Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Small Town Glass Negatives

A couple of glass negatives, one I wanted, and one was the throw in. I've always assumed that these two images, if not by the same photographer, were at least from the same small town. While glass negatives were manufactured, and processed by local labs, many glass negatives were made by the photographer, and processed by the photographer. This allowed for a huge disparity in the basic quality of negatives. I printed these by putting them in an 8 x 10 enlarger, and had a hell of a time getting usable prints. The emulsion was uneven, and the plates were over exposed. I assume that the group photo is a multi-generational family, and while this is the image I was really interested in, it is interesting to see a small town before paved streets.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Not all of my old photos are of people. This is another one of the images that, when I was working in a photo lab, I made copy negs and prints from. The original is an old albumen print, very likely from the late 19th century through the early 20th, and probably made from a glass negative. I 'd love to know where the photographer was standing. The image makes me think that this may have been a professionally made, commissioned image. I imagine that the camera was not a small, hand held one, but one mounted on a tripod. It's difficult to take a quick snap and then step out of the way of an oncoming train with one of those.

Monday, June 28, 2010

In Mourning

Cabinet cards were one of the first attempts at standardization in photography. While the size of the actual print might vary, the card mount itself was 4.25 x 6.5 inches and could fit into pre-made albums and frames. This style was popular, in the 19th century, as a mourning card. Stamped on the back, "Wm. L. Cornell. South Amboy, N.J."

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Crookston, Minnesota

A small group of family photos from the Crookston, Minnesota area. Stamped on several of the mounts, the photo studio's mark, "BENSON, CROOKSTON, MINN." At fist I thought these might just be random images put together by the dealer, but on closer examination, it became clear that the people in the wedding photo were the same adults in the other images. Except for the picture of the lady with the dog, all photos were mounted. The wedding portrait is a cabinet card, the two of the woman are in the old fashioned, free standing photo folders, and the one with the kids, probably grandchildren, is in a flat mount that was once probably displayed in a frame. Normally, when scanning, I crop off the mounts, but because of the curved top of the younger version of the woman, I've included two scans of that image. Crookston, Minnesota is in the north western part of the state, near the North Dakota border.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Graphic House

Stamped on the back of these photos, "PHOTO BY GRAPHIC HOUSE 280 MADISON AVENUE NEW YORK, N.Y. TEL. MUarry Hill 6-8826 THIS PICTURE IS SOLD TO YOU FOR ONE TIME REPRODUCTION IN YOUR PUBLICATION ONLY AND MUST NOT BE LOANED, SYNDICATED OR USED FOR ADVERTISING PURPOSE WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION FROM US." In addition, on the back of the picture of the woman on the beach, "PLEASE CREDIT IRV. CARSTEN GRAPHIC HOUSE" On the back of the other, 'PLEASE CREDIT DAN SCHLANGER GRAPHIC HOUSE" I thought it would be easy to run down information on Graphic House, but as it turned out, I wasn't able to find anything at all. It's obvious that Graphic House must have been a photo agency, a clearing house for the sale of photographs for advertising and illustration. Magnum, the French based co-op for photo journalists is the most famous photo agency, and, of course, that's how modern day paparazzo sell their work. As far as the two photographers listed. I found a maybe for Dan Schlanger, an obit for a former employee of the social security agency, died in Baltimore, born in Queens, New York, former member of The Iris Society (Flowers or lenses?). Also listed as a photographer and film buff. It's pretty thin, but the name, city, and an interest in photography...well for what it's worth, and it's not much. Irv Carsten is a different story. I found records of him with other photos credited to Graphic House. It seems that Carsten was a fairly successful pin-up photographer. On a web sight dedicated to pin-up/nude model, and actress June Palmer, Carsten is quoted on how easy it was to work with June Palmer.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Green Bay Business College- Color Vacation

Put this one down to my sense of history and belief that it's better to post all of the images in a collection, rather than editing them down to the most interesting views. Stamped on the backs of all these photographs, THIS IS A KODACOLOR PRINT MADE BY EASTMAN KODAK COMPANY T.M. REGIS. U.S. PAT. OFF. Week of July 12, 1954 III 2" And again, images from the life of Mr. Kenneth Bierke of Green Bay, Wisconsin. Associated with the Green Bay Business College, probably, first, as a teacher and then as an administrator. Eventually, when I get the entire collection posted, there will be images of his farm background, the parties, dances, and dinners attended, the wars fought, the wife on the home front, and in 1954, post war comfort, a nice car, some level of prosperity not known during the great depression and World War 2, that allowed he and his family to take a vacation. In the grand scheme of things, a pretty ordinary life, but one that covers a lot of the twentieth century, good and bad. Once again, click on Green Bay in the labels section to see the collection, posted to date.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Washerwomen In Stereo

