Things That Go To Make Up A Life

In What Is Left Behind, photographer Norm Diamond takes a look at what most collectors see at estate sales: the cycle of life. And then he photographs the objects. Among the artfully preserved poignant moments, a bride’s wedding dress and photo (as well as her wedding night lingerie), and a burial receipt for a young mother and her baby who had died in an automobile accident…

norm diamond brides dress and photo

vintage wedding night lingerie by norm diamond

burial receipt photograph norm diamond

Diamond is now retired, but he previously worked with very ill people as an interventional radiologist. In an interview at Slate, Diamond admits his career likely affected him and this series:

I didn’t realize it until I had retired, but I think when you deal with people who are sick and dying all the time, your outlook on life is different than people who aren’t subjected to that. You don’t tend to be a glass-is-half-full person; you see some of the poignancy of life and some of the sad, tragic things that occur and that maybe part of where I’m coming from.

Diamond photographs some of the objects there at the estate sales; others he purchases and takes home to photograph. Either way, it’s a very moving series which reminds me yet again of that perfect line in Genesis’s Home By The Sea:

Images of sorrow, pictures of delight
things that go to make up a life

You can purchase copies of Diamond’s photographs here.

The Joy and Tribulation of The Antique Dealer

No Egrets Antiques
No Egrets Antiques

No Egrets Antiques has just completed our third antique show of this new year. Our first was held in West Bend, WI in January. Cold, but the snow kept away and turn-out was very high! As always, the N. L. Promotions’ events are well attended and offer top-quality vendors.

The second was in Wausau, WI on a very cold winter weekend. At this time of year Wausau is snow ski country and the sport is for the hardy outdoor types.  But we were set up inside the D.C. Everett High School and the droves of customers provided our booth with constant action for two full days. They came to buy! This show and our St. Norbert’s Show were put on by AR Promotions and Audre’ and Ray really do things right.

This last endeavor was a flip of what we had expected. Weather was kind to us, but buyers were not. The venue was at St. Norbert Collage in DePere, WI, and the gym was filled with many of the same dealers that were in Wausau.  We were very pleased to see the crowds pour thru on both Saturday and Sunday. But!!  After talking with many of our friendly competing dealers, the consensus was that the visitors left their purses and wallets at home. Still a good show, but not up to our expectations.

And so goes the life of an antique dealer. Wait until our next show. We’ll bring better antiques or maybe lower end items.  Better glass, or depression glass? Probably not, it is not selling up to its potential.  Victorian period? No, we need to bring more Mid Century Modern. Sports items? Always hot. Jewelry always sells so do post cards. Yippee! Post cards and jewelry. And probably some delightful prints and paintings for home decorating This is also a great show for outdoor items for your yard decor and also heavy-metal for your man-cave. That’s what we will bring to our next event.

Our next show will be in Elkhorn, WI, (another N.L. event) and it’s always a super show for both collectors and decorators and sellers, with Inherited Values and No Egrets in booths next to each other – Row two # 216.

See you soon.

 

Wes Cowan’s Personal Antique Stereoview Collection Up For Auction

When hubby & I met Wes Cowan, one of the things we learned about him was that he was an avid collector of antique photographs. He began collecting them as a child and within 15 years, he’d amassed what was, at the time, the best collection of Frank Jay Haynes photographs & stereoviews. (Stereoviews are those cards with side-by-side photographs on them which, when placed in a viewer, appear three-dimensional; see stereoscopy.) Cowan, somewhat painfully, sold many of them to start his auction business, Cowan’s Auctions. But he didn’t quite stop collecting them either…

However, now Cowan has announced that his entire stereoview collection is going up for auction — including some by Frank Jay Haynes.

antique f jay haynes stereoviews cowans auctions

Frank J. Haynes, aka F. Jay Haynes or the Professor, was the Michigan native who started his photographic business in Moorhead, Minnesota, and is likely known by most for his work with Northern Pacific Railway and his photographs of Yellowstone.

The Cowan collection, a total of 249 lots, features many other antique images of historical value.

civil war death stereoview

antique african american slave black americana stereoviews

Along with one of the earliest known images of Buffalo Bill (holding a Creedmoor long range rifle), there are numerous Civil War era images, antique photographs of Native Americans, Black Americana slavery photos, and many other historical images.

