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Return of the Love Triangle

By: Ardis E. Parshall - March 29, 2011

Back in the dim recesses of my blogging past, I showed you trade card dating to the 1880s that had a Mormon theme: a young man with two female admirers solved his romantic dilemma by moving to Utah. Har har har. Then I discovered that that trade card was one of a set of four telling a longer story. You might want to take a quick look at those earlier posts.

Well, the stars of our little romance are back, in bright new costumes, engaged in the same melodrama:

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The copyright notice on this set of cards gives us a good indication of their origin: “Keterlinus, Phila.” points toward the lithography business of brothers Eugene and Paul Keterlinus, born in Germany in the 1820s and emigrated to the U.S. in 1833, grandsons of a prominent German engraver. Eugene (pictured here) opened his printing business in an existing building on the corner of 4th and Arch Streets in downtown Philadelphia in 1842; his business was so successful that by 1855 he was able to build a brand new building on the same site, shown here in a period city directory. You can’t visit that building today – although the business was then still being operated by Keterlinus descendants, the ground was sold in the 1960s and the U.S. Mint now stands on that site.

I don’t know whether Keterlinus was responsible for making the original drawings or whether he adapted and colored drawings produced elsewhere. And I don’t know why these cards don’t have advertising printed on them – that was their purpose, and you can see there’s plenty of blank space above the images to accommodate someone’s ads, just as in the earlier fan-shaped version of these cards. There’s even a set of these cards, with advertising, currently available on eBay, for a price about twice what I paid (I cared about the Mormon content; most collectors would care more about the advertising).

Will our loving trio find the bliss they seek in Utah? Will we see their story told yet again in a different form someday? Cue organ music …



6 Comments »

  1. I only have one wife, but I have that exact same outfit. (For special occasions)

    Comment by MMM — March 29, 2011 @ 10:21 am

  2. Very interesting to say the least. A bit of a tangential comment, but I spent over two years of my work life very near the engraving shop’s “gravesite”. The brothers K would have been surrounded by shoemakers. When we moved on site to build the Mint in 1966, the Redevelopment Authority had just finished clearing the site and digging the basement. The two square block, thirty foot deep excavation was littered with trash, much of it old shoeleather and rubber soles as the area was taken up by shoeshops that made shoes to order. The NW corner of 4th and Arch, if my memory serves, became the loading dock where the trucks backed up to being the coils of coining strip which woulod soon produce those sandwich quarters and dimes we first saw inn the sixties to replace the 90% silver coins that were too expensive to produce.

    Comment by CurtA — March 29, 2011 @ 10:35 am

  3. The costumes remind me of the John Tenniel illustrations of Tweedledum, done in approximately the same time period.

    I suspect the trading cards were originally done in the same bright colors, but have faded.

    In any case, an odd story. I can’t see this series revived anytime soon as a “collect-all-four” set of cards in my morning cereal box.

    Comment by Clark — March 29, 2011 @ 12:12 pm

  4. MMM, despite the cowboy on your website, I shall picture you from now on in your clown suit.

    CurtA, you never fail to amaze me with your experience and the wide range of places you have lived and things you have done!

    Clark, it doesn’t come through in the scans, but those fan-shaped cards are printed in sparkly metallic ink. They’re really quite pretty in the flesh — er, pasteboard — with the silver and gold and bronze sheen. I’m pretty sure they are as fresh today as they were in the 1880s, and that they weren’t originally colored like these. It’s quite a different print style (no indication on those fans as to who printed them, though).

    Anybody gonna bid on the eBay set? Not me — but speak up if you are so no other ninny bids against you.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — March 29, 2011 @ 12:23 pm

  5. This is so fun. MMM,I don’t understand the clown suit, but I’m sure all of Ninnies would love to see you in your suit. We could order a special occasion just so you would have an excuse! HaHa

    Comment by Maurine Ward — March 29, 2011 @ 10:50 pm

  6. I’m tempted to buy them… But still making up my mind, so I won’t be mad if someone grabs ‘em first…

    Comment by Mina — March 30, 2011 @ 5:37 am

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