Bicharin

Divided back, unused postcard. Circa 1910s – 1920s. Publisher:  The Cairo Postcard Trust.

Price:  $15.00

Here’s a striking portrait of a handsome young man, a member of the Bichari tribe. As per usual, we wish we knew his name and more about him (note the scars) as an individual, not just someone indicative of a tribal group. And it hits home – the lack of education most of us have about our fellow travelers on this planet, past and present. Here’s a great site, if you have time:  Africa 101 Last Tribes.

Sources:  Bishari. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bishari_tribe (accessed June 17, 2022).

Africa 101 Last Tribes. http://www.101lasttribes.com/tribes2.html. (accessed June 17, 2022).

La Crue du Nile Old Postcard

Divided Back postcard. Postmarked June 22, 1912, Alexandria, Egypt. Publisher:  POF or OPF. Stamp:  Postes Egyptiennes, Cinq Milliemes, rose color.

Price:  $15.00

La Crue du Nile…..The Flood of the Nile

The flooding of the Nile was usually an event each August before the Aswan High Dam was built in 1970. If you have time, take a look at this great article on the Saudi Aramco World site, “The Last Nile Flood,” by John Feeney.

This postcard was produced from a photo; at the time of this post, there’s a colorized version of the same scene available on eBay, but from a different publisher. The scene is two boys seated on a water buffalo, a man in charge of the animal at the reigns, and two men in charge of a camel, the one holding onto the camel’s tail. The boys and men are all posing for the camera.

Addressed to:   “Yonge juffrouw Lucie van Veen, Keizersgracht 254, Amsterdam Holland.”

The sender wrote:

“Alexandrië 22 Juni 1912. Beste Lucie, Ik ben nog niet op en kameel geweest, maar ik hed er al meer dan een op straat ontinoef. Ik denk heel dikwyils aan jullie allen en hoop dat je je niet te veel verveelt. Vele groeten.”

Translated from Google as:   “Dear Lucie, I haven’t ridden a camel yet, but I’ve seen more than one in the street already. I’m thinking of you all very often and hope you’re not bored too much. Many regards, Anie Schulthess.”

What a great way to start a postcard line, “I haven’t ridden a camel yet.” Love it! Neither Anie nor Lucie are showing up on Ancestry, however it’s always possible their descendants will find this card. We listed the type of stamp for the stamp collectors out there. The publisher’s a bit of a mystery:  Assuming that the initials go in the order of POF, if not OPF, however we’re not finding any other like this online right now or in the usual sources we consult (Metropostcard, Walter Corson’s Publishers’ Trademarks Identified and several others). Here’s the logo that’s appearing on the front of the card, bottom right:

Source:  Feeney, John. “The Last Nile Flood.” May/June issue of 2003, Volume 57, Number 3. https://archive.aramcoworld.com/issue/200603/the.last.nile.flood.htm (accessed June 1, 2022).

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).

A Detroiter, Circa 1910s by Photographer Charles J. Merz

Real Photo Postcard, circa 1907 – 1918. Detroit, Michigan. AZO Stamp Box.

Price:  $10.00

We’re taking liberties with the title of this post by presuming that the subject above lived in Detroit. In any case, he’s a handsome guy, here in dark suit, light-colored tie and pocket handkerchief, and a detachable collar. He’s seated in a carved wooden chair, which most likely, belonged to the photographer. And we wonder if this chair could have folded – is that a seam we’re seeing on our right above the armrest, or is it just part of the carving?

The time-frame for the card is based on the AZO stamp box, all four triangles pointing up, and the fact that it is a Divided Back card.

As for the photographer:  Charles John Merz, son of Christian Merz and Elizabeth Trost, was born September 14, 1872, in Michigan. Both parents were born in Germany. He married Buffalo, New York native,Tillie Bischy on June 5, 1901. Their daughter, Olive, was born about 1905. And, it turns out that Merz was in the photography business for decades, which is unusual for the time, given that most photographers (and there was so many that went into the trade) had either a rather short-lived career, or had moved on to other occupations by the 1920s. (It would be interesting to see statistics on this subject.)

