• Collecting,  Katheryn McMahon Newton Album,  Presentation/Appearance,  Social,  Travel

    Berlin, a Terrace, and Mental Telegraphy

    Katheryn McMahon Newton Album, cards 27-29 First a card not from Fred but with a message. One “Billy” (last name unknown) is in Berlin (Germany) and moved to send a postcard to Katheryn–whom he (or she) addresses as “Kitty”–and ask forgiveness for not writing before. This dates to 1907, i.e. before most of the cards from Fred. Without more information about the individual, there’s fairly little to say as regards sender. Or is there? This does provide an inscription to compare with Fred’s. First off, it’s shorter–or rather, Fred’s are longer. I’ve acquired enough postcards, and particularly enough batches of postcards sent by one person, to say that Fred is…

  • Business,  Collecting,  Katheryn McMahon Newton Album,  Real Photo Post Cards,  Social,  Travel

    Very Fond of Children and the Pacific Coast Limited

    Katheryn McMahon Newton Album, cards 20-22, 24 Today’s is a bit of a miscellany. First is a travel postcard produced by the Metropolitan News Co., a northeastern firm responsible for a number of regional-oriented images. This particular card has no inscription whatsoever. The sender evidently presumed Anna McMahon would understand from whom it came–likely the only person she knew in Boston at the time. As a side point, according to Google Maps 1800 State Street is about midway between the two addresses we have for Katheryn McMahon. 2621 South Shields Avenue (Google is not currently offering me an option for North Shields) is about 1.5 miles walk south-southwest. 315 Wabash…

  • Business,  Collecting,  Katheryn McMahon Newton Album,  Real Photo Post Cards,  Social

    Altered Images, Love Letters, and Guilt Trips

    Katheryn McMahon Album, cards 16-19 If a picture is worth a thousand words, what is the worth of a picture with words added? This post has two examples of a benefit some people found in sending postcards versus letters: the opportunity to interact with the image on the front. A classic method is for a sender to inscribe initials or names on people portrayed on the front of the card–even or especially when the images were mass produced and patently not the sender, addressee, or anyone they knew. Fred did this himself, as shown in the post on 11 January, when he added Katheryn’s and his initials to a man…

  • Collecting,  Katheryn McMahon Newton Album,  Social,  Travel

    Where the Birds are Better Than Alarm Clocks

    Katheryn McMahon Newton Album, cards 10-12 The next card in line lacks any inscription whatsoever. Whichever postal station marked the card managed to add wavy lines canceling the stamp without including anything to indicate when or where it was posted. The where probably Portland, Oregon, given that the front bears glittery letters offering “Greetings” from there As for the rest? My guess: Fred Newton at some point in 1907. Fred, because it’s his handwriting (or a very close approximation) and he passed through Portland at various points. 1907 given the address specified for Katheryn McMahon: the Atlas [School] Supply Co. on Wabash Ave in Chicago. A cursory review of the…

  • Collecting,  Katheryn McMahon Newton Album,  Social

    Tennis, Hammocks, and Young Love

    Katheryn McMahon Newton Album, cards 8 & 9 These cards offer a second instance (so far) where Fred Newton sent Katheryn more than one postcard on the same day. These are dated to 22 March 1908, by which time he reached Seattle. Combined with the previous cards’ postmarks and the date and location inscribed in the album, he’s traveled quite a bit in three months’ time. Chicago, Colorado Springs, Portland (OR), and Seattle. Plus, I peeked ahead and he was also in Salt Lake City long enough to send at least one card in February. I haven’t figured out what he did just yet, but I’m guessing some kind of…

  • Collecting,  Health,  Holidays & Birthdays,  Katheryn McMahon Newton Album,  Logistics,  Social

    Well? Happy Birthday, New Year, and A Swell Postal Album

    Katheryn McMahon Newton Album, post 3, cards 4-6 In my last post, I indicated Fred sent Katheryn two postcards on her birthday in 1908 (along with a letter and box). Correction: he sent at least three. Someone tucked the third into the album a little further along (#6). Under normal circumstances, I’d have processed the whole album before posting anything here and thus I’d have presented all three together, probably as part of a chronological arrangement. You’re getting the “in the weeds” version instead, where I post as I go along. History in the writing! (Or at least in the research.) Let’s jump to the third birthday postcard, aka card…

  • Collecting,  General Info,  Katheryn McMahon Newton Album

    Dearie: Introducing the Katheryn McMahon Newton Album

    With the start of the new year (2021), each blog post will focus on one or more postcards from the Katheryn McMahon Newton album. This post will introduce you to the main “characters” we’ll meet in the postcards going forward, offer an overview of the cards and album, and set forth rules about my posting. Lets start with the album, actually. I consider this one of the best deals I’ve made. I’m not going to specify the exact amount I paid, but it was one of the lowest amounts even before taking into account the number of cards the album contained. Of equal or more importance, at a guess (i.e.…

  • General Info,  Puzzles

    A Musical Mystery? Crack an old Postcard Code

    Shorthand and use of non-English languages reduced the number of people who might read a given post card. Nevertheless, senders still ran the risk of postal workers and others (family members, friends, neighbors) being able to read the cards. Perhaps more the case with non-English languages sent from or delivered to ethnic and/or diverse neighborhoods, but more people may have been able to read shorthand then than now. And then there are codes. It will likely come as no surprise that some people used codes to communicate through postcards. With codes, the recipient had to have the key to decipher the message–but codes likely defeated casual readers. As a matter…

  • Collecting,  General Info,  Puzzles

    Keeping Secrets? Messages in Shorthand on Postcards

    Last post introduced Clara Stahl and Agnes Naylor, two stenographers in Grinnell, Iowa, in the early twentieth century. Both collected postcards, and agreed to exchange cards (i.e. send them to each other) to help increase their respective collections. We know this thanks to a typewritten card Clara sent to Agnes. Typewritten cards offered highly legible messages for recipients to read. (Typewritten messages are also much appreciated by many historians.) Clara clearly didn’t mind anyone and everyone reading that message. Nor did she likely worry about messages she composed in handwritten English. After all, the very nature of postcards meant anyone who got their hands on one–such as a postal worker…

  • Collecting,  General Info

    Typewritten Irregularities: Filling a Postcard in Type

    If you sat down to write a postcard and send it, how would you fill the space. With a pencil? Ink pen? Marker? Crayon? How about typing? True, in the modern world we can design postcards and have them printed, but this wasn’t an option at the turn of the twentieth century. The vast majority of postcards that I’ve seen have handwritten messages, in pencil or ink, sometimes crayon. (As an aside, my personal preference is ink pen because pencil messages can be a pain to decipher.) There are some with pre-printed messages or blank forms (I’ll share some here sooner or later) and others with stamped messages, as in…

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