Friday, December 31, 2010

Postcard Greetings PFF #34

 This idea first came to me while looking at an image on the Tattered and Lost Ephemera blog yesterday. To paraphrase, her resolution was to get up earlier so she at least got a decent seat on public transportation in the New Year. Or perhaps a GREEN seat. Or perhaps a seat at all. I grow old and my short term memory is headed out into the bitter cold. As soon as I saw the image I remembered I had a card sort of like the one she displayed, but at least the passengers on her ride were dressed appropriately. A couple of Mine? Not so much.  Anyway, the image and message made me laugh.

My first visit this morning was to the Pieces of the Past blog, where the Funoldhag (aka, Carol) posted an image of four piglets with a tale to tell in their tails. I had to laugh again, since while looking through my meager supply of old postcards for the Hopi Unlimited transportation card, I found a Contented Family. Okay. I really don't know what struck me about this card, but there's something about the eyes on the piglets and the smile on her face that makes me wonder if her left hand isn't holding a tranquilizer gun.

And now - let's talk about health. Brian at the Paper Sponge posted an image of an old German embossed card depicting a couple of bearded gentlemen with - bags of money and packages??? One of them with feet firmly on terra firma, but the other was riding a crescent moon. Once again, I went back to my slim pile of cards because I remembered one with polar bears and the new year babe riding - a cork. Is that really healthy transportation? This message doesn't bode well for global warming, either.

So - may all of the folks who found this blog worthy of a read now and then visit again in the New Year. I have new mail art to post and some good news to announce, but for now - you get postcards from my swipe file. Best wishes to everyone for a happy, healthy, prosperous and blessed New Year.

Visit Beth Niquette at The Best Hearts Are Crunchy for more of what postcards are really all about! 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Drummer Boy! PFF#33

Although I'm not keeping with the theme chosen by hostess Beth Niquette at The Best Hearts Are Crunchy, I'm putting up the First Day Cover that I did last year for my brother. Not only is he a drummer, but he just happens to collect Drummer Boys year round.

In the process of researching Drummer Boys for the art work, I discovered that there is a rich history behind the nutcrackers here in the United States. Although immigrants from Europe new them well, soldiers brought many of them back to our country after WWII.

In 2008, the USPS commissioned a fellow by the name of Glenn Crider to build four nutcrackers for the Holiday stamp issue. Although each nutcracker he builds is unique, he also builds one of each for his own collection. There's probably a lesson to be learned from that, since I've done many covers over the past twenty years, and have very few of them in my own collection.

While browsing early, I found that FunOldHag aka Carol, at  Pieces of the Past had posted a cute postcard of a young drummer under the Christmas tree, probably waking up his folks from their long Winter nap. It woke me up to my entry for today's Postcard Friendly Friday.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Hubley Indian Motocycle PFF #32

I've done a couple of posts on Indian Motocycles, including a piece of old paper that involved a lot of phone calls and a trip to the Montana Historical Society. I also included in that post the First Day Cover that I had done which depicted an Indian Scout with my brother-in-law aboard.

A site that I have been following for well over a year, Tattered and Lost Ephemera, posted a wonderful story and included a print advertisement for a Hubley Indian Motocycle yesterday. As she usually does with the ephemera that she posts, she included links to the Hubley Toy Company and the Indian Motocycle Company as well.

In 2002 when the USPS announced that they would be issuing a block of four Antique Toy stamps, I decided that I would use an antique toy motorcycle for my art work, and I knew where to go as a source for the model - my brother-in-law, Tom Benson, restores old Indian motorcycles, and his living room is a virtual museum of old Indian memorabilia. He does not have any Hubley Indian motorcycles, but he knew where to find some excellent photographs of one - and promptly sent me a couple to choose from.

The advertisement that was posted on the Tattered and Lost Ephemera site is a prime example of marketing, and you really ought to give it a read. Hubley not only knew how to make toys, but they also knew how to sell them. I've recently come across some old paper that includes the sale of Tin toys and dolls, and I'll be putting some of those pieces up as I work toward my next major show in March of next year. But for now, my memory was jogged into action (I could hear the 'realistic' motor running) when I read the advertisement for the Hubley Indian.

To get your motor running, make sure you visit Beth Niquette at The Best Hearts Are Crunchy for more visual treats on Postcard Friendly Friday!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Nick Bantock Tribute PFF #31

While visiting Seth Apter's Studioscapes post last Sunday, I discovered a MAIL ART contest whose main theme was a tribute to the artist Nick Bantock. I should mention that Studioscapes was a project that Seth promoted in which he asked over 150 artists to let the viewers get a better idea of the creative spaces we use as artists and the way we use that space.

One of the participants named Michele Jackson, whose studio space was featured last Sunday had posted an image of a piece of mail art that she had created for a Nick Bantock tribute. I followed up the link that she had included in the post, read the rules for the contest and discovered I had very little time to create a piece of mail art with a Nick Bantock look to it (the deadline was the 1st of December).

I'd created a piece of mail art for Nick almost two years ago, and it was actually meant as a mail introduction prior to my visit to his studio on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia in early 2009. I've included that image today, along with the piece I created for the tribute.

