2/27/09

IMAGINE YOURSELF at 152



This is Miss Hattie and she's 152 years old, so don't begrudge her appearance. At one point in her life in 1857 she was hot off the presses, crisp, and new. She was made by the Clark, Austin & Smith Company of New York and was part of a series of paper dolls they produced called "The Girls' Delight." She is but 3.75" tall. She is missing a dress, a cape, and two hats and oh yeah, an arm. 

I purchased her from a woman who purchased her from an estate sale. The estate belonged to a librarian who had collected paper dolls. That's as far back as I can go for Miss Hattie. I have no idea where she began her life, the first child that played with her, the stories that were told about her. How far she traveled these 152 years I'll never know, though when I purchased her she traveled across country from one shore to the other. 

I imagine she spent a lot of her "life" in envelopes neatly tucked away for safe keeping. At some point she stopped being a toy and simply became a collectible. Miss Hattie is my Tattered and Lost Queen.

Addendum: Today I received a very interesting comment about Miss Hattie. Instead of simply saying "click on the comments link" I want to publish it in whole. Thank you Anonymous for the information. I wish you'd left your name. I'd be thrilled to hear from you directly.
"I can tell you a bit more about Miss Hattie. She was the daughter of Cornelius Smith, who was the Smith of Clark, Austin and Smith (and also the brother of Winthrop B Smith who published the McGuffey readers). Clark was Lucius Ebeneezer Clark and he and Cornelius Smith were brothers in law. Miss Hattie was the 2nd paper doll CAS brought out, the first being Miss Florence, daughter of Lucius Ebeneer Clark and Miss Hattie's cousin. It was Lucius' (Miss Florence's father) idea (they were book publishers in New York City on Broadway) to bring out a series of paperdolls, based on a book called Paper Dolls and How to Make them by Anson Randolph (another contemporary NY Publishers). They sold very well, with minimal profit (According to the family geneology), but the idea quickly caught on and other publishers got into the business too. Eventually they sold the paperdoll plates to McLoughlin Brothers who eventually became Milton Bradley. I know all this because Lucius is my great-great-grandfather. Thank you for rescuing Hattie from obscurity. These dolls are beautiful, hand water colored by anonymous women artists of the day. It amazes me how well kids could cut with scissors in the 1850's (the dresses came on one sheet of paper in an envelope with the doll on cardstock and needed to be cut out)."

2/22/09

Oh what a time WE HAD AT THE FAIR


On February 20, 1915 the Panama-Pacific International Exposition opened in San Francisco to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal and the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the Pacific Ocean by Balboa. Nine years after the horrific earthquake and fire of 1906 the city put on a Worlds Fair. The fair was built in the area now known as the Marina District, the same area that suffered so much damage in the 1986 quake.

As you can see from this advertisement, found in an issue of The Country Gentleman, the fair was not just a regional event. People came from all over the United States to see this. Try to imagine leaving your farm in the Midwest and traveling across country in the winter to the edge of the continent to see all of this. I can only imagine the stories people took home about their exotic adventure in California.

1915 Pan Pacific Int Expo_tatteredandlost
Click on image to see it larger.

The only building left from the great Exposition is the Palace of Fine Arts. None of what was built was meant to be permanent so the fact that this still exists is a wonder. Below you will find a few post cards from the exposition. And if you'd like to really read about click here for a wonderful site all about the Exposition.

PALACE OF EDUCATION

SECTION OF COURT OF ABUNDANCE, SHOWING TOWER OF JEWELS AND ARCH OF THE RISING SUN, THE FOUNTAIN OF EARTH IN THE FOREGROUND.  

COURT OF ABUNDANCE AND MULGARDT'S TOWER  

"THE INDIAN"

STATUE "END OF THE TRAIL"  

TOWER OF JEWELS

ILLUMINATION OF COURT OF ABUNDANCE  

Click here to read more about the architecture of the Exposition. And click here to see some photos from the San Francisco Chronicle in black and white.

2/18/09

But it looks like HAND TINTING


I just posted a hand tinted photograph at my vernacular photography blog which got me to thinking about old post cards that look hand tinted. Of course the cards weren't hand tinted. Printing processes for multiple colors was done so differently than today. Young designers coming into the field generally have no idea how labor intensive it was to do 2, 3, and 4 color work. Each color had to be placed on a separate plate which meant somebody had to create the artwork for each plate.

san_francisco_postcard_tatteredandlost

When I was in college we learned how to do overlays. Sometimes we used a product called ruby or amberlith. There was also Zipatone. Each of these required placing an acetate overlay over the black and white original artwork. You then used an x-acto knife to cut out the shapes that you wanted in color. You basically built the colors on the different acetates, but what you were actually looking at was either a ruby red or orange amber. The only colors you saw were the black and white art, the different overlays in the red or orange that each represented a different color to be printed, and then of course white. You had no idea what the final printed piece would look like. There were a lot of surprises when the final arrived. I'm thrilled I don't have to do this anymore. Took a terrible toll on the eyes.

