Maxwell B. McClain’s Calling Card

Calling card, circa 1870s – 1900.

Price:  $5.00        Size:  3 and 3/4 x 2 and 1/4″

Amazing that the rather delicate fold-back portion, the hand offering violets (with a flower faerie choosing to be viewed) of this calling card is still intact.  After peering under or folding back (we tried to be careful when scanning) we see the full name, Maxwell B. McClain. And I was getting ready to type in how many entries under this name were found in census records, city directories, etc. but curiously, none were found that would fit the time-frame for a card of this type, which would probably have been from the later 1800s to the turn of the century.

A Flower Fairy Valentine

Divided back, embossed, unused postcard. Publisher:  S. Berman, copyright 1917. Series or number 7025. Printed in the U.S.A.

Price:  $5.00

Valentine Wishes….

“Dear Valentine,

What fun ‘twould be

If you would just

Do this with me.”

A charming postcard for Valentine’s day of a bouquet-offering flower fairy – atop a heart decorated with forget me nots. Her wings are gorgeous in maroon and blue (etc.) and she wears a hat of pink flower petals fastened by a garland. Note how the artist has the wings just overlapping the card’s red border. (A common design trick to add some flow and dimension.) This is another from our Alice Ellison Collection.

“To Grandma from Maebelle. Papa & mamma & I have been to Los Angeles a couple of days & mamma & I got a new hat. & I got two new dresses. Yours with love.”

Celluloid Collars And Cuffs Frog and Gnome

Trade Card for Celluloid Collars and Cuffs. Circa 1878 – 1880s.

Price:  $7.00          Size:  About 4 x 2 and 1/2″

Frog and gnome-like (for lack of a better description, I know, where’s the beard? Maybe a young gnome 😉 ) character advertising Celluloid collars, cuffs and shirt bosoms. This trade card was one of a set of six. Very charming, especially when viewing the whole series. Here’s a crop from a Google image search showing the others:

Our frog and gnome card is the second one we have for Celluloid collars and cuffs. See also, B. J. Stone Trade Card, New Haven, CT.

A trade name

The term Celluloid was a trade name registered in the United States in 1873, and was used in a variety of applications, including hairbrushes, toys, billiard balls, ping-pong balls and the film industry. See the Encyclopedia Britannica’s article:  “Celluloid:  Synthetic Plastic.”  The collars and cuffs were linen, covered with celluloid on the front and back to make them waterproof, thus drastically cutting the high cost of cleaning, and letting the wearer sidestep the “wilted look” in hot weather. Below, the earliest advertisement we found, which appeared in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (June 13, 1878).

Another early-ish ad below, this one from The Star Democrat, February 24, 1880 indicating Celluloid collars and cuffs had newly arrived to Easton, Maryland.

And, hundreds of thousands of ads and related articles can be found late 1870s – 1910s and beyond, but at some point Celluloid collars and cuffs started to fall out of favor. When is a good question, but probably at least by the mid-1890s. Their use came to be associated with outmoded fashion, and a need for thriftiness. (The history of celluloid is book subject matter and much too detailed to research here.) Below, a short glimpse from 1910, into the life of a chap called Folsom Peverill (possibly a made-up name) that appeared in the The Topeka Daily Capital.

Last, but certainly not least, there were reports of high flammability, accidents where people were injured or even killed, in wearing Celluloid covered items or using objects made from the material (like hair combs). Some attribute some of these stories to urban myth, however, certainly there were instances of factory fires, which were always a threat, in general. Below, a report, from 1910, that lends credibility to the reports of the dangers of wearing Celluloid covered items. This ad was run in a number of U.S. papers, including The Sedalia Democrat.

Sources:  “Wear celluloid collars and cuffs trade cards frog” Google image search. (accessed August 24, 2017).

“Celluloid:  Synthetic Plastic.” Encyclopedia Britannica. (accessed August 24, 2017).

“Celluloid Collars and Cuffs.” The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, NY). June 13, 1878. Thursday, p. 1. (

“Something New Under the Sun!” The Star Democrat (Easton, MD). February 24, 1880. Tuesday, p. 3. (

“Time works great changes.”  The Topeka Daily Capital (Topeka, KS). June 16, 1910. Thursday, p. 4. (

“Ban on Celluloid in Theaters.”  The Sedalia Democrat (Sedalia, MO). January 7, 1910. Friday, p. 9. (

Eva Blasdale’s Party, April 3rd 1901

Eva Blasdale's Party Placecard April 3 1901 m1Eva Blasdale's Party Placecard April 3 1901 m2

Hand-drawn party place card. April 3, 1901.

Price:  $12.00    Size:  About 3 and 1/4 x 2 and 1/4″

Here’s a wonderful hand-drawn, hand-colored place card made for one of Eva Blasdale’s party guests, Russell Doughty. It shows an elf holding reigns of silver ribbon which is trailing up to the sky; the elf is being led by a chick. Lovely details on the elf – you can see the buttons on the tailcoat; love the yellow pantaloons  and the curly shoes and hat. The party date is April 3, 1901, which was a Wednesday.

Household Sewing Machine Trade Card

Household Sewing Machine Trade Card tc1

Trade card, circa 1882 – 1890s, for the Household Sewing Machine Company. Many differently designed trade cards can be found online for this company, some showing Household as the manufacturer and the earlier showing Providence Tool Company. This particular one shows a winged imp or fairy opening the back of an envelope (a common theme back in the day) to reveal a beautiful Gothic Revival (?) mansion nestled back among some surrounding trees.