Be sure to check out Beth Niquette at The Best Hearts Are Crunchy for more delectable goodies in the mail art tradition for Postcard Friendship Friday.

I almost forgot to mention that one of the rules for the contest stated that a large number had to be included on the piece. I placed that element under the removable address label, so you'll have to check back with the contest site to find out just how large the number really is!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Have (Ostrich) Duster, Will Travel

Over the past several months, I've acquired a couple of pieces of billhead which refer to Ostrich feather dusters as either part of the business information in the header or as line items. While I was looking for Ostrich images, I happened upon an image of an Ostrich race. This intrigued me, since I had no idea that an ostrich could be ridden, much less raced. After having found one image, I went looking for more, and found a potential source for the Ostrich Feather Dusters sold by the Phoenix Brush Company, Inc. - the Cawston Ostrich Farm in California. The old linen postcards pictured on this site are almost surreal, and I couldn't pass up using at least one of them as a source for my art work on the Phoenix Brush Company billhead.

A couple of weeks ago, Brian Carlisle from the Paper Sponge put up a post called Bits of Bird Life from an article published in an 1897 issue of the Youth Companion. Fascinating to say the least. If you are interested in ephemera like I am, you really ought to give the Paper Sponge a look. I had no idea Ostrich Farming was such a money-making proposition at the turn of the Century. Brian's article nudged my brain and I decided to tackle the Ostrich while it was still standing still.

The gentleman aboard this male ostrich is apparently well acquainted with the bird, since I see no evidence of saddle or bridle. Perhaps he just waited until the bird stuck his head in the sand as the ostrich is doing in the image above. Later I hope to post another piece depicting a young lady riding one side-saddle.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Penny & Olive PFF #30

The top image is one of about twenty covers I produced as a printed issue for the Motorcycle stamps which were released during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in 2006 in Sturgis, SD. I asked the owners of the four different motorcycles which were depicted on the stamps to autograph the cover with 'their' stamp on it. Although I had intended to sell these to offset the expense of attending the First Day Ceremony and obtaining Unofficial cancels for my hand-drawn and painted issue, I was not allowed to sell them in Sturgis. Penny Nickerson's cycle (which she called 'Olive') is a 1918 Cleveland. She rides it, and has a mechanic who travels with her to make certain that it continues to run as it is supposed to.

The second cover is the hand drawn issue which I did for my subscribers and portrays my brother-in-law on his Indian Scout. I think I've posted this one before, but I wanted to get a post up, even if it isn't Old Paper Art. The reason I was anxious to put something up today is because yesterday a lady by the name of Debbie sent me a great email.

Debbie Overton has a new site called Fresh Approach, and she published a wonderful interview that she did with yours truly. We did the interview several weeks ago. Of the images that are included with the interview, five of them have found new homes. THANK YOU, Debbie!!!

Also, Beth Niquette is hosting Postcard Friendly Friday at her site The Best Hearts Are Crunchy , and she has posted a great Lincoln postcard which you have to see to believe. Visit and peruse the list of other bloggers participating in Postcard Friendly Friday.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Marianne's Putnam Lightning

This billhead was purchased on eBay at auction on September 26th. Someone else besides me wanted it, so although they attempted to Snipe it once I had put in a bid, I went back and bumped my maximum bid up to what I thought would be adequate to cover any snipes. Although I have all kinds of paper waiting in my binder to be worked on, I knew I was going to put a fruit jar on it as soon as I saw this piece of paper come up for auction.

From the Pick Your Own website, "In 1882, Henry William Putnam of Bennington, Vermont, invented a fruit jar that used a glass lid and a metal clamp to hold the lid in place. These "Lightning jars" became popular because no metal (which could rust, breaking the seal or contaminating the food) contacted the food and the metal clamps made the lids themselves easier to seal and remove (hence the "Lightning" name) . There were many similar glass lid and wire-clamp jars produced for home canning all the way into the 1960s. Many can still be seen in garage sales, flea markets and on specialty food jars today."

Marianne Dow, a wonderful cyberfriend, has posted at least one article about my glass images, and fruit jars in particular, as the webmaster for the Findlay Antique Bottle Club, in Findlay, Ohio. When I visited Larry Munson of Devon, Montana, over a year ago I took no photographs of Putnam jars. Consequently when it came time to come up with photographs that I could use for reference and as a model, I asked Marianne if she would help me out. And she did - in a very big way.

I think this Lightning fruit jar is my best glass image yet. I would have liked to have portrayed one of the oddly colored Lightning jars as they can be found in a wonderful array of colors, but trying to put yellow or amber glass on a piece of blue paper would have required a lot of preparation work on a piece of paper that I felt needed to be kept the way it came to me. Marianne had a large Putnam Lightning jar in Cornflower Blue, so I chose to use that color as the base color for my jar.

So Marianne, I gave you a Ball jar in July of last year, so this time Lightning strikes for the first time. I hope it strikes again in the future! It's headed to the framers to be matted and framed and put behind archival glass as soon as I'm through posting this article.