American Indians antique photos Chief Jacob, Nez Perce, with Missionary Henry H. Spalding, Fort Lapwai, Idaho Territory

early antique buffalo bill photographs

The bidding began March 13, 2015, and closes at noon EST on Monday, March 30, 2015. You can view lots as well as bid online here.

Vintage Photo Of A Great Man In The Great War

When it comes to collecting photographs, images of men are typically far less popular than those of women. However, there are two primary categories where there is some rather high interest: Images which gay men and images from the military. This photo features a young male soldier holding his rifle with a bayonet. While there’s no date (or other information on the photo), we had a few militaria collectors agree that it’s likely from WWI.

vintage wwi solider with gun photo

Portraits By The Pound

In this week’s Dakota Death Trip update, I posted a photo of a girl who looks much too sad to be wearing satin.   When I flipped the photo over, the back has a big rubber stamp mark from the photo studio that produced the image:

pixy-pinups-logo-back

A penny a pound?   A pound of what?!?

I got excited when I found a Flickr photo from a guy who reports the same Charlotte, N.C., studio as the source of his photo — hey, somebody else sat on the same spot as the girl in my photo!   Unfortunately, after a little research, I found that it wasn’t such a coincidence.

Dating a photo takes a whole lot of research:  what year is that car?  When was that toy under the Christmas Tree first made?  What movie is on that marquee in the back?  When was that brand name used?  There’s a whole bunch of history bundled up in every photo, even if it is just a brand of shoes or a style of eyeglasses.   So, this stamp on the back of a photo is enough for me to narrow down the origin of the photo to a timespan of a couple years.

Department stores used to be far more than the acres of products they are today.  Your mom could take you down to Woolworth’s, buy you lunch, get your hems lowered (you’ve grown, you know) by the in-house tailor, take you for a haircut, and get your photo taken, all without leaving the building.   This hasn’t entirely gone away: the J.C. Penney out at the mall — an expatriate from Downtown during the seventies — lost its restaurant in the early eighties, but it has brought along its hair salon and photo studio into the 21st Century.
pixy-pin-ups-logo-jcpenny-photo-studio

Stanley Hoke and Needham Holden were the proprietors of Dunbar-Stanley Studios, and in the 1940s or early 1950s, according to an interview in the Victoria (TX) Advocate in 1960, the two men were driving between appointments and saw a sign that offered watermelon at the amazing deal of 1/2-cent…until they read the small type below the price: “per pound”.  Holden thought that marketing ploy would work in their line of business, and began advertising baby photos priced like chuck roast: they’ll photograph your kid, at the cost of one penny per pound of the child’s weight.

Dunbar-Stanley Studios had the advantage of being the exclusive photography studio of the J.C. Penney department store franchise.  Although some stores may have been large enough to support a full-time photo studio, the smaller stores made appointments with Dunbar-Stanley to send out a photographer for a few days at a time, several times a year.

penny-a-pound-ad-january-1952

Their photography studio business first was just called “Penny-a-Pound Portraits”, as the stamp on the Flickr-user’s photo showed, but changed its name to Pixy Pin-Ups sometime around 1953.    In the 1960 article, however, they say the business outgrew the penny-a-pound model and, rather than increasing their per-pound rate, just charged a cheap flat rate.

Charging per pound of chubby baby didn’t die out, though:  Pixy Pin-Ups — later shortened to just “Pixy” — used the penny-a-pound gimmick until the late 1970s.

combined-1953-and-1979-pixy ads

Hoke and Holden didn’t just come up with a funny pricing model: their entire business was tightly controlled to make baby photogaphy as effective as possible.  The 1960 article says  they only employ “…young and unmarried women, many of whom are recruited from airline hostess schools”, and their training went beyond just clicking a shutter.  Training included child psychology, and by the end of their training, whether literally or figuratively, the employees are “required to dismantle and reassemble the camera with her eyes closed.”    A 1966 “Help Wanted: Female” listing from Eugene, Oregon, listed requirements as “Single and over 18; High school graduate; Have good character references.”   The ad outlines the benefits as well:  salary during training, a company car with all expenses paid, and after 3 years a free trip to Europe to employees with ‘satisfactory service’.  This army of young ladies, high-tech camera in hand, cruised the backroads of America from J.C. Penney to J.C. Penney, trying to get kids to smile.

