Puzzles

Presentation quirks including all or parts of messages in code or shorthand

  • Collecting,  Katheryn McMahon Newton Album,  Logistics,  Puzzles,  Social,  Travel

    Two Times the Great Northern Depot

    Katheryn McMahon Newton album, cards 93 and 94 As mentioned in the last post, today’s post features the same postcard twice. This offers an opportunity to discuss the image a bit more. There are many sources out discussing postcard imagery–but one thing these two cards offer is a bit of insight into the production. The version on the left (93) doesn’t have a postmark but was dated 5 April 1908. The one on the right was dated 18 March 1908 and postmarked a day later. So we know which was sent later–this doesn’t necessarily mean it was purchased later. Yet these are not identical. The March version is slightly darker…

  • General Info,  Katheryn McMahon Newton Album,  Logistics,  Puzzles,  Social

    Make short work of the “tall + uncut”

    Katheryn McMahon Newton album, cards 40-43 I originally intended to focus on one card at a time. That didn’t last long! It proved much easier to spend extensive time on the initial cards I presented, both because I was starting to figure out what to do with this blog and because each was selected for one or more iconic qualities which rewarded in-depth examination. With this album, the attractions for me include seeing how the cards fit together–how Fred (and others, especially when we move on to add other albums) uses the cards. What information he includes, where he’s open versus coy and allusive. TLDR: I’ll share however many cards…

  • 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…

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