Saturday, June 27, 2009


The Startup Candy Company has been in business in Provo, Utah, since 1875. The company is listed in Ripley's Believe It Or Not as the very first candy company to make a filled chocolate candy bar in America. The Startup family still makes that filled candy bar, called the Opera Bar, and still uses some of the same molds and equipment as they did when the company went into business. They were also an early distributor of Coca-Cola, and hence the sale of that product to Mr. L. C. Ford Junior, of Lima, Montana. Mr. Ford's father was the railroad doctor for the Oregon Short Line Railroad. When the Oregon Short Line was purchased by Union Pacific, Dr. Ford was out of a job, and moved himself and his family to the first real settlement of any size on the North side of Monida Pass, which was Lima.

According to the Historical Society in Lima, his kitchen table was also his operating table. Patients were brought in the front door, and if they didn't make it - they were taken out the back. His son opened a Drug Store/Pharmacy directly across the street, and I would bet that among the various glass fronted cases and lidded jars on his counter was an assortment of the candies made by the Startup family.

When I first was given this piece of paper, I thought it would be an easy task to find the right 'ingredients' for a visual fish to hang on the "Startup" hook. It took almost a month to finally find someone who could give me an image of the 'right' Coca-Cola bottle and the 'right' label to go with it. A gentleman from Atlanta, GA, by the name of Mr. Bill Baab was kind enough to send me not only a bottle that is proper for 1908, but also a copy of an original paper label, also proper for the period. And he sent them both to me on HIS DIME. I was blown away by the willingness of a total stranger to send me all the right pieces to put the puzzle together.

Thus, Mr. Baab, this Coke is for you!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


This is what you get when you help me find nice old paper (with a hook) that I can hang my visual fish on. There were a couple of really spectacular pieces of PIANO paper in this shop, and she therefore got more than my money - she got a handmade Thank You card and an envelope to boot. THANK YOU, MARY!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Amethyst Economy

This is a piece of paper that I found on eBay - and had to have. After watching two particular collectible categories, letterhead and billhead for two months, I finally saw this piece and could not resist. Even without the addition of my art work, this piece of paper is fascinating. The vignette which is an integral part of the letterhead depicts five women in various stages of the canning process - and includes a disembodied right hand placing a peach in a canning jar.

For those who don't know, I have a fascination with GLASS, and over the years have portrayed glass in graphite, pen & ink, acrylic, oil, watercolor and colored pencil. Looking at a piece of glass that has some color already in it is like holding a slide up to the light - your eye perceives true color without the distraction of other colors.

Kerr glass canning jars are primarily clear, unlike other glass canning jars, such as Ball, that come in a variety of colors. With the help of a long time collector of canning jars, Larry Munson of Devon, Montana, I was able to portray the only colored glass jar that Kerr produced, and I believe they produced it by accident. My gain!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

First Cup Of Fascination

In late January my wife and I made a fascinating trip to Seattle that included a little side excursion to Salt Spring Island, BC. We stayed in Seattle with my sister Penny and her husband Chuck, and she and her daughter Dalwyn graciously agreed to guide me to Canada to meet the author and artist Nick Bantock in his studio. Penny was the tour guide and Dalwyn the pilot. Myself, I was just along for the ride.

The first thing that I did after returning to Helena was to visit the local antique shops. The second one I visited had no paper but for a large two gallon baggie full of sheet music for the princely sum of $7.00. I hadn't intended to even look through it, but it happened to be the only paper that was in this shop, and I was somehow compelled to look. I leafed through the contents and near the end of my search I found what amounted to a book entitled "Un Giorno In Venezia". It included four songs "for the Pianoforte", which was the forerunner to the piano. These music pieces were published in 1898, and although there were no pencil marks included, the right corner and entire bottom edge of all the pages were foxed and the opening page of the first song, "Dawn", was stained from being thumbed as the page was turned - perhaps hundreds of times. I couldn't resist.

I contemplated what to do with this find for several days and remembered that my sister's husband, Chuck Pefley, had been to Venice and perhaps had some pictures which would help me give this music a second life that didn't include being stifled in a large baggie. I perused his site until I found a picture of a coffee cup, taken from the balcony of the apartment he stayed in while he was in Venice - at Dawn. I immediately knew what Dawn needed - and that was a cup of coffee.

What you see is the result of "wedding" the vision of one artist with that of another, and "First Cup" now hangs on the wall.

And while you're at it, you might want to look at Chuck’s Blog Post for June 18th to see what the Fascination is all about.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Five Feet In The Air

In 1902, Richard Fenton Outcault developed a cartoon character by the name of Buster, who quickly became an advertising phenomena. In 1904, the Brown Shoe Company purchased the licensing rights to Buster for $200, and Buster Brown began to sell shoes like there was no tomorrow. A rich little kid with a dog named Tige made a household name of the Brown Shoe Company and by 1917, with updated and more life-like features, Brown made Buster their permanent logo. Advertising art from a cartoon character? Literally, this was just the beginning.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

An Oval Fairy!

Have you a little fairy in your home? Well now, that's a good question. How about the Gold Dust Twins? This is a dunning letter from the Credit Department of the Gold Dust Corporation in St. Louis, Missouri, in September of 1924. It seems that Northwest Chemical and School Supply in Spokane, Washington, ordered 10 cases of Hotel Fairy soap in August, and had failed to pay their bill promptly, hence the letter encouraging a speedy remittance. Examine the piece of paper closely, and near the bottom you will find the Gold Dust Twins, who sold the Corporation's other product in print advertising - Fairbank's Gold Dust Washing Powder - GUARANTEED to wash just about everything.

Bix Beiderbecke Knows Susie

Jazz Great Bix Beiderbecke and the Wolverines masquerading as the Jazz Harmonizers, recorded this tune in 1924. This piece of letterhead was generated in 1919, and the Claxtonola label only existed until 1925 when Victor, (now RCA Victor) took Brenard Manufacturing to court, effectively putting them out of business. The letter is a promotional effort to drum up business in Plaza, ND. Plaza was founded in 1906, and today has a population of about 150. I have no idea what kind of business Simonson Ames was involved in, but Brenard was counting on them to drum up some business for The New Day Phonograph.