The Collation

Research and Exploration at the Folger

Postcards in the (home) archive: Folger postcards, 1937

A guest post by Stephen Grant

Color postcard of the Folger Shakespeare Library side by side with the reverse of the card, containing only a date written in blue ink
Fig. 1. Folger Shakespeare Library from Northwest 1937
Author’s Collection, photo by Stephen Grant

Printed on picture side: FOLGER SHAKESPEARE LIBRARY, WASHINGTON, D.C. 60063

Printed on address side:
PUB. BY THE WASHINGTON NEWS COMPANY, WASHINGTON, D.C.
FOLGER SHAKESPEARE LIBRARY. Folger Shakespeare Library. East Capitol and 2nd Streets. This important addition to the cultural wealth of the nation was the gift of the late Henry C. Folger. The Collection includes more than 70,000 volumes, as well as pictures and other relics of the great poet’s life and work. The library has a $10,000,000 endowment fund, administered by the trustees of Amherst College. William A. Slade is librarian, and Joseph Q. Adams director of research. COLORCHROME WNC Washington, D.C. POST CARD PLACE STAMP HERE

Written message:
11 fevrier 1937.

Postage stamp: None

Postmark: None

Destination: None

Color type: Color

Commentary: Yes, you are right! With no message per se, no stamp or postmark, this card probably does not belong in this lineup. Nevertheless, I found it intriguing, as one of the rare Folger postcards written in French, short as the text may be.

I am going to make a reach of faith and posit that this postcard was purchased at the Folger by one of the first French visitors to the Library. It led me to think about (in all likelihood) the first French reader at the Folger, Seymour de Ricci. No Frenchman was a stronger advocate for Folger than de Ricci. Three days after Henry Folger died on June 11, 1930, he wrote in the New York Herald in Paris, “Thanks to Folger’s gift, Washington now becomes an Elizabethan sanctuary of unrivalled interest.”

black&white postcard showing the Folger Shakespeare Library, side by side with the reverse of the postcard, containing handwriting in black ink
Fig. 2. Folger Shakespeare Library from Northwest 1937
Author’s Collection, photo by Stephen Grant

Printed on picture side: Nothing

Printed on address side:
Folger Shakespeare Library. East Capitol at 2nd Street, N.E. Gift of Henry Clay Folger to house Folger Collection of Shakespeariana. Begun 1930, dedicated 1932. White Georgia marble. Paul P. Cret, Architect; A. B. Trowbridge, Consultant; John Gregory, Sculptor. Photograph by Horydczak. ©Art Associates, Washington. ARTCARD

Written message:
Dear Inez, Arrived home O.K. Have been so busy this week. Haven’t had time for anything. Two meetings and tonight have to go out to the new shop. Hope you are well. Wilson is O.K. he came in Mon. nite, said he didn’t think he would move. I just had my dinner. am writing at the table. Love, Roger

Postage stamp: 1c green commemorative of Generals George Washington and Nathanael Greene and Mount Vernon, Scott #785 1936

Postmarked: WASHINGTON, D.C. 3 MAY 6, 1937

Destination: Richmond, Va.

Color type: B&W

Commentary: Roger is multitasking, writing Inez while listening to a talk. He’s probably at a convention in D.C. We wonder how he could stay awake during the visit to “the new shop” after the talk.

© Art Associates, Washington—responsible for producing this handsome B&W postcard of the Folger from the popular northwest perspective—are clearly lost. They locate the library in the N.E, quadrant, across 2nd Street. Alexander B. Trowbridge is always referred to as Consulting Architect, but when space is scarce he becomes an ordinary consultant. We are all used to seeing “Photograph by Horydczak.” We’ve seen cards sent since 1935 from Horydczak photos; We’ve seen a card sent in 1934 from a Rideout photo.

Relatively few Folger postcards were sent through the mail with other than “regular issue” postage stamps. Noteworthy then is this (more or less) double-size commemorative of Revolutionary War generals. Such special issues commemorate an event, an anniversary, or a person.

