Sing A Song for Christmas!

Copyright 1906, P Sander N.Y.

A Merry Christmas!  I am so pleased to find among my collection a fine example of a glittered embossed postcard by P. Sander Company.  Oh, how I wish I knew the ins and outs of scanning to capture three dimensions, for the publishers of this era worked hard to enhance their cards, simply and cheaply, with embossing–raised areas of the painting that create depth! In this 1906 card the red-breasted songsters are heavily embossed atop a snow-covered fence that is less heavily embossed, quickly drawing your eye to the artist’s main subject.  The holly and snow are not only embossed but glittered, giving the impression that the sun may be peaking out between snow bearing clouds.  In the silver embossed background, a riverside town sits in the muffled, snowy silence.  Such a beautiful card! A hand delivered Merry Christmas to four year old Donald Minor from May M.

My Fair Lady Wishes You A Happy Christmas!

Sent with no message, December 22, 1909

This fair lady sends greetings for a Happy Christmas. Seven year old Donald C. Minor received this card at Christmastime 1909, and though the painting is not signed, I believe it to be another Ellen H. Clapsaddle card.  Why?

  1. An embossed frame of gold holds the portrait of a sweet young lady, hair swept stylishly up and under a hat bedecked with fresh roses.  A ruffled collar frames a face full of youthful innocence.  Such a joyful illustration of Victorian youth is characteristic of Ellen H. Clapsaddle’s work.
  2. Turning the card over, I discovered this:
  3. The International Art Publishing Company was established in 1895, merging companies formerly run by Messrs. Wolf and Samuel Garre.  Their most prolific artist was Ellen H. Clapsaddle, as I discovered while researching Skating to Greet YOU!, a card also printed in 1909.

Until a collector convinces me otherwise, I stand on my judgement: My Fair Lady is a Clapsaddle original.  Happy Christmas!

Family Secrets Lurking 1.0 – Amanuensis Monday

Family Secrets Lurking 1.0

Family Secrets Lurking 2.0

Serendipity Surrounds a Secret

A family secret lurks in my work room, its edges smudged by family pride and shame and simmering disputes.  Penciled thoughts leap from papers long forgotten; stamps and postmarks reveal clues that no one thought to hide.  The secret’s outline is becoming sharper.

Robert Minor was born in 1869, the youngest child of a well-to-do stock dealer in southwestern Pennsylvania.  Francis Marion and Mary Jane Gwynn Minor passed on Greene County farms to each of their four children, with Robert inheriting the Home Farm, also known as the Jacob Myers farm.  Like his family before him, Robert was to become a stock dealer, raising his two children, Helen and Donald, with his wife May Laura Stephenson Minor, on the Home Farm.  What was on the land was far less valuable than what was IN the land, and once the coal  rights were sold in the early 1900s, the family’s opportunities multiplied. Stories floated during our family reunions, whispers of fabulous wealth and travel, all lost to the depression and the world war that followed.  The details remained in the shadows.  I thought nothing of it, until I began collecting and curating family records.

Four days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, my great-grandfather wrote to his son, Donald Minor, from the Mercer Sanitarium, Mercer, Pennsylvania.  The nurses were all working somewhere else and the “guests” receiving Dr. Richardson’s treatments needed to find new quarters.

December 11, 1941

Dear Donald, Received your letter and will say that you got a good price for your calves. Please excuse this pencil riting (sic) My ink is set up in the (cupboard) or the (clothes press) will in riting these few lines. Dr. Richardson wants me to write you. Won’t you please get me a room in the Washington Hospital. Please do that much for me as he says all the nurses are away working. Do it at once and please and thank you. Yours respect (sic), your Dad

My mother was a young girl at that time, and vaguely recollects discussions surrounding her grandfather’s hospitalization.  One fact stuck with her – Robert Minor ended up at Mayview, a psychiatric hospital outside Pittsburgh.  A cousin remembers stories of misery and desperation, with Robert pleading to be removed from the hospital.

Did deteriorating wealth lead to deteriorating mental health?  Were Robert and Donald estranged? What circumstances led to Robert’s stay in the sanitarium and from what was he recuperating?  Was the Mercer Sanitarium more hotel than hospital, like the Victorian health resorts?  If so, then a move to Mayview would have been a very jolting experience.

A secret is lurking in my work room and I aim to coax it out.  “Please do that much for me. . . “

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Postcard Advent Calendar, December 24: Sing A Song for Christmas!

Copyright 1906, P Sander N.Y.

A Merry Christmas on this eleventh day of my Minor Postcard Advent Calendar!  I am so pleased to find among my collection a fine example of a glittered embossed postcard by P. Sander Company.  Oh, how I wish I knew the ins and outs of scanning to capture three dimensions, for the publishers of this era worked hard to enhance their cards, simply and cheaply, with embossing–raised areas of the painting that create depth! In this 1906 card the red-breasted songsters are heavily embossed atop a snow-covered fence that is less heavily embossed, quickly drawing your eye to the artist’s main subject.  The holly and snow are not only embossed but glittered, giving the impression that the sun may be peaking out between snow bearing clouds.  In the silver embossed background, a riverside town sits in the muffled, snowy silence.  Such a beautiful card! A hand delivered Merry Christmas to four year old Donald Minor from May M.

 

Postcard Advent Calendar, December 23: The Blue Boy’s Best Christmas Wishes

On this tenth day of the Postcard Advent Calendar I share a card sent by Helen Stephenson Minor to her 7 year old brother, Donald Corbly Minor. At first glance I was struck by the resemblance of the child to Thomas Gainsborough’s portrait of  The Blue Boy, 1770. Note the similarities in the Victorian illustration and the Gainsborough painting;  in each a boy is depicted wearing a blue suit, edged with lace, and paired with white stockings and knickers.  A hat is festooned with feathers and the shoes tied with ribbons.  The object of each child’s concentration differs, but the position of the legs is identical.The costume predates The Blue Boy by about 130 years, leading many art experts to wonder if Gainsborough created this painting as a tribute to the great master painter Van Dyke.

Did this Victorian postcard artist pay homage to Gainsborough or Van Dyke?  Whether Helen appreciated the resemblance or not, she sent the blue boy postcard from her school in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania on December 13, 1910:

How are you getting along at school by this time?  I am just ready to go to class. What do you want for Xmas?  Tell mamma and papa I will write a letter soon.  Have you had Billy hitched to the sleigh yet and how does he go?  How much vacation do you have Christmas?  Is there anything going on down there Xmas.  With love to all from Helen.

Ditto, Helen.  With love to all–Best Christmas Wishes!