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 than the April. It’s clearest (to me) when I examined the horses in the bottom right very closely. The April horse exhibits more nuances of coloration along its back than the March. It could be that the March version was printed with more ink than the April, or that the April version was printed earlier, when the plate was still fresh, while the March is a later impression after the plate had lost some of its detail due to use. I’m enough of a historian of printing to notice the difference–but not to the point I can offer a conclusive determination.

Now on to the messages, which are very different! In this case, since there are only two and I’ve already addressed the fronts of the cards, I’m going to discuss the messages in chronological order.

Fred sent the March card “exactly 3 weeks tomorrow” from his arrival in Seattle, for which he was starting to develop an appreciation. In short, he liked it more the longer he stayed. He devoted about half of his message to that information, and the rest to discussion of the image. He considered it “a good picture” and “a splendid place” comparable to Chicago’s LaSalle Street Depot, “only a little smaller.”

And then we have the April card. As you may read from the front (depending on how big you make the image above), Fred noted that he regularly ate lunch at the depot. On the reverse, however . . .

I have mailed you on an average for the last 2 weeks, at your home, from 4 to 5 cards a week Are you quite sure you get them _all?_ Take into consideration the circumstances as you + I, dear understand them and you will regard the above question as plausable + not with any meaning intentional of refering to interfearing parties who are naturally _interested._ Understand Why dont you occasionally send me a card several of my Chicago friends have been quite generous Am anxiously awaiting a letter from you With Best Fred”

Fred Newton to Katheryn McMahon, 5 April 1908

There are a couple of possibilities or issues at work here. One was the ongoing matter that Katheryn evidently wrote to him less frequently than he to her. The open solicitation of a card and reference to other friends in the area being generous (i.e. sending him many, thus showing that the mails were operating mostly as intended) suggest he was repeating this theme.

On the other hand, there’s the very interesting concern about her having received cards mailed to Katheryn at her home. This particular card was addressed to her work address (the March card, by the way, went to her home). Fred evidently had suspicions that he obliquely referred to even though he went out of his way to specify he didn’t intentionally refer to interested, interfering parties. Hmm! What does he think is going on at Katheryn’s home?

Perhaps later cards will offer further illumination.

On the other hand, this does highlight the importance of considering recipient address in the eventual chronological analysis. Allowing for the fact that when the album reached me it held only a remainder of what it once contained, the cards that remain may still indicate whether Fred shifted his choice of address when sending cards.

Inquiring minds want to know!

“Two times the Great Northern Depot,” copyright 2021, A.R. Henle.

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