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Parrot - Talks for Itself

When I went searching for old paper over a year ago this past January, The Parrot Confectionery was one of the first places I stopped. Brian and Kelly Ackerman had purchased the business from the Duensing family, and were in the process of learning what they needed to know about the chocolate business. I inquired about old letterhead or billhead, but was discouraged to hear that the Duensings had no letterhead, and the billhead was destroyed to eliminate information such as credit card numbers to protect the privacy of their customers. The business itself is one of only two businesses on Last Chance Gulch here in downtown Helena that are still in operation in the same location since 1922.

Walking into this candy store is like walking back in time. There is a Wurlitzer juke box, booths and a real soda fountain. They make all of their own chocolate and it is all displayed in five foot high glass cases.

During my first brief visit with Brian I offered to design a piece of vintage letterhead that they could use for special occasions in exchange for several of them that I could put my art work on.
Brian agreed to look at whatever I came up with, and he finally settled on the lettering that you see on their web site. I did not do the parrot, but the design outfit that created their logo did, since the one that I had done was not in color.

In going through the old papers in the office, Brian discovered several pieces of old billhead from the fountain, and he gave them to me. This is the last piece that I have, as the other two have since gone to new homes.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

BIG SKY Greetings PFF #29

The stamp issue was called Greetings from America, and each state had a ceremony in their capital city on April 4th, 2002. Each stamp was actually meant to look like what were called 'Large Letter' postcards. I have seen a number of different types of these cards, most of them linen and very colorful. Scenes from the city or state which were the subject of the cards were portrayed in each of the large letters across the card.

I took the theme of the background from the stamp and although Montana is seven letters, it was already on the stamp, so I chose to use the nickname for Montana.

Be sure to check out The Best Hearts Are Crunchy for Postcard Friendly Friday hosted by Beth Niquette for more Mail Art Images!

Monday, September 20, 2010


I was asked by Seth Apter to participate in an online 'gathering' of artists called 'The Pulse' less than a year ago. As part of the experience, we were asked to supply a vignette of our studio space for a the third portion of The Pulse which he called Studioscapes. This past Sunday, my little creative corner was included along with four or five other artists.

So as not to give the impression that my studio looks like my desk, I've decided to let you look at one of the walls! Three of the framed pieces hanging on this wall have found new homes since I took the photograph.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Recent Sales Mail Art PFF#28

Two pieces left us this past weekend at an Antique show where I set up a booth, complete with flower arrangements by my beautiful wife of forty years. I wear a tie and I leave the hat in the car.

Buster Brown and Tige which I posted last year as Five Feet in the Air, and the Tru Blu Biscuit Company van (We Deliver!) both found new homes. As I promise each of the folks that purchase one of my pieces of old paper, I sent them a piece of mail art as a thank you. As I do with each of the pieces of mail art, I've left the removable labels off of the image I post. Removable labels are the greatest invention since Post-It notes.

Make sure you stop by The Best Hearts Are Crunchy for Postcard Friendly Friday hosted by Beth Niquette for a stein full of other great mail art images!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Breakfast Brownies Doughboy

Pillsbury has their doughboy, so I think Breakfast Brownies Cereal can have theirs too!

There is little known about the Breakfast Brownies Company, and not a whole lot more about the Brownie Baking Company, except that they were not one and the same. The Breakfast Brownies Company was incorporated in 1919 in Montana, and although the officers were not all in or from Helena, the cereal was milled in Minneapolis and packaged here in Helena. Just exactly where in Helena I cannot determine, although I do know where their office was located.

I have seen a cardboard case for the cereal, a stock certificate, as well as one sample box and a dozen metal plates for print advertising. One of the plate images is the source for my Brownie Doughboy.

I acquired several pieces of letterhead for the Brownie Baking Company, whose bakery was in Spokane, Washington. I do know that the Brownie Baking Company was once the Tru-Blu Biscuit Company, because I have seen five real photo postcards of the factory, and the message side of the card has the Tru Blu logo printed on it. Research on the web reveals very little about the company, other than the fact the factory bakery building is still in use – not as a bakery, but it's now artist studio space.

I decided to put the Breakfast Brownies Doughboy on this piece of Brownie Baking Company letterhead because they had one thing in common – they both used the images of Brownies to sell their products. Note the Brownie in the lower left corner of their letterhead. I've never done this sort of thing before, but my chances of ever finding a piece of Breakfast Brownies paper are slim and next to none.

Well? Do you think this piece of advertising art would fly up against the Cocoa Puffs of the cereal world?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mail Me Art! PFF#27

This was my only entry for a mail art contest that ended shortly after the first of this year. Which leads me to the reason I'm posting this today: I tried to tell a little story with this one, but I really don't think that was the main impetus for doing it. After more than fifty years of putting my art on envelopes. via the amazing resource of the web, I discovered there were others like myself who truly enjoy making art that goes through the mail.

Seth Apter at The Altered Page has been sponsoring an ongoing series of posts called The Book Guild, the most recent being Chapter 21 this past Sunday. One of the books which was suggested by a couple of the more than 150 artists that he had asked to participate in the fourth edition of The Pulse(an online survey of nearly 150 artists) was a book entitled Good Mail Day, authored by Jennie Hinchcliff and Carolee Gilligan Wheeler. Not only that, but he sweetened the pot by offering to give away two copies of this book via a drawing of all those who left comments on the post itself.

