Sunday, December 18, 2016

50 Ways to Say ‘I’m on Vacation’

It would be blasphemy not to buy a postcard while traveling. Nothing says “You’re working, but I’m not!” like a U.S. state map postcard. Tacky, colorful, and displaying every advantage of each of the 50 states, they scream, “I’m out of the area and having a great time, as you can see by that water skier jumping over Mount Rushmore.”
Take for example this state card of Massachusetts, obviously an oasis surrounded by nothing but desert. Here we learn that the state flower is the mayflower, there is a colossal lobster living on an island off the shore of Gloucester, and the big swingers go to Attelboro to play golf. The state bird, a chickadee, hangs out near the Mohawk Trail, there’s some kind of a wild man waving his arms around in the Berkshires, and an airplane is getting dangerously close to Amherst. Meanwhile, a lady in a bathing suit is trying to sell glassware near the Nantucket Sound, and someone is painting a picture in Rockport. Without cards such as this, all of our true touristic knowledge of these places would be lost.

This is why I have framed my New York State postcard and hung it in the entryway of my home. Everyday as I am pulling on my mittens and mukluks, I can savor the sight of the Headless Horseman racing towards the Statue of Liberty, while a man in a fishing boat traverses the New York State Thruway. It’s chaotic, but it’s my state, hanging there in living color so I can share it with everyone who enters. 
- Heidi Lux #state #postcard #vintage # snailmail

Friday, September 30, 2016

That Woman in the Memes: Or, How a Gibson Girl Ditched Her Dinner Companion at a Dull Party

By Heidi Lux

You know the one. That jaded woman from the memes who slouches over her Champagne glass and tells you that wine is a vegetable, or quotes some other profundity about life.

Well I finally found her - on a postcard! She is actually part of a dinner party illustrated by Charles Dana Gibson (1867-1944) called “Making Bread Pills.” This Gibson Girl is clearly not the focal point of the picture; what’s more she has a dinner companion who is regularly cropped out of the memes.

At the center of the table sits a lost looking gentleman occupying himself, indeed, with making bread pills. If the couples on either side of him noticed they would be appalled, as this is usually an activity regulated to the children’s table. In case you’ve never tried it, Wonder Bread works best. You sit there unobtrusively tearing off little pieces and rolling them into tiny balls until you have amassed a good supply. You then use the bread pills as ammunition, or simply leave them on the table for the grownups to clean up.

At Charles Dana Gibson’s dinner party, the bread pill maker is clearly the odd man out. He is making the best of his time at an unendurably long meal. I had forgotten all about this skill, but intend to resurrect it the first chance I get. After all, idle hands are the devil’s workshop.

I’m so completely fascinated by this postcard that I may not be able to part with it. But I’ve just put up a small cast of other interesting characters at LuxPostCardsEtc. They are very meme-orable…  

Monday, September 12, 2016

Kodak and Dr. Nagel

The German Connection that Led Kodak to 35mm Cameras

By Heidi Lux

The autumn auction catalogs are piling up. As much as I love thumbing through all of their colorful pages, I must confess I always do a little dance when the Auction Team Breker Photographica & Film catalog is thrown through my door. It is a camera freak’s dream come true: stereo cameras, spy cameras, folding plate cameras, professional Leica and Hasselblad equipment…let’s just say I want one of everything.

And this month what a nice surprise – 24 lots of Kodak cameras! The section (lots 158 through 178) is mysteriously titled “Kodak (Dr. Nagel).” As a Rochester girl, I would have expected any selection of Kodaks to be titled “Kodak (George Eastman),” but after a bit of digging I discovered that Dr. August Nagel was the person in charge of Mr. Eastman’s German division in Stuttgart from 1932 until he died in 1943. Actually, to be fair, he owned the camera production plant, Dr. Nagel-Werke, before George Eastman bought him out, and remained on as its director.

If you go to you can check out the range of Kodaks being offered. Highlights include early 1900s Kodak Brownie and Hawkeye stereo cameras; two stylish 1928 “Vest Pocket” Kodak Vanity cameras in blue and green leather cases; an awkward looking 1937 Kodak projector; a 1930s Danish advertising poster featuring the Kodak Girl; and even some very early Kodak photographs of Cornwall, England, 1888. 

