Birch Bark Framed View of Twin Lights, 1906


At the Gloucester block party tonight, I stopped in Bodin Historic Photo, where Fred Bodin asked me whether I’d seen any postcards where the image appears to be framed in birch bark. He just acquired several such cards with images of Gloucester, he said.

Not only have I seen them, but I have one. The postcard above is from 1906 and shows the Twin Lights of Thacher Island. Looking at this scan, it almost looks as if it is a real birch-bark frame, but the apparent bark is actually a photograph itself and part of the postcard.

This is the work of C.M. Nelson, a photographer who produced postcards of New England and New York from 1906 to 1910. Most, if not all, of his postcards featured these birch-bark borders, which were themselves photographs. Each postcard image had a unique border. Most of his cards were distributed by the R.C. Co., Boston. One reference indicated that Nelson was in Boston, but I found several turn-of-the-century references to a photographer named C.M. Nelson who was located in Plymouth, N.H.

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