The other method was to do washes on  vellum or acetate which is most likely how these cards were done. It makes it look as if the photos were done by someone with a watercolor brush.

peaches_postcard_tatteredandlost

2/15/09

GOING OUT OF BUSINESS Presidents Day Sale


Other than children who use Presidents Day to learn about the great leaders of our country, does anybody else think of this day beyond just being a day without mail, banks are closed, and for many a day off from work? Oh yeah, shopping. Presidents Day is a day of shopping. It's just too awful and it makes my eyes roll to the back of my head. Newspapers are full of ads with Washington and Lincoln hawking all sorts of useless merchandise. I'm sure there are plenty of car commercials using the images to pressure buyers for that 3 day sale great deal. Now I know we actually need to get out and go shopping to help the economy, but wouldn't it be nice if we still remembered what the day was about? And why we still honor these men? I fear most people in this country haven't a clue. Nor do they care.

2/14/09

VALENTINE gamble


I don't think children are required to give valentines to their classmates anymore. I hope not. What it taught you at an early age was who your friends were, who you wanted to be your friends, and who you just didn't care about. Sorting through the stack of cards the night before, deciding which were the very best (which of course would be given to your friends) and picking out the ones you thought were the ugliest to give to the children you thought fit that bill. You had to give a card to every single child in class. It was an emotional day for a lot of kids. There was the way a child would hand you the card. The body language was telling. And of course the little boys were just uncomfortable with all of it. I know the teachers set it up so no child would be left out, but ultimately a few were. They simply didn't get as many as the other kids and they'd sit quietly at their desk with their smaller stack. There are other ways this could have been handled. But that's in the past, just as these valentines are from the past.

All of these cards are ones I've collected the past few years. This one of the cat is my favorite because it was purchased just weeks before my kitty passed. It looks a lot like him so it makes me smile and at the same time a little sad.

cat_valentine_tatteredandlost

Other than the lovely illustrations used on valentines there are the catchy silly phrases. The clever play on words. Try to imagine the mind of the person who had to write these. They had to be constantly looking for some word, some phrase, that they could put a little twist on to make a hit-it-out-of-the-park one liner that would have their boss giving them a thumbs up and a pay check. Then it was handed to the illustrator to put their take on it. A lot of work, a lot of input from a lot of people, went into putting these little pieces of paper together. Most were bought, given, then tossed.

skipper_valentine_tatteredandlost

And really, does anything more say "I Love You!" than pork in plaid? I think not.

ham_i_am_tatteredandlost

2/10/09

TRAIN of thought


It is strange how a train of thought can quickly end up on a side spur.

A friend and I were talking on the phone about I don't know what and suddenly she said the name of a movie, which I've now forgotten, and we both exclaimed that we never understood what the movie was about. We chattered about this movie for a few minutes before I said, "Bullet." Long pause from her. I then said, "What was it about?" She said, "Yeah, well... McQueen...it didn't really matter." Then she said, "Oh, oh...Natalie Wood" to which I said, "Yes! Yes! Love With the Proper Stranger!" She sighed. I sighed. Then I told her I had a tie-in paperback from the movie. This then led to her saying, "And that other Natalie Wood movie...with Redford...and a train." Long pause from both of us, trying to remember the name of it. I said, "Coppola wrote it." Nothing. Then we both were throwing out scenes until I finally yelled, "This Property is Condemned!" More sighs. And I reminded her the young girl in it was the young girl from To Kill a Mockingbird. And somehow I ended up telling her I also had a tie-in paperback from Hud with Paul Newman on the cover and said it was one of the sexiest covers I'd ever seen. 

So that's how I ended up here. McQueen.