Charles appears to have gotten started in the photography business around age 20, or a little earlier. The 1893 city directory shows he was working for, or with, photographer, Herman Baron, at 49 Monroe Ave in Detroit. By 1896 he is with the C. M. Hayes & Co. studio, and listed as a printer. The most recent city directory with the Michigan Avenue business address was found for 1919. On the 1920, ’30 and ’40 census records he is listed as a commercial photographer. By 1930 he, Tillie and Olive, are living in Livonia.

In searching for other photographs or cards several can be currently found for sale online. But, the Clements Library at the University of Michigan holds an old album containing photos from 1888 to about 1910, about 147 total, including a self-portrait. These images are not online but see the link below for more info.

Sources: “Real Photo Postcard Stamp Boxes A-B.” (Playle.com). https://www.playle.com/realphoto/photoa.php. (accessed May 24, 2022).

Year: 1880; Census Place: Frenchtown, Monroe, Michigan; Roll: 595; Page: 399B; Enumeration District: 178. (Ancestry.com).

R. L. Polk & Co.’s Detroit City Directory, 1893. pp. 232 and 847. Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995.

R. L. Polk & Co.’s Detroit City Directory, 1895. p. 961. Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995.

Year: 1900; Census Place: Detroit Ward 10, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: 751; Page: 3; Enumeration District: 0109; FHL microfilm: 1240751. (Ancestry.com).

Michigan Department of Community Health, Division of Vital Records and Health Statistics; Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952; Film: 73; Film Description: 1901 Tuscola-1902 Branch. (Ancestry.com).

Year: 1910; Census Place: Detroit Ward 14, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: T624_686; Page: 13B; Enumeration District: 0217; FHL microfilm: 1374699. (Ancestry.com).

Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918.

R. L. Polk & Co.’s Detroit City Directory, 1919. p. 2840. Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995.

Year: 1920; Census Place: Detroit Ward 15, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: T625_814; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 457. (Ancestry.com).

Year: 1930; Census Place: Livonia, Wayne, Michigan; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 1015; FHL microfilm: 2340810. (Ancestry.com).

Year: 1940; Census Place: Livonia, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: m-t0627-01833; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 82-177A. (Ancestry.com).

“Charles J. Merz Photograph Album (1888 – ca. 1910).”  Charles J. Merz photograph album, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan. (accessed May 24, 2022).

Three Women Carrying A Trunk

Real Photo Postcard, Undivided back, unused. Circa 1904. Eastman Kodak Stamp Box.

Price:  $25.00

This seems like a photo taken on a tropical island or at least somewhere exotic from our North American viewpoint. A clue to location should be the sign (mid-right in photo) showing “Hotel Continental” displayed atop two pillars, forming an entranceway. Behind, we notice part of a white building. Maybe that was the hotel. But Hotel Continental is, of course, a common name. When this postcard was made there were plenty such proud establishments, worldwide:  Atlantic Beach, Florida; New York City; Algier, Morocco; Havre, France; Vigo, Spain; Port Said and Cairo, Egypt; Cologne and Schwalbach, Germany; Bagni di Lucca, Capri, Genoa and Naples, Italy; Christiania, Norway, just to rattle off the ones we came across. Obviously some of these could be ruled out. But after browsing old photos of many locations (really too long of an endeavor), we didn’t get any closer to figuring it out. Also possibly, the Hotel Continental in this image was not too fancy or large, and might not have made it into old travel destination journals or onto old postcards which survived (except inadvertently, this one).

But, it’s a great photo. Imagine the scenario:  a tourist snaps this shot while walking behind these ladies, who are balancing this large trunk above (and on two of) their heads. Not something you see everyday, a definite Kodak moment (!) The time-frame is wonderful for clothing – the women all wear long (of course) skirts with striped shirtwaists, corsets underneath. The road they’re on is dirt, or at least, rustic; the wall of the building on their left, a little crumbling or aged, and with greenery growing on top. A short stone wall runs on their right. A gentleman, head down, in a dark suit and hat walks beside them, but is seemingly on his own, or at least unconcerned with needing to help with the trunk, or maybe feeling embarrassed he was not allowed to. (The ladies work for the hotel?) Notice his pant cuffs seem to be rolled up a little. Was this a seaside location somewhere and he had recently exited a small boat? Back to the trunk – it looks almost square, definitely well-used and…..did you assume, like me, that it was heavy, or at least full? (Thinking of photos of women carrying jugs of water, or whatever, on their heads?) Or, did you automatically assume the trunk was empty?

