Monday, April 18, 2016

Frank Herbert's Windmill (1977)

In March 1977, the Associated Press reported that Dune author Frank Herbert (1920-1986) had chosen to live a self-reliant life of "techno-peasantry." From his six-acre homestead on Washington's Olympic Peninsula, Herbert occupied a solar-paneled residence with his family. They grew their own vegetables in a lean-to greenhouse that supplied radiant heat to their adjacent home. They raised chickens and gathered droppings to fertilize their garden.

Herbert also collaborated with Taliesin-trained architect John Underhill Ottenheimer to design a panemone windmill. The duo patented their turbine and sought to market it for Sears or Wards company catalog sales.

Drawings and research notes pertaining to their windmill are housed with the author's manuscripts at California State University, Fullerton University Archives and Special Collections.

Like Albert Ledner, John Ottenheimer continues to practice architecture. He is assisting with the restoration of Frank Lloyd Wright's Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.

Read more:  "Writers sees self-reliance as key to survival." The Manhattan Mercury 25 March 1977.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

The Joker (1884)

In 1884, P.W. Zeigler advertised his stoves, tinware, pumps and drive wells. He also sold Joker solid-wheel wooden windmills, an unusual type manufactured in Peabody, Kansas and known for its back-gearing. This made for a more efficient and uniform pump stroke per wheel rotation.

Image above:  P.W. Zeigler advertisement. Riley County Blue Book and Directory. Manhattan, KS: 1884.

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Kansas Module (1887)

William H. Sadlier Company published the first two volumes of its Excelsior Geography in 1875. An additional volume appeared the following year. The works were part of a series that the Sadlier family developed to serve parochial school educators who lamented the anti-Catholic sentiment they discerned in American textbooks.

Sadlier's secondary school publications became quite popular, and garnered attention at the 1878 Paris Exhibition. Many went through multiple editions, as did its three-volume geography primer.

The plate reproduced above, "Map Drawing on a Uniform Scale, Combined with Comparative Size," provides general instructions based on a uniform scale. The anonymous author set Kansas as the basis for mapping out the other states, the rectangular module for the United States. Its proportional relationship of 1:2 (200 miles x 400 miles) made it particularly easy to scale. For those states with more irregular borders, the author recommended employing comparative size.

See more geography instruction manuals here.

Image above:  "Map Drawing on a Uniform Scale, Combined with Comparative Size." As it appears in Anonymous ["A Catholic Teacher"]. Sadlier's Excelsior Geography, 2nd ed. New York: William H. Sadlier, 1887. Ben A. & Sylvia S. Smith American Geography and Social Studies Education Collection, Richard L. D. and Marjorie J. Morse Department of Special Collections, Kansas State University Libraries.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

States on Stage (1884)

Chicago designers Trowbridge and Petford developed this advertising map for H.W. Hill & Company, the nation's largest manufacturer of hog rings. Hill had utilized the cartographic format for a previous promotional effort, his Map of the United States, Showing the Farm Animals in Each State (1878).

While the earlier ad incorporated Department of Agriculture data, the 1884 map employed cartoonish pigs to represent each state's common nickname. William Eugene Sutphin Trowbridge, a designer, and Charles E. Petford, the Haverly Theatre's scenic artist, combined forces for Hill's Advertising Department.  They created a colorful map revealed through stage curtains by a porcine clown and an impresario.

Dakota Territory and Louisiana are the only regions that feature architectural elements, with a Native American tepee representing "In the Land of the Dakotas" and an ornamental balustrade suggesting the Creole state. Iowa's Hawkeye has a bird's eye view of a railroad bridge, a steamboat and a distant town. Vermont's "Granite State Boys" features a monumental pig statue.

Potential customers could purchase the map for merely 5¢.

Image above:  Nicknames of the States. Decatur, IL: H.W. Hill & Co., 1884. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division. URL:

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Boom & Bust Syndicates

During the 1880s and early 1890s big real estate development "syndicates" proliferated. Platting activities simultaneously peaked in such cities as Cleveland, Chicago, Detroit, Milwaukee and San Francisco.(1)

The previous post introduced one such enterprise in San Antonio, Texas. In New York, Maximilian Morgenthau's syndicate was especially powerful, known for its lucrative ventures on Amsterdam Avenue, 179th, 180th and 182nd Streets.

In Kansas, the so-called "Big Syndicate" formed in the spring of 1887. Organized as the Atchison Land, Improvement & Investment Company, its investors planned to develop a street railway and dummy line.  Missouri architect Max J. Scholer surveyed the proposed transportation corridor and also designed the syndicate's two-story Commercial Street property. He independently acquired properties along the proposed dummy line in the city's Highland Park subdivision.(2)

Later that year, the General Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church responded to the boom by establishing Midland College in the Big Syndicate's subdivision. Other municipalities that had vied for the foundation included Beloit, Minneapolis and Topeka, Kansas and Beatrice, Grand Island and Lincoln, Nebraska. But Atchison and its syndicates offered the Synod $50,000 for buildings, 25 acres of land, and net profits from land sales. By January 1889 the college had completed an ambitious new brick and grey stone building.

The 1887 Kansas Boom was short-lived & Highland Park sales were especially lackluster. Within its first two years, Midland College enrollments dwindled by over 25%.

(1) Fisher, Ernest M. "Session of Real Estate Speculation: Speculation in Suburban Lands." American Economic Review 23:1, Supplement, Papers and Proceedings of the Forty-fifth Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association (March 1933), p. 153.

(2) The Atchison Globe (2 June 1887).