Thursday, April 2, 2020

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 445

Beartooth Highway, Montana and Wyoming
[photo:  Lawrence Dodge, 1992]

Lawrence Dodge took the 1992 photo on this postcard with a view of the Beartooth Highway found on part of U.S. Route 212 in Montana and Wyoming.   This section of the highway runs for 68.7 miles or 110.6 km between Red Lodge and the Northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park.  The card was published by Big Sky Magic Enterprises of Helmville, Montana and has the code:  BSM-477 at the lower left corner on the reverse. 

As can be seen by the photo, there are a number of zigzag switchbacks where the road climbs up to the top of Beartooth Pass at 10,947 ft (2,400 m).  The highway, which offers spectacular views, opened in 1936 and essentially uses the same route that Civil War General Philip Sheridan and his 120 men followed when returning from an inspection tour of Yellowstone Park in 1872.  Not wanting to take a long detour down Clarks Fork Yellowstone River to Billings, Montana, General Sheridan had taken the advice of an old hunter, Shuki Greer, who was familiar with the Beartooth Mountains, and led his men over the pass on this route.   

The road passes numerous lakes in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area that borders it along much of the way.  The pass is known to have strong winds as well as snowstorms even in the middle of the summer.  It is suggested that drivers check ahead with the Montana and Wyoming Travel Information Services in case of closures.  A driving time of at least 2 hours from Red Lodge to Cooke City is recommended.  Although the highway does have a U.S. highway number the National Park Service maintains it.  There have been several rock slides and mudslides that damaged or destroyed the Montana side of the highway in the past.  In 2005 it was closed for reconstruction due to slides. 

The stamp on this used postcard was issued in 1991 for the new 19-cent postcard rate.  The fawn is a white-tailed deer and is found throughout most of the continental United States, southern Canada, Mexico, Central America, and northern South America.  The card was mailed from Yellowstone National Park and has a cancellation mark from Old Faithful Sta.

For more information, see:

Thursday, March 26, 2020

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 444

St. Matthias’ Abbey, Trier, Germany

This used postcard shows a front view of St. Matthias’ Abbey.  It is a Romanesque abbey-church that dates from the 10th and 12th centuries and is located in the city of Trier, Germany.  There is a short blurb on the reverse of the postcard at the upper left and tourist information at the lower left.  A product of Fotokust Schwalbe, Tier/Mosel the card does not have an identification code or credits for a particular photographer.

Monks have lived at the abbey since antiquity.  In 977 the monastery adopted the Rule of Saint Benedict.  It was originally named after the founders of the Archbishopric of Trier, the first Bishop of Trier, Saint Eucharius and Bishop Valerius, whose bones are preserved there.  The Empress Helena, mother of the Roman emperor Constantine I, is said to have sent the bones of the Apostle Matthias, to Trier.  Those relics were discovered during demolition work on an earlier church at this site in 1127.  At that time abbey church was re-named for and contains the tomb of Saint Matthias the Apostle.  As the only burial place of an apostle in Germany it is a renowned place of pilgrimage because of the tomb. 

Through the centuries looting, wars and conflicts between various bishops or abbots have affected the abbey.  During the French Revolution the French army requisitioned it and the monks had to leave.  In 1802 the abbey was nationalized and secularized and still later was sold off.  A local businessman acquired most of the complex and altered it for his own residence.  In addition to the main abbey the property included farmhouses and estate buildings that financially supported the abbey.  After several attempts were made to revive the monastery in the 19th century in 1922 the main building complex was rededicated as a Benedictine abbey and resettled.  During World War II the government suspended the monastery but after the war part of the religious community returned.  In 2004 two monasteries joined into one community devoted to the cure of souls, a hospital, and pilgrimage duties. 

Trier is the oldest town in Germany, founded around 16 B.C.  The Lorig branch of our extended family lived and worked in several of the small towns in the surrounding area, such as, Biewer, Kordel, Klüsserath, Lorich, Neumagen, and others.  The land along the Mosel River has several vineyards.   This abbey church may have been a familiar sight to some of our Lorig ancestors.

The stamp is one in a series of architectural drawings of historical German churches issued in 1993.  It has a rendering of Magdeburger Dom [Magdeburg Cathedral]. Completed in 1520 as a Catholic church, today it is the oldest Protestant Gothic church in Germany.

