Wednesday, August 31, 2011


So what's dangerous about this woman? Well, nothing actually. When I logged onto Blogger this morning I made the mistake of clicking on the tab to try the new interface. Got a notice that my current browser didn't support the new interface. I followed their advice and downloaded Google Chrome, and still got the same notice. Had to go to the library, wait for a computer to open up, go to blogger to hit the tab to go back to the old interface. Oh how I hate computers!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Girl and Her Trike

Did you know....The tricycle was originally designed and built for women. It was thought to be both immoral and undignified for women to ride bicycles, but the trike would allow a woman to join the cycling craze while keeping her legs covered. Women preferred bicycles.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Carte de Visite/Ohio

Well, I haven't put up a carte de visite for awhile so I thought I'd put these two up. Other than that they are both from Ohio, they aren't related in anyway. The profile has a studio mark on the back, "Geo R. Elliott, S.W. Corner High and Town Streets. Columbus, Ohio" And written, "Julianne Elizabeth Anthony (Mother)" Elliott was born in 1837 and had a studio in Columbus from 1870-86. A photographer for hire, his specialty was stereoscopic views. In 1886 he became the employee of James Madison Elliott, presumably a relative, who in addition to being a photographer was also a painter and crayon artist. Neither man was a great talent, but they made a living at it. On the mother/daughter portrait (I'm guessing), written on the back, "Jennie E. & Bell M. Norris, Stryker, Ohio" Stryker is in the northwest corner of the state, near the Michigan border. Click on either cdv or carte de visite in the labels section to see a lot more. The carte de visite was an early attempt at a standardized photographic format. They were small albumen prints mounted on a card, approximately 2.5x4.25 inches. While some people did in fact use them as visiting cards, they were usually given as keepsakes to friends and family. In the 1860s and 70s, the term cartomania was used to describe the craze for collecting as many cartes de visite as possible. Kind of like friending as many people as possible on Facebook.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Where were these taken?

With the Hindi writing on the dental office sign and the cow, wandering freely in a city, it's tempting to say India. But then again, people from the Indian sub-continent had settlements all over the far east before the arrival of the European colonial powers. Too, the British used Indians as administrators in colonies as far away as south Africa. I don't know why, but the two ladies in the last photo look Malaysian to me. I'm always willing to be corrected. From the twenties I would think.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The German American Collection, The Postcards

So why are there a couple of non photographic postcards in this post? My one exception to my all photos all the time rule; If it's part of a greater collection, it gets a pass. To repeat, a dealer in Florida bought these images at an estate sale. He sold a lot of the pictures separately, and then put the rest up on line in a couple of lots. I tried to get them all, but could only get this one group of pictures. Because there are so many gaps, and very little identifiers, I'm putting up this collection when I get around to it, in a very catch as catch can manner. I call it the German American collection because there was one photo postcard of a wedded couple (Already posted)and the butt end of an old album, both from Germany. When the family who owned these photos came to the United States is a mystery to me. Click on German American in the labels section to bring the whole lot up.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Camp Hancock, Postage Due

Postmarked, "AUGUSTA, GA MAY 20 1:30 PM 1918 HANCOCK BRANCH" Addressed to, "Mr. John Hayes 113 E. Main St., Amsterdam, NY c/0 John Burke" And the message, "Well John we had a great trip down here we left Fort Slocum 10 clock Wed morning on the boat and got in Jersey City at 12 got our lunch and left Jersey City at 2 o'clock by train and got in Camp Hancock 12 o'clock Thursday night. from Coney" One would think that Coney was a lucky young man. World War 1 would end on November 11, 1918, so even if he saw combat, it wouldn't have been much. But then again, on the last day of September 1918 there were two men in the camp infirmary. On October 1, there were 716 cases of Spanish flu in the camp. By October 5, there were 3,000 cases and 52 dead. This card was published by "A. M. SIMON, 32 UNION SQUARE, NEW YORK."

