Collection complete – Tobacco Flannel

I completed one collection recently. It is the COMPLETE collection of 1910-1915 Tobacco Flannels. These are rare, incredibly rare in fact. These were the premium options for the tobacco companies, and the redeemer had to smoke enough packs to collect enough coupons to then send in for the flannel piece.

Furthermore the ink is not waterproof, so it runs easily and can be ruined with any minor spill. What is exciting to me, is I have a complete set of Tobacco Flannels, which also means I now have a complete set of ALL tobacco related Knox College ephemera.

Whew. I can stop looking now. I have some duplicates, so I will need to think about what I am doing with those. I think at the moment that I will save them. Maybe one day I will sell them off. I will say that these flannels come up on eBay about once to twice a year. Usually in singlets, and rarely in doubles. Compared with the Tobacco Silks (which are always present) and the Card (there is only 1 paper card, and they come up several times a year) and the leathers which are also always present, the flannels are extremely rare. I am very happy to show them off. In 10 years of looking, this is the first time I have even seen 6 of these even pictured. The ability to share all of them is very exciting. You can read about the other types of tobacianna here.

The Tobacco Flannels, all 10 patterns.

1912 Basketball 1912 Fencer 1912 Football 1912 Ice Hockey 1912 Rower 1912 Swimmer 1912 Tennis 1912 Track Hurdler 1912 Track Runner 1912 Baseball

Final Cyanotype post

Well, here is the final batch of cyanotypes. Two small pictures are of a topic that could be at Knox. All in all, I am doubting the location of the vast majority of these. I don’t think they were taken in Galesburg, for the most part. If anyone ever sees a building you recognize, please let me know where it is from.

Without further ado, the rest of the cyanotypes. These are all from around 1855 – 1900. Well over 100 years old.

The first group is the most interesting. One is the laying of a cornerstone. Through some very good magnification, you can see there are two dates. The bottom is 1887, while the middle is 1889. This pretty clearly dates the pictures AFTER 1885 as the original documents indicate. Of great interest to me is what building is it? Nothing on the back to indicate.

1887 Laying a cornerstone - Large









Next is the Summit of Lookout Mountain (this is what the picture says on the back). Through this clue, I did some searching and found that it is actually Umbrella Rock, Lookout Mountain, TN. So, not all of the cyanotypes are even in IL.

1885 Summit Lookout Mountain










Which means that the “Overflow – Lake George” could be any number of Lake George’s too.

1885 Overflow Lake George










Which brings us to a Steam engine which could be related to the earlier pictures supposedly at Knox. Hard to tell. Not that much detail in the picture.

1885 Steam engine








And this Blueprint goes with it, I think.

1885 BluePrint








For the train lovers among us, there is a series of train photos. Some are better than others, and none have a lot of detail to figure out where they were taken.


1885 Train photo 6 1885 Train Photo 7 1885 Train Photo 1 1885 Train Photo 2 1885 Train photo 3 1885 Train photo 4 1885 Train photo 5











































Next up, the “Bachelor’s House in Knox County.” A very neat set of pics of some gentlemen lounging and enjoying the afternoon. Is it in Knox County? Not sure at all. I hope someone recognizes the house.

Long view

On Porch

Playing around





























Finally, two miscellaneous pictures of crowds and a beautiful garden.

1885 Man & Garden 1885 Crowd & horses

More Cyanotypes – Questionable location

I have finished scanning in all the cyanotype photographs (all of them dated “circa 1885” and all of them labeled “Knox County” or “Knox College”.)

I can say I have my serious doubts on the location of them. Why? The “Track Meet” pictures kill the idea this was at Knox College. The envelope is labeled “Track at Knox” but does not pass the test. Here are the pictures first.

1885 Track 1

Nice Track.









1885 Track 3








Amazing stands! Too bad Knox, in 1885 to 1890 had nothing like this. What Knox had was the original Gym, build by students, paid for by students, not at all a covered track with multi-story viewing. This was NOT at Knox College. But there are more pictures.

1885 Track 4









Oh, this is so not at Knox. This next pic could be (but is not if it is the same meet.)

1885 Track 2






I am going to post another group of the pictures without comment. I have my doubts that these are from Knox County or Knox College. They were all labeled as from Knox County or Knox College.  Oh well! If you don’t try for these kinds of things, you can’t know.  Carley Robison (the Archivist at Knox) will be getting all of these just in case, but I don’t think they are from Knox after all. There are some interesting pictures here. I will post them all in case someone can identify buildings. If you can, please add some info in the comments.

