To Aunt Cornelia

Divided back, Real Photo Postcard. Unused, dated July 24, 1913. NOKO stamp box.

Price:  $10.00

A couple in a farming community somewhere in the U. S. pose in front of what may be their home. (Note the lace curtain in the window on our right.) But if this is not their residence it could have been a public meeting house for church services. (The woman is holding a small book, perhaps a prayer book). But the main reason that we might think “church” are the two side-by-side doors on the front of this structure:  It was not uncommon for church services to be segregated, having two separate entrances for men and women. However, old homes also, for many varied reasons, sometimes were built with this two-door design. (See the link below.) Also, notable about the building is that it sits up on blocks.

As for the young couple, (hard-working farmers we imagine, perhaps newly wed) we remark on the fact that the man wears overalls over his shirt and tie. (Are we back to the church theory or is he just dressed up a bit for the photo?) Either way, its pretty charming and adds to the uniqueness of this photo postcard.

Sources:  Kibbel, III, William. “Two Front Doors.” (oldhouseweb.com). Accessed April 2, 2024.

Family On Porch

Old photo, circa 1900 – 1910’s.

Price:  $5.00             Size:  4 and 1/2 x 2 and 7/16″

Nice gingerbread detail on this porch – clearly a family is gathered here, though we don’t have any names or even a location on the back. The woman on our right in the dark dress is the mom and possibly the man in front of them is the dad. Then we’ve got a grandmother or two, or perhaps a great-aunt and then a couple of men in conversation, maybe a neighbor has stopped by….I had picked up this photo thinking it went with some others (but probably not) that were loose in a bin; they were, per the norm, languishing – just hanging around in an antique store. How many millions of old photos are doing the same at this moment? Yes, rather a tragedy, especially to those of us that have actively searched for images of their ancestors; some found (amazing!) and many more not. (There’s always hope.) Back to this lack of i.d., really, it’s a rare person then and now (well, different now with everything digital) that always identified the back of a photo. (It is tedious, for sure.) But even unidentified it’s still good. We can get a sense of, certainly fashion, including house fashion (i.e. our Victorian gingerbread here with that beautifully tall door) and that can be important to historians and collectors. (You bet, you can get deep in research detail – those white shoes the mom and daughters are wearing, for instance, and their nearly identical hairstyles). But good also, for just life the way it used to be…..in what we now (laughably) think of as a simpler time.

Couple With Towle’s Log Cabin Display

Old photo, white border. Circa 1910’s. 

Price:  $20.00           Size:  4 and 1/16 x 2 and 3/8″

There may be some historical interest for this photo for any researchers or collectors of Towle’s Log Cabin Syrup items; we’re not finding anything similar online…..

In starting research for this one, I was surprised to find the Log Cabin brand of syrup still being sold. (I always go right for the real thing, apparently blocking all others from vision. And yes, I know, this makes me sound like a snob, 😉 especially in light of the absurd store prices we’re up against today). Thinking back, growing up in the ’60’s, our cupboard usually contained Mrs. Butterworth’s (we liked the bottle) and sometimes Log Cabin, but at some point, someone (maybe an uncle and probably not till I was in high school), introduced us to actual maple syrup (from trees!) and well, why would you want anything else? (Ha, memories, as an adult, of going out for breakfast and sneaking in syrup from home, and later, of a great place that my husband and I used to drive down to, in Carmel Valley, CA – The Wagon Wheel. Real maple syrup available upon request, still for just an extra dollar.)

About Towle’s

Towle’s was started in 1888 in St. Paul, Minnesota by grocer, Patrick Joseph Towle, and bought out by General Foods in 1927. They initially sold their log cabin syrup in a tall metal can and shortly thereafter in that iconic log-cabin-shaped container. In addition, they manufactured other syrup brands, as well as other related products. For much more about them, see this article by author Matthew Thomas. (Check out his link within the link. Note:  Even the original recipe for log cabin maple syrup may not have been pure maple.)

Our photo….

A couple, maybe in their twenties, are sitting on a porch; the woman backed up to one of the porch posts and the man with his elbow resting on a 3-D Towle’s Log Cabin display. An axe and hammer, and these both appear to be real tools, lean against the little cabin. We can see houses across the street, so the area seems to be residential. Now, it’s possible that this was a general or hardware store with this display set up, and the gentlemen has just bought these tools – but in typing this scenario, it sounds far-fetched, the display would be subjected to the weather, for one. This makes us wonder if the couple isn’t somehow connected to the Towle family….Or, the gentleman could have been a new distributor of the syrup and had added the two props for picture-taking purposes.

Advertisements in old newspapers abound; here are two:

From The Tacoma Daily Ledger, November 23, 1890, an ad touting Towle’s “Log Cabin” maple syrup as absolutely pure, unadulterated and without added glucose, though, if you read with skepticism, you’ll understand that this ad never definitively says that it’s 100% maple syrup.

