Monday, May 31, 2010

Railroad Men

I don't know where this was taken, but it looks like the rail line that crosses the Sierras between Truckee and Sacramento.

Yet Another French Postcard

I found this old, framed French postcard in a thrift shop. One of my fellow employees at the photo lab where I was working at that time was teaching himself photo shop, and so I let him practice his digital correction skills with this image. Now, I did have to correct some of his work the old fashioned way, with a paint brush and spot tone, but by and large, the negatives I had made gave me a nice, black & white print. Also done the old fashioned way, with an enlarger and chemistry.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Santa Catalina Island Across the Sea

And yet another souvenir photo, this time from Santa Catalina Island. Catalina is 26 miles across the sea, or so the line in the song goes, from Long Beach, California. Today, most of the island is owned by the nature Conservancy. There is a small town on the island, Avalon, that was once pretty much owned by Philip Wrigley of chewing gum fame. Written on the inside matt, "August 5, 1947. El Encanto, Catalina, Is." El Encanto is a small market place with souvenir shops and a couple of restaurants.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Persian Room

Like a lot of people, I'm somewhat nostalgic for a world I'm a bit too young to have experienced. When I was born in the 1950's, big bands were dying, and jazz clubs were just staring to be replaced with folk and rock venues. Written on the inside front cover, "Just like old times-being together! If only we were sober!! Alice." "Its a long while between drinks! Ed." "Wish New York was always as Frisco is tonight. Head." Zingy-How about a reunion in L.A. Come on out-the water is fine! Alice." I'm guessing Zingy must be the Doris whose name is written on the front corner and can be seen in the scanned image. Written on the matt around the photo, "Frisco 4-2-44." It's always nice to have a date, and to have the day, month and year is quite rare. Printed on the back cover beneath a war bonds ad, "For additional prints write to Hollywood Nite Club Photos. PICTURES ARE $1.25 EACH. PRICE INCLUDES TAX AND MAILING CHARGES. Be certain to mention SIR FRANCIS DRAKE, this number 16 and date APR 2, 1944. 6304 Riley Way, Carthay Circle Theatre Bldg., Los Angeles, Calif. WAlnut 9880." Of course, The Hotel Sir Francis Drake wasn't in Los Angeles, but San Francisco, and in fact, unlike many of the night club souvenir photos I post, The Sir Francis drake is still there, on Union Square in downtown. The Persian Room, though has closed. A quote from S.F. columnist Herb Caen, who referred to the Persian Room as the snake pit. "You never heard such hissing or saw such writhing as in the Persian Room." I've got a number of these night club souvenir photos in the collection. Go to the labels section at the bottom of this post and click on night clubs to pull up some others.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Women of the Theater

This photo was very likely cut out from a bigger print. While it's possible that this might have been from a costume party, I think it's far more certain that it's a photo from a theatrical production at an all girls school or a woman's college. On age, my guess would be from the late nineteenth century or early twentieth. The seller told me that it was from an estate in Maine.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Mother and Her Daughters

There does seem to be a clear, distinct, family resemblance, and the lady on the left appears to be older than the other three, so a mother and her daughters is a fair assumption. Stamped on the lower right corner of the mount, "N.A. Voss, HAYS CITY, KANS."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mug Shot

This is back from the days when I worked at a photo lab. I had a copy negative made of this image and then made a modern black & white print.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Damaged Ambrotype

The ambrotype was invented in 1854, and like the Daguerreotype, was actually a glass negative, that when placed against a black background, appears as a positive. Like most mid nineteenth century ambrotypes, this one has seen better days. As a glass negative, ambrotypes damage easily, and are especially prone to scratches on the emulsion. Ambrotypes were presented in cases both as protection and as a base for the black background needed for it's positive appearance.

Moorish Scene, Minnesota

A strange albumen print. Written on the back, "Margarie Greenwood-Dancer, Charlie Allen-Faiker, Hermann Percival-Juggler, Olga Lawitzky-Singer. Moorish Booth-Midway Plaisance, Duluth-Minn. August 5-10, 95" Travelling entertainers working the county fair circuit, or locals having some exotic fun?

