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January 2nd, 2013

Keeping Time

One of my favorite categories to collect as an ephemerist is calendars—wall, desk, pocket, perpetual, or any other kind. A century ago, calendars were often showcases for printers and illustrators to demonstrate their most advanced skills, and calendars today often follow in that tradition.

Since the feared “Mayan apocalypse” has not happened and the world has not ended, it’s safe to plan for 2013! So I thought I’d check out the current crop of calendars appropriate for gardeners and highlight the best. Bonus: Many of them are now available at reduced prices.

PLANNERS

Organic Gardening 2013 Desk Calendar

Organic Gardening 2013 Desk Calendar

Our Organic Gardening Desk Calendar is a great tool for planning and keeping track of your 2013 garden. It’s filled with tips from our editors, seasonal recipes, helpful advice, and much more, illustrated with inspirational photographs from Matthew Benson. There’s plenty of room for writing appointments and to-do lists, as well. $21.95 from the Rodale Store

Digest Your Life Eco Planner

Digest Your Life Eco Planner

The Digest Your Life Eco Planner, designed by PCP, is printed with soy inks on 100 percent recycled paper. It helps you plan week-by-week and organize your contacts. $5 from Poketo

DESK CALENDARS

Desk calendars are great to display in your office, where you most likely keep track of your appointments electronically and need a calendar only as a visual reminder of the date.

Ephemerals Desk Calendar

Ephemerals Desk Calendar

The Ephemerals Desk Calendar (I love that title!) is hand-printed on an antique letterpress. Each month has a different illustration of a garden insect by Yasuko Nakamura, and the pages are perforated so that they can be used as postcards once the month is over. $20.97 from Kate’s Paperie

Grow-A-Garden Plantable Calendar

Grow-A-Garden Plantable Calendar

The Grow-A-Garden Plantable Seed Calendar is a gift that keeps on giving. Each page is made of seed paper that is embedded with a different herb or vegetable seed: tomatoes, lettuce, carrots, dill, basil, and parsley. Plant the page when the month is over, and see what grows! Tips for growing and using each type of plant are included. $24.95 from Botanical Paperworks

Cavallini Botanica Desk Calendar

Cavallini Botanica Desk Calendar

Each year, Cavallini Papers designs gorgeous calendars using vintage and archival images, printed on thick laid paper so they’re suitable for framing. Cavallini’s offerings for 2013 include this Botanica desk calendar, which reproduces engravings that first appeared in Curtis’s Botanical Magazine in the late 18th and early 19th century. $12.95 from Two Hands Paperie

Rifle Paper Co. Botanical Desk Calendar

Rifle Paper Co. Botanical Desk Calendar

This Botanical Desk Calendar comes with its own powder-coated steel easel and a reusable gift box. Each 6-inch-square monthly calendar card features a different hand-painted illustration by Anna Bond. $48 from Rifle Paper Co.

DECORATIVE WALL CALENDARS

When you don’t need space for writing appointments and reminders, there’s more room for artwork. These illustrated calendars will inspire your gardening creativity year-round.

Language of Flowers wall calendar by The House That Lars Built

Language of Flowers wall calendar by The House That Lars Built

The Language of the Flowers Wall Calendar, from The House That Lars Built, tells a hidden story based on a century-old Victorian secret code. Each flower has a special meaning. It’s printed in Denmark on cotton paper. $28 from Terrain

YearOfTheGarden

The Year of the Garden Wall Calendar from Earmark

The Year of the Garden Wall Calendar is a poster-sized print that can be used framed or unframed, with illustrations by Earmark. $17.99 from Earmark via Etsy

Claudia Pearson’s Buy Local Calendar

Claudia Pearson’s Buy Local Calendar

Each 6-by-9-inch page of Claudia Pearson’s Buy Local Calendar features an illustration of seasonal fruits and vegetables available at local markets that month as a reminder to buy local. $24 from claudiagpearson via Etsy

