Friday, August 28, 2009

Topless From the Fifities

These used to be sold from under the counter at news stands all over the United States. This was one of the things that passed as adult fare before the age of Playboy. Not very explicit by the standards of today, or for that matter the standards of the fifties. It wasn't so openly sold, but there was plenty pornography was out there.

Apollo, Pennsylvania

I've had a life long tendency to collect things, and while the old photo collection didn't become a huge passion until I started working in photo labs, I actually started picking up old pictures when I was a child. This one is my first. It's an old postcard of my home town, Apollo, Pennsylvania. The large building, just a bit high and to the left of center was the town's high school. I don't have a date on this image, but I went to that school in the 1970's.

An Adventurous Woman

I found this print in one of those antique malls. I think I paid around half a buck for it. It's one of my favorite images. This young woman is in her hiking boots, she has her folding camera, and she looks like she's working her way upstream in the Sierras. I did buy it in California, after all. No name or date, but I'm thinking twenties or maybe earlier.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pennsylvania Doughboys

I was going to write the story that I've always heard, that World War 1 American soldiers were called doughboys because of their fondness for fried bread, but when I went online to confirm that information I found so many other explanations that I've decided to pass on this web address that has plenty of alternative explanations. Note the keystone on the soldiers tunic. These are two of the earliest photos in my collection. I purchased them back when I still lived in Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania is the keystone state. They have to be from the state militia.

John E. Reed, Hooray for the Girls

This the second post from Hollywood glamour and theatrical photographer, John E. Reed. Written on the back, "Marian Ryan in Harry Howard's Hooray for the Girls." I tried both and for Marian Ryan, and came up empty. In ibdb I found two references to shows produced by Howard, one in 1940 and one in 1945. From the January 1945 issue of The Juggler's Bulletin I found a reference to Ben Berri appearing in Harry Howard's Hooray for the Girls, playing in Wichita, Kansas.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Camping on Lake Champlain

Written on the back of the card the print is mounted on, "Camping at Putnam Station, Lake Champlain About 1904-1906." The ink doesn't appear to be contemporary. It looks like it's from a ball point, and it's very bright, not faded from age. It could have been something that the seller wrote to attract buyers, or information reported as accurate by the original owner.


This is a strange one. The signs around the necks of the actors reads WPA. The Works Progress Administration was from the great depression, but the hair styles would suggest the 1950's. Too, the actors look like they are from high school. The black face make-up on the MC is also unexpected from a WPA arts project play.

Hollywood Dwarfs

From the days when I worked at the photo lab. The original, the sepia toned print, is a small 4X5 theatrical print of a dwarf act. I put it up on a copy camera, made a negative, and then made the black and white print, also posted here. The image is credited to Peralta. Fed them name into Google, and couldn't find anything helpful.

A Long, Narrow Portrait

This is a strangely proportioned old portrait, only four inches wide, but nine and a half long. The reflective quality is from photographic silver that's leaching out of the paper. From the twenties, would be my best guess, and early twenties at that. It came in a cardboard folder marked, "K.M.L. & ART Co. INC. GRAND RAPIDS MICH." She does look pretty arty, so the studio name fits. She looks like she eventually went to New York or Paris.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Topsy's Cafe, Dining and Dancing

All I could find on Topsy's Cafe was that it is no longer in business, and I would have been shocked to find out otherwise. No names written on the folder, which I've found is not the rule on these things. Usually the owner writes out the name of most of the people in the pictures. Printed on the back cover, "For Additional Prints Write To TOPSY'S CAFE. Pictures are $1.25 each, including Tax and Mailing Charges. Picture No._ Date JAN. 5, 1945" Less than a year until war's end. To see other souvenir photo folders from the days when people went to night clubs, click on night clubs, or souvenir photo folders in the labels section at the bottom of the post. I've got a number of them in the collection.