Shortly after he made the offer one of the authors, Jennie Hinchcliff, offered to create a piece of original mail art to 'go-with' the book. Now, my chances are pretty slim of winning one of these books, so I'm pinching pennies and not making my usual purchases of old paper on eBay so that just in case I'm not a winner, I'll be able to afford to add this one to my very slim library of art books.

I'm a big fan of mail art and have been since I was a little five-year-old kid standing in front of a glass case looking at the mail art of C. M. Russell. When I heard from a fellow blogger about a mail art contest called Mail Me Art, I decided to create an envelope and send it in. Unfortunately, I didn't hear about the contest until it was too late to enter more than once, but I'm ready the next time it opens up for entries.

In the meantime, I'm anxious to see (1) if I win one of these books, and (2) actually purchase one of them if I don't!

Be sure to stop by Beth Niquette's The Best Hearts Are Crunchy for more Back-to-School mail art images!

Friday, August 27, 2010

This one opened the Ball PFF #26

In 1990 I was working for Montana's Fish, Wildlife & Parks agency. There was a high volume of mail coming into the mail room in early April as nonresidents and residents alike submitted their applications for special permits to hunt big game.

One morning a fellow employee brought me an envelope with THIS stamp on it, and asked me if I could tell her what was wrong with it. I immediately spotted the lack of a cancel, and also the lack of any lettering or numbers on the stamp. I told her that yes, I knew what was wrong with it. She allowed me to take the name, address & phone number off of the application, and I went about the task of contacting the person who had put this error stamp on the envelope.

To make a rather long story short, the wife purchased the booklet of stamps and mailed the application for her husband, so when it came time to ask about purchasing the rest of the stamps from the booklet, I had to bargain with her - which I did. I purchased the balance of the booklet for $450, and also threw in one of these covers for her to keep. She accepted my offer.

I created a total of nine of these covers and sent them to Kansas City to get them canceled with the First Day of Issue cancellation. I sold ALL of them. In other words, I have none of them left. I also gave a dozen roses and $50 to the young lady who found the error stamp to begin with, and she thought that was more than the greatest thing she'd ever heard of - paying so much money for simple postage stamps.
And for those of you interested in more mail art, either on envelopes or cards, make sure you visit The Best Hearts Are Crunchy for more 'Eye Candy'!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

No Quacks on the Radio - PFF #25

I know I'm late, but I'm tossing this one in here because it's a bird and although I didn't hear it on the radio, if it looks like a Duck - it is.

This is the first of twenty-two of these American Wigeons that I have to do, making them look all the same as best that I can. I like doing the ducks, and this is my twentieth issue of the Waterfowl stamps that I've done. In order to make them 'First Day' covers, I needed to get the stamps (at $15 a piece), affix a regular First Class stamp, and cancel them - neatly.

I was awarded Honorable Mention in the Duck category of the American First Day Cover Society's annual Cachetmaker's Contest for 2009. I did a 'portrait' of the Longtail duck, and this award is the eighth time I've received an award since 1990 in the Duck category.

Visit Beth at The Best Hearts Are Crunchy for more sounds and images for Postcard Friendly Friday!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

No Address Required

Yesterday was my wife's Birthday, so I created a card for her, and of course an envelope to put it in. It's her monogram. You should be able to read it, although I probably ignored all the rules for creating one.

I took it to the Post Office and asked for hand-back service, meaning I didn't have to toss it in the outgoing mail slot, I just got it back after the clerk canceled it. No mailing labels necessary. The third time was a charm as far as getting a date on it. For some reason, the dates are not showing up on some of the devices no matter how hard the clerk stamps it. Maybe some of you Stamper people have a good solution for that.

She could read it - can you?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thank You's On The Way PFF #24

Rather than pick some of my more conventional 'envelope art' for this edition of PFF, I'm going to let you see the Thank You notes that went out after our successful trip to Bozeman, Montana, for the Little Bear Antique Show, held on the same weekend as the Sweet Pea Festival. Artists set up their booths in Lindley Park, and although I consider myself an artist, I believe my work is more attractive to those interested in all things VINTAGE.

I did not include the mailing address labels for any of them, as some of these folks wouldn't want their mailing address available in this venue. The last one, for Pat, is because she was a very gracious hostess who invited us to spend Saturday evening with them and share her table and some wonderful conversation with those of us who have an enduring interest in Old Paper.

If you are interested in more postcard images for Postcard Friendly Friday, please visit Best Hearts are Crunchy, as you'll enjoy a number of other images from old to new which have gone through the mail. Since today is Southpaw Day, I think I fit right in!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Model T Town Car, Helena Cab Company

Research, research, research. Helena had a cab company very early, but for the early years, no records exist. I'm assuming that they used horse-drawn carriages for their upscale passengers, but I can't tell you for certain of that. I have seen many real photo cards and photographs of early Helena, and they did have cabs such as the Model T depicted on the billhead, but what I was looking for was something a little bit more snappy than what Mr. Ford offered.

I browsed Google images for several days, and finally found a photograph of a 1915 Model T Town Car, which I've rendered on this billhead. The sign on the door is 'right'. The license plate - 'right'. The only problem I had was that I couldn't locate an image of a Helena Cab of that vintage, so I used my Artistic License.

