Aqsunqur Mosque (Blue Mosque) Cairo, Egypt, Circa 1910s

Old photo, circa 1910s. Cairo, Egypt.

Price:  $30.00             Size:  2 and 1/2 x 3 and 3/8″

A view from Bab al-Wazir street, Cairo

We’re taking a trip to Egypt. Here’s a photo found loose in a box at an antique store in Nevada. (There’s the photographer’s journey and then there’s the photo’s journey.) But, it’s always exciting to happen across the ones from far-off places, in this case to picture the individual traveling by steamer, along with his or her trunks, exploring someplace exotic, soaking in a different culture (though it probably wasn’t viewed in that terminology back then) and then taking a moment to write in a strong hand, “Cairo -“ upon his or her return. (Also, appearing on the reverse are the initials in pencil, “M.S.D.”)

Predominant in the view, the building with the rounded dome, is the Aqsunqur Mosque or Blue Mosque, along with its minaret, and another in the background. The mosque was built in 1347 on the orders of a prince, Shams ad-Din Aqsunqur, during the reign of the Mamluks. It is one of a number of “blue mosques”, so named because of its walls of blue tile, on the interior. The tiles were not added until a period of renovation in 1652 – 1654.

Rather dark in the image (click twice to enlarge) is a man wearing a Fez hat, standing very straight next to an auto with its top down.You can read what we assume to be the license plate. The gentleman appears to be in uniform (note the sleeve cuffs that are slightly short) and the small necktie. We’re picturing him as a cabbie or the driver hired by our traveler. Behind the car, barely visible, two men in white hats. To our right, a small wooden cart with large wheels; this would have been either hooked up to an animal or have been pulled or pushed by a person. (Both instances are seen in photos and postcards found online.) Further right, a small child in long dress and head covering, probably being watched by her mother, whom we can’t see due to the shadows of the building.

Sources:  Aqsunqur Mosque. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aqsunqur_Mosque (accessed May 27, 2022).

Jama’a Al-Aqsunqur (Blue Mosque). (World Monuments Fund). https://www.wmf.org/project/jama%E2%80%99-al-aqsunqur-blue-mosque (accessed May 27, 2022).

John B. Hawkins Street Scene RPPC, 1920s – 1930s

Real Photo Postcard, divided back, unused. Circa 1920s – 1930s.  Made by:  John B. Hawkins, Marion, Massachusetts.

Price:  $12.00

This is possibly a Marion, Massachusetts, or neighboring town street view – showing a line of parked cars in front of stores, a man on our left about to cross the street, and another on our right, seated, at the curb. Surprisingly, we’re not finding any age-appropriate records for photographer John B. Hawkins, in all of Mass, though city directories online in Plymouth County (1910 – 1940) are only scattered pages of certain years. We’d therefor, have to contact a local historical society or local libraries for resolution to some of the mysteries herein. And, the image is not of the best quality for clarity, but may be of value to someone, for sure.

It’s disappointing to be unable to read the store names or signs after enlarging the image……Wait, we can just make out “Ice Cream” and the brand or shop name in two words…….but it’s indecipherable. (Sometimes if you gaze at almost-readable signs long enough, you get inspiration, but not happening for me, this time.) But still, every picture evokes a feeling….Staring at the scene (if we could just connect to a Hogwarts kind of thing, it would come to life and we’d see that guy actually cross the street, and maybe someone come out of one of the shops, and some movement from our friend on the right) but, primarily, in our “fixed moment” that the camera is offering, we might focus on that slightly dejected-looking gentleman, seated on the curb with head down, shoulders a little slumped – is he thinking about the cares of the day/month/year that are weighing on him……or is he just waiting for a ride? Whatever the case, he kind of makes you want to jump into the frame and go and offer him a friendly arm around the shoulders.

Avenida Juárez, Guanajuato, México

Vintage Mexican postcard, unused. Publisher info:  Ediciones Guanajuato – Jardin Union No. 5, Teléfono 2.87.- Guanajuato, Gto. Series G-202. Circa 1950s.

Price:  $10.00

Avenida Juárez, circa 1950s

A beauty of a card with all those colors. The central Mexican city of Guanajuato is surely one of the most colorful in the world! The large building with the rounded roof is Mercado Hidalgo, an enormous market for pretty much anything you would like to buy – produce, clothing, souvenirs, jewelry, etc. Built on the site of an old bullring, the building was initially designed to be a railway station. Construction started in 1905 and was finished in 1910, when the market’s grand opening coincided with the centennial celebrations of Mexico’s independence.

Source:  Diaz Cornejo, Mireya. “El Mercado Hidalgo de Guanajuato.” https://www.revistabuenviaje.com/conocemexico/viajemistico/mercado-hidalgo/mercado-hidalgo-guanajuato.php# (accessed April 15, 2022).

