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

28 April, 2015

Postcards from Southern California

Regular blog readers might be aware of my April tradition of making a blog post for my sister's birthday. Now, regular blog readers are probably also aware that I haven't been particularly with it post-wise lately (honestly, the only reason I got the San Francisco Earthquake one together was that I'd been sitting on the pictures for months until the right date, and only realized it was that date that morning!). So, well, this birthday post is a bit late. But I'll admit....so was her actual present!

Since the sister looks in Southern California, for this year I took a dive into one of my all-time favourite collections, the Boston Public Library's collection of linen postcards from 1930s-40s America, to present this set of wonderfully colourful, semi-photographic postcards from the land of sunshine. 

Enjoy, sister, and all!

Boston Public Library

Long Beach, back when it apparently had a cool roller coaster. Source

Boston Public Library

Oranges and snow (well, a little bit). Source

Boston Public Library

A world premier at the Cathay Circle Theatre, LA. Source

18 April, 2015

The San Francisco Earthquake, Tinted

The devastation of the great San Francisco Earthquake, on this day in 1906, is extensively photographically documented. There are thousands of monochrome photographs, some of which I've shared before, printed in newspapers or mass-produced as postcards. There are even a few true colour photographs, made with a rare early process. 

The images in this post are stereoviews of post-earthquake scenes, photographs translated into low-quality half-tones, and then hand-tinted for commercial sale. I find them fascinating as an insight into the desires of early 20th century consumers of photography--even in documentary photographs, and even for photographs of a tragedy, applied colour was a selling point. 

New York Public Library

Workmen taking down unstable walls. Source

New York Public Library

A cracked Van Ness Avenue. Source

New York Public Library

The wrecked synagogue, Powell and Sutter Streets. Source

07 April, 2015

Wartime Kangaroos

A special edition of the wartime pets series! As we've seen in past posts, soldiers are very, very fond of keeping pets and mascots of all kinds, from the expected dogs and cats to pigs, goats, and foxes. Out of all the unusual pets, perhaps the most surprisingly popular was the kangaroo (or wallaby). Australian soldiers played with them at home, then took them along on journeys to far-off fronts. Foreign troops stationed in Australia were also keen to seize their chance of kangaroo adoption. I don't know if they do make good pets, but these fellows certainly seem thought so!

An Australian soldier with a pet kangaroo near the Pyramids, Egypt, about 1915. Source

Soldiers with a kangaroo in Malaysa, 1941. Source

A soldier with "Joey" the kangaroo in Malaya, 1941. According to the caption, he was smuggled in a box labelled "Medical Supplies." Source

03 April, 2015

Friends Being Ridiculous, 1897

A quick, fun set! I don't have a tremendous amount of context for these photographs, which come from what appear to be two sets, in a collection held by a small Ontario museum. In one set, a bunch of male and female friends play around with bicycles, bonnets, and occasional musical instruments. In the other, a group of five fellows adopt silly poses in swimsuits, some of which are women's suits. All are taken in 1897, in Huron County, Ontario, by a professional photographer. What, exactly, is the story? Who knows, but they're great. 

Huron County Museum

Bicycles, instruments, bonnets... Source

Huron County Museum

Posing on Lake Huron. Source

Huron County Museum

A pile of friends and instruments in the park. Source

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