Saturday, December 30, 2017

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 331 [a few days late]

 Snowy trees in front of the Harry Whitney Treat Home, Queen Anne and Highland Drive, Seattle, 
ca 1916

 [Note:  I was without a computer for a few days so this Thursday postcard is a few days overdue.]

Although this postcard looks more like a snapshot than a card it was printed as a postcard.  That was a fairly common way to share pictures of places, people and even pets in the early 1900s.  There has not yet been significant snow in the city this year but the photo was probably taken in 1916 when Seattle had a heavy snowfall.  The undated note on the back says:  “In front of Harry Whitney Treat’s Home, Queen Anne and Highland Drive.”  The Treat family lived in this 64-room home from the time it was completed in 1905 until his death in 1922 when it was sold to developers.  Then it was turned into apartments.  In 1975 it was modified into what is today known as the Gable House complex.  It is a Seattle Landmark building worth more than 11 million dollars.

I thought it interesting and amusing to think that someone took this picture showing the snow covered trees and not much of the mansion.

Harry Whitney Treat was a businessman and financier who originally came from New York and arrived in Seattle in 1902.  He formed a partnership in 1896 with the promoter, Ed Blewett, for whom Blewett Pass is named.  Together they formed the Van Anda Copper and Gold Company on Texada Island in the San Juan Islands.  They had three mines, the Little Billie, the Copper Queen, and later the Cornell.  Under Treat’s leadership the mining operations moved underground.  Blewett and Treat developed a narrow gauge railway to move the ore to dumps on Van Anda Bay.  By 1900 they had also constructed a smelter to service not only their mines but also other mines on the island.  Treat was called “The Magician” who waved an invisible wand and his caves produced copper, gold and silver. 

Locally Treat bought hundreds of acres of land in Ballard where he developed Loyal Heights and Loyal Beach, both named for his youngest daughter, Loyal Graef Treat.  Loyal Beach later became Golden Gardens Park.

For more information, see:
Texada Island Heritage Society – Harry Whitney Treat

Thursday, December 21, 2017

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 330

 Currier & Ives, "Frozen Up," 1872

Merry Christmas!  This used postcard has a reproduced Currier & Ives lithograph of a winter scene titled “Frozen Up.”  Although the message is not dated, this Hallmark card with the number 150PX 20-9 on the reverse probably dates from the early 1970s or about 100 years after the original lithograph, from 1872, was hand colored and sold.  The snowy scene with a red caped woman holding a basket, two oxen about to pull a loaded dray on runners, a horse drawn loaded sled with driver crossing a bridge over a creek, frozen waterwheel and dark cloudy sky, is seasonal and it seemed perfect to share a few days before Christmas. 

Currier and Ives, based in New York City from 1834 to 1907, was a very successful American printmaking company.  Nathaniel Currier (1813-1888) and James Merritt Ives (1824-1895) produced prints from paintings by various artists as black and white lithographs that were then hand colored.  Known as “the Grand Central Depot for Cheap and Popular Prints” with lithographs advertised as “colored engravings for the people,” that could be reproduced quickly and purchased inexpensively.  The company produced over 7,500 lithographs during its 72 years of operation. 

Nathaniel Currier was born in Roxbury, Massachusetts 27 March 1813.  The family was very poor.  When he was 8 years old his father died and it became necessary for Nathaniel and his older brother, Lorenzo, to work odd jobs to support his mother and their other two siblings.  When he was 15 he apprenticed with William and John Pendleton in their lithography shop located in Boston.  At age 20 he moved to Philadelphia and began doing contract work for a noted engraver and printer named M.E.D. Brown.  A year he was making lithographs under the name of Stodart & Currier but his partnership with Stodart only lasted one year.  In 1835 he created a lithograph of a fire that swept New York City’s business district.  That print was so successful it sold thousands of copies in four days.  He then began working alone as “N. Currier, Lithographer,” for about 20 years until 1856 producing many current news and disaster prints. 

In 1857 Currier approached his bookkeeper and accountant, James Merritt Ives, about becoming his partner.  Ives was about 10 years younger than Currier, and had married the sister-in-law of Currier’s brother, Charles. It was Charles who recommended Ives to Currier.  Ives became general manager handling the financial side of the business and also helped Currier select artists and craftsmen.  He had a knack of knowing what would be popular and began adding images the firm could produce to expand the range into political satire and sentimental scenes, like sleigh rides in the country and steamboat races.  The card shared this week would fall into the category of sentimental scenes. 

All the lithographs were produced on lithographic limestone printing plates, the drawings done by hand.  Each print was then pulled by hand and then hand-colored by a dozen or more women who worked in an assembly line fashion.  The company occupied three stories in a building in New York with the printing presses on the third floor, artists, stone grinders and lithographers on the fourth floor, and colorists on the fifth floor.  Small works sold for 5 to 25 cents, larger pieces went for $1 to $3 each.  As the firm grew the products were made available via pushcart vendors, peddlers, and book stores selling both wholesale and resale.  Currier & Ives prints were considered appropriate home decorations according the American Woman’s Home in 1869.  Currier died in 1888 and Ives continued on until his death in 1895.  The sons of both Currier and Ives followed in the business until improvements in offset printing and photoengraving diminished the popularity of lithographs.  The firm was liquidated in 1907. 

