Submitted by Manphibian

The ever-present stamp of the Comics Code Authority.

William Gaines must be rolling in his grave — with laughter.

To be fair, the late publisher of EC Comics has probably been tumbling in his tomb for some time. It’s been decades since the once reviled output of EC has become revered as some of the best comic books ever produced. Now the thing that killed the entire EC line — with the exception of MAD — has joined Gaines in the great beyond.

The Comics Code Authority is no more.

With the decision of Archie Comics, the last line to carry to the familiar stamp, to drop the Code as of February, the Comics Magazine Association of America has nothing to do. Marvel dropped the Code in 2001. Bongo dropped out last year, and in January, DC dropped the seal from the few books that still carried it.

When I first started reading comics in the 1970s, I took the seal of the Code, the big “A” designed to look like a stamp, as part of the cover design of all comics. It was just there; by then, it meant little or nothing to the reader, although, as I later discovered, publishers still subscribed to its tenets and continued to be hamstrung by its strictures. It wasn’t until I delved into the history of comics that I learned of the fear that had created the Code and the havoc it had wrought.

I’m not going to tell the whole story here; to learn the nitty gritty details, check out “Seal of Approval: The History of the Comics Code” by Amy Kriste Nyberg. After Dr. Fredric Wertham published “Seduction of the Innocents” in 1954, blaming comics for juvenile delinquency, and hearings were held by the U.S. Senate and other government agencies, comic publishers decided to forestall any sort of government censorship by forming the Comics Magazine Association of America in September 1954 and adopting a code — largely based on an earlier unenforced code — to reassure parents that comics were safe reading for kids. It was the Patriot Act of the comic book industry.

The initial Code criteria outlawed torture, gore and glorifying criminals; it banned the words “weird,” “horror” and “terror” from titles, killing two of EC’s best-selling books; and it prohibited zombies, vampires and werewolves, thus wiping out the best that EC and other publishers had to offer in what we now lovingly know as the “pre-Code” era of horror comics.

The Code was modified in 1971, which allowed the classic horror comics of my era, such as Tomb of Dracula, Werewolf By Night and Swamp Thing. Other changes at that time allowed the portrayal of drugs — only in a negative light, of course — after Marvel published a three-issue Spider-Man arc showing Harry Osborn on dope. It went on the stands without the seal and still sold well.

Changes to the comic book industry in the 1980s, including the explosion of the direct market and the gradual decline in importance of newsstands, made the Code largely irrelevant. Publishers like Dark Horse eschewed the Code. The major publishers launched imprints designed for adults, and then began using their own rating system for their regular lines. In the end, not even Archie was submitting its comics to the CMAA for review; they simply slapped the seal on the books. After all, Dell had never subscribed to the Code, and heck, what parent today would suspect anything inappropriate from an Archie comic? (Although I’m not so sure about those Archie gets married story arcs, and Betty and Veronica always seemed pretty “grown up” for teens, nudge nudge wink wink.)

Did the Comics Code Authority save America’s children from degenerate publishers like William Gaines? Probably. According to Nyberg, the other publishers insisted the horror comics had to be sacrificed “as proof the industry meant business.” Gaines didn’t see it that way and refused to join the association. He eventually caved, since distributors refused to carry non-Code approved comics. He tried a number of “New Direction” titles that failed to take hold before devoting all his resources to MAD, which converted to magazine format to avoid the Code.

Had the horror and crime trend that had taken over the industry after superheroes fell from grace after World War II continued, who knows where the industry might have ended up. More likely than not, another trend would have come along. One thing is certain: to work within the Code, comic book creators had two choices. They could pump out bland, inoffensive stories such like the late 1950s DC superheroes (ever try to really read an issue of Batman or Superman from 1956? Painful) or the Dell, Harvey and Archie kiddie stuff, or write the sort of silly monster comics that Stan Lee and his gang pumped out at Marvel, until they hit upon the formula that led to the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man and ushered in the Silver Age of comics (yes, I know the Silver Age actually began with Showcase #4, but the storytelling and art didn’t truly define a new “age” until the Marvel superheroes hit their stride; my opinion).

The Code will forever belong to a long era of comic book history, its stamp indelibly marking hundreds of thousands of covers, from the excruciatingly awful to the sublimely wonderful. It was a product of its time, like the movie rating system implemented a decade and a half later, but lacked the wherewithal and popular support — or recognition — to overcome industry changes. Maybe the changes the movie industry is going through now, with on-line distribution and instant streaming cutting out distributors and exhibitors, will eventually make the MPAA system moot as well.

The Code certainly won’t be missed; it hasn’t been for years. I doubt many parents after that first generation knew or cared about the code. Mine certainly didn’t. By the mid-1970s, it was largely irrelevant. But it will remain forever fixed in my mind as a part of the comic books I loved the most.

Not something William Gaines would ever say. But he’s too busy laughing anyway.

 

White Zombie (1932)

199092_1020_A A young woman falls under the spell of an evil voodoo priest in this horror classic.

The Review:

Bela Lugosi
His beard in White Zombie rules!
I must grow one too!

 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5
 

The Midway Postcard gallery Volume 8 March 2011

There was once a time that I didn’t particularly care for amusement parks. In fact I was downright frightened of even the idea of riding a roller coaster. In college when I started dating my wife, she insisted that I accompany her to a local amusement park called Paragon Park in Nantasket Beach, Nantasket, MA. After much cajoling, and questioning of my manhood, she finally got me on the big wooden coaster, known ominously as The Giant Coaster. It was a harrowing ride, but when the train slammed to a halt in the station after the seemingly endless two plus minutes were over, I breathlessly looked at her and said “Let’s ride it again!”.

Such was the beginning of my love affair with amusement parks. It all started at this traditional trolley park that opened in 1905, and closed in 1985, only one year after my love affair with it began. Thankfully the roller coaster was saved, purchased by a park near Washington DC, that has since been folded into the Six Flags chain. It was renamed The Wild One. I’ve been lucky enough to ride it in its current home, but nothing will replace the feelings I have for that ride when it resided in a sleepy seaside town a mere 30 minute drive south of Boston. Because Paragon Park was so long lived, there are many postcards available from there, spanning from the undivided back era to the modern chrome era. This months column will show examples of cards from Paragon Park throughout the years.

First up is an example of what many of the early amusement park cards showed, ride or show buildings. The view is of the Trip to the North Pole attraction, a ride through scenes of the North Pole and its fauna and denizens. Notice the faux icicles hanging from nearly every surface, and the igloo and ice bound boat visible on the roof of the loading platform. This attraction was located around a central lagoon, a common set up of parks of that time frame. To the left of the Trip to the North Pole ride, is the Johnstown Flood attraction. This was a common attraction in amusement parks at the turn of the century, and was a show which illustrated with models, lights, and special effects, the devastating flood which affected Johnstown Pennsylvania in 1889.

