Friday, December 28, 2012

to ye future


A Happy New Year to you! I hope your Christmas was wonderful. 

I love this week in between Christmas and New Years. There is really not too much you can do. Too early to put decorations away (I like having them up for New Years), you can take your time putting away gifts, finishing off the Christmas cookies and enjoying your new books and movies. 

Here are a couple of New Years postcards I am very fond of. Here's to 2013! May it have lots of wonderful and joyous surprises.


Today is Postcard Friendship Friday. You can visit Beth's blog The Best Hearts are Crunchy and see more posts from postcard blogs, most likely with a New Years theme.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Merry Little Christmas

Thanks to any and all of you who check in here at The Cedar Chest or buy something at the store. Collecting and selling ephemera is truly a labor of love and I so enjoy sharing it with like minded people. Hope your festivities are just the way you like them.  

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Bigness of Christmas in the 1950's

I read something recently in the book Christmas Memories by Susan Waggoner that astonished me  about Christmas in the 1950's.

To all of us who were born after the huge surge of babies, known as the Baby Boom, that mainly occurred from 1946-1960, I think it's hard to really grasp how huge it all was. So let me tell you, it was a lot - a lot of babies, a lot of new houses in the suburbs, a lot of money due to the low unemployment and the low rise of inflation and a lot of buying.

There were a record amount of new families that were now settling into larger houses in the suburbs. These houses needed to be filled and they had the money to do it. 

When Christmas came families didn't just get one tree for the main room, they now got extra trees for throughout the house. And gifts were no longer just one per person, people began giving multiple gifts, especially to the children. The children of the 1950's had everything on their Christmas list and then some (which explains why many of them later rebelled against their upbringing and claimed to not care about material things). In the 1950's there was no reason not to give and receive all you wanted. The average family was much better off than they had been before or during the WWII and Americans just wanted to have fun now that the war was over and the U.S. had won.

I knew all this before I read Waggoner's book, but I don't think I really grasped how much disposable income there was back then until I read that in 1951 Macy's ran a full page ad in the New York newspaper asking people not to buy so much. Can you imagine a store doing this?

People were buying huge amounts of stuff and coming back and buying more. The popular department store was unnerved by how much people were buying. They were questioning their motives. They were genuinely concerned that people were still in wartime shortages mode. They ran an ad that said in part the following:

This excerpt from the ad came from the Christmas Memories book. I wish I could find a copy of the actual ad, but it doesn't appear that one is online.

Again, I ask, can you imagine any store doing this or saying it? It is an amazing piece of history that seems to have been forgotten. I think the words that Macy's said in this ad are very wise and kind. The amounts people were buying most have been so bizarre to them to do this. 

When I lived in the Bay Area and worked at a specialty clothing store, a woman who looked like she couldn't afford much came in. She was a little strange, but pleasant. She began pulling aside clothes she wanted and at the end of it her bill was about three times bigger than any sale I had ever heard of at the store, much less sold. It was weird. I was trying to talk her out of things. It was just uncomfortably too much. I felt really weird about it. And of course I was concerned with how she was going to pay for it. She went to the bank and came back with the cash (It turned out she was from a well off family and she later admitted to me that she didn't like to bother with having her clothes washed).

Because of this experience I can kind of understand how Macy's felt and I now understand more clearly what a financial and material boom the Fifties were. 

I've been researching the Fifties particularly because it's the family theme this Christmas. Every year we have a theme for Christmas. It's often a decade, but it can sometimes be a country. Some of the ones we've done are the 1930's, Medieval times, the 1960's, the Old West and countries like Holland, Hungary and Switzerland. We base the meal, music and games around the theme and we dress up. I know it's kind of kooky, but it's very fun and we all enjoy a theme.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Cards 1950's

Christmas cards have been around since the 19th century, but they didn't really begin to challenge the postcard in popularity until the 1920's. The sale of Christmas cards over postcards increased each decade. Even during the depression Christmas cards were favored over the less expensive postcard. But, it wasn't until the 1950's that Christmas card sending reached it's peak.

In 1950's the country was thrilled to be done with war, it was a new optimistic decade and there were many families in the suburbs with more space and money then they'd ever had. Christmas was now a bigger event and so was the sending of Christmas cards.