dunbar-stanley-jc-penney-want-ad-1966

The penny-a-pound was their loss-leader:  for that price, mom got one 5×7 portrait.  The rest came as part of a higher-priced package, which is probably why I only have a 5×7 in this pile of photos.  Fifty cents in the 1950s would be almost $5 today, a reasonable price for a photo sitting, but the young ladies pulled away from service with the airlines were also trained to upsell to the higher-priced sets, in hopes of getting a $10 sale out of each kid’s parents.   J.C. Penney actually made the sale, sharing a portion of the profit with Dunbar-Stanley Studios, and all the film was shipped off to North Carolina for processing.   That’s why there’s people out there confused that their baby photo is stamped with a studio a thousand miles away from where they were raised.   The ‘Pixy’ name remained well into the 1990s, but the current J.C. Penney portrait studios aren’t run by Dunbar-Stanley anymore: the current business is based out of Eden Prairie, MN, and goes by the name “JCPenney Portraits” — although at least one still goes by the Pixy name.

So, after a morning of scouring old newspapers,  I can date my photo of the unhappy satin girl to somewhere around 1953 to 1958. Based on where I got these photos, mine was probably taken either in the old J.C. Penney’s in downtown Fargo, or the Wahpeton store, one of the oldest locations.

Original 1885 Chesapeake Lighthouse Photographs Mounted Albumen Prints

Looking for some assistance in pricing and marketing a set of 9 mounted albumen prints of Chesapeake Bay lighthouses.

Prints are part of a series of photos taken by Major Jared A. Smith for the US Lighthouse Establishment in 1885. Research has shown that the USCG Historian’s Dept has copies of some of these prints but for other locations the reference shows “Photo Unavailable”.

Deanna Dahlsad‘s insight:

Have any info to share?

See on iantiqueonline.ning.com

The Magic Of Polavision

I’ve been shopping for “lots” on eBay lately: sellers box up a bunch of low-end things, like cameras or 8mm movies, and then sells them as a set.  I’ve found I can get some pretty cheap fun stuff — plus, the mixed-bags aren’t always described very well, so sometimes you get a surprise.  In a lot of three movie cameras, I got this strange little beast:

It looks about the same size and vintage of Super8 cameras, and upon opening it up I can see it required a film cartridge.  However, the cartridge is too long and too thin to be Super8, or even a cartridge-loading 8mm roll-film camera.  The Polaroid logo on the front should have been my first clue — In the land of Land, Polaroids weren’t the kind of camera that used over-the-counter film formats.  This is a Polavision camera: Polaroid’s first and only foray into self-developing movie film.

Yes, that’s the part that blew my mind:  the magical Polaroid 600 film that everyone shakes like a Polaroid picture is awe-inspiring enough, so doing that at 20 or 30 frames a second blows my mind.  The film was, technically, 8mm film, but it wasn’t the same beast.   The film was pre-loaded in a cartridge, along with a reservoir of developing fluid.  The movie was filmed in a Polaroid camera, like any other normal home movie.   The specialized player did most of the work:  the first time a cartridge was played, the player released the developing fluid, and in 20 seconds the whole movie was ready to be watched.

Polaroid devoted enormous amounts of money and resources into producing these instant-watch films — compared to regular 8mm home movies, which could take days to get back — and when they released it to the market they expected these Polavision cameras to take off like hotcakes.

In 1950, maybe:  color silent movies were the standard of the day, and quick developing would be a big advantage.

In the 1960s,  Super8 film, with a larger frame and better sensitivity, was beginning to take over the market — but Polaroid might have still been able to hold their own.

The Polavision home movie system, unfortunately, debuted in 1977 — the same year the VHS tape broke into the United States market.   Betamax had been around since 1975.  Even Super8 got sound recording in the early 1970s.    The self-developing technology was an enormous breakthrough, but as a personal movie-maker it was about twenty years too late.

