Thursday, June 29, 2017

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 305

The Forest at The Hague, by Louis Apol

This week’s postcard is unused, has an undivided back dating it to around 1907 or possibly earlier, and shows a winter forest scene.  The identification number, 1276, is found in the right margin, as is the publisher/printer name of Abrahamson & van Straaten of Amsterdam.  This card was found in a box of jumbled cards at a local antique mall.  Below is a copy of the original painting, now in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.   

The Forest at The Hague, painting by Louis Apol
[Google image]

Many postcards have works of art for the picture, as does this one titled in English “The forest at the Hague.”  The Dutch artist, Louis Apol, full name Lodewijk Frederik Hendrik Apol, was born in The Hague in 1850 and died there in 1936.  He was one of The Hague School that consisted of a group of artists who lived and worked in The Hague between 1860 and 1890.  Apol’s talent was noticed early and his father hired teachers to give his son private lessons.  In 1868 he received a scholarship from King Willem III.  Most of his paintings are winter scenes and with few exceptions do not include figures.  In 1880 he was part of an expedition to Spitsbergen in the Polar Sea.  Impressions from that journey served as inspiration for the rest of his life. 

 The Hague School was also known as the Gray School because members of the group generally used somber colors.  The French Barbizon school influenced the works.  Many of the paintings are landscapes, winter scenes, woodlands, and some of national history.  The name “Hague School” came about because a critic, Jacob van Santen Kolff, described the works as “a new way of seeing and depicting things,” “intent to convey mood, tone takes precedence over color,” “almost exclusive preference to so called ‘bad weather’ effects,” and a “gray mood.”  Although looking at the original painting in color, it is not exclusively a gray but also has subtle tones of blue, brown and orange.

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Wallace Falls, 2017

The sign at the beginning of the Woody Trail to Wallace Falls

We hiked here 2 or 3 years ago but at that time I only made it to the middle falls viewing area.  This time we made it to the upper falls.  It was a misty rainy type of day.  As a consequence we got a little damp but on the plus side that meant that the last steep part was not so bad since it was a cool and comfortable temperature.  We went all the way up and then came back to the covered picnic tables to eat lunch since that seemed drier and nicer than sitting in the rain on a wet bench.

This is a very popular trail near the town of Gold Bar about one hour driving time from Seattle, depending on traffic, with a paved road and an ample parking area.  The Discover Pass is required.  There is a “deluxe” restroom as far as trail heads go, with flush toilets and hot & cold running water.  We counted 134 hikers and 11 dogs.  A first for us, all the dogs were leashed and under control.  There are lots of stairs on this trail and the last upper section is rough with plenty of roots and rocks as well as a steep grade.  Bob rated this trail was a moderate difficulty for me.  The round trip was 5.5 miles with a 1400 ft elevation gain.  Once at the top there are two additional waterfalls that cannot be seen from lower down.  Several chipmunks to entertain us, especially at the picnic area.  Birdsong but the birds were hard to spot in the trees.  There were not many flowers; however, we did find some coral root in bloom.  My camera did not like the blurry, misty rain limiting the types of pictures taken that day.

 The first views of the river from the trail . . .

 Dense undergrowth of ferns, moss and small shrubs with the trees . . .

 Guard rails and stairs to various view points along the way . . .

 We are going to the top of the large falls in the distance . . .

 Views from the lower falls view point and the middle falls view point . . .

 Valley view point . . . too misty to see the valley . . .

The end is near, the upper falls are just ahead . . .

 Looking down on the falls we could see from below . . .

 The two falls not visible from lower down . . .

 Bob, looking a bit soggy, on the bridge over the river . . .

 Sign at the bottom explaining why the trail is named the Woody Trail . . .

Thursday, June 22, 2017

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 304

Hotel and Beach, John O'Groats, Scotland

This real photo postcard shows the hotel and beach at John O’Groats Scotland.  It is unused, has the code 8.2 at the lower right corner and includes a children’s rhyme: “Rainy, Rainy, Rattlestanes, Dinna rain on me.  Rain on John O’Groats House Far across the Sea.”  Very like the children's rhyme "Rain, rain go away, come again another day."  I think rattlestanes are hailstones.

In 1903 the Kodak Company introduced a Folding Pocket Kodak camera that would take pictures the same dimensions as a standard postcard of the time, approximately 3 ½ “ X 5 ½ “.  The photos cold then be printed on postcard backs and mailed.  By 1907 Kodak had introduced the postcard service called “real photo postcards” to make a postcard from any picture.  It seems like a very clever idea.  Several other companies also used the term “real photo” from about 1903 to around 1930.  Many of the real photo postcards record area events, show homes, prominent citizens, summer picnics, parades, and disasters such as fires and floods.  The photo cards were also used for commercial purposes like real estate listings or souvenirs.  The reverse side of this card has the notation:  “The Tea Room, John O’Groats,” suggesting that it was a souvenir from the hotel and purchased during a visit to the Tea Room. 

