Tuesday, September 30, 2014

eBay Portraits, The One With Tape

My advice to people buying old photos on eBay: be careful, research, or buy cheap.  I was scrolling through the site, there were four portraits being sold together for 99 cents, it was seconds to go, so what the hell.  This one was taped in a folder.  Take a close look, and you can see a bit at the top of the print.  Anyway, I get the impression of southern European immigrant.  Of course, I could be wrong.

Monday, September 29, 2014


For those who remember the disappearing American middle class.

Friday, September 26, 2014

On The Bay

Written on the back, "San Rafael Ferry 9/15/50"

It's been a long time since I've visited San Francisco, but back when I could afford the gas, I'd drive to Dublin, get on the BART, and take the train.  Who, in their right mind, would drive into SF?  Madness.

Anyway, near as I can tell, if you want to get to San Francisco, from San Rafael, on a ferry, you have to drive to Larkspur.  Not always true.  I got tired of the research, so I never found an end date for direct service, but ferry service from San Rafael to both San Francisco and the east bay, goes back to the late nineteenth century.  I found a great oil painting of a steamboat, that was part of that early service, on Wikipedia, and liked it so much that I posted it on my Fair Use blog.  If anyone's interested.

Thursday, September 25, 2014


Like most collectors of old photos, I end up with throw-ins when I buy the images I really want.  I get a lot of these hand colored photos and most aren't very good.  Still, they're an odd enough bunch that many of them are worth having.  The cadaverous, made up for the funeral, look are my favorites.  This one would have worked a lot better if the colorest had tinted the whole photo, rather than just the face.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Seven Nurses

Written on the back, "Vi Barrett, Millie Gadway, Ida Grayson, Stella Bearup, Vi Green, Me, & Bea McCarthy."  I tried running a search on Stella Bearup.  It was such an unusual name that it had potential.  I actually found an obituary for someone with that name.  That Stella had been an employee of Fisher Body in Flint, Michigan.  Some large factories have nursing staffs, especially ones with a lot of heavy machinery.  Then again, that Stella and the Stella in this photo may be two different people.

Sunday, September 21, 2014


Oktoberfest has begun.  Yes, I know, it's September, but remember, Oktoberfest is a 16 day festival dedicated to drinking beer, and that explains a lot.  Anyway, this photo is not from Oktoberfest, but it's Germans drinking beer, so it's the best I can do.

Stamped on the back, "PHOTO-DARTSCH, Berlin SW 29, Kattbusser Damm 13"  It's dated 1939, the first year of the war.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Easy Credit At Your Savings & Loan

Back before computers and FICA scores, if you wanted credit, you went to the local bank or savings and loan and made your case to the loan officer.  It all sounds so civilized.  But if the guy behind the desk thought you were a bad risk, didn't approve of the way you lived, or just plain didn't like you, you were out of luck.  And if you went to a bank in another town, that loan officer wanted to know why you hadn't gone to your home town lender.  Growing up, lower working class in a small town, we hated guys in suits.  Guys in suits controlled our lives and we never knew why they made the decisions they made.  Give me a nice, anonymous computer any day of the week.

Thursday, September 18, 2014


Or sweat shop.  I can't tell.  There's a bit of Spanish in the background of the second picture.  Also English, so does that point to a border town like Tijuana or Juarez?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Views of the World, Royal Gorge, Colorado

I wonder.  If I were to go to the exact spot this picture was taken, would things look the same?  Perhaps.  Royal Gorge and the Arkansas River escaped the dam building mania of the twentieth century.  The rail line is still there.  A tourist train runs through the canyon, fine dining, over priced wine, the whole upscale adventure thing.

Click on views of the world in the labels section to bring up the whole collection.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Views of the World, The Chicago Stockyards

I've still got a lot of cards from the flirtation collection to go, so I shouldn't, but I'm going to start another, once in awhile, probably take more than a year to post, collection.  I've had the postcards in this lot since I was in high school, and for those unaware, I'm  just a few months away from my sixtieth birthday.  Yes, I've been picking up old photos and postcards that long.  The numbered images top out at 48, but I am missing numbers 6, 7, and 45.  Every so often I go on EBay, specifically, to look for those three missing cards, but I've never found them.  None of these cards have ever been used, and no publisher is listed.  I'll put views of the world in the labels section at the bottom of the post for all cards in the collection.

I already knew a fair amount about the Chicago Stockyards before posting this image.  I new that the stockyards weren't owned by the big packing companies, but by railroads looking to create a single, central location to ship animals, ready for slaughter.  Chicago had become the main rail center for the United States because the Illinois congressional delegation had pushed Chicago as the terminus for the major American railroads, and congress had that power because the federal government had subsidized early railroad construction.  What surprised me was that the Chicago Stockyards also were a major tourist destination, with viewing platforms built so that people could look over the thousands of animals waiting for death.  I'm always amazed what people are willing to gawk at.  I'd criticize, but if the stockyards were still in business, I'd take a look if I were in the area.

Now, about The Jungle by Upton Sinclair.  I read it in high school, and reread it just a few years ago.  Every American should read this book, and any school that doesn't assign it as mandatory reading, isn't doing it's job.  Do public schools still buy into the great books theory of education?  I hope so, though I doubt it.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

I Feel So Happy When You Are With Me

Unlike the last two posts, this one has a message on the back.  "Dear Friend, I hope you will not be mad because I did not go and see you when I was in Dexter.  But I did not have time to go anywhere from Marguerite."  It was addressed to "Miss Emma Higgins, Dexter, Maine."  And the postmark, "SANGERVILLE ME.  APR 24 1911 5 P.M."

