Showing posts with label Dead Trees. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dead Trees. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Romance of the Skies - TWA Circa 1944

What was your last commercial aviation experience like? Was it in an Airtran plane that looked like it came out of a desert storage yard? That's what replaced the Midwest Express Kansas City to Washington National run. You know, the one that used to have hot chocolate chip cookies.

The one good thing I can say about air travel is that it has been democratized. Many people can afford a quick trip from Point A to Point B. Sure, the planes are cramped cattle cars; this is especially true for tall and large travelers. Can you believe that air travel used to be romantic?

Once upon a time, taking an airplane was an exotic experience and the DC-3 was the best thing in in the air. I came across a wonderful bit of ephemera that helps drive this home: a 1944 TWA promotional calendar.

Back in the glory days of unlimited, virgin pulpwood, promotional calendars were serious business for TWA. This is over two feet high.

1944 would have been a strange time for recreational and business aviation. World War II was still in full swing and the geopolitical map was being drawn and redrawn at a terrible and deadly pace. In the context of the war, TWA's World Air Map is interesting, indeed.

The workhorse for TWA in 1944 was the relatively new Douglas DC-3. With a quiet and pressurized cabin and flight attendants that catered to passenger's whims, it represented the best in travel experiences.


Oh, and the interesting locales you could fly to! Back in the day, these were still exotic and foreign places. There was no Twitter delivering instant news of what was happening on the ground or massive data cloud of photos and blogs about every statue and back alley. Heck, I remember back in the '80s a trip to Chicago was pretty special. Now it is a skip and a jump on a Southwest plane - that is provided they don't combine two flights to optimize profits. You didn't really need to make it to your destination in time for a meeting, did you? Mooo!!!!

And China? That was the place with the big wall and temples featured in the dead tree version of the National Geographic. By the way, reading an issue from the 1940s is a real treat. If kept from light and moisture, old National Geographic magazines are remarkably well preserved and full of graphic goodness.

Malaysia? You might as well have been flying to Shagri-La!

Of course, TWA could whisk you across the United States in style.

With so many routes to choose from...

And lest you forget there is a war going on, they will remind you of the other way DC-3s are used to move people.

Here is a little bit of a history lesson on cross-country travel in the prewar era:

"TWA was the third airline to put the new DST in service. They accepted the first eight in April, 1937. On June 1, 1937, they put their "Super Sky liner Sleeper" DSTs outfitted with eight berths up front and nine divan chairs in the rear, in service between New York and Los Angeles. TWA called this flight the "Sun Racer," although it never quite won the race. It chased the sun across the country, leaving New York at 8:30 a.m., and arriving in Los Angeles at 11:30 p.m. the same day."  Source:

I saved the best part for last.  Geopolitics is a delicate subject with many alliances shifting over time.  My favorite pages from this calendar represent countries we were once friendly with.  Iran, of course, is our sworn enemy today, but it was a tourist destination in 1944.

And then there is our on again, off again friend/frenemy and rival/mortal enemy, the Soviet Union.  It would seem to be a stressful place to visit in the midst of WWII.  But it is a large country and the fighting was most likely far away.  Just a few years later, the Cold War began in earnest.

I have been coveting a framed page advertising travel to the Soviet Union from a 1948 TWA calendar for over a year.  It appears this antique mall seller is resistant to discounts.  I was overjoyed to find an entire calendar elsewhere for next to nothing.  I hate to break it up, but I very much want these last pages framed and up on my office walls.

Decisions, decisions...

Thanks for joining me on this little voyage. Rest assured, this blog has not been abandoned. This article is proof that I can create multiple drafts and let them marinate for months on end before I decide to grab one and complete it. 

More random copyright things: All of the words and images, other than those sourced elsewhere, are mine. Use with attribution, but not for commercial purposes, you must. Please share the Blogger love. Use the handy Google+ sharing feature at the top of the frame. You can find me and a whole bunch of really awesome photo communities over in that ghost town of a Facebook competitor.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Rhinos Illustrated in "The Kingdom of Nature"

This is part 2 of the series on illustrations from "The Kingdom of Nature; An Illustrated Museum of the Animal World".  Just click on the label at the end for the rest of the series.

This post is just for the members of the Typosphere.  There is a special rhino obsession that accompanies an annual typing event, the NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month).  To see rhino mascots at their best, visit

Our guest typewriter for this post is mysterious as it has not yet been blogged.  Some may recognize its unique typeface.  We also have a guest writer:  Hannah F. of

Basic rhino anatomy.
The horse just doesn't get that the rhino wants to play.  Awww!

When pressed, the mighty rhino will defend himself.

But mostly, the rhino is a friend to all animals.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Type Specimen Book - Western Typesetting

I love this cover graphic.  As found on the shelf, the book has no words or graphics on the spine.  It's just pure black.

