Monday, June 2, 2008

A Trip to the Curt Teich Postcard Archives.

It was a beautiful Spring morning and for the end of May in Chicago, it was very warm out this Wednesday. The Curt Teich Postcard Archives, part of the Lake County Discovery Museum, in Wauconda, IL was about a 45 minute drive from my house.

Arriving at the Lakewood Forest Preserve in southwest Lake County, I followed the signs to the Curt Teich Postcard Archives. I parked in the lot of a handsome colonial style home. Upon entering, I was greeted at the door. Apparently, the Archives are for research and by appointment you can personally view postcards. I was pointed towards the Lake County Discovery Museum just down the Forest Preserve road. The Museum actually displays the postcards and history.

The Curt Teich Postcard section is free flowing into a few rooms. The entrance starts in the beginning of the commercial postcard industry, the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Curt Teich postcards from all over the World are on display here. What a great time. There is a nice gift shop too.

Please enjoy some of the photographs (by Neil Jan Gale) I shot while at the Museum. Click on Photo to Enlarge.



















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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Some Memories of Shopping at Marshall Field & Co. State Street Store.

As a 13 year old boy, going downtown by yourself, on public transportation (the 155 Devon bus and the Howard-Englewood 'L' - now known as the red line.) was not so out of the ordinary. After all, I just had my Bar Mitzvah on my 13th Birthday and was now considered a man (really?). Anyway, times were different in the early 1970’s. I usually had a mission when going downtown. This time it was to buy a new alarm clock for my folks.


I would come out of the subway and go straight to the Marshall Field State Street store. It didn’t matter what time of the year it was, I always walked around the building looking at the windows. It didn’t matter if you were interested in the clothing, appliances, or home d├ęcor displayed, everything looked magical in those big windows. Of course the Marshall Field State Street store Christmas windows were legendary!


Once in the Marshall Field store, I would head directly to the toy department. Wow, what a wide selection of stuff. Stuffed animals (now know as plush toys), trains, model kits, the choice was endless. I made my way over the collectables counter where the stamps and coins were. I usually purchased a stamp from the 1940’s or 50’s since they were mostly under a dollar.


At the small appliances department, I would pick out 3 different alarm clocks and purchase all of them. The clerk would ask for the total amount. I told the clerk it was on credit and that I had the charge plate number but not the card. I explained to him that these were for my parents. They would pick the one they liked and then I would return the other two. I gave the clerk the account number from my memory, 45 – 143 – 148. Nice… I can still recall the account number from 40 years ago, but I already forgot what I ate for breakfast this morning.


The clerk would call the accounting office upstairs and they would verify the name, address and phone number on the account. No problem. Since my mom was hooked on chocolate, I usually stopped on the 7th floor to buy my Mom some. Charge it!


Oh. It’s lunch time and I’m hungry. The Walnut Room Restaurant served great food. By 11 o'clock the restaurant was already full and a line of people has started. There were two lines roped off. One line for parties of 1 or 2, and the second line for parties of 3 or more. Well, can you guess which was the longer line? Hey… I’m by myself. It’s only a 30 minute wait. There were only a few people in the 3 or more line. The couple behind me, perhaps in their 30’s, ask me if I would like to join them for lunch, that way we could get a table in a few minutes because the line was so short for 3 or more people. Like I said before, time were different back then. I did get a separate check because I was going to charge it, tip and all. Thanks for lunch Mom and Dad.


I did a lot of shopping at Marshall Field’s for my parents in my teen years. I miss Marshall Field’s. Why couldn’t Macy’s call the Chicago area Macy’s stores: Macy’s Field or something to that effect.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

"I WILL" Chicago Postcard Information

The Chicago Postcard Museum dedicated the Lobby of the “I WILL” Galleries today to Gregg P. Durham of Puyallup, WA., who has contributed to the growth of the Chicago Postcard Museum.

The Chicago Postcard Museum is extremely fortunate to have a generous benefactor and fellow “I WILL” Chicago postcard collector, Gregg Durham, donating many needed “I WILL” postcards to the Museum. In addition to the postcards that Mr. Durham has donated, he sent the Museum a compiled list of “I WILL” postcards and “I WILL” postcard oddities (presented below).

CHICAGO “I WILL“ ACMEGRAPH “C” SERIES (102) POSTCARDS – ca.1910

Postcards in (parenthesis) do not have the “I WILL” Crest on the face of the postcard. Postcards in red are still needed for the Museum's collection.

101C -- Coliseum Building, Chicago.

102C -- Federal Building, Chicago.

103C -- Wilson Beach, Chicago.

104C -- Lake Shore Drive, Chicago.

105C -- Washington St., east from Dearborn St., Chicago.

106C -- Madison east from Dearborn St., Chicago.

107C -- Orchestra Hall, Chicago.

