I am a(n) researcher and archivist.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

George Washington's Birthday Today!

Well, it is back to the birthdays on this blog. February 22 is the day of birth (on the Gregorian Calendar as opposed to the Julian Calendar used at the time) for General and first U.S. President George Washington. This is not to be confused with the crummy, watered-down version of Washington's Birthday included with all of the other Presidents (aka President's Day). In any event, here is a very nice postcard from circa 1909 to 1912 celebrating the day!
George Washington Birthday Postcard

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Victorian-Era Valentine's Day Cards

Today is February 14 ... Valentine's Day. I finally break the streak of historic birthdays that have filled my blogs so far. For those you who are not aware, "Saint" Valentine was actually "decanonized" in 1955 and 1969 since the Bishop's actions and martyrdom have never been authenticated. Pertaining to a Saint or not, the day is still celebrated worldwide with cards, candy, balloons and hearts as opposed to any particular religious observance in most circles. When I went to Egypt in 2006, I saw people on the street with Valentine's gift bags and the like. Unfortunately in 2008, Saudi Arabian authorities demanded shop owners remove all Valentine's Day items as well as all items colored red including wrapping paper and flowers. There is actually a black market for roses in that country. Black market huh ... drugs, guns, illegally excavated antiquities and now roses. What next??? I hope all Valentine's Day revellers realize how well they have it.

Just this month, I procured some very nice scrap-type Valentine's Day cards - all nineteenth century and therefore all Victorian. These are the real deal. Almost all have been dated on the back by the original owners (Mamie Brown, Ethel Brown and someone named Lulu). Enjoy!

I wore my Valentine's Day Tie for this one!
Michael holding some 19th century Valentine Cards

1886 - True love indeed ... take note of the lil' guy with the arrow
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The inside - looks like it was made blank for a personal message, but someone pasted a note into it
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Close-up
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1889 - this apparently was made for ladies whose beaus were soldiers
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1893 - a loving couple
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The inside
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A delightful card dated 1894 (the text under the kid's head is "My Love's sweet Music Fill thy hearts with Peace and Joy")
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A very interesting and unique example from 1895 - a girl's head in a flower! Occasionally one does in fact encounter such bizarre yet charming artwork from this era. All in all, a lovely specimen of Victoriana
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As you can see from my repeated attempts, this was a difficult piece to photograph
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1895 - exquisite and intricate detail here
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Close-up
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Unfortunately some damage to the one cherub - his head is gone!
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The inside
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1897 - this is from the time when the Mozart-style look and characters of the eighteenth century made a brief comeback
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The inside
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Last and certainly not least - behold ... the love, the passion and the devotion explicit in the craftsmanship ... the epitome of Victorian scrap right here
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The card is undated and almost certainly so due to the fact that the postmarked envelope is present! 1899!! Embossed cover - very well made
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I hope to feature more antique and otherwise historic holiday items as the weeks and months approach!
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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Abraham Lincoln's Birthday And Bicentennial

Today there were many events, presentations and celebrations pertaining to former President Abraham Lincoln and the 200th anniversary of his birth. One very special point of note is how the Library Of Congress has decided to bring out a few items in honor of Lincoln's bicentennial that are usually kept hidden. For Abe's 200th birthday I felt motivated to post some Lincoln-related pieces of memorabilia that the public rarely, if ever, gets to see ... I dug into the vault and pulled out some fine items: postcards, first day covers, newspapers, campaign tokens, a fragment of his home, a note from a Veteran who claims to have met him and even a sample of his handwriting ... ALL ORIGINAL - no reproductions or forgeries here.

As far as I know no one bothered to make a big deal for his 50th birthday and why should they have considering he was still alive? People did make a big deal for his 100th and 150th celebrations and the first few items of the evening are postcards and FDC's from these years:

A postcard likely from 1909 - the stamp placed over the flag is certainly from 1909 (and an odd place to put a stamp ... definitely an eyesore)
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This one is postmarked 1911, but it could very well have been produced two years prior
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The following two FDC's were made in honor of his Sesquicentennial ...

1959
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Now for a few pieces from the time Abe was still living ...

A newspaper from October 4, 1860
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1860 Campaign ... Check out one of the headlines - "The Whole City on Fire for Lincoln and Hamlin!"
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December 12, 1863
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Lincoln's State Of The Union Address
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His name closing the speech and a reference to the Emancipation Proclamation
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Now for some actual Campaign Tokens ...

