POSTCARD ADVERTISEMENT FOR LANGSTON HUGHES BROADWAY PLAY “MULATTO” (RPPC)

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This postcard is incredibly interesting in many ways. It is an artifact of theater history as well as American History (Race Relations). It also serves as an important symbol concerning African American History. The postcard appears to be simply an advertisement for a play produced by Martin Jones entitled “Mulatto”. The postcard offers rave reviews from New York newspapers. The New York Times reported the play was “Flaming with sincerity.” and the Mirror exclaimed “Stark realism”. The play was in it’s ninth month at the time of the issuance of this postcard and it was appearing at the Ambassador Theatre located just west of Broadway. Seats could be had for as low as 55 cents and for as high as $2.75. The play “Mulatto” was written by Langston Hughes. It was the first African American authored play to become a long-run Broadway hit. It opened in October (1935) and closed in September (1936) after running for 373 performances. The show then toured for two seasons. Langston Hughes wrote the play in 1930 and it was his first full-length play. The play covered powerful issues such as conflict between father and son, the power of class and whiteness, oppression of southern African Americans, and the lasting effects of slavery. The play also is seen by some as anti-lynching. The Broadway version of “Mulatto” was altered by producer Martin Jones without consulting with Langston Hughes. Jones took Hughes already shocking play and sensationalized it. Jones’s editing handiwork did not help Hughes’s reputation. The play, already emotionally charged, became very controversial. In fact, it was banned in Philadelphia. By the way, did you notice Mr. Hughes is not even mentioned on this advertising postcard? Hughes was much more than a talented playwright. He was also a poet, novelist, and social activist. He was one of the innovators of  “jazz poetry” and an important part of the “Harlem Renaissance”. He was born in Joplin, Missouri in 1902. He was left with his grandparents while his mother pursued a theatrical career. His grandmother’s first husband had fought and died for abolitionist John Brown. She helped shape his intense pursuit for social and racial equality. Hughes was an excellent student. In the 1910’s he moved to Illinois and joined his mother. They later moved to Cleveland, Ohio. After high school he lived a year in Mexico with his father and than enrolled in Columbia University (New York City) in 1921. He left school due to racial prejudice and held various jobs and published some of his writing. He received some harsh criticism from some of the African American community for his use of stereotypical African American dialects. He returned to college, graduated from Lincoln College, and continued writing becoming very well known. I mentioned that this postcard was very interesting from a number of perspectives. One feature that makes this postcard unique is the printed notation on it’s reverse. The “blurb” requests that theatre goers who attended a performance of “Mulatto”, write their comments about the play on the postcard and address it to a friend. The management promises to stamp the postcard and see to mailing it. This was a creative way to publicize and market the play to a “target audience”. This method was essentially low tech social media. The writer of this postcard utilized the opportunity to pen a message to a friend in Towanda, Pennsylvania. The postcard was mailed from New York in July of 1936. Referring to the play, the writer stated “You would like this. Remember our discussions on race prejudice in E. (Cornish’s?) class.” and “I know you would appreciate this”. One of the things that amazes me is that the writer actually discussed racial prejudice in school in the 1930’s and was interested in the topic.

LANGSTON HUGHES

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RARE VINTAGE POSTCARD ADVERTISING “HUNYADI JANOS” MINERAL WATER COMPANY

 

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This rare vintage real photo postcard features an advertisement for a Hungarian medicinal water company. The product is named “Hunyadi Janos” and it was produced by Andreas Saxlehner of Budapest, Hungary. On the reverse of the postcard is the advertising phrase “Le purgatif des Famiiles” which google translate reveals to mean “The family laxative”. Interestingly, the label on the bottle is more reminiscent of a wine label than a laxative label. The print on the reverse of the postcard is written in French, so the postcard was likely produced in France. Research reveals that Andreas Saxlehner (1815-1889) was the owner of Hunyadi Janos Mineral Water Company. The business was established in 1863. The brand was named after Hanyadi Janos (1407-1456) who was a fifteenth century Hungarian military hero. Janos was acclaimed for driving the Turks out of the Balkans and stopping a Turkish siege of Belgrade. Saxlehner’s company was very successful. His residence became the home of Budapest’s Post Office Museum. His portrait can be seen below.

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YOUNG BAREFOOT BOY IN INDIA WORKING AS STREET VENDOR (VINTAGE REAL PHOTO POSTCARD)

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This is a very interesting vintage real photo postcard that gives us a look at a young boy selling his wares on a street somewhere in India. Note that the lad is barefoot on a stone paved street. Ouch! The young entrepreneur is selling Wellington knife polish. He also has a hanger holding some type of material. I can not identify the item and hopefully a cabinet card gallery visitor can shed some light on the matter. I can tell you a little bit about the knife polish that is for sale on this Indian street. John Oakey (1813-1887) was an inventor and he established a company (John Oakey & Sons Ltd) which manufactured sandpaper and other polishing materials. Oakey began his interest in sandpaper while working as a piano maker. He then set up a manufacturing business in London in 1833. He later moved the business to Wellington Mill. Among his products was Wellington Knife Polish. See second scan below for a photograph of an antique can of Oakey’s knife polish. Advertising for this product was commonly seen on buses and trams in the early 1900’s. His sons took over the company after his death and took it public in 1893. This postcard was published by Thacker & Company of Bombay, India and manufactured in Great Britain. . It was part of a series (#122). Thacker, Spink, & Company (1853-1960) was a major Indian book publisher of literature guides, history and almanacs. They were also an early publisher of photo postcards. They had a distribution office in London, England.

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Published in: on December 8, 2015 at 12:00 pm  Comments (3)  
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SPIDER WOMAN: PRETTY LADY WITH A MOST INCREDIBLE HAT (VINTAGE POSTCARD)

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This vintage real photo postcard is truly fantastic. The postcard features a pretty woman wearing a gorgeous spider web style hat, complete with spider. To top things off, the hat is made of torn newspaper. This photo postcard is advertising “Le Matin” which was a French daily newspaper that was first published in 1884 and discontinued in 1944. This interesting photograph was taken by E. Rameau. The postcard’s stamp box indicates that it was published around 1916.

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Published in: on August 10, 2015 at 2:46 pm  Comments (3)  
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THE MOST PATRIOTIC BABY IN AMERICA

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Sometimes the cabinet card gallery features vintage photographs that are not cabinet cards. Some may find fault with the site’s occasional lapses of fidelity to the cabinet card era. However, I can not stop myself from sharing other types of vintage photographs in my collection. This real photo postcard is truly special. A cute baby sits in a carriage in front of a 48 starred American flag. Behind the child is a white picket fence. The only items missing from this patriotic photograph is a Chevrolet and an apple pie. The postcard was produced by AZO between 1918 and 1930. If you have an opinion as to whether I should be including vintage non cabinet card photographs in the Cabinet Card Gallery, please let me know by leaving me a comment.

Published in: on June 22, 2015 at 11:19 am  Comments (6)  
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