LebTown, an independent media organization in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, has discovered Digital Commonwealth – big time! In a posting entitled, Wish You Were Here: Lebanon County postcards of decades past, LebTown uses over 20 postcards from the Boston Public Library’s Tichnor Brothers Collection. This collection includes approximately 25,000 office proof postcards from across the United States. LebTown, naturally, has extracted many postcards of interest to residents of Lebanon County. They advise any viewers to go to “Massachusetts Digital Commonwealth” for postcards for the rest of Pennsylvania and “other states”.
If you need a little inspiration for planning your vacation this summer, Tichnor Brothers concentrated on views of vacation spots. Take a look at California, the Grand Canyon, or Vacationland itself, Maine.
The title leads us to see the devil first: his nearly-crossed eyes, his black moustache, his Chiclet-like teeth and his black coat. He has an unusual hairline and the collar of his coat (or cape) hides his ears. From a distance, he appears to have rather sinister furrows and wrinkles on his face.
A great feature of Digital Commonwealth is the magnifying glass icon, which enlarges the image without affecting the resolution. When we click that on this image, the devil recedes. Instead we see two well-dressed women meeting in front of a theater. Their black skirts make up the devil’s coat; their hand muffs his mustache and their hats and feathers his pupils and eyebrows. His nose is a view of another female theatergoer walking away from us.
Interestingly, when the play was first staged in America in 1908, there were two dueling productions, each claiming to be the “sole authorized” version of the play. The reverse of this postcard indicates it is promoting the Henry W. Savage production. According to a 2009 lecture at the Library of Congress by Marlis Schweizer, Savage hired people to picket in front of his rival’s production wearing sandwich boards that said, “Thou shall not steal.” Was Savage making a sly reference to the twin productions in this postcard? I like to think so, but you may have a different take on it.
If you have a favorite photo as deserving of A Closer Look as this eerie postcard, please let us know. Send your Closer Look or a link to your photo to firstname.lastname@example.org.
As is appropriate for this autumn season, a lot of the collections added to Digital Commonwealth in the past month have been harvested (pun, obviously, very much intended). Don’t miss out on exploring all of the wonderful new items added to the site!