Printed on the back of the card, "50-(W8668) WASHERWOMEN ALONG THE NILE, EGYPT
These women are doing the family washing in the Nile. It is easier to come down to the river and do their washing than to carry the water to their homes. Then they see the other women and have a visit. Here, again, we see the beautiful Nile boats. Copyright by Keystone View Company" In 1892, Benneville Lloyd Singley, former salesman for Underwood & Underwood, one of the largest stereoview manufacturers of the day, set up his camera and took photographs of the flooding of French Creek in Pennsylvania. He mounted them on cards sold them, and began his own stereoview company. Three years latter, with 700 images in his catalog, he incorporated The Keystone View Company in Meadville, PA. Between 1915 and 1921, Keystone, became the most successful stereoview company in the world, not just by expanding it's own collection of images, but by buying out most of it's major competitors. By 1935, Keystone had over 2,000,000 views on file. (Note, I've been unable to determine whether the 2 million figure represents the number of negatives owned, or the number of views offered for sale.) While Keystone offered many novelty images, Singley, correctly, believed that the real success of the stereoview lay in offering images of the world, which would never been seen, in person, by his customers. While Keystone did all of it's manufacturing at it's Meadville headquarters, it would open offices in New York, Chicago, and London. It would also keep photographers on staff all over the world, not only photographing physical and cultural geographic images, but historical events. Singley also began a division in his company to produce glass "magic lantern" slides. He also made stereoview viewers and slide projectors. He aggressively marketed his products to schools. (I was born in 1955, started first grade in 1960, and my first grade teacher still used stereoviews to teach geography.) Singley retired in 1936, and sold all stock in his company to two employees, Charles Krandall, and George Hamilton. Keystone, under the new partner's leadership, continued to increase it's collection of images as well as starting a division to manufacture eye testing equipment. In 1963, Keystone was purchased by Mast Development Company of Davenport, Iowa. Mast continued with the manufacturing of eye testing equipment, eventually shutting down the Meadville offices and plant. In 1978, three tons of negatives and company records were donated to the University of California Riverside. The negatives are housed at the California state Photography Museum in Riverside.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Dinner at The Mark Twain Hotel

This image was a throw in on some loose pictures I bought. At first I didn't give it much thought, but after awhile it kind of grew on me. I liked the mountain of spaghetti in front of the older woman. It reminded me of the cheap Italian restaurants that could be found in the coal mining towns around where I grew up. A night out, cheap food, for people who didn't make a lot of money. Too, while it is often possible to really research an image, more often than not, the fun of old photos lies in speculation. Was this a family get together? Friends? An anniversary? Did the bald guy on the right score a younger wife, or is it his daughter? Perhaps it's a great grandmother, son and daughter-in-law, grandson and great grand daughter. Written on the back, "J. Henry Grimm, Mark Twain Hotel, Hannibal, Missouri." I looked it up, and there is a Mark Twain Hotel, still in business, located at 204 Earl St., Hannibal, MO 63401. On the Yahoo site, the user's review notes that it is comfortable and a good value, though there is no place to eat after 10 P.M.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Don Frooks, Adult Photographer