Color postcard showing a colored drawn image of the Folger Shakespeare library, side by side with the reverse of that postcard, showing handwriting in black ink
Fig. 3. Folger Shakespeare Library from Northwest 1937
Author’s Collection, photo by Stephen Grant

Printed on picture side: THE FOLGER SHAKESPEARE LIBRARY, WASHINGTON, D.C. 37686

Printed on address side:
Published by B. S. Reynolds Co., Washington, D.C
THE FOLGER SHAKESPEARE LIBRARY The Folger Library was bequeathed to the Trustees of Amherst College by Henry Clay Folger of the Amherst class of 1879, and has a $10,000,000 endowment fund. The white marble building is a treasure house; within the protecting walls is “the finest collection of Shakespeariana the world has known,” including more than 70,000 volumes, as well as pictures and other relics.
MADE IN USA. M POST CARD THIS SIDE FOR THE ADDRESS

Written message:
Ma chère Thérèse de l’Amérique que je quitte dans 2 heures je vous envoie mes plus affect souvenir, Daniel

Postage stamps: 2c red Washington, Scott #554 Regular Issue 1920 1c green Franklin, Scott #552, Regular Issue 1920

Postmark: June 3 (possibly 8), 1937

Destination: Dijon, France

Color type: Color

Commentary: I am overexcited about this postcard “find” for two reasons:
A) It’s my first Folger postcard sent to a foreign country, France.
B) The postmark is very special. First of all, you notice that the black circle is much bigger than on a usual American USPS postmark. And note the nine-line oblong cancellation mark. It is known as a ships cancel. The cancellation process took place on board a ship, in a “sea post-office.” This particular postcard traveled on a commercial vessel, not a U.S. Navy ship. Sharp eyes and familiarity with seapost team up to figure out that the vessel carrying this precious Folger cargo was the SS New York of the Hamburg-America Line (HAPAG). On the passage to Europe, American postal clerks handled the mail, hence US stamps. On the return voyage, a German postal crew was in charge. The usual route was NY to Hamburg via Cherbourg and Southampton. In 1941—the year I was born—the vessel was transferred to the Deutsche Amerika Line. In 1945, it was bombed at Kiel and capsized. The story of a Folger relic was set during both peacetime and wartime.

Color postcard showing a colored drawn image of the Folger Shakespeare library, side by side with the reverse of that postcard, showing handwriting in pencil
Fig. 4. Folger Shakespeare Library from Northwest 1937
Author’s Collection, photo by Stephen Grant

Printed on picture side: THE FOLGER SHAKESPEARE LIBRARY, WASHINGTON, D.C. 37686

Printed on address side:
Published by B. S. Reynolds Co., Washington, D.C
THE FOLGER SHAKESPEARE LIBRARY The Folger Library was bequeathed to the Trustees of Amherst College by Henry Clay Folger of the Amherst class of 1879, and has a $10,000,000 endowment fund. The white marble building is a treasure house; within the protecting walls is “the finest collection of Shakespeariana the world has known,” including more than 70,000 volumes, as well as pictures and other relics.
MADE IN USA. M POST CARD THIS SIDE FOR THE ADDRESS.

Written message:
Raymond told me to write and tell you not to be going out nights while he is away Ha! Ha! Ha! Bill M.
In pencil.

Postage stamp: 1c green Franklin, Scott #552 Regular Issue 1920

Postmark: WASHINGTON, D.C. 15 JUN 8, 1937

Slogan cancel: AIR MAIL SAVES TIME

Destination: Dalton AD#2, Penna

Color type: Color

Dealer price: $4

Commentary: In the message, Bill is joking with Morlaine regarding her behavior at night when Raymond is away. A lot to read between the lines.

Color postcard showing a colored drawn image of the Folger Shakespeare library, side by side with the reverse of that postcard, showing handwriting in black ink
Fig. 5. Folger Shakespeare Library from Northwest 1937
Author’s Collection, photo by Stephen Grant

Printed on picture side: FOLGER SHAKESPEARE LIBRARY, WASHINGTON, D.C. 60063

Printed on address side:
PUB. BY THE WASHINGTON NEWS COMPANY, WASHINGTON, D.C.
FOLGER SHAKESPEARE LIBRARY. Folger Shakespeare Library. East Capitol and 2nd Streets. This important addition to the cultural wealth of the nation was the gift of the late Henry C. Folger. The Collection includes more than 70,000 volumes, as well as pictures and other relics of the great poet’s life and work. The library has a $10,000,000 endowment fund, administered by the trustees of Amherst College. William A. Slade is librarian, and Joseph Q. Adams director of research.