Misc Buildings

1885 2 Story building 1885 3 story w tower fuzzy 1885 3 story w tower 1885 4 Story Building 2 1885 4 Story building 1885 From the top of tower 1885 Two Towers

Knox Circa 1885

I promised on Facebook that the newest addition to my collection was something huge, and I was not lying. Here it is. This is ONLY the larger prints (about 5×7 in for the majority). The smaller prints will be another post. There are approximately 40 prints in all! This is a treasure trove of the Knox community around 1885-1895ish.

Why can I be that precise about the dates? Partially because of the type of pictures they are. These are all cyanotypes, which was a method of photography invented by John Hershel in 1842. This process was cheap and easy to do, and it is why “blue prints” are called “blue” prints. The cyan color is essential to the process.

How do I know these are of Knox? Well, the prints had labels on them saying so. Seriously. Honestly, I have my doubts. Even after looking at them carefully, I see some inconsistencies that make me wonder. I will point them out as I go. All of these photos were purchased in a plastic bag with a cardboard backer. On the cardboard backer, someone has written a description of the picture. Here’s the thing. The bag and backer are clearly comic book storage bags and boards. The pictures were in something in the past that identified them, and at some point in the last 50 years were transferred into the current storage devices.

2014-10-19 16.26.02 As you can see, this is not the most reliable of marking. In fact, if there were not two specific pictures in the group, I would not believe they were really of Knox at all.

So, I am going to give the pictures in no real particular order, but I am going to start with two small pictures, and they are the ONLY pictures that are written on the back (hence I scanned the back as well) AND you can identify the building clearly. At some point, the photographer WAS in Knox County and took pictures of at least the court house. Given that, I do believe the rest are of Knox as well. All of these pictures are dated on the backer board circa 1885.

All of these pictures were scanned at high resolution (300 px) and very high bit-rate to allow for lots of zooming and looking. None of these are watermarked (although some of them have water damage, that is different).

First up, the Court House from two different angles and two different times. In between them the bunting was removed.

1885 01 Courthouse from SW

1885 01 Courthouse from SW back










1885 02 Courthouse from W

1885 02 Courthouse from W back









That these are of Knox County Courthouse can not be denied.  Zoom in on the left of the picture taken from the South West. You can even see Whiting Hall in the background. You can imagine the woman in the foreground was a student walking from the Women’s College in Whiting to the Main Campus for a class.

1885 Civil Engeering Class1885 Civil Engineering Class at Knox
Looks like they were examining a train trestle? Imagine going to class in a 3 piece suit though? Not me.






1885 Early Steam Engine1885 Early Steam Engine at Knox 1
Windows spacing and arches over the windows are consistent with other pictures.





1885 Early Steam Engine (2)1885 Early Steam Engine at Knox 2 (this picture is washed out by light from the windows.)







1885 Engineering Lab 011885 Engineering Lab 1
Notice the 4  (or 6) panel doors. These are common doors throughout the pictures for the most part, with one exception.





1885 Engineering Lab 021885 Engineering Lab 2 (smaller and paper backed)

The windows in this picture have the same spacing as the windows above in the steam engine pictures.






1885 Engineering School - Pump1885 Engineering school pump
This has to be in a different room than the previous pictures. A room that has a very high, peaked roof. Also, notice the 9 panel door. Typically a building will not have different types of doors.




1885 Engineering School - Steam Engine Model1885 Engineering school – steam model engine
Same room as above picture, but other side. Notice the huge bricked in arch on both sides of the room. Very unusual.





1885 Engineering School - Thermal Experiment1885 Engineering school – thermal experiment
This is a thermal experiment, but my only thought was that in winter this room had to be freezing. There was no insulation at all. Those look like external wall bricks. brrr.





1885 Greenhouse

1885 Greenhouse
Did you know Knox had a greenhouse? According to this it did.




The first question in my mind was where could these pictures be taken? What building has many tall, narrow windows, with a short wall space in between? What building had a high peaked roof that could fit the steam engine in it? And, where could the green house be? Only one building, the George Davis Science Hall, built in 1911. Say what?

George Davis Science Hall Postcard

Here is an older image of George Davis Science Hall (the original name of the building, the “Science” has since been moved) and GDH was opened in 1911. There are two small greenhouses attached to GDH that you can see in this picture.


BUT, either the pictures are at Knox and the dates are wrong OR the pictures are not at any building at Knox but a building Knox was using and the pictures are correctly dated OR there are some pictures taken from several different locations and were all mixed up. All in all, I am uncertain if these are at Knox or not. They were sold as is, and attributed to Knox. The Courthouse is right, and the windows are right. I am going to have to spend some time looking at faces to see if any are identifiable.

Right now, I am not 100% confident that these were taken in 1885. GDH is the only building that seems possible, which would make them at least 1911.

With that said, here are two more large pictures (next week, the small ones).