Gingercat and I stopped by our favorite used bookstore, Prosperos, and found this great Type Specimen Book.  It was published by the Western Typesetting Company.  There is no copyright or other date information and the price lists are missing from the inside cover sleeve.  The one clue to the date is a 6 digit alphanumeric telephone number that would have been phased out in the 1950s.

The address is in what is now the Quality Hill neighborhood in downtown Kansas City.

 A Google search turns up nothing other than the apparent fact that I got a really good deal on this book.  Any information about the book or the manufacturer would be appreciated.

I also own an American Type Founders specimen book from the 1940s.  I actually prefer the layout and organization of the Western book.

The cowboy theme continues throughout the book.  It's pretty fun! I've posted a few samples.  The Script selection is amazing.

I want the Italic Swash type on a typewriter.
One of gingercat's friends was very happy to receive s sample of this typeface.
I am still a little obsessed with the blackletter fonts.
The reliable old Epson 3170 scanner is happy to be on the job.  I rescanned the cover and I can tell you that is is a vast improvement over the combination HP scan/print thing that shall not be named.  The next scans are also from the Epson.

I would be remiss in not showing the typewriter simulation samples from this book.

Thanks for reading.  Until next time, yee, haw, pardner!

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Kingdom of Wacky and Wonderful Illustration

At a recent antique show, I scored a slightly beat up and thoroughly awesome copy of The Kingdom of Nature; An Illustrated History of the Animal World by Mrs. Frank Leslie and copyrighted in 1888.  The preface advertises a content of almost 1,000 illustrations.  Many of them are just amazing in a distinctly late 19th century way.  Here are a few samples to start with.  A series will follow here and on my secondary blog,

The price for this gem?  $5.00.  One of the high points of living in the dawn of digital books is that the real ones are being dumped on the cheap.  The sad part is that many will never find a home and will end up in a landfill somewhere.  It appears that this book has not been digitized.  I hope you enjoy the images here and to follow.

The Oliver 9 decided to contribute a short review seen further below.

Times were tough in the "Predamite Period" described at the beginning of the book.
The Mighty Oliver 9 is back!  With assistance from the faithful gingercat.  He gets grumpy without exercise.

Fortunately, evolution kicked in.  I wonder if he knew how to use a typewriter?

It's all good until he runs out of femurs for his feline friend.

This calligraphic type style should be mandated by law.
This is a hefty and substantial tome.  Cover to cover, it is pushing 2 inches thick with 440 pages of slight puffery that is typical of the era.  I have read far worse in turn of the last century technology history reviews.  If the title page is any indication, this is probably the best book ever written!  Or something like that.

Yep, best book ever!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy Birthday William Shakespeare!

Today is the observed 448th birthday of the Bard.  To celebrate, I scanned portions of a May, 1964 National Geographic article penned by the then director of the Folger Library in Washington, D.C.  In classic National Geographic fashion, the magazine included an amazing map which could not be scanned as a whole.  I hope you enjoy some of the details.

I love this rendition of Puck.

There be monsters here.  This reminds me of the old flat Earth maps that assumed the presence of huge and menacing sea creatures lurking the depths near the edge of the world.

Only a nerd would be excited at finding a vintage magazine featuring Shakespeare's Britain.
Artist's rendition of the Globe.

Of course, there are always the haters that say Shakespeare didn't write the collected works of Shakespeare.  Some say he didn't even exist.  Some point to his signature as being a sign of illiteracy.  I guess that means the majority of doctors can't actually read.  I could say the same for most of my peers in the regulatory compliance world.  My signature is beyond illegible.

I have something special for the Shakespeare deniers: a reminder that on this blog he has some muscle behind him.

As an aside, I am becoming reacquainted with an old friend after the utter failure of a new one.  I've owned an Epson Perfection 3170 Photo scanner for a number of years.  It is a single purpose device with a more complicated interface than most of the family prefers.  It had been supplanted by an all-in-one scanner/printer combination, a HP Deskjet 4480.  The latter is now declared the worst recent piece of technology I have owned other than Windows Vista.  It won't recognize refill cartridges.  Expensive high capacity cartridges work for a dozen or so pages and then are reported as empty or start overprinting lines.  Worse yet, when there is a cartridge problem, the scanner also stops working.

In contrast, the old Epson still works perfectly and the company has supplied updated drivers for Windows 7.  Bear in mind that this scanner dates to Windows XP.  Kudos to Epson!  I wish I could say the same for Adobe's Lightroom (they never updated RAW profiles for 1.0 and force users to buy new software) and the ColorVision Syder2express (no software updates since Vista).   Please bear with me while I get used to the controls and optimize scan file sizes.

For the HP Deskjet 4480, I present an Epic Fail award photo.  I will never buy another new HP printer, even if it is tossed in free with a computer package.

Vultures await the carcass of the HP 4480.  Long may it rot.