Ephemera is one of my favorite blogs. The impressario (host/blogster) Marty Weil interviewed me recently and the post went up today. Check it out, and keep it bookmarked because there's always something fascinating going on there for all of you ephemera lovers.
Here's a snippet:
"One of the ways I use ephemera differently than many people is that I work a lot with details. I love to see what happens when a small portion of the item is isolated and enlarged, so you will often see details on my blog and in the reprints. My photography is often about small abstracted details of larger objects, so it's not a big stretch to see how I come to love the abstracted details of printed images. "
The Wells Richardson Building on College Street is a Burlington, Vermont landmark. These days it houses Bennington Potters, but in it's heyday at the end of the 19th Century, Wells Richardson & Company patented, manufactured and distributed analyne dyes under the name of Diamond Dyes, as well as butter dye, baby food and proprietary medicines like Celery Compound.
Print Advertising was a part of their marketing strategy. Before the advent of color ads in newspapers and magazines manufacturers and distributors relied on trade cards and medical pamphlets -featuring their own cures - to sell their products. These they made by the gajillion, and distributed nationwide. They would be distributed for free in retail stores or any public venue where they might drum up business. Trade cards were hugely collectible, even in those days, and would often end up in scrapbooks, which were also the rage. The trade cards and pamphletss were printed by chromolithography, and retain their brilliant colors to this day.
Paynes Celery Compound probably contained opiates or other drugs, which were perfectly legal. Before the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906, manufacturers didn't have to list ingredients or prove their effectiveness. This Wells Richardson & Company ad from the 1889 book from Burlington Business Association.
In this ad it is touted as a cure for Nervousness, one of the most "popular" diseases of the 19th Century middle class. Here is a link to a good post about 19th Century Nervousness from the blog (what is this).
I did my Master's Thesis in Anthropology on 19th Century American Uterine diseases, in which I write a lot about middle class women and nervousness or neuresthenia. Someday I'll write more here about it.
If you've been reading this blog, or if you scroll down the ephemera pages, you know that I've been collecting needle books for a while. I'm still actively collecting but I thought I'd try to make some order out of the jumble. Of course, there are many ways these can be combined, but here I'm sorting them into categories of women, and women with children. Other needle packs feature travel, space age technologies, or just down and out advertising.
I've posted most of these images before so you can scroll through the Ephemera or Needle pack categories if you want to see larger images.
Needle books from Pine Street Art Works Ephemera Collection.
These feature groups of women. I have more, and some featuring solitary women, and I'll bring 'em to you soon.
And here's a brand new one. New to me, old to the world, that is. I find it particularly charming.
Superior Needles, collection PSAW. Made in Japan.
Superior Needle, collection PSAW, detail
Superior Needle, collection PSAW, detail
NEEDLE WOMEN GREETING CARDSFROM PSAW
Superior Needle - (detail) greeting card. Happy Birthday
Here are some beauties from a 1931 Frigidaire booklet. According to the Frigidaire website, 1931 was the year freon was introduced as a refrigerant. Previously refrigerators had depended on ammonia and methyl chloride and sufor dioxide which proved fatal in several accidents. Freon, it turned out, wasn't so great either, since the chlorofluorocarbons destroy the ozone layer. See about.com:inventors .
For more information on the history of refrigerators, The History Channel history.com has some good stuff. Including that the ice trade between Boston and the South was one of the first casualties of the Civil War, and then warm winters in 1889 and 1890 created severe shortages of natural ice in the US which stimulated the invention, commercialization and marketing of mechanical refrigeration for fish and for the brewing, dairy and meat industries. Home refrigerators came later, in 1911. According to History.com frozen food storage at home didn't become widely used until the 1940's, so the freezer shown below must have been a luxury- even more so than refrigerators - although they had been introduced in the 1920's. You can see in the Frigidaire post below from 1925 that there are ice freezing compartments.
1931 Frigidaire booklet. Collection PSAW
This is the cover. It follows the theme of mothers and daughters (or sometimes sons, but not as often) standing in front of the wonderful refrigerator. Mothers nurture and feed. And they teach their daughters that they will be doing so for their own offspring. And nothing says loving like a full fridge. Polemics aside, isn't this a gorgeous, compelling illustration. Beautifully rendered to display the warmth and joy of a happy home. I love how the mother and daughter are bathed in a pool of light, the daughter quietly contemplates the new appliance, which you can tell even from behind, while the mother lovingly and casually enjoys her daughter's attitude.
