Friday, December 19, 2008

Hello Miss Pearl...

Mr. Peacock’s maternal great-grandmother, Pearl, was born and raised in the Chesapeake Bay area of Maryland, where she attended private schools and graduated from college. She lived with her very protective parents until she married in her late 20’s. Her parents highly disapproved of her marriage to my great-grandfather, Charles... and rightly so—he wasn’t the best husband, but was a good father according to my grandmother, LaViolette (Pearl’s daughter). When my grandmother was near the end of her pregnancy with my mother, Pearl came out West to help my grandmother with her soon-to-be newborn baby. Tragically, Pearl was killed in a car accident (by a drunk driver), just a few days after my mother's birth.

Decades later my grandmother, through serendipity, found a box of postcards sent to her mother Pearl when she was in her early 20’s, at a vintage shop on the East Coast. My grandmother paid fifteen to twenty-five cents to "repurchase" each of her mother's postcards. The price is handwritten with a blue ballpoint pen on the back of each card.

I love the calligraphic style of the sender’s penmanship. It reminds me of one of my favorite script fonts called Compendium. You can buy it here.

Being the sentimentalist that I am (read hoarder), I now have this fragile 100+ year-old collection of postcards in my possession. I like to think of these postcards as “text-messages” from the turn-of-the–century. They're from Pearl's best girl friends and male suitors—m
any of the cards aren’t even signed. I guess she knew who they were from. Here are some of my favorites:

The wonderful Halloween postcard on the left, postmarked 1907, is imprinted with, “All Hallowe’en…Oh maiden…Young, sweet and divine…If you have the dough…My pie is thine.” The postcard on the right, is a photograph of the Baltimore Post Office, postmarked 1906, with the message written on the bottom, “I hope you did not get wet on your way home from Pennsylvania.”

This lemon card, postmarked 1907, is inscribed on the back, “Hello Miss Pearl… How are you? Are you happy? I am a sick woman to marry a lemon… Sincerely, Addie.” I guess Pearl’s friend, Addie, didn’t pick a good husband either. The type on this postcard reminds me of a wonderful font designed by my design pal, Pablo Medina, called Vitrina. You can buy it here.

The "I Really Had No Idea" postcard is inscribed… "That you were so fine Pearl" with someone's initials on the bottom of this 1906 postmarked card.

“You know how much I love you… But I just cantaloupe (can't elope) with you” is postmarked 1909.

Mollycoddle… Male person who despises all athletic games, but Ping Pong, Tiddel-de-Winks and Casino” is a campy reference to a homosexual, is postmarked 1908.

One of Mr. Peacock's favorite books from 2008 is The Stamp of Fantasy—The Visual Inventiveness of Photographic Postcards, by Ute Eskildsen. This amazing book was published to accompany a traveling exhibition that opened at the Fotomuseum Winterthur in Zurich, Switzerland in October 2007. Mr. Peacock can only imagine how incredible it was to see this stellar collection of postcards in person. These cards are in better condition than my great-grandmother's postcards.

This wonderfully documented collection of photographic postcards from the early 20th century includes postcard ephemera of everything from complex Surrealistic collages to straightforward objects shot against white backdrops. It breaks the subject down into three major categories: Publisher’s Postcards, Studio Postcards and Amateur Postcards.

Here are a few of Mr. Peacock’s favorite postcards from this gorgeous book:

Mr. Peacock loves the glued feather pieces on the right postcard—the feathers look like “hair” or “some chic hat.”

The switched heads of the man in lederhosen with his dog, on the right postcard, makes me giggle.

When I look at my great-grandmother's postcards I can't believe how old they are. Who knows if we’ll even use postcards in another hundred years—but right now, Mr. Peacock still enjoys sending and receiving postcards. "The Stamp of Fantasy" book would make a fantastic gift for anyone who has an interest in art, design or typography. You can buy it here. I hope everyone has a “picture-perfect” weekend and please mail a postcard to a friend today!


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Sometimes it is good to go through old phases and eras, old stuff and belongs. The picture of post card revives the old memories of letter posting. The ad picture in the end is so much fun to see after years.

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