Botanica lWall Calendar from ModernPrintedMatter

Botanical Wall Calendar from ModernPrintedMatter

The Botanical Wall Calendar features drawings by Anna Cote. It’s professionally digitally printed on heavy recycled matte white cover stock, and is available either wire bound or single hole punched (so you can hang several months side by side). $24 from ModernPrintedMatter via Etsy

Botanica Calendar by Susan Black

Botanica Calendar by Susan Black

The Botanica 2013 Calendar by Canadian artist Susan Black features 12 of her botanical collages. It is unbound, and printed on heavyweight paper so the pages can be framed later. $32 from 29blackstreet via Etsy

RifleGardenCalendarThe 2013 Garden Calendar from Rifle Paper is printed on natural white paper. It has a different illustration for each month and comes with rustic twine for hanging. $16 from Rifle Paper Co.

Vilmorin Vegetable Garden Calendar

The Vilmorin Vegetable Garden Calendar features 12 reproductions of images from Album Vilmorin (Les Plantes Potagères), a collection of botanical illustrations commissioned by the French Seed company Vilmorin-Andrieux & Cie between 1850 and 1895. Each page is printed on lavish Italian Acquerello art paper and is perforated so it can be framed later. $24.99 from Taschen

WRITE-ON WALL CALENDARS

These calendars have monthly write-in grids that let you keep track of your appointments and special occasions.

Organic Gardening 2013 Wall Calendar

Organic Gardening 2013 Wall Calendar

Our Organic Gardening 2013 Wall Calendar is available free with a 2-year (12-issue) subscription to the magazine. Each month of the calendar features a different inspiring photo. $23.94 (including magazine subscription) from Rodale

Cavallini Wall Calendar - Flora & Fauna

Cavallini Wall Calendar - Flora & Fauna

The Cavallini Wall Calendar – Flora & Fauna features ephemera from the Cavallini archives. $21.95 from Two Hands Paperie

Cavallini Wall Calendar - Garden

Cavallini Wall Calendar - Garden

The Cavallini Wall Calendar – Garden reproduces images from vintage seed catalogs in the Cavallini archives. $21.95 from Two Hands Paperie

2013 Snow & Graham Grid Calendar

2013 Snow & Graham Grid Calendar

The 2013 Snow & Graham Grid Calendar has 9-by-12-inch grid pages that give you plenty of room to write, plus a different floral design for each month. $27.95 from Paper Source

2013 Food Landscapes Calendar by Carl Warner

2013 Food Landscapes Calendar by Carl Warner

Look closely at the scenes featured on the 2013 Food Landscapes Calendar, by Carl Warner, and you will see that each “landscape” is composed entirely of food! $13.99 from Calendars.com

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February 2nd, 2012

Happy Groundhog Day!

nancy-80x80

Pennsylvania’s most famous prognosticating rodent, Punxsutawney Phil, today predicted six more weeks of winter. Phil and his cousins have been helping meteorologists since at least 1886, but the tradition of using animals to predict when spring will come is much older, dating back to pre-Christian Europe. This day marks the height of European winter, when farmers would begin anxiously scanning the environment for signs that spring was on its way. In Europe, hedgehogs or badgers were often enlisted as forecasters. When Pennsylvania German farmers brought the custom with them to America in the 18th century, they nominated the groundhog as the most intelligent candidate for the job.

In 1934, Groundhog Day took on new significance, since that was the date of the first Fersommlung (gathering) of the Grundsow Lodge Nummer Ains on da Lechaw (Groundhog Lodge Number One on the Lehigh [River]), in Allentown, Pennsylvania. It was the first of 17 lodges founded by Pennsylvania Germans as a way of preserving their language and culture. At their annual gatherings, which continue today, members pay a penalty for every English word that is spoken. Poems, songs, and skits are performed in the Pennsylvania German language. Lots and lots of food is consumed.

Here are two program covers from Grundsow Lodge gatherings that I found in my archives. Enjoy!

