Thursday, August 17, 2017

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 312

Church of Our Lady of Penha, Rio de Janerio, Brazil

Recently Bob and I took a short trip to Orcas Island and while we were wandering around in the Village one afternoon we stepped into a small secondhand shop where this photo postcard caught my eye and curiosity.  It is an unused card with photo credits to Wilson Gelatti.  It is an Impresso o Brasil por:  Ediotra Litoarte Ltda.  This Roman Catholic Church is known as Ingreja de Nossa Senhora da Penha or in English, the Church of Our Lady of Penha.  Card identifiers on the reverse of the card:  RPC  RJ-031.

Archbishop José Bothelho Matos of São Salvador da Bahia, had the church built in 1742 as an extension to his summer palace.  After his death in 1767 it was left to the Archdiocese.  Between 1813 and 1916 various Catholic brotherhoods used the church and grounds.  Today it is the property of the Archdiocese.  The church, located on the end of the Itapagipe Peninsula faces the Bay of All Saints.  The National Historic and Artistic Heritage Institute added the church and the palace to its listings in 1941.

Constructed in stone and brick masonry the church exterior is Roccoco style decorated with pieces of azulejos.  The church has a single tower.  Inside are three Baroque-style altars and there is an elaborate painting by an unknown artist in the nave.  The church and palace grounds also include lovely gardens.  The palace is connected to the church by a roofed gallery.  Unlike other churches in the area it is surrounded by beaches and in a tamarind tree lined residential neighborhood. 

For additional information, see:

Thursday, August 10, 2017

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 311

The Breakers, Newport, Rhode Island – facing the Atlantic Ocean

This unused, deckle-edged color postcard was labeled “International” published for John M. Twomey Distributing Co., of Newport, Rhode Island using Curteich® 3-D natural color reproduction.  Deckle-edged cards were popular from the 1930s to the 1950s.  The card also has B-3 and D-14406 as an identifiers located in the upper right of the reverse where the stamp is to be placed.  The blurb at the lower left on the reverse describes the picture as “The Breakers facing the Atlantic Ocean, Cornelius Vanderbilt Mansion, Newport, R.I.  Open to visitors, May thru October, under auspices of the Preservation Society of Newport County.”

Built between 1893-1895 as the summer home for Cornelius Vanderbilt II, this 70-room mansion was designed by Richard Morris Hunt with interior decoration by Jules Allard and Sons and Ogden Codman.  It is a five-story structure with 62,482 square feet (5,804.8 m) of living space.  The estate covers 14 acres with the house occupying about 1 acre.  It sits on the cliffs overlooking the ocean.  Although not visible on the card there are sculpted iron gates at the Ochre Point Avenue entrance, and 30-foot high walkway gates as part of a 12-foot high limestone and iron fence that borders the property except on the ocean side.  It is one of the most visited house museums in American with almost 500,000 visitors last year.
At the time Vanderbilt purchased the property in 1885 there was an existing mansion that burned in 1892.  Following the fire Vanderbilt commissioned Richard Morris Hunt to rebuild it in splendor.  The house was to be as fireproof as possible with steel trusses and no wooden parts.  The boiler was to be in an underground space below the front lawn and located away from the house.  The interior designers used imported marble, rare woods and mosaics from all around the globe.  This mansion is considered a representation of the “Gilded Age” and was the largest most opulent house in the Newport area built to rival the European aristocratic lifestyle. 

When Vanderbilt died in 1899 the estate was left to his widow, Alice Gwynne Vanderbilt who lived until 1934.  At her death it passed to her youngest daughter, Countess Gladys Szechenyi, who had always loved the estate and had no other American property and whose other siblings had no interest in it.

Like European mansions The Breakers also has formally landscaped gardens with clipped hedges and tree-shaded foot-paths. Flowering plants like rhododendrons, alyssum, ageratum and dogwoods are among the plants that grow in beds that make designs or screen the grounds from street traffic and provide seclusion.

For detail information about the rooms and furnishings and photographs of the grounds and the interior, see:

Thursday, August 3, 2017

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 310

Amsterdam, Monument, Weteringplantsoen, ca late 1940s or early 1950s

This unused postcard looks to date around the late 1940s or early 1950s.  Aside from the title at the bottom left there are no identifying numbers, credits, or printer/publisher listed.  The coloration is sepia toned and the photograph shows a memorial of flowers.  This was one of several cards found in a jumble of others in a shoe box in a local antique-secondhand store. 