I visited the Montana Historical Society and found the archived records for vehicle registration and ownership, and began narrowing my search to locating a proper plate number for a Helena Cab in 1915. What you see is the result of my effort.

Plates were assigned as they were registered with the Secretary of State, but the records are in bound volumes, meaning I had to search line by line for an entry for 1915 for Helena. I had no idea there were over 12,000 vehicles registered in Montana in 1915, and that they also registered motorcycles.

The line item entries are as follows: July 12, 1 N.P. for 50 cents, July 22, 1 N.P. for 50 cents, and July 25, 1 G.N. for 50 cents.

NP is for Northern Pacific, GN is for Great Northern, and both railroads had terminals here in Helena. So, Mr. Nolan paid $1.50 for three trips by cab to the stations.

Any business with an office in the Placer Hotel deserved to own a cab like this one.

Friday, July 30, 2010


In my last post, I included an image of this piece of paper before I touched it.

I touched it. For about sixteen hours.

There is not much to give you in the way of history as far as Ratin Laboratories. I can't find one single reference to this company anywhere, and believe me, I looked - hard.

I was very lucky and found an image of this bottle on an Antique Bottle site called Antique Bottle Mysteries. The reason the image was included there was because it is a perfect example of what is called Cold Mold Ripple, and is sometimes referred to as "Whittled" or "Hammered" glass. The effect is caused by the mold in which the glass was produced, and in particular, when the mold is made of Iron. Impurities in the iron caused the glass to cool at differing temperatures, and hence caused the glass to vary in thickness. It is a wonderful sight to see when you hold one of these bottles (most produced in the late 1920's) as the light passing through the bottle and what you can see beyond the bottle is distorted - in a good way!

My spouse suggested a rat - in the bottle, but I thought that it was more important that the bottle be seen for what it is - beautiful, even if it contained poison.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ratin Bottle, No. 2

Guess what I found on eBay? A piece of paper from the RATIN Corporation which discusses the breakage of a bottle of Ratin. Oh yes, by the way - Ratin is Rat Poison.

I've done the bottle once before, and now that I've found a piece of Ratin paper, I'm going to do it again. Actually, the Ratin bottle that I did was the very first piece of old paper that I posted here, and rather than look back at that post (for which I got zero comments), I'm posting the image of the finished piece that found a new home during the Western Heritage Artists show in March of this year.

The bottle is an example of what is called 'whittled' glass. The color is spectacular, and I'm headed to my desk to work on it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Baby Ruth From Above

Way back in December, I got a very nice email from Susan E at This Old Paper. Actually, the email was a note telling me that I ought to look at her current post, which I quickly did. It was a HUGE Welcome to Me, combining our mutual fascination with old paper with a fresh idea for some art work on a 'bookmark' of sorts. She provided a link to the Forgotten Bookmarks site, which I had already been following on an almost daily basis. Her suggestion was that it would be really neat if I combined an old ad for Baby Ruth with the old billhead that Michael Popek at Forgotten Bookmarks had found in "The Quarterly Illustrator, Vol. 1 No.4" published in 1893. The line items listed were for one box (120) of Baby Ruth and one box (120) of Butterfinger candy bars. The title for his post on this special find was Someone's Got the Munchies.

To come to the point, I contacted Michael at Forgotten Bookmarks and although I offered to pay for it, he told me he would GIVE me the billhead - and he did.

That was over six months ago. I pulled the piece out of my ever-bulging binder several weeks ago, and although I tried every conceivable layout for the ad that Susan E had suggested, there was just no way I was going to fit that ad on this piece of old paper. So...

I started doing more than just a little research.

The Baby Ruth candy bar was THE Gravy Train for a fellow by the name of Otto Y. Schnering, who not only knew how to make a good candy bar, he also knew how to promote it.

In 1926, Otto hired a barnstorming air racer by the name of Doug Davis to spread Baby Ruth candy bars far and wide - from the air. Davis had three Waco airplanes and two former military pilots with which he was barnstorming the Southern states and he called it the Davis Flying Circus. It was quickly turned into the Baby Ruth Flying Circus. Check the link above for more information about what became a sensation from the skies when Davis started dropping Baby Ruth candy bars tied to rice paper parachutes - in over forty states across the United States.

But I digress. I started looking for images that could be of use to me for a piece of paper about half the size of a regular piece of letterhead. I've include the image of an advertisement for a store in Milwaukee promoting a Rain of Baby Ruth candy bars. I knew I was close, but the image was just not clean enough to do the paper up right, so I continued looking for Baby Ruth airplanes until I found one I could use. What you see is what you get! My art probably doesn't make you want to go buy a Baby Ruth, but you'll perhaps think of my art the next time you pay 75 cents for a nickel candy bar!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Buried Treasure 2010 - The "Kilner" Jar

Seth Apter of The Altered Page is once again hosting a revisit of ancient posts - by invitation!

I've only been blogging for a little over a year and a half, but I had to look back and find one that I thought would be worthy of sharing. This one is particularly pleasing to me because it opened the door for me for some wide-spread interest in old paper - the way I like it.

