Keepapitchinin, the Mormon History blog » “I Take Up My Pen”: Czechoslovak Mission, 1937

“I Take Up My Pen”: Czechoslovak Mission, 1937

By: Ardis E. Parshall - September 05, 2013





  1. Why is the letterhead in English? Or do you think perhaps they had letterhead in Czech (or even Slovak?) for local correspondence and that this was for foreign correspondence?

    Comment by Mark B. — September 5, 2013 @ 10:25 am

  2. A little bland from the others you’ve displayed. Yes, good question, why in English?

    Comment by Mex — September 5, 2013 @ 10:45 am

  3. Most of the letterheads, wherever the mission is located, are in English rather than the local language. It isn’t unheard of to have the local language, but it’s much less common than in English, all through the late 19th and first half of the 20th century (the only period I’m familiar with). I don’t know the reason.

    Bland, yes, Mex, but I do like the typeface. It’s exactly the font, if I can call it that, on many of the lettering stencils that my mother used for so much mimeographing through the ’30s and into the ’60s.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 5, 2013 @ 11:54 am

  4. I decided to see if I could find the site of the mission office, using Google Maps and my non-existent Czech language skills. There is still a street in Prague named Terronska, in a part of the city called Bubenec, but the cross street, Sadova Ulici, no longer exists under that name. Because that name translates as “Park Street” there are several possibilities, including the streets bordering the park that crosses Terronska, but the former names of the streets are a mystery hidden to me.

    I thought it interesting that one nearby street is called Antonina Cermaka, after Antonin Cermak, who emigrated from what is now the Czech Republic to the United States, was elected mayor of Chicago in 1931, and was assassinated in Miami in 1933 while he was shaking hands with president-elect Roosevelt. Cermak Road in Chicago is named after him. Cermak was shot on February 15, died on March 6, and his assassin wasn’t executed until March 20–all in 1933. According to the Wikipedia entry for Cermak, the assassin’s execution was delayed because he couldn’t be charged with murder until Cermak actually died. But it turned out that two weeks was long enough for indictment, trial, any appropriate appeals, and scheduling of a spot on the electric chair!

    Comment by Mark B. — September 5, 2013 @ 12:44 pm

  5. That’s a great font. I’ve been trying to track down a name, but haven’t found it yet. Very typical of that era.

    Comment by Amy T — September 5, 2013 @ 1:02 pm

  6. Kind of a cool art deco look to that font. I like it!

    Comment by kevinf — September 5, 2013 @ 1:11 pm

  7. I noticed the font first, and I really like it. If someone knows the name, please let us know.

    Comment by Lynne F. — September 5, 2013 @ 4:03 pm

  8. I ran the font through some font finders (example) but didn’t get a name. Part of the problem is that I can’t see the details of the tail of the “Q” in the word “Quickmere.”

    After puzzling over the “Q” for awhile, I started puzzling over “Quickmere Prague” and put it into Google to see what or where it was.

    Google came up with several references to papers and articles on the evacuation of the Czechoslovak and German Missions at the beginning of the Second World War. (Pdf of an article from BYU Studies.) The article shows a telegram (p 136) captioned:

    Telegram from President Douglas M. Wood ordering missionaries to evacuate the West German Mission. The text reads: “leave immediately for rotter Dam Trunks same train assign temporary successor wire quikmere upon Departure.” “Quickmere” was a code word the missionaries were to wire to President Wood, indicating that they had received his telegram and were ready to proceed to Rotterdam.

    And now I’m confused. Doesn’t it look like Quickmere meant the mission office? In other words, wire the mission office?

    Comment by Amy T — September 5, 2013 @ 6:00 pm

  9. The article is incorrect. “Quickmere” was the registered telegraph code for the Church; it remained that until very recently (maybe it’s still registered, for all I know, except that telegrams are so rare that we never see it). “Quickmere Salt Lake,” “Quickmere Prague,” “Quickmere Basel,” “Quickmere London,” Quickmere anything, meant the registered Church office in whatever city was indicated.

    For at least a time during World War II, Britain suspended the use of coded addresses like this one, and the full name and address of someone at the mission home had to be used instead.

    So yes, any use of “Quickmere” in a Mormon source like this one can be “translated” as “mission office.” The elders were being told to let the office know they’d left, not to wire the word “Quickmere” to anybody.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 5, 2013 @ 6:35 pm

  10. Thanks! That’s good to know.

    Comment by Amy T — September 5, 2013 @ 6:38 pm

  11. Here’s a blowup of that part of the letterhead, if it helps:

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 5, 2013 @ 6:39 pm

  12. When I started practicing law a third of a century ago, most of the big firms which did international work had a cable address listed on their letterhead. I don’t remember ever seeing a cable–either Ingoing or outgoing–though, and I wouldn’t have known how to send one.

    Comment by Mark B. — September 5, 2013 @ 8:36 pm

  13. As long as we’re talking about telegrams… India sent its last just a couple of months ago (July 15th). I could have sworn that I’d read an article that said it was the last telegram in the world, but can’t find anywhere that says that now. Maybe they’re still sending them in Bangladesh, or something.

    Comment by SAC — September 6, 2013 @ 8:03 pm

  14. My wife’s grandpa was one of the missionaries (Elder Milton Madsen) evacuated from Czechoslovakia, and is photographed in a long article about it.

    Comment by Josh Ausborne — September 7, 2013 @ 5:17 pm

  15. A friend who is a graphic designer sent the following in response to my inquiry about the font:

    In a few words, it is custom engraving (notice the inconsistencies between the same letters, i.e. the “S”) based on commonly used geometric type of the day. Variations of that sort of font were popular all over Europe.

    He posted an inquiry in a forum for people interested in typefaces/fonts. The responses can be seen here.

    Comment by Mark B. — September 9, 2013 @ 5:46 am

  16. What an interesting collection of remarks by people who really seem to know what they’re talking about! Thanks, Mark.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — September 9, 2013 @ 6:55 am

  17. Oh, wonderful.

    Back when I was in college, one of my professors explained that the theory of six degrees of separation didn’t only apply to people; it also applied to information. So, any piece of known information was at most six people away.

    Well, that was before these kinds of internet communities were readily available. Mark B. just gave a great demonstration of how the internet can facilitate information sharing, since the Typophile discussion includes about as much information on 1930s Prague typefaces as the average person cares to know, including the potential source of the custom-engraved font.

    Comment by Amy T — September 9, 2013 @ 8:19 am

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