Monday, June 27, 2011

Vintage Marbles

Some explanation is necessary for this piece of old paper.

Let's begin with some information I gleaned from that fabulous resource tool, the web. The following portion is from the Newberry Library in Chicago, and is a synopsis of the business that generated this piece of paper. Although formatted as if it were a ledger, it is actually a billhead that measures eight and one half inches wide by twelve inches high. I have more than one piece of this old paper that contain line items sold by them to C. W. Rank & Company Drug Store and Mercantile in Virginia City, Montana.

History of the A.C. McClurg & Co.

Chicago publishing house and wholesaler and retailer of books and merchandise.

A.C. McClurg & Co. traces its origins to Chicago’s oldest book and stationery store which was founded in 1844. The young Alexander C. McClurg went to work for the company, then known as S. C. Griggs, in 1859. McClurg resumed working for Griggs after returning from the Civil War with the rank of general. S.C. Griggs lost all its contents in a fire in 1868. But when the store was completely destroyed by the great Chicago Fire of 1871, Griggs decided to sell his share of the company to E. L. Jansen, A. C. McClurg and F. B. Smith. Jansen, McClurg & Co. was established in 1872. The business flourished and in 1873 published its first title, Landscape Architecture by H. W. S. Cleveland. By 1880 McClurg’s ranked as one of the country’s largest book distributors. In addition to its wholesale book business, McClurg supplied to small-town retailers throughout the West and Midwest a variety of merchandise, including “blank books and tablets, stationery, typewriter paper and supplies, hair and tooth brushes, druggists’ sundries, pocketbooks, pipes, pocket cutlery, etc.”

Although the book distribution component of the company was more successful than its publishing side, General McClurg felt secure enough to start publishing the monthly literary magazine the Dial in 1880 and continued to do so until 1892. It was during this period that George Millard created the rare book section that became known as the “Saints and Sinners Corner.” In 1886 the company changed its name to A.C. McClurg & Co.

When the firm’s premises were destroyed by fire in 1899, General McClurg decided to reorganize as a corporation with shares sold to employees. He died soon thereafter in 1901. Little publishing took place until 1914 when the firm negotiated what turned out to be its most profitable publication, Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs. McClurg & Co. went on to publish 10 more Tarzan titles. Eventually Burroughs set up his own company to deal with all iterations of his famous character.

In 1923 A. C. McClurg chose to focus its entire efforts on wholesale work by selling its bookstore located at 218 South Wabash Street in Chicago to Brentano’s. The remainder of the company was finally liquidated in 1962.

Strangely enough, toys (rubber balls, dolls, iron toys, Sad Irons, games, and in this case MARBLES) are not mentioned among the number of items that they provided to C. W. Rank.

History of the C. W. Rank & Company, Drug Store and Mercantile

 I don't believe you can purchase any marbles in this business today, but oddly enough - it's still a going concern. The building was purchased from the original owner in 1889, the year Montana became a state, and it still in business today. For a little more history of the business, you can visit their web site HERE.

The Marbles

When I first decided to put marbles on this piece of paper, I began looking for marble images on the web - by name, since I knew that McClurg would have to have imported the marbles they sold, and most probably from Germany. Although clay marbles were first produced in the United States around 1890, it wasn't until Martin Frederick Christensen of Akron, Ohio, perfected, patented and produced glass marbles by machine. Up to that time, most glass marbles were produced using a long cylinder of hot glass, cut by a metal 'scissors' which had a cup of the proper size as part of the blade for the marble to be produced. The clay marbles as well as the older glass marbles are highly collectible. The Christensen company began producing glass marbles in 1903, and produced them through 1917.

In early May I contacted Joe Street from JoeMarbles about using some of the images on his site for models for this paper. He agreed to allow me to use any of his photographs, provided that I link to his site and send him a link to the finished image. Although I didn't use any of his photographs and finally learned how to outsmart my digital camera, I'm providing the link to his site because you can easily get lost if you're interested in finding some of your own lost marbles. Over the past twenty years or so, I've gathered some marbles that I enjoy looking at while they sit on the window ledge in natural sunlight. Indeed, to me some of them look like little planets. Some of the cobalt blue ones are very old and have been used repeatedly to the point that they look like a cratered moon. Even battered and pitted, they never lose their appeal - at least to me they don't.

Marbles Day 3

My son got married. He may have lost his marbles - but I seriously doubt it.

I'm back at my drawing table, and it's looking like I've at least another day of serious work left to do on my marbles - which I found. The photograph is one of three I'm using as models. Your views of my marbles may vary.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Marbles Day 2

After two days of trial and error, and a successful photo shoot, I'm going to post this now, because Day 3 is at least four days out. I've a wedding to attend.

This piece of old billhead paper is dated March 17, 1892. From A. C. McClurg & Company of Chicago, Illinois. It is an order for the C. W. Rank & Company Mercantile in Virginia City, Montana.

There are line items which call, by name, for at least four different varieties of MARBLES. What you see is what you're going to get. Except for Marbles #31 - #61. "We are at present out of Marbles #31 - #61".

More next week...

Monday, June 20, 2011

Buster Brown Reprise

In 1902 successful Sunday Cartoonist Richard Outcault, who developed the comic strip character The Yellow Kid, came up with a new character - his name was Buster, a little rich kid with a pompadour haircut and a (talking) dog named Tige. Bottom line is that Tige is believed to be the first talking animal in the comic strips, and it largely went unnoticed.  Buster had no last name - until 1904. That year at the St. Louis Exposition, Outcault sold the licensing rights to Buster to the Brown Shoe Company. Buster had initially been introduced in Outcault's The Yellow Kid strip, and reaction from fans was one of reasons Buster developed a following of his own.

In June of 2009 I published a post of a piece of letterhead from the Brown Shoe Company upon which I had placed an image of a piece of sheet music for which Richard Outcault had drawn his version of the song title: the Buster One Step That was a letterhead. This is the same image on another piece of Brown Shoe company paper. I have several smaller billheads, but the Buster and Tige images are really popular.

Now if I could only take some decent marble pictures for models, I'd be putting old marbles on old paper!

Friday, June 10, 2011


I need help with this one, since I think I saw this image somewhere, although I didn't copy it. Anyone remember seeing something like this in the late 60's? I had no web access and very little reading material, so if I saw it somewhere - possibly an album cover? Regardless. I made it mine, somehow. In South Vietnam. While staying awake. Enjoy. And let me know if you recognize the basics in this image. I'd surely give credit where credit is due.

Make certain you stop by The Best Hearts Are Crunchy for Postcard Friendship Friday hosted by Beth Niquette for more EYE CANDY that's been sent through the mail!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Chocolate Heart and Candy Rose PFF #45

I did this cover in 1999 for the United States Postal Service Love Stamp issue, and I had a friend living in Fort Collins who was willing to make the thirty minute trip to Loveland, Colorado, to cancel my covers for me.

Beth Niquette at The Best Hearts Are Crunchy is once again hosting Postcard Friendship Friday. I would suggest that you pay her a visit for more delicious eye Candy!