A Desert Base

I just picked up another small collection of estate photos, and in time I'll publish the lot. Most are family pictures, primarily of interest for the old fashions and cars. This photograph, though, is the reason I bought the collection. One long image pieced together from five individual prints. (My scanner is 12 inches on it's longest dimension, this collage is almost 15 inches long, which is why I've put it up in three different slices.) It has to be some sort of World War 2 era military base or research sight. When I first saw it, I thought it was from the Johnson Valley in California's high, Mojave Desert, but the fact is, there isn't enough there to verify a location. The Johnson Valley, during the war, was used for tank and bomber training. The odds are against it, but what would really be exciting is if this were from one of the A-bomb test sights in Nevada.

A Cross Dressing Proposal

The man kneeling, proposing to his girlfriend, is clearly a woman, but is the young lady receiving the proposal a man? It sure looks that way. As I've noted before, I spent years working in photo labs, and I don't think I ever had a week go by when I didn't print some sort of picture with a sexual theme. I've done lots of amateur nudes, lingerie shots, hard core sex, and the surprisingly popular cross dressing images. Give the guy some credit, he went all out. The makeup is pretty good, he shaved his legs, and learned to walk in heels.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Sad Stripper

Stamped on the back of these two photos, "Foto Wachs Uckeritz/Usedom F/III/9/251." Clearly from Germany, Austria, or maybe the German speaking section of Switzerland. Judging by the hair styles, and clothing I'd bet sometime in the early 1950's, a time when West Germany and Austria were still in pretty bad shape. It looks like this lady was out at a club or on holiday, and got called up on stage for a little amateur entertainment. I know it's a fools errand to read too much into old photographs, but that's half the fun. She looks like she's pretty unhappy to be giving a strip show, no matter how mild it turned out to be.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Working Women

I see machine tools, wiring of some kind, ball bearings and an assembly line. I've often wondered if the numbers, BBC 45746, visible in the print indicates that this picture was from the British Broadcasting System. All of the workers are women, perhaps from World war 2 when the men were all in the army.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Hobe Jewelry 1940

Well, you certainly learn a lot when you collect old photos. When I ran across this old photo, labeled "Hobe jewelry advertisement 1940," I assumed that it was from a forgotten, local jewelry store in some small town. When I ran a search on Hobe Jewelery, I discovered that Hobe was a major maker of fine costume jewelry. The original Hobe was Jacques, a French jewelry maker from the mid 19th century. He had three sons, and one of them, William, became the sales rep for a German theatrical costume maker. While in the United States, he made a large costume sale to theatrical producer, Florence Ziegfeld. Ziegfeld wanted jewelry to go with his new costumes, and William decided to go into business, following in his father's footsteps, as a jewelry maker. Starting in 1927, William built Hobe Jewelry into one of the largest, and most famous, makers of fine costume jewelry. Hobe shut it's doors in 1992. His pieces are highly sought after by modern collectors.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Army of France

Another real photo postcard from the days when photo labs would print your picture on a postcard. From the World War 1 era, or maybe the twenties. On the back, both French and English type, with the usual sections for addresses and messages. I love the guy with the broom. Is that a woman kneeling in the center?

Trains and Trainmen

Written on the back of the train picture, "1939 engine that went to worlds fair." On the border of the photo of the man on the box car, "Hanging on." I got these photos from the same source, so I'm betting that the three men in the final photo are either fellow trainmen, or friends of the man on the box car.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I don't know if these photos are from an actual, real Chautauqua or not. The Chautauqua movement started in nineteenth century America. Usually held in a rural area, near a railroad stop, Chautauquas were a combination of group camps, lectures and entertainment.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Magic Lantern Slides for the New York Schools

The originals on these two images are glass transparencies. Magic lantern slides. The picture of coal being loaded on board the ship is labeled, "Dv N.Y. 6 Virginia, Norfolk. Loading Coal from Railroad onto Ocean Steamer (1927) Negative No. B13589" The one with the potatoes, "Dv N.Y. 36 Virginia, Norfolk. Schooner Loaded with Sweet Potatoes from North Carolina. (May 10, 1927) Negative No. B13590." Both are also labeled, "New York State Education Department Visual Instruction Division." Despite the numbers assigned, both are positives rather than negatives.