For additional information, see:’_Abbey

Thursday, March 19, 2020

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 443

Batsto Mansion, New Jersey, ca 1976

This used postcard with a photograph of the Batsto Mansion in New Jersey was published by The Sheller Co., Hackettstown, New Jersey.  It has the number 145630 at the center bottom edge on the reverse. 

Batsto Mansion is a State Historical site located in Batsto Village, Burlington County, New Jersey.   It is in the Wharton State Forest, which is part of the Pinelands National Reserve and is listed on the New Jersey National Register of Historic Places.  The Batsto River flows through the Village.  The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Division of Parks & Forestry is the administrator of the site. 

The area became an ideal place to establish an iron works because there was an abundance of bog ore in the area along the Batsto River and there was plenty forest land for making charcoal to be used in smelting the ore.  Charles Read, an ironmaster, built the Batsto Iron Works in 1766 and the village grew up around the works.  John Cox bought the Iron Works in 1773 and began producing cooking pots, kettles, and other items.  Batsto Iron Works also manufactured supplies for the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War.    The ironmaster was an important member of the society and was usually the owner of a forge or blast furnace for processing iron.  He would have had a large country house or a mansion as his residence.

The next owner was Joseph Ball who bought the works in 1779 and later in 1784 his uncle William Richards bought a controlling interest.  The Richards family built most of the buildings in the village.  Demand for iron declined in the mid 1800s and Batso transitioned to glassmaking.  Unfortunately the glassmaking enterprise was not successful and Batsto went bankrupt.  In 1876 a businessman, Joseph Wharton, purchased the property.  Wharton improved many of the buildings and was involved in a diverse array of activities from forestry to cranberry farming.  After he died in 1909 the Girard Trust Company of Philadelphia managed the properties. 

In 1952 the U.S. Air Force proposed building an arms depot at Batsto but by 1956 that plan was scrapped in favor of another location.  The state of New Jersey purchased the properties in the late 1950s and started restoring the 50-room mansion and rebuilding a dam for recreation on the lake.  The historic village was dedicated in 1961 and opened to visitors.  Today there are more than 40 sites and structures, including the mansion, a sawmill, charcoal kiln, blacksmith and wheelwright shop, ice and milk houses, a gristmill, and a general store.  About 14 of the rooms in the mansion have been restored and are open for tourist visits. There is a Batsto Post Office where collectors can have stamps hand-cancelled. 

Rev. Herbert M. Griffin with his wife, Frances McMunn Griffin, and their son, ca 1923

I sometimes get curious about the people who sent or received the postcards.  In this case Rev. Herbert M. Griffin sent the card to his niece, Dorothy Christison.  Rev. Griffin was employed by the China Inland Mission and spent many years in China as a missionary.  Two of his three children were born in China during those years.  The card shared this week is postmarked 1976, which would have been about 4 years before he passed away in 1980.  I found the photograph above of Rev. Griffin with his wife, Frances, and son, age about 3 or 4, on  Their passport application is dated 1922 and it seems most likely the picture was taken around that time, before the next child is born while the family is living in China in 1924.  It was also interesting to note on the passport application that he intended to be in China for a period of 7 years.  Their youngest child was born in China in 1928.  

The stamp is a 9-cent "Right of the People Peaceably to Assemble" issued in 1975 with a gray background and the Capitol Dome featured in green. 

Thursday, March 12, 2020

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 442

 Novelty greeting postcard, ca 1910

The early 1900’s embossed novelty postcard above features four-leaf clovers, a dove and For-get-me-not flowers surrounding a gold heart. The card was made in Germany.  It is a used card sent from St. Ansgar, Iowa where the sender was attending school to a friend living in Estherville, Iowa.  The message is written in both English and Norwegian.  From the style and divided back it likely dates from between 1908 and 1915.  Novelty cards were very popular in the early 1900’s. 

Since St. Patrick’s Day is coming up next week and green is a traditional color for that holiday it seemed a good time to share this card.  A shamrock has three leaves and was used as a symbol to represent the Holy Trinity.  Four-leaf clovers, on the other hand, are rare, one in approximately 10,000 clovers, and seen as symbols of good luck.  Both are green.  This particular card also has a dove, representing peace, and a heart for love surrounded by For-get-me-not flowers as a reminder of friendship.  Because the card is embossed, it is possible to feel the raised design on both sides of the postcard.

Although white clovers normally have three leaves and four leaves are uncommon the plant is known to produce five and six leaves or even more.  In 2009 a 56 leaf clover was discovered by Shigeo Obara of Hanamaki City, Iwate, Japan! 

