Archive for October 2004

Whispering grass

Man feeding grass to donkey while leaning on automobile, location unknown, c. 1920s.

Except that it was in Oregon somewhere.

This is why archives are important. They show us that people in the past were just as inconsequential as we are. Mind you, I’m sure the donkey thought it was a significant event.

For me though, this particular state archive – I am, as you may see, on a state archive trail just at present – is in particular significant for the story, or stories, one can read in the 66 images devoted to Eugenia Thayer, a girl from Tillamook.

This image especially, which the site from which it comes,  that of the Salem (Oregon) Public Library Historic Photograph Collections revealingly describes as Eugenia Thayer listening to photograph, (they mean a phonograph, an early player of recorded music).

In memory of John Peel, sadly lately dead, a British DJ whose discernment and love of music brought such pleasure to millions, including myself.

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Written by Dave Lovely

October 29, 2004 at 10:00 pm

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Is the cow on the roof?

And other matters raised by a photograph of a sod house in Nebraska in 1886. Including a still-life worthy of Zurbarán.

Highlights from the photograph collections of the Nebraska State Historical Society.

UPDATE! Apparently there were plenty of melons in Hayes County in the 1880s…although I feel the man in the photograph is perhaps a trifle over-excited.

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Written by Dave Lovely

October 28, 2004 at 9:36 pm

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Gopher State Archives

Man in a raincoat is watching the streetcar burn – makes him seem rather callous, don’t you think? From the Minneapolis Photo Collection.

You can also see how to find unlicensed radio stations, or watch Evelyn Wurdell stocking the candy counter in the Hollywood Beer Parlor in 1941. (Minneapolis seems to have archives full of people with names like this … Dudley Mudge, Edna Zell, Marlys Ormseth…)

Oof dah! when not eating hot dish or dipped walleye in the flurries, and whether the season is winter or road construction, nothing suits me more than a quick scan through the photos at the Minnesota Historical Society.

I particularly like Charles J Hibbard’s images of local businesses, like the Land O’ Lakes creamery – testing butter, 1926, and Norton & Peel’s photographs of the Washburn Crosby Company’s monumental grain elevatorsthis is an anonymous shot of them under construction in 1916.

And who, at a safe historical distance, can resist a good explosion?

Then there are the ambrotypes

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Written by Dave Lovely

October 25, 2004 at 11:01 pm

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Roll up, roll up!

image of harlequinade characters

From PeoplePlay UK, a site dedicated to the history of performance on the British stage – everything from the circus and pantomime to opera and West End theatre. There are guided tours, or you can just browse the collections to your heart’s content.

Thrill! As Harry Radford catches a turnip (see “Speciality and other acts” in the “Music-hall and variety” collection.) Gasp! At the exploits of Pansy Chinery, one of the performers in the circus guided tour. You’ll be enthralled for hours.

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Written by Dave Lovely

October 20, 2004 at 8:45 pm

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L’Art Dentaire

The sublime and arcane mysteries of French dentistry, presented by SFHAD – La Société Française d’Histoire de l’Art Dentaire.

This is ‘the cabinet of Dr. Fones’:


Then there’s ‘the armchair of Snell’, and ‘the potency of the armchair of Wilkerson’. See the section entitled “histoire du cabinet dentaire”, and more particularly, “les années 1920” (the Leger-Dorez concept), for further enlightenment.

The history of dentistry conceals a strange poetry – I am, for instance, much intrigued by the activities of Messrs. Ninck-Putmann and Wenderlinck in 1854, and almost equally so by those of the Yatt brothers nine years later (see the first page of the “petite histoire de l’art dentaire”, “avant 1900”). Not to mention the famous ‘Headcup’ of Edward H. Angle (1907):

page from dental equipment catalogue

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Written by Dave Lovely

October 15, 2004 at 11:02 pm

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Beside the seaside

Beside which we do like to be – those in the northern hemisphere can look forward to next summer at balnea, a “virtual museum of sea-bathing and seaside tourism”.

As for instance here, at New Brighton, in 1930:

poster advertising New Brighton, 1930

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Written by Dave Lovely

October 14, 2004 at 10:13 pm

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An Aviator’s Prize

Found it at last! This was my favourite image from the exhibition of aviation posters I saw in Toulouse.

poster for Bonal liqueur

Found at Bloomsbury Auctions.

And you can find a simpler, but no less evocative, advert for the same stuff -” a Gentiane-Quina liquor, with motto Ouvre l’appetit, or gives appetite” – on the wine and liquors page of a site devoted to painted roadside advertisements, mostly from France and Belgium. Fewer and further between now, and weather-worn, but once ubiquitous.

This is a rather nice one for a brand of coffee:

image of roadside ad painted on a wall

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Written by Dave Lovely

October 13, 2004 at 11:15 pm

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