The illustrations and company info below can be found in the 1889 publication The Industrial Advantages of Providence, R. I. (Google eBook).

Households Machine Works

Household’s Machine Plant at 103 Wickenden Street, Providence, Rhode Island

Households Cabinet Works

Household’s Cabinet Plant at Crary and Langley Streets, Providence, Rhode Island

The Household Sewing Machine Company was incorporated in August of 1882, having purchased the Providence Tool Company (where the first Household sewing machines were made.) Both the machine and cabinet plants were steam-operated and in 1889 employed about 325 skilled workmen. The cabinet shop produced  “…high class cabinet work for all kinds of other manufacturers…”  as well as the wooden cabinets and cases for Household sewing machines, though the company’s chief product was it’s sewing machine.

Household went out of business in 1905 (or perhaps officially in 1906 if various online sources are correct.) The following are two newspaper clips showing their auction ad, and shortly afterward, someone advertising his purchases from this auction, which he was then selling…. All a little sad, but imagine today what a picker’s dream it would have been!

Household Auction

November 1905 auction ad from the Boston Daily Globe

Corliss Engines Ad

December 1905 ad from the Boston Daily Globe for Corliss Engines for sale

Note:  Since we do keep finding these “Into Or Out Of The Envelope” type designs on trade cards, postcards and the like, a separate category will go up now, under this ridiculously long title. I thought about lumping them in with our Breakthrough category, but really they deserve their own space, since the two themes are related but not the same.

Trade Card. Circa 1882 – 1890s. Household Sewing Machine Co.

Price:  $10.00           Size:  About 2 and 3/4 x 4 and 3/4″

Sources:   McKinney, James P. (Ed.). (1889).  The Industrial Advantages of Providence, R. I.  Providence, RI:  Jas. P. McKinney. (Google eBook).

The Boston Daily Globe. 22 November 1905, Wednesday, p. 1. (

The Boston Daily Globe. 6 December 1905, Wednesday, p. 20. (

Dr. W. Derby’s Croup Mixture

Dr W Derbys Croup Mixture pc1Dr W Derbys Croup Mixture pc2

Undivided back, unused, artist-signed postcard. Circa 1906. Artist:  Stauter. Publisher unknown.

Price:  $20.00

“Wet feet, cold hands, Dr. W. Derby’s Croup Mixture, Eaton Rapids, Mich.”
is printed at the bottom of this artist-signed postcard showing merriment in winter – elves throwing snowballs.

I was searching for a Dr. W. Derby in Eaton Rapids around 1900 without finding an entry. Then after finding the below patent information, wondered if Dr. Derby was a fictional name; however the 1870 Federal Census taken in Eaton Rapids shows Willougby Derby, physician and surgeon, born in New York, about 1829; his wife Hattie, born in Michigan about 1839; living with them are Annie Pomeroy, invalid, and Adelbert Garfield, domestic servant. By the 1880 census, Hattie is widowed, and the 1900 shows Hattie working as a milliner, but several doors down from her on this census is Frank Godding, born Michigan, July 1863; his wife Emma, born Michigan April 1866. Frank Godding’s occupation is Pharmacist. Their son Dan is eight years old. George Wilcox is Frank Godding’s likely partner. He appears on the 1900 as a commercial traveler (drugs), born Illinois, August 1861; his wife is Katherine, born Michigan, September 1866; their daughter Florence is five years old. So, perhaps Dr. Willoughby Derby developed the croup mixture or possibly it was named in honor of him.

Wilcox & Godding

The lower right corner of this charming postcard shows the artist’s signature, which appears to be J.? Stauter. We’ll add this to the mystery category, as the full name of the artist is unknown.

Sources:  The Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office, Volume 122, Issues 8-9. 1906. p. 3005. Web accessed January 10, 2015. (Google eBook)

Year: 1870; Census Place: Eaton Rapids, Eaton, Michigan; Roll: M593_670; Page: 231A; Image: 465; Family History Library Film: 552169. (

Year: 1900; Census Place: Eaton Rapids, Eaton, Michigan; Roll: 709; Page: 7B; Enumeration District: 0069; FHL microfilm: 1240709. (

Year: 1900; Census Place: Eaton Rapids, Eaton, Michigan; Roll: 709; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 0069; FHL microfilm: 1240709. (

A Riddle

A Riddle pc1A Riddle pc2

This postcard is on thicker paper, and it seems a good possibility that it could have come out of an arcade game. The front shows a very clever riddle, surrounded by elves, and is done in green on white. See if you can figure it out. The watermark for Laurel Cottage was placed over the answer, so you could have some fun with this, and the answer will appear below, upside-down. (No cheating, now.) The riddle reads:


Luke had it before,  Paul had it behind,

Matthew never had,  all girls have it once,

Boys cannot have it,  Old Mrs. Mulligan

had it twice in succession.

Dr. Lowell had it before and behind,

And he had it twice as bad behind as before!”

The date and publisher are unknown for this postcard. Perhaps the “M” that appears on the front, at the bottom of the card, is some type of identifying publisher or printer mark.  We can see from the writing on the back that this card must of have been used for scrap paper to record some measurements… It’s always neat to come across a design we haven’t seen yet for the postcard header, and this is a nice one. Not real fancy, but nice, with the words appearing on a banner-like design.

Divided back, unused with writing. Publisher unknown. Date circa 1910 – 1920.

Price:  $4.00

Riddle Answer