And from The Oregon Daily Journal, September 27, 1912:

Sources:  Thomas, Matthew. (2017, August 31). “When Towle’s Log Cabin Was a Maple Syrup Company.”maplesyruphistory.com. Accessed March 2, 2024.

“A Card to the Public.” The Tacoma Daily Ledger (Tacoma, Washington). November 23, 1890. Sunday, p. 7. (Newspapers.com).

“Record-Breaking Shipment of Towle’s Log Cabin Syrup.” The Oregon Daily Journal (Portland, Oregon). September 27, 1912. Friday, p. 15. (Newspapers.com).

Couple On Porch

Old photo, white border, circa early 1920’s.

Price:  $4.00           Size:  2 and 3/8 x 4 and 1/4″

We’re continuing a short couple theme, no names on the back of this one. I’m guessing the ’20s due to the cloche-style hat the woman is wearing, though it could have been earlier. Estimating dates from clothing, footwear and hairstyles can be really time-consuming, unless something specifically jumps out to pinpoint, or you’re already an expert or close-enough to one. Alas, I’m not. What was the moment? Obviously, he likes her, but she has that skeptical, “nobody’s fool” look. Nice porch columns displayed here – quite detailed and with that bit of gingerbread trim at the top.

Belgrade Boy, Circa 1910’s

Old photo, white border. Circa 1910’s. Belgrade,Yugoslavia.

Price:  $5.00          Size:  About 2 and 1/2 x 3 and 3/8″

Blonde tousled hair, a boy of about ten years old, has a nice smile for the camera on a sunny day…..The alternate name for this post is “Belgrade Boy With Balloon, Minus the Balloon.” 🙂

On the reverse is written,  “Mediterranean Belgarde.”  Not finding anything under Belgarde, we have to presume it’s a misspelling of Belgrade, now in Serbia, though at that time it would have been Yugoslavia. What was meant by “Mediterranean” is utterly unknown, as this city is nowhere near that body of water. Was it a section of Belgrade or a street name? We can’t find any reference.

As always, it’s nice to pick out details:  the pocket handkerchief in the boy’s sweater; we see that he carried a watch – there’s the chain (wonder what he carried in his other hand); the building across the street, probably a store, with only the last two letters (or so) of the company name showing – so, not really enough to get that tantalized feeling when you can almost read something; the automobile, we’ll skip the potential i.d. on this one – the image is a little blurry. And, of course, not a “detail” but that massive hunk of metal that was fashioned into a beautiful streetcar – imagine the weight of that thing….and our proximity to it – five or six steps and you can feel yourself grabbing the handrail and climbing aboard….

Ready For Breakfast

Old photo, white border. April 1914.

Price:  $3.00           Size:  About 2 and 1/2 x 3 and 7/8″

“Vera & Geo just coming home from store. April 1914.”

No surnames or location for this one but perhaps someone will get a kick out a few old memories resurfacing, as I did. My own childhood definitely included going into stores barefoot. (Haven’t thought about that for years. In the summer, it was just about everywhere barefoot, wasn’t it?) And I remember being sent on a cigarette run (Newports in the green package) out of the vending machine mostly…. Anyway back to our photo, Vera’s got the tin of Quaker Puffed Rice and George has the milk – they just need bowls and spoons and they’re all set!

Comic Donkey and Couple Circa 1940’s

Old photo, circa 1940’s.

Price:  $6.00              Size:  About 2 and 1/2 x 3 and 1/2″

These type seem to be generally referred to as “face-in-the-hole-board.” Other names include photo cutouts, Aunt Sallys, peep boards, character boards, fat-lady-on-the-beach boards. This handsome and fun, young couple (out for a drive in the surrey – yep, surrey with the fringe on top 😉 ) look to be from the 1940’s era. 

Sources:  Photo Cutouts. https://photocutouts.co.uk/blog/peep-boards-face-in-the-hole-boards-cutout-boards-what-should-they-be-called/ (Accessed June 10, 2023.)

The Surrey with the Fringe on Top. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Surrey_with_the_Fringe_on_Top#:~:text=%22The%20

Surrey%20with%20the%20Fringe,jazz%20musicians%20to%20play%20it. (Accessed June 10, 2023.)

Mother and Son

Old photo, white border, circa 1930s.

Price:  $2.00         Size:  3 and 3/8 x 5″

Another poor quality shot (but the peering into the past effect is cool) and also, like the prior post, no identifying names. I just like the guy’s stance, (and that slightly askew necktie) his gaze upward and outward, in contrast to the older woman, though closer scrutiny shows she’s looking off in the distance as well, not directly at the camera. I thought at first glance this was a “couple photo” but in looking at their “ages,” no. More likely they’re mother and son.