The Trip To The North Pole Ride Paragon Park Nantasket Beach

Our next view is a beautiful close up image of riders about to take off on the Traver Airship Swing. Manufactured by the Traver amusement company of Beaver falls, PA, the Airship Swing was another common ride of the time. Much like modern rocket or swing rides, the cars would spin around a central point, which started out low to the ground and gradually raised until it was higher up in the air. Cards like this are highly sought after as they show the ride in relative close up, and allows you to see the riders dress and park signage, like the Fish Pond sign just to the right of the main car center.

Traver Airship Swing Paragon Park Nantasket Beach

This next view is another close view showing a now defunct ride called The Witching Waves. A prototype of bumper cars, the Witching Waves ride would propel the cars forward in an aimless fashion with wooden or steel rollers installed under a rubber mat like floor. As the cars were propelled forward they would hit other cars on the ride. These rides were short lived, probably due to the invention of bumper cars, which allowed the rider the freedom of propelling their car towards another patron, preferably a member of the opposite sex. As you can see this ride was situated on the center island which was surrounded by the lagoon.

The Witching Waves Paragon Park

Though it wasn’t the first roller coaster at Paragon Park, The Giant Coaster was the biggest. After a fire nearly destroyed the park in 1916, the ownership invested over $100,000 in building the Giant Coaster in time for the opening of the 1917 season. It was this beautiful behemoth that I first rode some 67 years later for the first time. As you can see the coaster was very close to the beach.

The Giant Coaster in the 1930's Paragon park

This view shows you what I looked out upon as I crested the top of the lift hill for the first time 27 years ago. The turnaround in front of you in this card, is the same part of the ride closest to you in the previous view. Both cards are excellent examples of views which have a great deal of eye appeal. Neither is particularly rare, but because they are both such attractive views, they usually are priced at $10-15 each.

The Giant Coaster from the top of the lift hill

The next view is a linen view of the beach, with park in the background which was mailed in 1942, with World War II in full swing. I’m including this card more for the back than the front, however. Because postcards can have such attractive views on the front of them, and those views are the reason people collect them, it’s easy to forget that postcards were a means of communication. A way for a friend, or relative to send a few lines to a loved one about what they were doing, or feeling at a certain point in time. My wife loves reading the messages on postcards, even more than the view on the front sometimes, and is often disappointed when the cards are unused. Most messages are rather prosaic, telling the recipient they are enjoying themselves, or asking a mundane question. They generally have little to say about the subject of the card itself, but every once in a while the message is so interesting, touching, or funny, that one wonders why anyone would have let it out of their possession. This is my wife’s favorite message on any card I own. It’s legible, so I won’t type what is written here, but the last sentence gets her every time.

Paragon Park and Beach at Nantasket, MA

Message found on previous postcard

This next view from the 1940’s is also an interesting story. It shows the street that runs along the back of the rides, and illustrates the many arcades, and games of skill and chance that littered the boardwalk. Also, the top of the coaster can be seen as well as the Traver Airship Swing at far left. This card was given to me by a man who was a patient of mine many years ago. He was a contractor, and was demolishing a wall in a house to increase the size of someone’s kitchen, and it fell to the floor at his feet when the wall fell. Many times in older houses, newspaper or any other available paper was used in the walls as insulation. I was touched that he remembered the conversation we’d had a few months earlier about amusement parks, when I had told him I collected postcards. He passed away a few years later, but I’ll always have this card to remember him by.

Linen view of Paragon Park game and arcade buildings

The last three cards I’m presenting this month are all chrome cards from the 1960’s. These cards are the closest images I have to how I remember this classic amusement park. The first is a nice view showing the lift hill and first drop of The Giant Coaster in the background. In front of the coaster can be seen a classic rocket ride with the distinctive silver rocket cars. The domed building to the left is probably the carousel building, the only ride that still resides at Nantsaket Beach today, saved by locals who didn’t want the park to be erased forever. Finally up front, on the left can be seen a small roller coaster known as a Mad Mouse. These popular rides can still be found in many amusement parks, some newer versions spin as they descend the tracks. The shtick behind a Mad Mouse is that the front end of the car will seemingly go off the edge of the tracks when the car makes very sharp turns, usually on a gently sloping upper section. If you look at the red, white, and blue car on the tracks, you can see how set back the wheels are from the front of the car, increasing the illusion that the car is about to come off the tracks.

Chrome view of The Giant Coaster, Mad Mouse and other rides at Paragon Park

Our next view shows a few more of the rides at Paragon, including a sad looking miniature train ride (not much scenery to see on that ride!), a Flying Scooters ride center back, still commonly seen at parks today, and The Looper, center left. In this diabolical ride, the circular cars would travel in a circle like a carousel, but the riders could move bars inside each car to cause them to spin in a clockwise fashion, while the entire platform spun. Excuse me, I’ve got to go hurl!

Assorted rides at Paragon Park

In the last view the Giant Coaster dominates the background, while in the foreground a Caterpillar ride can be seen. This is a rare ride now, though common in the past. There are about 6 left in the world, and only three still have the fabric covering that slides over the heads of riders as it spins. One of the three can be found at Canobie Lake Park in Salem NH. Behind the Caterpillar is another rare ride today that was common in the past, The Tilt-A-Whirl. To the right of the Tilt-A-Whirl can be seen the carousel building and a different angle view of The Flying Scooters. It’s a shame that Paragon Park closed, especially since it was still a viable commercial enterprise at the end, unlike many of its contemporaries. Paragon Park fell victim to greed, as the land was sold off to build seaside condominiums, many of which sat unsold for many years, until the state purchased them to use for elderly and affordable housing.

Giant Coaster, Caterpillar, and Tilt-A-Whirl at Paragon Park

Our sideshow postcard section features two cards that feature Betty Williams, the girl with four legs and three arms. The first view shows Betty as a 15 month old baby on one side, and is if to balance the limb books, has limbless phenomenon Freda Pushnik on the other side of the card.

Betty Williams and Freda Pushnik sideshow performers

The second card of Betty Williams also shows her as a young girl. It more clearly illustrates her condition, which resulted from a twin which did not fully separate from her in utero, and protrudes from her abdomen.  Many times these growths are known as vestigial twins, and are almost always a combination of arms and legs, though occasionally heads or partial heads could be present as well.

Betty Williams the girl with four legs and three arms

GLOSSARY:
The type of card will often help one judge its age, as postcard manufacture went through several phases and changes over the years. The terms below will be what I use to describe cards, and will inform you what time frame those cards are from.
Private Mailing Card: 1850’s-1900 Marked on the back as such, only an address allowed on the back.