The village of about 300 residents is located about 4 km or 2.5 miles northeast of Canisbay, Cathness, in the far north of Scotland.  I wondered why it was called John O’Groats and discovered that it was named after a Dutchman named John de Groot who settled there in 1489 with his brothers.  He ran a ferry service from the Scottish mainland to Orkney.  Some people say the name comes from the fee of one groat that John de Groot was said to have charged passengers.  A groat was a silver coin no longer used that was worth four English pennies or a Scottish fourpence.  The English silver groats were first minted during the reign of Edward I of England in 1272-1307.  Scottish groats were issued during the time of David II, 1367-1371.  The value of the Scottish groat went from fourpence to eightpence and a shilling.  Ireland also minted groats first in 1425 and the last ones during the time of Elizabeth I.  Groats continued to be used in some British territories until the decimal system was adopted in 1955.  Even though the fare is no longer a groat there is still a passenger ferry that goes from John O’Groats to Burwick on South Ronaldsay in Orkney.  The Gaelic version of Groot is Ghròt making it much more likely that the village is named for the man not for the fee.

John O’Groats receives large numbers of tourists each year.  The Hotel shown on the postcard above was built in 1875 on or near the site of the de Groot house.  The following trivia comes from Haydn’s Dictionary of Dates:  The original house was octagon shape with one room, 8 windows and 8 doors to admit 8 members of the family as a means to prevent quarrels for precedence at the table.  Each family head had his own door and sat at an octagon table, which did not have a head of the table. 

There is a famous “Journey’s End” signpost where people could take photos.  At one time there was a fee to have a photo taken with the sign but today the fee has been done away with and the old sign has been replaced with a more permanent sign.

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Thursday, June 15, 2017

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 303

Fountain of Ceres at the Pan Pac Expo San Francisco 1915
Edward H. Mitchell

The Panama-Pacific International Exposition held in San Francisco in 1915 served a two-fold purpose as it provided an opportunity for the city to show how it had recovered from the 1906 earthquake and also to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal.  Both of the postcards shared this week were found in a local antique mall. 

There were at least two publishers of postcards for this Fair.  The card above features a postcard published by Edward H. Mitchell of San Francisco.  Mitchell was one of the earliest publishers of postcards in the United States with over 3,000 cards identified so far and updates to this list still occurring.  His cards have been collected and studied since the end of the 19th century.  He began publishing undivided postcards in San Francisco before the earthquake and fire in 1906 destroyed his printing operation and then continued to work out of his home until he built a plant and warehouse on Army Street. Many of Mitchell’s cards feature views of San Francisco and the West as well as a series on the Philippines and the Hawaiian Islands.  His cards had high quality real photo views, comics, artistic designs and California fruits and vegetables.  The Mitchell card shared this week has a message written on the reverse but does not have a stamp and was either never mailed or mailed in an envelope.  At the lower right corner there is what looks like a partial identification number but not enough of the printing is visible to make a determination.

Just like the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, held in Seattle, the Panama Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco had a designated official photographer.  In the case of the P.P.I.E. it was the Cardinell-Vincent Company which published the unused card below.  Cardinell-Vincent employed over 150 people for the P.P.I.E. and had photographic galleries on the grounds.  The postcards published by this company had “Official Postcard” and a Fair logo printed on the reverse; however, several logos were used for this exposition so it is hard to tell if the company selected one from the several or designed their own logo.  At the lower right corner there is a code C30.  

 Niche in Court of Four Seasons, showing Autumn in Place
Pan-Pac. Int Exposition, San Francisco, 1915
Cardinell-Vincent Co. Pub.


Also like the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Expo the buildings constructed for the Panama Pacific International Expo were made of temporary materials called “staff” composed of plaster and burlap fiber.  Almost all the buildings and attractions were taken down in late 1915 after the fair closed.  One of the surviving buildings is the Palace of Fine Arts designed by architect Bernard Maybeck.  The Palace was completely reconstructed in the 1960s and retrofitted for earthquakes in 2009.  The Exloratorium, an interactive science museum, called part of the Palace of Fine Arts home from 1969 to 2013 before re-locating to newer facilities at piers 15 and 17.

The fair grounds covered approximately 300 acres along the Bayside Marina district of San Francisco.  There were palaces, towers, gardens, fountains and other attractions creating what was known as a city of domes.  The amusement park was called The Zone.   Other things surviving things include a Japanese Tea House that was moved by barge down to Belmont, California and now houses a restaurant.  Some 1/3 scale steam locomotives from the Overfair Railroad that operated during the expo and later became the property of the Swanton Pacific Railroad Society and were moved the Swanton Ranch as part of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.  The expo opened on 4 February 1915 and closed 4 December of the same year.   A set of four postage stamps commemorating the exposition was first on sale in 1913 and then reissued in 1914 and 1915.  The San Francisco Mint was authorized to issue a series of five commemorative coins.  The 100th anniversary of the fair was held at the Palace of Fine Arts on 20 June 2015. 

