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 February, 2015

Road Tripping 1960s Norway

A delightful set of photo postcards made in Norway in the 1960s. Wonderfully, nearly all the cards in the set include a cheerful red car (of various makes), merrily making its way through the Norwegian countryside. The postcards thus evoke a series of personal snapshots of one person's road-trip (better snapshots than anyone could actually take!). Of course, in a sense, they are: the car(s) belonged to the photographer. 

Since the photos' captions are only in Norwegian, which I don't speak, I've pasted them in full, so as not to mix up place names and descriptions. 


Nasjonalbiblioteket / National Library of Norway

Lillehammer. Source




Nasjonalbiblioteket / National Library of Norway

Tvindefoss. Ruten Voss - Stalheim - Gudvangen. Source




Nasjonalbiblioteket / National Library of Norway

Vik i Sogn. I bakgrunnen Hella og Fjærlandsfjord. Source

14 February, 2015

Un Baiser

What better day to have a dip into my dear collection of 1920s/30s French romance postcards? For the uninitiated, the genre is characterized by its embellished scenes of idealized romance--perfect for Valentine's Day! So, here is a selection of passionate (or at least passionately posed) kisses. Cynics can come back later. 

I've included the backs, because most of these postcards, especially the more romantic ones, were in fact sent between couples. So there's the real romance in addition to the staged, a meltingly lovely combination. 

personal collection

Written November 15, 1930, in Bourges, to a woman named Germaine. 

personal collection



personal collection
Written on September 20, 1923, in Berchon, from a man to a woman. 

personal collection





Written August 21, 1928, in Marennes, from Raoul to Eugenie. 
personal collection

personal collection

10 February, 2015

The Joy of Snow Shovelling

It might not be fun, but at least the misery has been shared over the centuries....


Boston Public Library

Shovelling snow, Boston, 1917-1934. Source




Boston Public Library

More snow shovelling in Boston, 1936. Source




National Library of Ireland

Shovelling snow into the Liffey, Dublin, 1936. Source


28 January, 2015

New Zealand in Autochrome

Beautiful colour photographs from New Zealand, 1913-1915. These autochromes, taken by avid amateur photogrpaher Robert Walrond, mostly depict Auckland and area. The Public Domain Review has an excellent, detailed article discussing autochromes in New Zealand from the same collection, with a particular focus on those by Walrond. The article includes more still lives and portraits; I've chosen outdoor views. 

The autochromes come from the collections of Te Papa, the national museum of New Zealand, in Wellington, which is terrific museum all round. 


Te Papa (A.018181) Purchased 1999 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds.

Albert Park, 1915, Auckland, by Robert Walrond. Source




Te Papa (A.018203) Purchased 1999 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds.

Mount Hobson from Mount Eden, 1913, Auckland, by Robert Walrond. Source




Te Papa (A.018191) Purchased 1999 with New Zealand Lottery Grants Board funds.

Tree fern, 1915, Auckland, by Robert Walrond. Source

12 January, 2015

Take a Kodak With You

It seems a distant memory now, but for most of the twentieth century, Kodak dominated the amateur photography market in North America. The cameras, the film, the very culture of snapshooting--Kodak. And they worked very hard at it. As well as their products, they put out a variety of publications, aimed variously at snapshooters (Kodakery), professional photographers (Studio Light), dealers of Kodak products (Kodak Salesman, Kodak Dealer News), and photo-finishers (aptly, The Photo Finisher). These periodicals are fascinating insights into the various approaches Kodak took to their market, and it is my hope to study them properly one day, in my professional capacity. On top of that, they're a lot of fun. I spent many many hours going through them for my master's thesis (now online!) and often got distracted by pictures and articles having nothing to do with my topic of study. Kodak was constantly coming up with new angles for selling--new campaigns, new displays, new themes--always copiously illustrated, of course. They also frequently highlighted ideas and displays from Kodak dealers themselves.... bringing us, finally, to this actual post. 

The following images come from Kodak's periodical for dealers of their products, Kodak Salesman, which regularly sought out and reproduced creative window displays from their sellers. These come from the early 1920s, and many tie in to Kodak's main ad campaign at the time, expressed by the slogans "take a Kodak with you" and "Kodak as you go." This was a period when Kodak was actively encouraging people to record all their activities on film (something we've taken for granted ever since). Others focus on eye-catching composition. 

I must admit these images are not the highest quality. They come from the Flickr collection of the Internet Archive, which consists of images automatically excerpted from the many books on the Internet Archive's site. The digitization of books is done differently than that of images specifically, resulting in a lower resolution and higher contrast. The images in the original periodical are already half-tone photographic reproductions. So, these don't exactly look terrific. However, I feel the original striking designs and creativity shine through nonetheless!

The issues of the Kodak Salesman from which these come are held by the Special Collections at Ryerson University, my alma mater. The Internet Archive holds the complete runs of several years of the periodical, as well as many years of Kodakery and Studio Light



Internet Archive Book Images/Ryerson University Special Collections

August 1921. Source 




Internet Archive Book Images/Ryerson University Special Collections

Illustrating the motto, "Kodak on Land and Sea." The model ship, apparently, was valued at $500. October 1920. Source




Internet Archive Book Images/Ryerson University Special Collections

January, 1921. Source

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