Tag Archives: real photo postcards

Lombard’s Musical Cats

PC Lombard's Musical Cats

“Lombard’s Musical Cats,” photographer unknown; poem probably by Harlan P. Lombard.  Auburn Post Card Manufacturing Company, Auburn, IN, between 1913 and 1929.  Postally unused.

On this very hot Saturday (a day when all wise pets are taking naps someplace cool), allow me to introduce you to Lombard’s Musical Cats.  I looked for information about this postcard on and off for months, and this pair, a mother and son team according to the poem, and their owner remained as mysterious as when I purr-chased the card. (Sorry, I couldn’t help myself….)

I can tell you something about the Auburn Post Card Manufacturing Company, the publishers of this card.  The company began as the Whitten-Dennison Post Card Company in Maine, but L. G. Whitten, one of the founders, moved it to Auburn, Indiana, and renamed it in 1913.  The company made cards for businesses, cities, and tourist destinations.  They were also known for their “comic” postcards on subjects like courtship and holiday cards.  This, however, seems to be unique in their output.  It is clearly a commission from someone who felt that he could make use of the minimum 500-card order required by APCMC.

And now I think I know the identity of the man behind “Lombard’s Musical Cats.”

Harlan P. Lombard (c. 1862 – 1942) was a composer of spectacularly obscure popular songs in the 1910s and 1920s.  He lived in North Eastham, Massachusetts, according to copyright records.  The 1920 U.S. Census listed him as a widower and a “music composer.”  His works survive in a few pieces of sheet music in public collections.  “If You’re a True America, You’re All Right” was self-published in 1917;  a copy can be seen in the digital catalog of the Library of Congress.  The caption above the song title is “‘Harmony Harl’s’ Patriotic March,” suggesting that he was a recognized local character with a presence as a performer known as Harmony Harl.

So let’s raise a glass of iced tea to the memory of Harmony Harl, Baby, and Thomas Boy!


1 Comment

Filed under advertising trade card, cats, pet humor, pet portraiture, pets, real photo postcard, rppc

Doghouses: Daily Life for Dogs in the Past

Doghouses were once a common sight in the back yards of American households. Well into the 20th century, family dogs often spent their nights outdoors,  and quite a few dogs seem to have lived outside all of their lives.  Don’t assume that this meant that people did not love their dogs, or that outdoor dogs weren’t pets.  There are many reasons that dogs lived in separate houses. For instance, watch dogs were important for many households;  often, a barking dog was the only burglar alarm available.   Especially during the warm months, flea infestations were so hard to control that the best way to limit household infestations was to keep dogs outside.  (I’ll be doing another post on flea control later this summer.)  If a family had a stable or barn, dogs often slept there and did not have a doghouse.

Pets Blog 22 March 2016_0008

Advertising trade card for Charles Hall, Springfield, MA, undated (1870s). Chromolithograph, published unknown.  This image was purchased as a “blank,” and Charles Hall, who started his business in the early 1870s, added the store information, probably using a local printer.

A few doghouses from the nineteenth century survive;  there is a charming one in the collection of the John Quincy Adams house.  But most are long gone.  However, lots of images of doghouses, in a variety of media, show use what they looked like and  how they were furnished and used.  This trade card, from the 1870s, depicts a mother dog with her pups receiving a pan of milk from two children.  It’s a plain, unpainted structure with a peaked roof.  It looks like it may have a floor, too, and the adult dog lies on bedding of straw.

Pets Blog 22 March 2016_0003

Advertising trade card for W. Winslow, Peabody, MA, no date (1870s or 1880s).  Lithograph, Gies & Co, Buffalo, New York (c. 1871 – c. 1922).   This is another blank with the store information added later.

The trade card above, from around 1880, shows a doghouse that has been fashioned from a barrel.  In this domestic scene, the mother terrier has brought a rat to her puppies and seems to be instructing them on their duty as terriers to hunt and kill rodents.

68x164.677 (ill)

Advertising trade card for Prescott’s Universal Stove Polish, J. L. Prescott & Co., Berwick, Maine, undated.  Chromolithograph, publisher unknown. This card was distributed widely, and many copies survive.

Here’s another trade card image that shows an improvised doghouse made from a barrel steadied with bricks to keep it from rolling.  The adult dog is absent, but a collar and chain lies in front of the barrel, as does a pan containing a large bone.  Frances Butler, the author of Breeding, Training, Management, Diseases, Etc. of Dogs (first edition 1857), advised his readers, “If you are in the habit of keeping your dog on a chain, let him at least run a few minutes every day.” Perhaps that is what is happening here.

Postcard doghouse 1907

“Beware of the Dog,” commercial photographic postcard.  Coryright 1907, Robert McCrum. Published by Bamforth & Co, New York, New York. This card was one of several comic photographic postcards  by Robert McCrum thar featured dogs.

Another crudely constructed doghouse from the early 20th century is depicted in this comic postcard from 1907. It shows a bewildered puppy chained to a doghouse that is raised on improvised legs nailed to the exterior and has an open roof line for ventilation.  The dirt yard suggests that this doghouse is in a city backyard or alley — not a great place to keep a dog, but a location where many city dogs lived.

Pets Blog 22 March 2016_0004

Two dogs, a cat and a doghouse.  Real photo postcard, photographer unknown.  Sent from Pleasant Lake, MA, on 16 June 1908 to Phoebe Cahoon of Sandwich, MA.

Advice books about dog keeping often included plans for making a good doghouse, but nothing I have seen looks remotely like this improvised structure.  Set well off the ground, it is covered with what were probably leftover shingles.  With its small entrance, it was probably cozy in winter, especially if two dogs slept in it.  Again, we see the straw bedding in the doorway.  Notice the cat keeping company with the two spaniels here.

