Two souvenirs from a European vacation, 1911

Posted on February 21st, 2018 by

A blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church. To read more posts by Joanna click HERE.

Isaac Hecht (1864-1913) was a prominent businessman in the small Maryland town of Havre de Grace. He owned a hotel and saloon; served as president of the several banks, the local taxi cab business, and the Havre de Grace chapter of the Fraternal Order of Eagles; and was active in city politics and local philanthropy. He and his wife, Elizabeth Weis of Baltimore, had two sons: Lee I. Hecht, born 1888 (later a well-known judge in Baltimore), and Lawrence, born 1899.

Isaac Hecht (at far right) and others in an automobile donated for a raffle held by the Fraternal Order of Eagles, Havre de Grace, ca. 1910.  Gift of Isaac Hecht II. JMM 1991.198.3

All of that biographical background is to set my readers up for this delightful souvenir plate from our collections.  It is made of fine porcelain, hand-painted in gold, with holes on the reverse – this was definitely intended for display, not dinner – and features a photograph of a well-to-do family above the caption “Karlsbad 1911.”

Porcelain souvenir plate, hand-painted, 1911. Made by A. Hoffman. Gift of Eleanor Hecht Yuspa. JMM 2010.8.4

We know, thanks to the donor, that the photograph shows Isaac, Elizabeth, and Lawrence.  Conveniently – and this is why I love souvenirs since, after all, they’re supposed to remind you of a specific time and place – the plate itself gives us the time and the place.

Elizabeth, Lawrence, and Isaac Hecht, on vacation in Karlsbad, 1911 – as shown on their souvenir plate. Gift of Eleanor Hecht Yuspa. JMM 2010.8.4

A little further research tells more of the story. Karlsbad, also known as Karlovy Vary, was a spa in Bohemia; now in the Czech Republic, at the time of the Hechts’ visit it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  It was a fashionable resort for many decades, though its fortunes faded after WWI; in 1911, the year our Hechts visited, it saw over 71,000 visitors, and even hosted a fancy chess tournament.

Though his businesses were in Havre de Grace, not Baltimore, Isaac Hecht was important enough to rate notice in the Sun’s social news.  Articles from the summer of 1911 tout the maiden voyage of a new luxury steamship line from Baltimore to Europe:

“The date when Baltimoreans will have their first chance to secure first cabin accommodation on a trans-Atlantic liner from this port is now only a short time off – June 28. On that day the magnificent North German Lloyd liner Friedrich der Grosse will make its first trip from Baltimore. Besides being the largest passenger ship ever to sail from this port, it will be the first vessel to carry first cabin passengers from this city, and, if patronized well enough, will be the first of a regular series of sailings by the finest ocean liners in the service of the North German Lloyd.”  (“Rush for First Cabin,” Baltimore Sun, June 8, 1911)

“Greetings from the ship Friedrich the Great.” Image courtesy Passengers in History.

The article continues, “Prominent person from all parts of Maryland in nearby States will also be on the ship, and the list of passengers is increasing daily. Among the most recent entries are Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Hecht, together with their son and Mr. Hecht’s brother, all of Havre de Grace…. Mr. Hecht is president of the Havre de Grace Banking and Trust Company.”  (I. Lee Hecht, older than his younger brother Lawrence by 11 years, was already off on his own.) A few months later, social news from Havre de Grace includes the tidbit that “Mr. and Mrs. Isaac Hecht and son, who have been spending the summer in Europe, have sent home quite a collection of pictures, bric-a-brac, needlework and other things for the various booths at the coming hospital bazaar.” (Baltimore Sun, October 8, 1911).  The trip to Karlsbad was even referenced in Isaac’s 1913 obituary, when the author noted that Mr. Hecht had leased his hotel “a couple of years ago. . . in order to go to Carlsbad, Germany [sic], for the benefit of Mrs. Hecht’s health.” (Baltimore Sun, May 21, 1913)

Two close-up views: hand-painted flowers (left) and the makers’ marks (right). Gift of Eleanor Hecht Yuspa. JMM 2010.8.4

I particularly like the bit about the family acquiring “bric-a-brac,” as it ties in nicely with their fancy “Porzellan-Fotograf” plate.  This was a substantial souvenir, more costly than a spoon or a fan, and more personalized than a book of photos, or a mug with the town’s name printed on it; it was meant for display, a reminder to yourself and your visitors of that pleasant visit to a prestigious, high-society resort.

