Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Another Hand Painted Tintype

This is the second one of these I've found. (See my post 10/9/09.) Colored tintypes with eye color, or a rosey hue to the cheeks are quite common. Less common are tintypes that have had their entire surfaces painted in an attempt to make an image that looks more like a painting than a photograph. Usually those tintypes were painted over in a style that normally would be closer to the limner paintings of the colonial and early national eras than photographs. Like limner paintings, they were often made by itinerant artists who were just as comfortable decorating, furniture, clock faces, or making store signs. This image, and the one posted earlier, were done by a commercial service, and may have used more skilled painters than the travelling artists responsible for most painted tintypes. Of course this image, like the earlier one, has lost almost all of the surface paint, so we'll never know. My guess is, that what is left, is little more than a first inking that established specific areas to be painted. The admonition to not remove the glass from the picture may indicate that paint was also added to a covering glass, or it may indicate that the tintype was glued in some way to a sheet of glass.

Correcting New York at War

I've had to redo this post. To start with, the two images had become separated, while in storage, and they really needed to go up together. Too, I speculated, that because there was a horse drawn wagon, but no cars, this patriotic image, that clearly refers to a foreign war, coupled with the long dresses on the women, made the Spanish American War as the most likely time period. But, after I found the second photograph, and was able to see the 48 star flags...New Mexico and Arizona became the 47th and 48th states in 1912, well after The Spanish American War. This has to be World War 1. The U.S. declared war on April 2, 1917, and the armistice was signed on November 11, 1918. Of course, American troops weren't in France on April 3, and our troops weren't on transport ships on November 12. With all the flags and bunting, it could be a July 4th celebration in either 1917, 1918. Stamped on the back, "PHOTOGRAPH BY THE WILLOW GENERAL PHOTOGRAPHERS 1463 Third Ave., New York City."

Monday, August 30, 2010

Arcadia, Pennsylvania Coronet Band

In my post of 5/6/10, The Munson Coronet Band, I noted that long before radio and television, it was common for many small towns to have local bands that played summer evenings in the town square. This is a real photo postcard, made when most professional photo processors had postcard stock on hand so that people could bring in their own negatives to have a custom postcard made. Hand written on the back, "Hoping this finds you all well as I am glad to let you know that we are all well. You will find me on this card if you look close. Hoping to hear from you soon. From your brother, John Currie Arcadia Pa." Addressed to, "Mr. Donald Currie, 320 Beech Street, East Pittsburg, Pa." Post marked, "ARCADIA, PA SEP. 18, 1908." Arcadia is a small town in Indiana County, north of Indiana, the county seat and birthplace of actor, Jimmy Stewart. East Pittsburg was absorbed into the greater city, years ago. And yes, Pittsburg was once spelled without the "H"

A Tintype of Two Women

I've been meaning to put up another tintype gallery with five to ten images, but I found this one not too long ago, and even though it's not in great condition, I was really taken by the angry look of the standing woman, so it gets it's own, separate post. With the hair, the scowl, she looks almost feral. Too, the dress is so striking compared to dress of the sitting woman who has a much more serene demeanor. Mother and daughter or two friends? Anyway, as I've noted in earlier posts, tintype is actually a misnomer. Tintypes are actually ferrotypes, shot on a sheet of iron with either a black paint or lacquer coating which makes the negative image seem like a positive.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Old Man

Another image from my days at the photo lab. This print was hand printed, by me, from an old, 19th century glass negative. As I've noted in some previous posts, while it was possible to buy commercially manufactured glass plates, many photographers made their own. Click on the image to open it in a bigger window, and water stains from either the making or processing of the negative can be seen as a streak across the subjects face. Too, the photographers finger print can be seen in the lower right corner. The one question; was the photographer an amateur, or some small town professional with a home made camera.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Another Studio Portrait

Well, I'm on a roll here. Just like my last post, a studio portrait of a woman, most likely from the mid to late twenties to the early thirties. No name or studio mark.

