A guest post by Stephen Grant
It would be more than a stretch to claim that Henry and Emily Folger were deltiologists, that is, as Collins Dictionary reminds us, persons who collect and study picture postcards. However, postcards played a definite role in each of their lives. Emily’s deltiological profile includes picking out a postcard and slipping it in an envelope along with a letter. Secondly she sends postal cards, where the postage value is imprinted on the card. Let’s look at these two aspects, and in the next two posts we’ll turn to Henry Clay Folger and examine his deltiological profile.
This is the first time I have displayed on The Collation an envelope, as distinct from a postcard. The preprinted two-cent red and white stamp honors George Washington. The head is in profile looking left. On the lower right a postal clerk has added “D.C.” In the upper left of the envelope a Folger staffer (I wonder who and when) has written in pencil, R. Lockwood, the name of Mrs. Folger’s correspondent.
It was not the butler but the gardener! On Apr. 13, 1932, the Folgers’ gardener, Richard Lockwood, folded up a modest unpunctuated letter to Mrs. Folger and inserted it in an envelope that was sent to her on Apr. 14, 1932. Anyone who has looked through correspondence to Mrs. Folger in the Folger Coll. knows that 3501 Newark St., Washington, DC is not where she lived in 1932. She lived at 11 St. Andrews Lane, Glen Cove, Long Island, NY. As I researched the lives of the Folger couple for the biography, I started to trace all the places where they lived. A number of biographers swear by the recipe of starting to organize thoughts on their subject by establishing a time line. This formula can break down when their subjects travel. Fortunately for us researchers, the Folgers generally saved not only the letters they received but their envelopes. In this case, we can assume that Emily was indeed at 3501 Newark St. Scores of envelopes written to Emily, in contrast, are marked with forwarding addresses, as she has moved from time to time to other addresses. Let me illustrate with a concrete example. Looking around for one now, let’s see, oh this one will do.
On Dec. 2, 1932, a White House aide wrote Mrs. Folger, thinking she was in Glen Cove. Apparently no private secretary in the Executive Mansion was aware that her late husband was named after Henry Clay. They mistakenly wrote to “Mrs. Henry G. Folger.” Well, bad luck, Mrs. Folger had decamped to the Hotel Plaza in Washington. The stamp cancellation reminds us to “Mail Early for Christmas.” Pardon the aside to make a point about forwarding addresses; now we get back to the Lockwood correspondence.
“Thank you for the check and the postcard.” Ah ha! Mrs. Folger threw in a postcard. It’s only by opening other correspondence between the two that I discovered that the R. stood for Richard and that he was a gardener due to his line “I am making a new cinder path in the upper garden and I got a great deal of raking done.” I have no idea what postcard Mrs. Folger sent her gardener. Probably not an early card of the Folger, as I believe they were first issued in late 1933. I am in a position to give the reader a picture of what the Folger residence—including the front garden—looks like now. The current homeowner showed me around the house.
Prior to 2019, I had not paid any attention to the 3501 Newark St. address. Emily did live in Washington, DC growing up, as her father worked as an attorney at the Treasury Department. The family lived at M and 12th St., NW. When she returned to Washington, DC as an adult she stayed in a hotel or was invited by friends. The date of the mailing, April 14, 1932, is only a few days before the dedication of the Folger Library on Shakespeare’s 368th birthday. Emily’s emotions must have been high as she was welcomed into 3501 Newark St. Her hosts were Mr. and Mrs. Avery Coonley. Their 1793 farmhouse was on a grassy estate called Rosedale. Mrs. Coonley was Queene Ferry Coonley, class of 1896 at Vassar College. In the same year, Emily received her M.A. from Vassar in Shakespeare Studies, one of only 250 women in America to have reached that academic level. Perhaps the two high-powered Vassar alums had met in Poughkeepsie?
On Oct. 19, 1933, Frances M. Leich (whom we ran into in my previous post) wrote Mrs. Folger, thanking her for her postal. Now we know she purchased and sent postal cards. I’ll show the whole letter, as it reveals more.
We learn about a meeting between Leich and Mr. Slade at the Folger and we also become aware of a misunderstanding between Leich and Mrs. Folger. William Adams Slade was the first director of the Folger Shakespeare Library, serving from late 1931 till the summer of 1934. He came from the Library of Congress as chief bibliographer and returned there as chief reference librarian. In this photo he is sitting at the director’s desk in the Folger, reviewing correspondence.
In a separate letter, Leich informed Mrs. Folger how he had not been able to convince the director of the benefit of selling picture postcards of the Folger Shakespeare Library. Slade “stated the fact that, the Library was not equipped for selling cards. I mentioned that only a desk would be required, and that I would be glad to sell them. He is to think the matter over.” Too bad, Slade did not realize the marketing value of selling postcards of the fledgling Folger on the Folger premises.