It seems to me that some young swain was taken with Marguerite, but just in case it didn't pan out, he had Emma in reserve.  A lot of the cards in this collection use the word friend as a greeting.  I'm thinking we're dealing with Quakers a courting.

I've still got a lot of cards left in this collection, but they'll have to wait.  It's time to move on to other things.  Click on flirtation in labels to see what's already been posted.

Friday, September 12, 2014

My Virginia, from Virginia

There's no question on this one.  On the right border, "Photo by Scott & Van Altena"

Edward Van Altena, 1874-1968, was an American photographer who, in 1904, partnered with colorist John Duer Scott, 1876-1966,  to form a company that manufactured magic lantern slides.  The company ended in 1919.  I have no idea why the partners called it quits, but their main market was nickelodeons, and by 1919, the nickelodeon had all but disappeared.

Printed on the back, "Theodor Eisman, Leipzig and New York, Illustrated Song Serie No. 1828/1.  Words and Music copyrighted by Chas. K. Harris, New York 1907.  Words used by permission of the publisher.

Charles K. Harris was an American songwriter known as the king of the tearjerkers.  He was born in 1867, his first published song was Since Maggie Learned to Skate.  It was used in the 1885 play, The Skating Rink.  Harris was one of the first professional songwriters to form his own publishing company, and also one of the first songwriters associated with Tin Pan Alley in New York City.

This card was never mailed, and there is no message on the back.  Click on flirtation in the labels section at the bottom of the post to see other cards in the collection.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Do you mean business young man....

...or are you only kidding?

Over a year ago, I purchased an envelope of postcards that a dealer had put together that he referred to as a flirtation collection.  Each card, most from Maine, and many from the same group of people, have romantic themes.  Some are clearly photographic in origin, some are pure illustration, and many are anyone's guess.  Cards that come from photographs, or that I think had a likely photographic source are published on The New Found Photography.  Cards that look to be pure illustration go on my Fair Use blog.  There are some that I'm not sure of either way.  Those are judgement calls. Click on flirtation in labels to see what's already up.  Same deal on Fair Use.

This one was never mailed and there's no message on the back.  It was printed in Germany which makes it pre-World War 1.  The faces and bodies look like they started as photos, but the background appears to be drawn.  It's the hands, especially of the older man, that give me some doubt.  To me, it looks like someone went in and gave his models long, thin fingers.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Elizabeth Newsberry

I swear!  I'm not obsessed with all things German.  I don't know whether it's coincidence, a German tendency to take lots of photographs, or easy access to really well made German cameras, but I keep finding pictures from Germany.

Crailsheim is a town in the German state of  Baden-Wurttemberg.  ( My, that sounds familiar.  Navigate back a few posts to The Pforzheim Album Collection for more photos from Baden-Wurttemberg.)  The city was pretty much destroyed during World War 2.  It was a major rail center as well as the location of a German airfield.  After a major bombing campaign, the American army over ran the town, only to be pushed back by a German counteroffensive.  After the Nazi surrender, Baden-Wurttemberg and Craisheim ended up in the American zone of occupation.  McKee Barracks, opened in 1946,closed in 1994, was built on the outskirts of Crailsheim.  But was Elizabeth Newsberry a war bride, or was she a dependent who joined her husband while on occupation duty?  There's no date on the photo, but the car looks old enough that I'm thinking  it predates the return of civilian government.

Crailsheim was the birthplace of Hans and Sophie Scholl, the brother/sister founders of The White Rose, a non violent anti-Nazi resistance movement.  They were arrested in 1943, found guilty of high treason, and executed by guillotine.  Hans was born in 1918, Sophie in 1921.

In 1934, Kodak bought Nagel Kamerawerks, a pioneer in 35mm photography.  From 1936 to 1966, Nagel built the Kodak Retina camera, one of the well built German cameras mentioned in the first paragraph.  I'm referencing the Retina because it was built in Stuttgart, the capitol of Baden-Wurttemberg, and because I own a Kodak Retina model IIIc, manufactured from 1954-1957.  I still use it.  It works perfectly.

Monday, September 8, 2014

I Can't Take It Anymore!

No information on these two photos.  I just liked the classic hands to head, I can't take it anymore, pose in the top image.  That young and already overwhelmed.

Friday, September 5, 2014


I suspect that the softness of the print was caused by a misted lens.  I purchased this one in southern California, so maybe Catalina or one of the other Channel Islands.

Thursday, September 4, 2014


Ah, for the good old days when both men and women could cross dress.

Alright, the origin of the word doughboy, applied to American soldiers, off and on, from the Mexican-American War to World War 1.  According to Wikipedia, a source, often unreliable, it's unknown.  Possible explanations: 1.American soldiers cooked a mixture of bread and rice in their campfires.  2.American soldiers, during the Mexican-American War, were often covered with dust from their long marches.  The dust was either compared to flour, or was a corruption of adobe.  3. From dough heads, an insult, meaning stupid people.

Monday, September 1, 2014

True Found Photography

Most of my found photographs are found in antique stores, at flea markets, and on EBay.  I found this one on a Hollywood street.  Who knows how it ended up there.  I suspect this one came out of a digital camera.