Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

February 5, 2008

Antique Show Finds

It's official....I need a larger house to accomodate everything I want to buy when I go to the antique show. Ah well. Can't afford a larger house so I guess I just have to browse and not buy...much, anyway.

Got this for our friends Donnie & Mike, who bought their first house in SF together last year. Donnie used to live in Haight Ashbury and we went to the most amazing garden parties behind his building. I'll blog about that someday; his garden was really something to behold. One of the first things I started collecting, besides marbles, was postcards. I'm extremely picky, so although there is a glut of old postcards on the market, I don't buy more than 4-6 at a time because they have to really catch my eye and be unusual.
It's surprising that in all my travels that this is the first time I ever found postcards of what SF looked like after the 1906 quake and 3-day conflagration that followed.

The tiny print on the bottom says:

"The silent sentinal among the ruins. Marie Antoinette apartments on Van Ness Ave., after the fire of April 18, 19, 20 - '06. San Francisco". The postmark is July 10, 1909 and addressed to a woman in Independence, Oregon. I can't decipher the rest of the writing on the front.

This one is postmarked 1916 and addressed to someone in Grass Valley, CA. There is writing on the card, but it doesn't appear to be English. It's possibly an Eastern European language.

"A view of the ruins of the Nob Hill district, looking up California Street, San Francisco, California after the disaster of April 18-20, 1906. Fairmont Hotel at the crest of the hill".

What amazes me is how fast SF rebuilt because there was no red tape like nowadays. 1/3 of the city was utterly destroyed, yet it was back to normal in less than 10 years. After the '89 quake, it took till 1991 before they finally got around to tearing down the raised Embarcadero double deck viaduct that had been closed since 1989.

I think these buildings were on 5th and Market. "Chronicle Mutual Savings and Call Buildings, after the fire, San Francisco, Cal."
It's so hard to get a frame of reference to where I worked at 3rd x Market because of the catastrophic damage. This card has a grocery list written in pencil on the back. Here's the list:

"Meat 25
Cream 2 cans 20
pkg noodles 10
can pepper 10
can corn 15
stamps 1.15

What is missing from this picture? I'll give you a hint: It's graceful, elegant and painted International Orange.....

"Sunset at the Golden Gate, San Francisco Bay, California"

I bought this card because I love the dreamy, ethereal quality. It's not of anything specific, it's just a pretty postcard. I was thinking about using it in a craft project, but then I read the message on the back and I think it needs to be preserved as is. Usually the sentiments on the back don't mean that much to me b/c it's usually very formal, short and of no particular interest. I'll transcribe an interesting message and put it alongside the card in my scrapbook.
This one, however, surprised me and I found it very sad. I'm transcribing it as it is written, spelling and grammar mistakes intact:

"Dear sister & all. Cant see any change in Papa only another weak. Bill seen that Dr in Grand Island & he said he could not do any thing for him. That this time was short. The rest are all well hope you are the same. good by from Maggie"

It's addressed to Mrs. Ervy Reid, Fullerton Nebraska and is postmarked "Sep. 24 1915 6 am" from a town in Nebraska too, but that part didn't stamp completely and I can't read it. It could be Acadia, or something that begins and ends in "A". (Tess? Any ideas?)

Anyways, this is the first time I've found a card with a message like that. I guess Maggie was summoned home to see her and Mrs. Reid's father who was dying. I'm guessing that, in 1915, telephones hadn't reached all the rural parts of Nebraska just yet. It's even possible that by the time Mrs. Reid received this card, her father had passed.

This is actually a tiny little license plate, about 4" x 2". It was really cheap and I wanted it for my license plate collection. It doesn't matter to me if this is really from the 50's or not, but I did ask the dealer if it was, and he said that one of the breakfast cereals put these little plates in the boxes as premiums in the 1950's and that's what this was. I was curious about the plate, however, because Alaska wasn't even a state until 1959. However, I did a little bit of online research and found other Alaska cereal premium license plates from 1953, so apparently this is the real deal.

I am a sucker for anything velvet, with beads and peacocks. I've been coveting this scarf for the past few antique shows, but never had enough $$ left over to buy it. It's not an antique, but I don't care. I don't even know what I'm going to do with it, but I had to have it.
I think the pictures will get bigger if you click on them so that you can see the gorgeous details.
I was told that this tie dyed velvet table runner dates from the 1920's. I find it hard to believe that something so 60's looking could have been done in the 20's, but again, I don't care about it's true vintage, I had to have it.
I wish this had come out better. It's a vintage beaded reticule purse from the 1920's, in midnight blue. The cobalt and turquoise glass "jewels" are contemporary. Thought they were purty.


  1. ok, it's official...i gotta come out to wa. and go antiquing with you...or you gotta come here for the ann arbor-saline antique show...
    i love that postcard of the golden gate before the bridge.

    (and i thought i was a pack rat!)

  2. Fen - love yer new avatar. Believe me, packing up to move was no picnic when we left CA, and it's 10x worse now! I'd sell my house and get a bigger one, but I don't want to pack.

  3. I love the golden gate post card. It's just beautiful. I love this kind of stuff. I guess I'm afraid to go to antique shops because I could definitely start some sort of hoarding adventure which would end up making me go crazy. However I do overdo it with books and sometimes hubby complains a little.

  4. you got some gorgeous things there joj, and i agree about those velvets, sometimes ya just gotta have it!

    those cards are great too, that one is so sad...

  5. too amazing. i have an image of the first card you posted. i have bunches of old sf photos that i have found online. antique photos of sf and other ancestral places in calif are my favorite. i will do a post with some more of them soon. i always figure that people are bored with old pictures. me? i am obsessed. i guess i like seeing my state in it's more pristine days, before the entire country moved here. kidding!

  6. Annie - I'm obsessed w/ old photos too and I have to fight the urge to buy up all the ones I see at antique shops. It's sad that they didn't get passed down to family members.

  7. I love the Golden Gate post card too. It's difficult to imagine there was a time when the bridge wasn't there.

  8. Anonymous1:46 PM

    Old photgraphs I find almost unbearable poignant. There these people were, living their lives, and now dust and bones for decades. Kind of brings you up, sharp to realise that you are NOT going to be around forever.

    Love the postcards. I have a little number plate I bought in New York. It says 'Vincent' I know, you'd never have guessed if I hadn't told you ;0) I've actually used it as metal luggage label....on luggage that STAYS with me of course!

  9. Well snagged, JoJo.

    I have a lot of my father's family's old postcards, some with messages, some without. The most poignant are the ones from the alien internment camp in WW1 where my great uncle was imprisoned. He really aged in there.

  10. That velvet scarf is magical!! I'm a lover of velvet,we have velvet curtains at the window in our living room,along with cushion covers..all from my Grandfather who was a legendary hoarder/collector :-)

    I loved the old postcards too..don't have any here,although I have lots of old photographs from the early part of the 20th century,including my great-grandfather with his first ever delivery van..he looks really proud of it,so I guess it was a big step up from a horse and cart.

  11. The tie dyed runner could very possibly be authentic. I can't tell you without seeing it in person. I have a collection of over 30 of them from the 1920's. A small period of time when radical ideas were presented.

  12. I was just searching for some information on my Grandfather's brother Ervy Reid. There on your web site was a postcard to Ervy's wife from her sister