Cover of program for the fifth annual meeting of Grundsow Lodge Number One in Allentown, Pennsylvania, February 3, 1938. The holiday coincides with the Christian feast day of Candlemas, during which a candlelight procession occurred—hence the candle in this drawing.

Cover of program for the fifth annual meeting of Grundsow Lodge Number One in Allentown, Pennsylvania, February 3, 1938. The holiday coincides with the Christian feast day of Candlemas, during which a candlelight procession occurred—hence the candle in this drawing.

Cover of the program for the 12th annual Grundsow Lodge gathering in 1948 (a few years were skipped during WWII). The drawing is by Bud Tamblyn, an editorial cartoonist for the Allentown Morning Call newspaper.

Cover of the program for the 12th annual Grundsow Lodge gathering in 1948 (it would have been the 15th, if WWII had not intervened). The drawing is by William Richard “Bud” Tamblyn, a nationally renowned editorial cartoonist for the Allentown Morning Call newspaper.

The insignia of Grundsow Lodge #1 as of 1948

The insignia of Grundsow Lodge #1 as of 1948

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December 15th, 2011

What Is Mincemeat, Anyway?

nancy-80x80Mince pie is one of those pastries I grew up eating but probably never would have eaten if given my choice of any pastry on the planet. At some point in my childhood, my mother must have come to the conclusion that her family all shared that opinion, because from then on, pumpkin and pecan were the only pies she made for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I always wondered what was in mince pie, though. Was there actually meat in mincemeat? I’m not a vegetarian, but mixing meat and fruit just isn’t my kind of tasty. I’m pretty sure my mother used canned mincemeat—most likely None Such brand. So I checked out the None Such label in the grocery store recently and found that it does indeed contain beef, far down on the ingredients list.

Turns out the None Such brand has been around for at least 100 years. I have a trade card advertising the brand from about 1895, when it was still owned by Merrell & Soule (it was bought by Borden in the 1920s):

None Such Condensed Mince Meat trade card (front)

None Such Condensed Mince Meat trade card (front)

None Such Condensed Mince Meat trade card (back)

None Such Condensed Mince Meat trade card (back)

As you can see, Victorian-era cooks were as fond of convenience as we are. “You make the crust, we do the rest” would still make a very good marketing slogan. Mince pie is among the most labor-intensive of pies. Traditionally, it includes several kinds of citrus peel and juice (grating, squeezing), minced meat, fat, and apples (chopping), spices (more grating), and reduced cider (boiling).

Most old recipes would give a cardiologist nightmares—they frequently contain great gobs of suet besides the meat. In addition, there were copious amounts of sugars in the form of fruit, apple cider, and brown sugar. The idea was to achieve just the right balance of fattiness, sweetness, and tartness. But making and preserving mincemeat did serve a useful purpose in the days before refrigeration: The sugars in the fruit and the antibacterial properties of the spices acted as preservatives, giving people alternatives to smoked and salted meats.

Cliff Doerkson of the Chicago Reader unearthed two vintage newspaper recipes for mince pie and gives his hilarious history of mincemeat and his attempts to recreate the recipes here. His article almost makes we want to make a mince pie this Christmas. Almost.

I think I prefer just looking at the beautiful mincemeat trade cards from my collection:

Armour's Condensed Mince Meat trade card (front)

Armour's Condensed Mince Meat trade card (front). The impish characters shown on this card provide an interesting social commentary: From their dress and activity ("mining" for "gold"), they are associated with the different immigrant groups who were working in actual gold mines at the time (from left, Irish, Dutch, German, and Chinese, overseen by the boss in his top hat). They may be the creation of illustrator Palmer Cox, whose Brownie characters were very popular at the turn of the century.

Armour's Condensed Mince Meat trade card (back). Who wouldn't want "palate tickling" mince meat?

Armour’s Condensed Mince Meat trade card (back). Who wouldn’t want “palate tickling” mince meat?