The misunderstanding between Leich and Mrs. Folger is fascinating to me. While Frances was thinking about the marketing value of picture postcards, Emily was focused on the Folger collection. It seems to be Emily wanted to start a collection of Folger postcards in the library as witness to the major new architectural addition to Capitol Hill. Bless you, Emily! I cannot see that—with one exception—the Folger has grasped the merits of including picture postcards in the Folger collection. In black box 5 there is one postally used picture postcard, a gift.
The photographer is standing near the corner of East Capitol St. and Second St., SE. Look at the thick colorful planting on the north and west sides of the Folger. The magnolia tree Mrs. Folger planted on the west side in 1932 looks to be not much higher than one story. The west side entrance you see here is no longer used, though the door is technically still present (as a window in the gift shop) and the stairs were simply moved a few feet northward. The nine bas relief sculptures on the north façade are visible but do not clearly stand out from this angle and distance. The white marble building is spic and span. I estimate that this photograph was taken in 1934.
My, look how the magnolia tree Mrs. Folger planted on the northwest side of the Folger has grown since four score and seven years ago! Perhaps two-and-a-half stories high now? The scaffolding reveals the facelift the Folger façades are receiving for the first time since the structure was built in 1930 ̵ 32.
Mrs. Folger saved a leaf—preserved in the Folger archives—from this southern Magnolia tree with white blossoms.
Someone WROTE on the leaf, “Memento First Magnolia Leaf when tree was planted, Folger S. Library, Washington, D.C.” Surely it was Mrs. Folger who lovingly folded around the leaf a page of stationary from The Homestead in Hot Springs, VA, the luxury spa where the couple summered, of course bringing along their card catalog.
The card was published and distributed by the Washington News Company for the American News Company. The first letters W N C are displayed inside a three-leaf clover. Readers, I hope you don’t miss the production serial number in the lower left corner: 65827. This is a vital identity for this postcard. 65826 might well be another picture of the edifice from a different angle. 65828 might show another building on Capitol Hill. Folger acquisitions staffer Melissa Cook in 1997 wrote the accession number F243405 in pencil to the left of the green one-cent stamp of George Washington of the presidential series issued in 1938.
Let’s examine how the Folger Library is described over the message side of the postcard. “More than 70,000 volumes.” True. Slade wrote that there were 92,000 volumes that arrived in the fall of 1931 from their various storage locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan. “$10,000,000 endowment fund.” True. That figure appears in the June 25, 1930 probated version of Henry Folger’s will (Folger Archives Box 30). The library is “administered by the trustees of Amherst College.” True. “By the bequest of the late Henry Clay Folger the ownership in trust of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington is vested in the trustees of Amherst College” (FSL director’s report 1938 ̵ 1939). For the first few decades of the library’s existence the above phrase in quotes was printed on its stationary letterhead. In 2005 Amherst trustees delegated revocable management authority to establish a local board of governors in Washington, DC. “William A. Slade is librarian, and Prof. Joseph Q. Adams director of research.” True, but incomplete. There existed an awkward arrangement where Slade was referred to as either librarian or director. Slade’s correspondence on Folger Library letterhead “Office of the Director” is contained in Folger Archives Box 58. In addition, the Folger director’s annual reports for 1932 ̵ 1933 and 1933 ̵ 1934 to the Amherst College trustees are authored by William Adams Slade. Joseph Quincy Adams would become the Folger’s second director.
Now for name, address, and message of the postcard in question.
Mrs. Marina Mosley, Blue Ridge Sanitorium, Charlottesville, VA.
“Monday a.m. Having a lovely visit in a lovely place. We plan a trip to Annapolis tomorrow which will all be new to me. Spent yesterday with Irving and Ann at Irvs. Thought of you. Marie Christine, Flossie Mai and others. Hope to see you. Love, Laurie.” I have little to say about the message. But we are left to muse on what her visit to the Folger might have entailed on Aug. 12, 1940 under the directorship of Joseph Q. Adams. Was QE1’s faux corset still in the display case?
Let’s take stock. How many postally unused postcards of the Folger are in black box 5? 47, and they are all black-and-white. How many postally used postcards of the Folger did I find in black box 5? Only one! It is in color. Marked on it is “Gift from Julie Ainsworth” in the handwriting of Laura Cofield, then-Head of Acquisitions. As many collators will remember, the Oct. 17, 2011 blog post was a tribute to Julie Ainsworth, Head of Photography and Digital Imaging. Is 48 the total number of the library’s collection of black-and-white or color postcards of the Folger library, its exterior, interior, and artifacts? Help! This is my crocodile mystery.
Stephen H. Grant is a retired Foreign Service officer turned writer. He is the author of, among other things, several books about postcards, and Collecting Shakespeare: The Story of Henry and Emily Folger.