Saturday, April 1, 2017

April Fool's Contest, 2017 - Souvenirs That Got PTown History Wrong

This souvenir plate likely sold quite well in the early 1900s,
but it got a bit of Provincetown's history wrong.
Many and various sorts of Provincetown souvenirs have been produced over the years, and many of these items depict our colorful history in one way or another, but a number of them have gotten several little bits of our history wrong.
This lovely plate, likely produced around the 1920s, shows several vignettes of well-known Provincetown sights of the day, such as the Pilgrim Monument, the steamship Dorothy Bradford arriving from Boston, and the building thought by many to be the  oldest remaining house in Provincetown. It's found at 72 Commercial Street.
In about 1746 the house was built by ship's carpenter Seth Nickerson, mainly using timbers and planks he had recovered from shipwrecks over the years. The beehive-shaped brick oven at the rear of the main fireplace dates this house before 1750. More "oldest house" claims are argued for other buildings, but this one was promoted as such, and was opened to the public by its resident owners somewhere in the early 1900s.
This souvenir plate was manufactured by W. Adams & Sons, Tunstall, England, and imported for F. H. Dearborn, who owned a shop near the center of town, selling souvenirs, newspapers and periodicals at 277 Commercial Street. The points of interest depicted on the plate seem to be from photos of well-known Provincetown landmarks, including the "Oldest House."

This image is definitely not the home known as the oldest house in Provincetown.

But look closer…
What's wrong with this picture?
A photo erroneously labeled as the oldest house was used in several postcards over a period of years, and also made its way onto this souvenir plate.

"Details" have been painted into the original black-and-white photograph
of this house, long ago mistakenly labeled as PTown's oldest house.

Here are two versions of this photo, each made into a popular postcard, with a number of artistic embellishments, such as the slightly-too-perfect clouds added in the photo to the left. The flower garden was also painted in.

In this incarnation, the artist "improved" the photo by trimming the trees and
shrubs a little, refurbishing the roof, and giving the house a red brick chimney.
This edition featured an embossed version of the photo, again enhanced by an artist, and pressed into the card leaving the image slightly raised. It made a lovely postcard, but the description was still wrong.
Several things in this photo tell us that this is not the West End building known as the oldest remaining house in town. Whoever can name the most clues to this mistaken identity will win a great Provincetown prize. Just point out as many discrepancies as you can find between this house and 72 Commercial Street.
Click on any photo above to enlarge it for more detail, and list every reason you can spot why this can't be the oldest house. E-mail your list to, or text your answers to 424•237•8696 (that's 424•23P•TOWN, if that's easier to remember, to leave your answers by voice mail, but by entering that way you'll lose a minute-and-a-half of your life listening to my message about my fabulous guided tour of Provincetown before you can leave your answers.)
You can also enter by good old US mail. Send entries to TheYearRounder (all one word,) at P O Box 1632, Provincetown, MA 02657.
Entries must be in my hand, or cell phone, or e-mail, by 12' O'clock Noon on April 28th, 2017. In case of a tie for greatest number of reasons why this photo is not Provincetown's "Oldest House," or for any other dispute, a panel of three level-headed citizens, as determined by ME, will resolve the issue by coin toss, random selection, prettiest handwriting, sexiest telephone voice, or any other senseless criteria they may choose, and by entering, we all agree that their ruling is infallible and FINAL.
And, as usual, I reserve the right to award an extra prize or two for no reason whatsoever, to one or more entries chosen at random from all entries received by the deadline. So, you don't even have to be right to win a prize, but you do have to enter.
Good luck, and happy April Fool's Day to one and all. And for a good giggle, click this link to see my all time favorite April Fools prank, perpetrated a few years back by the BBC.

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