108C -- ? --------------------------

109C -- ? --------------------------

110C -- Bathers, Douglas Park, Chicago.

111C -- Boat House, Lincoln Park, Chicago.

112C -- Majestic Theater Bldg., Chicago.

113C -- Coliseum at Night, Chicago.

114C -- (Responding to an Alarm.)

115C -- (On the way to a Fire.)

116C -- University Club, Chicago.

117C -- (Illinois Theater, Chicago.)

118C -- Garfield Park, Chicago.

119C -- (Twentieth Century Limited Leaving Chicago)

120C -- (Fire Department in Action.)

121C -- (Police Patrol Automobile.)

122C -- Tulip Beds, Washington Park, Chicago.

123C -- Monroe Street east from La Salle St., Chicago.

124C -- New North-Western R.R. Depot, Chicago.

125C -- Elevated Loop, Wabash Ave., Chicago.

126C -- Chicago Avenue Pumping Station, Chicago.

127C -- Siegel Cooper & Co.’s Store, Chicago.

128C -- Chicago Beach Hotel, Chicago.

129C -- Board of Trade Bldg., Chicago.

130C -- Fort Dearborn Monument, Chicago.

131C -- Whaleback “Columbus,” Chicago.

132C -- Stock Yards, Chicago.

133C -- Entrance to Stock Yards, Chicago.

134C -- Michigan Ave., Opposite Grant Park, Chicago

135C -- Madison Street Bridge, Chicago.

136C -- S. Water Street West from State, Chicago.

137C -- State St., North from Jackson Boulevard, Chicago.

138C -- Dearborn Street, North from Van Buren, Chicago.

139C -- State Street Looking North from Adams, Chicago.

140C -- Northwestern Depot from Wells Street Bridge, Chicago.

141C -- Public Library, Chicago.

142C -- Chicago Athletic Club.

143C -- Chicago Automobile Club, Chicago.

144C -- Illinois Athletic Club, Chicago.

145C -- Schiller Building and Garrick Theater, Chicago.

146C -- Colonial Theatre, Chicago.

147C -- Art Institute, Chicago.

148C -- Railway Exchange, Chicago.

149C -- Newberry Library, Chicago.

150C -- Cook County Building, Chicago.

151C -- Unity Building Chicago

152C -- Medinah Temple Chicago.

153C -- Ashland Block, Chicago.

154C -- Tribune Building, Chicago.

155C -- The Rookery, Chicago.

156C -- Masonic Temple, Chicago.

157C -- Republic Building, Chicago.

158C -- County Hospital, Chicago.

159C -- Commercial National Bank Building, Chicago.

160C -- Union Depot, Chicago.

161C -- Reliance Building, Chicago.

162C -- Illinois Trust & Savings Bank, Chicago.

163C -- Auditorium Building, Chicago.

164C -- Great Northern Hotel, Chicago.

165C -- La Salle Hotel, Chicago.

166C -- White City Amusement Park, Chicago.

167C -- Garfield Park, Chicago.

168C -- Humboldt Park, Chicago. – small letters

169C -- Washington Park, Chicago.

170C -- Washington Park, Chicago. – small letters

171C -- The Elephant, Lincoln Park, Chicago.

172C -- Lincoln Park, Chicago – small letters

173C -- Lincoln Park Chicago – small letters

174C -- Lover’s Lane, Lincoln Park, Chicago.

175C -- (Field’s Columbian Museum, Jackson Park, Chicago.)

176C -- German Building, Jackson Park, Chicago.

177C -- Beach at Jackson Park, Chicago.

178C -- Santa Maria of the Columbus Caravel, Jackson Park, Chicago.

179C -- Merchants Loan & Trust Building, Chicago.

180C -- Hull House, Chicago.

181C -- New York Life Building, Chicago.

182C -- Y.M.C.A. Building, Chicago.

183C -- Princess Theatre, Chicago.

184C -- Fine Arts Building, Chicago.

185C -- The Northern Trust Co. Bank, Chicago.

186C -- Home Insurance Bldg., Chicago.

187C -- First National Bank Bldg., Chicago.

188C -- (Washington Park, Chicago.)

189C -- (La Rabida Sanitarium, Jackson Park, Chicago.)

190C -- (Shelter House, Jackson Park, Chicago.)

191C -- (Lily Pond-Lincoln Park) – small letters

192C -- (Blackstone Hotel, Chicago.)

193C -- (Garfield Park, Chicago.)

194C -- (The Rustic Bridge, Washington Park, Chicago.)

195C -- (Lincoln Park, Chicago.)

196C -- (North Pond, Lincoln Park, Chicago.)

197C -- (Lincoln Park Conservatory) – small letters

198C -- (The new concrete building of Montgomery Ward & Co., Chicago) The largest of its kind in America.