Undivided Back: 1900-1907 Most cards printed in Germany, address only on back of card, front may have space for message. All cards after 1907 are divided back, meaning both a message and an address may be written on the back

Early Chrome: Mostly German printed cards that have printing to the edges of a photographic image that’s been colored or a drawn image. 1900-1918.

White Border Cards: Mostly American printed starting 1918-1930’s. Generally inferiorly printed, especially the earlier ones, as American printing presses had not yet caught up with the superior German ones. Obviously World War 1 ended German dominance of the then very lucrative postcard printing market.

Linen Cards: These cards are characterized by a thin layer of linen that is glued over the paper prior to printing, giving them a non-smooth surface to the touch. 1940-s-early1950’s.

Chrome Cards: Postcards like you are used to today. Printed photographs on glossy stock. These date from the mid 1950’s until present, and are almost 100% of all new postcards made since the 1970’s. Chrome cards prior to the 1970’s are called Standard Size, which indicates the pre-1970’s postcard size of 3.5 inches by 5.5 inches. Almost all postcards printed since the 1970’s have been 4 inches by 6 inches or what is known as Continental Size. Since I do not actively collect continental sized postcards, all my images are of standard sized cards.

Real Photo Postcard RPPC: This is a card which is an actual photograph printed on actual photographic paper, generally made in limited numbers by small independent photographers. They may date from 1900 until present day, and can be dated approximately by the markings on the back. They are the rarest and most sought after postcards by collectors

 

The Midway Postcard Gallery Volume 7 February 2011

This month we move south from Maine, stop for a brief minute in Maryland, and move back north into Massachusetts. Since I live in Massachusetts, I have more cards from here than any other state. This first month, I’ll be presenting cards from smaller parks where I may only have a card or two. In the next 4-6 months I will be presenting cards from Massachusetts by specific park, including at least three months just on Revere Beach, MA. The sideshow cards are back this month as well. So without further ado we move onto Glen Echo Park, located in Glen Echo, Maryland, a suburb of Baltimore. The first card here is an excellent example of a drawn linen card. It depicts the U-Run-’Em Motor Boats ride, and is obviously a drawn representation rather than a photograph. This was a ride where each rider would guide their boat around a course, much like the old fashioned car rides prevalent in modern amusement parks. Also note the airplane ride behind the buildings.

U-Run-'Em Boat Ride Glen Echo Park, MD

Next is another Glen Echo Park card. A gorgeous close-up linen view of riders enjoying the Coaster Dips roller coaster. Close-up views like this are always sought out by collectors. Postcard collecting, like all collectibles, is a game of supply and demand. Also like some collectibles, sheer attractiveness to the eye, also can raise a postcards value. This view is the epitome of a card with high eye appeal. Coupled with it’s relative rarity, this card usually retails for $20-25.

Glen Echo Park Giant Dips

With that we move onto to the smaller Massachusetts parks. With all the focus in recent years on building roller coasters across the country, many may think that we are living in high times for amusement parks. Before the Great Depression, however, there were thousands of trolley parks scattered around the country, many of which had a roller coaster or two among their cadre of rides. There are currently somewhere close to 500 roller coasters currently running in the US. At the height of amusement parks popularity there were over 2500 roller coasters in the US. A book I have on New England amusement parks lists over 60 parks that have existed in Massachusetts alone. Currently we have only Six Flags New England (once Riverside Park). The next four cards are from Highland Park in Brockton, MA. Brockton is a working class enclave about 30 miles south of Boston. Highland Park was around at the turn of the century, as is evident from the cars and dress of the people in the views, but I can’t find any information on when it exactly opened or closed. Since every card I’ve seen from there is pre 1910, I would assume it didn’t last much longer than that. Here you can see the entrance (a popular card subject), as well as the roller coaster at left, and a nice antique car. I have two other view of the entrance and coaster from a slightly different angle.

Highland Park Entrance showing Roller Coaster Brockton MA

This next view shows the entrance again. Notice the ladies at the left of the little girl in the white dress, as well as the detail of the shrubbery to the right of the front gate. Also notice the white area on the right of the card for a message. This is an undivided back postcard, so it was not allowed to have a message on the back. This card was mailed in 1908. The message at right reads “I Just heard about the Costume Party. I Suppose you are going. M.A.P.”

Entrance to Highland Park Brockton, MA

Next we have the same view, but instead of full color, this one is printed in a monochrome greenish tint. The limitations of this printing method are obvious, as the women to the left of the little girl have disappeared, as has the definition of the shrubs to the right of the gate. This card was not mailed, but someone has written in pencil in the white space right “B.M.D. Oct 11, 1906”

Highland Park Entrance Brockton MA

Finally we have one last variation of this view, which is the same as the previous card, except with the addition of edging glitter. If you look around the gate to the park, you will see that a thin line of glue was added to the card followed by dipping the card into glitter. There is also some glitter on the wall to the right of the entrance. This was a very common way of gussying up a card so that a premium price could be placed on it. Other than the glitter, this card is identical to the previous card. I bought both of them at a flea market for $1 each.

Highland Park Entrance with glitter

Next we move west to Mountain Park in Holyoke, MA. About 60 miles southwest of Boston, Mountain Park was situated at the base of Mount Tom and started as a trolley park in the late 1800’s. The roller coaster was installed in 1929. In this late 30’s, early 40’s card, the coaster can be seen curling it’s way around the park’s periphery, with a Traver Circle Swing seen in the back, as well as trolley tracks, and several amusement buildings along the midway.


The next card is another view from Mountain Park. This is a chrome card from the 60’s and it shows the Funhouse, which advertises a Magic Carpet on it’s side. The Magic Carpet was a sofa type seat on the second floor of a two story walk through funhouse. A lever is pulled, and patrons flop down onto a moving belt that transports them over bumps below to the first floor to exit. This was the next step from the Drop Seat which simply dropped your seat from under you and plopped you down on the floor. This card is hard to come by, as I’ve not seen another copy of it since I bought this one about 10 years ago. This card was mailed in 1968.

Mountain Park Holyoke, MA Funhouse

Further to the south in Fall River, MA, there was Sandy Beach., another late 1800’s to early 1900’s era trolley park. Trolley parks were so named because the owners of trolley lines would build parks at the end of trolley lines as a means to have people ride the trolleys on weekend as well as to commute. It was the prevalence of these small trolley parks that accounted for the vast number of roller coasters and other rides accessible to our forefathers. Some trolley parks, like Riverside in MA became larger, and lasted, most like Sandy Beach, succumbed to the automobile age, where one could travel to whatever place one wanted, and not be beholden to the trolley owners and their choice of destination. This is a really nice real photo card of the figure eight roller coaster. The figure eight roller coaster was the most common roller coaster found in parks in the teens and 20’s. Of the hundreds of them that were built, only one remains, Leap The Dips at Lakemont Park in Altoona, PA Notice the four person individual cars rather than a tradition train of connected cars. The A.V. Dubois Pro along the bottom is the publisher (and probably photographer). This card was mailed in 1910.