1891 01 Mock Civil War encampment1891 Mock Civil War encampment 1







1891 02 Mock Civil War encampment1891 Mock Civil War encampment 2






I hope you enjoy!

An aerial photo of Knox

It has been an eventful week. I had a computer die at the beginning of the week, and then homecoming ended the week. Homecoming just forced me to avoid Facebook as I was not present, and the jealousy was very high.

Anyway, here is what I have to present today. (Click on the pics. The Willard Field photo was scanned very high res for you.)

1960 Willard Field from air

1960 Willard Field backThis is a 1960’s ish aerial photo of Knox. It is an official press release photo, as indicated by the official letterhead taped to the back describing it. The official description says it is of Willard Field (the first incarnation of Willard Field) but I saw something much more interesting in it.


closeup of WestBricksI even marked it with a blue arrow. See that little odd shaped foundation there? None of us who graduated in the 1980’s or 90’s ever saw that foundation. But on the right day in the Spring as the grass was growing, we could see an outline in the grass where it just didn’t grow as tall.

That is the foundation of the East Bricks, one of the two original dorms at Knox. The West Bricks was torn down to build Alumni Hall, but the East Bricks lived on longer.

Even cooler, this photo means the work I did with Sanborn Insurance maps was spot on. 1895 Knox

You can see in this 1895 map that the foundation is exactly where the Bricks was located. I am curious as to the shape difference between the picture and the map, however. The Sanborn maps were very precise, detailed, and drawn to scale. With all the morning shadows of Old Main and the trees, however, it is hard to determine exactly what is the shape.


In addition, the parking lot behind the Auxiliary Gym is where the Original Gymnasium was located. That is a very interesting story too. I have not told that story yet.


The ‘50s were such an innocent time

That is, until you start reading what they wrote in the 1950’s! Take for instance this 1951-52 Freshman Handbook. In it, the poor Freshmen males were forced to wear green beanies for up to a quarter, and were forcibly attacked by the Sophomores during a bonfire at Homecoming. Meanwhile, the females were paraded around in a different dress up day each day of the week for Homecoming and rated by others.

Knox was a meat market!

Whew, things have changed, but remarkably, things have stayed the same too. Flunk Day is in there, as are many of the traditions that still exist today, such as the Honor System. Knox has done a great job at moving the bad traditions out and keeping the good traditions alive. Knox has grown and adapted and changed, much as it’s students have.

I think that is one reason why I love Knox so much. The adaptation it has gone through over the years to stay relevant has strengthened the traditions, not weakened them. Anyway, read for yourself. I got a kick out of it. I hope you do too.

2 Pins–2 Eras

I had to take a couple of weeks off, so if anyone was wondering why there was not posts for the last two weeks, the answer was grad school. I just started a Ph.D. in STEM Education, and was trying to get organized to both teach AND learn. Just teaching was bad enough (I thought!)

What I have for you today is two pins from two different eras. The awesome thing is, the one that looks old, isn’t. The one that is rather plain? It is rather old. Both have very interesting and unique characters.

I am putting these together because they are about the same size. Both are just over a centimeter wide. The first, is a theater pin, showcasing the two faces, one of comedy, one of tragedy.

2014-09-07 18.13.31 2014-09-07 18.14.08 [click to enlarge all pictures. They are beautiful pins.]

One might be tempted to say this is an old pin, but the College Seal on it gives it away as rather new. That is the post-1937 Seal, the Seymour Seal. The detail work on the front is beautiful. I don’t know what type of gold, but it is gold, that much is clear. There is absolutely no tarnishing or patina on it.

Next, is a sterling silver pin, with our friendly manufacturer, CMR on the back.*

2014-09-07 17.54.10 2014-09-07 17.54.35

There is no way my picture does this pin justice. The purple is a rich purple, while the gold catches and reflects the light in a beautiful way. That back with the CMR triangle? We saw that with the Spoon I posted last time. But there is a big difference between the two CMR’s. This is larger, and the triangle is raised dots. The spoon is an impressed CMR. If I was a betting man (and I do live in NV) I would place this pin older than the spoon.

The other reason why I would date it older is the fact it just says Knox. The college seal of 1903 (The Robert Finley Seal) was wildly popular, and was used in several pins (according to the Knox Student and Gale). I wish I could find some of those pins.

2014-09-07 17.54.58

The backs give away which is older. The simple pin back of the oval Knox is much older than the more complicated pin on the Comedy/Tragedy mask.

I would love to find more pins like these. I know they existed, but I have not seen them come up for sale. These are exceptionally rare in my experience.



CHAS M. ROBBINS – Attleboro, MA
Founded in 1892 by Charles M. Robbins. In 1912 Robbins Company was formed and in 1963 became a subsidiary of Continental Communications Corporation.