High Steppin' Mama

It is labeled "High Steppin' Mama" That's not my idea of a title. A show girl or chorus girl from the roaring twenties would be my best guess.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Outdoor Life in California

I love collections like this. All the photographs come from the same source, an estate collection, and they show three distinct periods in the life of one person. The image of the girls standing in front of the tent is labeled, "Lower Left Elizabeth Archer (Eliza) Dorothy Morris (Dot) Katherine Dechan (Kathy) Hazel Robinson (Bob) Top Left Miss Edythe, Dorris Guthrie." The tall, bespectacled girl, standing alone, "Miss Edythe Van Arden." The two girls in white skirts, standing on the path, "Guin and Peter Pan." The large group of girls standing at the edge of the pool, "Camp 29" Is 29 a date, 1929? The two Asian girls in swimsuits, "Left Eugenia Fujita, Dorothy Fujita, 1877 Sutter St. San Francisco." This probably places this girl's summer camp in the bay area. Too, there are sites on the web that give partial lists of Japanese Americans who were interred during World War 2. I couldn't find a listing for these two girls, but they would have been, at least in their mid-twenties by the start of the war, and very possibly married and listed under different names. The two girls next to the pool one with the curly, blond hair, "Left Miss Lu & Miss Betty." And the young lady with the red cross/life guard badge on her suit, "Miss Patsy Laphan." The shot of the porch, "Camp 29." Again, is that a date? And finally, the lake with what looks like a miniature lighthouse, "Lake Lokayh." A quick inter-net search didn't yield anything by that name, but someone out there might recognize it. The next group of three pictures move things forward. The people have gone from high school age to college age. All have a lab stamp on the back, "GENUINE KRYSTAL GLOSS GUARANTEED FOREVER MAY 23, 1933 BEAR PHOTO SERVICE." If the camp 29 references refer to 1929, then these would be around four years latter. Too, all are labeled, "Stinson Beach." A location. Stinson Beach is just north of San Francisco on route 101. Another bay area local. The two girls on the spare tire, "Clem & I." The four guys goofing around, "Dee-Curly-Al-Clyde." I'm always fascinated by pictures of young men just before World War 2. In eight or nine years, after these pictures were taken, these four young men were very likely in the military, and it's pretty probable that they all didn't come back alive, or at least in one piece. The two guys and two girls, "Clyde-Me-Clem-Curly." The next group of images aren't labeled in anyway. No names, no dates, but the cars are from the fifties era and it looks like a spring skiing trip in the high Sierra of California. A glimpse of the good, middle class life that was a hall mark of American life in the post war years. The last two landscapes, Lake Tahoe and the Sierra, aren't all that interesting, and they may or may not have been taken at the same time as the ski trip images, but I prefer to not edit out pictures from collections.

Crawford County, Pennsylvania

I'm going back to my working class roots for this one. I am, after all, a former member of the Laborers and United Mine Workers unions. This is a 19th century albumen print taken in Crawford County, Pennsylvania. Crawford County is the home of Titusville, and the first commercial oil well in the United States. The mechanism seen right at the left edge of the photo and the bar in front, are probably from an oil well. Written on the back, "JOHN W. WRIGHT ON LEFT."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Blackie at the Airport

I've been scrolling through pictures of biplanes, and have found a lot of images that are close, but none that I thought were close enough to write, without doubt, that this plane is whatever. Written on the back, "Blackie at airport."

Monday, May 10, 2010

Town and Country Palm Springs

I was interested in these two images because they were of Palm Springs from a time when it was still the getaway for the Hollywood crowd. The Town and Country Restaurant, part of the Town and Country Center that also housed The Desert Sun newspaper was designed by architects A. Quincy Jones and Paul R. Williams, one of the few prominent African American designers of the mid twentieth century. The Town and Country was designed in 1947, and built in 1948. Today, the Friends of the Town and Country Center are trying to save the building from being bull dozed.

Ma Morgan's Sister

This one has to be from the twenties, or maybe the late teens. Cut out from a larger print and labeled "Ma Morgan's Sister."

Two Friends

No dates, no names, no printers mark, no location. From the fifties, I would think. As a former professional printer, I would have to say these prints could use a little less contrast.

Bonus Photos From Royaltone

When I Googled Royaltone Photo Service bonus photo, I brought up a self portrait by Andy Warhol, shot with a Kodak Instamatic. Makes sense, the original Instamatic, manufactured from 1963 to 1970, used a 126 film cartridge. The 126 format produced a square image, just like these. Of course, the original Instamatic sold in the millions, and 126 cartridges were made for years afterward, and may in fact, still be available. Take a close look at these photos. The woman in the black suit, on the green chaise lounge is sitting next to a chaise with a yellow towel, just like the one that the lady in the skimpy two piece is using. The same chaise used by the lady in black can be seen in the corner of the image of the lady in the yellow suit. All these photos were probably shot on the same day on the same roof, probably in the New York City area. It would be nice if these three pictures had been dated, but the styles, and the Instamatic connection, I'd say mid sixties to mid seventies.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Munson Coronet Band

Before radio; before television, many small towns had bands that played in the local town square. These two images are albumen prints. Albumen prints were made by suspending photographic silver in egg whites, which were then used to coat the printing paper. Very likely these two photographs are contact prints made from glass negatives.