The image quality was too poor, even by the low-quality bar that VHS lived with well into the 1990s.  It could only shoot for two minutes at a time, and being locked in a cartridge means no splicing film together into longer movies.   The Polavision film had a very low ISO, so it only worked well in outdoor bright daylight.   The Polavision viewer that was crucial to the development of the film was inadequate for shared viewing, and wasn’t able to project on a large screen.  Pretty much the only advantage the Polavision system had was that magical quick developing, which made it only useful for speed, and not for, you know, enjoyment or artistic creativity.

The Polaroid company was already beginning to implode, even without this huge financial failure;  Land left the company in 1980, and the business struggled to hold on until 2001 when it was sold off to investors, and stopped producing instant film shortly thereafter.   The quick-developing technology didn’t die, though, at least not right away:  Polaroid upscaled the process and loaded into standard 35mm rolls, releasing it as the quick-developing Polachrome instant 35mm slide film.

Antique Real Photo Postcard Featuring Female Backsides

Another “stumper” old photograph featuring the backs of women, this one, from bondman2, is a real photo postcard, circa 1910s. We’re still hoping to hear more about these photos, so if you know anything, please share!

The Medium In The Math Lesson

When I first spotted this page in Study Arithmetics: Grade Three, a vintage school primer published by Scott, Foresman and Company, I thought of the old filmstrips we had in school. But it turns out, the film show in this old math lesson is “moving picture” film. There are actually several lessons using film as a teaching tool, which is rather cool. If the concept of movie film being understood enough at this time for the average third grader to put to use learning math amazes you, just remember that film was then more commonplace than it is today.

Not all of the lessons are as outdated as you might think! You can see different images from this book here.

Collectors Are Like Artists; Collections Like Works Of Art

Combining my usual theme of collectors being curators, just like museum curators, with digital or online curation comes this story of New York collector Peter J. Cohen. Cohen snapped up vintage and antique snapshots of women — among other things. Over the course of decades, Cohen amassed some 20,000 photographs taken by amateurs. This particular collection contains 500 portraits of women.

The photographs, taken in the US between 1900 and 1970, each contain three females. Once the collection lived in a box labeled “Women in Groups of Three” in Cohen’s living room; but now the collection is called The Three Graces and it’s part of The Art Institute of Chicago’s collection.

The collection was shown at The Art Institute of Chicago last fall — but as Cohen donated the collection to the museum, they remain at the AIC which has promised to keep the collection together as an historical depiction of 20th century women in America. The AIC’s graciously put up an online gallery of the collection for you to look at, and put out a lovely hardcover book too: The Three Graces: Snapshots of Twentieth-Century Women.

I love how Cohen’s friend, Stephanie Terelak, captures the essence of photograph collection:

The lines of collector, curator, and artist are blurred in this case. Individually, these photographs are worth very little, probably a few dollars on ebay I would guess. But amassed, sorted, and curated in large specific groups, seemingly worthless stuff on ebay becomes art and the collector becomes artist, selecting each piece to belong to a greater whole that our best museums’ curators deemed worthy of their walls.

This can nearly be said of any collection. Collections are works of art, like collages or mixed media projects — or bonsai trees. Often continuously in process, collections are nearly alive with the story narrated by each individual collector’s act of collecting. Each curates — feeds and prunes — for meaning and growth as well as with an artistic eye, to tell stories with objects.

Museum desired collection or not, this is why I love collecting. Not just personally, but professionally too. I love connecting people with the items, objects, and stories they need to complete their collection — or at least assist them in their artistic process.

A Question On Collecting Antique Photographs

My folks, Antiquips, recently listed this antique photograph of two ladies with their backs to the camera.

Aside from just being an odd pose (especially when photography was more of an event than it is today), and so a way to define or refine your photograph collection, does anyone know if the pose has any other significance?

See more antique photos with people posing with their backs to the camera here.