A Studio Portrait

My guess, from the hair style and what little I can see of the clothes, that this studio portrait was shot somewhere from the early to mid twenties to the early thirties. A black and white photo, properly processed can last well over 100 years. I have glass negatives and tintypes in my collection that are as good as the day they were made. As photography moves further into the digital age, I have to wonder if we are beginning an age were our photographic heritage will survive. Computers crash, discs degrade and color prints fade quickly.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

To Miss Nellie Baker of Clinton, Maine From California

What I'd do to see the letter that accompanied these photos, when mailed, from the San Francisco Bay area to Clinton, Maine. All we know for sure is that someone mailed these photos from somewhere in California on June 23, 1908, that it was then relayed from the San Francisco post office on June 28, 1908, and arrived at Clinton, Maine on July 4, 1908. (TheClinton post mark is on the back of the envelope.) This is where the fun comes in from collecting old photos. While we can't know things for sure, we can speculate, logically. There are two probable scenarios here. The first is that Nellie Baker's friend was on a trip to California. The second, and more likely, is that her friend moved to the bay area. Are the photos of the school house, children, and library work places for Nellie's friend, or is she ( I'd bet money that we are dealing with a woman.) trying to brag to her friend that in California, we've got better schools, libraries, churches, and houses than you do, back home, in Clinton. The picture of the men in the boat, leads me to think that this family didn't live in San Francisco, but the head of the house commuted, by water, to the city. East bay, maybe Oakland, or perhaps from Marin? I think there is a good chance that the church and possibly the old school house are still standing, so if anyone out there recognizes them, please leave a comment.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

What Dealers Do, A Boy and His Bra

Another example of how antique dealers destroy collections. According to the seller, this is a self portrait, from the 1940's, of a young man named Eddie Harbaugh. It seems that Eddie was a photography mad young man who had no one to pose for him, so he made up an album of self portraits. This is a tiny print, only 1 1/2 x 1 7/8s inches in size. I never saw the whole album, but at that size, there may have been hundreds of separate images, and if Eddie was willing to take a picture of himself in a bra, who knows what a treasure that album was. Sadly, we'll never know, since the dealer tore it apart, and sold the photos separately.

Friday, August 20, 2010

French Tanks

I know a lot about black & white printing processes, color printing, and color transparencies. This sort of thing, not so much. I think, and I encourage anyone who can either verify or contradict that opinion to do so, that this is a rotogravure. I'm also going on guess work as to the source of this image. Marked "U.S. OFFICIAL" and "SIGNAL CORPS U.S.A." on the front, it is my opinion that these are press release photos used to publicize the first world war. President Woodrow Wilson was so committed to a total war effort, that even the press was conscripted into the fight. Captioned "French tanks ("Chars d"Assault") moving to the support of French troops operating on the left of the 32d Div., Aug.29, 1918."