A Knox Spoon

I was going to pass this up, like I had passed several other spoons up in the past, but the detail on the handle caught my eye and I had to have it. [As always, you can click any picture to see a larger version.]

2014-08-17 17.54.14You see that very small little thing to the left of Old Main? That is why I had to have it. That is the Knox College Observatory! It was finished in 1889, and I have not been able to find out when it was torn down, but I know it was standing in the 1950’s at least. That is a HUGE range of dates this little guy can be from, so more research is in order.

2014-08-17 17.54.53Look at the detail in this spoon. You can see the windows in Old Main and in the Observatory.

2014-08-17 17.54.47

There are hallmarks on the back, but I have not researched them yet.

2014-08-17 17.55.55I may have to get a better magnifier to see them. The left one says “CND” and then a black bird or black diamond and then a very clear bird on the right.

<edit> With a better magnifier, it says “CMR” which leads to the company founded by CHAS M. ROBBINS – Attleboro, MA. It was founded in 1892 by Charles M. Robbins. In 1912 Robbins Company was formed and in 1963 became a subsidiary of Continental Communications Corporation. Since it has the CMR the spoon could be anywhere from 1892 to 1963. In 1912 it is possible the hallmarks changed, so I will be wider rather than narrower in the the dating right now.

The observatory’s telescope still has a home in the Physics Department at Knox, and from recent reports is being repurposed and reused for night-time viewing. That is very cool.

Knox Observatory Pic This is a early, turn of the century (1920’s?) picture of the campus with the street still in bricks. You can see Alumni Hall, Old Main and the Observatory tucked away on the left.

Old Main 1952 wire photoThis 1952 wire photo still has the Observatory in the background, and Seymour Hall on the right. The demolition of the Observatory was not that long ago, relatively. According to Knox, it was demolished around the time CFA was built because it ruined the view of Old Main.

The spoon is not in perfect shape. There is pitting and scratches in the bowl, but the detail in the handle makes I a fabulous piece of memorabilia. That the creator chose to put the Observatory into the detail makes the spoon all the more interesting.

1922–At old Knox, a Young Man Finds

Well, it does not come out and say the Young Man finds a little nookie and a spouse, I am sure that the subtext was not lost on the prospective students in 1923. I mean the cover, 4th bullet point is “look, there are 220 women here! Come, meet them!”

Okay, well, it may not be that obvious, but that was my first thought when I read the cover of this Knox Bulletin publication from 1922. It is an advertising piece to attract students to Knox. It sells academics, athletics, student life, and any other ideas about Knox they could throw in there. I scanned it in greyscale but I think I need to scan it again in color. It is brown and tan from age, and the grey didn’t allow for the details to come through as well as I would have liked.

Some interesting facts about Knox in here. Well worth the read, and I love love love the huge John Finley Knox Seal on the cover. It truly represented Knox at that time.

Knox Gymnasium plates

That the same company manufactured these plates cannot be in question. The picture of the 2nd dedicated gymnasium at Knox is identical in both, right down to the scratch next to the tree, and the font used on the back for both “made in Germany” and “Gymnasium, Knox College, Galesburg, ILL” is identical. That these were still manufactured with such an obvious flaw in the design speaks to the rush job of creating them. There is no date, but the “Old Gym” as we knew it was finished in 1907, so it is sometime after that. My guess is it was shortly after 1907 to commemorate the opening of the building.

The larger is approximately 6in across, while the smaller is approximately 3 inches across. I used the awesome pencil to give some scale to the width and height.

The large plate (click any picture to enlarge). It is very pretty, with some nice detail around the edging.

2014-08-02 18.20.36  2014-08-02 18.21.40  2014-08-02 18.21.46 2014-08-02 18.21.54 

Back and side views.

2014-08-02 18.22.04 2014-08-02 18.22.27


The smaller plate is the same image but without the gold and green decorations. I imagine it was a cheaper version of the larger. Hmm, price point manufacturing is not a new thing at all! The fourth picture is the scratch that is in both dishes. It is not a scratch in the dish, but a scratch in the image transfer. The close up of the gym itself shows some great detail, and looks suspiciously like a postcard made probably around the same time. When I get into postcards I will revisit this picture.

2014-08-02 18.22.472014-08-02 18.23.012014-08-02 18.23.252014-08-02 18.23.30

Back and side views

2014-08-02 18.24.152014-08-02 18.23.12

The opening of the 2nd dedicated building for athletics at Knox was a big deal. The first gymnasium was constructed by students and was blown up in 1897 but not torn down until 1903. A gym building was a sore spot for a lot of alumni and students of Knox at that time. Clearly, the College was celebrating this building’s construction.