But I promised you two souvenirs of the Hechts’s visit to Karlsbad, so here’s the other one; this one is of a much more plebian, transient nature, but is no less informative, and a bit more poignant.  Amongst a small collection of postcards received by Emanuel and Fanny Weis Hecht of Havre de Grace is this one, sent from Karlsbad on September 18, 1911.  The two families were double-in-laws; Emanuel was Isaac’s brother, and Fanny was Elizabeth’s sister. Emanuel ran the Hecht’s Hotel during Isaac’s long absence; he and Fanny had just had a baby daughter, Hannah, the year before. This postcard carries Rosh Hashanah greetings in German and Hebrew on the front, with an illustration of “The discovery of Moses.”

Gift of Elizabeth Hecht Goodman. JMM 1997.45.9

Addressed to Mr. & Mrs. E. Hecht and “Miss Hannah,” the message on the back reads, “Dear Brother and Sister and Little Hannah. A Happy New Year and many of them. Hoping you [are] all in the best of health. I wish I was home to spend the Holiday. With love, Isaac Elizabeth and Lawrence Hecht.”  After all, vacations are well and good … but sometimes you’d rather be home with family during the holidays.

Gift of Elizabeth Hecht Goodman. JMM 1997.45.9

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




“Baltimore, the Liverpool of America” – In Which Trillion Was Right All Along

Posted on January 26th, 2018 by

A blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church. To read more posts by Joanna click HERE.

As always, it’s the odd little hidden gems in the collection that warm a registrar’s heart.  I recently happened upon this book, and – being a sucker for municipal encomiums of the past – I took a closer look.  Here for you today we have a Souvenir of Baltimore, printed in 1898 by A. Hoen & Co. of Baltimore, “compiled expressly for the American Pharmaceutical Association” in dedication “to its members in commemoration of the forty-sixth annual meeting, held August, 1898” in Baltimore.

Souvenir of Baltimore, 1898. Museum purchase. JMM 1987.140.1

Alas, the Jewish community is not featured with any prominence in this volume, in the photographs that make up the bulk of the book, the history of the city, or the contemporary statistics and achievements.  We can’t be ignored altogether, of course:

Among the photos of commercial institutions is this one of “Joel Gutman & Co., Dry Goods and Notions.” From Souvenir of Baltimore, 1898. Museum purchase. JMM 1987.140.1

Featured religious institutions include both “The Oheb Shalom Synagogue” (i.e. the Eutaw Place Temple) and “The Associate Reform Church.” From Souvenir of Baltimore, 1898. Museum purchase. JMM 1987.140.1

The Hebrew Orphan Asylum is listed here with other “Charitable institutions,” and Oheb Shalom and Har Sinai are listed amongst the city’s “400 churches [sic], representing nearly all denominations.” From Souvenir of Baltimore, 1898. Museum purchase. JMM 1987.140.1

We’re also represented in a less obvious – but still financially important – way, as the concluding statistics touting “the leading industrial and distributive trades” in the city include $15,000,000 for “Manufactured Clothing,” and $6,000,000 each for “Shirts, Drawers, and Overalls” and “Straw Hats” – all trades in which the Jewish community was quite active, if not indeed the leaders.

To me, though, the most striking thing about the book is this proclamation on the first page:

“Baltimore City, The Liverpool of America.” From Souvenir of Baltimore, 1898. Museum purchase. JMM 1987.140.1

Well okay, then.  Perhaps this mostly struck me as peculiar because I had just, less than an hour previously, been talking about Liverpool with a former resident. And I know only a very few facts about the city of Liverpool, most of which have to do with either music or football … neither of which topics bring Baltimore immediately to my mind (“Baltimore Hit Parade” and the Ravens notwithstanding). It’s clear that this comparison would have meant something to its readers in 1898, but this book never actually explains it.

Thus, as always, to the internet we go! It turns out this was not just a one-off comparison. Our friends at A. Hoen & Co. had earlier published a map of the city, with the same title, as a newspaper supplement in 1872; the Mercantile Advancement Company published a 231 page book, Baltimore: The Gateway to the South, the Liverpool of America in 1898; and in 1894 a local newspaper doubled-up on the city’s nicknames, publishing a two-volume celebration titled The Monumental City, the Liverpool of America: A Souvenir of the 121st Anniversary of the Baltimore American.

Title of the 1872 map by A. Hoen & Co.

More helpful, however, is this April 1875 article from Scribner’s Monthly (“An Illustrated Monthly for the People”) which makes the comparison more explicit, focusing on Baltimore’s industrial strengths, rapid rise in population, and “remarkable development of its terminal facilities” (i.e., the harbor and the railroads). Not only did that make us the Liverpool of America, it apparently made us “the fashion.”

I didn’t find the phrase used in the 20th century (at least not on an internet search), but in some ways the comparison stayed true, if progressively less flattering, as industry dwindled and each city’s future become rather less rosy … and then, in the late 20th century, an arts scene helped bring each city back to life.  But here’s Trillion to talk more knowledgably about it!