Swett & Card Peerless Home Made Mince Pie Meat trade card. Swett & Card Manufacturing Company was established in 1889 and was abandoned by 1894 "owing to sharp competition and other causes," according to a history of Orleans County, New York. That puts an unusually precise date range on this advertisement.

Swett & Card’s Peerless Home Made Mince Pie Meat trade card. Swett & Card Manufacturing Company was established in 1889 and was abandoned by 1894 "owing to sharp competition and other causes," according to a history of Orleans County, New York, where the company was based. That puts an unusually precise date range on this advertisement, and also tells us that mincemeat was once a competitive enterprise.

Surely one of the largest commercial producers of mincemeat in the Victorian era was Atmore & Son, which billed itself as the “oldest house in the trade,” having been established in 1842. Its average daily sales “during the season” numbered 12 tons! Yes, that’s daily. Here’s a selection of their ads:

Atmore's Mince Meat and Genuine English Plum Pudding trade cards, circa 1870s

Atmore’s Mince Meat and Genuine English Plum Pudding trade cards, circa 1870s

My favorite mincemeat ephemera is this little booklet in the shape of a pie, advertising New England Condensed Mince Meat, made by T. E. Dougherty of Chicago, Illinois, and Port Byron, New York. “Mince pie properly made is delicious, wholesome and nutritious,” it states. “Mince pie poorly made is unpalatable, unwholesome and indigestible. Just the difference between high grade and low grade mince meat. New England Condensed Mince Meat is strictly high grade, prepared from the choicest fruits, beef, spices, sugar and pure boiled cider. All fruits washed, carefully picked over by hand and all raisin seeds removed [gritty mincemeat was a recognized problem]. Absolutely no adulterations [also a recognized problem]. It was first made in 1882…improved from year to year, and in 1895 made under an entirely new formula, in which is used a new combination of dainty and delicious fruits, found in no other condensed mince meat. It is now perfect, requiring no additions whatever except water, and makes larger and richer pies than ever; also delicious fruit cakes and puddings.”

Cover of "Fairy's Pie," booklet advertising New England Condensed Mince Meat circa 1895

Cover of “Fairy's Pie,” booklet advertising Dougherty’s New England Condensed Mince Meat circa 1895

Inside the booklet is a children’s story in which Mother Goose, taking pity on the poor children who have been lured from their homes by the Pied Piper and have nothing to eat, swoops down on her broom and scoops them up, promising to feed them whatever they want most of all. She asks them what that would be. The children all shout together, “Something that has every goody in the whole, wide world in a single bite.” At first, Mother Goose is stumped. Does such a food exist? Then the answer comes to her, and she aims her broomstick for New England. They sail through the open pantry window of a New England home, where she deposits the children and disappears in a flash.

“And what do you think they saw?” asks the writer. “And what did they smell? and what did they taste? Surely every goody in the world in a single bite.

“For they scrambled around a real New England mince pie and a beautiful pair of fairy hands and a bright silver knife cut the pie just to fit each waiting mouth. It was fairly bursting with spices and sweets and fruits and meats, and they ate, and they ate, and they ate and then they began to grow. And what do you think they grew into? Why, just what all good children grow into who eat mince pie made from Dougherty’s New England Condensed Mince meat: splendid American citizens.”

“All the goodys of the whole, wide world in a single bite.”

“Every goody in the whole, wide world in a single bite.”

The next few pages of the booklet go on to describe the thrill of eating fresh mince pies and the quality of the ingredients used in Dougherty’s brand of mincemeat:

A bit of New England history

A bit of New England history

“Monarch of pastry”

“Monarch of pastry”

Fruits and meats

Fruits and meats

Exotic spices

Exotic spices

Dougherty’s—accept no “cheap imitations”!

Dougherty’s—accept no “cheap imitations”!

Maybe I will try making a mince pie after all!

