How were the European colonial powers able to conquer millions of people with so few troops? I suspect this postcard from French Congo, also known as Brazzaville, was meant to be comic. The type at the bottom of the card roughly translates as Congolese in city clothes and would allow the French recipient of this card to laugh at the natives trying to look European. The reality is that the European powers occupied much of the third world by seeking out native allies, usually playing off a favored tribal, religious, or ethnic group against those considered traditional rivals. While these men may have been servants, or models dressed up for the camera, it's also possible that they were some of the local collaborators used to subdue the majority of the native population. While the British and the French were masters at using locals to control, and when necessary, slaughter native populations, it was across the river from Brazzaville in the Belgian Congo where slaughter was at it's most destructive. Leopold II, the second king of Belgium, unable to interest his own government in taking African colonies, established a private company, The International African Society, with himself as the head and sole owner, to subdue the Congo region as a private colony. At first, Leopold's interest was ivory. When that proved less profitable than expected, his interest moved to rubber. Using both European and native troops, Leopold took native women for forced prostitution, cut off the right hands of workers unable to meet quotas, and killed people in the millions. Low estimates run from several million to as high as fifteen million. Ten million dead is a probable best estimate. Eventually the Congo Free State became an embarrassment and Leopold was forced to relinquish control to the Belgian government. All this from a postcard? Researching an image can lead in many directions. Phototypie, in the type on the front side of the card is the French translation of collotype, a mechanical photographic process that allowed for the mass production of black & white prints. I assume that Meyrignac and Puydebois were the publishers of the card. Brive is a town in France. On the back, "La correspondance au recto n'est pas acceptee par tous les pays etrangers. (Se renseigner a la Poste.)" translates to Correspondence on the front is not accepted by all foreign countries. (Inquire at the post.) At least that's how I think it translates.
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Friday, February 25, 2011
It's raining in Los Angeles. A massive storm is blowing in from the Pacific northwest and if forecasts hold, the snow level may drop down to 500 feet and fall in the San Fernando Valley. San Fransisco 7, Arizona 6 in Cactus League play. Spring season games have begun.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Every time I scan in a photograph I have to make a decision whether I should use the grayscale or the true color setting. As a former professional black & white printer, I'm always tempted to go grayscale, but after some thought, I decided that, for this blog, I should do my best to duplicate the look of the original. That would be an easy decision for this image. The original is a mounted albumen print with a rich brown, sepia tone. But with many photographs the choice is far less obvious. Many of the old snapshots I have in the collection are in that zone between a nice black & white photo with blacks, whites, and gray mid-tones, and slightly yellowish-brown tones, caused by a less than successful, final, archival wash. When I worked at photo labs, one of my jobs was operating a copy camera. Sometimes our customers would bring in old family photos, and some of those would be leaching photographic silver and, of course, silver reflects light. When prints aren't washed or fixed properly, over time the residual silver will begin to show on the surface of the print. When making prints from copy negs, if the silvering wasn't too bad, we could always burn in backgrounds or print to a non matching contrast to hide the problem. When scanning a print into a computer the silver can make it almost impossible to get a decent scan. There is a bit of silvering on this print, seen in the uneven tones in the bottom third of the print. Mounted on cardboard, labeled, "Milton Loryea SPOKANE WASH." Written on the back, "Charles Butter."
Added: Milton Loryea Photo Studio was listed in the Spokane city directory from 1893 to 1909. He and his brother Archie, also a photographer moved to Spokane from San Jose, California in 1892. Archie died in 1900.
