Saturday, February 25, 2012

Hammon, Mabel and Annie

Sometimes postcards are interesting because they show a slice of life - and this is one of those.  It is more interesting because of the message on back, and because it is one of a series of postcards we have that were addressed to either Mable Norwood of Battle Creek, Michigan, or Hammon Marshall, sometimes of Battle Creek, other times of Detroit.

This one was addressed to Hammon Marshall from someone named Annie, and Annie is a little upset and none too subtle about what her intentions toward Hammon were.  The text on back reads as follows:  "I'm very sorry I did not see you when you were in BC.  I heard today you came to see that Mabel N.  You know what you promised me. I never thought that of you.  You promised you would love me forever.  But never mind. XXX Annie."   Then in the margins she wrote "Let me hear from you some".

BC = Battle Creek, and "that Mabel N." is Mabel Norwood.

This is postmarked Battle Creek, Michigan, Feb 18, 1916. 

96 years later, I can feel Annie's pain, sense of betrayal, and a bit of denial, very common emotions for someone in her position. Annie probably thought that she and Hammon Marshall would eventually be married, she'd keep house and raise a family, and it's possible Hammon mislead her.  That's all conjecture on my part though. 

Most likely Hammon had a decent job and was considered a catch.

But as it turns out Hammon Marshall married Mabel Norwood.   Mabel was born in 1886 and died in 1974 - I believe Hammon died some years earlier.  As far as I can tell they only had one child, a daughter, who was born in 1923 and lived until 2007.   I expect there was an estate sale sometime after that point and that is how these series of postcards addressed to Mabel and Hammon (mostly from relatives) eventually ended up our possession.  

This was a little poignant slice of life, a little bit of early 20th century romantic struggles, and Annie went through a very painful but ultimately very common experience.   Most likely she found some one else, kept the house and raised a whole passel of children.

These events were very important in these people's lives - but everybody involved has lived their lives, raised their families, had their careers, did whatever they're going to do and have been dead for quite awhile now.  These postcards and old photos we list & sell on eBay make me realize just how short life is.  And they also make abundantly clear (to me at least) that these were real people with real emotions.  Nothing abstact about them.  There was real pain in the words written on the back of this postcard.

Update:  Sold!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Fortune Teller Postcard, copright 1910 - Real or Repro?

This is a neat early 20th century postcard (I think).  I have to explain the I think part.  

I've seen other examples of this exact card for sale, but they were reproductions.   One card was printed in Hong Kong, another had info on the back indicating it was printed in 1989, and they were both 4 X 6 inches, or continental size.

It's not uncommon for old postcard to be reproduced at a later date - and usually there's no big secret about it.  Repros are usually larger than the original, usually look wildly out of place with modern times, and usually have information on the back (a zip code, area code in a phone number, a URL, a date etc) which tells you it's not an original. Frequently it'll even have the word "reproduction" on the back somewhere.  But in case it doesn't, an early 20th century postcard will not have publisher info with a zip code, and it is very unlikely to have been printed in China, it's not going to be continental size and so on.   Also, it is very unlikely that some one will have multiple copies of a really neat (and possibly rare) early 20th century card for sale.  That's a red flag for me. 

There's nothing wrong with selling a reproduction, as long as the seller is up front about it.  The other sellers who had this card did not hide the fact that they were selling a reproduction of an early 20th century card, so that's cool.  And it  leads me to question the copy of the card I have, especially since I've seen no other instances of this card claiming to be original. 

As far as I can tell, which means I don't have any evidence otherwise, the "Fortune Teller" postcard I have is original.  It is standard size (about 3.5 x 5.5 inches) there is a copyright date of 1910 in the lower left corner, the stamp box and everything else on the reverse looks correct.  Though I suppose I could be fooled, the printing on it does not have the look of the later "chromes".  There is no dates, publishing information or anything esle on the card to indicate it was a reproduction of an earlier postcard.  At least nothing I can tell. 

So, I'm calling it original.  For the most part I only sell original postcards, and I try to be careful about making sure they are originals.  I remember listing a couple of WW II era military aircraft postcards that had web addresses on the back, so they were reproductions, but I made that obvious in the title & listing.  But it is not routine (in other words almost never) for me to list a reproduction postcard.  As a rule, I don't like them, so I won't list them.