Another From Maurice Seymour

Yet another theatrical portrait from Chicago photographer Maurice Seymour. As I noted in my two previous posts (published 8/7/09, and 6/22/09) of Seymour photographs, he was an immigrant from Russia who opened up a studio in Chicago in the 1930's. Until his retirement in the 1970's, he specialized in society and theatrical portraits. No name, dates, or any other identification on this photo.

WAVES of the Navy

The WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service) started in August of 1943 after first lady Eleanor Roosevelt urged congress to authorize service by women in the United States Navy. Within one year of it's authorization, there were over 27,000 WAVES in the navy. At first their service was limited to the continental United States, and was mostly clerical in nature. By the time the war was over WAVES were also serving in Hawaii, and some were involved in naval aviation. The WAACS (Women's Auxiliary Army Corp.) began as an auxiliary part of the army and WAACS were not part of the army. WAVES were part of the navy right from the beginning, they held naval rank, and were also subject to military discipline. I don't know whether or not there were official portraits, done by the navy, of WAVES. This could be an official portrait, or just something paid for by the subject of this great World War 2 era portrait.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Earl Carroll Theatre Restaurant, Hollywood

Two unrelated souvenir photo folders from the same Hollywood, CA night club. Earl Carroll was a Broadway producer, director, composer, and song writer. Starting in the 1920's he had a number of very successful stage revues, many of which were considered "businessman's specials" shows that were considered racy, often with brief or implied nudity. On December 26, 1938 he opened the Earl Carroll Theatre Restaurant at 6230 Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood, California. A night club, it featured floor shows, performed on a large rotating stage. The woman featured on the photo folder, as well as a large neon sign on the front of the theater was Beryl Wallace, Carroll's mistress. They died in a 1948 plane crash. After their deaths, the Carroll Theatre continued to operate. It was, eventually sold, and became the Moulin Rouge Theater, then the Hullaballo, The Aquarius, and is now the Nickelodeon, and is used for the filming of the iCarly show. The picture with the soldiers is dated, November 21, 1943. The other image is dated October 23, 1945. Written on the soldier picture, "Good luck, Heather." On the other photo, "William, Betsy, Dotty, Joe Barrett." Printed on the back of the folder, "For additional prints write to EARL CARROLL'S THEATRE RESTAURANT Sunset near Vine-Hollywood 28, Calif. Price Ex. Tax, $1.219512. Sales tax, $.o30488. Total Price, $1.25. Be certain to mention this No._ and Date_ HOLLYWOOD NITE CLUB PHOTOS 6304 Riley Way, Carthay Circle Theatre Bldg., Los Angeles 36, Calif. YOrk 5293."

Monday, August 17, 2009

Wisconsin and Beyond

Old photo collectors love great images and there are a couple of those in this collection. But, collectors also love a great story behind the images and this set of estate photos from a Wisconsin dealer are all over the place. The two pictures in front of the house are very probably from the United States, as is the last image, that looks like it's from the fifties. Two guys near a palm tree. Florida vacation? The long haired guy with the umbrella and bag could be a doctor, or then again, just a guy with a doctor's style bag. The older couple are labeled Adolph and Jennie. The group of young people above the sea. I doubt that's Wisconsin, and with the woman in the clothe coat,newspaper and purse is labeled, something I can't make out and the "de depart, le 22 Octobre 1945." From France or maybe Quebec. Speaking of dates, the lady, prone on the grass with the shadow of the photographer is dated July 20, 1914. The couple in mid 20th century clothes are labeled Grandma and Grandpa. Not all of these images were taken in Wisconsin, as I've already noted. The woman is sitting in front of the for sale sign is stamped on the back, "MADE BY Goodhart-Tompkins Co. KODAK HEADQUARTERS 33 Peachtree, Atlanta, Ga." The kneeling man is labeled Cornwall Mines, 6/2/21. Cornwall is in England. And the strangest of the lot, the adult woman with the four children, written on the back, "Forced merriment is easily detected, and is an admirable quality that always arouses my deepest sympathies; The children betray the fact that something is troubling the family collectively. H.H." I wonder what made her write that. It's almost a short story.