Weteringplantsoen is located at the crossroads of the Vijzelgracht and the Weteringschans between Leidseplein and Frederiksplein in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  The square, park or as it is called in the guides, plantation opened as a public playground in 1880.  Today it is the oldest playground in Amsterdam.  The park is divided into three parts, two gardens and a roundabout. 

Thirty World War II resistance fighters were executed in the First Wetering Plantsoen in 1945.  In memory of those who died at that time a ring of flowers is erected there each year on 4 May (shown on the card).  In 1954 the sculptor, Gerrit Bolhuis, created another permanent monument wall that also has a dead soldier with a handset in his hand.  Wikipedia photos from 2011 show a lush green garden in the heart of the city.  Due to increasing traffic at this site a roundabout was installed here also. 

There are several other pieces of artwork in this park, including some with lines of poetry; a bust of the columnist Simon Carmiggelt; and a bridge over the Singelgracht.  From 2003 to 2013 the North-South Line of the subway connection construction was ongoing under the plantation. 

Gerrit Bolhuis (1907-1975) was a Dutch sculptor who specialized in World War II resistance and liberation monuments.  His works can be found in Amsterdam, Epe Beverwijk, and Winterswijk. 

For additional information, see:

[Note:  It is possible to select the translate option for the two links from the Netherlands]

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 309

Place du Carrousel, ca 1951

There are certain photographers and postcard publishers that I often look for when searching for new cards to add to the collection.  Yvon is one such photographer who also published postcards.  It was a surprise and a delight to find this used black & white Yvon card in a local antique mall.  The picture is of La Place due Carrousel in Paris and it is part of the collection of photographs known as Paris . . . En Flanant.  The message is dated October 24, 1951.  To see some other postcards by Yvon that have appeared in the blog, use the Search option with the key word Yvon.

This public square is located in Paris directly between the Louvre Palace and the Tuileries Garden at the eastern edge. At the western end of the gardens is the Place de la Concorde.  Louis XIV used this space for equine military drills in 1662, hence the name “carrousel” for a type of military dressage. 

During the 1700s the Tuiliers Palace occupied part of the square.  During the French Revolution in June 1792 King Louis XVI and his family were held under surveillance in that palace and later in August of 1792 the guillotine was erected in this square where it stayed until May 1793.  During the time between May and August of that year 35 people were executed there before the guillotined was moved to Place de la Concorde.  Thousands of people, including the King and Queen, were eventually executed using the guillotine during the Reign of Terror.

The Tuileries Palace was looted and damaged in 1848 and in 1871 orders were given to torch the remains of palace.  Incendiaries such as petroleum, liquid tar and turpentine were used.  The fire lasted 48 hours and completely consumed the palace.  The ruins stood for another eleven years and were finally demolished and removed in 1883.  Once the ground was cleared the area was again used as a public square. 

In August 1793 a wooden pyramid was constructed where the guillotine had stood in the Place du Carrousel as a tribute to Jean-Paul Marat (1743-1793), a French political theorist, physician and scientist who became a radical journalist advocating basic rights for the poorest during the Revolution.  Today the famous glass pyramid, designed by I.M. Pei, is in front of the Louvre and serves as the main entrance into the museum.  At first I wondered if the glass pyramid might be a more permanent monument to Marat but it turned out to not have a connection. The glass pyramid replaces the older entrance in order to accommodate the large numbers of visitors coming to the museum.

Another prominent features of the square is the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.  It was built between 1806 and 1808 to commemorate Napoleon’s victories and is about half the size of the more famous and larger Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile.  It is still imposing; however, at 63 ft (19 m) high, 75 ft (23 m) wide and 24 ft (7.3 m) deep.  The arch has bas-reliefs, statuary, and Corinthian columns.  A statue of Peace riding in a chariot is perched atop the center of the arch.  Like several other small arches this one is a derivative of the Roman triumphal arches. 

For additional information, see:

Thursday, July 20, 2017

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 308

 King Alfred's Statue, Winchester

This sepia toned real photo postcard is unused with a divided back.  The card is attributed to F. Frith & Co. Ltd. Reigate, England.  The card has an identifying number at the lower right of 43677A. 

Francis Frith (1822-1898) a successful grocer and printer became interested in photography and started a photographic studio in Liverpool in 1850.  He was also one of the founding members of the Liverpool Photographic Society in 1853.  He traveled to the Middle East several times including at least once to Egypt with large cameras, 16” X 20.”  He used a wet plate or collodion process that was a new major technical achievement especially in hot and dusty environments to develop his photos. 

