Will Sparrows Live on Gasoline?   – Newark, NJ (1913)

The automobile transformed American life, and many of the changes were positive- increasing mobility, less isolation, ease of personal travel, and improving the cleanliness of roads and streets.

While the absence of manure on the street would be generally considered a good thing, it did have a significant effect on birds.

As anyone who has seen horse droppings knows, the manure often contains seeds, husks, or other undigested plant matter.

Birds did, and will, feed on the nutrients contained in manure.

This element of the rise of the automobile is the background for a comic postcard.

Mr. William A. Buckner lived in Newark, the largest city and an important industrial and commercial center of New Jersey.


In June of 1913, William received a comic postcard from a correspondent in Newark.

The face of the postcard displays a block print that resembles folk printing of the Arts and Crafts Movement.


A stylized frame contains a verse describing the plight of a sparrow:

“Said one little sparrow on the street

What shall we do for food to eat (question mark)

Said the other birds ‘tis plainly seen

We’ll have to live on GASOLINE”

The postcard was copyrighted and printed by Jes’ Blow Publishing Company.

As the company’s name suggests, the firm focused on lighthearted mottoes and sayings.

It is disappointing that the sender offered no commentary on the reverse.

One hopes that William was amused by the postcard which he preserved in good condition throughout his life.


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Odd Man Out – Chenango Forks, NY (1907)

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