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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Johnson Medra & Jungle Creek, 2017

This hike involved another longish drive for us to the Teanaway near Cle Elum and Ellensburg.  Bob had a goal for me on the Johnson Medra trail of a 1000 ft elevation gain and approximately a 6 mile round trip hike.  The trail reports didn’t say anything about all the downed logs or how deep and fast the creeks might be that we would have to cross without benefit of a bridge.  We did not make our goal.  We counted 23 downed trees that had to be either crawled under or climbed over, some were quite large.  We crossed two creeks without too much trouble, hopping from rock to rock; however, once we reached the third creek it was clear that we would get wet as the water was much deeper and the creek was running swiftly.  We stopped and assessed the situation, trying to see if there was a safe way.  Perhaps we could take off our boots and roll up our pants?  But then what would we do if one or both of us slipped in that cold, fast running water? 

The downed trees were smaller obstacles at the start of the trail but

 soon became more challenging . . .

This one was like walking through a veil . . .

 Where did the trail go . . .

 Does not look too bad . . .

 safely across . . .

 hmm, this is a little more difficult . . .

 just got over one and now have to go under another . . .

Trail lined with vanilla leaf on both sides

In the end caution won out and we decided to go back to the junction with Jungle Creek and hike up that trail until we reached what we had called “The Hunter’s Camp” the last time we were here.  Some hunters had illegally erected a crude shelter, had a fire pit, and nailed hooks into some trees.  On the return to the junction we met another couple going in.  They were the only other people we met that day.  We did not see them again so we don’t know if they braved the water crossing or not.  A no dog day!

 Once we got to the junction we found a log to sit on and had half our lunch then started down the Jungle Creek trail.  There were an additional six downed trees on that trail too and a couple more creek crossing but we did make it to the camp.  The shelter had been dismantled and the hooks removed from the trees but there was still a nice open space and a place to sit and have a second lunch.

Here are some photos of the flowers (and a pine cone) we saw.


 Fairy bells


 Trillium, almost finishing blooming

 Calypso orchid

 Starry Solomon's Seal

 Large pine cone with pretty patterns

 Bane berry

Service berry also known as Saskatoon


Cow parsnip

View from the road . . .

Mt Stuart

Thursday, June 8, 2017

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 302

Flower Market, Nice, France, 1956

This is a used black & white photo postcard produced by Editions NICECO.  Postmarked 1956, it is identified at the upper left of the reverse as “NICE  20. Au Marché aux Fleurs” or the Flower Market.

I was visiting Nice in April of 2012 and stayed at a small hotel a couple of blocks up from the Promenade, the wide walkway along the sea.  It was an easy stroll from the hotel to the Promenade and a lovely walk along the sea to the flower market.  In addition to all the flowers there were a variety of other choices including vegetables, herbs, fresh seafood and handmade goods such as soaps, lotions and embroidery, as well as a number of artists who were sometimes working on a watercolor painting or just had displays of their work for sale. 

 Views looking down at the city from the Colline du Château

The flower market can be seen as the two rows of canopies at the lower left

Before we left Nice I bought three small paintings from artists at the market and before I got home wished I had gotten more.  The flower market was open from early morning to around 4 in the afternoon most days.  One of the paintings I purchased, Lavender fields in Provence, was by a very nice young man who spoke English and after I got back to the hotel I decided I wanted to get another one from him to give as a gift but it was after 4 pm so I had to wait until the next day.  It was somewhat of a surprise to discover that not all the vendors were there every day and the young artist was missing when I returned.  In hindsight I would advise purchasing anything you like right then because the next day it might be too late. 

The perched village of  Eze

Lavender fields in Provence

All the flower stalls were in the center of the street most under striped canopies while along the sidewalks were restaurants open until just after the lunch hour or about 2 pm.  Most of the tables were outdoors but some were also under a canopy.  It is a very lively, charming, colorful place.  One day when the others in the group went to visit the perched village of Eze I stayed in Nice and spent about half a day just slowly going around enjoying the market and the sea.

Nice is a tourist city with expensive high-end shops and lots of places to eat wonderful meals or get scrumptious ice cream cones.  It must be unbelievably crowded during the peak season but it was not so in early April.  It was still too cold for swimming or sunbathing so the beach only had a few brave souls sitting or walking around.  It has mixes of both French and Italian cultures, foods and languages.  The flower market is closed on Mondays and has something like a flea market instead with bargains and interesting items for sale.  Our tour guide was constantly advising us to go to these small local markets and avoid the over-priced tourist oriented shops.  I think the market was more fun than the expensive stores too.

It was a delight to find this postcard in a local antique shop and relive some very nice (no pun intended) memories.

The stamp on the card was issued in 1955 and shows the Marseille harbor.

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