1860 ... THE RAIL SPLITTER OF THE WEST ... as you can see this depicts Lincoln without a beard. The hole was made so a supporter could wear the token on a string
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1864 ... Abe is "O.K."
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Here's an autographed note dated 1911 by a Civil War Vet named W.D. Davis ... Davis claims he shook Lincoln's hand!
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A small brick fragment that was once part of his home
Abraham Lincoln Brick

Finally, a fragment from a letter written by Abraham Lincoln himself ... the entire document was once owned by renowned collector Henry E. Luhrs ... it was also housed in The Lincoln Library located in Shippensburg, PA ... then in February 2006 it was auctioned off by Heritage Auction Galleries to someone who cut the document up in order to sell it as sample fragments so collectors could afford authentic Lincoln handwriting ... I know I am not able to afford a genuine letter or even a cut signature from Abe at present so this was right up my alley ... it is a concern that letters are being chopped up, but it was done. In any event, here is the word "were"
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The library's authentication and transcription
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A photocopy of the entire letter
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The original clipping (placed on the bottom right) on top of the photocopy ... the word "were" is found on line five from the bottom
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I hope all of you enjoyed this unique opportunity to view artifacts pertaining to, and, some, contemporaneous to, the time Abraham Lincoln lived on this planet. I am YOUR Portal To The Past!
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Monday, February 9, 2009

William Henry Harrison - Born On This Day In 1773

Four American Presidents were born in the month of February. Three of them (George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan) enjoy great popularity today while one of them is largely known only by name, if that. William Henry Harrison, of the Whig Party, was born on February 9, 1773. There are plenty of books and websites should anyone wish to research Harrison so I will only list three facts about him: 1) He is known for having the shortest stay in the White House, a mere thirty-two days, 2) He is known for being the only Grandfather of a President (his Grandson was Benjamin Harrison) and 3) He had the great misfortune of living to see six out of his nine children pass away.

By the way, although the U.S. Mint's website currently does not have a release date for the William Harrison One Dollar Coin, it will certainly be in bank vaults this month. One online source references a date of February 19, 2009.

Below are some artifacts pertaining to and relating to William Henry Harrison.

Here are four Presidential Campaign Tokens from his successful "Log Cabin" Campaign of 1840 (note his nickname Tippecanoe on one of them as well as the overall variations):


Obverse (two views)
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Reverse (two views)
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A letter from March 18, 1887, signed by his Grandson, Benjamin, that makes reference to William as "Grand-father".
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Close-up of the text
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He did not wear a Wig, but he WAS a Whig! Happy Birthday to William Henry Harrison!!!
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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Happy 108th Birthday To Frank Woodruff Buckles!!

This is a very special day. Frank Woodruff Buckles, America's last surviving Veteran of World War One, and one of four remaining veterans world wide, turned 108 today. 60 million to 65 million people were involved with The Great War - now there are only four left ... one in America, one in Australia and two in Britain. Corporal Buckles was born on February 1, 1901 in Bethany, Missouri. He enlisted in the War in 1917. In 1919, he met General John Joseph "Black Jack" Pershing at the dedication of the National World War I Museum in Kansas City. He worked in Germany on and off in the 1920s and 1930s. In the 1940s, he was a POW for the Japanese in the Philippines. He has indeed led a full life having travelled around the globe for war, for work and for personal interest. He currently resides in West Virginia.

I had the great fortune of meeting Corporal Buckles one week ago. We had a wonderful conversation about a variety of topics including his World War I experiences, his meeting with General Pershing, being a POW in the 1940s, Germany, South America, artifacts, history and working out in addition to others, and shared a few laughs as well. His memory is excellent - he told me specific details about the 1910s and 1920s. He is fluent in four languages and we briefly spoke to each other in German. I showed him a picture of myself standing in the Giza Desert with the three Pyramids behind me. He said "Egypt ... I'd like to go there someday". Centenarian status should be of little concern for I believe he can still go there! It was a(n) unique and extraordinary opportunity, an enjoyable experience and an amazing day ... one I will never forget. In the years and decades to come, I will always look back on our meeting with great appreciation ... and a smile. Here's to you ... Frank W. Buckles, the last of the American Doughboys! Happy 108th Birthday and many more to follow!!

The photographs below are of a delighful cachet, an autographed portrait taken by David DeJonge for the World War One Education Project fundraiser and the two of us together on that wonderful day!

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Links of interest:

http://www.frankbuckles.org/
http://lcweb2.loc.gov/diglib/vhp-stories/loc.natlib.afc2001001.01070
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_type=&search_query=Frank+Buckles&aq=f

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I am a(n) researcher and archivist.