A lot of people find their way here to look at old postcard images.
This scan of a 103 year old postcard is not the oldest one we display, but it may be one of the most rare.
This highly collectable philatelic find is one of very few surviving pieces of air mail flown in a Wright Brothers built biplane during a short-lived experiment from August 3-10, 1912 between Ocean City and Stone Harbor, New Jersey.
“The First Air Mail Flights in South Jersey – 1912,” Harlan B. Radford, Jr.’s authoritative 3-page story of those historic pioneer flights of the early “AERIAL U.S. MAIL SERVICE” is liberally illustrated with items from his philatelic collection.
Five weeks ago I invited readers of this column to return in one week for another vintage Yuletide season postcard. However, life intervened and my attention was diverted to other matters.
Apologies for the lapse, but with only a week left before Christmas Eve, the Society catches up on lost time and offers these charming early 20th century holiday greeting postcards with an aeronautical theme for your enjoyment.
Above, Santa delivers toys suspended from a basket attached to a zeppelin, or airship, while at right he dangles beneath a hot-air balloon.
At left, St. Nick drops presents from what is ostensibly a Wright Brothers era aircraft.
Perhaps the artist did not fully understand the principles of powered air flight since Santa might not complete his rounds without an engine and propeller. No doubt, some sort of secret from Santa’s Workshop kept the craft aloft.
Ten years after the famous first flight of the Wright Brothers this 1913 design by John Winsch, at right, still has Santa buzzing snow-covered rooftops and dropping presents to children from an unpowered glider. Better not question Santa’s propulsion system too closely, kids.
The penned message found on the other side of this card reads: “Little niece, Hope he spills his pack over your house like this, don’t you? Love, Aunt Blanche” Mailed from Canastota (sic), NY and addressed to Baby Margurite Flick, RD No. 2, Box 59, in Pawnee Rock, Kansas.
Even if the artists did not depict quite accurately what was then the cutting-edge science of the day, their intention was clear — to show that St. Nick was a thoroughly modern guy and to capture some of the public’s enthusiasm for such emerging technology and have it translate to greater postcard sales.
Apparently, it worked, for according to US Post Office figures, in 1913, the number of postcards sent in the US alone was 968,000,000, more than 7 per person.*
We close with this 1915 holiday greeting which reads: “Now I use my airship / On my annual Xmas trip / It’s full of Toys and Candy too / And I’m flying straight to you.”
What does a modern 21st century Santa use for transportation in 2012? Does he travel by space shuttle, airbus, or will he subcontract the job out to a common carrier?
The Historical Society of Riverton wishes you the Warmest Greetings of the Season and Best Wishes for Happiness in the New Year. – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor
P.S. The next edition of the Gaslight News, expected out shortly after the first of the year, will have a dues renewal form in it for the convenience of members as well as details of the next meeting scheduled for January 24th.
An antique automobile, a steam locomotive, a railroad station, AND a trolley – all in one postcard! I call that a GRAND SLAM and the HSR is fortunate indeed to have this scan of a 1905 real photo postcard of Broad & Main Streets in Riverton courtesy of collector Mr. Nick Mortgu.
Nick has contributed scans of dozens of his vintage postcards to our online archive of historic Riverton images, but this one is truly extraordinary and rare because it has three modes of transport plus the train station in the same frame.
Times may have changed, but the roofline of the building that is today Zena’s is unmistakable to anyone familiar with Riverton. In 1905, the building served as the offices of the Public Service Corporation of NJ which supplied the gas to the borough.
This detail of a 1905 Sanborn Insurance Map shows the placement of the station on Broad near Main.
Any guesses on what those few missing words of the message say?
December 5, 1905 My Dear Nancy, We are still alive. Why don’t you answer my letters. You must excuse me for not writing but this is… Good by Mildred. This is the Riverton station.
I have straightened, cropped, and adjusted levels on a slice of the postcard image, but that is about the limit of my restoration ability on this image. Click on it to enlarge it and step into a moment frozen in time – 1905.
I’d love to see those tiny cracks Photoshopped out so if a reader has the skills, please contact me.
We thank Mr. Mortgu and all of the contributors of images and comments for helping to make this website grow in content. We also thank the donors who have given the HSR their treasured historic items so that our archives may become a specialized repository for preserving Riverton history.
We are grateful too, for members who continue to support our mission to create an awareness of our heritage, to discover, restore, and preserve local objects and landmarks, and to continue to expand our knowledge of the history of the area.
If you can help this endeavor by becoming a member of the Historical Society of Riverton, by contributing content to this website, or by donating items to the organization, please contact us.
Since the theme for this post seems to be me being REALLY thankful, here’s a holiday wish from Lora over at Moore’s Postcard Museum who recently expanded our inventory with many great vintage Atlantic City and Ocean City postcard scenes.