But be sure to have a look at Dr. Nagel’s special contribution, the Kodak Retina, the company’s first 35mm camera which introduced the 35mm film cartridge some of us still use today. Lot 172 consists of 9 pre-WWII Retina cameras with a starting bid of 200 Euro ($225). To be sure, some of us won’t be bidding in the Sept. 23-24 auction. But it doesn’t cost anything to look. Just don’t drool on your keyboard.

In honor of the occasion, I’ve put up a 1973 postcard of the Kodak Rochester, N.Y. camera works and headquarters on LuxPostcardsEtc. Anyone who grew up in Rochester remembers Kodak as “the Great Yellow Father,” the largest employer of the area. Visitors to Rochester will find George Eastman’s generous legacy everywhere: The Eastman Theater, the Eastman School of Music, the George Eastman House Museum of Photography and Film, and so much more. For more information on Rochester go to

Here is a link to the postcard:

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Five Fun Flag Facts: A Little Flag Waving About Old Glory

By Heidi Lux
The stars & stripes, the star-spangled banner, our red, white & blue… We recognize it by many names. Finding a flag postcard circa 1912 with only 48 stars sent me on an intriguing research mission.
Here are a few things you might not know about the American flag.
1. While flag etiquette says the U.S. flag should be raised at sunset and lowered at sunrise, there are some places where the flag is flown 24 hours a day. This includes The White House, the Town Green in Lexington, Mass., and Flag House Square in Baltimore, Md. A special act or law and proper illumination is required.
2. The colors for the American flag were taken from the Great Seal. Red is for valor, white for purity and blue for justice. In printing, the colors used are Pantone Red PMS 193 and Pantone Blue PMS 282.
3. The person most likely to have designed the original official U.S. flag – with 13 stars and 13 stripes – was Congressman Francis Hopkinson. It is not really known if Betsy Ross sewed the very first flag, although it would have been a good career move.
4. The design of the U.S. flag has been officially changed 26 times. This was done in order to add more stars for the new states, not just for fun and to have another meeting. The flag still has 13 stripes for the original 13 states. It always starts and ends with a red stripe.
5. Flag Day dates back to the late 1880s when a couple of teachers (of course) at schools in various parts of the country started holding celebrations. Flag Day is officially celebrated on June 14, the same day in 1777 that Congress approved the original U.S. flag design.
You can see more antique and vintage postcards here:

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Geithain Enamelware

Bringing Home the Milk Can

An “upgrading” project is in vigorous action, thanks in part to the very limited space in my tiny house. To say it was built by dwarfs for dwarfs is no understatement, as anyone over a certain height ends up horribly stooped in the entryway. 

The upgrading started last year when an elderly relative entered a nursing home and told me to take whatever I wanted from her house. Did I add that I have the key? At first guilt overtook me, how could I just walk in and take her things? That lasted about 0.5 seconds before I was over there dragging home anything I could cram into grocery two bags.

Unfortunately an epiphany occurred: Stuff in = stuff out. That is, if I want to bring antiques over, I am going to have to part with some of my own things. To make this more palatable for me mentally, I entitled this “upgrading.”

Upgrading consists of culling things that aren’t really old or valuable and replacing them with things that are. OK, some of the things I have acquired have been only practical in nature – out with the corroded old electric kettle and in with the new. But I also brought home things I really loved, like a ceramic piece by Kurt Feuerreigel, a book on a local castle, and a wooden box full of antique buttons. I have tried to be very thoughtful about what I bring home and make planned trips with my bags. But sometimes I just lose my mind.

On Sunday I went back for a brown Geithain lidded enamel milk can. I had just washed and rearranged everything on a display shelf in my kitchen and decided that the milk can would fit right in.

Enameled dishes, pots, and utensils were made in Geithain, Germany, from 1898 until 2006. You may even have one, if you have matching pots and pans for your Villeroy & Boch or other high-end dishes. The company went through this brown phase, which I really didn’t appreciate until I ran out of vases and started putting the fresh flowers my company brought to me in the enameled water pitchers. Boy, did they look snappy.