For additional information, see:

Thursday, December 14, 2017

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 329

Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France, ca early 1900s

It is always great fun to find an old postcard of some place I have been, like this unused vintage card of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris France from the early 1900s.  No other information about the publisher/printer except the number 23 and the title found at the bottom of the card front.  The back is divided hence the card was issued after 1900 even though the picture suggests a date perhaps earlier.  Horses and carriages can be seen in the middle of the picture and at the left side.  A few people are walking or standing in the large square.  Three of the six large doors into the cathedral are open.  Only one door was open when we visited in 2012.

There is still a large square in front of Notre Dame in Paris but now there are also benches and plantings as well as a statue of Charlemagne.  Otherwise, it looks much the same.  When we visited it was necessary to wait in an enormously long line of people that wove around the square to go inside.  

 A section of the long line of people waiting to enter

 Part of the square near the statue of Charlemagne

Looking from one of the bridges across the River Seine the cherry trees and part of the cathedral is shown at the lower left side.  The stalls where all sorts of things from books and artwork to miscellaneous used items are for sale can be seen at the lower right.

The buildings in the background on the postcard, especially on the right side, seem a bit too close to me as there is just a green strip and a sidewalk next to the River Seine that runs right along side the cathedral with bridges across in several places.  The river is not very wide at that point; however, so the buildings on the other side appear closer than they really are.  It is also hard to tell if this is a tinted photograph or an artist’s rendition of the scene.

 The entire front of the cathedral is covered in relief statues

We walked here a couple of times from our hotel during our visit.  It is impressive both from the outside and inside.  Once inside the light coming in through the stained glass windows was splendid.  The cavernous dark interior also had additional lighting that helped make it seem airy and bright.  There are places to light candles in several areas inside.   It is truly a magnificent structure.  

Large rose window and smaller stained glass windows

Looking toward the windows from further away

Groundbreaking for the cathedral began in 1163 and it took until 1345 before it was completed.  Considered one of the best examples of French Gothic architecture Notre Dame is one of the most well known church buildings in the world.  During the French Revolution in the 1790s the church was damaged severely.  It also suffered some damage during World War II.  The first restoration was in 1845 with another in 1991.   

 The side and back views of Notre Dame are as beautiful and interesting as the more recognizable front view facing the west.

 Last but not least, the famous gargoyles, and chimeras

For additional information, see:

Thursday, December 7, 2017

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 328

"The Senator," the oldest Bald Cypress tree, ca 1945

The black & white photograph on this unused postcard of "The Senator" shows people holding hands and surrounding the tree.  Helping to date the card is the original fence and plaque.  Parts of the fence and the plaque were lost to theft in 1945.  Modern photographs show a different fence and the plaque placed higher on the tree trunk.  Named "The Senator" after Florida State Senator Moses Overstreet, who donated the tree and surrounding land to Seminole County for a park in 1927, the tree is over 3,500 years old.   At the bottom of the card it reads:  “The ‘Big Tree’—Oldest Cypress in the U.S., 3,500 years old (127 ft) high, 47 ft. in circumference, 17.5 ft in diameter.  On U.S. 17 and 92 between Sanford and Orlando, Florida.”  Senator Overstreet dedicated the site with a commemorative bronze plaque, parts of which can be seen behind the boy standing in the middle of the picture. 

The tree was once taller than described but a hurricane in 1925 destroyed the top of it reducing the height from 165 ft to 118 ft.  When the photo on the card was taken the tree had grown to between 125 and 127 ft.  The Seminoles and other Native Americans used the tree as a landmark and it also attracted many visitors even though it meant crossing swampy land by sometimes leaping from log to log to get to the tree. 

Sadly in January 2012 a fire started at the top of the tree and burned from the inside out.  Firefighters tried to save the tree but it collapsed leaving the tree 20 to 25 ft tall.  At first it was believed that lightning had started the fire but it was later determined to have been the result of a human built fire that got out of control.  The perpetrator was caught and given jail time. 

Even after the fire had destroyed so much of the tree people continue to believe that parts of it are still living evidenced in part by saplings discovered at the base of the tree.  Also officials have said that the tree was cloned at one time and after the fire a search was conducted to locate clones and bring them back.  A small group of artists and woodworkers were allowed to create works of art from the charred remains of the tree.  A few of the items produced include vases, pens, flutes, and sculptures some of which have been made available for sale.  Seminole County officials are working toward having a permanent and traveling exhibit with selections of these artifacts.

The Big Tree Park was closed for about one year after the fire then reopened in 2014.  A memorial was constructed that includes signs and an improved boardwalk, a playground, and a clone of the Senator was planted near the playground.  The clone has been named “The Phoenix.”  The Senator was not only the largest Bald Cypress in the United States but also the largest tree of any species east of the Mississippi River.  In addition to the Senator there is a companion tree in Big Tree Park named the “Lady Liberty Tree,” 89 ft tall, about 2,000 years old.

For additional information and pictures, see: