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

31 December, 2012

New Year's Postcards

Another holiday, another set of holiday postcards! These New Year's ones are especially great-- lots of embossing and metallic gold paint, really lovely (the rest of the set is here). As before I've given some of the writing on the back-- many just say "Happy New Years" and I haven't transcribed those, but I've done most of the ones with longer messages. I've also included the dates they were postal-stamped, when legible-- it's amusing how many were sent a bit late. 

From the New York Public Library. 


New York Public Library

"Friend Messick, We acknowledge your kind greetings and heartily reciprocate. All at well at home and we trust same with you and yours. When are you coming to Washington to visit us. There is always welcome. Sincerely J [or F] Harrison." Mailed 1909. Source



New York Public Library

"Going home tonight for good. Wishing you all a Happy New Year". Written December 1914 but posted Jan. 1915 Source



New York Public Library

Posted 1908. Source

29 December, 2012

Mirror Images

Quite simply, photographs of people looking in mirrors.


Sam Hood, State Library of New South Wales

Film star Helen Twelvetrees with a mirror, Sydney, 1936. Source



Nina Leen, LIFE © Time Inc.

A mother applies make-up while her daughter watches, Oklahoma, 1947. Source




William Gottlieb; Library of Congress

Cab Calloway combs his hair, NYC, c. 1947. Source

25 December, 2012

Merry Christmas!

A selection of (not-previously-featured) Christmas photos! Wishing everyone a lovely day!


State Library and Archives Florida

Santa Claus in Florida, 1965. Source


The National Library of Wales

Boys with Christmas lanterns, Knighton, Wales, 1952. Source


Nationaal Archief

Kids regarding a Christmas tree, the Netherlands, no date. Source

24 December, 2012

Australian Christmas Postcards

We've had a look at some swell early twentieth century Christmas postcards already this month, including a few with images that seemed to have little do with Christmas. Well, the Australians of the 1890s-1910s took it one step farther and simply stamped Christmas wishes onto any random photograph to make holiday postcards (at least, it was pretty common; I don't have a representative sample, but there's certainly it was popular!). I suppose it makes some sense-- send a picture of the place you live along with your greetings, especially to someone living far away--but certainly it's a bit random, and delightful. 

And Merry Christmas to the Aussies, who get it before most of us, after all!

Selected from a larger Christmas card set by the State Library of Queensland (except two, from the Powerhouse Museum). Many thanks to Tania Schafer, curator of that set!


State Library of Queensland

Sutton's Beach, Redcliffe, c. 1908. Source



State Library of Queensland

Merry Christmas from Queensland, c. 1900. Source



State Library of Queensland

The post office at St. George, c. 1905. Source

22 December, 2012

The Start of Snapshots

In 1888 the first Kodak camera came out, allowing anyone (who could afford the initially high price) to take their own photographs, regardless of skill. The camera came pre-loaded with film, and after exposure you sent it to Eastman Kodak in Rochester. They sent you the camera back, re-loaded, along with your prints. All you had to do was press the button. The world of photography would never be the same.

Snapshots from the Kodak Number One and Number Two, 1888-1890. Those from the Library of Congress (taken in Washington DC) are all by Uriah Hunt Painter, an avid snapshooter. The original photographs aren't black and white, they're the same dark purple-brown and cream as the ones from the National Media Museum (gold-toned gelatin printing-out paper); they were photographed in black and white for reproduction.


Library of Congress

A man and boy in front of the treasury, Washington DC. Source



National Media Museum

Children wading in the sea. Source



Library of Congress

A little girl in riding clothes, Washington DC. Source

19 December, 2012

Nineteenth Century Views of India

By the 1850s, travel photographs were in. However, easy to operate hand cameras were still a couple decades in the future, as were photo postcards. Instead, photographers offered a variety of scenic views of popular places, to be purchased, taken home, and often put into albums. The new albumen paper, inexpensive and detailed, encouraged the business. Many of the tourist view photographers were highly skilled and produced beautiful pictures. One of the more famous is Samuel Bourne, a British photographer in India in the 1860s. Today, a series of his photographs.

From the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego. 


Museum of Photographic Arts

The Burning Ghat, Benares, 1865. Source



Museum of Photographic Arts

Mausoleum, Agra, 1865. Source



Museum of Photographic Arts

Nynee Tal, 1867. Source

06 December, 2012

Christmas Postcards

Going through my posts yesterday has got me feeling Christmas-y! Let's have our first new Christmas post of the year. 

In the early twentieth century, people were just crazy about sending postcards, especially for holidays and especially for Christmas. The New York Public Library has about seven hundred (here, if you want more after this post). The ones I've chosen stood out to me either because they're especially nice, especially ugly, and/or especially strange.... though I'll leave it to the viewer to decide which is which!

The NYPL terrifically reproduces the backs as well as the fronts; many are fairly simple, just the sender and reciever or a variant of "Merry Christmas", but a few are more interesting and I've reproduced them. Most, however, are written, so do follow the source links if you're interested!



New York Public Library




New York Public Library

Postmarked 1907. Source



New York Public Library

"It has quit raining. Have you read anything about what is liable to happen on Dec. 17 this year when the six greatest planets begin drawing on the sun. Some of the more radicals deem it will cause the end of the world, maybe." (seriously-- read it!)
Postmarked 1918. Source

05 December, 2012

Posts Of The Christmas Season

Last year, for most of December I had Christmas-themed posts; rather than repeat myself, as we come once again to the holiday season I've brought them all together here. A couple more shall be upcoming, as well as heaps of stuff I haven't been able to share yet, but for now, some Christmassy pics to unwrap!











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