• Playing the Advertising Cards

    It's no secret that advertising has changed significantly over the years. Clearly, Google and Facebook weren't the ‘go-to’ for marketing directors in the 50’s.

    It used to be that if a business wanted to advertise, they went directly to print. The local high school yearbook, magazines and newspapers were great ways to be seen in the community. Ads in publications were frequent (and remain so today) but it was also common to see businesses advertising on basic household items.

    We have several examples of these vintage ads in our cabinet of history. Thermometers featuring ‘Fitterer Bros’ branding, yard sticks and even matchbooks fill our shelves. We even have a fun vintage ad hanging on the wall in our office. This 1952 card table top features companies from the Kittitas Valley;  a unique local treasure.

    Card table top - featuring advertisers around the Kittitas Valley

    One of our customers actually came in last week and told us that he too, owns one of these vintage tables! Ours is certainly worn, but it is in fairly good shape for 65 years old. With a wooden frame, its much different than the folding card tables we are used to seeing today.

    The table features about 45 local companies, including some still in business. Fitterer’s, Mid State Co-op, The Daily Record, Kelleher and Knudson Lumber are just some of the spaces that fill the table.  While many are no longer in business, this is still a fun look into Ellensburg’s past.

    If you do a Google search for these tables, you'll see there are still a few scattered around the United States. Most feature about the same amount of ad space ( or larger in some cases) from various businesses. Have you ever seen one of these unique tables?

  • Throwback Thursday – A Simple Post Card

    Post cards seem to transcend time. You may not get a personal post card via snail mail as often as you did before everyone could send an email from their pocket, but;  the post card industry is still very much alive and well.

    Many people seek out the post card stand on vacations, looking for perfect photos to stash in a box of memories. The Grand Canyon, Disney, Niagara Falls, Las Vegas, The Statue of Liberty- chances are you have at least a handful of post cards from some of these iconic destinations. The photography is beautiful, and generally maintains its quality longer than a traditional photo. You may even have a post card or two from Fitterer's if you've shopped here over the years!

    Prior to the age of technology, when traditional mail and the still very new landline telephone were the primary means of communication, post cards were a big business. There’s a whole history surrounding these printed cards – one (that we at least) were largely unaware of.

    This week, a post card from the early 1900s inspires our throwback!

    We found, almost by accident, a fun ( albeit small, in terms of today’s versions) antique post card in our cabinet today. The card measures 5.5 x 3.5 inches, and based on the research we did , looks to date back between 1907 and 1915.


    The front of the post card found in our cabinet this week! We believe it dates somewhere between 1907 and 1915

    The card features a whimsical photo of a couple, hand drawn question marks composed of flowers, and a banner with the question “Would you care?”. We were able to find a few of these online that were actually sent by post, but ours is blank. Could be that it was purchased as a collectible and given to the store by someone over the years – or it may have just been here at the store all of that time.

     We learned that post cards were primarily manufactured in Europe during the early 1900s, but this card states that it was printed in the U.S.  In addition to the ‘Printed in the U.S.' statement, are the words 'Theochrom Serie 1219’.

    The back view of the post card found today - despite some marking over time, its in great condition for its age! Note the ' Printed in the U.S. ' text

    We read that the majority of post cards were printed in Europe prior to WWI, so we weren’t as sure about the dating for this piece. A quick Google search for ‘Theochrom Serie 1219’ immediately brought up this card, as well as some history on the manufacturer. The company, Theodor Eismann , produced these cards.They were in fact a German company, which makes the 'Printed in the U.S.' message even more curious. It turns out there's  an interesting history regarding  the move of Theodor Eismann printing equipment to the U.S. – for more on Theodor Eismann, follow the link here!


    Its fun to dig into the history of these little finds – and you really cannot help but smile at this Post Card. Its lighthearted , and possibly not something you’d expect for an early 1900s collectible.

    Who knew you could learn so much from a simple post card?



    Keep reading for some fun facts about the history of post cards! And be sure to check out the link to the Smithsonian website where we got the bulk of our information.


    Did you know?

    •  The history of post cards can be broken up into distinct periods
      Though its difficult to put an exact date on every post card, there are about eight different time frames that separate their history
    •  It wasn’t until 1861 that congress passed an act to allow cards from private printers weighing under one ounce to be sent in the mail. This was the same year that the first post card in the US was copy righted.
    •  Between 1891 and about 1901 Private Post Cards were printed identifying themselves as “Private Mailing Cards”, to distinguish private vs. government produced cards. This period of time also restricted where text could be placed – for example, no message could be placed on the side of the card that was intended for the address.
    • The period from 1907-1915 is considered to be the “golden age of postcards”. This can be attributed to the overwhelming popularity of the post card during this era.
    •  Post cards were largely produced in Germany during the early days ( up until World War I) Though American post cards became more the norm at this time, quality fell due to a lack of technology for manufacturing.
    •  When quality fell during the change over to US production, people became less interested in collecting cards , effectively ending the “ golden age” of post cards. In order to save ink – the entire card was not filled with ink, leaving a white border. Cards made between 1915-1930 are likely to have this border.
    • Starting in 1930 , new technology allowed for cards to be printed to look like linen – this was the gateway for the photochrom era ( essentially post cards as we know them )

    Sources :



  • Throwback Thursday : Choosing the Memory

    Each week , we have loyal followers who drop by Facebook on Thursdays to check in and see what we’re going to feature for our “Throwback Thursday” post. We enjoy choosing the featured piece at random, researching and photographing these vintage treasures each Thursday.

    Some weeks we pull out a photo ( or several!). Others, we open up a publication – like the Daily Record Centennial edition , or the Seattle Times pictorial showcasing the Ellensburg Rodeo. Occasionally its a really cool item from the past that inspires us, such as the fabric from the 20’s that we found a few weeks ago. Despite the mystery  of what to choose every week  , one thing is for sure; there is a ton of history in this lovely cabinet.


    The cabinet where this history adventure begins each week

    There are stacks of insurance polices, deeds, photos and magazines. Awards, old measuring guides, stamps, post cards and antique promotional merchandise like thermometers, rulers and kitchen tools also live in this vault of memories.

    With so much going on in this cabinet, it can be tricky to decide what gets the spotlight. Some choices are undeniable – the 1896 coin given to us by a customer for example. How could you pull that out and not know in an instant that it’s a special find?


                           Stacks of documents line the bottom of the cabinets and drawers

    Some weeks, we try to align our choice with the goings on in the community. Rodeo, graduation, back to school, changes in the seasons – for some, all of these illicit feelings of nostalgia. Seeing a cedar chest come across your Facebook feed may bring back wonderful memories from school days past. Photos from a local publication featuring names of families that are still familiar can spark a conversation that may otherwise not have started.

    We believe that its important to remember the past and celebrate tradition. Throwback Thursday has been a fun way to remember ours, while sharing the experience with our community. Though we will begin to make this feature a bi – monthly one, we will continue to share our finds with you, and encourage you to join in on the conversation! Feel free to ask us any questions, or stop by to see some of these things in person we’d love to see you!