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Bal Tabarin, San Francisco

Yet another in my collection of night club souvenir photos, though this one is a bit more interesting, historically. The Bal Tabarin was opened in 1931 at 1025 Columbus Avenue in San Francisco, CA by three men; experienced restaurateur, Bob Grison, big band leader, Tom Gerun, and manager, Frank Martinelli. With the end of prohibition nearing, the partners built a club with a performance space, and a sophisticated cocktail lounge atmosphere that was meant to appeal to women as well as men. In addition to Gruen's band, a number of famous acts were booked at the Bal Tabarin, including Sophie Tucker, Tony Martin, the Duncan Sisters, and Spanish puppeteer and ventriloquist, Senor Wences, who, during my childhood, was a frequent guest on the Ed Sullivan Show. Tap dancer Ann Miller, at thirteen, lied about her age and began her career at the club, spotted by Hollywood talent scouts, and Bal Tabarin patron Lucille Ball, she was signed to a studio contract. (Anyone wishing to see Miller dance, should watch On The Town.) Bal Tabarin was very successful through the war years As the club lost business, after the war, it was sold, in 1950, and was renamed Bimbo's 365, becoming a major jazz venue. Where I need some help on this post is info about the photograph. Labeled, "Our ASA dinner, at Bal Tabarin, July 6, 1944." I've done a number of Internet searches trying to identify ASA, and while I've come up with a number of possibilities, (The military does love it's acronyms.) I believe the most likely candidate is ASA radar, a long range search radar, used by the navy in it's patrol planes and ships. The women all have anchors on the lapels of their uniforms, identifying them as WAVES. But, what would these women have to do with ASA radar? Women were not allowed in combat during the war. It's possible that they could have operated land based radar stations. It's also possible that they could be repair technicians or analysts of some kind. In any case, I can't be sure, and if anyone out there can set me straight, please do so. Please notice that the rest of the club seems to be empty, so this might have been a private dinner party. And finally, the gentleman is a puppeteer, just like Senor Wences. All the photos I've been able to find of him are from the Ed Sullivan Show era, but it''s the same facial structure. Printed on the inside front cover of the photo folder, "We sincerely hope you have enjoyed your evening at the Bal Tabarin...Your Hosts TOM GERUN, FRANK MARTINELLI." On the back cover, "For additional prints write to Hollywood Nite Club Photos. PICTURES ARE $1.25 EACH. PRICE INCLUDES TAX AND MAILING CHARGES. Be certain to mention BAL TABARIN, this number, 23, and date, JUL 6, 1944. 6304 Riley Way, Carthay Circle Theatre Bldg., Los Angeles, Calif. WAlnut 9880."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Hollywood Hot Spots

These two images are linen postcards of night spots from the golden age of Hollywood. (Information about how linen postcrds were made can be found in my post of 7/3/10 Catalina in Postcards.) The first Brown Derby was opened 1926 by Herbert Samborn at 3427 Wilshire Blvd. and was shaped like a derby hat. It was so popular with the Hollywood crowd, that Samborn opened a second, more conventionally designed restaurant at 628 Vine St. near the corner of Hollywood Blvd. It opened on Feb. 14, 1929. This is the building depicted in this postcard. A third Brown Derby was opened in Beverly Hills, and the final one in the chain was opened on Los Feliz Blvd. They have, since, all been closed. In 1934, Samborn died and the restaurants were taken over by Robert Cobb, the inventor of the Cobb salad. One of the anecdotes I've found about the Brown Derby; noted for it's movie star caricatures, the restaurant's manager would place those of married couples and actors who were dating, together. If the marriage or relationship ended, the caricatures would be moved to opposite walls. I've already written about the history of the Earl Carroll Theatre-Restaurant in a previous post, dated 8/18/09, which can be easily accessed by clicking on night club in the labels section. The Earl Carroll Theatre opened on December 26, 1938. Both of these cards were published by the same company, "WESTERN PUBLISHING & NOVELTY CO., LOS ANGELES, CALIF." "C.T. ART-COLORTONE REG. U.S. PAT. OFF." On the back of the Brown Derby card, "The famed Brown Derby on Vine Street, Hollywood, with it's adjacent distinctive bamboo roof, is the acknowledged center of the smart social life of the movie colony." The Earl Carroll postcard, "The Earl Carroll Theatre-Restaurant in the heart of Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard near Vine, is a favorite Nite Spot in the Film Capitol of the the World. Seating arrangements are terraced so all guests may enjoy unobstructed view of the lavish stage productions with "Sixty of the Most Beautiful Girls in the World." Both of these cards are unused.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Prims USA

