Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The German American Collection, The Album 7

I think they must be bird watchers. Click on German-American in the labels section at the bottom of the post to bring up the whole collection. Too, click on album to bring up a number of other photo albums.

Monday, February 27, 2012

50,000 + How It All Started

I just took a quick look at the stats page and noticed that, sometime in the past week or so, I went over 50,000 page views. I have no idea whether that's a big number for a blog like this or not, but when I started this I was lucky to get thirty or forty views a month, so it seems big to me. Anyway, to mark the 50,000 milestone, I thought I would do something I've never done before. I'm repeating myself. These seven images, all hand printed, by me, form the original glass negatives, are the very first photographs I posted on The New Found Photography.

I think it must be the dream of every collector of old photographs to walk into some out of the way junk shop and find a box of photos by an unknown photographer of real talent. I sometimes wonder, if circumstances had been a bit different, if this could have been my discovery. It was back in the good old days when I had a full time job, a decent income, and three weeks of paid vacation a year. I had just finished a backpacking trip in Montana, had cleaned up, packed the car, and was headed home to Los Angeles, when I made an impulse stop at an antique store, well more of a junk shop actually, and found these glass negatives. The owner of the place told me that he once had a crate of images, all from the same source. He thought that there must have been 500 or so, but he had broken up the collection. He had given some of them away, thrown some out, (Not because they were damaged or not very good, but because they were taking up too much space.) and had been selling the rest for a couple of bucks a piece. He had about forty or so left, but for reasons I've never understood, thought credit cards were for suckers, and it was a cash only sale. I bought these seven, got his phone number, and after I got home called him up, and offered to send him a check for the rest, but he said, "Nah, it's too much work."

I wonder what those other negatives might have been like. And I also wonder who took them. Perhaps it was a local professional or maybe an amateur who had a primitive darkroom in the fruit cellar. When I look at the farm photograph, I don't see the mother of the family, so I sometimes speculate that the photographer was a woman. We will never know, and any chance of finding out has, I think, been destroyed by a road side vendor, who thought more highly of telephone poll insulators, old barbed wire, and 50 year old beer bottles than he did of a box of glass negatives, and the unknown photographer who recorded a small, intimate piece of Montana history.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The German American Collection, The Album 6

Pictures of middle class comfort? It seems so, but how was that possible. In the last post from this album, there was a beer keg with a 1923 date. 1923 was right in the middle of the German hyperinflation that nearly destroyed the German economy and helped pave the way for the rise of the Nazi party. Take a look on line, and pictures of people pushing wheelbarrows of cash to buy groceries can be found. Yet, this couple look quite comfortable. In the picture of the man, he's looking through an art book, and in the far background there is a very nice house. Two possibilities come to mind. While most German's lost almost everything, German businessmen who did business with other nations, had foreign currency to spend and grew quite wealthy. And the other possibility? With an exchange rate of billions of marks to the dollar, if this family had an American branch, even a small amount of U.S. currency could have kept these people in comfort.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Not only am I staying in Europe with this one, I'm staying in Belgium. Written on the back, "M. Boucher Impasse de la planete Anderlecht" Impasse of the planet? Sounds rather astronomical, though a local pond looks to be a better explanation. Anyway, Anderlecht is a city in Belgium near Brussels. This kid has very thin legs. I wonder if he was sick when this photo was taken. Perhaps some childhood disease. It's also possible that this photo might have been taken during World War 2, and he could have been malnourished.

Sunday, February 19, 2012


Thought I'd take a break for a few days from the German-American photo album, but still stay in Europe. Stamped on the back of this one, "STUDIO R. TASSIN E033 COURCELLES" I went on line and found 32 communities in France either named Courcelles or with Courcelles in the name, one in Quebec, and one in Belgium. Only the one in Belgium is large enough to sustain a trolley system. This photo came from the mystery grab bag of photos that I've already dipped into for several posts. (It looks like there are a number of images from Europe in the lot.) Click on the image to bring it up in a larger window to see the old Volkswagen and trolley car waiting for the parade to pass by.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The German American Collection, The Album 5

It's a wedding. So that's why all these people have gathered together. I do hope people will click on the individual images and bring them up in a bigger window. It will make it easier to see that the man straddling the barrel in the second photo is the accordionist in the first. And since there is a date on the beer keg, August 5, 1923, we can then get a good idea of the wedding's date.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The German American Collection, The Album 4

Trying to duplicate the experience of going through a photo album, on line, really isn't possible, but since this page would have been sideways when opened, that's the way it's posted. This collection is a lot bigger than this album. To see it all, click on German-American in the labels section.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The German American Collection, The Album 3

The idea of English as a national language is only about 100 years old. Much of the upper mid-west was pioneered by immigrants from Germany and the Nordic countries. Many of the small farming communities, not only had German, Swedish or Norwegian as primary languages, but sometimes, the only language. In one town, civic documents might be in German, in another, the schools taught in Swedish, and the street signs could be in Norwegian in a third. So what changed? America's entry into World War 1, viewed by many as an unjustified intrusion into a European war of empire, had to be sold to the general public. Propaganda campaigns that pictured German soldiers as blood crazed animals, who willingly bayoneted woman and children, who raped nuns and burnt churches, helped sell American entry into the conflict, while also bringing into question the patriotism of those who continued to speak languages other than English.

