Friday, October 30, 2009

British Super Ocean Liners of the 1890's ...Pictures from cigarette cards of the era

In the 1890's, the ocean liner was reaching a large sense of improvement. improvement in size, safety, quality, and lastly speed. The age of a 5 day voyage from Europe had arrived. The three greyhounds pictured in the cigarette cards were the major liners of the last decade for the British. In the late 19th century the German greyhounds put the British ones to shame. But all I have at the moment are the British ships and I thought that it would be nice to share these. The Campania and Lucania were from 1893, while the Oceanic was from 1899.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Welcome to the Hotel New Yorker!! This was an ad that was fine in 1930, but today would raise the roof!

Well this is the bare facts when it comes to this ad. The Hotel New Yorker opened its doors in 1930, the same year this cute drawing was released.

A farwell letter to the doughboys in Europe in early 1919 by the commanding general, John J. Pershing.

A few little cards from the Astor Hotel in New York City

The Astor Hotel on Times Square was an institution. It was a place where people met stayed danced and frolicked for near 70 years. When it was removed for an ugly tower in 1967, it was a sad day for New York. Here are some items from when the Astor was a very special place in New York City.

A letter from Walter Winchell 1933.... A man loved, hated and feared!

Walter Winchell was loved, hated, but most of all feared. He was the critic of critics. If you were liked by him you were in like Flynn. If you were not liked by him, he could make your life hell. He lived this life till it caught up with him, and the last years of his life were very lonely.

But here is a short letter to a Miss Murray of Morristown , who I met and acquired a bit of this and that from her. She was a big fan of many on the radio and she wrote to many people on it.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The arrival of the RMS Olympic in New York on her maiden voyage. (older sister to the Titanic) Scientific American.. July 1, 1911

The RMS. Olympic was the first of the three massive sisters of the Olympic class of the White Star Line. Their names would be Olympic, Titanic, and originally Gigantic (later called Britannic).
The Olympic was first of the trio. She arrived in New York City Harbor after her maiden voyage in June of 1911. She was an absolute sensation. She was the "ship of dreams", "the millionaires special", everything that we think was said about the Titanic was said about the Olympic. She was truly the star of the trio.

She was largest ship in the world, practically unsinkable, and was also the most luxurious vessel on the sea. She also had as few lifeboats as the Lusitania and Mauritania. But since she was thought to be as unsinkable as the those vessels, she carried as few as they did. To be fair the Olympic and Titanic did carry more lifeboats than the previously mentioned ships.

Of course today we only know about the second ship of this series, the Titanic. In the thought of the time, she was just another Olympic. That is why there is so little press coverage of her voyage.

She was just another Olympic! Today few know about the most famous Olympic. The Titanic did what the Olympic never did...She sank!

This is the original article in Scientific American about the ship of wonder and her first arrival in New York.....The RMS. Olympic.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Warren G Harding makes some recordings of speeches 1920-1921

Warren G Harding was not afraid to speak almost anywhere. In fact he was the first President to speak on commercial radio. But he made several recordings over the years for Nation's Forum and later Victor. While we have in many cases heard the recordings. Rarely do we ever see the pictures of the event.
Here we have 3 pictures of the same recording session dealing with Senator or possibly by this time President Harding. He was a good speaker and he seemed to always enjoy a good crowd. However many people said that he was able to say much, without having to say much of anything. Well he was a newspaper editor! He knew how to say and find the right words for whatever the event was.
He was like most other Presidents, he had a full time speech writer.
He was also one of that special group that liked to be involved in the whole process. Of course he had help from assistants and speech writers, but he seemed to be more interested in the process than many others who had preceded and those who had followed him. of course there are some very great exceptions. In another post in the future we can talk about them.

The process to record Harding was called the acoustic process. It meant that there was no microphones, speakers, mixers, or electricity at all. It was all mechanical recording. he spoke into a recording horn and the power of his voice would cut the wax master to make the record. It was as simple as that. So you will get a real good view of Harding here and also the recording horn and a touch of the recording mechanism.

Now the next time you hear a historic recording of Harding perhaps these pictures will help your imagination a little to picture him making them.

This picture was in the news magazine "Outlook" here you see Harding with his reading glasses on ready to record.

These are photos of the same session captured by the photographer. One can only guess where these pictures were taken. One good guess would be Washington DC.

Friday, October 23, 2009

1896.. The year that Biograph started to show movies around the country. An original program from that year of a Biograph show.

The days of movies being shown on a screen were a true novelty in 1896. W.K.L. Dickson and Thomas Edison had developed their early movies mainly in a form of individual entertainment. It would be a while till the Edison system would be practical. The best form of films available at the time was in the form that was developed by the American Biograph company of New York, which W.K.L. Dickson was involved after leaving Edison.
This is a program from one of the first appearances of film before the public. Starting in the late Summer of 1896, Biograph started having shows in which their product could be seen by the general public. It was quite a success.

The original program. Note that the movies were not enough to get the public in. There was a complete show done there as well. It was all so new. The public did not know much about it yet. So they not only had a show, they got to see the beginnings of the motion picture industry

The Columbia Theater in Chicago. This is where this event took place. It was opened in 1881, and sadly burned down in 1900

The interior of the theater.

There were several subjects of this early demonstration of film. Great actors such as Joseph Jefferson. Natural scenes, and scenes of everyday life such as trains and the like.

Perhaps the most unusual and unique subjects of these shorts is President-elect William McKinley and Vice President-elect Hobart. They were filmed walking in front of McKinley's home.
In reality they really had no idea what to do...It was so new and so they just walked slowly toward the camera. It was like being at home and having someone hold a video camera in front of you and say do something!

It was the last time a President would look oh so awkward on camera.

But McKinley would become the first President captured by the new medium. And more people saw McKinley than any other President before him.

It must have been amazing to see these movie shorts well over 110 years ago. It must have been amazing to see and I can just imagine the reaction of the audience. The gasps, laughter, and sounds of amazement as they watched what we can truly say is history unfold before their very eyes.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A special letter to President Grover Cleveland. From two boys...Oct. 30, 1895

This is the letter that the two boys wrote.

This is the only picture of Howard Williams I have. I can only wonder what became of him. I can only say he was born in Chicago in 1887, and lived at the address you will read below. This came from a scrapbook lovingly kept by his mother.

I just adore this letter. It was sent to President Cleveland in 1895 by two boys named Howard Williams and Harry B. Sutton.
I will type out the wording as it is a bit hard to read...

President Cleveland

Chicago, Oct. 30, 1895

Our Dear President

We would like your consent to have another regiment in the U.S. Army made of boys only. So far we are armed with bows and arrows. We want this to keep off the boys that swear.

Yours respectfully

Colonel Howard J. Williams
213 S. Leavitt
9 years old

Major Harry B. Sutton
234 S. Leavitt
same age

P.S. At present our barracks are under our front steps. We trust you will help us into better quarters for the winter.

I did some searching for the addresses listed here, but a lot has changed from that time. This was 114 years ago. I recently went back to where I lived 40 years ago and could hardly find anything much left.

Antonin Dvorak writes of Music in America .... Harper's Magazine Feb. 1895

This is an interesting article written by Dvorak for Harper's in 1895 on music in America. It is interesting to read and explore what was said by this great composer. Enjoy and read something that has not been read much since it was issued in 1895.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The first recording dealing with the New York Subway. Recorded on the Harvard Label in 1904

The New York Subway was the wonder of the age. When it first opened in 1904 it was looked on with wonder and delight. For many they would never get onto the New York subway. It would be in the field of imagination.

This recording made circa 1904 is called " Reuben Haskin's trip through the New York Subway." It was made in a studio in NYC and of course is a simple recording as they were back then. I look at this and wonder if indeed it was recorded by the Columbia Phonograph Company and then put on the secondary Harvard label.

It sounds as though the recording artist is Len Spencer (1869-1914).. But I am not sure. It could very well have been recorded by Columbia, as Columbia made records that would be sold to a large number of companies. Harvard was no exception, but I am not totally sure if they made this recording.

The subway was an area where you could not only travel, but also go shopping, have a drink or two, or even window shop in certain areas. On this recording they drink a toast to the subway as they ride along. I am not sure you could do that in 1904, but it was indeed another world down there.
Now a days, it is hard to even imagine what the subway was like in that first decade of the 20th century. But it was very different from how it is today. In its first days it seemed to become a social event to take the subway. Today it is a harsh reality. Still as I walk and look around the subway I am always looking for the parts of the subway of a century ago.

So this recording was the first I can find that is about and traveling on the New York Subway.

The first recording about the subway... 1904.

The first full time cruise liner SS Nassau... The first of many to follow. A few items from one of her cruises.

The lovely SS Nassau, a very popular and ground breaking vessel.

These are some of the daily shipboard activities pamphlets. All from September of 1954.

This is one of programs of the daily activity on the ship.

The SS. Nassau was the first of her kind. A full time cruise ship that traveled all over the islands and in the tropics. Much of her voyages were on the ship, enjoying the ship, not the various ports of call. They called it cruising and that is truly what is was. No big hurry to get anywhere, just to enjoy a vacation on a ship.

