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.

Country Rustic Display Frame

Strips of wood from an old weathered lattice, twine, and clothespins are used to make this picture frame to display photographs.

Of course, this could be used to display a collection of postcards or other ephemera too. I would heartily advocate placing the photos or ephemera in protective plastic sleeves first.

Bid On Abraham Lincoln’s Hair

Also part of the Americana Signature Auction, is an antique photographic case containing a lock of Abraham Lincoln’s hair opposite an albumen portrait of the president.

Upon Lincoln’s death, apparently a number of locks of the President’s hair were removed as mourning keepsakes. This lock of Lincoln’s hair is approximate 3″ long and ranges in width from 1/2 to 1/8 inches. A small black bow has been added and the spine of the embossed leather case has been repaired with black tape. There’s “impressive” provenance for this historical auction offering as well. Heritage Auction’s estimate is $8,000 – $12,000.

The Americana Signature Auction will be held on May 12, 2012, in Dallas; absentee bidding ends May 11, 2012 at 10:00 PM CT.

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.

Prohibition In Film (A Little Help Needed)

I was drawn to this vintage 8 by 10 photograph for the old bar ware featured in it; I love the prohibition era. (And I highly recommend the PBS Prohibition documentary series by Ken Burns.)

But upon a closer look, I’m rather stumped by the actress and the film it’s promoting. The seller’s description simply says it’s “an antique original 1930s posed view of a Hollywood blonde ingenue with a high end cocktail set, typifying the allure that went with drinking during the era of Prohibition, and the fascination with the lives of the rich and famous during the Depression,” but the back has stamps and information from Culver Pictures, Inc., so I feel that both the actress and the film ought to be known… Any one with more vintage film knowledge care to assist?

Images from Grapefruit Moon Gallery.

How Does The Deal Measure Up?

How Does The Deal Stack Up?

Frank Fritz of American Pickers calls it “the bundle” when he groups multiple items into a single sale to negotiate for a lower price. I think as collectors we’ve all done that… You spy a few records you want in the box and decide to make an offer on the whole box so you can flip through all the vintage vinyl more comfortably at home. In fact, there are a number of regular picking places hubby and I buy in volume to get a better deal over all and I swear that on more than one occasion we’ve paid less for a van-load of stuff than we would have paid for just one of the larger items.

Of course, there were times we’ve blown our budget on such “deals” too because we miscalculated just what was all in that box…

But Grinin’ — one half of Inherited Values own Antiquips who is otherwise known as The Dean — has tips for you on how to measure up your own deals going by the inch!

Read it and the next time you are faced with a box of records or comic books, a stack of View Master Reels, postcards or other ephemera, you’ll make a wiser decision — leaving you richer for the read.

Little Easels To Display Your Small Collectibles, Miniature Works Of Art

These little button easels are a great way to display your vintage and antique buttons on shelves, in shadowboxes and antique printer’s trays, you vanity — anyplace, really! Each is hand made by happyhoarder66, who says that each little wire easel is made of “very workable metal so if you need to bend one slightly to accommodate an unusual shape there should be no problem.”

A slightly lager size, measuring just over an inch tall, is available for displaying jewelry and ephemera, such as on postcards, matchbooks and photographs. I bet they’d work for displaying pinbacks too.

Both sizes of the little collectible display easels are sold in lots of one dozen — bur larger order amounts and custom sizes are welcome.

Airspun In Central Park

This photo, titled Makeup, Central Park, was taken by Frank Paulin 1955.

The photograph itself is a 20 x 16 inches gelatin silver print, signed and dated on verso. But what’s most fascinating to me is the powder compact, clearly from Coty. The Coty Airspun powder-puff design debuted in 1939 and now has been around so long it’s iconic enough to be spotted easily.

Vintage Joseph Jasgur Photos Up For Auction

A number of original Joseph Jasgur photographs are up for auction from Grapefruit Moon Gallery right now. Astonishingly, along with winning the vintage photographs now being auctioned off via Grapefruit Moon, the winner owns the copyright for the images, meaning that the buyer will be legally allowed to reproduce and sell copies of the photographs upon purchase. Most of these vintage photographs are of pinups, film stars, etc.

Jasgur is most know for the previously unseen photos of a 19 year old Marilyn Monroe, during her during her Blue Book Model Agency days as Norma Jean — photos caught up in a costly legal battle, which left the photographer penniless upon his death in 2009.

His estate, including archived file copy proof photographs, were sold in 2011 at a Hollywood auction to pay off creditors, where the Monroe photos fetched $352,000. Jasgur is credited with creating the urban legend that Marilyn Monroe had six toes for the optical illusion seen in a photograph of young Marilyn on a beach. His early photographs of Marilyn can be seen in The Birth of Marilyn: The Lost Photographs of Norma Jean. (Photo below taken by Angela Peterson, Orlando Sentinel, September 26, 1995.)

Joseph Jasgur stalked Hollywood celebrities and crime scenes alike, driving “his tricked-out Lincoln Zephyr, which had running water, a cot in the back and a radio-telephone, a rarity in the 1940s.” So who knows what other photographs of his will show up at this auction?

Vintage Model Train Collection Photographs

Speaking of model trains, here’s a lovely set of five vintage photographs which show off a vintage model railroad collection. Each photograph measures 3 by 4 inches; dated August 1967 on the back.

Images from Lynnstudios.

Vanity: Thy Name Is Woman

One of the things I love most about this vintage photo of a woman (obviously showing off her stockings in an erotic “French postcard” way) is the old boudoir doll on the vanity. You don’t see a lot of photos of boudoir dolls!

Cross-Collectibles With Jack Carson — Contest Giveaway!