Christmas cards in the 1950's were generally brightly colored, light-hearted and joyful. Hallmark introduced a line of comic Christmas cards during this time that were popular. Christmas cards were sent to everyone people knew: family, neighbors, friends, bridge club members, school faculty, co-workers and old buddies from the war. The lists were long and it was a lot to keep track of.
2 separate Christmas Card Record books

During this time many products were created to display, store and keep records of a person's card sending. I have a couple of these organization booklets shown here that were given away from M&M Savings in Springfield, Ohio.

back of record book

inside of Christmas Card Record

Christmas card sending reached a peak in 1958 in the U.S. and it's never since been matched.

Do you send Christmas cards? I love the tradition of sending them and receiving them. I like to have them displayed. It's certainly something that has faded over the years, but I hope it will always continue.

Here are a few more Christmas cards from the 1950's. Maybe they'll get you in the mood to send some Christmas cards.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

1920's Christmas

I recently checked out a couple of books by Susan Waggoner about Vintage Christmas. In the book Have Yourself a Very Vintage Christmas  Waggoner goes through the decades form the 20's to the 60's and talks about the different trends and historical changes to the Christmas tradition. I really enjoyed reading it and learned a lot. I will say though that I think Waggoner is a little out of touch with some things since she grew up in New York and I assume she is using her and her families experience as well as magazines of the time. Most of the country was not quite as sophisticated or got trends at a later date. My mother and I looked at it together and she made this observation.

My favorite part of the book is the author going through and talking about the different trends in Christmas cards and decorating  I've always been so aware of motifs or whatever they would be called. I noticed them and sought them out when no one else I knew did. 

Thanks to this book, however, I found out a lot more about which objects were trendy for postcards and greeting cards for each decade. This is very helpful to me in dating them, since they often don't have dates on them. Mostly my hunches were right, but it's nice to know the reasons why.

For example, many of the Christmas postcards I find have old Dickens style images. These were very popular in the 1920's. The war was finally over and people wanted to think about the simpleness of the olden days. Because of this desire for an "old fashioned" Christmas the popular images of the time were Dickens style street scenes, lanterns and old style lamps, hearths and candles (the Christmas tree doesn't really become popular on Christmas cards until the 1950's).

The colors popular in the 1920's were very unconventional and became more so as the decade progressed. Red was very popular, but green was seldom seen. There was lots of metallic gold and many cards were multi-colored. At the beginning of the decade the colors were often in pastel hues.

However, as the 1920's roared along the colors just got brighter and more vibrant. I find the cards from this time so captivating.

Children were a popular icon from this time and were shown way more than Santa. 

I hope you liked learning a little more about the Christmas trends from the 1920's. All of these cards are available in my Etsy shop.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Happier Holidays with Taylor

I've had this little booklet for some time. I just love the looks of it, the colors, the illustration style, everything about it is so beautiful and so 1950's.

I finally remembered to share it during the holidays this year. I also used the cover for a new Vintage Color Palette.

You can click on the image to get see it bigger. Maybe you'll want to use some of the recipes. The booklet was produced by Taylor Wine Company who was in business from 1950-1969.



Thursday, November 15, 2012


I've been listing many things in The Cedar Chest shop for the last month, but I keep getting busy and forgetting to update the blog.

This small antique prayer book I just listed made me want to do a blog post about it.

This small book is a Pocket Gems of Devotion. It's a book of prayers that was approved by the Catholic Church in 1891.

It was given to someone in 1909 for Epiphany Day. It's a beautiful book that is very worn. Some pages are on the verge of coming out.

I think the fact that this little book is so worn is incredibly touching and beautiful. The book was obviously used a lot, perhaps by multiple generations. I got it at a estate sale many years ago. It was hidden away with the Christmas decorations in the basement. I have no doubt the original recipient was a much older relative of the house owner.

Inside I found a beautiful little illustrated card printed in Italy in 1936. I'm including it with the book. You can find the listing and more images for the prayer book here.

I've also listed a number of Christmas items on The Cedar Chest. Hope you stop by the shop to see the new items.

Oh, and there are still a couple Thanksgiving cards, as well. here is my favorite.

If I don't get back here by next week. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!

