History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days. ~Winston Churchill

24 December, 2015

Santa Claus Town, 1916

Just in time for Christmas! This set of images is devoted to some of the goings-on of Santa and "Santa Claus Town" in 1916, as pictured by a combination of drawing and composite photography. The context of these is unfortunately unknown; they were deposited with the British Library to register their copyright, indicating commercial use, but what that use was I do not know. The images fortunately do come with captions--some of which only raise more questions. 

The British Library

"Santa Claus Town." Source

The British Library

"Santa Claus Palace." Source

The British Library

"The palace bears." Of course Santa keeps polar bears in his palace! Source

09 September, 2015

Greetings From

Today another jaunt into ephemera. You know those vintage postcards with the big tacky letters spelling out a place name, each filled with pictures? I have to admit, growing up I thought those were just made-up, simply kitschy takes on past trends. I still find it amusing that they're absolutely not. They were a big thing for a long time--every random, tiny little American town had one. Like much of the popular art summarily dismissed as kitsch, their tackiness to modern eyes and adherence to format conceals a variety of individual takes and creative flair. 

Also, they're just fun. 

Postcards from the mid-20th C, drawn from the endlessly rewarding postcard collection of the Boston Public Library.

Boston Public Library

Ashbury Park, N. J. Source

Boston Public Library

Galveston, Texas. Source

Boston Public Library

Spokane, Washington. Source

02 August, 2015

Fly Pan American

A selection of stunning early to mid-20th century airline posters, from a collection donated to the San Diego Air and Space Museum. 

San Diego Air and Space Museum

San Diego Air and Space Museum

San Diego Air and Space Museum

31 July, 2015

World War One Soldiers Swimming

Amidst all the misery and horror of World War One, it's always so nice to get glimpses of the breaks the troops got from all of it. In this post, photos of soldiers swimming, bathing, and/or playing (usually all three) in the water during WWI. They look like they consider it the best thing ever, which, in that period of their lives, it probably was. I'm glad they got it.

Note: Most of these fellows were not at all shy about stripping all their clothes off for a swim, so there is some nudity ahead!

© IWM (Q 19041)

British soldiers splashing in the water at Corfu. Source

© IWM (Q 25257)

British troops in the River Tigris, Baghdad, 1917. Source

© IWM (Q 54298)

Piggyback wading (location unspecified).Source

27 July, 2015

Press Photographers at Play

Leslie Jones was a Boston photojournalist, working for the Boston Herald for 39 years in the early to mid-twentieth century. He (and his friends) also really, wonderfully, liked taking silly pictures. 

Photos from 1920s-1950s, with more specific dates when noted. 

More of Jones' (serious) work here

Boston Public Library

Jones and a young fellow photographer in just a normal handshake, 1936. Source

Boston Public Library

Jones getting action with a mannequin, 1935. Source

Boston Public Library

Jones and pal posing for the camera. Source

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