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July 25th, 2011

More Fun with Corn

Okay, I promise this is the last corn-related posting I’ll do this year. But there’s something about corn that makes people want to photograph it. I found two more corny postcards in my collection:

A family poses in front of their corn shock. They're identified as May, Florence, Charles, and Jay.

A family poses in front of one of their corn shocks. They're identified as May, Florence, Charles, and Jay.

Another family with their fall harvest of corn and apples. This one is postmarked 1907.

Another family with their fall harvest of corn and apples. This one is postmarked 1907.

Husking corn, circa 1880. Photographed on a farm near the one where J.I. Rodale started the original Organic Gardening test garden.

Husking corn, circa 1880. Photographed on a farm near the one where J.I. Rodale started the original Organic Gardening test garden.

Ephemera sometimes also featured corn:

This young lady, from a fertilizer trade card circa 1880, really wears her husks well. And how about that tassel-colored hair?

This young lady, from a fertilizer trade card circa 1880, really wears her husks well. And how about that tassel-colored hair?

Bonus points for the reader who can identify a source for 'Crosby's Early' sweet corn, a variety that originated in New England. Judging from its typography, this seed packet is from about 1870.

Bonus points for the reader who can identify a modern source for seeds of ‘Crosby’s Early’ sweet corn, a variety that originated in New England. Judging from its typography, this seed packet, from James Vick, dates to about 1870.

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June 27th, 2011

The Paper Chase

nancy-80x80I love old paper. I love the texture and weight of it, especially old rag paper. My hobby is collecting ephemera, most of which is printed on paper, so my following statement may seem odd.

I hate new paper. The amount that flows through my household every day is dizzying. I do recycle religiously, but I’d rather not deal with the excess in the first place. I need to break some habits first, though: Cancel those unwanted catalogs, switch to online bank statements (I’m having the most trouble giving those up), renew association memberships online. My electric and phone bills are automatically deducted from my checking account, but I’m still attached to the paper statements I receive in the mailbox. Baby steps.

Fortunately, at work, I am not quite as emotionally connected to the paper that crosses my desk—which is a lot. Publishing is a paper-intensive business. You would expect that, since much of our product is printed on paper. But a lot of the paper we use to produce magazines and books here at Rodale never makes it to the newsstand or bookstore. We use cost-tracking spreadsheets and author invoices and production schedules and author emails and status reports and page proofs and—you get the idea. All of these need to be printed on our office printers.

Or do they?

A few years ago, Rodale began to challenge that assumption. Could we cut our office paper usage and not compromise the quality of our work? As it turns out, we could and we did. Between 2009 and 2010, we reduced our office paper usage by 1.1 million sheets. According to my decidedly unscientific calculations, that’s about 137 trees.

How did we do it? By thinking before we print. We ask ourselves some basic questions: Do I really need a hard copy of that email, or should I just archive it on my computer? Could I print this report double-sided? Does this web page offer a printer-friendly view option? Have I picked up all of the printouts that I sent to the printer down the hall earlier today?

All of these changes added up to big paper savings for the company. (Not to mention cost savings: 220 cartons of paper are not cheap.) The environmental benefits extend beyond trees to the chemicals and water and energy used to manufacture and ship the paper. Since more things are now stored in electronic form, there is more demand on our computer servers, but our IT department has addressed this and we are still saving energy.

Our biggest paper-saving transition is happening this year. We’ve introduced new workflow software that will allow us to track statuses and costs and copy changes electronically, thus eliminating a lot of printouts. It will also make it easier for us to prepare content for multiple platforms: print, website, iPad, and whatever else readers demand.

Did I mention that we’ll be saving paper?

Look at the difference between the paper we used just in the Organic Gardening editorial office to produce the two most recent issues:

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Issue files for June/July (left) vs August/September (right)

I think we can do even better with our October/November issue. Now multiply those savings by six issues per year. Then consider that Rodale publishes six magazines and a lot of books. The reams start to stack up. Or, rather, not stack up.

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