Thursday, October 18, 2012

Destroying Photo Albums

Every so often, I feel the need to complain about the wanton destruction of photo albums and the breaking up of collections by antique dealers.   I understand that they're trying to increase their profits by selling individual images, but come on, there's history to think about.  It's true that the average person thinks of war, elections, and famous people when they hear the word history,  but there is a whole other historical past out there; the past of the ordinary, they way people lived, the day by day that's every bit as important as who won the election of  1884.

The dealer who sold me these images, as well as some others that may or may not have come from the same source, saw the two studio portraits as his profit.  When those photos wouldn't pull off the page, out came the razor blade and goodbye photo album.  Now, I admit that they are lovely images, but when I turned them over...all I could think of  was how much more interesting they would have been if I could have put her life into some sort of context.  And if the dealer hadn't cut things up, I might have been able to do that.  The funny thing is, I bought these two photos plus five other images in an envelope, for five dollars.  I would have paid more for a single page of the album, with both sides intact, and even more for the whole album.

Embossed on the second photo, "BAUGH WINFIELD, KANS"  I couldn't find anything about the photographer.  Winfield, Kansas is a town in southern Kansas, current population, 12,000+.


  1. Thank you. This needs to be said more often.

  2. They are respectless, greedy swine.
    Perhaps even worse, if it is possible, are those creatures who cut out prints (woodprints, ferrotypes, you name it) from old books and sell them single.
    Of course, when you have an old tome from the 16hundreds with depictions of plants (just for example), you make a lot more money when you sell each print Framed if you like), instead of the whole tome.
    Especially bad with cartographic works and with "Landesbeschreibungen".
    I hate them from the deepest fibre of my black heart. Every time I walk by stores (Antiquariate) in some Franconian cities I look into the windows and all too often I get angry.

  3. But from the books in some library an undisturbed exemplar may have survived.

    The albums are unique, unique source materials, unique testimonies of life. Put together, and meant to be, as lasting memories - some remedy & help against the terrible wave of time that devours all, each person, all feelings, all traces.
    It is a fucking crime against life to tear these albums apart.