La Grande Roue, Paris, Circa 1900

Black and white view of La Grande Roue. Paris, circa 1900.

Price:  $3.00

There are a number of postcard views of this, La Grande Roue, though this is not one of them. It’s actually a printed card, postcard size, with nothing on the reverse. At the time of its construction, this mammoth wheel, measuring 328 feet tall (100 meters) was the largest in the world. It was disassembled in 1920. The buildings in the neighborhood really put the giant into perspective. See this Wikipedia link for some very interesting facts about the passenger cars.

Source:  Grande Roue de Paris. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grande_Roue_de_Paris (accessed October 25, 2020).

Café de Flore, Paris

Divided back, unused postcard. Circa 1920s. Publisher/printer:  Patras, 9 av. Marguerite, A Boulogne-Sèine, France.

Price:  $7.00

….un chocolat chaud et un croissant, s’il vous plaît.

We’re taking a mini-virtual vacation to the Café Flore (Flora Café), 172 boulevard St-Germain, for some relaxation and conversation – back to what appears to be the 1920s. After much clicking on videos recently, I’m taken with the idea that we could push the play button and have this scene come to life (!) But enlarge to get your imagination going on the stories evolving…..There’s the group of men on our left, one in uniform; the couple; the two girlfriends deep conversation; the two separate gentlemen in hats and overcoats; the woman with her young daughter, waiting for traffic to clear; the group of three who appear to have been caught in a delighted chance encounter; the man with hands in pockets at the curb; the man with the briefcase looking as if he’s hailing a cab; the others in blur, caught in motion, and those in the background or partial shadow; and last but not least, the contented-looking young woman at the second story window, arms folded, surveying the scene below.

Félix Potin Calissons Box Top

Cardboard box top for Calissons from Félix Potin, Paris, France. Circa 1880 to 1910.

Price:  $17.00           Size:  About 8 and 1/2 x 3 and 3/4″

For the collector of antique items from the French company Félix Potin or for the collector of antique pastry ephemera, in general:   A cardboard box top from a box of calissons. A calisson is a french pastry with a distinctive shape that’s made from ground almonds – below are some beautiful examples:

And how nice that this box top has hung around this long, over 100 years and counting. Imagine the lovely presentation the pastries had made as a gift for someone, or just as a treat for the one who bought them. The date of the item is estimated to be from around 1880 to 1910 due to its gorgeous Art Nouveau style border. In the center is displayed an aerial view of the cookie factory that was located in La Villette, Paris, in the 19th arrondissement. The weight of the box, or perhaps just the pastries, was 500 grams or just over one pound. Scrawled across the top is,  “guides de la machine”  (machine guides) and another word, difficult to decipher. Whether this was somehow related to the factory (maybe written by someone that had worked there) or is evidence that the box had held small machine pieces after the cookies were gone, or is from something completely unrelated, we may never know.

Below, a wonderful article clipped from The Wichita Price Current dated October 30, 1899 about Félix Potin. Bravo, Félix!

Sources:  Félix Potin. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F%C3%A9lix_Potin (accessed October 23, 2020).

“images of calissons” Google.com search (accessed October 23, 2020).

“The Biggest Grocer’s Shop In The World.” The Wichita Price Current (Wichita, KS) October 30, 1899. Monday, p. 5. (Newspapers.com).

Albert Mayer And Tobias Branger Storefronts, Davos, Switzerland

Carte-de-visite. Circa 1890s. Davos, Switzerland

Availability Status:  SOLD          Size:  4 and 1/16 x 2 and 7/16″

Circa 1890’s, Davos, Switzerland….

Here’s a carte-de-visite found at an antique shop on the Central Coast of California. And, it’s always a thrill to get a photo scanned to the computer (mentally rubbing hands together in anticipation of being hit with the wow factor, or the “hmmmmm factor”, which is just as good, or better, the intrigue, you know….which can then lead us to the wow factor. 😉 ) But, it can’t be stretching the point to say that each item anyone finds (or has, or looks at, or whatever) whether it’s a postcard, a photo, a trade card, a calling card, or some other enchanting piece of ephemera, likewise a piece of furniture, jewelry, etc., is like a key just waiting to open, or re-open, multiple doorways. Come to think about it everything has a history, even a scrap of paper lying on the ground outside….The contemplation of the history of everything is mind-blowing, which leads one to thinking about the inter-connectedness of everything and everyone, no doorways now, just like a billion times a billion, or better, infinity times infinity of criss-crossed links, well….really just oneness. (Is this how enlightenment happens for some, the contemplation of a piece of dust or a scrap of paper?)

