Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Childs Restaurant, c. 1925

This is not only a fabulous interior snapshot of an old New York City restaurant -- it allows us to eavesdrop on someone who worked in restaurants geared toward working people. Childs, one of the first national dining chains, pioneered low-cost meals in a clean place -- not a greasy spoon. Pancakes were flipped in the front window.

"Where I am working now," the sender writes on the front. On the reverse, she continues: "This will give you a idea of a N.Y. lunch room. Just like Wolfes only larger." I'm assuming it is a woman writing, but it could be a man. The recipient is Miss Rosetta Shillau in Providence, R.I. care of Haydens Restaurant.

According to Wikipedia, Childs opened its first restaurant in 1889, and was a pioneer in design, service, sanitation and labor relations -- it had an employee stock ownership program in the 1920s. One of the founding Childs brothers imposed his vegetarian diet on customers around 1927, and it weakened the business. By the 1930s, new owners restored meat to the chain, which went through further contractions until the restaurants were subsumed into a new conglomerate company that includes Dunkin Donuts and other restaurants.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Almanac of Health, c. 1880s

A figure of a boy carefully cut out of a magazine -- likely the very almanac that he's hawking. The back  gives you a hint of the dubious potions of the era that were sold to cure a variety of maladies -- everything from dyspepsia to paralysis. This kind of scrap was commonly pasted in a scrapbook with other illustrations and chromos. Notice the boy's image is repeated in the magazine he's holding in his left hand. So we can assume this boy was featured on the back of the almanac; the front cover in his right hand shows a woman grooming herself.

Little Bear's Ups and Downs, 1926

Author: Frances Margaret Fox
Illustrator: Frances Beem
Publisher: Rand McNally

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A "found" paper doll, c. 1930s

Margaret Menamin liked to put together what she called "found paper dolls." Find an old magazine or catalog featuring models and clothing and see what you can match up, with a little trimming here and there. You can find this "found paper doll" on the freebie table at Morgantown.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Comic Trading Stamps, c. 1930s

Comic trading stamps featuring a host of familiar characters, including some racist caricatures.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

My Birthday Wish for Sister, 1935

Did Senator Bill send this birthday card to his sister in 1935? That's what it looks like. You might be the lucky one to greet this lovely card on the freebie table at Morgantown.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Dolls of All Nations, 1911

The freebie table is the place to find odds and ends, imperfect paper dolls perfect for collage, scrapbooking, tag art or an artist trading card. This week I'm previewing some of the freebie donations that Carol Carey has set aside for Morgantown. Thank you, Carol!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Envelope lining, c. 1930s

You never know what you'll find on the freebie table at the Morgantown luncheon. You might find this envelope liner stuffed in a vinyl sleeve with some scraps of vintage wrapping paper.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Toy postcard by A. Vivian Mansell & Co., London, c.1920s

This is a 3-D or pop-up postcard. The figures bend, and the card folds to create a little dollhouse scene. The black rag doll is the infamous Golliwog character, beloved by some, despised by others. The character, created in 1895 by Florence Upton, was popular in the U.K., not so much here. The last part of the name has become a racial epithet. I've heard women who grew up with the doll (or studied it for research) vigorously defend it as a cuddly, benign figure. I remember as a child reading Black Sambo, a figure that carries the same baggage as Golli.  I think the definitive interpretation of Golli can be found here. I'm glad we're all more aware of how toys shape our thinking as children, and how destructive they can be for a child's self image, and his perception of others.

Mansell is a well known publisher of fine prints, in business since 1910. The company is best known for glamour cards and hunting scenes, according to the Metropolitan Postcard Club of New York City.