198C -- (Montgomery Ward & Co., Chicago) Largest Mercantile Building in the World. 900 feet long, 270 feet wide, 9 stories high. Floor space, two million feet or 50 acres.

199C -- (Sears, Roebuck & Co., Chicago, Mail Order House) The largest Mercantile Institution in the world. The buildings have one-half mile of frontage.

200C -- (The Boston Store, Chicago.)


All Acmegraph postcards in this series have this symbol on the back.


Identical cards known to have no stock #s: 117C, 130C, 135C, 136C, 137C, 139C, 143C, 148C, 152C, 153C, 156C, 161C, 162C, 163C, 168C, 174C, 176C, 198C.

Cards known to have “The Acmegraph Company of Chicago” inscription back left edge : 118C, 122C, 123C, 128C.

Cards known to have red ink on the back: 102C, 113C, 134C, 136C, 158C, 166C, 193C.

Cards known with UNCO (United News Co) of New York red stamp on the back with the Acmegraph symbol: 102C, 130C, 131C, 137C, 138C, 151C, 153C, 178C, 183C, 186C, 200C.

Cards known without a “C” after the stock #: 178C

State Street Looking North from Adams (139C above) also exists as 137C.

198C also exists as 198C-1.

No stock #s:

*The Beautiful Marine Causeway at Riverview, Chicago, ILL., U.S.A., Showing the Immense Arena of “The Battle of the Monitor and Merrimac.” A Great Marine Spectacle Costing $240,000. Copyright 1908 by E.W. McConnell.

*The Immense Arena of “The Battle of the Monitor and Merrimac.” A Great Marine Battle Spectacle Costing $240,000. Located on the Pay Streak, Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, Seattle, Wash., U.S.A. Copyright 1909 by E.W. McConnell Riverview Park, Chicago.

*Principal Scene in the Great Naval Battle Spectacle “The Battle of the Monitor and Merrimac.” A Thrilling Reproduction of the Fight Between the First Ironclads Ever Built. Now Exhibited at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition, Seattle, Washington, U.S.A. Copyright 1909 by E.W.McConnell, Riverview Park, Chicago. Back: Regensteiner Colortype Co. Chicago.

*Postcard “Souvenir Folder.” Indianhead logo. “Greetings from Chicago” 22 postcards total. At least one other Souvenir Folder is thought to exist.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Hold to Light Postcards: Still amazing after 100 years.

Once I held up a Hold to Light postcard to the 300 watt light bulb the dealer had lighting his counter, I was mesmerized and I had to buy it no matter the cost. Luckily the antique dealer didn’t have many postcards and really didn’t value the HTL postcard correctly. I purchased it for $14.00 in the late 70’s.

What I purchased was a Joseph Koehler, die cut postcard of the Palmer House, Monroe & State Streets, Chicago, Ill. (see image) This postcard must have over 100 cut-outs on it. It is truly glorious when held up to a strong light. It is similar to a paper stained glass image. Don't' miss the Chicago Postcard Museum's collection of Chicago Hold to Light postcards.

Below is an explanation of the different types of Hold to Light postcards and some history about J. Koehler.

Hold to Light (HTL): when held up to a strong light, the moon, water ripples, windows, vehicles and other objects light up brilliantly. Hold to Light postcards are of three distinct types:

  1. Die Cut Postcards are triple layered cards on which certain parts of the topmost layer have been cut out, a middle layer with thin colored tissue paper and a bottom layer for the Address backing. When held up to a strong light, such as a lamp, the cut out portions appear brightly colored and illuminated. These cards generally highlight windows, the moon, flowers, or other small discrete cut-out areas.

  2. Transparency Postcards are more sophisticated. Also made of three or more layers, these have a 'hidden design' which is usually related to the front design. Objects, characters, colors, or scenes appear magically when the postcard is held in front of a strong light. These cards are classified in four groups:
    1. Day into night scenes.

    2. The color changes (usually from black and white to colors).

    3. A new image appears (which may or may not be related to the front image).

    4. A partial image appears or changes

  3. Slide Transparency Postcards are, as the name implies, a slide transparency sandwiched between two layers of a postcard. These are rare and hard to find.


Joseph Koehler, New York, NY;
Founded as a printing firm 1892-1911, they later began publishing view-cards in both continuous tone and halftone lithography as well as real photo cards. They have been well known for their early hold to light postcards, mechanicals, and exposition cards, since publishing an unofficial postcard set of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. While most companies stopped using the expensive chromolithographic printing method in favor of the cheaper halftone printing process, Koehler (a pioneer in halftone technology) had returned to producing chromolithographs. Koehler postcards have a very distinct style to them and is the reason why Koehler postcards are so sought after by serious collectors. All of their postcards were printed in Berlin Germany.

posted by Neil Jan Gale, Director, Chicago Postcard Museum