Sandy Hill Fall River, MA Figure Eight Roller Coaster RPPC

The next park was also a trolley park, Lakeview Park in Dracut, MA, near Lowell, about 30 miles northwest of Boston. It opened for business in 1889, and by the 1910’s had a merry go round and figure eight roller coaster. The Deep Dips roller coaster, seen here traveling over the entrance to the park, was built in the late 1920’s. This card, which is in near mint unused condition was published in the 1930’s. It is another card with a generous helping of eye appeal.

Deep Dips Roller Coaster and Entrance to Lakeview Park Dracut, MA

Finally I’ll close with two more sideshow performer cards. These are two more images of armless woman Frances O’Connor, the Living Venus De Milo. The first is a classic real photo card that was printed no later than 1942. Since Frances was born in 1914, this means she is in her 20’s in this card, no older than 28. As is all her cards, it is autographed on the back.

Frances O'Connor RPPC

The last Frances O’Connor card is a little later, as she appears to be in her 30’s. It is a printed photograph, not a real photo card. She retired at the end of the 40’s when her mother passed away, so this card probably comes from that era. I love the way she’s holding the drinking glass in her foot. Again it is autographed on the back. I have one more Frances O’Connor card from this same sitting (same outfit, different pose), but it is fairly rough condition compared to these.

Frances O'Connor The Living Venus De Milo

GLOSSARY:
The type of card will often help one judge its age, as postcard manufacture went through several phases and changes over the years. The terms below will be what I use to describe cards, and will inform you what time frame those cards are from.
Private Mailing Card: 1850’s-1900 Marked on the back as such, only an address allowed on the back.

Undivided Back: 1900-1907 Most cards printed in Germany, address only on back of card, front may have space for message. All cards after 1907 are divided back, meaning both a message and an address may be written on the back

Early Chrome: Mostly German printed cards that have printing to the edges of a photographic image that’s been colored or a drawn image. 1900-1918.

White Border Cards: Mostly American printed starting 1918-1930’s. Generally inferiorly printed, especially the earlier ones, as American printing presses had not yet caught up with the superior German ones. Obviously World War 1 ended German dominance of the then very lucrative postcard printing market.

Linen Cards: These cards are characterized by a thin layer of linen that is glued over the paper prior to printing, giving them a non-smooth surface to the touch. 1940-s-early1950’s.

Chrome Cards: Postcards like you are used to today. Printed photographs on glossy stock. These date from the mid 1950’s until present, and are almost 100% of all new postcards made since the 1970’s. Chrome cards prior to the 1970’s are called Standard Size, which indicates the pre-1970’s postcard size of 3.5 inches by 5.5 inches. Almost all postcards printed since the 1970’s have been 4 inches by 6 inches or what is known as Continental Size. Since I do not actively collect continental sized postcards, all my images are of standard sized cards.

Real Photo Postcard RPPC: This is a card which is an actual photograph printed on actual photographic paper, generally made in limited numbers by small independent photographers. They may date from 1900 until present day, and can be dated approximately by the markings on the back. They are the rarest and most sought after postcards by collectors

 

Altered (2006)

Alteredcover

Three men who were abducted by aliens as kids capture an E.T. to get revenge. Not knowing what to do next, they seek the help of their estranged fellow abductee.  Directed by Eduardo Sanchez (Blair Witch Project).

The Haiku Review:

Rednecks get revenge
Intestines are strewn about
This film is awesome!

Rating: 4 out of 5

 
When I started collecting antique amusement  park postcards, I shopped at local New England antique stores mostly, and grabbed what was available. That was usually the less expensive common cards. Maine has two small amusement parks now, but in it’s heyday there was only one place of note, Old Orchard Beach, or OOB (Oh-Oh-Bee) as the locals call it. There are a ton of OOB cards, and even though I generally only buy views with rides on them, there are plenty of those as well. I’m always looking for roller coasters of course, but I also like cards featuring dark rides and funhouses, like the Noah’s Ark ride at OOB. My wife hails from the great state of Maine, so we would travel up there often for weekends to visit her family. Antique shops in Maine were a treasure trove of OOB cards.

The Noah’s Ark ride was once a ubiquitous sight along the midway of American and European amusement parks. The ark would rock slowly back and forth as if on waves, while the “riders” walked through the structure (including stairs and moving floorboards). They are obviously an ambulance chaser’s wet dream. Where once there were hundreds, now there are just two. One is at Blackpool in the UK, the other is at Kennywood near Pittsburgh, PA. There was also one at OOB.

There for many years, cards of the ark were something I’d always see. Many of them were only a buck or two, so I’d pick them up here and there. Then I noticed something. Cards that I thought I might own already were actually slightly different from what I had, with different angles, or slightly different cloud formations, maybe a different paint job on the ark. Due to the longevity of the OOB Noah’s Ark attraction, you see cards of many different types and ages, from white border 1930’s cards to modern chromes from the 1960’s, each type with variations.

I started collecting antique amusement park postcards in the early-nineties, and the trend of finding strange and unique Noah’s Ark cards continues to this day. Over the years I have amassed 75 different postcards that show the OOB Noah’s Ark, or some portion of it, from it’s origins in the 1930’s until it’s demise in the 1969. By far and away more cards than I have on any other single attraction or ride.

The sideshow performer images will return next month, so that I can highlight fifteen of my various OOB Noah’s Ark views this month. When I started this hobby, I couldn’t have possibly have known that I would amass so many cards on such an seemingly arcane subject. Such are the vagaries of collecting.

First is the common “Greetings” postcard. This one is a multi-view showing the ark, pier, and beach, along with some comely lasses in those risqué bathing suits. This card was posted in 1938.

Noah's Ark OOB Greetings card

A second “Greetings” card, this one a chrome card from the 60’s.  It shows the ark, the pier, the entrance to the pier, and the beach. In addition to these two, I have 3 more “Greetings” cards from OOB featuring at least part of the ark.

Chrome Noah's Ark OOB Greetings view

This is an overview of the amusement area. In addition to the ark, you can see the Skooter ride (bumper cars), and the carousel on the second level above the Skooter. Note the great antique autos and the faux stone “Mount Ararat” the ark sits upon.

Overview of OOB pier

An unusual view as only the bow of the ark is seen, with the main focus being on the carousel building and the entrance to the pier. One can grasp a sense of scope of size of the mountain and ark from the adults and children seen nearby.

Carousel and Ark OOB

Another angle showing inside the carousel building, with the ark behind. There are far fewer cards that show the ark from the pier towards inland. Most views show either the ark straight on, or from the ark’s right towards the pier. This is a more expensive card since it is a rarer view, and it features the carousel, which is a whole branch of postcard collecting on it’s own.