The piece of Old Paper Art I'm sharing this time I actually covered in three separate posts, and I'm including the text from the finished product - but for the mat and frame. I sold this piece as soon as I hung it at the Western Heritage Art Show in March of this year. It had hung in a local gallery (where I had it matted and framed), but it didn't sell. I think it's a matter of exposure, really. The more people see how unique the art is, the more people are intrigued by what I've done with it. Unlike collage art or 'ledger' art, mine has to have something to do with the paper itself. These pieces of true ephemera are a tiny snapshot of business as it used to be. Business owners hired excellent artists to portray to the buying public the best image they could, for if the print advertising and packaging did not sell the product, it usually did not sell.

I like using original art work for most of my old paper as often as possible, but oftentimes I have to resort to utilizing the old advertising or packaging art. I particularly enjoy using glass as the subject for a couple of really good reasons: It is transparent. If it is colored glass, it tends to glow and reflect light, as well as project it. Because it is transparent the text can be seen through the image of the glass, which gives the impression to the viewer that the glass is 'in front' of the text, hence I've killed two birds with one stone without breaking the glass!

I also include a short narrative with each piece that I complete, giving viewers a word snapshot of why I chose it, and the history of the company and subject if possible.

In an earlier post here (Kilner paper) and HERE, I gave you a glimpse at what’s involved in getting my art onto a piece of old paper, and it always starts with – the paper. I purchased this piece on eBay from a gentleman named Tom Caniff after finding out that although there were no glass fruit jars listed as line items on this billhead, the primary business of the Kilner Brothers was to make jars for the preservation of food of one kind or another. Mr. Caniff also sent me a picture of a Kilner jar, but it was simply not detailed enough to use as a model.

The company had been doing business since 1857, and a Kilner (John) was making glass storage containers beginning in the year 1792. When John died in 1857, his sons took over the business. They continued to make glass containers until at least the turn of the century when many small glass firms were merged to create the United Glass Bottle company and the patents held by the Kilners were purchased.

With the help of a long time collector of canning jars, Larry Munson of Devon, Montana, I was able to portray the “Kilner” jar they produced. My last Paper Treasure Hunt and Photo Expedition involved a trip to Larry's for an afternoon of filling my camera with photos of over seventy varieties of fruit jars including the photo I took of the Kilner jar in the previous post that I used as a model for this piece.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Indian Motocycle and the Logo

From the Indian Chief Motorcycle site: The original Indian motorcycle company was founded in 1901 in Springfield Massachusetts USA, by bicycle racer George Hendee and Swedish immigrant Oscar Hedstrom. Some people wonder why it was called the Indian Motocycle Company instead of Indian Motorcycle Company. In Italy, all motorcycles have names beginning with "moto" e.g. Moto-Guzzi, Moto-Ducati, Moto-Laverda, so perhaps Hedstrom was familiar with that. The earliest models looked like mopeds (bicycles with small single cylinder engines) and only 3 were made in 1901. Interestingly, Triumph began production the next year (1902) and Harley-Davidson the year after (1903). So the order was Indian, Triumph, Harley. This "Big Three" are still around a century later, while many other brands which started later died off years ago. Indian made 143 motorcycles in 1902.

Although it says on the logo that they have been built since 1901, what it fails to mention is that the Indian Motocycle was THE FIRST motorcycle produced in America.

I have more than one piece of Indian paper, but I intend to put motorcycles on them, much like I did in 2006, when my wife and I made the trip (in our SUV) to Sturgis, South Dakota, for the First Day Ceremony for the Motorcycle stamp issue. I've included the image of the finished cover for the issue, which pictures my brother-in-law, Tom Benson of Shelby, Montana. He restores Indian Motorcycles, and it was a perfect match as far as relevant art work for the stamps.

I know absolutely nothing about Curnow the Indian. I do know for certain that this piece of paper became irrelevant in 1913, when the company was renamed as the Indian Motorcycle Company. It will be interesting to see if there are any images from Butte, Montana, that include Curnow, or any of his customers!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Old Paper - Finally!

After a couple of months of devoting desk time to First Day Covers, I decided to do a piece of OLD PAPER ART, and this is the result of a week's worth of pencil-pushing.

A little bit about both of the companies involved with this nice piece of old paper:

The South Bend Toy Company was incorporated December 22, 1882, after being established in 1874. Frederick Badet, a grocery clerk, and John Teel, a woodworker, originally started the company, making croquet sets and other wooden toys. Croquet was that the time, the only acceptable game for women and children to play. About the turn of the century they began to build children's wagons and doll carriages.

The Studebaker Company was founded in 1852 and incorporated in 1868 under the the name of Studebaker Brothers Manufacturing Company. The company built wagons for farmers, miners and the military. Their factory was located in in South Bend, Indiana. Studebaker asked the South Bend Toy Company to build a number of small replicas of their full-sized wagons to place in dealer showrooms. The only problem they encountered was that the dealers couldn't keep them in the showroom, and Studebaker quickly realized that a smaller wagon for children would be a sales leader. South Bend produced the smaller wagons, and Studebaker sold them through their dealers. South Bend Toy also sold the wagons through the Sears & Roebuck catalog.

