Friday, September 30, 2011

Star Play - PFF #49


This is a commissioned First Day Cover for Scott #855, Baseball Centennial issued in Cooperstown, New York, home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The owner asked me to put art work on the cover from a Cigar box label, and I had several images to choose from. I thought it particularly pertinent as we leave September and enter October, leading up to the World Series. We just may see a few star plays, although since we don't watch television, I'll have to see highlights on the web.

My love of baseball goes back to a sand lot on which we played as youngsters, but I'm also a fan of old ball parks. In particular, Fenway Park in Boston. I had the pleasure of seeing a game more than several years ago between the Sox and the Athletics. It wasn't really much of a game, but I brought home a Sox cap that I break out about this time of the season. You never know!

Make sure you visit Beth Niquette's wonderful blog The Best Hearts Are Crunchy as she hosts another edition of Postcard Friendly Friday!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Indian Motocycle - Contact Point

I paid a visit to my sister Judy several weeks ago. She lives in Shelby, Montana, which is where we grew up. My younger brother Dan was visiting from Puyallap, Washington, and I spent the day with them. Judy started the day off right with homemade Caramel Rolls, always a treat for breakfast. My brother-in-law, Tom, restores old Indian Motocycles and recently came upon a virtual horde of Indian Motocycle paper and related ephemera. We had a few minutes to look at some of it, and he gifted me several pieces that immediately caught my eye.

The piece that you see here is one that I gifted back to him. It was sent to Indian dealers by the factory in Springfield, Massachusetts, on what looks to be a weekly basis. This piece is dated October 6th, 1947. I also have several more just like it, although Tom is holding on to a number of them that are stapled together, as many of them were more than one page. THANK YOU, Indian TOM!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Ball Blue Fruit Jars - The Odd Ball

In February of this year I put up a post for a Ball Brothers fruit jar that was amber in color. That piece became the highlight of my room during the Western Heritage Artists show in Great Falls, Montana in March. I sent Thank You notes to Larry Munson who gifted me the paper, and Bruce Schank, who allowed me to use his photograph as a model for the Amber Quart.

A week after sending the Thank You to Larry, I received a manila envelope in the mail that contained several pieces of paper, one of them being the piece that you see here. There's more to the story.

Through further emails with Bruce, I learned that he had a Ball jar that he had obtained from Larry, and consequently he took several photographs of what he called the ODD BALL. I don't know how well I portrayed its oddness, but there are several visual clues that there is something not quite right about this jar, and I think they're worthy of mention.

Quality Control must have been sleeping when this jar was produced. There is a seam line running down the jar, and a huge glob of glass at the base of the seam on the inside of the jar. I tried as best I could to make a Cinderella of a Cinder Girl, and I think I succeeded at least in some small measure.

So a big THANK YOU to both Larry Munson for gifting me the Ball Brothers paper, and to Bruce Schank for sharing Odd Ball photographs with me, allowing me to put a Larry Munson jar on a Larry Munson piece of paper.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Owney - Postal Mascot PFF #48

Owney gets his dog tags

The United States Postal Service issued a Forever stamp on July 27th honoring a dog who 'adopted' Railway Mail Service mail bags - as his home - beginning in Albany, New York, in 1888. If you are interested in learning more about Owney, and how he came to acquiring so many tags that he had to have a special vest constructed by order of the Postmaster General, you can visit the official USPS Beyond The Perf  site for the entire story.

The short version is he rode in Railroad Post Office cars all over the country and became the Railway Mail Service clerks unofficial mascot, and now has a home in the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum.

Several months ago I received an invitation to submit a First Day Cover of the Owney stamp to be included in their permanent collection centered around Owney. I have been to Washington, D.C., but I didn't have a chance to visit the museum, so I can't tell you much about it.

In 1995 I created a First Day Cover for the POW/MIA issue. A pair of dog tags were pictured on the stamp and I chose a Montana man named Lee Nordahl as my theme, and I pictured his dog tags on a bamboo cross over a map of North and South Vietnam.

The use of dog tags to serve as identification of soldiers predates Owney, and the use of metal tags as we know them today dates back to the Second World War. You can read a short history of dog tags at this official site.

The POW/MIA issue dog tags immediately came to mind when I received the invitation from the National Postal Museum to submit a First Day cover honoring Owney. I know he didn't have a set of dog tags like the pair I wore, so I decided to create a pair just for him. Rather than include the city name of Albany, I substituted the serial number which would ordinarily be included on the tags with the Zip Code for Albany, NY, Owney's "home".

Make sure you stop by Beth Niquette's "home" The Best Hearts Are Crunchy to view more more wonderful pieces of mail art on Postcard Friendly Friday.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Breakfast Brownie Doughgirl

Breakfast Brownie Doughgirl

Original newsprint advertisement
Luckily, the newsprint advertisement print block that I used as a model for this piece didn't go to the dogs!

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 newspaper print advertising. One of the plate images is the source for my Brownie Doughgirl.

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.

If you are interested in seeing my earlier version depicting the Brownie Doughboy which I completed in September of 2010, you can see it HERE. The Doughboy image was also taken from a newsprint print block.

I decided to put the Breakfast Brownies Doughgirl on this piece of Brownie Baking Company letterhead because the companies 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.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The name is Hyatt - I'm Single.

In 1869, John Wesley Hyatt patented the process to turn nitrocellulose and camphor into billiard balls. The process was dangerous and the end product was just as dangerous as the balls were purported to explode on heavy impact.

I can find no information about the company whose letterhead this happens to be, but the most important information is contained at the top - They sold Hyatt composition billiard balls. They also imported IVORY GOODS, which up to the turn of the century would have included pool and billiard balls made of Ivory.
Since acquiring this piece of old paper in March of this year, I've spent countless hours on the web searching for images of a single stripe and double striped number 9 Hyatt composition pool ball with little success. Photographs tend to be too small of the balls in their box, and I simply couldn't locate anybody that had a set of double stripe Hyatts. Those I could locate were pricey - nobody but nobody wanted to sell a single number 9, and I could not afford an entire set. Way out of my league.

I visited the source for the paper (actually, in search of MORE paper), and I mentioned to him that I would like to find someone willing to take a photograph of a number 9 Hyatt, and he drew his breath in and went to the basement of his shop. What he came back with was a box of Hyatt pool balls, including a set of Snooker balls. He entrusted the number 9 to me, so I brought it home with me. Two days ago I visited the local billiard supply store, Paper and Felt Billiard Supply, with the ball and camera in hand, and took photographs of the ball on an antique pool table with green felt. One of the owners, Becky Zapata, turned the lights over the table on, and let me take some photographs.

Armed with the photographs, I came home and proceeded to try various sizes of the ball on my light table to come up with an image that would not only stand on its own, but also reveal enough of the text of the letter to make some sense of what this piece of old paper is all about. I will probably never find another piece of paper quite like this, and I simply couldn't wait to "rack it up."
The contents of the letter itself are interesting. Hubbell & Grote have sent a note to Bateman-Switzer Company of Great Falls, Montana, requesting clarification of their order. --- "...You have neglected to state whether you want the number 9 ball to fill in a set of single or double stripe balls." Could the number 9 ball have exploded? After all, he was single.