Carousel and Ark OOB

This next one was the first close up view I owned (this is an upgrade from that card), but it still remains one of my favorites. It has a great sign at right that states “Noah’s Ark Bughouse Freaks”.  That was the sign for the freakshow inside part of the ark building. Also part was the entrance for the Coal Mine, a donkey drawn ride through a replica Kentucky coal mine. The Coal Mine was notable for Sadie, the donkey who worked the ride. Most pictures of Sadie show her as light colored, so it’s unlikely the donkey seen in this view is Sadie.

Noah's Ark and Bughouse Freaks OOB

The next two will illustrate one of the ways that variations can manifest. Both are American Art Postcard Co views printed in the 1930’s. Both are ostensibly the same image with very slight variation. See if you can note the four differences in the two views.

Ark variation number one

Ark variation two

First, the easy ones, the card number has been moved to the right. Next, the title of the card is now centered. Third the cloud formations have changed, and fourth, the overall color of the view has lightened from view one to two.

This next view is a close-up linen era card, showing the ark with red and white stripe motif. Note the Coal Mine attraction, as well as the roller coaster slide ride behind the ark  This card was mailed in 1941.

Red and White striped ark OOB

Another linen view at night highlighting the great neon and lit signage. This card also comes in a daytime variation, as well as with two different borders (white linen and orange linen).

Linen night view of ark OOB

This may be the rarest view of the ark I have. I bought it at a show for $4 years ago, and have never come across it again. It’s a postcard, not a real photo, but is a photograph. I would guess it is mid-60’s judging from the cars, but perhaps a bigger car nut than I could help us there.

Black and white photo of Ark OOB

This next view is a 1960’s chrome view, and since it has the same paint job on the ark, it must be of around that same vintage.

Chrome view of ark OOB

This scalloped edge chrome card is also hard to find. Again, I’ve not seen this card except for the time I won it on eBay. I paid somewhere around $5 for it.  The Coal Mine also perseveres, as does Sadie. Not sure if she’s the original Sadie or not.

Chrome scalloped edge view showing Sadie of the Coal Mine

I have a number of cards like this that I call “Find the Ark!” cards. Usually tucked into a corner or behind something, they make up a small proportion of the total ark cards I own.

Find the ark!

My final card is also a rare card that I‘ve seen just twice in my collecting time, and that is a close-up view of the donkey Sadie, of the Coal Mine attraction. Unfortunately, the Coal  Mine as well as the OOB Noah’s Ark was destroyed by fire in 1969.

Sadie of the Coal Mine

GLOSSARY:
The type of card will often help one judge its age, as postcard manufacture went through several phases and changes over the years. The terms below will be what I use to describe cards, and will inform you what time frame those cards are from.

Private Mailing Card: 1850’s-1900  Marked on the back as such, only an address allowed on the back.

Undivided Back: 1900-1907 Most cards printed in Germany, address only on back of card, front may have space for message. All cards after 1907 are divided back, meaning both a message and an address may be written on the back

Early Chrome: Mostly German printed cards that have printing to the edges of a photographic image that’s been colored or a drawn image. 1900-1918.

White Border Cards: Mostly American printed starting 1918-1930’s. Generally inferiorly printed, especially the earlier ones, as American printing presses had not yet caught up with the superior German ones. Obviously World War 1 ended German dominance of the then very lucrative postcard printing market.

Linen Cards: These cards are characterized by a thin layer of linen that is glued over the paper prior to printing, giving them a non-smooth surface to the touch. 1940-s-early1950’s.

Chrome Cards:  Postcards like you are used to today. Printed photographs on glossy stock. These date from the mid 1950’s until present, and are almost 100% of all new postcards made since the 1970’s. Chrome cards prior to the 1970’s are called Standard Size, which indicates the pre-1970’s postcard size of 3.5 inches by 5.5 inches. Almost all postcards printed since the 1970’s have been 4 inches by 6 inches or what is known as Continental Size.  Since I do not actively collect continental sized postcards, all my images are of standard sized cards.

Real Photo Postcard RPPC: This is a card which is an actual photograph printed on actual photographic paper, generally made in limited numbers by small independent photographers. They may date from 1900 until present day, and can be dated approximately by the markings on the back. They are the rarest and most sought after postcards by collectors
 

The Midway Postcard Gallery Volume 5 November/December 2010

Due to the busy holiday season I have posted this installment for both November and December. I will return to a monthly format in January.

We begin this month’s column in the Hoosier state of Indiana at a small park called The Enchanted Forest Amusement Park in Chesterton, IN. This is a 1960’s era chrome postcard. This park doesn’t hold much interest for me, but the ride this postcard depicts does. Called the “Swinging Gym” in Indiana, I knew this ride as “The Flying Cages”, at the park I grew up near, Lincoln Park in North Dartmouth, MA. One or two people would get in each cage, and by working together (or with the movement of the cage if alone), you could get the cages to go around repeatedly. This card has the best close up image of this defunct(?) ride that I’ve ever seen.

Swinging Gym in Chesterton, IN

Astute gapingmediahole readers may recognize this next Indiana icon, the Santa Claus statue at what is now Holiday World, but what was known when this linen card was printed as Santa Claus Land, in Santa Claus Indiana. Not many people have traveled to Santa Claus, but I’ve been there three times. The park is run by the nicest owners you can imagine, and you should see how well they get their many teenage employees to behave. It’s a problem at many parks, but Holiday World knows what they’re doing. They have three top notch roller coasters. They also have free soda, and suntan lotion. Check them out, it’s well worth it.

Santa Claus statue at Santa Claus Land, Santa Claus, IN

I don’t have many cards from Iowa, only two in fact. The other is from Arnolds Park, and is a nice, unspectacular chrome general view. This is a nicer card, however, from Riverview Park in Des Moines, showing the roller coaster turnaround to the right, as well as the bathhouse, bathing beach, and water slide as well. This card was posted in 1930.

Riverview Park Des Moines, IA

Until Six Flags sunk their talons into Jazzland, turning it into the doomed Six Flags New Orleans, Louisiana hadn’t had a major amusement park since the demise of Ponchartrain Beach in 1983. This aerial view shows the roller coaster, named Zephyr, as well as other amusements and buildings along the shoreline. Six Flags New Orleans fell victim to Hurricane Katrina, but Ponchartrain Beach closed due to neglect and lack of local support.

Ponchartrain Park from the air

Heading northeast from Louisiana, we go to Maine, and to a small amusement park just outside Portland, Maine, called Riverton Park. My wife’s brother, our sister in-law, and our nephew live a short drive away from where this majestic roller coaster, The Riverton Flyer once stood. This is a rare card, as I’ve only seen it twice in my years of collecting. It’s always nice when a view like this offers more than a side view, and shows you much more of the ride from its interior.