I lived in Liverpool for about ten years, initially for University but I stayed when I met my husband. It is a wonderful city, with a fascinating history and amazing people. If you ever have a chance to visit Liverpool I would highly recommend taking the opportunity, you don’t need to love The Beatles, but you will hear them almost everywhere you go in the city. I didn’t anticipate finding similarities between the two cities but as soon as I arrived in Baltimore they quickly became apparent. The biggest similarity is history, both cities were important ports meaning there was a huge amount of wealth at one point and an international community. The impact of this can especially be seen in architecture, both have some amazing historic buildings highlighting their status as international cities, plus they both have wonderful museum collections gathered from around the world.  Adding to this however both cities experienced trouble during the twentieth century and have seen this impact the way in which they are viewed nationally and internationally. It seems though that the local communities of both have come together to develop a thriving arts and culture scene that attracts visitors from around the world, bringing back just a little of that former glory.

 The cities have their differences, but I frequently find a certain comfort in the similarities, making Baltimore feel not quite so far away from home. ~Trillion

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Season’s Greetings from the Jewish Museum

Posted on December 25th, 2017 by

A blog post by Collections Manager Joanna Church. To read more posts by Joanna click HERE.

Unsurprisingly, the Jewish Museum of Maryland does not have very many Christmas cards in its collections.  We do have a few, though, including two sent by Philip Perlman to his friend Dr. Lucille Liberles around 1940.

 

Left: “Season’s Greetings,” circa 1939.  Right: “Christmas Greetings,” circa 1941. Both gift of D.C. Liberles. JMM 1980.29.67b, .64b

In 1936, Baltimore native Philip B. Perlman purchased Greenbank Farm, a 90-acre estate (complete with pre-1800 farmhouse) in the My Lady’s Manor area of Monkton, Baltimore County.  A lawyer and former newspaperman, he had earlier served as Secretary of State for Maryland; later he was appointed U.S. Solicitor General – the first Jewish man to hold the position – under President Truman.  In addition to his professional career, he was active in the local museum and art scene, including work with the Walters Art Museum and the Maryland Historical Society. Several sources mention that he had homes on Park Heights Avenue and at the Shoreham Hotel in DC, but his obituary in the Baltimore Sun also referenced his “country home on the Manor.”

Mr. Perlman surrounded by American antiques, possibly at Greenbank Farm. His Baltimore Sun obituary stated, “He acquired a notable collection of antique American furniture which he lodged in his country home on the Manor. He seemed to carry in his head the origins and dates of each piece.” (August 2, 1960)  Gift of D.C. Liberles. JMM 1980.29.72b

Soon after he purchased the farm, Mr. Perlman decided to make it the focus of his holiday greetings; rather than choose a holiday card featuring an illustration of a picturesque American scene, he used a photo of his very own picturesque farmhouse. Though not as ubiquitous as today’s photographic holiday cards, personalized photo cards were certainly available by the late 1930s; these two examples are mass-produced cards, with the name of the farm and the sender printed locally and original photos of the house pasted into the little window inside. (I particularly like the mob of sheep in the foreground of the earlier card; they don’t look terribly festive to me, but I can appreciate the intent.)

“To wish you a Merry Christmas and every happiness in the New Year / Philip B. Perlman,” circa 1939. Gift of D.C. Liberles. JMM 1980.29.67b

“Greenbank Farm / Monkton, Md. / Philip B. Perlman,” outer card design copyright 1940, circa 1941. Gift of D.C. Liberles. JMM 1980.29.64b

These two Christmas cards were sent to Perlman’s good friend Dr. Lucille Liberles, another Baltimore native. Both were Jewish, but Chanukah greeting cards weren’t really a thing at this time (at least not mass-produced ones), and I can see that a public figure like Mr. Perlman might choose to go ahead and send Christmas cards to his mailing list, regardless of his own religious inclinations.

Friends Philip B. Perlman and Dr. Lucille Liberles, circa 1950. Gift of D.C. Liberles. JMM 1980.29.73b

BONUS: Here’s an example of a Chanukah greeting card from the early 20th century … albeit one on a picture postcard of a train station, requiring the writer to make his own greetings:

Postcard: Photographic view of “New Union Station, Washington, D.C.,” published by I&M Ottenheimer, Baltimore. Postmarked Baltimore, December 25, 1910; addressed to Mrs. S. Szold in New York City. “Balto. Dec 22d 1910. Wishing you, and your family, a pleasant Hanucah [sic], and many returns of them. Mit Gruss, F. Gichner.”  Baltimore’s Sophie Szold and her daughter Henrietta were living in New York that year; the sender might have been Frederick S. Gichner of Washington, DC, perhaps visiting his family in Baltimore at the time. Museum purchase. JMM 1993.123.11

Posted in jewish museum of maryland




Next Page »