Friday, October 19, 2012

The New Real Photo Post Cards?

Real Photo Postcards, or RPPC, are photos that were made into postcards. Around 1905 Kodak introduced a camera that could print out photos on a postcard back. This meant that people could send postcards of whatever they wanted.  RPPC's continued to be used into the 1950's. Some RPPCs can be very collectible because often the image was only taken or printed once. The period between 1903 and 1920 was a fertile time for postcard sending and there are many unique, surprising and sometimes mundane RPPC's out there from this time for people like me to collect.

A Real Photo Postcard from around 1910.

Nowadays people rarely send postcards. And even less of them keep them for years or lifetimes. Why would you when the image is a generic shot of a skyline? It isn't like it used to be when each postcard was a little piece of personal history with a stamp on the back.

However, now with the new technologies of smart phones we can send postcards right from our phone. You can send it right after the picture's taken or while your still away on vacation. There are probably a number of apps for this purpose, but I'm gonna just mention the one I've used, Postagram. The app is free and the cost to send a postcard is $1.99 (it may be 99 cents now according to the site). You buy credits for something like $10.00 and then you have them ready to send postcards whenever you want without having to enter payment information. Make sure you pre-load your address book. I gotta say it's pretty cool.

You choose your pic from your phone and then through the app you write your message. Postagram then prints and sends the postcard out. It takes about a week depending how far you are from their processing facility.

Last month when I was at the coast I got a chance to use this feature for the first time. The second night we were there while we all watched an old movie I sent postcards of some pictures I took while laying on the beach earlier that day. I sent them to a few people including myself.

When I received the postcard there was a a QT scan on it and it said "Scan me to send a Thank You". So, I did that, too. I chose another photo from the beach and had it sent to me, too. Mainly for the purposes of this blog post, but I'm glad I have these neat souvenirs of my trip.


The photos come laminated and the image itself can be punched out, so you can keep just the image (the message is on the back, too).

And then you can display it with all your other treasured items.

I love this idea and I hope it catches on. It's always fun to get something in the mail and it;s so easy to do once it's set up. Maybe a hundred years from now they'll be a lot of these phone postcards for people like me to collect.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

History and a Home for a Photo from my Collection

This portrait of a young man was one of the first things I posted on this blog in 2009. I've had it since I lived in California. When I was scanning it I realized that the name on the back was rather unique and so I googled it with the town and soon found out about this young doctor's family and life. You can read the original post here.

When I made the post I had uploaded the photo to Flickr. About a year and a half later I got a comment from someone who was related to him. This doctor, Murdoch Bannister, was his great grand-father.

Can you imagine finding photos of your relatives on the web? I keep expecting it to happen to me sometime.

Anyway, I responded to him in a Flickr comment and asked if he would like the photo. As I wrote about in the post a couple years ago when I sent a whole box of postcards back to the family - as much as I love these treasures I would most likely always give them up to have them be with the family again.

It took a long time between messages, but Murdoch Bannister's great grandson, Joe, and I finally connected and this portrait is going back to him and his family in Texas.

As a trade I asked Joe if I could post some of his history about Murdoch Bannister and his legacy. He sent a wonderful account. I hope you enjoy it. And I am glad to send the photo home with his family.