Steve McQueen_LOVE WITH_1_tatteredandlost

Steve McQueen_LOVE WITH_2_tatteredandlost

I don't purposely collect movie/tv tie-in books. They've just sort of formed a stack. Several of them were bought when I was a teenager, had seen a movie, and wanted to read the book. Then somewhere along the line I'd find them in thrift stores and buy them for a quarter. Soon I had a collection. It wasn't until I was at an event at the Mill Valley Film Festival that I realized this was an actual collectors item. Someone had a collection displayed, as I recall they were in a case. I was sort of dumbfounded. "Whoa, somebody else collects these things?" Okay, that meant there was potential competition at the junk stores. So now I take better care of my little old yellowed paperbacks. I know that somewhere out in the darkness someone covets my stash. 

And as to my friend...I was just thrilled by the end of the call to find out she hadn't slept with McQueen. She seems to have slept with everybody else. But that's a blog unto itself.

Paul Newman_HUD_1_tatteredandlost

Paul Newman_HUD_2_tatteredandlost
Click on images to see them larger.

2/8/09

VALENTINE, VALENTINE, wherefore art thou?


I also collect valentines. Well, I have a few dozen, nothing more. I have to draw the line somewhere. I still love looking at them. Wonderful illustrations meant to bring some sort of gut reaction. Usually they just make me smile. 

There's a wonderful book put out by Taschen entitled Valentines: Vintage Holiday Graphics which is nothing more than page after page of valentines. It really runs the gamut from romantic to pure silly. No information is given about any of the illustrators. I fear that information is long since gone. But I do find work in the book that is similar to some in my collection. I can imagine people searching and searching for one particular illustrator. Good luck with that. 

I've posted a link in the left column to the book at Amazon where you can read more about it. Don't be alarmed that it says French and German edition. This simply refers to the preface which is provided in English, French, and German. There's no text in the rest of the book. And the trim size is very nice. Makes a nice reference book or a wonderful gift for someone who loves valentines.

2/7/09

If we all LIVED IN PLASTIC HOUSES


I remember the Monsanto House of the Future in Disneyland. No doubt about it, it was fun. It was PLASTIC! Everything was plastic. Who knew it was actually a toxic nightmare. Goes to show you how times have changed. Just think of it, even if they crushed this thing, since it's long gone, that plastic is still here. It'll never go away. We're stuck with the remnants of the house of the future for long beyond our future. Now I hate plastic. We're drowning in it.

monsanto house_postcard front_tatteredandlost
Click on image to see it larger.

But at the time this place was shiny and clean and it was fun to imagine yourself living in it as you walked from room to room...in a nice orderly fashion. After all, it was Disneyland. It was as if you'd stepped into a Jetson cartoon episode and somehow we were all going to end up working for Spacely Sprockets.

monsanto house of the future_tatteredandlost
Click on image to see it larger.

Compared to the ranch house suburbs that blanketed much of the country this was exotic. It was as if we were living with Sputnik as our neighbor. It's now funny to see how it was nicely nestled amongst greenery and a pond. At the time we were all terrified of nuclear destruction at any moment and yet they wanted us to imagine living in a plastic house. Maybe it's just me, but wouldn't that sucker have melted during an attack? Or were we supposed to build a cement bomb shelter below? 

The one thing I remember in this house, that seemed like a dream, was the huge tv hanging on the wall. Just the thought of it was pure fantasy. So okay, that came true. You can now buy a humongous plastic tv and hang it on your wall. A lot of the things in this house came true. Not sure I'm happy about most of it. It's all made with oil and we know how that's a wee bit of a problem.

I guess it was fun being naive, but there's always consequences for naiveté.


Funny how the future of tomorrow became the nightmare of today. Good thing they never got those flying cars off the ground.


2/4/09

IMPLEMENT of torture


All I can think of when I see this implement of torture is "OUCHHHHHH!" because this was how my mother cut my hair when I was a child. I was surprised to find this thing in a drawer. I'd have thought long ago the Justice Department would have confiscated it.

richard hudnut taperette_ft_tatteredandlost
richard hudnut taperette_bk_tatteredandlost
Click on images to see them larger.

The manufacturer was a company called Richard Hudnut. If you want to know anything about the founder of this company, who managed to die before this implement was marketed, you can click here. Apparently the Hudnut company (can't even say that with a straight face) was known for very high end products and Richard's step-daughter was once married to Rudolph Valentino, who apparently was still married to a previous wife. How the Hudnuts got into the business of marketing straight razors to cut hair, well, maybe it's better we never know, but I imagine Rudolph joining the family might have gotten the ball rolling.

Knowing what it's like to have this razor used on your hair I can understand why there aren't any grand old tv commercials extolling it. A person trying to smile through the tears and screams would have been a problem for any ad agency. Better to stick with the shampoo.