I tried, but I wasn't able to run down anything on Don Frooks. He seems to have been a freelance photographer working the men's magazine market in the period from, what we would now think of as innocent pin-up imagery, to the more explicit Playboy and then Penthouse type of photo. The "PROOF PLEASE RETURN" marking on the front of several of these images was a common method photographers used to protect their work. In theory it would prevent purchasers from using the photographer's image without payment. In reality it wasn't much of a deterrent. A copy neg, a bit of airbrushing, and some pulp magazine publisher could have put Don's pictures in a regional magazine, not distributed in his home area, and he would have been none the wiser. Stamped on the back, "MAY 23, 1956 DON FROOKS FL.8-4554." Except for the one photo of the different woman, "FEB 25, 1959 DON FROOKS FL.8-4554." These were purchased from a dealer in Carthage, Mississippi, so Don Frooks could have been a southern photographer, but things do move about the country, so the dealers location may not be an indication of where he was from. There were three other photos in this collection that I may post one day. Those were taken much latter, probably in the late sixties to early eighties and at least two of them would qualify as true pornography. I'm not bothered by the nudity, but I'm not sure I want to risk problems with the blog host, until I've been able to find other examples of imagery of an explicit nature on Blogspot. Added: I've done a bit of research into Blogspot policies, and I've decided not to post the last three Don Frooks images. I've put a couple of nudes up on this blog, but the latter images from Frooks are pornographic, and while I don't think pornography, at least images made by and for adults, should be illegal, I understand that Blogspot may not wish to host such images. Too, there is always a dilemma about putting up such images. The two women and one man who posed for those three shots were pretty young, they are all very likely still alive, and may look upon that bit of their past as an embarrassing mistake, and who in the pre-digital universe never thought that their pictures would one day turn up for everyone on the planet with computer access, to see.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

S.S. Transylvania, The West Indies Run

When I buy these small collections of photographs, I'm usually drawn to only a few of the images. In this case, it was the photograph of the gentleman in his Tuxedo. Labeled, "Sabatine, Fred 1934 on ship," I at first thought he was a passenger on a cruise, but on closer inspection I began to think that he might have been the ship's photographer. Look closely, next to the chair, and a number of 8 x 10 film holders can bee seen. Used in large format view cameras, 8 x 10 film would most likely have been used in a passenger liner's photo studio, while a smaller format would have been used for candid shots taken in the ship's lounge. A probable scenario is that Mr. Sabatine set up his camera, and had an assistant press the shutter. (The 8 x 10 negative, trimmed out to about a 6 x 8 area was included in the sale.) Also, there is a hair printed into the chair. White in color, it would have been on the neg when printed. For a ship's passenger, it would most likely have been reprinted or spotted, but as a keepsake for the photographer, it wouldn't have been necessary. Finally, I couldn't help but notice the finger nail staining on Fred's right hand. Common for people who process black & white film without gloves. I know, I had purple nails for the first year I worked at a lab. Anyway, this is what I've been able to find out about the S.S. Transylvania, identified on the map. The Transylvania's keel was laid down in 1919 at Fairfield & Co., LTD. Glasgow, Scotland. It was built for the Anchor Line, a subsidiary of Cunard. It was launched on March 11, 1925, and made it's maiden voyage to Moville and New York. It had three funnels, even though only one was functional, two masts and twin screws. It was designed to carry 279 first class passengers, 344 in second and 800 in third. On March, 28, 1929, the Transylvania ran aground near Cherbourg, France. It was refitted several times. In 1935 (?) it made a voyage to Bermuda, and from 1937-39 was on a regular run from New York to the West Indies. On Sept. 7, 1939, it was requisitioned by the British Admiralty for use as an armed merchant cruiser. On Aug. 16, 1940, it was hit by a German torpedo, fired from the U-56. It was taken in tow, but sunk off of Malin Head in Northern Ireland. 48 lives were lost. Underwater pictures of the Transylvania, sitting upright and nearly intact can be seen at Pictures of the Transylvania afloat can be seen at There was another ship named the Transylvania in the Anchor Line fleet. It was sunk by a German torpedo in the first world war. As far as the other photos in this group, Crystal Cave in Bermuda was discovered in 1905 and has been giving tours ever since. It's labeled, "1934 Fred Sabatine, 1934 Bermuda, Bermuda." The picture of the capitol building and the house with the flamingos are both labeled, "Havana." The capitol building in Havana was modeled after the U.S. Capitol and was built in 1929. After the Cuban revolution in 1959, it was no longer used for governance, and now houses the Cuban Academy of Sciences. When I noted that the Transylvania made it's first voyage to Bermuda in 1935, I placed a question mark after the date. If Fred Sabatine was a ship's photographer and he was on the Transylvania on that first trip, then the date on the back of the Bermuda picture doesn't match what I've been able to find on-line. That doesn't necessarily mean anything, since a wrong date could have been written on the back of the print, years latter, from memory. For pictures made by a ship's photographer from the S.S. Lurline, click on cruise ships in the labels section. Added: I've run down an obit for Fred Sabatine from the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania. Fred died on Sunday, Nov. 7, 1999, at the age of 96. He and his wife Alice, owned the Modern Photo service in Bangor, Pennsylvania. In his obit, it mentioned that Fred had studied photography in New York City, and that he had been a cruise ship photographer, working out of New York.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Central Radio

I love this picture. The photographer may have got his depth of field wrong, with the four people in front slightly soft, but it's still a very compelling image. The reflection of the building across the street, the four people, employees, owners or customers, standing there, so confident in their pose. Just great. Probably from the late forties or early to mid fifties.

