching fashion history (this would have been around 1907 through 1918, according to the AZO stamp box type that has all four triangles pointing upward.)

Boy On Front Stoop

Divided back, unused, Real Photo Postcard. VELOX stamp box. Circa 1907 – 1917.

Price:  $5.00

A door stoop seems to have been a great place to have a photo taken, and likely we have more of these type already posted, but it would be fun to view them all together. So we’ll make a separate category, thereby creating (yet another – always a good thing) point of interest to look for in our travels to paper fairs and the like. 🙂 The details in the photo, as always, are fun to pick out:  In this one we notice the very worn mat the little boy is standing on, which is atop the stone stoop which looks hand-chiseled; and the bucket on our left; the beautiful circles pattern in the screen door which is swung wide open on our right; and the nice double-breasted coat the boy wears with an anchor on the left sleeve.

At The Rodeo

Vintage photo, white border, circa 1950s.

Price:  $3.00         Size:  About 3 and 1/2 x 2 and 1/2″

A great vintage snapshot:  a cowboy, or maybe vaquero would be more appropriate, riding a saddled bull or steer, posing for the camera, with a great smile. Looks like this was taken at a rodeo or rodeo fairgrounds due to the loudspeaker behind the bovine and rider. Hopefully someone will fill us in on the breed of the animal.

Railbirds, Kent, 1925

Old photo, Kent, 1925.

Price:  $2.00               Size:  4 and 3/8 x 2 and 3/4″

I thought railbirds would be railroad workers, but no. The definition of railbird from Dictionary.com is:

Noun, informal

  1.  a horse-racing fan who watches racing or workouts from the railing or along the track.
  2. any kibitzer or self-stylized critic or expert

Origin:  1890-95, Americanism; rail + bird in sense of “frequenter,” as in jailbird, yardbird.

The term is also used today for billiards and poker spectators. But the estimated time frame for the word origin, 1890 – 1895, seems accurate at least as far as old newspaper mentions go. Prior to 1890 – ’91 one can find many articles and clips on an actual bird called a railbird (rail-bird, rail bird). From the Reading Times, 1869:

“Railbirds have been less numerous this season on the Delaware marshes….”

And from the Ashtabula Weekly Telegraph, 1879, a good description of the feathered ones:

Which Kent?

Back to the photo….Kent, 1925, but which Kent? Ohio….England….or other? And it could have been taken at a horse racing event, either that or it was just a clever caption, because the guys (all but one) are perched (back to the bird theme, no pun intended) on an outdoor railing. We can read wording behind them that says “Billiards.” And there’s some lettering on the awning, but not enough to figure out a business name. But the guys’ boots…almost all the same, that makes it seem like they were workers of some type.

Sources:  railbird. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/railbird. (accessed September 19, 2017).

Reading Times (Reading, Pennsylvania) October 13, 1869. Wednesday, p. 2 (Newspapers.com)

“English Rail-Birds in Monroe County.” Ashtabula Weekly Telegraph (Ashtabula, Ohio) December 5, 1879. Friday, p. 4.

Lingering In La Porte, 1917

Old photo, August, 1917, La Porte, Indiana.

Price:  $4.00           Size:  3 and 1/4 x 2 and 1/4″

La Porte, 1917…..

A group of guys seated (and one standing) around a corner shop window. You can just barely see the image of the photographer in the window’s reflection. What was the story with this photo? Were the men waiting for the shop to open, waiting for public transportation, were they day-workers waiting to get hired, or maybe they were waiting for their wives to finish shopping (ha ha) or other….? We don’t know, but at least we have the stamp on the reverse showing:

“Developed and Printed at Canfield’s Pharmacy. No. 12,  Aug 6 1917. La Porte, Indiana. The Kodak Store.”