Sunday, 14 October 2018

049 : Woman In The Round

Portrait Of An Unknown Woman : This is a late Victorian, or more likely Edwardian, studio portrait of an unknown woman. It is small - about two inches in diameter - and surrounded by a substantial cardboard mount which itself has been cut back. The sitter seems to have a mark or blemish just below her lips which does not appear to be a fault on the print itself.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

048 : Mary The Munitionette

Studio Postcard of Unknown Woman : The only clue to the identity of this woman is a dedication on the reverse, "From Mary". The uniform she is wearing suggests that she was a munitions worker in World War I - one of the almost 1,000,000 women who went into the factories of Britain to make arms and armaments. Such brave women were known as "munitionettes"

Friday, 27 July 2018

047 : They Sailed Away

Unknown Couple In Boat (1930s) (AB Collection)

I can't decide whether this couple posed for this photograph or whether they were actually asleep and a companion got his or her smartphone out and took a quick picture that would make a fine profile picture on Facetwit or the like. But this was the 1930s and it would take a year and a day to get your camera out, extend the bellows, measure the range for the focus and wind on the roll film. Perhaps they were sailing away for a year and a day to the land where the bong-tree grows.

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

046 : Stan And Muriel, August 1937

Scanned Print Of Unknown Origin (1937)
What fashion, what style? How I wish I had a pair of trousers like that … and how I wish I had the courage to wear them!

Saturday, 12 May 2018

045 : First Cousin To An Impression

Unknown Man On A Hill (1920s)
The older the photo, the less detail it conveys, the more dust and scratches it has acquired: all of these often conspire together to lift a photographic image to another level, so it becomes first cousin to an impression.

Friday, 11 May 2018

044 : Clinging To The Mast

Clinging To The Mast - Unknown Man On A Boat  (1930s)
Whoever he is, he doesn't exactly look happy to be at sea. And why is he balanced on the edge of the boat, clinging to the mast?

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

043 : The Boat Load

The Boat Load : Unknown Group On A Seaside Boat (1930s)

The composition of this group photograph works for some reason and the dark browns of the faded photographic emulsion seem to suit the subject matter. 

042 : The Crab Catchers

Two Young Women On A Beach (1920s)

Whenever I get a new batch of old photographs I like to dip in unseen and scan one print at random. I dipped into the batch and found a picture of a woman who had dipped into the sea and found a crab.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

041 : The Man With The Unenhanced Beard

The Man With The Unenhanced Beard (1890s)

This Victorian Cabinet Card from the studio of John Leslie Thomas Shawcross of Blackburn had been touched-up by the photographer in order to enhance the gentleman's beard. I have digitally removed the enhancement to restore it to its natural beauty.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

040 : Ethel With The Long Face


The 1930s saw a high point in studio portrait photography : sandwiched between the stiff poses of the Victorian era and the self-obsessed postures of the Selfie age. I have no idea who Ethel was, but she sent love down the decades along with her photo.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

039 : The Picture Within 3 : The Faded Lifeboat


My first thought was that there was a problem with the print - some fading, scratching, taring or the like. The "problem", however, is with the wall of the pub where layers of public house archaeology are on display.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

038 : The Picture Within 2 : The Presentation


The entire print shows some kind of presentation taking place and there is the hint of a photographer on the right. However, it is the couple comparing notes that look real, look relaxed and look worth recording for posterity.

Friday, 9 March 2018

037 : The Picture Within 1 : Berets And Frowns


Within each good old photograph there generally is another good photograph waiting to get out. This is from a photograph from the Charles Gordon Palmer album which is captioned "Taken at the Garth - May 1934"

Thursday, 8 March 2018

036 : Lost Frier Of The Ball's Pond Road


An almost classic Victorian studio shot from the studios of a photographer called R Frier of Ball's Pond Road in North London. I have not been able to find anything about Mr Frier or his studio. It is such a same that there is so little information about this generation of pioneer photographers.

Monday, 5 March 2018

035 : The Feel Of The Waves, The Taste Of The Seagulls

IN THE SEA (Unknown Location, Date and Subjects)

There is so little in this seaside snap that is in focus, but it doesn't matter - there is a form of "photo-impressionism" going on. You can feel the waves, taste the salt and hear the seagulls high overhead.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

034 : Dickens, Darwin And Alice Liddell


There is no studio information on this wonderful old Carte de Visite, so we have no hints as to the place or the time. It's Charles Dickens crossed with Charles Darwin with Alice Liddell sat on the table.

Friday, 2 March 2018

033 : Taken In Newcastle


I acquired an old photograph album, which seems to have been created by a young lad called Charles Gordon Palmer in 1934. Most of the photographs have handwritten captions - the photograph above, we are told, was taken in Newcastle. 