During his travels he kept a journal of the difficulties encountered and noted some people wanted to see photographs of other parts of the world and with a goal in mind to provide such pictures he eventually established Francis Frith & Co. in 1859.  Once back in England with his photographic studio running he embarked on a project to take pictures of all the towns and villages in the United Kingdom.  At first he took all the photos himself but as his success increased he hired people to help and eventually started the postcard company.  It only took a few years before over two thousand shops throughout the U.K. were selling postcards printed by his company.  He married Mary Ann Rosling and they had five children.  After his death in 1898 his family continued the firm until it was sold in 1968 and then closed in 1971.  

The statue featured in the picture on the card is of King Alfred the Great (849-899) by Hamo Thornycroft, erected in Winchester in 1902.   William Hamo Thornycroft was born 1850 and died in 1925.  His father, mother and grandfather were all sculptors.  He is responsible for some of London’s well-known statues and a leading artist of the New Sculpture movement. 

Since no portraits of the king exist this rendition is solely the artist’s interpretation.  King Alfred’s aims for his country were to rid the land of pagan Norsemen and to advance Christianity among his subjects.  The piece has a symbolic cross on the hilt of the sword and the shield at his side is a reminder that he was the protector of his people.  He is standing on a half hewn monolith that rests upon a grass mound to represent the age in which he lived.  The statue is 2 ½  times larger than life-size and stands 40 feet tall.  The pedestal weighs 40 tons. 

   For additional information, see:

Thursday, July 13, 2017

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 307

View of Monaco from Monte-Carlo, 1908

The message on this used, divided back postcard is dated 4 March 1908.   An interesting thing about this date is the date of the painting on the front of the card.  Hugh H. Cameron (1835-1918), a Scottish artist, has dated his painting January 1908 making this card almost an instant printing.  It was possible and popular at that time for individuals to have postcards made from their own photographs or a painting.  That together with the message “with the author’s compliments, Hotel Bristol” suggests it is not too improbable that Cameron may have had the card made to send to a friend, Guy Repton, staying in nearby Cannes at the Hotel Bellevue. 

Running along the left margin on the reverse is an identifying number, 10480 together with the name of the publisher/printer, Locq, Mathorel & Ch. Bernard, Paris.  Many of the examples of cards produced by this company are paintings of animals, flowers, scenes such as this one, and people. 

 Green, Louis II profile stamp, 1908

Although difficult to discern because of the cancellation marks, the stamp shows the profile of Prince Louis II the grandfather of Prince Rainier III and great-grandfather of the current Prince, Albert II, and a female figure sitting on the number value of the stamp on the right side next to the checkered coat of arms and palm leaves decorating the left side.  

 Monaco stamp with the International Circus cancellation, 2017

The small principality of Monaco has used postmarks since 1704 and used French and Sardinian stamps until 1885 at which time the principality began to issue its own stamps.  Due to interest in stamp collecting a Stamp Issuing Office was created in 1937.  Prince Rainier III, a noted stamp collector, was quoted as saying that stamps were “the best ambassador of a country.”  His collection forms the basis of Monaco’s Museum of Stamps and Coins.  Stamps from Monaco are popular with collectors and provide another source of revenue for the principality.  The rates are tied to the French postal rates.  By chance I discovered this postcard with its stamp in a local antique mall shortly after receiving a letter that included a new issue stamp from Monaco sent by a friend.  The new stamp shows the coat of arms composed of a red and white diamond pattern and a cancellation mark that announces the annual international circus festival held in Monte Carlo.  

 Principality of Monaco, aerial view, 1939

Logo for Edition “La Cigogne” (The Stork)

 Early 1930s, blue Peace Stamp, French

The first card showed Monte Carlo from the sea looking toward the city.  This second used postcard numbered 1463 has a divided back and is titled “Principalite de Monaco – Vue Générale prise de la Turbie” provides a different view of the city.  It is a black & white, real photo, aerial view by Edition “La Cigogne” (The Stork), 15 Rue St.-Francois-de-Paule, Nice, with an early 1930s blue French Peace stamp postmarked of 30 – 5 1939 or 30 May 1939.   Like some other postcards this one has a company logo on the reverse, not in the center but at the lower left.  

