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Archive for December, 2009

Darlington, Runk & Co. Victorian Trade Cards

Advertising Victorian trade cards sometimes provides surprising details about life in Victorian times.  Such was the case for the merchant, Darlington, Runk & Co.  Darlington, Runk & Co.- importer and dealer in fancy dry goods.

Mr. Runk, a well-known merchant in the dry goods trade, killed himself with a revolver in the stable at his country estate after sending his little son to the railroad station to meet a store messenger.

The Transgression

It seems that conservative Mr. Runk had fallen into a depression over stock dealings made in Mr. Darlington’s absence.  Mr. Runk did not use his very handsome personal estate to do so, but the firm’s money in the amount of $80,000.

When Mr. Darlington returned, he was informed that $80,000 in accumulated bills had been paid.  When it was discovered that such was not the case, Mr. Runk went directly to his country estate.

The Tragic Choice

Mr. Runk’s choice to commit suicide was tragic for a couple of reasons:

  • His personal estate would’ve covered the losses
  • The company would not have been seriously affected by the losses

It seems Mr. Runk’s remorse over having deceived his partner drove his decision; having been unable to make a clean breast of his transgression.

An interesting side note- at the time of Mr. Runk’s death, he was a director of the Penn Mutual Company.  He carried a life insurance policy of $525,000.

Many more interesting Victorian trade cards with great graphics can be found in my store, Remember When Vintage Postcards.

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RP Postcard Dutch Children KissI found this real photo postcard of barefoot Dutch children kissing cute and thought my readers might too.  After all, this season is sooo full of cuteness.  Happy Holidays!

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Laws Bluing Victorian Trade CardAccording to the Oxford English Dictionary, the phrase “blue in the face” means “for a long time, often to the point of complete exasperation”.  Law’s Bluing and Superior Ink Company uses the meaning of the phrase on this advertising Victorian trade card to make a point about the coverage and color durability of their ink dye.

Purpose of Bluing

For those not familiar with bluing, it was added to rinse water on cotton clothes turned yellow/dull from repeated washings to give the clothes the appearance of whiter color (blue being on the opposite end of the color wheel from white).  If this was one use for bluing, why was it also good for rag carpets?  White carpets are hard to keep clean.

Note:  many ink companies also marketed their dye, full strength, as ink for school children.  In the case of the above trade card, the package makes 1 quart of ink.

You can find many more Victorian trade cards with great graphics and advertising in my store, Remember When Vintage Postcards.

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Antique_Christmas_Postcard_Pudding

1909 Antique Christmas Postcard published by B.W., no. 370

 The mother on this antique postcard is making the traditional dessert served on Christmas Day, Christmas Pudding or Plum Pudding.  It is a dark, steamed pudding, with sweet spices, dried fruit and nuts, and usually made with suet that originated in England.  This pudding is definitely not for those on a diet. 

History of Christmas Pudding 

Christmas Pudding can be traced back to the 1420s.  Back then, it was not a confection or dessert, but a way to preserve meat (dried fruits acted as the preservative).  I wonder how long this preservation method lasted.  

The ancestor of the modern pudding was the pottage, a meat and vegetable concoction.  During Queen Elizabeth 1’s reign, plums were added (a popular ingredient).  As the sweet content of the Plum Pottage increased, it became increasingly known as Plum Pudding.  Around the 1830’s, it became more and more linked with Christmas. 

Christmas Pudding Traditions 

Traditionally, Plum Puddings were made four to five weeks prior to Christmas (usually the last Sunday before Advent) as they needed to age in the traditional pudding cloth.  The household members (at least the children, see pictured antique postcard) took turns making a wish while stirring the concoction.  This is why the day became known as Stir-up Sunday. 

Tokens (initially a silver coin) were included in the pudding.  Whomever’s serving included it, kept the token. 

The Christmas Pudding is ceremoniously brought to the table after being doused in brandy and flamed.  It was greeted with applause. 

This Week’s Bit of Ephemera Trivia: 

The Plum Pudding was originally eaten at the Harvest Festival, not Christmas. 

Note:  Marie over at The French Factrice blog is hosting Postcard Friendship Fridays.  Hop on over to Marie’s and check out all the postcard enthusiasts sharing this week. 

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Lion Coffee Victorian Trade CardI was looking thru my Victorian trade cards for one with Christmas features, and found this trade card by Lion Coffee.  In researching Lion Coffee, I found out they were part of the first great advertising campaign in history.  Guess what?  They’re still around thanks to a specialty coffee company in Hawaii.

Lion Coffee’s Pioneering Start

L.B. Shattucck and partner C.C. Warren started Lion Coffee (which also ground spices), in 1864 from a factory in Toledo, OH.  By the 1870’s, they prospered in part due to advertising that boasted 8,000 lbs. of coffee roasted every day.  This advertising also mentioned Lion Coffee was sold in 1lb papers; a pioneering effort back then to establish a brand name packaged coffee. 

In the 1870’s, La Monte C. Bidwell joins the company, now called Warren & Bidwell, as partner and L.B. Shattucck is heard of no more.

Woolson Spice Co. Buys Up Struggling Coffee Company

After returning from the Civil War and working on the railroad, Alvin M. Woolson moved to Toledo, OH where he clerked in a country store.  After a year, he set up shop for himself in Wauseon, OH with capital of $125.  He moved back to Toledo after marrying in 1875, where he opened a grocery store.

Alvin M. Woolson snapped up the financially struggling Warren & Bidwell at an auction.  So in 1882, the Woolson Spice Company was born with $30,000 and significant support from Toledo’s business community.  It took 10 years to realize a profit.  Over the next five years, millions were realized.

Lion Coffee Today

In 1897, Woolson retired.  Rights to the Woolson Company assets were bought by Delano West Ltd, a Hawaiian company, in 1980.  The coffee is now Kona rather than Rio based.  And yes, premiums are still offered. 

More Victorian trade cards with great graphics can be found in my store, Remember When Vintage Postcards.

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Letter from Santa Claus Postcard

1906 H.I. Robbins Santa Claus Postcard Published by The Metropolitan News Co.

Weekly Ephemera Trivia:

Approximately 500,000 letters to Santa addressed “Santa, North Pole” are sent to the North Pole Post Office branch on Candy Cane Lane every year.  

What Happens to All Those Letters?

They are taken to the North Pole Middle School, where the students try to answer as many letters as they can.  Sounds like a great way to teach teenagers about community and that kindness towards others has priceless benefits (warmth and happiness).

I hope they have a lot of students at that school to answer all those letters.

** Don’t forget to check out my Postcard Advent Calendar where I will be activating a link to a different Christmas postcard each day thru December 25th.

Note: Marie over at The French Factrice blog is hosting Postcard Friendship Fridays.  Hop on over to Marie’s and check out all the postcard enthusiasts sharing this week.

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Dr. Morse's Indian Root Pills Trade Card This patent medicine Victorian trade card was part of a lot I bought recently.  I was curious about who Nellie Bly was, so googled her.  What I found was a web site full of other Nellie Bly trade cards as well as links to information on her.

Elizabeth Jane Cochrane, aka Nellie Bly, was a woman journalist who gained world fame when she beat fictional character, Phileas Fogg’s record for traveling around the world with a time of 72 days, 6 hours, 11 minutes, and 14 seconds.

You can find more wonderful victorian trade cards with great graphics in my store.

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