So, how can we tell that a photograph is from Europe when all we have to go on are signs in the background, or written labels that may not be in English? In the case of this album, take a close look at the team photo. There is a badge on the athletes jerseys from Aurich. Aurich is a region and town in Lower Saxony, in Germany. (Click on the image to bring it up in a larger window, to see it better.) Throw in some of the building styles, and a non American military uniform that will be in a future post from this album, and Germany, not Minnesota, is the more probable location.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The German American Collection, The Album 2

Is the smallest child in the group shot a little boy, the only son, or the fourth daughter? Click on German-American in the labels section to bring up the lot.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The German American Collection, The Album 1

This is it, the most interesting part of the German-American collection. And, like so much in the world of found photographs, it's also a bit of a mystery. Except for the cover, is the album complete, or is this just a tantalizing fragment? Nothing is written on the pages so we don't know names, dates, or exact locations. Was there an index on the inside of the front cover, or was a knowledge of this family assumed, with no need for written information? I'll be putting up the album, without the big gaps that have been the hallmark of the collection, to date. As usual, I'll post a complete page to show placement, followed by separate scans of each image. Click on German-American in the labels section to bring up everything.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Army Mother

Dated "1938/39" not a good time to be the mother of a soldier. But which army? I've been looking at Google picture files, and I'm thinking, maybe, Belgium. Of course, if anyone can give a definite answer, please leave a comment.


I feel for this woman. A couple of days ago I was sprinting across the subway platform trying to catch the train when I tore something in my calf. I didn't work enough last year to qualify for health insurance through my union, so I'm sitting around wondering how long it's going to take to heal. If my Internet diagnosis is right, and it probably isn't, I could be hobbling around for the next couple of weeks. Ouch.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Feeding the Cat to the Calf

All kidding aside, I wonder how many people in the United States have never been on a farm. Is it a good thing to know where our food comes from? I've worked on a farm, and I've been in a slaughter house, and I'm not sure such familiarity is a bright idea.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Tales of Kittanning

I was born in Kittanning, way back in 1955. When I was growing up, the Armstrong County Court House was overseen by Judge J. Frank Graff, the hanging judge of his day. I haven't been able to confirm it, but when I was growing up, we were led to believe that Judge Graff had condemned more men and women to death then any other judge in American history. When I was in college, one of my classmates liked to hang out on the Allegheny River just a few miles north of Kittanning. A good place to smoke marijuana and get stoned. Or so he thought. I warned him that Armstrong County was not a place to break even minor laws. He thought that I was being silly. The worst that would happen for a minor, first time, marijuana bust would be probation. He got caught, and Judge J. Frank Graff sentenced him to a year in county jail. On the postcard, it's the squarish tower on the left. He served the full year, never returned to college. I don't know what happened to him after that.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The German American Collection, A Single Roll of Film

I hope Kodak survives bankruptcy and comes back better than ever. I really hope that Kodak continues to make film, paper, and chemistry. Anyway, this post is a bit of Kodak history. There was a time when the company made automatic film printing machines for the local film lab. Press a button, and focus would set for whatever film format was being used. Then, it was time to set exposure. Unfortunately, the earlier automatic printers could only do one exposure setting per roll. A mythical average setting which sometimes didn't work for a single frame. (Without seeing the negatives, there is no way I can tell if good prints can be made from some of the darker images.) And finally, the photos made on a pre-perforated sheet of paper and then loaded in a Kodak supplied folder, printed by Kodak, with the local photo finishers name and address, and a nifty Kodak advertisement on the back cover. As usual, click on German-American in the labels section to bring up the whole collection.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Ladies Like Hats

They also like fur.

3 Sisters

An early suburb, with three sisters posing on a tree stump? It does look as if all the houses are similar enough that they were probably built by the same developer. The little girl on the right, I think, wants to have a bit of individuality.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Grab Bag Photos

It was a very simple deal. An envelope, guaranteed to have at least 100 photos for five dollars. Well, that's the explanation on why I have this color snapshot from the disco era. Very strange indeed to put up a picture of people who may be younger than me. And by the way, the envelope had 103 photos, and most of them were black & white and a lot older than this one. Some have already been posted, with many more to come.