Chilled puddings. A marvel of modern mechanics. It looks like the girl is eating an apple, and the boy is drinking a glass of milk, so I'm betting that Mom made the treats for dessert and is putting them away, rather than taking them out. Maybe it's Jell-O.
The salesman shows off his wares to....the wives. Somehow the husbands are not in on the decision making here. We can make believe that the two women shopping actually live together rather than with husbands,but we would most likely be imposing a 21st century narrative on an seventy year old moment in history.
If part of the job of advertising is to teach people class behaviors, usually just slightly above the class they are actually in, this one teaches the smooth elegance of shopping in your best clothing, listening quietly, and paying attention to the authority of the salesman in a beautifully appointed showroom. In my own Jewish upper class New York City childhood in the 1950's, we always had to dress up to go shopping. Although my mother encouraged me to wear dungarees for play at home and in the park, if we were going out to a restaurant or to a store or on a trip we always had to wear "nice" clothes. My brothers had to wear ties if they were going four blocks from home, unless it was to the park for sports.
In an alternate universe, the women come home to their new fridge. In the 1931 advertising universe, however, the wife who just bought the Frigidaire is showing it off to her friend. Part of the appeal of the new appliance is that it excites admiration and perhaps even envy from one's friends and neighbors, which is always rather satisfying.
This picture, in my opinion, could be featured in the Museum Of Modern Art. A perfect modernist study of form, line and color.
Lovely, cold ice. At your fingertips. It must have seemed miraculous, really, and so different from having ice delivered for your ice box. Or, if you remember Almanzo in Laura Ingall's Wilder's Farmer Boy, it took three grown men (Father and his two French Canadian hired men), plus Almonzo and his older brother an full, long day to cut the ice from the frozen pond, haul it to the ice house, and pack it tight in sawdust. "Buried in the sawdust, the blocks of ice would not melt in the hottest summer weather. One at a time they would be dug out, and Mother would make ice-cream and lemonade and cold egg-nog."
Ah, so that's where the men were. Off playing golf. Well, never mind. They've come home for brunch, and the wives got on just fine, making some big financial decisions with enough time left over to make a chilled punch. And here comes the ice, fresh from the freezer.
And now, back to the daily day. Making a pie with those eggs and butter? Maybe a ham pie? Because, of course, the ubiquitous ham is sitting there waiting. What a well fed family. How happy they are.
PS: I found another great web essay from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
Well it was and exciting evening around the TV on Wednesday. That's when Art Express from Mountain Lake PBS broadcast the episode about Pine Street Art Works exhbit of Paint By Number.
Harry Bliss, on camera.
Paul Larson, producer, and Jared Stanley, DP, came over last August to tape the exhibit. Also on hand to speak and demonstrate were Harry Bliss, Mark Waskow and Christy Mitchell. Harry is an illustrator and New Yorker cover artist. He spoke elequently about how PBN paintings break down colors for shadows and volume, and other wonderfully erudite stuff.
Christy Mitchell on camera. Paul Larson directing.
Paul wanted someone painting a PBN on camera, so Christy Mitchell agreed to do one, using an unpainted kit we had. Paul is in the foreground directing.
Mark Waskow and his Mona Lisa
Mark Waskow, collector (or end user, as he likes to say) talked about collecting PBN. He bought the Mona Lisa, and talked about how charmingly not good the painting is.
Jared Stanley, Paul Larson and Liza
My commentary runs throughout the episode. Here's a picture we took on my iMac photobooth. The version that aired was a rough cut, and when they have the final edit, they will rebroadcast and I will have it available on quicktime here and on my website.
Meanwhile, if you get Mountain Lake PBS in your area (northern Vermont, Montreal, or the Plattsburgh NY region) you can catch it on rebroadcast Saturday March 29th at 6:30 pm.
Burlington's alt weekly, 7Days Vt published a fabulous article about Nakki Goranin's American Photobooth in this weeks issue. It's beautifully written by publisher/editor Pamela Polston with tons of images from the book, and some photos of Nakki by Matthew Thorsen.
Nakki Goranin in one of her vintage photobooths. Photo by Matthew Thorsen for 7DaysVT
The article is too long to reprint here but link on over to 7DaysVT
There's a bonus that you can only get online. Cathy Resmer and Andrew Sawtell, from 7Dvt, came over to psaw last week to tape an audio interview with Nakki. It is online, with a photo slide show and you must listen/watch.
And remember, you can buy American Photobooth through my link to Powells Bookstore at the top of the sidebar of this blog. Merci.