Written message:
Visited this building yesterday and it is lovely. James and I went to Kentucky after school was out to visit my brother. We are now seeing the East, having driven out with his wife and son. The boy is in Walter Reed Hospital for a minor operation. We have been in Washington a week and will be here several more days. If Ed is O.K. then we will go to Philadelphia, New-York and possibly New England States. Have no definite trip planned. Have seen lots in spite of the excessive heat. Love, Bubby Thompson.

Postage stamp: 1c green Franklin, Scott #552 Regular Issue 1920

Postmark: WASHINGTON, D.C. 7 JUL 14, 1937

Slogan cancel: AIR-MAIL SAVES TIME

Destination: Kenoska, Wisconsin

Color type: Color

Dealer price: $2.50

Commentary: One of the rare postcard messages that contains an appreciation of the Folger: it is positive, “lovely.” Bubby and James are on a major summer trip to the south and northeast that Bubby finds hot. Lots of personal news packed into the card, with writing in two directions.

Color postcard showing a colored drawn image of the Folger Shakespeare library, side by side with the reverse of that postcard, showing handwriting in pencil
Fig. 6. Folger Shakespeare Library from Northwest 1937
Author’s Collection, photo by Stephen Grant

Printed on picture side: FOLGER SHAKESPEARE LIBRARY, WASHINGTON, D.C. 60063

Printed on address side:
PUBLISHED BY THE UNION NEWS COMPANY.
FOLGER SHAKESPEARE LIBRARY. East Capitol and 2nd Streets. This important addition to the cultural wealth of the nation was the gift of the late Henry C. Folger. The Collection includes more than 70,000 volumes, as well as pictures and other relics of the great poet’s life and work. The library has a $10,000,000 endowment fund, administered by the trustees of Amherst College. William A. Slade is librarian, and Joseph Q. Adams director of research.
UNCO TRADE MARK REGISTERED POST CARD

Written message:
Washington – We had a wonderful day, but tired!! Daisy’s brother died little over a week ago – and she got word Tuesday, that her cousin is very sick, so came down to Baltimore with us. She has a hard time so much sickness in her family. Will be looking for you & Mr. S. in Saint Pete later. With love, Netta
In pencil.

Postage stamp: 1c green Franklin, Scott #552 Regular Issue 1920

Postmark: WASHINGTON, D.C. 7 OCT 2, 1937

Destination: Elmwood, Conn.

Color type: Color

Commentary: The correspondent is fulfilled but fatigued, while poor Daisy is plagued by sickness and death in the family.

1937 yields five postcard views of the Folger from the northwest, four in color and one in black-and-white. The four in color consist of two pairs of identical photographs (2 with serial number 37686 and 2 with serial number 60063).

Remember that 1936 yielded 4 northwest Folger views with the same serial number, 135507.

Are you beginning to think, readers, that with all the possibilities for photographers to capture the elegance and attraction of the building inside and out that as we approach the late 1930s there’s a feeling of “same ole, same ole” in the postcard image department? I would agree with you. It can also be said that the northwest perspective is the only viable view with which to capture two sides of the edifice.

One-third of the 1937 postcards were written in pencil.

11 receiving states 1934–37

3 NY
3 PA
2 CT
2 ME
2 WI
1 MA
1 NJ
1 OH
1 TE
1 VA
1 WV

Receiving country:

1 France

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. He can be found on the web at https://www.stephenhgrant.com and on Twitter at @shgauthor.

One Comment


  • I thank Folger docent Nicole Winard for leading me down the online path of learning more about correspondents in my blog posts. Miss Celia Hauck (Fig. 5) worked as a librarian in Sheboygan, Kenosha, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin and taught in high schools in those cities. In 1937 she was chief cataloguer for the Wauwatosa Public Library. Her last position into the 1960s was associate director of Marquette university libraries. Bubby Thompson may have been one her grateful students.


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