I did some checking on The "Henry Modell & Company".
It seems that the company is still in business, with a number of stores across the US Northeast. Here is what they say about their history on the "about us" page of their website ( https://www.modells.com/about-us.html ) :
"Modell's Sporting Goods is America's oldest, family-owned and operated retailer of sporting goods, athletic footwear, active apparel and fan gear. We are committed to providing a convenient and compelling shopping experience for the athlete and fan in all of us.
Founded in 1889 by Morris A. Modell, the first Modell's store was located on Cortlandt Street in lower Manhattan, NYC. Four generations of the Modell family have developed the family business into a chain of over 150 stores throughout the Northeast."
Henry Modell, who inherited the business from his father, and who's name the company still carries, passed away in 1984. Here is what the New York Times had to say about him when he passed:
"Henry Modell, chairman of Henry Modell & Company, a sporting-goods retail chain, died Tuesday at the Hollywood (Fla.) Memorial Hospital. He was 91 years old and lived in Hollywood.
Mr. Modell was semiretired in recent years, but remained board chairman of the company, a post he had held since 1937. For 17 years before, he was president of the company, which was founded by his father.
In Mr. Modell's lifetime, the company grew from one clothing store, then at West and Cortlandt Streets in Manhattan, to 19 stores in the New York metropolitan area specializing in sporting goods and leisure and sportswear.
Mr. Modell was born on the Lower East Side, the son of Hungarian immigrants who had come to the United States in the late 1880's. He joined his father's company after service in World War I as an infantryman in France. Later, he was active in veterans affairs and became a commander of an American Legion post. He was also chairman of a local draft board during World War II. After the war, he was an adviser to the United States Secretary of War on the disposal of surplus materials."
Since the post cards were sent out as special advertising, to businesses they were selling to, It is likely that most of them ended up in the trash, not long after they were received, just like most of us do with the "junk mail" we receive in the mail these days. There would be no reason for most people, or businesses, to keep those cards, hence the lack of them being widely encountered. A few of the cards managed to get saved for all these years to find their way to a post card collector (yard sale, estate sale, etc.). It seems very unlikely that advertising postcards that were mailed out to businesses, in the 1940's, from a lone, small sporting goods store, would have survived into the 21st century, but apparently a few did! To me, this all seems logical, probable, and likely.
The Henry Modell Company was in the surplus and sporting goods business after WW2, and this fits the information on the post cards perfectly. Henry Modell himself, was an adviser to the US Government on the disposal of surplus material after WW2.
For myself, collecting is not just about acquiring objects, it is also about the detective work, research, and documenting the story behind them. These shovels have been a mystery. For me the mystery is solved. Every collector will have his own opinion based on the evidence, research, and documentation pertaining to the authenticity and historical use of each item in their collection. As we all know, we can never know any of these facts with 100% certainty, but in this case, I think we can get that percentage up into the "high 90's". That works for me, unless new information to the contrary is uncovered and presented.
For me personally, this has been a fun, and very informative bit of research, and has helped me form an evidence based, academic opinion, about this particular item.
Do I have one of these shovels in my collection? Yes, and right along side of it I will display the post card. For me, the shovel may not be an "official issue" item, but it is a wonderful piece of "shovel history" that has one foot in the war, and one foot in the post-war worlds.