Riverton Flyer at Riverton Park, Portland, ME

A little south of Portland, also along the shore line is a place long popular with Mainers, as well as a staggering number of French Canadians in their banana hammock swimwear. This grape snuggling magnet is called Old Orchard Beach. Mostly an amusement area near, and around a pier, the fortunes of the area have waxed and waned over the years. Once the pier jutted out 3 times as far as today, but the enemy of many seaside amusement areas, storms and fires, have conspired to leave the place a shadow of it’s heyday’s heights. It’s now nothing but a broken palace with a decidedly seedy undertone. There are just a small number of amusements still standing, but plenty of t-shirt shops and tattoo parlors. If you every get there, do get some pier fries (only from the one near the pier not on the pier), douse them with vinegar, sprinkle some salt, on ‘em, and sit looking at the water eating them. As good as it gets.

Anyway, Old Orchard, commonly called OOB (Oh Oh Bee), by locals, has had a long amusement history starting at the turn of the century. Here is a quality view of Peck’s Prancing Ponies, a steeplechase ride where riders sat astride mechanical horses and raced each other. Riders can be seen at left, just coming up the last hill, into the end run turn, which you see before you. The station and lift hill are seen on the right.

Peck's Prancing Ponies at Old Orchard Beach, ME

Our next OOB card is a nice close up of riders on The Caterpillar ride. Another ride common to parks from the 20’s to the 60’s, but rarely seen today, The Caterpillar goes around with small hills, as you can see, but the green fabric that is can be seen here circling around the inside of the ride, would come over the riders like a canopy, sealing them in total darkness, as the ride continued spinning. Finally the canopy would uncover, and it would be time to debark. Canobie Lake Park in Salem, NH, a park my wife and I try to visit at least once a year, still has a working Caterpillar ride. I can’t ride it, though. They don’t nickname these type of rides spin and pukes for no reason. This card was posted in 1928.

Caterpillar Ride at Old Orchard Beach, ME 1928

The next card, also from OOB is a beautiful real photo card that I completely lucked upon on eBay. There are tons of OOB cards, most of them are “commons”, cards that you see multiple copies of everywhere, from eBay to flea markets, to postcard shows. There are a few that are rare, however, and this is one of those. I happened to look at an auction that had as its description just the words Old Orchard Beach, starting bid $8. I figured I’d see what crazy common card the seller thought was worth $8. It was this real photo postcard, and a second, real photo postcard showing a different, older roller coaster at OOB. I put it a $25 bid, waited out the two days left, and took both home for $8 plus shipping. To illustrate just how good a deal that was, I had in my collection a reprint real photo of this card that I paid $1 for years ago. It was clearly marked as a reprint, and I sold it on eBay as a reprint. I got $32 for it! If they only knew, suckers!

Cyclone Roller Coaster and Airplane on beach at Old Orchard Beach, ME

This next card is not as common as most OOB cards, but still comes up pretty often, which is why it can usually be had for less than $10. Generally a high quality view like this one, with a close up of the station, riders in the train, track work, the brakeman on the platform to the left of the train, the patrons waiting to board, would bring a premium, maybe $20-30, but in this supply and demand collectible world, there’s a lot more supply of this view.

Interior of Roller Coaster Station Old Orchard Beach, ME

Our last OOB card this month is another real photo card with an all too familiar theme as I stated before. It shows firefighters trying to put out the massive blaze that destroyed the Cyclone roller coaster in 1948. This postcard dates from sometime after 1950, as it has a Kodak back, and that trademark was not used on real photo postcards prior to 1950.  Kodak is basically the only company that still produces any real photo cards at all.

Firefighters try to save the Cyclone Old Orchard beach, ME

This month, our two sideshow cards are of the same performer, The Living Venus De Milo, Frances O’Connor. This beautiful young woman was born in 1914 in Minnesota, perfect in every way but one. She had no arms. Learning to use her feet at an early age as hands, Frances could do most household tasks. She toured, with her mother as her manager in the Al G. Barnes Circus, Cole Brothers, Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey, and the circus she worked for in this card, Sells-Floto. The stamp box marking on this real photo card dates it to no earlier than 1926, when Frances would have been 12. From her looks in the picture, I’d say she was between 12 and 14 , so this card dates from between 1926 and 1930 or so.

Frances O'Connor The Living Venus De Milo age 12-16?

As with all of her postcards, Frances always autographed the back of each one with her feet. Her penmanship is astounding considering her situation. This autograph is from the back of this Sells-Floto postcard.

Frances O'Connor autograph, back of card

This last card depicts Frances as a slightly older young woman, probably late teens, early twenties. Notice her now wearing a skirt, as to show a bit more leg than was common at the time. This no doubt endeared her to her male audience. In this postcard she holds a glass. Frances was one of the stars of a classic film, Freaks, which was originally released in 1932. The story takes place in a circus sideshow, and director Tod Browning chose to use actual contemporary sideshow performers. In addition to Frances they included such luminaries in the sideshow world as Harry and Daisy Earle, the limbless Prince Randian, Siamese twins Daisy and Violet Hilton, Schlitzie the Pinhead, and the so called King of the Freaks, Johnny Eck, the legless wonder.

Frances O'Connnor The Living Venus De Milo

GLOSSARY:
The type of card will often help one judge its age, as postcard manufacture went through several phases and changes over the years. The terms below will be what I use to describe cards, and will inform you what time frame those cards are from.
Private Mailing Card: 1850’s-1900 Marked on the back as such, only an address allowed on the back.

Undivided Back: 1900-1907 Most cards printed in Germany, address only on back of card, front may have space for message. All cards after 1907 are divided back, meaning both a message and an address may be written on the back

Early Chrome: Mostly German printed cards that have printing to the edges of a photographic image that’s been colored or a drawn image. 1900-1918.

White Border Cards: Mostly American printed starting 1918-1930’s. Generally inferiorly printed, especially the earlier ones, as American printing presses had not yet caught up with the superior German ones. Obviously World War 1 ended German dominance of the then very lucrative postcard printing market.

Linen Cards: These cards are characterized by a thin layer of linen that is glued over the paper prior to printing, giving them a non-smooth surface to the touch. 1940-s-early1950’s.

Chrome Cards: Postcards like you are used to today. Printed photographs on glossy stock. These date from the mid 1950’s until present, and are almost 100% of all new postcards made since the 1970’s. Chrome cards prior to the 1970’s are called Standard Size, which indicates the pre-1970’s postcard size of 3.5 inches by 5.5 inches. Almost all postcards printed since the 1970’s have been 4 inches by 6 inches or what is known as Continental Size. Since I do not actively collect continental sized postcards, all my images are of standard sized cards.