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Postcard Bride

A real photo postcard was just that. Rather than using a commercial printing process, each individual postcard was printed with an enlarger, on light sensitized paper with a stamp box and space for address and message on the back, and then developed in a chemical bath. A number of companies, most notably Kodak, made photo postcard stock, and most professional photo studios, photo finishers, and many home darkrooms kept it on hand. Kodak even made a camera, the A3, that yielded a negative that could be printed without cropping on a standard postcard. (I think it used 620 roll film, but I haven't been able to verify that.) So, I wonder how many copies of this image was ordered by the bride. Did she slip one into the wedding invitation, or with the thank you notes for the wedding gifts? All we can really know is that this particular card was never mailed and no information was recorded on the back. My guess is that it's from the twenties or thirties.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Polarine From Standard Oil

Even though this postcard is of a Detroit city bus, it was mailed from and to Kansas City. The postmarks, for sending and receiving are both "KANSAS CITY NOV 5 1911" The times are "7-PM" and "8-PM" Mailed and sent to the same post office. It's addressed to "Mr Raymon Walker, MC book" No street address or city name, so it might have gone to a box in the building, or it was for counter pick up, or the mail man knew everyone on his route. And the message, "Mr. Walker, Dear friend thank you verry much for your remembrance towards me. Will leave KC November the 6th for Va by the way of Atlanta, Georgia. Your G. McWilliams" Mr Walker, Dear friend, a strange mixture of the formal and familiar. And he misspelled dear friend's first name. Very strange.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Irene White of Plains, Montana

Another real photo postcard. Written on the back, "Miss Irene White, Plains, Mont-P.O. Box 468-24 years old the 23 of Oct. From Joe" Never mailed, no stamp, cancellation or date. In 1905, the town of Horse Plains, dropped the Horse and became just Plains. So after 1905. The very first post on this blog was prints made from glass negatives purchased in Montana. I'd take a look, and so should you.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


One of the pleasures of collecting old photographs is...well, guessing. Even when an image is labeled with dates, names, and locations, the best that can be done, even if the image is something that can be researched, is to make an educated guess. When I look at this real photo postcard, I see the wife and son of a missionary. There are a lot of other explanations, but that's what I see.

In the second half of the nineteenth century, the United States joined the British in shipping out young men and their families to convert the heathen, and like the British, had mixed results. A lot of the natives had no desire to be converted, and many simply added Christ to the pantheon of deities they already worshipped.

One of the most noted American missionaries was William Sheppard, often referred to as Black Livingston. Like the Scott, David Livingston, Sheppard, the first African American sent to Africa as a missionary, used his church assignment as a platform to pursue his real interests. During his time in the Congo Free State, he excelled as an explorer, big game hunter, anthropologist, ethnographer, art collector, and on his return trips to the United States, lecturer. And while British diplomat Roger Casement, wrote reports on the genocide in the Congo, the legacy of King Leopold of Belgium, and Mark Twain wrote about it in his book, King Leopold's Soliloquy, it was Sheppard at the risk of his life, who trekked through the Congo and documented the mass murder of Africans, by the Belgians that left so many dead. While we can never know for sure, one figure cited by historians for the final death toll of Leopold's rule is 10,000,000. All for piano keys, jewelry, and pneumatic tires.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Mt. Manitou Scenic Incline Railway

Well, I think I'm going to put up a few postcards over the next couple of days. This one goes with some other incline cards I've posted recently. (Click inclines in the labels section to bring them up.) What fascinated me about this one is that it was postmarked "COLORADO SPRINGS MAY 15, 1940 8;30 AM COLO" Take a close look at the clothes the ladies are wearing. The Mt. Manitou Scenic Railway was opened in 1907 to transport pipes for a local water system and then converted into a tourist route. This picture was clearly taken a lot closer to 1907 than 1940. Before it became a tinted linen postcard, the same image was probably sold as a straight up black & white card. With luck I'll be able to find one for the collection. Addressed to "Mr & Mrs James O. Doranth Jr., 7049 S. E. 35th Ave., Portland, Oregon" The message, "Dear Everybody, We motored today about half way to Denver, had lunch at a roadside inn, took a trip through the Garden of the Gods, visited Manitou Springs, and drank of the waters, had a good dinner, and am now reading the magazines and newspapers. We are here and happy. Love to all, Pops. 5/14/40." The caption, "This incline rises to an altitude of 10,500 feet. It's maximum grade is 68%. The views from a series of unobstructed ridges gradually widen as the car makes the ascent and, on reaching the summit, there is unfolded a magnificent panoramic view of mountain and plain." For the record, my research says that the summit of Mt. Manitou is 8,600 feet. The incline closed in 1990 after the track was blocked by a landslide.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The German American Collection, Man in Hats

Poor guy. With that bewildered look on his face, I'm betting he was wondering how he was talked into trading hats with his lady friend. And then, out came the camera! Click on German American in the labels section for more from The German American Collection.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Roads in the Desert

The California desert is criss-crossed with dirt roads. When I hike across the Mojave, more often than not, I'll spend at lest some time following an old jeep route. But where do they go? I'll follow the track across the desert and it'll just end, way out there, in the middle of nowhere. At one time there was a logic to all that road building. Mines now filled in, old homesteads, blown away by the desert winds, World War 2 bombing ranges and observation posts. I'm sure this road was well used when this photograph was taken, and there was a reason for these three people to be there. But what was it? There is a small building in the depression in the background.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Betty in the Center

This one falls in the "I wish it were in better condition" category. Is the girl in the center the self assured child of the family, or the immigrant maid of a nice middle class household? With her hands on her hips, staring into the camera lens, she has an air of confidence that things are going to go her way in life. If it wasn't for the apron, I'd go with family member. Written on the back, "left on face, Mrs. Clark Grandma, right on face, Mrs. Welkman Aunt Hanna, Betty in center & Norman on steps." Mounted on cardboard. Written on the front bottom margin, "Mrs. Clark, Rita, Mrs. Welkman." So which is it, Betty or Rita?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Home Style Temptress

As I've noted before, when I worked at the photo lab I never had a week go by where I didn't print some sort of amateur adult picture. There were a lot of home made pin-ups, nude wives and girlfriends, the occasional naked man, couples having sex, and for reasons I've never understood, lots and lots of cross dressing. These are pretty mild, but then they were printed in "JAN 63."

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Rural Glamour

I was born in 1955 in a small coal mining town in western Pennsylvania and when I was a child there were still a lot of these old metal framework bridges with wooden decks still standing. On back roads, many unpaved, the wood planking starting to rot, we still used them and so did a lot of coal trucks. I'm still amazed that they didn't collapse killing the poor guy who just happened to be heading into town that day. In 1921, when this picture was taken, this bridge was probably only a few years old. A year or so after Prohibition went into a effect, I like to think that this young lady was headed off to a roadhouse, thumbing her nose at all the moralists who tried to solve the real problem of alcohol abuse with legislation that had no chance of working. When I was in my early twenties, I worked at a mine in West Virginia. The older residents had a saying, "Coal mine, moonshine, or movin' on down the line."

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The German American Collection, Until Death do us Part

Written on the back of the first picture, "Our Wedding Day April 18th 1942 Until Death do us Part." I've scanned in the back of the second. Click on German-American in the labels section to bring up more images.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

All of Us

I picked up this photo here, in southern California, so it's tempting to write that it's a shot of an outing to Catalina. (Click on Catalina in the labels section to pull up some examples.) Then again, the 1920s when this picture was most likely taken, was the era of passenger ships. Travelling from Los Angeles to San Fransisco, Seattle or Victoria, British Columbia was more likely to be done on a coastal steamer than by car. Too, liners were the main way to get to Hawaii, Asia, Europe or any place else not in North America. Then again, the twenties was also the era of gambling ships. With prohibition in force, and no handy casinos, southern Californians took small boats to ships anchored just outside the three mile limit where they could gamble to their heart's content and drink all the booze they could pay for. Written on the back, "All of us." Is it just me, or does the guy in the upper left look a lot like Eugene O'Neill?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011


From Pearl Harbor to V-J Day more than 16 million Americans, mostly men, served in the military. Many of them, about to be shipped overseas, rushed into marriage and left behind pregnant wives. (And a few pregnant girlfriends as well.) In for the duration, not given passes home, a photograph was all they would see of their young children until the end of the war. Those who didn't come back would never see anything other than photos. This picture is dated "12/2/44" The Battle of the Bulge was only two weeks away. The invasion of Okinawa was only four months in the future.