Vintage Camera & Photography Ephemera Garland

Whether or not you an add another camera to your collection, you may want to consider this Vintage Camera Garland from Christine of Flapper Girl:

This garland celebrates the beauty of vintage cameras with a Wardette, Starflash, Brownie Hawkeye, a handful of retro lightfilter boxes, and two photos documenting what fun can be had with a camera in tow!

All components of this garland were hand-cut by me. The vintage cameras and lightfilters depicted in this garland are from my personal collection, and were photographed and edited by me.

Garland measures approx. 48″ long.

I love how everything looks like prints drying on the wires in a darkroom.

Flappergirl offers other paper garlands, in varying themes, in her Etsy shop — and I find them very inspiring:

These garland designs are the result of my endless fascination with, research into, and love of their subjects. Countless hours are spent collecting and assembling the perfect elements for each piece.

Each garland design is uniquely considered, elegant, and beautiful. Everything is hand-cut, hand-folded, and hand-glued. My passion and dedication is evident in their small, unexpected details and craftsmanship, making them unique and delicate treasures.

In Praise Of That 6 Degrees Thing: People & Other Flea Market Finds

This is a photo of my dad, aka the Grinnin’ half of Inherited Values own Antiquips, aka The Dean. It was taken at the Elkhorn Antique Flea Market by Urban Flea Marketer, the photo-blogger of You Bought WHAT?! From Who?.

My dad’s story from her post:

I mean, he was just cute. He was totally a hoot. I asked him what he’d grab if the market set on fire, and don’t say your wife/husband because everyone says that, usually because they are standing right there… He laughed & said I wasn’t going to! I want my clock {because} it’s expensive & my wife is cheap. LOVE!

She collects photos of people at flea markets, especially “cute old grandpas” — her love of them sounds like my thing for “old coots.” Probably the same thing; just a different name. *wink*

At that same flea market…

Tom Cerny aka “Hippie Tom” of American Pickers fame. (That’s less than six degrees between me and Frank & Mike!)

With Tom was his friend Jeff Purcell:

Now I LOVED this photo of Jeff & Tom, but it was more like a snap shot & not a portrait. What I really wanted to do was photograph Tom’s hands. All of his cuts and wounds were wrapped in duct tape… Like a true modern hippie. Jeff was such a sweet guy. He invited me up to the farm if I ever wanted. He was really truly just a happy guy. It was sweet. At 26, he is back at school, studying geology. He recently returned from a trip to I believe Switzerland, studying glaciers with a professor. I don’t know why, but I love that.

You really should check out You Bought WHAT?! From Who?.. Because this girl really gets what flea markets etc. are all about.

Tintypes, The History Of Photography & Antique Painted Photographic Backgrounds

Have you ever thought about the painted backgrounds in antique and vintage photographs?

No?  Me neither.

Not until I read The Painted Backdrop: Behind the Sitter in American Tintype Photography, by Jim Linderman (with an essay by Kate Bloomquist), that is.

In fact, the story of and between 19th century painters and American photography really has never been told — or, I should say, “hasn’t been explored” until Linderman came along and looked into it via his collection of antique tintype photographs.

If you’re curious now, if you collect antique tintypes, are a collector of photographs and/or cameras, are an artist or have other interest in photographic history, I can’t recommend this book enough.

Technology, commerce, art, and culture collide at a crossroads, supposed “forward progress” exposing values, leaving the role of art and artists themselves as question marks…

My full review of the book is here — and my exclusive interview with the author is here.

Image credits: Jim Linderman

Life Magazine Photo Hunt Contest

Life announces a contest:

Guess what? We are featuring another installment of FotoHunt this Thursday at 3 p.m. EST

Not familiar with the game?

FotoHunt is a photographic scavenger hunt through our galleries on LIFE.com. We will post a description of an image we are looking for; then, your mission is to find that photograph on our site and send it our way. What’s in it for you? A prize, of course… We don’t want to say too much just yet. You’ll have to play Thursday afternoon to find out. Can’t wait for the games to begin!

Have a question about FotoHunt? Send us an email at life.fotohunt@gmail.com.