Real Photo Postcard RPPC: This is a card which is an actual photograph printed on actual photographic paper, generally made in limited numbers by small independent photographers. They may date from 1900 until present day, and can be dated approximately by the markings on the back. They are the rarest and most sought after postcards by collectors

 

The X-Files: I Want To Believe (2008)

xfilesmovie Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully return to action in this 2008 attempt to reboot the beloved television series as a film franchise.  The case that brings them out of retirement revolves around a missing FBI agent and a psychic ex-priest who seems to know where she’s being held.
The Review:

I want to believe
No, really I wanted to
Please let me forget

Rating: 1.5 out of 5

 

The Midway Postcard Gallery Volume 4 October 2010

For this month, we’ll be making a quick stop in Florida, followed by an extended stay in Illinois. We also will have two more sideshow performer cards to discuss. So without further ado, we have first an example of how sex sells everything, even postcards. Here we have a view of a comely lass on the helicopter ride at the defunct Miracle Strip Amusement Park, Panama City, Florida. People weren’t buying this one for the ride! In back you can see part of the wonderful Skyliner roller coaster which once stood at Miracle Strip, was moved to Cypress Gardens, FL, and is currently being shopped around for a buyer, as it is not in the plans of the new owners of Cypress Gardens. Anyone want to buy a first class roller coaster?

Panama City Florida

Next up is a nice view of the Steeplechase ride at Forest Park, near Chicago, Illinois. The horses can be seen approaching the viewer on the separate tracks. The steeplechase ride was a pseudo roller coaster where 1-3 riders would scale each horse on separate tracks and race each other through the circuit. I rode a similar ride to this (the last one that existed) called the Soap-box Derby Racers at Knott’s Berry Farm in California. The ride used motorcycles when I rode it, and later converted to using enclosed soap-box derby cars. It was dismantled sometime in the 80’s. Note the roller coaster in the background as well as the Shoot the Chutes ride on the left.

Forest Park

Next is a close-up image of three happy young women riding the same Steeplechase ride at Forest Park. Close-up views like this one are popular as you can really see how the ride operated, and it also shows off the ladies hats and other attire. This card was mailed in 1912.

Steeplechase

One of my favorite types of rides are dark rides, where you walk or ride through spooky scenes and such. This next view nicely illustrates the Hell Gate ride at Riverview Park in Chicago, Illinois. Hell Gate was a boat ride, that probably took you past scenes with skeletons and devils. Often these early dark rides were morality tales where one could see what happened to the non-virtuous. Note the riders in boats in the front of the card.

Hell gate

Another dark ride is seen here in a killer view of the Devil’s Gorge at White City Amusement Park 63rd street and So Park Ave Chicago, Illinois. Along with the obvious and awesome devil sculpture that graces the front of the ride, also note the devil’s head inside right where your car, or more probably boat enters the ride.

Devils Gorge

Here is an overview of the White City Amusement Park in Chicago. The central lagoon was almost iconic in these old parks, where the barely visible Shoot the Chutes ride can be seen. Also note the elaborate and ornate buildings left and right front, the roller coaster running along the back left, and the entrance to the Devil’s Gorge ride left. Both these cards date from the between 1910 and 1920.

White City

Next we have another common attraction in the early days of amusement parks, the Fire and Flame Spectacular. At this show, several buildings in the park would seem to spontaneously burst into flame. The fire brigade would be called out, and horse drawn fire buggies would race through the park to the buildings on fire and extinguish them. This illusion was accomplished by using gas jets which spewed fire through the windows and atop the buildings, and heavy layers of asbestos to protect the buildings from actually burning. As the fire brigade started to put the fire out, the gas would be slowly lowered, and the crisis would be averted! This view shows the buildings at right ablaze. The speckling you see is from glitter that has been hand applied to the card. Also common at this time in history (1900-1910) was this glitter application. Postcard nerds like myself attempt to collect the view in glittered and non-glittered versions if possible. This card has also been trimmed on top. This may have happened at the time of printing, or more probably later by a dealer to remove a possibly rough edge.

Fire

Our final amusement park card is from the Midway of the Century of Progress Exposition from Chicago in 1933. From right to left you can see the buildings for Carter the Great at The Temple of Mystery, then an exhibit that advertises “A Real Two-Headed Baby”, no telling what that was, perhaps a “pickled punk” which was either a real (rarely) or faked (gaffed) two-headed baby in a jar filled with formaldehyde. The last building on the left is the Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum, filled with curiosities and live sideshow performers, some of which you will see in the last card this month.

Midway

First up on the sideshow cards is a wonderful image of Chaffer’s Wonder Midgets, a French troupe of over 20 little people. Little people cards are the most common of sideshow performer cards as there were more little people born than those with more extreme afflictions. This card dates from between 1908 and 1920.

Wonder Midgets

Finally we have a 4 image view of sideshow performers who were attractions inside the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum at the aforementioned Century of Progress in Chicago in 1933. From left to right we have the most famous of all the “alligator skinned” men, John Williams. Next is Agnes Schmidt, afflicted with a skin disease that causes great folds of skin to form. Next is the very unfortunate Arthur Loos, who really must have had a hell of a time going out in public. Finally we have Leopold Williams, the Leopard Skinned man, an African American with vitiligo.

Sideshow

GLOSSARY:
The type of card will often help one judge its age, as postcard manufacture went through several phases and changes over the years. The terms below will be what I use to describe cards, and will inform you what time frame those cards are from.
Private Mailing Card: 1850’s-1900 Marked on the back as such, only an address allowed on the back.

Undivided Back: 1900-1907 Most cards printed in Germany, address only on back of card, front may have space for message. All cards after 1907 are divided back, meaning both a message and an address may be written on the back

Early Chrome: Mostly German printed cards that have printing to the edges of a photographic image that’s been colored or a drawn image. 1900-1918.

White Border Cards: Mostly American printed starting 1918-1930’s. Generally inferiorly printed, especially the earlier ones, as American printing presses had not yet caught up with the superior German ones. Obviously World War 1 ended German dominance of the then very lucrative postcard printing market.

Linen Cards: These cards are characterized by a thin layer of linen that is glued over the paper prior to printing, giving them a non-smooth surface to the touch. 1940-s-early1950’s.

Chrome Cards: Postcards like you are used to today. Printed photographs on glossy stock. These date from the mid 1950’s until present, and are almost 100% of all new postcards made since the 1970’s. Chrome cards prior to the 1970’s are called Standard Size, which indicates the pre-1970’s postcard size of 3.5 inches by 5.5 inches. Almost all postcards printed since the 1970’s have been 4 inches by 6 inches or what is known as Continental Size. Since I do not actively collect continental sized postcards, all my images are of standard sized cards.