Before this time there were a number of ships that would take cruises. But they were not made to be full time cruise ships. When the Nassau was remodeled for her career as a cruise liner. All of her many storage and cargo holds were removed and made into areas to deal with making the voyage more user friendly. More places to do things and enjoy.
She was the first of many ships that have and do follow her. This was not her first career. In fact she was nearly 30 years of age when she took on this role. Here is a list of the five names that this vessel had over the years.

1 SS Mongolia, 1922–1938
2 SS Rimutaka, 1938–1950
3 SS Europa, 1950–1951
4 SS Nassau, 1951–1961
5 SS Acapulco, 1961–1963

Her last days were as a floating hotel at the Seattle Worlds Fair in 1962-63. Sadly after that she was not acceptable to the new shipping and safety laws in the United States and was brought to the scrappers.

Monday, October 19, 2009

May 15, 1934... A bad day for the RMS Olympic (sister ship to the Titanic) and the Nantucket light ship 117

A photograph taken on board the Nantucket lightship in 1933 of the RMS Olympic racing past. The following year she would not race past but go right through the light ship.

All the approaches to New York in the early to mid 20th century were marked by lightships, and the trick was for a ship to find the radio signal of the light ship and sail for it.
The Olympic like all the other major ocean greyhounds had been known to pass close by these vessels. So close at times, it was rather frightening to the crews of the light ships.
In that area it was often foggy and visual sight of ships or light ships was not easy and at times impossible. But the practice was to sail straight at the lightship and then turn a short distance before they reached it.

On May 15, 1934, the Olympic, inbound in heavy fog, was honing in on the radio beacon of Lightship 117, the Nantucket lightship. The Olympic, commanded by Captain John Binks followed the beam a little too well and sliced right through the small lightship.
The 46,000 ton liner sliced the lightship like a warm knife through butter.
7 of the 11 man crew were killed or died shortly after. The ship was going too fast and when the lightship was noticed in front of them they tried to turn, but it was too late and they rammed the small vessel.

Sound's rather reminiscent of the disaster that befell her sister in 1912 doesn't it?

But in this case, it was a small ship that could not withstand the onrush of 66,000 gross tons, rather than a massive iceberg that was far more dense than any ocean liner could ever be.
The crash of the liner into the lightship caused all liners to slow down a bit in that area. although there had been before and would continue several near misses over the years. Today light ships are not used in many areas as they were then. But there were many of them in service till the mid 20th century.

As for the Olympic she would sail for 11 more months and be retired in April of 1935. A victim of the economic depression and the merger with White Star and Cunard. By the time of the disaster she was a Cunard-White Star ship, not simple a White Star liner like her infamous sister. After 24 years of service and 23 years after her sister had been lost in the north Atlantic the Olympic was retired and soon after scrapped.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Punch Magazine from 1852 and annoucing the funeral program of the Duke of Wellington.

Punch magazine was published starting in 1841. This publication is from 1852.

Here is the announcement of the Duke of Wellington's funeral and codes of dress.

The first LIBERTY SHIPS of World War One. News letter "Speed Up" June 1, 1918 The Submarine-Boat-Corp. Newark, NJ USA

A poster advertizing work in the Submarine Boat Company 1918

This special issue of Speed Up deals with the launching of ships that would do the bidding for the USA during WWI. These are what we would call in WW2 Liberty Ships. These early and quickly built ships were launched by a varied batch of personalities. In the case of this issue it is Thomas Edison and Charles Schwab.

The story here tells it all and is part of the history of WWI and the building of its merchant ships in New Jersey.

The Cheney phonograph An expencive machine that would rely on the design of the violin for its sound.

The Cheney phonograph used a special horn that was designed to resonate like that of a violin as it played a record. It was an interesting idea, but not one that was very successful. A violin sounds wonderful because it is creating the sound it makes. A horn on a acoustic phonograph is playing a record made in a studio that was acoustically recorded with a metal or fiber horn. It really made little difference. But it was once again a clever idea.

Political football 1900...The election that would change the United States

This is a wonderful cartoon from Life Magazine. It was published on October 25, 1900. It really was a special election. For McKinley of course would become the first 20th century President. Roosevelt would block everything Bryan tried in that election. As he traveled all over the country on McKinley's behalf. It was the near end of the road for Bryan. Although he would run one more time in 1908. He would start to look comical after his 1900 run.

Introducing the new King and family to the United States. Sunday Daily Mirror NYC June 20, 1937

On the front cover of the New York Mirror of June 20, 1937. Was a color photo of the new royal family. This would be the family who would reign in England during the darkest days of World War 2. It was one of the earliest color photos on a newspaper page.