Dr. Bannister had a medical practice in Ottumwa, Iowa for many years; his father (Dwight) was an army colonel who served during the Civil War, and his son (also Dwight, named after his grandfather) was a newspaper publisher and the professor of large animal surgery in the veterinary department at Iowa State in Ames. Dr. Bannister's wife Keota was the daughter of Judge Morris Williams, and was one of the first woman licensed to practice law in Iowa. 
It's not surprising that a picture of Murdoch Bannister ended up in California. Dr. Bannister's mom (Lavinia) was the niece of the prominent abolitionist attorney and newspaper publisher Francis Murdoch, who moved to Santa Clara County, California in 1847. 
The Murdochs and the Bannisters remained close through at least the late 1960s, with cross-country trips and letters, so there was a fairly robust Iowa-California exchange between the descendants of Colonel Bannister's kids and in-laws. 
My mother and aunts remember waiting in my great-grandfather's office for their dad to close up the newspaper and take them home after school. My aunts would pass the time by grossing each other out with pictures from Grandfather Bannister's medical references.
One of our bits of family history is an entertaining letter that Dr. Bannister sent to his family toward the end of his residency (around 1895). 
My great-grandfather's residency had included care of patients in a hospital burn ward in Philadelphia, and the emotional toll of treating severely burned patients was evident in his description of the experience (third-degree burns were effectively a slowly enforced and torturous death sentence prior to the discovery of antibiotics and the development of skin transplants).
Dr. Bannister wrote very movingly of one of his patients, a vivacious teenage girl who had been burned over 70 percent of her body when her voluminous skirt was set ablaze by a stray kitchen spark (this would have been about five years after the date that Murdoch's picture was taken). She fought to live for a full year in almost inconceivable pain before succumbing to sepsis. 
His experiences weren't all grim. He spent a lot of time socializing with his fellow doctors and medical students, and he had a sometimes witty sarcasm. 
He served as an Army doctor in WWI, and he was appalled by the inhuman conditions of trench warfare. He subtly subverted the military bureaucracy by sending soldiers home at their request, by signing medical discharges from service with diagnoses of horrible-sounding diseases with long Latin names.
If anyone had bothered translating the diseases, they would have found that he was recommending honorable discharges for things like untreatable combat-related "severe chronic hangover. 
If you've regularly hunted through stacks of antique pictures at vintage stores and estate sales, I'm sure you've looked at stacks and mounds of photographs of these long-dead and long-forgotten strangers.
So many are nameless and lost, staring out at us in the fullness of youth and hopefulness, that they cannot help but remind us of our own transience and fragility, and of yawning oblivion. I'm glad you found my great-grandfather, and I'm glad that I can tell you he had a good life and was well-loved, and that he is still remembered fondly.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

It Took Longer than Expected

Today I am sharing one of the many quirky and odd photos I have with you. Unfortunately there is no information on the back of this snapshot. I'm guessing it's from the late 1920's. And to me it looks like a woman, but who can really tell. Those feet are pretty narrow and small.

I wonder how this went for her/him. Maybe they became a famous magician. Maybe they struggled for 15 minutes and then had to ask the photographer to help them out. If it is a woman it makes it way more interesting. A short Google search doesn't bring up any women escape artists from this time.

I'm posting this today as part of the missing something theme with the blog Sepia Saturday. In this case a face is missing. As well as an outcome.

Visit the Sepia Saturday blog and you can find lots of other blogs posting vintage photos today.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Reward of Merit

I'm eternally charmed by the fact that over a hundred years ago children and adults alike were thrilled with decorative papers as gifts and awards in the late 1800 and early 1900s.  I guess it isn't that different than kids today getting stickers, but I still find it remarkable that pretty cards and cut-outs were treasured so much that children and adults kept them for their whole lives. Today you can still find them and often in great condition because of how much they were treasured.

An Award of Merit was one of the first pieces of ephemera I got. I found it at an old bookstore in Oakland in the late 80's and kept it displayed in my house for a long time.

Most Rewards of Merit are about 3.5 x 5, some are smaller like a business card and some are larger like a 5x7 size. This one below is large and a unique image for a Rewards of Merit card. It just says the name Ethel on the back.

I listed some of my collection of Reward of Merit cards in the Etsy shop today.

Monday, August 27, 2012

college days

I love these two postcards. I didn't get them together, but they are connected in my mind by content and the image of the Gibson girl style on the cover. They both look like college girls to me.


On this card above, the sender wrote the caption at the bottom. I love her message inside. This was written in June 1911. Sent from Adele in Cleaveland to a Mr Stanlee Bates in Garretsville Ohio.

Mercy I thought college fellows always kept things going. 
Don't talk about the weather. I am simply melted. 
Am off for the day on a picnic at the beach, to bad you aren't here to go along. 
Was real glad to hear from you.



This one above was also sent from Cleaveland Ohio in May of 1908 to a Mr Roy Davidson in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It says on the front:

Don't say anything but Frank is almost engaged. 
He has the diamond ring but has not given it to her yet. 
She is a lovely girl.