I found a lot about this company. In 1530 in Aachen, Germany, goldsmith Wilhelm Prym began manufacturing household goods of brass and copper. In 1642 the Prym family moved the business to Stolberg, Germany. Jump ahead to 1924 when company president, Hans August Prym set up William Prym, Inc. USA as an exclusive importer and sales agent for Prym products in the United States. In 1939 the American branch of the company moved its headquarters to Dayville, Connecticut. In 1946, Herman Koehl, working with Hans Prym, invented the cover your own button and buckle. In 1988 Prym acquired the Dritz Corp., a major maker of sewing notions, sewing gadget and beaded hand bags. Now Prym Dritz Corporation, the company, with it's factories in North Carolina, became a major manufacturer of sewing notions. After several other aqusitions, the name of the company, in 2005, was changed to Prym Consumer, USA. There is a lot more out there, both on the Prym website and from other sources, but way to much for me to transcribe. There was a press release pasted to the back of the horizontal photo of the model, "QUICK-CHANGE BELT combines the quaint charm of Lucy Locket pockets with the practical efficiency of G.I. money belts. Prims cover-your-own slim buckles at each side reiterate cheery red of bright plaid pockets; are readily adjustable to insure snug fit over either slim or gathered skirt. Prims cover-your-own halo buttons are used for fashion as well as function, repeating the gay yellow of the belt's all-purpose cotton. FROM: Press Release, Inc. 220 East 42nd Street New York, N.Y. For: William Prym, Inc. Dayville, Conn. WILLIAM PRYM, Inc. 350 FIFTH AVENUE NEW YORK 1, N.Y." I found it a little strange that a company involved in women's fashions would advertise something as being like a G.I. money belt.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

At Work

I'm always amazed at how few work place photos I've run across. Labeled, "N.J. 1946." New Jersey? It looks like a garment factory, and I should know. My mother was once a member of the ILGWU, and I've spent more than a few days of my life on the factory floor. The lady in the quilted coat either likes her job, or likes to goof off.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Blackhawk Restaurant

I've always thought that the strongest nostalgia is nostalgia for things we've never known. When I was born, in 1955, the era of the big band was all but over. I don't drink, smoke, and even though I feel quite comfortable riding my bike through L.A. traffic and standing on the edge of cliffs, I feel so rhythmically challenged, I've never dared to take up dancing. And yet, I've always felt that I've missed out on something in not being around when men and women dressed up and headed off for an evening at the local ball room. This is an interesting group of photos, each found in a Blackhawk Restaurant souvenir photo folder. The picture of the two ladies having dinner is dated "May 3, 1945," so we know that these picture were taken right as the second world war was ending. (Note that the woman on the right is in all three images.) The Blackhawk was in the loop, the business heart of Chicago, and since all three photos are of woman only, it presents two possibilities. These might have been housewives enjoying a weekly get together, or they might have been employed in downtown Chicago. The second photo of the four women has, "Best wishes, Earl Randall" hand written on the margin. It's the final image that really intrigued me. Propped up, in the middle of the table, in it's souvenir folder, the five women are displaying the second photo from this set. The Blackhawk Restaurant was founded by Otto Roth and first opened on December 27, 1920. In 1926, the Blackhawk added a dance floor and hired Carlton Coon-Joe Sanders and the Kansas City Nighthawks as a house band. In 1931, when Coon-Sanders moved on to other venues, a series of acts took up residence at the Blackhawk, including, Kay Kyser, Louis Prima , Mel Torme, and Bob Crosby and the Bobcats. (I've posted a photo of Kay Kyser on 6/8/10 and Bobcat drummer Ray Bauduc on 2/1/10) Big band broadcasts from the Blackhawk were featured on Chicago radio station WGN, and nationwide on the Mutual. There was a telegraph key at the restaurant so that radio listeners could make song requests. In 1944, on the death of his father, Don Roth took over the Blackhawk. In 1952, with a decline in popularity of big band music, he removed the band stand and dance floor, and made "Food the show." Prime rib was hand carved at the diner's table, while other waiters hand made salads in a spinning bowl. The Blackhawk closed in 1984, though a second Blackhawk Restaurant, in Chicago suburb, Wheeling, IL., which had opened in 1969 remained in business until December 31, 2009. In my research I found a postcard from the 1930's that was captioned, "The Blackhawk, the most famous theatre restaurant in the world." As always, more souvenir photo folders can be seen by clicking on night club in the labels section.