So having dutifully purged my shelves, I walked one block down the street to get the milk can. An hour later I came back dazed bearing a prewar, repoussé  tin souvenir box of Dresden; an oven-safe glass plate; a lusterware souvenir vase of Wittenberg, the city where Martin Luther tacked up his church doctrine; a bar of soap; a wooden rolling pin that makes cute animal patterns when you roll out the dough; oh yeah, and the milk can. I think future purging may be in order. 


Thursday, March 22, 2012

F. Earl Christy

Take a Big Spring Swing

As a college girl who hated sports, I took golf to appease the powers that be who insisted I should have physical education credits to graduate as an art major.

Somewhere there exists a video of me in a self-sewn, super-short miniskirt (with built in modesty bloomers) taking swing after swing at a poor little golf ball, but only chopping grass and flinging dirt. In between divots I am seen discretely trying to bob down and replace the golf ball on the tee without exposing my ridiculous bloomers.

I question my sanity in wearing such a get-up to golf class, but what I question more is the teacher’s idea that the entire class watching our “swing” could at all enhance any of our lives. I cringe to think where that video ended up.

At least I had freedom of movement. Can you imagine trying to take a swing with a driver in the outfit pictured on this 1905 postcard? The illustrator, F. Earl Christy, specialized in depicting stylish college girls. I may have looked ridiculous, but this college girl springing around in her high-collared blouse, tight fitting jacket, long skirt and heeled shoes looks like a recipe for a broken foot, or at least a fatal seam split. No wonder it looks like she’s waving a putter. They probably didn’t allow her to use a driver.

It’s hard to tell if she’s on the first hole or the 12th hole from the marker. But I’m betting she was always as glad as I was to finally arrive at the club house.

On the reverse side of the card, which was mailed from Waupun, Wisconsin, in 1908, H.O. relates in a firm girlish script that she is, “fine and dandy.” She wonders why she has not had a message from her friend and has placed her 1 cent green Ben Franklin stamp upside down and angled a bit to the right, meaning in stamp language, “Why have I not heard from you?”

My guess is that her friend, Theodore, was so overwhelmed by her ungainly golf attire that she twisted an ankle and fell into a sand trap. Of course that’s only a theory. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Glasses I Plan To Secretly Break in the Near Future

When I moved to Germany I naturally examined the glasses I “inherited” with a critical eye. 

Few were acceptable. Fortunately I was enamored with a set of 19 French amber glasses with clear bases, possibly from the 1960s, that are so badly made that some of them lean at a 20-degree angle. They range in size from mouth-full to fruit cup, and they are now characters in my everyday life.

But the majority of their cabinet mates had to go. In America I would just deliver them to the Salvation Army. Here my only possible choice is sadly the garbage toter. Thus, they have to be broken. A friend who tells me he breaks glasses easily has been invited on multiple occasions to visit and wield his skill, but he always politely declines. So I have stashed the offenders away, planning to secretly break a few glasses every month until they are gone.

Meanwhile I found a lovely set of green wine glasses at the second hand shop around the corner. Ten cut crystal beauties for 15 Euro – a bargain made even sweeter when an antiques dealer who was also browsing asked the shop owner “How-much-ya-want for those Römers?,”and she had to say, “Sorry, they are being bought by the young lady.”

I skipped home feeling young and happy, which is just the way a person should feel after scoring a deal on a fine antique.
I think the dealer was using the term Römer very loosely, as a traditional Römer has a ribbed base and a thick stem sometimes decorated with raised glass berries. You often see these pale green glasses tipped casually over in Dutch still life paintings from the 16th and 17th century.

My glasses are of a petite scale and the bowl, which is cut with a basket-like pattern, is mica thin. The four-faceted stems reflect light like chandelier prisms. If I am very lucky my new treasures date back to 1900 or possibly a little earlier. They could have been made in Germany, but I am so close to the Czech Republic it is possible they come from Bohemia. A recent glance in a shop window in Karlsbad tells me the Czechs are still busy making similar patterns today, in every color and for much higher prices.

I stand by my plan of covert ugly glass destruction, but I now have a new problem. When I cradle one of these green beauties in my hand, they just seem too fragile and pretty to use. Since I don’t want to be the one to drop them in the sink and shatter their long history, I’ve been admiring their sparking beauty from the safety of my china cabinet. It could take years, and a very special occasion, but maybe someday I’ll work up the courage to raise one in good cheer.