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 #6. Here’s the front:

A spray of lilacs with the caption "A happy Birthday" plus manuscript additions "WITH LOVE From Fred" and "Jan. 15th '08"
Fred Newton to Katheryn McMahon, 15 January 1908, card c, front

Another pretty flower! Indeed, this card matches with the others in many respects. It has the same general subject and treatment, pre-printed text on the reverse, and lack of printer or producer information. It’s embossed, but formed of two layers so that the embossing is not visible on the reverse. The background color and texture differs, as does the flower portrayed, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they came from the same firm.

Fred made a few manuscript additions to the front again. He’s added the date and a small message (albeit covered in this photo by the label I’m using to track these). Since you can’t read it easily, the message is “WITH LOVE From Fred.”

The reverse goes in a different direction:

2 cent stamp. Postmark Chicago [Ill.] 3pm 15 Jan. 1908. Sent to Miss Katherine McMahon #2621 Shields Ave Chicago Ill. Message: "Jan 15th 08 Dearie: Have often wondered if you kept the numerous postal cards I have sent you from time to time when in + out of town. If you have I am going to get you a swell postal album before I go away so you can keep all together with love Fred N."
Fred Newton to Katheryn McMahon, 15 January 1908, card c, reverse

This card arguably was postmarked by the same person and/or stamp as the second of the previous cards (i.e. the one about the happy faculty, not the dental fillings)–and was also stamped 3pm. (I wonder if they stamped all Chicago cards with the same time, that day at least?). The year is a little clearer.

Back at the end of 2020, in the post introducing this batch of postcards, I presented you with (a digital overview of) the album Fred gave Katheryn. Here’s where he made the offer! For those who would rather not twist your necks around to read the message:

“Dearie: Have often wondered if you kept the numerous postal cards I have sent you from time to time when in + out of town. If you have I am going to get you a swell postal album before I go away so you can keep all together with love”

Fred Newton to Katheryn McMahon, 15 January 1908

Although I have yet to process most of the cards, I can tell you she kept at a minimum many cards he sent her before this date. He therefore made a good choice in getting her a postal album. He said he’d get it “before I go away” but he wasn’t quite able to make that. The album’s inscription is dated to 14 February in Colorado Springs. Still, not bad–he picked it up within the month and sent it to her on a sentimental occasion.

If we jump to card #4, my guess is that he’s wondering whether or not Katheryn liked the album.

After all, the single-word query “Well?” has a postmark of 22 February, a little over a week after Valentine’s Day. Perhaps he expected to have received a thank you of some sort by then. We’ll see if any of the other cards offer an alternative explanation.

It is interesting to note that this card, although continuing the flower theme from the birthday cards, is different in enough ways to suggest he might have acquired it at a different time. The flower is not embossed–it’s a photograph that’s been tinted rather than a drawing. Moreover, the reverse has information about the producer or printer. I don’t read German, so I’m not sure of the exact details (something to check up on down the road, if I need to follow this point), but it appears to be the work of Martin Rommel & Co.

Of course, between these two cards lies #5, rather different in a number of respects. While it’s drawn, embossed, and features flowers, the pattern is more elaborate and contains additional elements (doves). The paper is a different quality and, although you can’t tell from the photos, it’s a different size from the other postcards. In fact, it’s wide enough it doesn’t fit in the standard size card sleeve I purchased in bulk (and I haven’t gotten around to purchasing larger ones).

A red rose, other flowers, and two doves. Manuscript additions: "Monday Eve Dec. 30'7" and "A Happy New Year Fred N."
Fred Newton to Katheryn McMahon, 30 December 1907, front

Also, there’s a stamp, but no postmark. Perhaps the postal worker forgot to stamp it that day (it could happen)–or Fred decided after having affixed the stamp to hand-deliver the card instead. In either case, Katheryn received good wishes from him for a new year very similar to those likely exchanged (by phone, text, or online video) among us and our contemporaries at the start of this month & year.

Stamp. No postmark. Addressed to Miss Katherine McMahon #2621 Shields Ave city [Chicago]. Message: “Dec 30th 07 Dearie: My wishes for you are that Good Health Happiness + Joy be yours for the New Year. Hoping you are in good health as ever with Love F.N.”
Fred Newton to Katheryn McMahon, 30 December 1907, reverse

Next time, onward . . . and we’ll see if there are any more 1908 birthday postcards or if we’ve reached the last.

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