There are two other people in the photo, a woman busily occupied with something and a man behind her, barely discernible, wearing a tall hat (at least that’s my interpretation right now). Above them, some balconies, kind of rough-looking…..Wouldn’t this, wherever it was, have been a great place to stay?

As for the 1904 date for the card, this comes from the excellent, Playle’s website, as a date that’s been verified for this particular stamp box:  The design is a profile of a man with a pipe (Mr. Eastman?) looking through a camera, with the instructions, “Place One Cent Stamp Here”. And it may be likely that the photo was taken in the U.S. since it was found here, but always possible it was taken elsewhere and processed when the person returned home.

Sources:  “European and Eastern Hotels.” Cook’s Tourist Handbook for Switzerland. Thomas Cook & Son. London, 1895. (Google.com books).

Cook’s Tourist Handbooks Health Resorts. Thomas Cook & Son. London, 1905. (Google.com books).

“Real Photo Postcard Stamp Boxes, D-E.” https://www.playle.com/realphoto/photod.php. (accessed May 18, 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.

Smiling Young Man in Shaped Border RPPC

Divided back, Real Photo Postcard, unused. Circa 1920s. AZO stamp box.

Price:  $7.00

A happy guy, great pose for the camera, wearing a large-check patterned suitcoat, pencils in the pocket (maybe he was an accountant, an architect, an artist….), tie, hat pushed back, and glancing up and left. He chose a nice, diamond-shaped border to frame the image, it might remind you of a Native American (i.e. design on a Navajo blanket). See our category “Shaped Borders” from the Home page for more.

Lucille Wickson, Berkeley, California

Old photo, circa 1906 – 1916.

Price:  $12.00         Size:  3 and 1/8 x 2 and 1/16″

Availability status:  ORIGINAL IS SOLD. Digital copies only are available.

We have a last name this time:  Wickson. And I thought at first that Berkeley was the surname or it was a marriage situation, Wickson marrying Berkeley, but no such records appear online. However, we do find Lucille M. Wickson, student in 1909, boarding at 2662 College Ave., Berkeley, California (and the palm tree in the background fits). Other records show Mildred Lucille Wickson was born November 17, 1890, daughter of George Guest Wickson, II and Mary Ellen Winter. She married Walter Reeve Woolpert, July 27, 1916.

I’m estimating that Lucille was at least age 16 when this photo was taken. A fashion expert would no doubt be able to narrow down the time frame. Note that she wears both a large hair bow and a hat. But, easy to miss – she’s holding some daisies in her left hand. (It’s the little things that really bring the moment to life!)

Below, the announcement of Lucille’s upcoming nuptials from The San Francisco Examiner, July 22, 1916:

Sources:  Husted’s Oakland, Berkeley and Alameda Directory, 1909. p. 1214. (Ancestry.com).

“East Bay Society Notes.” The San Francisco Examiner, July 22, 1916. Saturday, p. 7. (Newspapers.com).

Ancestry.com. California, U.S., Death Index, 1940-1997.

Boy In Tire, California 1929

Old photo, decorative border, 1929.

Price:  $5.00          Size:  About 3 and 7/8 x 2 and 7/8″

Well, we know the place and year of this photo from the easily read license plate. (A definite departure from the usual norm of trying to “will” a plate into focus. 🙂 )

It’s an Art Deco design that frames this cute shot of a little boy sitting inside the upright spare (Goodyear) tire. He’s in overalls and wearing a couple of strands of beads, with a big smile and clutching something in one chubby hand. An adult, probably his dad, is in the background. As for the car – Model T Coupe? We’ll have to check with our go-to site for car questions, Antique Automobile Club of America. There is no writing on the back (though from a genealogy standpoint we feel like we’re looking at somebody’s grandpa, with great-grand in the back) but it’s a nice slice of Americana – back when the family car was also one of many play destinations for the kids.