Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Woman's Portrait

I have a number of commercial portraits of women in my collection. As I've noted before, portraits of men are often very similar, but portraits of women are quite varied. While men's clothing and hair styles usually don't vary much within any era, woman's looks can be all over the place.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Tin Type Before and After

This is from back when I was working at the photo lab. Every so often I could talk the digital department to do a little repair work on some of the old photos. The original is a 19th century tin type of an African American lady. After digital corrections, the generation of a black & white negative, I made this nice print.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

From Belgium

The person who sold these four images to me, told me that they were estate photos from a family that had come to the United States from Belgium. The street scene has signs in French, as well as the word, "Doyon." Doyon is a town in the Namur province, in the French speaking part of Belgium, so it's a good bet that the information is correct. It's very difficult to see, but there is an arrow drawn on to the group picture (the third lady from the right) identifying the woman as Lena Jagger. Another wedding photo without women. The portrait of the lady is labeled Christianson-Leberman. It's written in pencil right below the woman, so it may be the name of the subject, or the photographer.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Getting 75's Ready, World War 1

I know quite a lot about photographic printing, but not a lot about commercial printing. Anyway, I bought a stack of these at one of those antique malls, and after some research, I think, but won't promise, that they are rotogravures. When I was working at the photo lab, I had copy negs made, and then printed black & white photos of some of them. The real question I have is, what was their purpose, and what were they from? With the official U.S. logo in the bottom right corner of the image, two things come to mind. 1.) Photos passed by a military censor. 2.) Images released by the government, and if you know anything about the way Woodrow Wilson practically took over the American press for the war effort, that's the more likely of the two explanations. Too, did they come from a magazine or from some sort of government, propaganda campaign? Over the next couple of months, I'll be publishing a lot more of these images. The caption, "Getting 75's ready to move into position. 313th F. A. supporting 80th Div. Near Nixville."

Friday, September 25, 2009


I've got a lot of photographs of people and cars, so I'm going to bunch some together every once in awhile. The vertical format image is dated on the back, "Aug 18-1935." Notice the woman in the bathing suit in the background. The photo with the child on the running board has a New York license plate from 1921. Note the "NO BALL PLAYING ON THIS WALL OR FENCE," warning behind the four women.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Going to the Dance

A nice young couple going off to a party, probably from the 1930's.

S. S. Lurline, Cruise Ship

I've managed to dig up quite a bit of information about the S.S. Lurline. It was built at the Bethlehem Shipyards in Quincey, Massachusetts in 1932 for the Matson Shipping Lines. It was used in the San Fransisco, Honolulu, Los Angeles service. After the attack on Pearl harbor, it became a troop transport. Returned to Matson in 1948, it returned to the Hawaii cruise routes. Sold in February of 1963, it was renamed the Ellinis and sailed out of Rotterdam. For more info, go to The photograph looks like it's of people on a dock, waiting for the Lurline to either arrive or depart port. The life preserver has LAHD printed on it. I'm sure the LA stands for Los Angeles, but HD? Hawaii dock, maybe? My guess, from the early to mid fifties.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Kodak Retina

I fell in love with this photo the first time I saw it. The lady is holding a Kodak Retina camera. Made in the 1950's, it's still a top flight camera. I know, I own one and still use it to take ultra sharp black & white, 35mm negatives.

Before and After the Wedding

These two small photos came from the same source, and appear to be the same woman, a few years apart. One looks to be the woman on her wedding day, putting on the wedding garter. The second image, dated August 1955, looks like it's a few years latter into her wedded life.

Friday, September 18, 2009

More Photos With the Desert Base

As I've noted on earlier posts, these collections that I buy usually have a number of prints that are more interesting than others. I actually bought this small estate collection for a group of five prints that had been taped together to make a panoramic image of what looked like to be a desert military base, that I published separately on 8/25/09. Some of these images seem to be from a college graduation. My guess from the 1930's. There is a picture of an older man wearing a medal. I think it's from the GAR, the Grand Army of the Republic, a veterans organization for union Civil War soldiers. On the reverse, it's dated May 1930. The guy in the denim suit with the glasses is, I'm fairly certain, in the military, and he's wearing fatigues. I wish the skiing picture had been fixed properly and hadn't faded and turned brown. If the military base photo was from the California desert, then the skiing photo could be from one of the California ski resorts that had opened in the 20's and 30's. On the back of the cabin photo, "In front of our cabin." A motel cabin, I would think. I love the woman in the middle in her black dress. The boy in the fur coat, also faded and turning brown, is is interesting and has a stamp on the back, "ELKO LIFE TIME PRINTS K.C. MO." The only image with a location, noted, though it's pretty obvious that Mt. Rushmore, still being carved, ID's South Dakota. I also liked the picture of the three older men. Look closely, to see an airplanes cockpit in the background. And in a subtle way, the picture of the grandparents, daughter and grandchildren is very interesting. The older people are dressed, the woman in the long dress, in a pre World War 1 manner, while the daughter is probably from the 1920's or 30's.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Jane Marshall, Stripper

With all of the interest in classic burlesque out there; in a world were many nice, middle class, well educated young ladies are putting on pasties and joining burlesque troupes, you'd think I'd be able to find some biographical information on Jane Marshall. Not so. Identified by name, with type in the border, that I've cropped for the scan. Stamped on the back, "WILL GROFF THEATRICAL AGENCY 211 S. MARSHALL ST. YORK, PENNSYLVANIA." Jane Marshall and Marshall Street, I'm guessing, is just a coincidence.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Four Portraits

I won't even try and guess when these were taken, nor their purpose. They could have been some sort of advertising shot, or just personal portraits.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Black Face Minstrel Show

Well, you don't see one of these everyday. Printed on a very heavy paper, this appears to be a lobby card for a minstrel show. Primarily a 19th century entertainment, minstrel shows didn't die out until the early 20th century, making it very difficult to date. The costumes would have been pretty much the same for the history of this type of show. Performed mostly by white people in black, burnt cork, face makeup, the entertainers would tell jokes and sing songs lampooning African Americans. Sort of a precursor to Amos and Andy.

Topsy's Cafe Postcard

By and large, I don't buy a lot of postcards, but I wanted this one because it was a great companion piece for an old souvenir photo folder I own from this club, (see my post published 8/25/09) and because it confirmed my assumption that Topsy's had a plantation theme. Printed on the back, "TOPSY'S CAFE is located at 8101 Long Beach Boulevard 15 minutes from 7th and Broadway and a short drive from Long Beach. No cover or minimum charge Sunday or week days. For reservations telephone LAfayette 1414." Is that 7th and Broadway, downtown Los Angeles, and is that via the Red Car Line?