Included now in this post is a scan of the Sears & Roebuck catalog page from 1924 advertising the Studebaker Junior. The advertisement was provided to me by Gordon Westover, who builds upscale wagons and restores antique wagons, doing business on eBay as WagonMasterCoaster. If you have a moment and are interested, stop by his eBay store.

I have seen a number of real photo postcards picturing this wagon being pulled by a goat, and apparently photographers used the Studebaker Junior as a standard prop for children's photos.

I recently saw one of these wagons (not restored) at auction, and it sold for $3,300.

Ride on!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Day & the Flag - PFF #23

Forty years ago today I was where I didn't want to be. Twenty years ago when I created this cover, I was where I wanted to be, and just beginning to feel like I could become WHO I wanted to be. Following along with the theme for Postcard Friendly Friday, hosted by Beth Niquette at the Best Hearts are Crunchy, I decided to remember not only my flag, but also a man who symbolizes the greatness of our country under the worst of conditions. Be sure to stop by and see what others are posting for Postcard Friendly Friday.

For all those who gave their all,
Eternal Rest Grant unto them, O Lord,
And let Eternal Light shine upon them.
May they Rest in Peace. Amen.

Please take a moment to remember why we have a Memorial Day.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Monarch Butterfly - PFF #22

From Names on the Face of Montana by Roberta Carkeek Cheney - "Monarch (Cascade County) is an almost deserted mining town in the mountains at the junction where two gulches meet Belt Creek".

In 1889 when the settlement of Monarch was granted a post office with Charles Martin as postmaster, there were three mining claims being actively worked in the immediate vicinity with the names of 'King', 'Czar' and 'Emperor'. This may account for the name of the town, but the specifics are lost in the past. There was a railroad (Great Northern) which terminated in Monarch, and then it went further to the mining town of Niehart with passenger service on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday according to Opal Mayte, whom I spoke to for quite awhile this Monday past.

Opal was the postmaster in Monarch for thirty years, then her son became postmaster, at which time he fired his wife Grace as she had been a postal clerk for Opal previously.

Monarch literally came alive on Monday at about 11:30 when a brief ceremony was held for the issuance of the new Monarch Butterfly postage stamp. Without going into a lot of details on the marvelous job the current postmaster Kally Permann did to make the occasion so memorable, it was one of the nicest First Day Ceremonies I've ever had the pleasure of attending.

I designed the cancel for the postmaster, and she had prepared two hundred cacheted envelopes. She had ordered a thousand stamps, which amounted to fifty panes of twenty stamps to a pane. All of the stamps were gone by noon. The cacheted envelopes were also gone. They had mail requests from Europe as well as all over the United States already, and I'm certain that with the mention of the pictorial postmark in Linn's Stamp News the previous week, she'll be getting a lot more of them.

I am making the covers as I did with the Montana State Flag issue, so once I was through placing the stamps on the paper and canceling them, I was asked to sign my name under the cancel on the cacheted covers for those folks who purchased them when they bought the stamps, which meant I signed about two hundred covers as well.

Quite a day!

If you are interested in what others may be doing for Postcard Friendly Friday, hop on over to The Best Hearts Are Crunchy to see any number of posters with the theme this week of the Power of One Voice!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Flag Waving - PFF#21

Last Friday the USPS put the fourth in a series of six Flags of Our Nation stamps on sale. Montana is among the states to get a stamp in this series, and the post office asked me to design a cancel for them. I was honored. I decided to combine my love of map envelopes (read that MAIL ART) with my cachet business, and I was really happy to get the opportunity to offer my subscribers a nice cover to add to their collections.

I used a territorial map of Montana to create the envelopes from archival #70 paper, and then utilize the image from the Great Seal and flag of Montana to produce these little pieces of art.

The history part of how the flag came to be goes back to the Spanish American War when a unit of the Montana National Guard carried this flag into battle - not as it appears today, but the seal and flag were developed from the unit flag itself. The seal reflects the heritage of this great state - a pick and shovel (mining), a plow (agriculture), the Great Falls of the Missouri (first recorded by Lewis & Clark in 1805), and the majestic mountains for which Montana was named. The words on the scroll, ORO -Y-PLATA , mean Gold and Silver.

Oh yes, and Beth Niquette over at The Best Hearts are Crunchy is hosting Postcard Friendship Friday, if you're interested in looking at more great 'mail art'!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Tom Mix Circus

What have I been doing for the past month??? I have to feed my Old Paper habit by continuing to produce First Day Covers, and also I've been asked to design two First Day Cancels for the Postal Service within the past month as well. The cancel are a lot of fun, and I will post the one I produced for the Montana Flag stamp (which came out yesterday) for next week's Postcard Friendly Friday. But just so you know...

The USPS released its Cowboys of the Silver Screen issue on Saturday, and I deliberately avoided the more common themes for the art work. Not only that, but I also purchased and canceled the stamps in the little berg of Ringling, Montana, named for one of the Ringling Brothers who at one time not only had a rail spur built to accommodate the railroad cars for his traveling circus, but also he heavily invested in the cattle market and owned a great deal of property surrounding the town.

Tom Mix made numerous movies, but documenting them all is a difficult task at best, since most of them have long since deteriorated to the point that they are not viewable.