For more information, see:

Thursday, March 5, 2020

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 441

Cloisters, Windsor Castle, England

This Valentine’s Series postcard has the original company logo allowing a date estimate of the early 1900s before the end of World War I.  The logo was changed just before the 1920's to include a V in the background and the word “Famous” was deleted following the war.  The card has a divided back moving the date from 1908 to 1920.   A code number of 3297X (JK) can be found at the lower left corner. 


Valentine & Sons original logo

John Valentine founded the lithographic printing firm of Valentine & Sons, sometimes seen as Valentine’s Co. Ltd., in Dundee, Scotland in 1825.  The company incorporated photo prints and stereo-views produced by his son, James, who was an early pioneer in photography. By 1896 the company was printing postcards with black and white real photo images and also some hand colored collotype cards.  This card appears to have a tinted photograph.  While most of the cards published by the company had landscapes they also reproduced artist drawn illustration in the early 1900s.

A cloister is a covered walk running along the walls of buildings usually forming a quadrangle.  The picture on the postcard shows only a part of the cloister at Windsor Castle.  It serves to provide an architectural barrier that separates the enclosed area from the outside world and is often associated with a monastery especially if it is associated with a cathedral. 

King Edward IV built the Cloisters at Windsor Castle between 1478 and 1481 they were later restored in 1871 by Sir Gilbert Scott in 1871.  They are called the Horseshoe Cloisters and connect to other buildings that form Windsor Castle rather than being a complete wall around the entire Castle grounds.  Today they are the home to the Chapel’s Lay Clerks. 

For additional information, see:

Thursday, February 27, 2020

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 440

The Conway Mastodon, The Ohio Historical Center, Columbus, Ohio, ca 1970s

This postcard has a photograph by Paul M. Rowe of the Conway Mastodon found in Clark County, Ohio in 1875.  The skeleton was on display in the Orton Museum at the Ohio State University until the early 1970s when it was moved to the Ohio Historical Center in Columbus.  The unused postcard was published by Aladdin Studio, Columbus, Ohio and made by Dexter Press, Inc. of West Nyack, New York.  The number 77889-C appears under the space allotted for a stamp on the reverse.  The Conway Mastodon skeleton is regarded as one of the largest and finest examples in the United States.

Weighing about 4 or 5 tons the American Mastodon, found in the eastern states, was built like a tank with heavy, stout limbs, broad shoulders, a low cranium, two or three teeth in each jaw for masticating twigs, branches, and aquatic vegetation.  Its distant cousins, the woolly mammoth and the Columbian mammoth, found in the western states, had more slender limbs, slopping backs, humped craniums and only one tooth in each jaw better for grinding abrasive grasses. All three stood about 10 feet high at the shoulder.  Mammoths are more closely related to Asian elephants while mastodons do not have any surviving relatives.

Mastodons lived in herds and were mostly forest dwelling with a mixed browsing and grazing diet similar to living elephants.   They probably disappeared from North America about 10,500 years ago as part of a mass extinction believed to been caused by the pressures of human hunting. 

For more information, see:

Thursday, February 20, 2020

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 439

Hardenberg Castle, near Göttingen, Lower Saxony, Germany, ca 1911

This used postcard has a photograph of the ruins of Hardenberg Castle, seen at the top of the hill, located on the river Leine, about 10 km or approximately 6 miles north of Göttingen, Germany.  The card has a postmark date of 2? 8 11 [2? August 1911].  The handwritten date in the message is 24 August with no year.   The card has the number 22407 and the name of the publisher:  Kunstverlagsantalt A. J. Bellson, Cassel, Wolfsschlucht 13, printed along the left margin on the reverse.  The picture is a “Real Photo” and A.J.Bellson was an art publishing company. 

Both the castle and the town of Göttingen have beginnings around 1100, with what became eventually a city, first part of a village called Gutingi in 953 AD.   The city was formally founded between 1150 and 1200 AD and the Electors of Mainz built the castle about 1101.  In medieval times the city was a member of the Hanseatic League and a wealthy town.  In 1409 the ownership of the castle was split between two family branches.  A thunderstorm in 1698 partially destroyed the castle and it was abandoned in 1720 eventually becoming a ruin.  Descendants of the Hardenberg family still own the castle but live in a nearby manor house.  The Hardenberg-Wilthen distillery was founded in 1700 and today is the second largest liquor producer in Germany. 

Visitors can take tours of the castle ruins and grounds.

For additional information, see:örten-Hardenbergöttingen