Monday, 18 November 2019

Memories Of India




Three photographs from an album of photos and postcards from India in the 1930s. They come from a family album which was put together by my wife's uncle, Jim Carthew, and has been kindly lent to me by his granddaughter. I am slowly working my way through the album, scanning the photographs as I go. The three today must have been taken in that part of India or Afghanistan where Uncle Jim was stationed when he was a soldier in the 1930s. From the rather indistinct captions, the first one is a photograph of a tea server, the second is a dancing girl and the third is the local postman. More from the same album will undoubtedly follow.


Monday, 19 August 2019

Dripping With Meaning

Photo trouvée : noun - an image found by an artist and displayed with no, or minimal, alteration as a work of art.


I'm no artist, but I could put together a pretty good case to suggest that this is a work of art. In the best traditions of "objet trouvée", I found it amongst a pile of old and forgotten photographs. I know not when or where it was taken, or who it features; but it drips with meaning, and is infused with art.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Through The Viewfinder

This photograph comes from a collection of old photos bought as a job lot on eBay for less than the price of a pint. I am a great fan of the novel "Sweet Caress" by William Boyd, and as soon as I saw this photograph I thought of Amory Clay, the heroine of that fine book. Boyd himself is an enthusiastic collector of anonymous photographs and "Sweet Caress" is richly illustrated with them. If there is ever a second edition of the book, I will be happy to contribute this fine photograph.


Sunday, 14 July 2019

A Question Of Sport


This is an old, real photographic postcard that must date from the first part of the twentieth century, and is full of questions. I can not be certain about the date, the place, the sport or the team. There are eleven players so I am immediately drawn to a football team (soccer team). The only real clue is a name and address on the reverse of the card:-

W Bate, 43, Shroggs Terrace, Shroggs Road, Halifax

The only W Bate I have been able to track down in Halifax at about the right time was a prominent member of the Independent Order of Oddfellows (a PPGM  which might mean Past Provincial Grand Master).  I might, however, be barking up the wrong sporting tree. If any of my Halifax contacts recognises any of these sportsmen, they are welcome to the card.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

A Paper Portal To The Past


If there is one thing you would have needed in 1919, it is a bit of a tonic. The memories of the carnage on the fields of Flanders are still raw, and the influenza epidemic is now picking off many of the people who survived. So this old photographic postcard from exactly 100 years ago seems most appropriate.

Someone has usefully identified this group of young people as "The Tonics Concert Party" of Birds Royd Mission in Brighouse, West Yorkshire.  These days, the Birds Royd area of Brighouse - which is just down the road from where I live - is mainly a bustling business and industrial estate, but 100 years ago it was still a crowded residential area, with street after street of terraced housing. Where there were nineteenth century houses in the industrial north of England, there were Methodist churches and chapels and missions of every possible variety; and in Birds Royd there was a thriving Mission Church - with its own Concert Party to provide entertainment for the congregation.

This old postcard, which I seem to recall I acquired from an Antique Centre, is a unique paper portal to a different age, albeit only 100 years ago. Perhaps it is no coincidence that the number of young men in the Concert Party is half that of young women. The Great War still cast a cloud over areas such as Birds Royd. Any kind of tonic was most welcome.



Saturday, 6 July 2019

A Decorative Basket Of Fruit


This decorative basket of fruit is non other than Olive Prosser. Who, you might well ask? This theatre postcard is signed by an actress called Olive Prosser and is dated 1931. On the reverse has been written "Robinson Crusoe. Liverpool Empire, 1931". That is enough information to track down an old newspaper advert from the Liverpool Echo from January 1931, which shows that Olive's co-stars included the slightly more famous Dorothy Ward and her husband Shaun Glenville. I have managed to track down a variety artist called Olive Prosser who was in the Broadway performance of Chou Chin Chow in 1919, but whether that was the same lady, I do not know. There is even mention of a young actress called Olive Prosser doing the circuit of Australian variety theatres at the start of the twentieth century, but that would mean that - if it was the same lady - she would have been well into middle age by the time of her performance at the Liverpool Empire. Perhaps all that fruit she carried around kept her young!


A postcard signed in 1931 by the variety and pantomime performer, Olive Prosser. We know that in January of that year she was one of the stars of Robinson Crusoe in the Empire Theatre, Liverpool; but before then or after then - who knows?

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Panel Portraits


This rather unusually shaped portrait of a studious young boy is described on the reverse as a "Panel Portrait" and is by the Blackpool photographer J Bamber of 69, Church Street. The only other reference I can find online to a "panel portrait" is by the same photographer and dates from the 1920s, so we can assume that Mr Bamber was experimenting with different shapes for his studio output in this period.  The name may have been derived from the panel paintings of the medieval and renaissance period, which would be long portraits painted on wooden panels. The style obviously never caught on and is out of keeping with the modern trend towards wide-angle landscape formats. 





A somewhat unusually shaped portrait of a studious young boy from the 1920s, which was described by the photographer - J Bamber of Blackpool - as a "panel portrait". It's a term and a shape that Mr Bamber seems to have invented ... and which never caught on.