Pets Blog 22 March 2016_0023

Plan for the “Vero Shaw model kennel,” published in William A. Bruette, Amateur’s Dog Book: A Treatise on the Management, Training and Diseases of Dogs. New York: Field & Stream Publishing Company, New York, New York, 1906.  My copy of this little book, which is only 4 1/2 by 6 3/4 inches, is inscribed “From Foley Dog Supplies, Inc. 119 So. 19th St. Phila. Pa”

Finally, here’s a plan for an improved dog house, published in a small paperback titled Amateur’s Dog Book, which was published in 1906.  Called the “Vero Shaw model kennel.”  It could be taken apart to enable thorough cleaning and had a bench front that allowed its occupant to “rest and enjoy the air.”   Notice the trim on the peak of the roof and the glass window!  This doghouse was intended to be a significant little outbuilding, an asset to the yard it occupied.

As a side note, Vero Kemball Shaw (1851-1921) was a British peer (I haven’t figured out his title yet) who was apparently active in the British dog fancy.  He published The Illustrated Book of the Dog (Cassell, Peter, Galpin & Co) in 1881.  The book featured beautiful chromolithographs of purebred dogs, and the images have often been pulled out of the book and sold for framing.







1 Comment

Filed under doghouses, dogs, material culture, pets, real photo postcard

Happy Valentine’s Day from Arthur Edwards and His Dog Daisy, 1909

Pets Blog 9 January 2016_0004

My work obligations are interfering a bit with my blog posts, but I didn’t want to miss Valentine’s Day, especially when I had such a nice homemade valentine to share.  Arthur Edwards mailed this “funnie little valentine”  of himself and his cocker spaniel Daisy on February 10 from Detroit, Michigan, to Ruth Coddington of Auburn, Nebraska.  I’m guessing that he’s about twelve years old here.  I haven’t yet been able to find out anything more about Arthur and Daisy, but his sober expression, and her patient one, are touching.  The photographer is unknown.

Pets Blog 9 January 2016_0005

1 Comment

Filed under dogs, pet photography, pet portraiture, pets, post cards, real photo postcard, snapshot

Do you smell something funny?

"D. Fleming Lucas and Trixie. From Will & Edna."  Studio photograph on postcard, 1920s.

“D. Fleming Lucas and Trixie. From Will & Edna.” Studio photograph on postcard. T. A. Morgan, photographer, Morgantown, West Virginia, 1920s.

When I purchased this postcard, I was especially taken by toddler D. Fleming Lucas’ onesie, which clearly covers a bulky layer of diapers and a woolen diaper cover.  (Latex or rubber pants for babies seem to have appeared on the scene in the 1920s but, from his profile, I would guess that young Master Lucas is not wearing them.)  I was also charmed by Trixie’s expression.  I think she looks as though she smells something funny and is fighting her canine impulses to investigate further. She’s not looking at the photographer, although the toddler is.  She is probably looking at her owner, Master Lucas’ mother or father, and notice how her ears are folded back. She’d like to get down from that chair, but she’s being good and holding very still.

It is remarkable how many studio photographs of babies with family dogs survive from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  I’ll share more in future posts and offer a consideration of the  posing conventions that had already developed by the 1860s.  For now, however, enjoy Trixie and her (probably) fragrant young friend.

1 Comment

Filed under dogs, pet photography, pet portraiture, pets, post cards, real photo postcard

Two Old Dogs Taking the Air

pets blog images_0039

“Fannie.” Real photo postcard, between 1907 and 1914. U.S.A., photographer unknown.

Spring is here, and dogs everywhere are enjoying the sun on their fur and the air in their snouts.  Sometimes real photo postcards just speak for themselves, even if they contain little or no additional information.  These two images show well-cared-for, senior dogs enjoying the outdoors.  The old gentleman in this first image is unidentified, but the second one is labelled “Fannie” on the back side.    Fannie looks like a collie mix of some type.  The old gentleman is a bit more mysterious.  His ears have been clipped, which was usually done to bulldogs, but he has quote a prominent muzzle.  Yet I don’t see much German Shepherd in there, either.  (German shepherds were rare in the U.S. until after World War I.)   If you have any thoughts on the breeding of this fellow, I’d be happy to read them.

pets blog images_0037

A dog enjoying the sunshine. Real photo postcard, probably 1920s. Probably U.S.A., photographer unknown.


Leave a comment

Filed under dogs, pet portraiture, pets, post cards, real photo postcard, snapshot

Watching the parrot….

Real photo postcards taken by pet owners in the early 1900s sometimes provide wonderful glimpses of cats, dogs, and birds engaged in everyday behaviors without paying attention to the human being pointing that stupid black box in their direction. We get a sense of relationships and routines of pet care.  Here’s a nice example.

This postcard depicts blog scans 27Apr15 a pair of feline siblings watching the family parrot, whose cage has been set out on what seems to be the back step to get some fresh air and sunshine.  The postcard came into my collection with a second image, a portrait of the cats waiting at the door, perhaps to be let in or to be given their supper since the parrot was too well protected to allow anything but a little recreational birdwatching.

blog scans 27Apr15_0001Unfortunately, these postcards are not marked with names, dates or locations.  From the marks on the back of the cards, they date from around 1920. Still, they provide a bit more information on the daily lives of pets in households a century ago.

Leave a comment

Filed under bird cages, cats, material culture, parrots, pet photography, pets, real photo postcard

Happy New Year from Nix…and me.

IMG pets blog_0016

“Nix — Jan_1_1910.” Real photo postcard, photographer unknown. Postally unused.



Leave a comment

Filed under dogs, pet photography, pet portraiture