The Old Houseboat

Real Photo Postcard, unused. Circa 1907 – 1915.

Price:  $4.00

What confirms this structure’s status as a boat is the name at the stern – though very faint and indiscernible. And since the postcard’s image is so washed out, here’s a darker version:

So, unless someone is writing a book on old houseboats, I don’t see much monetary value here for this card. But we’ve had sales on items in the past – cover of a book on one, fashion example used inside another book, etc. – so, value is relative. Ha, it’s definitely true, sometimes I ask myself later, “Why did I buy this one?”  🙂 (No names, rather light…) Harkening back now to my mindset at the time, it was for the romantic notion of houseboats I’ve had since a child. (At least, I think this can be called a houseboat.) Woven in there somewhere is an antidote for a feeling – a lament, a long-running perception (that surfaces pointedly at times) that our present-day “expectation” is one of making everything ascetically acceptable (a nice lawn, nice-looking house, etc.) – an expectation that, in my opinion, often usurps the more important things in life – real friendship among neighbors, for instance….So it’s refreshing to travel back to the early 1900’s, to a time when a hand-built boat like this one would not automatically be viewed as an “eyesore” but rather, just simply for what it was.

The story from this captured moment….of course, we can speculate all day long, but my take….The houseboat belongs to the older gentlemen with the walking stick, having built it and lived on it for a time in his younger days. He’s got great anecdotes (that the rest of the family have heard a number of times – rolling eyes, 😉 ). He’s here to retrieve some items resting in storage, and he and the family have turned the trip into a nice outing and a photo op. (Note the three hats that have been removed and are laying on the ground in a pile.) Check out the expressions – the rather comical upwards glance of the lad toward the old man, the come-hither expression for the young lady (gorgeous lace collar), the straight-on pose for the woman (daughter or wife of the gentleman?), that air of history and ownership emanating from the old man, and never forgetting to mention, the family dog, happy to be out for the day with his “charges.”

Back to the boat – it’s quite long. I thought at first that the roofed portion on our left was from some building behind it, but no, that part is attached. Note the animal skins that lay draped over the top edge of the cabin (for keeping out the rain?). And the wooden or metal box attached to the cabin’s front wall, left of the doorway – the box meeting some type of practical purpose.

Subway Clearance 10′

Old photo, white border. Circa 1940’s. Photographer:  Robert C. Gilmore, Montrose, Colorado.

Price:  $10.00        Size:  4 and 7/16 x 2 and 11/16″

It was the photographer’s stamp (with its mountain peak) on the back of this one that drew us in……but circa 1940’s, a young woman poses in front of a subway tunnel – its location is a mystery. We couldn’t find any matching images online, and it seems the snapshot must have been taken elsewhere and the film developed in Montrose. So we’ll look to the photographer:

Robert Clinton Gilmore was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, August 14, 1909 and died November 4, 1988 in Montrose, Colorado. On his WWII Draft Registration Card (given name filled out as Bob) his photography business address is listed as 520 Main St., Montrose. He was the son of Horace Clinton Gilmore and Sophia Elizabeth Maria Boller. Sometime after the 1940 Federal Census was taken, he married Katherine (maiden name unknown). The 1930 census for Montrose has his occupation as farm laborer, and living with parents and siblings, Hazel, Deane (brother) and Lucille. Interestingly, Hazel, Bob’s older sister by about four years, is a photographer on this record. So, this could have been the start of Gilmore photography and Bob took over the business or Hazel could have been working for someone else. At the date of our web post, ours is the only photo found with the Gilmore stamp.

Sources:  Year: 1930; Census Place: Montrose, Montrose, Colorado; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 0001; FHL microfilm: 2339982. (Ancestry.com).

Year: 1940; Census Place: Montrose, Montrose, Colorado; Roll: m-t0627-00472; Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 43-3A. (Ancestry.com).

National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; Wwii Draft Registration Cards For Colorado, 10/16/1940-03/31/1947; Record Group: Records of the Selective Service System, 147; Box: 88. (Ancestry.com).

Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/27318883/robert-clinton-gilmore: accessed 26 March 2023), memorial page for Robert Clinton Gilmore (14 Aug 1909–4 Nov 1988), Find a Grave Memorial ID 27318883, citing Cedar Creek Cemetery, Montrose, Montrose County, Colorado, USA; Maintained by Arleta (contributor 46898856).

Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/26994908/sophia-elizabeth_maria-gilmore: accessed 26 March 2023), memorial page for Sophia Elizabeth Maria Boller Gilmore (19 Sep 1878–8 Mar 1948), Find a Grave Memorial ID 26994908, citing Cedar Creek Cemetery, Montrose, Montrose County, Colorado, USA; Maintained by Arleta (contributor 46898856).