Alpine air and wonderful shops

Davos, Switzerland, circa 1890s:  A street scene showing the Centralhof, (Central court) which is the tall building, (guessing this might have been an apartment building or hotel) and attached to the Centralhof a line of single-story shops; of these, the two store names that we can discern are, on the left, Albert Mayer Juwelier (Jewelry store) and on the right Tob. Branger. Click the image to enlarge and note at the top of the Branger window, there’s a phrase of some sort, the second word appears to be Voyage. The first word appears to start with an “A” so, maybe it was the poetic, l’Art du Voyage:  It turns out that Tobias (pronounced TOE-be-us) Branger and brother Johannes owned a shop specializing in, “…sporting equipment and ‘travelling utensils.’ ” 

All who wander…..

A little research explodes into lots of (snow-covered) paths to wander down…..Wow! Tobias Branger, thought to be the first professional ski instructor in the Alps…..he and brother Johannes teaching author Arthur Conan Doyle to ski….the history of Alpine skiing…..Doyle’s contribution to Davos as a winter sports destination….Davos’ history as a health resort for tuberculosis sufferers….the life of Louisa Doyle, Conan’s first wife…..Tobias’ “Norwegian snowshoes” (were they in the shop window at the time of the carte-de-visite photo?)….Alpine skiing with one pole….night skiing to avoid ridicule (I’m picturing the Brangers and other pioneers hanging out with today’s winter X sports pioneers and contributors – kindred spirits, for sure.) Wonderful articles online abound – see the links further below. And a question:  Is that Tobias and Johannes Branger posing outside their shop in the photo? A definite maybe. And though Tobias Branger and Conan Doyle are said to have looked remarkably alike, of the two, it would seem to be Tobias (on our left) in the image. See the comparison photos in In the Tracks of Sherlock Holmes, first link below.

Location confirmation

Backtracking a little, not being certain, at first, that the scene on our card was really Davos, we found mention of jeweler Albert Mayer, in the Dutch publication shown below, which is a guide for the treatment center for lung ailments and a travel guide. Description of some of the shops lists Mayer’s as having “the finest gold works, watches and rings,” and just to mention a couple more, a store selling Swiss wood carvings and (one can picture how the author of this booklet was charmed at finding) a flower shop with [Google translation from Dutch]  “the most robust little bouquets, even in winter when the trampled snow outside the shops is at least two feet high.”

In the Tracks of Sherlock Holmes

Davos –  the pioneer:  Winter tourism in the Alps

The Davos sledge:  A classic among sports equipment

Two Planks and a Passion

Teller of Tales:  The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle

More musings on the carte details….

Was there some occasion for this photograph, or was it just the occasion of a photographer taking a photo circa 1890s? Note the three people on the second story outdoor courtyard area of the Centralhof building, two ladies on the left and a man on the right. (This from inspection under a magnifying glass – feeling a little Sherlock Holmes-y, for sure….) Other details to note are the duffel-looking bags (maybe mail bags) in front of both Albert Mayer’s and the Brangers’ shop; the poster advertisement – a mustachioed man with epaulets pointing in the distance and young woman just below him, it’s maybe a company name advertised there (almost readable) ; the iron balconies of the Centralhof building; the beautiful horizontal stripe effect of the mason work on the shop fronts….

Sources:  Stashower, Daniel. Teller of Tales: The Life of Arthur Conan Doyle. Henry Holt & Co., 1999. Google Books accessed March 31, 2013.

Davos – the pioneer:  Winter tourism in the Alps. (www.davos.ch.) Accessed March 31, 2019.

The Davos sledge:  A classic among sports equipment. (www.davos.ch.) Accessed March 31, 2019.

Louisa Hawkins. The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia. (www.arthur-conan-doyle.com) Accessed March 31, 2019.

Huntford, Roland. Two Planks and a Passion: The Dramatic History of Skiing. Continuum UK, 2008. Google Books accessed March 31, 2013.

Rosenblatt, Albert and Julia. “In the Tracks of Sherlock Holmes.”  Skiing. February 1982. pp. 74-78. Google Books accessed March 31, 2013.

Andriessen, Willem Frederik. Davos: eene beschrijving van het leven in dit herstellingsoord voor borstlijders. Van Raven, 1888. p. 56. Google Books accessed March 31, 2013.

Shu-le-Crow Cottage, Keswick, England

Old photo, circa 1900, Penrith Road, near Station Street, Keswick, England.