Happy Thanksgiving! – John McCormick, Gaslight News editor
Added 12/18/2011 – Shortly after I published the above post, professional historian and HSR member Paul W. Schopp added a comment which greatly amplifies the information that I wrote, and I have added it below because comments often get missed. Every blog post, and often some of the media, have a provision to for the reader to leave a comment photos. Paul’s comment follows:
While the 1905 Sanborn does, indeed, depict the building that today houses Zena’s as Public Service, that corporation had only just assumed control of the office there. On 21 September 1899, the River Shore Gas Company incorporated with an address of Broad and Main streets, Riverton. The new utility company has constructed the one-story building to be its office and retail store for gas fixtures and appliances. Initial capitalization consisted of $75,000, but less than a year later, the stock had increased to $140,000 for construction purposes. Another increase occurred in April 1901 and the stock now totaled $168,000. In February 1903, the conglomerate known as the South Jersey Gas, Electric and Traction Company—forerunner of Public Service—gained control of River Shore. Public Service Corporation then consummated a lease of the South Jersey Gas, Electric and Traction Company on 2 May 1904. Hence, the reason why the 1905 Sanborn lists the building as the property of Public Service.
Recently I received an email alert that notified me that I had won an eBay auction for an old Riverton postcard. And I got two in a row! Quickly, I keyed in the PayPal information and then checked the mail each day to see if my treasures had arrived.
These are two of the rarest kind of postcard images – real photo post cards, or RPPCs for short. They were created by developing a photograph onto postcard-sized photo paper with a postcard backing. RPPCs often demand higher prices than mass-produced postcards because of the limited number of cards produced.
As any collector will attest, it is a great feeling to acquire that elusive stamp, comic book, coin, baseball card, matchbook, or some such chotskie. Some anthropologists say that we collect to reminisce and remember the past. Certainly, that is a motive here, but we hope that the images and information displayed on this website will serve as testament to what Riverton’s men and women have built here since 1851 on this scant square mile.
Whether you collect sports team memorabilia or antique dolls, you know that feeling when you’ve discovered yet another variation on a familiar theme. Well, if you are here because you are a fan of Riverton, NJ, imagine that elation and multiply it times ten because in recent weeks we have received dozens of great vintage postcard and photo album scans to add to our images pages.
These have come just when I was starting to think I had seen all the Riverton cards there were. There are more views of the Yacht Club, the Porch Club, residential streets, and Dreer’s Nursery, plus some rare RPPCs including the Children’s Parade. Altogether, it is a remarkable photographic record and we are fortunate that Mr. Mortgu has opened up his album to share in this way.
If you received a reminder postcard for our last HSR meeting, you caught a brief preview of the choice vintage photos which Nick has scanned for display here.
They will also being placed in with the rest of the Riverton images so they will be easy to find when you return. We invite you to leave a comment, factoid, recollection, or question.
Readers, if you have one image to donate or a hundred, know that you will be contributing to a continuing virtual archive which we hope will help tell the story of Riverton’s historic past to current and future generations. – John McCormick
If you like to look at old photos and postcards, then download the script that accompanies this PowerPoint slide show so that you can sort out the many places and players as you leaf through this huge 115 slide production, full of all kinds of historic facts and images about Riverton, NJ. First shown at the January 2008 HSR meeting, this presentation does not contain exhaustive details on any one topic. Instead, it contains a little bit about a lot of different topics related to Riverton. (This presentation spawned two shorter spinoffs,”A Short History of Riverton Public School,” which is already posted and “A History of Dreer’s Nursery,” which will be featured later on. )
Regular readers of this column will recall the earlier posting of the shorter January 2007 slide show. This one duplicates some information found in that one and introduces more that I had learned in the interim. Topics in this 2008 sequel include:
Old New Era newspaper clippings relating events from the past
Many vintage family photos, school portraits, and Riverton postcards
A short history of the famous Dreer’s Nursery
News accounts of the Japanese beetle scourge as well as a Riverton sighting of the Jersey Devil
Reports of internationally ranked swimmers involved in meets at the Riverton Yacht Club and a 150 mile bicycle race from NYC to Riverton
Dozens of views of local historic maps, ephemera, and real photos of places
A complete small 16-page booklet about Sacred Heart Church written in 1904
Information and photos about the men of the celebrated Riverton Athletic Association and the renowned “Riverton Nines”
A description of the exclusive Riverton Gun Club and its high-stakes live pigeon shoots
Discover these things and more that you may not know about Riverton, and please consider the slide show’s ending message, “You can help preserve historic images and information.”
If you can help in this endeavor, please contact us so that we may increase the utility of this digital archive and make it available to a larger audience. We welcome your submissions for Gaslight News articles and blog postings, and invite you to support the Historical Society of Riverton by becoming a member.