His Circus involvement is easily documented, and he worked for not only some rather large Wild West shows, but circus and rodeo performances were also a big thing with Tom. He had a Wild West show as early as 1909, but he did not have his own circus until 1935, when he purchased the Sam Dill Circus and renamed it. He employed 150, and kept 75 trucks on the road for 3 years.

After posting on Saturday, I received a nice email from a lady by the name of Marianne Dow. I don't know what she doesn't collect, but I know both of the images, the one of what appears to be a comic book cover and the other a board game, come from her personal collection.

This one was pure fun!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

ORIGINAL - Christ Lived in Anaconda in '31

The most recent old paper and the very first piece of old paper I purchased. Did you know that Christ lived in Anaconda in 1931 and got his perfume from LA?

I am going to be showing this and every piece I have not sold at the Western Heritage Artists show in Great Falls, Montana, during Western Art Week. This is going to be a huge opportunity for me to obtain some exposure that I'd not be able to get any other way. I'll have a gallery/room at the Holiday Inn from Wednesday the 17th, through Sunday the 21st. I'm also participating in the Quick Finish on Thursday evening, and I'll be doing a piece of mail art complete with a hand-drawn card that can be used in the envelope. I'll also be doing mail art in my room and taking orders for old paper and mail art as well. My first love is the old paper, however, and I think I've got that base pretty well covered.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

We Deliver!!!

The Tru-Blu Biscuit Company was a local Spokane, Washington company that also sold Krause Candies. I spent many hours looking for some of their packaging, and in the process of searching and making inquiries of historical society sites - found little information about them.

I have in my possession a number of high school 'quarterly' yearbooks from the North Central High School in Spokane, which included advertising for a lot of local businesses, including Tru-Blu Biscuits. I brought these back from Seattle, Washington, and they'd been in the possession of my brother-in-law, Chuck Pefley. Chuck grew up in Spokane, and had more than several boxes of EPHEMERA that had come from the attic of his parents, some of it including some from his grand-parents as well. Chuck allowed me to go through what he had, and to take whatever I wanted. The yearbooks, from 1913 to 1916, are filled with 'good art' and perhaps I'll share some of it in the future, but for now -

I liked the Tru-Blu logo and color scheme. In early Spring my wife and I were on a trip to Havre, Montana to visit her family. We took a tour of Havre Underground, and on that tour I saw a tin about a foot square on one of the General Store shelves, and I took a picture of it. On that very same trip, I made a stop at one of my sources for old paper, and I found more than one piece of Tru-Blu Biscuit Company bill head. Further looking on the web led me to a photograph of employees standing beside a Tru-Blu delivery van. I did my level best to search out more photos of their vehicles, but this was the best I could do. I questioned old truck fans to try to determine from the photograph I had what type of truck it was. I drew blanks. I did the next best thing - I used another delivery van as a model. I wanted to get this piece ready for the Western Heritage Artists show in Great Falls, Montana on the 17th of March. So for now, this is a Tru-Blu delivery van, and that's all there is to it!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

1928 Chevy Truck, Like A Rock #2

This is the second piece of Highway Garage bill head that I've done with a similar truck depicted. I posted that one back in early July and then donated it to the Marias Museum of History & Art in Shelby, Montana, my hometown. This one is going to go with me to the Western Heritage Artists show the middle of March. I thought that the Highway Garage was in Oilmont, but apparently it was also in Sunburst, since the name has been crossed out at the top of the billhead, and Oilmont is written in. The company for which the service was performed was the Hardrock Oil Company. I have no idea if they ever owned a 1928 Chevy with a tank and auxiliary engine on it, but I used my Artistic License on this one.

I'm going to be working on another piece of territorial (trout) FLY PAPER, which I'll post as soon as I get that one done. It's also going to go with me to the show with as many more new pieces as I can get done between now and the 17th of March.

Friday, February 5, 2010


Join Marie, The French Factrice for more interesting and colorful examples of art that travels the mailstream and is definitely not on a leash.

Gloria is my sister-in-law. She sent my camera back to me months ago, after I'd left it on the ranch while visiting. So - I not only owe her a THANK YOU that's long overdue, but I also owe her MONEY, something which poor, starving artists have very little of.

There's a little colored dot that I inked onto this cover, between the O in Gloria, and the R in River, and it indicates the spot where she lives on Beaver Creek. The map was made long before there was a town called Havre. It was once called Bullhook Bottoms, but Founding Fathers didn't think that name quite fitting for the location. The farm (and ranch, since she deals with the cattle) is about ten miles South of Havre. Ft. Assiniboine is about four miles South and West of the present city of Havre, and about three miles North of the farm.

It was my mother-in-law's homestead, established in the early Teens.

It is beautiful country, and Gloria's a wonderful lady. I shouldn't have delayed as long as I did in paying her back or in doing a nice Thank You. I hope she forgives me.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Flying Pig Lunch PFF #18

I eat Flying Pigs for lunch. Not really. The postage stamp on this cover is celebrating the Year of the Tiger not the Pig, but I couldn't resist. I just got my machine back from the mechanic and wanted to make sure that everything worked properly.

Be sure to stop by Marie's little corner of the blogosphere for MORE Flying Pig Posts!