Price:  $15.00          Size:  5 and 3/8 x 3 and 1/8″

Here’s a wonderful photograph, we’re estimating from around year 1900, showing Penrith Road near the intersection of Station Street, in the town of Keswick, which is situated in the Lake District of Northwest England. Prominent in the photo is Shu-le-Crow Cottage, and best of all, one of its occupants at the time, wrote a description on the back:

” ‘Shu – le – Crow Cottage’, Keswick, showing the oriel and front windows of our sitting room. Note the chimneys, characteristic of Scotland and England:  Junction of Penrith and Station roads at the right. House over 200 years Old, fire place in Kitchen with ovens and boiling places as old as house. Slate slab flooring – Very Quaint in side, each room.”

Click to enlarge the image to see the people posing on the door’s threshold. Above them, but pretty hard to make out, are the words, “Shu-le-Crow Cottage.” Happily, the “cottage” is not only still standing but still (as far as we can tell) displays its name above the door today. See the August 2016 Google map of the building in pink and street view.

Sources:  Craven, Jackie. “The Oriel Window – An Architectural Solution.” ThoughtCo, Jun. 22, 2018, thoughtco.com/what-is-an-oriel-window-177517.

“A5271 Keswick, England street view.” Google.com maps. August 2016.

An Old Outbuilding

Divided back, Real Photo Postcard, unused. Circa 1907 – 1910s.

Price:  $4.00    

Rural America….a glimpse back

This postcard’s pretty beat up but still, or probably partly because of that, I love it. I love the pattern in the wooden shingles on the face of the, what would one call this, big shed? (Guess that’s why outbuilding works so well 😉 ) Maybe it was used for storage, or was once a chicken coop, though no evidence of chickens at this time. If you click to enlarge, and look inside, you can see what looks like a patchwork quilt covering up something. I love the window that looks like it was thrown together (sorry to whoever built it) and the short boards underneath the one end to make it all somewhat level. (Was it built that way or shored up later after heavy rains?) And last but not least, the young woman, laughing, the little girl with her toy wheeled cart, and their dog (caught in the middle of a bark or a yawn.) It’s a happy photo, and a glimpse back a hundred years or so, of life on the farm.

Country Meets City

Undivided back, used postcard. Postmarked March 26, 1908 from Chesaning, Michigan. Publisher:  E. B. & E. Co.

Price:  $7.00

A slightly comical card of an illustrated older couple, maybe they live in the country or city outskirts, and have come to downtown Detroit. Within their outline is a photo (slightly distorted probably to fit in the frame, in a fun-house type of way 😉 check out the tower) of the old Federal Building and Post Office at the Northwestern corner of Shelby and W. Fort streets.

Addressed to:   “Mrs. Floyd Walworth, Fergus, Michigan”

Where is Fergus?

Fergus, Michigan is a “locale” located north of Chesaning, in St. Charles Township, Saginaw County, in the vicinity of Fergus and McKeighan roads (purple marker on map below). It was a station on the Michigan Central Railroad and had a post office that closed in 1933.

The sender writes:   “Josiah and Samantha are both recovering from their colds. Hope to be able to go sight seeing soon. This is not very warm weather but expect better some time. Are you well? Lovingly Aunt Minnie.”

Floyd and Myrtle

Without a doubt (we got thrown off track at first by another possibility) the recipient of this postcard was Myrtle G. Spencer, daughter of G. H. Spencer and Emma Burrows, who had married Floyd E. Walworth on August 1, 1907 in Corunna, Saginaw County, MI. Myrtle was about age 22 when she married Floyd, but was first married to John R. Wegert (June 18, 1902 in St. Charles, MI). Floyd was about age 29 at the time of marriage and both he and his bride were residents of Fergus, MI and native Michiganders. His parents were Matthew Walworth and Lucy Merrill. Floyd’s occupation was live stock shipper and Myrtle’s was music teacher.

Aunt Minnie, a mystery

The sender of this card, Aunt Minnie, was not yet found in records. She mentions family members Josiah and Samantha, names which we expected would jump out at us from old records, but no; a more time-consuming search would be needed as far as who’s who for Myrtle or Floyd’s possible aunts.

Publisher i.d.

Last but not least, according to Publishers’ Trademarks Identified by Walter E. Corson, the postcard publisher E. B. & E. Company was Ely, Boynton & Ely of Detroit.

Sources:  Austin, Dan. “Federal Building.” historicdetroit.org. (accessed September 15, 2018).

St. Charles Township, Michigan. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Charles_Township,_Michigan (accessed September 9, 2018).

Chesaning. Google Maps. google.com (accessed September 9, 2018).

“Michigan Marriages, 1868-1925”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NQQ4-2ZB : 9 July 2018), John R. Wegert and Myrtle G. Spencer, 1902.

Michigan Department of Community Health, Division of Vital Records and Health Statistics; Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952; Film: 93; Film Description: 1907 Montcalm – 1907 Wayne.

Corson, Walter E. Publishers’ Trademarks Identified. Ed. James Lewis Lowe. Norwood, PA:  1993. (print).