Al Malpa Ephemera


c. 1908 Little Girls Birthday Party Photo with Suicidal Twist

c. 1908 Little Girls Birthday Party Photo with Suicidal Twist


This relatively ordinary photo of 19 little girls has two unusual facts. One is the little girl in the back row holding a teddy bear, which is actually a Steiff bear – and in this case, a movable Steiff. Note how the girl’s bear has his arms up. The first movable Steiff bear was made in 1902.

Second, is the name written on the back. It says: (in pencil) “M.A. Whelan second row extreme right c. 1908-9 Bob Whelan’s mother.” And then, in pen, “Murial Lombardi Whelan mother of Jack, Bob, Shirley Whelan”. And on the photo front is a mark pointing to Murial.

So of course we looked up Murial (whose name turned out to be spelled Muriel) Lombardi Whelan. And we came across the very sad tale of her jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge on June 12, 1953. According to the newspapers, “She was a former San Anselmo [CA] socialite….the 49-year-old woman was the divorced wife of Felix Camile ‘Bud’ Whelan, a van and storage executive. Her maiden name was Muriel Lombardi and she was the daughter of a wealthy wine merchant in the Lombardi, Loncero and Ciocca firm. [Her father’s first name was Ferdinandino Lombardi.]” Another paper added she’d been depressed by financial problems.

Condition: The print is in excellent condition and has a smooth sepia tone. Every detail has very good definition and clarity. The mounting board is bumped on all four corners with some slight paper loss. The bottom right corner has a diagonal bend that makes it somewhat soft. Size: overall is 9:00 X 7:00 inches. Print size is 7.00 X 5.00 inches.


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