Trivia:  The House of Grimaldi has ruled Monaco since 1297.  The only times since then that Monaco was not under the House of Grimaldi was when the French annexed it during the French Revolution and during World War II when it was under Italian control before being liberated.  In 1419 the Grimaldi family purchased Monaco from the Crown of Aragon and solidified their rule.  In 1612 Honoré II began calling himself Prince of Monaco.  In 1630 he had to ask the French for protection against the Spanish and Monaco then became a vassal of the French kings.  After 1814 the Grimaldi family returned to the throne.  There was a revolution in 1910 that forced adoption of a constitution in 1911 turning Monaco into a constitutional monarchy, at least on paper.  It has become known as a tax haven for the wealthy.  Similar to Las Vegas and Nevada, Monte Carlo and Monaco have had great success with the gambling industry.  French, Italian, English and Monégasque are all languages widely spoken in Monaco.  Prince Rainier III married the American actress Grace Kelly in 1956.  The current ruler, Prince Albert II, the son of Prince Rainier, has a son and daughter, twins, assuring the continuation of the Grimaldi line for at least one more generation.  Included in the links below is one to the family tree of the House of Grimaldi.

For more information, see:,_Prince_of_Monaco

Thursday, July 6, 2017

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 306

 Kongens Nytorv og Nyhavn, København, Danmark, 1905

This postcard was sent from Copenhagen, Denmark as a Christmas and New Year’s greeting with the handwritten date of 18 December 1905 and postmarked at Fort Doge, Iowa when it arrived on 3 January 1906.  The scene depicted on the card is of Nyhavn or New Harbor and Kongens Nytorv or The King’s New Square.  Today they could hardly be called “new” as both were designed and build in the 17th century.   The used undivided back card, does have an identification code, C.R. No. 116, but does not have publisher or printer information.  The card has sparkly glitter glued strips on the roofs and across the bottom section of the harbor plus the equivalent of “Merry Christmas” stamped in red at the top center of the image.  

Because the undivided back was to be used only for the name and address of the person receiving the card any message had to be written on the front of the card usually over part of the picture.  As can been seen there is a small margin at the bottom of the card where a message could be and was written.  In this case the message also spilled over to the sky portion at the top and partly into the street. The picture is interesting too, since it shows horse drawn wagons or carriages lined up and what looks like electrified trolley cars with tracks. 

Nyhavn, seen at the upper middle on the card is lined with brightly colored buildings the oldest townhouse dates from 1681.  King Christian V had the harbor built by Swedish prisoners of war from the Dano-Swedish War 1658-1660.  It was the gateway from the sea to the old inner city and the Kongens Torv.  Ships unloaded cargo and fish here.  As the ocean going ships got larger the harbor was used more for small vessel freight.  Gradually ship traffic disappeared and the harbor was mostly deserted.  Looking carefully at the postcard it is possible to see the first temporary foot bridge built across Nyhavn in 1875.  That bridge was replaced in 1912 with the bridge currently used today. 

The Nyhavn Society was founded in the 1960s with the aim of revitalizing the area.  The quay was changed to a pedestrian only area and a veteran ship and museum harbor was established.  Old carefully restored ships, now part of the Danish National Museum, can be viewed there.  Since that time it has become a popular spot for tourists.

Trivia:  The Danish author Hans Christian Andersen lived at No. 67 from 1845 to 1864 and then at No. 18 from 1871 to 1875.  The second house now has an Andersen themed gift shop.  There is a Memorial Anchor at the end of Nyhavn commemorating Danish officers and sailors who served during World War II. 

Kongens Nytorv is a public square located at the end of the pedestrian only area.  It was another project of Christian V in 1670 as a major extension to the fortified city.  The square was cobblestoned with a garden inspired by what was done in Paris earlier.  Facing the square are the Royal Danish Theatre (1874); Charlottenborg Palace (1671) now the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts; Thott Palace (1683) now the French Embassy; Hotel D’Angleterre; and Magasin du Nord a department store.  Although the square and gardens were originally built in the mid to late 1600s they were rebuilt by Frederik V in 1747 and served as a ceremony ground for the King’s troops until 1908 when the square was re-shaped back to its original design.  The statue of Louis XIII of France at the Place de Vosges inspired a similar statue placed in the square of Christian V that is the oldest equestrian statue in Scandinavia (1688).  It was originally made of gilded lead but in 1939 it was recast in bronze.

For additional information, see: