Ephemera: Invitation, Watch, Grave Markers, More


Graphic for an invitation to a cruise on the ADMIRAL at St. Louis 1950's

This graphic is off an invitation that measures 9.20 x 11.80 inches which when unfolded with a woodcut style designed graphic of a steamboat on the front "fold down" which was 4 x 11.80 inches when closed AND had 5 holes cut into it that revealed 5 names of ladies inside the card who were members of a party of people in St. Louis who were going on a cruise aboard the ADMIRAL circa the late 1950's (that was the eBay dealer's guess for the approximate time frame).

In the original the graphic was printed in red ink and there where the holes die-cut in front of the card which revealed the first names of the five ladies. I have reformatted the graphic to make the style of the boat more "traditional" in its proportions and changed the color from red to Navy Blue. Of course the boat didn't resemble the ADMIRAL either which I always thought looked like a gigantic upside down stainless steel bath tub, something rather in the Art Deco style by fashion designer Maizie Krebs in 1933 as the new flagship for Streckfus Steamers commissioned by Joe Streckfus

The text on the inside of the invitation reads:

"Ship Ahoy!

The Five Belles
(Cynthia Boyd, Marylee McDonough, Tony Reuter, Kathy Ring and Judy Sauer) are sailing on the S.S. Admiral We hope you will join us in our fun and folderol

September the third at nine P.M. is the time for all the gentlemen to bring their ladies in dress apropos Come as a Gambler, a Rogue or a Beau A Southern Belle or Ravishing Damsel whichever you choose we will give you a whirl"

Susan Meier, who may have been the social secretary for this Ladies Club, signed her name in pen and ink at the bottom of the page And below that is printed:


Mrs. E.N. Bell
3441 Klocke Street
St Louis 18, Mo."


S.S. ADMIRAL souvenir anchor pin circa 1950s

Made from stamped brass with pin fastener overall dimensions 1 1/4 x 1 3/4 inches.The ADMIRAL was an excursion steamboat at the port of St. Louis, Missouri from 1940 to 1978 before being converted to a Casino boat, it was scrapped in 2011.



Riverboat - Vintage Style -Heavy Duty Canvas Bag

I received this tote bag today from the Etsy dealers Trixie & Milo. Heavy duty, beautifully made and very useful.

T & M's photo on Etsy is accurate. After scanning the side of the bag here I enhanced the blue logo of the sidewheel steamboat inside the diamond vignette which is gray in the original. In my version the lettering is darkened and the fabric background brightened. The original is subtle and tasteful, mine is more like an old fashioned "broadside" poster.

The Classic Market Tote - Riverboat - Vintage Style -Heavy Duty Canvas Bag by Trixie & Milo - Travel Bag/Satchel The classic Mississippi River Boat is a true piece of American history. With this Classic Market Tote, you'll always be in style.

Classic styling and rugged construction, make this the perfect bag for shopping or just toting around your valuables. Based on vintage mail carrying bags, and made from heavy-duty 22oz. canvas. Every tote is lined with 100% cotton "mattress-ticking" fabric. Heavy cotton web handles, and shoulder strap, and quadruple stitched siding, make this a very durable bag.

Size: 20"h. x 18"w. x 7"d.
Shoulder Strap Drop: 25"


MENU cover: "SHOWBOAT SPLENDOR" Jean A. Mercier 1970

Rather overwhelming over-the-top color and "phantasy" concept art reminiscent of the zaniness of Heinz Edelmann's art direction for the 1968 Beatles' animated feature YELLOW SUBMARINE.

The stacks have been given a barber pole /candy stick treatment and the overall in terms of design and costumes are reminiscent of a stage design for a production number for The Ziegfeld Follies on Broadway or for one of Busby Berkeley's 1930's Hollywood musicals or a lavish Las Vegas stage show.

Luncheon Menu cover art "Dream cruise for nostalgic lovers of SHOWBOAT SPLENDOR" pictorial area 8 x 9 inches by Jean A. Mercier (French, 1899-1995) S.S. OCEANIC Thurs 24 December 1970 Number 6 of a series of 8 menu covers with the theme "Dream Cruising" Tormena - Genova - Printed in Italy Sept 1970.

Jean-Adrien Mercier was a French illustrator and advertising designer. He began his career painting posters for films and advertising before becoming artistic director of the house Cointreau, his mother being a granddaughter of the founder of the company and daughter of the creator of triple sec Cointreau liqueur.

Mercier made the theme poster for the first trade fair of Angers in 1924. From 1925 to 1939, he created more than 110 movie posters. He also illustrated menus for the General Transatlantic Company. His posters were signed Jean A. Mercier.


Cornwell's ROB'T E. LEE (mirror image) on a beer glass

Beer glass for a brew named Riverboat Brown from Rock Bottom Brewery when there was one in Kansas City, circa 2003. Artist painted a faithful mirror image of the ROB'T E. LEE from Cornwell's Race with the NATCHEZ painting.

Elgin watch with steamboat illustration

An Elgin watch with steamboat graphic. Not certain of the vintage. Will have to get a jeweler to open it up and give me a run down on the serial number, date etc.


A circular vignette from the cover of the "1889-1890" Christmas catalogue published by the Atlanta, Georgia manufacturer THE "DIXIE" COMPANY. Don't know what they made but a graphic of the factory in the cover is huge and has two big chimneys plus a lot of smaller ones spouting smoke.

Sidewheel Packet

Way's Packet Directory Number 4189
Built in 1887 at Jeffersonville, Indiana. Hull built by Howard Ship Yard
Home port or owner's residence circa 1887, Cincinnati, Ohio. Original price: $32,500. She was built for the Evansville-St. Louis trade but proved to be too large.
In 1890 she entered into the Louisville-Cincinnati trade in opposition to the Fleetwood of the U.S. Mail Line. She made only one stop: Madison, Indiana.
The two rival boats attracted a lot of attention and passenger fare dropped to fifty cents per round trip including meals and berth.

Both boats were laid up by low water and during the summer lull the NEW SOUTH was purchased by the Mail Line and began running Cincinnati-Memphis.

In the summer of 1894, she ran in the Cincinnati-Coney Island trade teamed up with the BOSTONA. In February 1896 she ran a Mardi Gras trip from Cincinnati to New Orleans.
On a trip to St. Louis in October 1896 she got in a windstorm near Harrisonville, Illinois and disabled a wheel when she hit some piling. The C.W. BATCHELOR took off her passengers and freight.

In 1902 she ran a Mardi Gras trip from Cincinnati. She hit an obstruction downbound on the Ohio River and sprung her cabin so badly that hundreds of blankets were bought at Cairo to stuff in the cracks. On February 12, 1905 the ice gorge broke at Cincinnati. The NEW SOUTH broke loose and was so badly damaged that she was dismantled at Madison, Indiana. She apparently gave her original engines to the GREY EAGLE and thereafter she had compound machinery.



GEO. W. NEARE promotional thermometer and Scale Model

Promotional thermometer for Neare, Gibbs amp; Co. Cincinnati, OHIO 70th anniversary commemorative. 7 3/4's x 9 1/2 inches. I've had this for many years and it is framed under glass which is why the text, painting of the boat and the thermometer are all a bit "fuzzy."

A totally charming model was made in 1920 of what was called the GEO.W. NEARE but according to the Smithsonian that owns the model it actually represents the J.S. PRINGLE that Captain Geo. W. Neare ran in the 1850's.

The painting used in the promotional piece must have been based on the model.

Model, George W. Neare

This model is incorrectly named after George W. Neare, a former steamboat captain who went into the insurance business in 1865.

By 1889, Neare, Gibbs, and Company were the main river agents for the Insurance Company of North America, whose successor company CIGNA, donated this model to the Smithsonian.

According to a CIGNA article, this model constructed by the boat's engineer is actually of the steamboat J. S. PRINGLE, which Neare captained in the 1850s. Measuring 307 tons, J. S. PRINGLE was built in 1854 in Brownsville, PA for Captain William Stoops, who ran a ferry service across the Ohio River. It was sold in 1855 and moved to the Missouri River. J. S. PRINGLE Pringle ran from St. Louis to St. Joseph under Captain William Conley. In 1861 it carried army supplies from Cincinnati to Nashville under Captain George W. Neare. Captain Hazlett ran it from Louisville on the Tennessee River in Spring 1862. In March 1865 it was acquired by the US Quartermaster's Department. Steamboats on the western rivers were notoriously bad risks, having relatively explosive high-pressure engines, wooden hulls, and flammable cargo. A gold finial, projecting uprights and four smokestacks painted black have red and gold spiked crowns. An eagle on a gold ball is on top of the captain's cabin. Two lanterns hang from the smokestacks, and there is a bell on the upper deck. A red, blue and gold emblem is on the bow and an American flag flies at the stern. Made in 1920 by an unknown craftsman.

Overall material used was brass, tin and wood. Measurements overall: 18 inches high x 40 inches long x 12 inches wide.


Photo taken in 1949 by Paul Piaget for the HABS (Historic American Buildings Survey) of the gravestone of Captain William Hauk in Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis. Found a clue about Hauk online . . . that he died in Vicksburg, Mississippi and was transported (probably by steamboat) to St. Louis for burial. So far haven't discovered Hauk's date of birth and death.


The following comes from a caption under the same photo in MISSISSIPPI PANORAMA, a 1949 catalogue made for a spectacular exhibition at the City Art Museum of St. Louis comprising art work, artifacts and models depicting the Mississippi River and its steamboats. This catalogue is a real treasure and a must for the library of any enthusiast of Mississippi River commerce, plenty of neat illustrations.

Captain Claiborne Greene Wolff's Monument, Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis photographed by Paul Piaget in 1947

Capt. Wolff, called George by his friends, was born in Louisville in 1829 and died October 18, 1881.

"He sleeps amid the peaceful shades of Bellefontaine Cemetery, St. Louis, and his ashes repose beneath a monument erected by his many friends. Carved thereon, in enduring marble, is the representation of a Mississippi River steamboat, fitting symbol of his chosen and idolized vocation."


Mark Twain by Gaetano Federici marble bas relief scupture

Attached scans from 2 color slides taken by the marble restoration expert at The Getty back in the 1990s.

I bought the broken bas relief by Gaetano Federici of Mark Twain (made during the 1940's) from Robert Lumpp of Hannibal, MO who owned and operated the MARK TWAIN excursion boat on the Mississippi River and also established a mini-theme park called Sawyer's Creek at the mouth of Cave Hollow.

While visiting Robert in his office at Sawyer's Creek I noticed a framed marble bas relief of Sam Clemens on wall and asked him how it came to be broken and he told me that the frame as originally built wasn't sturdy enough to hold the heavy marble, which fell out of the bottom and onto the floor where it broke horizontally across the lower half of the sculpture and through Mark Twain's throat. I purchased the piece and after it arrived in a crate here in California I took it to the Getty Museum where I commissioned an expert to restore the piece and he provided a series of slides of the restoration and I have scanned and composited two of them to demonstrate the before and after state of the work of art. The ultimate/final result not pictured here is much cleaner and brighter.

The now sturdily-built framed bas relief is securely attached to a wall downstairs here at home and it makes for an appropriate shrine to remember Sam Clemens by. Below is a biography of Federici from the Federici Collections site and a link to a video interview with Vince Parrillo who produced a documentary on the sculptor.

"Gaetano Federici" | Vince Parrillo | Joanna Gagis | Life & Living
Steve Adubato
Aug 8, 2014

Vince Parrillo, Documentary Filmmaker talks about his newest film, "Gaetano Federici: The Sculptor Laureate of Paterson", which looks into the life of this great sculptor whose work can still be seen throughout Paterson, New Jersey. Gaetano Federici (1880 - 1964)

recent acquisitions

While reviewing sculptor's Walter Russell's Mark Twain-inspired works it was uncanny to recognize how much the artist's image of Huckleberry Finn resembled immortal actor James Dean (see inset of him with a similar smile below).

As a boy Dean would have been fabulous in the role of Huck Finn and he would also been ideal to record the complete narrative of the novel which was told in first person by Huck himself.

Since Huck is the most celebrated and beloved fictional character on the Mississippi River he's well qualified to appear even without a steamboat in our museum.

This seated representation of Huck was one of 29 figures in a scaled-down sculpted tableaux created by Russell in anticipation of his proposal to make a large scale version to have been displayed in Hannibal, Missouri represent Mr. Clemens surrounded by 28 characters from his novels including Huck's pal Tom Sawyer, Tom's Aunt Polly and girl friend Becky Thatcher.

Also attached photo of one of Russell's sculptures of Mark Twain's likeness. A bigger-than-life carved marble head of Mark Twain by Russell is exhibited on the 2nd floor of the Mark Twain Museum at the corner of Main & Center Streets in Hannibal.

A plaster cast of the reduced scale tableaux of 29 figures is exhibited in the Visitor's Center adjacent to the Mark Twain Boyhood Home in Hannibal near the corner of Main & Hill in Hannibal.

recent acquisitions

James Dean as Huck Finn.


Captain John Mason. J. M. Converse

Greetings Steam Boat Dave

Thought you might like this one. The attached picture is of a new grave marker for Steam Boat Captain, John Mason Converse, my great, great, grandfather.

Its located in the Bellefontaine Cemetery in St Louis. As you know many of the old Steam Boat Captains are buried there.

Captain Converse didn't have a grave marker so I decided to install a new one for him. So even in 2017 the memories of those old steam boat people are still remembered. Thank you for all the work you did to record everything possible regarding the inland waterway Steam Boats and the related people.

Larry Leiper
Shiloh, Illinois

John Mason Converse was a steam boat captain on the Mississippi river. He died in a steam boat boiler explosion on the Mississippi river near new Madrid, Mo, in 1859.

Streckfus J.S. mirror 60 percent EXP

Steamer J.S. souvenir pocket mirror - 2.10 inch celluloid souvenir with pocket mirror on the back for the "EXCURSION STEAMER J.S."


National Parks study plan to introduce school children to Steamboat History!
Recommended for educators seeking a study plan to teach steamboat history to school kids! Contact:


Graphic on a desk blotter depicting "levee boats" . . . the artist had a curious style that is unusual for the subject matter.


With the exception of images credited to public institutions,
everything on this page is from a private collection.
Please contact for permission for commercial use.*