Green Bay Business College- Dinners

I don't know whether it's a good thing or a bad thing, but I have a tendency to not edit photo collections. If the image came with the group, it goes up on the blog. Two more photos from the Green Bay Business College collection. So far I've put up pictures from school dances, banquets, and some rather nice color portraits of a woman during the war years. (Click on Green Bay in the labels section.) These two are of dinners featuring the two people who show up more often than any others in the collection. On the left on the picture that's fading away, and way in the back, on the right, of the other. The man, I believe, must be Kenneth Bierke, to whom one of the envelops I have is addressed, and the woman must be his wife. The fading picture looks like it was taken in a restaurant, while the other, with the stained glass windows in the background could be either a church dinner or a school function.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Famous Old Crystal Bar

From the fifties, I would think. One man, four women, standing in front of The Famous Old Crystal Bar. Just added: I thought the name of the bar would be too common to identify the location, but with the use of my most powerful magnifying glass I was able to make out Washoe County on the sign, and was then able to place The Crystal Bar in Reno, Nevada. When this picture was taken, Nevada had the most liberal divorce laws in the country, and many Americans, anxious to get out of a bad marriage, headed to Reno for the waiting period and divorce. I'm thinking these five people may be knocking back a few while waiting for the judge to sign the decree.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Green Bay Business-Crowning the Queen

I haven't put up any of the pictures from the Green Bay Business College collection for awhile, and it's time to put some up some more. To recap, i bought a bunch of prints, some of which came in envelopes addressed to Kenneth Bierke, 225 Quinton, Green Bay, Wisconsin. Some are of a school dance, some are from some school banquets, and some are family photos of, I assume, Bierke clan. Click on Green Bay in the labels section to see some of the other prints I've already posted. This one looks like the Queen of the school dance is being crowned.

19th Century Old Lady

I hated to crop off the edges of the oval matt on this picture, but it just wouldn't fit on the scanner. Normally I wouldn't have cared, but sometimes the proportions of the mounts add to the beauty of the image. A very rich, albumen print of an old lady who was a little girl in the very first years of the United States. Let's say she was in her sixties when this image was taken. If true, and considering the age of the photograph, she was probably born near 1800 to 1810.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Kay Kyser

Kay Kyser was one of the most successful band leaders of the swing era. In all, his band recorded over 400 sides and had eleven number one hits. Kyser was born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina in 1905. While at the University of North Carolina he was a cheerleader and director of student plays. At the recommendation of Hal Kemp, he took over the leadership, from Kemp, of a local band. After his college career, he continued to lead his own band, and in 1934, was booked into the Blackhawk Club in Chicago. It was there that he developed the gimmick that he would be known for, The Kollege of Musical Knowledge, an amateur night quiz for the contestants. In 1938 he hired vocalist Ginny Simms. Broadcast regionally by the Mutual Broadcasting System, he went national and to New York and had a hit show on NBC radio. In 1949, he took his band to television, but after the show was cancelled in 1950, he retired from show business and never returned. I'm fairly certain that the singer with Kyser is Ginny Simms. She left the band in 1941, so if I'm right in my identification of Simms, with the NBC mic, this photo was taken between 1939 and 1941.

Monday, June 7, 2010

A Formal Portrait

I'm assuming that this lady did not dress this way, normally. I've seen hair-dos like this in late silent and early sound movies, so I'm guessing mid to late twenties to early thirties. A wedding portrait or for a formal affair of some kind.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Etretat, France in World War 2

This one is for the World war 2 history buffs. When I first saw these photos I thought they must have been from the Dover area in England. But, I've been to Dover, and I couldn't remember the sea arches seen in several of the prints. A bit of research and I was able to identify the town as Etretat in France. With some of the signs in English and the bombed out houses makes these from the post D-Day era. The bunkers have to be German built, as a defense against the allied invasion.