Thursday, 1 March 2018

032 : Nearer God's Heart


I have not been able to identify the building, but the quotation carved on the back of the seat goes as follows:

"The kiss of the sun for pardon / The song of the birds for mirth / One is nearer God's heart in a garden / Than anywhere else on earth"

That's as maybe, but a more accurate geographical location would be useful

Wednesday, 28 February 2018

031 : A Confident Man With A Confident Pipe


This photograph was so badly faded that it was almost impossible to make out the outline of the man. Digitally re-scanned, a confident man with a confident pipe emerges from the sepia blur.

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

030 : Locarno Lido, 1947

Sometimes, the only words you need are a place and a time. All the rest can be left to the imagination.

029 : Five Bob A Dozen, Any Position

Carte de Visite of Unknown Child (T N Blackmore, Hull)

This is a tattered, torn and faded old CdV, but somehow that seems to add to its attraction. In 1888, in the Hull Daily Mail, Blackmore was advertising "Cartes 5s Dozen - Any Position"

Monday, 26 February 2018

028 : Sat In The Sun

Four women sat in the sun. Two generations certainly, possibly three: generations that span the centuries, link ancient to modern. The two older women look intently at one of the younger women. The other younger woman looks at us, asking us questions we can't answer.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

18/027 : Ross, Stock And Brechin

This is another Carte de Visite from the studios of James Milne of Brechin, Scotland. It features a fairly typical late Victorian middle-class man and probably dates from the 1880s or 1890s. One interesting feature is the reverse of the carte which has the printed details of another Brechin photographer, D Ross. Photographic studios would have large numbers of blank cards overprinted and then the photographic print would be stuck to the card. In this case we assume that James Milne acquired both the studio and the stock of D Ross, and continued to make use of the card stock.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

18/026 : The Intriguing Where

Those three questions which always come to mind when you find a lost photograph - who, when and where? In this case the questions relate to a medium format negative of dubious provenance. The "who" is impossible to answer, the when could be any time between the mid 1930s and the mid 1950s, but it is the "where" that is most intriguing. It could be Britain, but those distant hills are difficult to identify. Could it be North Wales by any chance?

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

18/025 : Up On The Roof

These three young children appear to be posed on a rooftop! From the clothing and the print style, the date is probably the late 1940s or the early 1950s, and from the style of the property, I suspect the picture was not taken in the UK. Such precarious poses would be frowned upon these days, but there is something rather fine about the composition.

Monday, 12 February 2018

18/024 : The Child With The Doleful Face

This Carte de Visite from the Scottish studios of James Milne features two children who may be brothers or even brother and sister, the smaller of which has the most doleful look on its' face. Milne appears to have been active during the last two decades of the nineteenth century.

The Brechin Advertiser of the 18th January 1887 carries a short advertisement for the studio:

Undertakes, in addition to the ordinary routine of Cabinet and Carte Work, Enlarging in Carbons, or in any of the many methods now in use, Colouring in Oil or Water Colours - Copying from Glass Etc, making Cartes or Cabinets as desired.
During the cold weather it is J MILNE'S endeavour to have his Studio comfortably heated.

Sunday, 4 February 2018

18/023 : Chubby On A Chair

BOY ON A CHAIR : A chubby little chap from the Norwich photography "Manby".  It is almost as though the camera is in a fixed position, suitable for adults, and therefore a chubby little chap like this has to stand on a chair.

Friday, 2 February 2018

18/022 : The Girl With The Aristocratic Air

This is a scan of a negative of unknown origin which, I suspect, dates back to the 1950s.  A typical English river, some typical swans, and a 1950s girl with an aristocratic air about her.

Thursday, 1 February 2018

18/021 : Three Ladies From Whittlesea

The reverse of this Victorian Cabinet Card is more striking than the rather disappointing image of the two ladies on the front. Photographic studios would often make use of some idealised Art Nouveau maiden to advertise their services, but William Wilkinson of Whittlesea just north of Melbourne in Australia, made use of a rather jolly and curvaceous character.

Thursday, 25 January 2018

18/020 : History Encapsulated

THE AMBULANCE GROUP : This is a scan from an old cut negative I found at the bottom of a box. I was trying to explain to someone earlier today, the attraction of such old found photographs. I don't know who they feature or where they were taken. They have come to me by a combination of chance and mischance. They are history encapsulated.

18/019 : Mad Women Perhaps

SCANNED NEGATIVE OF UNKNOWN ORIGIN : Four women walk down the street. It's the late 1950s, perhaps even the early 1960s. There is a degree of confidence with an edge of extravagance in their clothes, in their smiles, in their lives. There's even a hint of Mad Men about the image - Mad Women perhaps.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

18/018 : The Man With The Pre-Raphaelite Beard

CARTE DE VISITE, UNKNOWN MAN WITH BEARD (c1890) : The purpose of this Victorian carte de visite seems to be to display the man's beard rather than his face. It is cursive, decorative, almost pre-Raphaelite: a perfect match for the studio details on the reverse.

Monday, 15 January 2018