Real Photo Postcard RPPC: This is a card which is an actual photograph printed on actual photographic paper, generally made in limited numbers by small independent photographers. They may date from 1900 until present day, and can be dated approximately by the markings on the back. They are the rarest and most sought after postcards by collectors

 

The Midway Postcard Gallery Volume 3 September 2010

Due to the large number of cards I have in my collection, I have decided to start showing 8 amusement, and two alternative cards each month. Fresh from our visit to California over the past two months, this month we’ll be speeding through two different states, Colorado and Connecticut.

First up is an early chrome back card postmarked 1907 or 1917, it’s difficult to tell. One of my favorite things about these used older cards is how they are addressed. Imagine a United States so small in population, that a postcard marked only Miss Ruby Fleming Mt Olive Ill would be delivered. This card shows the Tickler ride at Lakeside Park in Denver, CO. This park is still in operation, and is really beautiful with it’s period 1930’s Art Deco buildings and ride platforms. The Tickler is sadly not still in operation. As you can see, it’s a simpler version of a Virginia Reel ride as seen in installment two of this series. Clearly these rides must have been rough as you are basically inside a spinning checker as it makes it’s way down a pegboard. I also love the period dresses on the ladies waiting to ride.

Next up is another card from Lakeside, this one a linen card from the 1940’s showing the amazing art deco exterior of the Cyclone roller coaster’s loading platform. You can’t see this detail on the card, but the wrought iron fence that you can see in the card has figural riders in roller coaster cars on it. Very nice touch. I purchased two sets of these vintage 1940’s cards when I attended an ACE (American Coaster Enthusiasts) event at Lakeside about 5 years ago. They just brought out a bunch from the back. All the postcard geeks were abuzz. I think they sold them $15 for a set of 10, I sold my second set for about $6 a card on eBay, so it worked out!

Next is our first card from Connecticut, an aerial view of the park which holds the record as the longest continuously operating amusement park in America, Lake Compounce, in Bristol, CT. Started as a picnic park around the lake in 1846, rides first started appearing at Lake Compounce in the late 1890’s. The roller coaster seen in this aerial, is the 1927 Wildcat, still thrilling riders today, better than ever after some re-tracking was done by the new owners within the past few seasons. This is not a real photo card, even though it appears to be, it is not on photographic paper, and is simply a 1940-s-1950’s era black and white postcard.

Our next slice of Americana is from a tiny nearly forgotten park near Norwalk, Connecticut called Roton Point. This card was posted in 1915, and it is very unusual for it’s time in it’s depiction of an African American woman and children prominently on the card (in a non-racist manner). Also visible is the roller coaster that runs along the beach, which seems in construct to be a scenic railway type of ride common at the time. Cards from this park can sell for quite a bit of money as they are quite rare. It is difficult to find this particular card for under $25.


Although Lake Compounce is the oldest park in Connecticut, the best known was the late, lamented Savin Rock, in West Haven, Connecticut. This image is of the White City Flyer, an early coaster at the park. This is from the early 1920’s. Note the section of water ride that can be seen in the foreground of the coaster.

The Best known coaster at Savin Rock was the Harry Traver built Thunderbolt. Harry Traver was one of the giants in the amusement park field in the area of ride manufacture. The coasters that were built by his company were said to be some of the fiercest and most thrilling rides to ever grace the Earth. This beautiful 1940’s linen card shows the Thunderbolt in all it’s glory, sinuously sitting on a pier, like an alligator waiting to strike. One can only imagine what kind of ride Travers creations were, but just wait, we haven’t seen the wildest ones he made yet.

These next two cards illustrate one of the things that I think are the coolest about this hobby. Because printed postcards could be reproduced quickly, major changes to the way things looked could be documented in a short time, so that the patron would be buying a card that accurately showed what the area looked like when they visited. Here is a view of the Savin Rock Liberty Pier. This card was mailed in 1927, and it was purchased on that date, because the note on the back said that “It took us an hour and a quarter to walk around here and see the place., Having a fine time.” So this card accurately shows what the pier looked like in 1927.

Here is another card. This card depicts the pier with the Bluebeard’s Castle Funhouse attraction. A walk through fun house with tilted floor rooms, spinning discs in floors, drop seats, mirror maze, the whole bit. You would enter through one giant Bluebeard Head and exit the other. The castles are part of the attraction (notice they are NOT in the previous card). The whole pier including Bluebeard’s Castle burned to the ground in a massive fire in 1932. Therefore we know that the other card was published sometime in a small window of 1928-1932. I like how the coaster and food concessions are among the only things that didn’t change.

The following two images continue to illustrate my collection of sideshow performer cards, both of which feature the Doll Family. The first is a linen card from the late 30’s early 40’s showing all four siblings, Grace, Harry, Daisy, and Tiny. On the bottom of the card the order is wrong, it should read Grace, Daisy, Tiny, Harry.

The second card is a much rarer image of the two most famous of the Doll Family, Grace and Harry, co-stars of Tod Browning’s Freaks. Born with the real last name Schneider, the family went by the surname Doll for a while, finally settling on Earle, after performing for a Bert Earles who brought them over to the US from Germany. This real photo card (based on their birthdays) was taken sometime after April 3rd, in the year of 1923.

GLOSSARY:
The type of card will often help one judge its age, as postcard manufacture went through several phases and changes over the years. The terms below will be what I use to describe cards, and will inform you what time frame those cards are from.
Private Mailing Card: 1850’s-1900 Marked on the back as such, only an address allowed on the back.

Undivided Back: 1900-1907 Most cards printed in Germany, address only on back of card, front may have space for message. All cards after 1907 are divided back, meaning both a message and an address may be written on the back

Early Chrome: Mostly German printed cards that have printing to the edges of a photographic image that’s been colored or a drawn image. 1900-1918.

White Border Cards: Mostly American printed starting 1918-1930’s. Generally inferiorly printed, especially the earlier ones, as American printing presses had not yet caught up with the superior German ones. Obviously World War 1 ended German dominance of the then very lucrative postcard printing market.

Linen Cards: These cards are characterized by a thin layer of linen that is glued over the paper prior to printing, giving them a non-smooth surface to the touch. 1940-s-early1950’s.

Chrome Cards: Postcards like you are used to today. Printed photographs on glossy stock. These date from the mid 1950’s until present, and are almost 100% of all new postcards made since the 1970’s. Chrome cards prior to the 1970’s are called Standard Size, which indicates the pre-1970’s postcard size of 3.5 inches by 5.5 inches. Almost all postcards printed since the 1970’s have been 4 inches by 6 inches or what is known as Continental Size. Since I do not actively collect continental sized postcards, all my images are of standard sized cards.

Real Photo Postcard RPPC: This is a card which is an actual photograph printed on actual photographic paper, generally made in limited numbers by small independent photographers. They may date from 1900 until present day, and can be dated approximately by the markings on the back. They are the rarest and most sought after postcards by collectors

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