Not sure what the prize will be, but lovers of vintage photography, fashion, celebs, and/or magazines might just enjoy playing without a prize anyway. *wink*

Vintage Camera Shops

I was so thrilled when I spotted these vintage photos because it reminded me of this recent tweet by TheLarmy:

All I have in the fridge is baking soda, camera film and boysenberry yogurt. Anyone got any recipes?

I then knew it was the writing staff behind Cougar Town who wrote the tweet — because Laurie Keller certainly isn’t old enough to have kept film in her refrigerator (it’s been years since this was something recommended to consumers).

For those of us who remember film photography, you’ll enjoy seeing these vintage photos of shops long out of the picture.

First, this photograph of this drive-up film developing stand called the Shutter Shak. (Or perhaps it’s the Shutter Shack? It’s hard to tell from the angle.) This stand-alone building has the shape of a camera, complete with dials and flashbulb on top, and rivals the details of any kitschy roadside attraction! I have no idea where this shop was located; please post a comment if you know more about it.

This next photo is of a camera and supply shop called The Darkroom, with it’s storefront window looking like a camera lens. According to Fine Arts LA:

The Darkroom (5364 Wilshire Blvd.) was once the photographic supply store of choice with a 9-foot tall camera storefront. Built in the early ’30s, it is now the home of El Toro Cantina.

Digital cameras have nearly Photoshopped these places from our main streets — but they live on on photographs.

PS I found these photos via Old Chum when I found these classic roadside attraction food stand photos. Old Chum says they are from California Crazy: Roadside Vervancular Architecture, compiled by Jim Heimann and Rip Georges; more pics here at his other blog.

Why WWII Homefront Photos Are So Scarce

Magazines, like newspapers, provide context for periods of time — and that information provides great tips for collectors. In a wartime issue of Modern Woman Magazine, A Magazine Published By The Ice Industry (George M. Wessells, Publisher) a look why World War II home-front photographs are so scarce:

ANTIQUIPS GETS A REPLY TO OUR BLOG

ANTIQUIPS GETS A REPLY TO OUR BLOG

Our last article mentioned our frustration trying to find good antique shops while on the Carolinas’ coastal area. We drove down to Charleston, SC from North Carolina for sightseeing with our traveling companions with no time left that day for antique shopping. Our first break came in finding the Cottage Antiques in North Myrtle Beach and with the owner Malinda’s directions to other shops, we filled our day with antique shopping and suitcases with collectibles and antiques.

In a response to our article, Clyde from Charleston wrote to explain our great loss by not antiquing in his area. His website is dedicated to the wonderful experience of exploring the shops nearby. We wrote to ask for an interview and here is our correspondence.

Clyde’s inspiration for developing a website dedicated to Charleston’s antique shops was simply a lifelong passion for antiques, his knowledge of shops in the area and the great people involved in the antique business. He decided to become his own web designer, and learn the tricks of design from the bottom up. Clyde is at that point where he has designed for others as well. He also writes for Examiner.com on the topic of antique shopping in Charleston. All the the time and energy needed to publish his website on Charleston’s shops, is his own. From the time it takes to visit each place and photograph the antiques, to rewriting with the latest info, Clyde does it all.

Pick: “When did you start collecting?”

Clyde: “When I was 12, My great aunt took me antiques shopping.”

Grin: “ What’s your major collection?”

Clyde: “I collect mostly furniture. I like old book cases that I can restore and sell.”

Pick: “Where do you find your items?”

Clyde: “ Antique shops, newspaper ads, yard sales, thrift stores, antique shows and garbage piles.”

Grin: Well that sure runs the gambit. Can we come along to your next visit to our favorite, the garbage pile?”

Pick: “Leave me out.”

Grin: “Are there items you wish you had bought, but passed up?

Clyde: “That is a long list. The odd thing about antique shows, if you do not buy it, you can’t go back to get it. It’s just gone.”

Pick: And if you do buy it, odds are you’ll see a cheaper, better example next week.

Grin: Any words of wisdom for our readers?

Clyde: “You often have to have the time and resources to do the research to be sure the item is what you believe it to be.”

Pick: Thanks Clyde for visiting with us. And readers if you have suggestions on great shoppes in your area for antiques, crafts or collectibles, add a reply so others can share your good fortune in hunting while traveling on the road.