Vintage Jack Carson Photo

I often am asked, “What’s a cross collectible?” For me, the answer is, “Everything!” But technically speaking, a cross collectible is any antique or collectible which appeals to more than one kind of collector and therefore “crosses areas of collecting.” For example, this vintage promotional photo of classic film character actor Jack Carson.

It obviously appeals to fans of Jack Carson or classic film fans, but it also might appeal to collectors of vintage photographs (based on the period, fashions, etc.). If the signature was genuine, and not a printed facsimile, then it would also appeal to autograph collectors. And then there are collectors of smaller niche areas, like those who collect bow ties and all the ephemera and photos about them and maybe those who collect “all things Jack” because it’s their son’s name.

Generally speaking though, the more categories of collecting an item is in (crosses along category lines), and the larger the number of collectors collecting in each of those categories, the more popular (and pricey) an item will be.

And now that Mr. Carson has served his purpose, I’m ready to set him free — to whatever collector wants to have him. So, if you want this vintage photo of Jack Carson (likely from his days at Warner Bros., circa 1940s), enter to win it!

Ways To Enter:

* Post A Comment: Just tell me why you want it — you love classic film, you collect things with big ears (sorry, Jack!), you just love free stuff, whatever!

* Follow Inherited Values on Twitter: @InheritedValues. (Please leave your Twitter username in your comment so I can check.)

and/or

* Tweet the following:

I love classic film, antiques & vintage collectibles so entered the giveaway @InheritedValues You can enter here http://bit.ly/tVFY64 !

(Remember to come back here and leave a comment with your tweet for me to verify.)

You may tweet your entry once a day.

and/or

* “Like” us on Face Book: Inherited Values on Facebook

and/or

* Post about this contest at your blog or website — if you do this you must include in your post to this contest post or Inherited Values in general. (Please include the link to your blog post in the comments section so that I can find your post.)

You can do any or all of these, but remember, the only one you can do daily is Tweet. Thanks!

Here’s the giveaway fine print:

* Giveaway is open to US residents only
* Contest ends November 16, 2011; entries must be made on or before midnight, central time, November 15, 2011. Winner will be announced/contacted on November 17, 2011. Winner has 48 hours to respond; otherwise, I’ll draw another name.

Antique Advertising In Japanese Travel Guide

More scans from that antique, turn of the century, Japan travel guide; these are advertisements found in the back of the book.

S. Nishimura, “one price silk store,” founded in 1604.

K. Kawata, another silk vendor ad, this one targeting “Ladies desiring Embroideries or Drawn Work.”

K. Tamamura, “the leading photographer of Japan.”

K. Kimbei, a photographic studio promoting magic lantern slides, among other items.

An ad for the Nagasaki Hotel.

The top half of this ad is for the Batchelor’s Hair-Dressing Rooms, “Ladies’ Department under the sold supervision of Mons. Mogaillard, a clever Parisian Artist.” (Note that cigars are also available — for gentlemen only, I’m sure!) The bottom half is for C. & J. Favre-Frandt, an import-export shop.

Pope & Co. worries that you’ll perish from hunger on trips to the interior! The small print mentions tinned goods, but the large print mentions wines, liquors and cigars. The next page is a continuation of their ad which meantions specific champagnes, whiskey — and Schlitz Beer!

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.

Vintage Tip For Organizing Photographs & Ephemera

This is a vintage snapshot or photograph storage tip from Edward O’Connor of Mineola, NY, I found published in Household Help, Fifth Series of Hints & Time Savers for the Home (offered by New York’s Picture Newspaper and published by News Syndicate Co., Inc., 1966).

The tip reads:

Before storing snapshots, classify them according to the year in which the pictures were taken. The put them in individual envelopes with the year written on the upper right hand corner and file in suitable container.

At first read, the tip seems quite quaint; not all of us recall the days of bringing home multiple packets of photographs from the film processor. But even in today’s digital age, we do sometimes have more prints than photo frames, right? Plus, we collectors know that once you bring home your garage sale, flea market, thrift store, and antique mall finds, there are piles of vintage photographic images, antique postcards and other bits of old and odd ephemera that we must deal with…

I’ve written about this problem of storing ephemera before — and sadly, there’s been little sharing of what you all do. So maybe I’m not the only one struggling with organization?

While O’Connor’s tip may seem faulty in terms of sorting or organizing by year, certainly it’s a starting place — and the basic idea can be extrapolated into other categories or themes that suit you and your collection(s) best. Just remember, you absolutely want to interpret O’Connor’s envelopes and “suitable container” to mean proper archival photo storage items and/or decent archival quality papers, sleeves & containers in general. But hey, this is a start.

And we all have to start somewhere.

Ride A Cockhorse

The seller of this real photo photo postcard (RPPC) featuring two children with a rocking horse, says it’s from Central Pennsylvania, circa 1910s. You can’t help but wonder if the older sister is wishing she was still young enough to ride, rather than watch the younger child on the porch. *wink*

Image via Lynnstudios.

What’s In Store? Real Photo Postcards, 1907

One of the most fascinating areas of collecting antique and vintage photographs are those images showing the interior of shops and retails stores — like these real photo postcards, circa 1907.

Notice the well-dressed help and the tin tiles on the walls; the fine array of items, such as china in the display cases, the baby buggies and strollers… Oh, the things you could see with the actual antique postcard in your hand and a magnifying glass!

In this next image, there are plenty of guns, tools, keys, and hardware — along with spinning wheels, a few stray things, such as coffee pots and lanterns. On the walls there are other intriguing photographs… Lots of lovely ladies — including one with two horses! Perhaps a circus act? Among all the beauties, what appears to be the bottom half a wrestler or other male athlete.

Images via Lynnstudios.