Monday, February 21, 2011
A color postcard, printed in the front margins, "DETROIT PHOTOGRAPHIC CO., PUBLISHERS." and, "7343. ARE THE POLICE COMING?" The Detroit Photographic Company made it's first appearance in the city registry in 1888. It was a provider of photographic images for advertising and publishing purposes. In 1897, under the leadership of partners, William A. Livingston, Jr., and Edwin H. Husher, the Detroit Photographic Company acquired exclusive North American rights to the photochrom process, a photolithography method that allowed for mass printings of color postcards from original black and white photographs. In 1905, the company changed it's name to the Detroit Publishing Company. For more information on the company's acquisition of the photochrom process go to www.photochrom.com/Detroit.html At http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitallibrary/america.html I found an image from the Detroit Photographic Company catalog of children in Chinatown in Los Angeles that seems to be a different angle of the same location. The Detroit Photographic Company declared bankruptcy in 1924 and it's assets were liquidated in 1932.
This is third of four from a collection of nightclub souvenir photo folders all from the same source. The only thing written on this one is a date, "Apr-28-49." On some of the other folders, from this group, there are notes addressed to Evelyn. I can't be 100% sure, but I think the woman on the right is Evelyn. The man can be seen, in uniform, in the Latin Quarter post (2/8/11) and the woman (Evelyn?) on the right can be seen in another post, with a different cover design, from Versailles. (2/14/11) Stamped on the back cover, "Versailles NEW YORK No. 7378. For extra copies write to: VERSAILLES 151 East 50th Street, New York 22, N.Y. Use Number on back of Print Stating date taken and name of Club along with description of Photo." It's still my dream to find the negative files from one of these old, out of business, nightclubs from the thirties, forties, and fifties. I've got a number of these old souvenir photo folders, most with an interesting cover design to go along with the photo. As usual, click on nightclubs, or souvenir photo folder in the labels section to bring them up.
Saturday, February 19, 2011
Stamped on the back, "Made at The Picture Shop, Casper, Wyo." Hotel staff from the 1920's I would think. Anyone out there from Casper that can identify the hotel, or tell me it's something else, please leave a comment.
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Monday, February 14, 2011
Sunday, February 13, 2011
This one is for all those too young to remember a world without photo-shop. In olden times, if you wanted a photo of yourself with a better body or a nicer car, you went to someplace like the Atlantic City Boardwalk, stood behind a cardboard cut-out and stuck your head in the hole. Printed on postcard stock, this one has been scuffed up and dirtied. Not great condition, but still fun.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
Friday, February 11, 2011
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Found inside a generic cardboard photo folder without a photographers name, studio mark, or date. Written on the outside of the folder in pencil, "Georgina Harriet Walker 4 yrs. old." Adolphe Sax, a Belgian instrument maker invented the Saxophone in 1841, one of the few instruments named after a person. The Sax in this photo seems to be sized for a child.
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
I picked up this small collection of California snapshots from an on-line estate sale. There are 33 images in the group, which I will be posting as three setts of 11. The photographer's life seems to have been centered around the bay area, both San Francisco and Oakland, and the Los Angeles area, for the first ten years or so of the twentieth century. The photo of the tower is easily recognizable as the ferry building in downtown San Francisco. It's still there and still in use. The Lyric Theater sign isn't much use in identifying a location. Lyric Theater was just too common a name for early music halls and Vaudeville theaters. The mansion on the hill photo is labeled, "Home on hill above Ocean at Santa Monica." For those who don't know California, Santa Monica is right next to Los Angeles. The house looks familiar to me, and the next time I'm in Santa Monica, I'll see if I can find it. Pacific palisades, I would think. The football statue from the Berkley Campus is printed on postcard stock, and while it could be a commercially produced card, the lack of patent and copyright info on the back makes me think it might have been printed in a home darkroom. The baby carriage photo is labeled, "Betty at 241 E-31 ST, Los Angeles." The ostrich pictures could have been shot at any of the farms in California that raised exotics for meat, and hides, but it looks like the sight of the commercial ostrich farm in South Pasadena. There is an apartment building on the sight now. The two children photo has a difficult to make out embossing, but under a magnifying glass it looks like, "Mushet Los Angeles." The two Asian gentlemen image has Chinese letters down the left margin, and in English, "Heap Good." And my favorite from this group; the Shriner's photo. California has always been a state that puts a value on boosterism. It's our real estate based economy, I think.