Dear Cousin, this will show you what 
I am doing nowadays. [undecipheral word, looks like "Diging"]
Your cousin, Mary D

Well, I just realized I posted this top postcard last year about the same time! Oh, my. I am running out of memory about these things. Oh, well, let's call it an encore. The bottom one is new.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

summer traditions

I hope your summer has been good. August is so close and it seems hard to believe. I have done some summery stuff, but never as much as I want to. Right now I really need to buckle down and work on my zines for the zine sympoisum. Last year at this time I was doing my zine about postcards.

Last week I got to help out two different couples who were planning a wedding very soon and they wanted a guest book of all vintage postcards that people write messages in and then place in a mailbox. It was so fun to pick out ones that were pretty and appropriate. One of the couples wanted 160 with a general theme of travel. I got a mix of mid-century and early century, photographs and illustrations. I think the collection was a nice variety of pretty and kitschy. Here is picture I took before I sent them off.

If your interested in this service, you can find out more on this Custom Vintage Post Card for Weddings Etsy listing.

My garden is blooming like crazy. You, too? I am in love with my hydrangea bush this year. It was double in size since last year and has a ton of big firework-like pink blooms. This plant started as a potted blue version from Trade Joe's. When I put it in the ground it bloomed the next summer as pink.

I've been admiring all the hydrangea bushes I've seen all around town, too. Some are quite big. When I was kid we had a blue one on the side of the house and I kind of always thought of it as a big weed. It didn't seem like a flower to me because it was a bush. Now, I see the appeal of them.

I recently got this vintage postcard from 1911 because of the hydrangea bush. Lovely! 

This postcard was sent in Jan 1911 from Ann in Anaheim, California to her mother in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Most likely this is the house she lived in, in fact probably where Ann lived before she moved...or maybe she is just on vacation.

View Larger Map

I recently bought a photograph on Ebay, which I seldom do. I like double exposure photos and this one just looked too neat to pass up. It shows a typical summer day for some.

This beach looks a little too crowded for my tastes, but it sure makes a neat picture.

What are some of your favorite summer traditions? I hope you can enjoy more of them before the summer is over. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Vintage Postcards for Weddings

Something new that I've noticed in the last few years is that couple's are trading traditional wedding guest books for unused vintage postcards. Most often they are used in place of guest books, but I've also seen them used as place cards and RSVP cards, too. I think it's an awesome idea and such a fun way to use vintage postcards.

from the website, found on pinterest
A few days ago I got an email on Etsy from someone looking for vintage postcards for her wedding.  Through my postcard club I do have access to lots of postcards. She told me the regions she wants and I'm going to gather them for her.

from the website, found on pinterest

From, found on Pinterest

I don't know why it never occured to me to offer this on Etsy before, but now I have a listing! 

It's really just a placeholder to get people's attentions, since every order will be different. If you're looking for a large lot of vintage postcards, email or contact me on Etsy and let me know how many you need, the regions and your due date. Ideally I'd have a couple months notice to get them all together and to you.
Click on this to see the Etsy listing

I've started a Pinterest board with lots of vintage postcard wedding inspiration.  

Here's a pretty image of vintage postcards being used as place cards. 

from the blog BridalHood, found on Pinterest

So many things that you can do with vintage postcards! I'll leave you with this great pin from a couple who used them for their RSVP cards.

I'm so glad people are using and appreciating the vintage postcards! If you are getting married soon, Congratulations!

Monday, July 2, 2012

beach weather

Everyone in Portland knows (although they seem to forget each year) that summer doesn't really start here until July 5th. Although we have had many nice sunny days we also have had a record amount of rain, which I loved. A couple days of hot sun and then a couple of rain is perfect for me. But, soon it will be dry till October.

In honor of summer almost coming to Portland I wanted to share with you these neat old beach photos that I have had for a very long time. I got both of these when I was still in California, so that's over 12 years ago.

This one says L.A. Beach 1930

Hope you can have some time this summer to relax and enjoy the day like these people seem to be doing.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

a blanket to go

This lovely card was sent in 1894. It is exactly the same on each side. The blanket is on it's way to a nice picnic I would think. And the carrier couldn't help picking some beautiful flowers on the way. This is one of my favorite pieces. Hope you're planing some nice picnics soon.

I have no idea what this says. if you do, please let me know. Thanks!