Sunday, December 25, 2011

The “Other” Santa Photos

A child (above) wearing a Santa mask in what appears to be summer, turning her into a suburban gnome.

Above, one of my all-time favorite department store Santa Claus photos.

In this snapshot from wartime Germany (above left) check out the picture on the wall. Their tradition was Kris Kringle, a supposedly Santa-type fellow who came in the night bearing gifts. Yikes!

And this department store Santa (above), with the full mask on, next to the Samsonite luggage. Eeek!

Have a happy holiday 2011!


An AM repost from 12/25/08

Sunday, December 18, 2011


If you haven’t been to the Web site Square America, you are missing something. This site is, hands down, the most complete, most extensive Web site on vernacular photography on the web today. The collector, Nicholas Osborn, is a devoted collector. He has thousands of images— and I am telling you, there are great pics to view. He has divided the site into multiple categories. There are photos categories on Sleep, Love, Orphans, Costume, Dance, Photobooth, and on and on. Plus, he has a great book available for purchase “Who We Were: A Snapshot History of America”—just $35.00. Seriously, for a book like this—it is a great price. I own it, and it’s great.

An AM repost from 1/08/09

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Vogue Picture Records: Vinyl Romance

(Top 2 Images Above, Sides 1 and 2): Vogue R 771. If I Could Be With You (Henry Creamer and Jimmy Johnson) b/w Jeannine (L. Wolfe Gilbert, Nathaniel Shilkret). Performed by Art Kassel and his orchestra.

(Top 2 Images Above, Sides 1 and 2): Vogue R 758. You’re Gonna Hate Yourself in the Mornin’ (Sammy Gallop, Larry Stock, Ira Schuster) b/w Long, Strong and Consecutive (Mac David, Duke Ellington). Performed by Marion Mann accompanied by Bob Haggart and his orchestra.

(Top 2 Images Above, Sides 1 and 2): Vogue R 721. When I Gets to Where I’m Goin’ (Jack Edwards, Duke Leonard, and Sam Braverman) b/w You’re Only in My Arms (to cry on my shoulder) (Ed G. Nelson, Milton Leeds and Steve Nelson. Performed by Patsy Montana.

(Top 2 Images Above, Sides 1 and 2): Vogue R 731: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (Ted Koehler, Harold Arlen) b/w You Took Advantage of Me (Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers). Performed by Marion Mann accompanied by Bob Haggart and his orchestra.

(Top 2 Images Above, Sides 1 and 2) Vogue R 734. Sweetheart (Benny Davis, Arnold Johnson) b/w A Little Consideration (Sunny Skylar). Performed by Art Kassel and his Orchestra.

VOGUE PICTURE RECORDS ARE PHONOGRAPH RECORDS on the “Vogue” label which have a picture (an artist’s illustration) embedded in the transparent vinyl of the record. The illustrations on each side of the record are usually related to the title of the song on that side. Many of the illustrations are mushy romantic themes. The most common Vogue picture records are 10-inch, 78 RPM records, although a few 12-inch, 78 RPM Vogue picture records were also produced.

Vogue picture records were produced by Sav-Way Industries of Detroit, Michigan. The first 10-inch Vogue picture record (catalog number R707) was released to the public in May 1946. Production ceased less than a year later in April 1947, with Sav-Way entering into receivership in August 1947. During this time, approximately seventy-four different 10-inch Vogue picture records were released.

Vogue picture records were of a very high quality, with little surface noise. The records were produced using a complicated process whereby a central core aluminum disc was sandwiched between the paper illustrations and vinyl. Perfecting this process took quite a while; Tom Saffady and his engineers spent several months working out the bugs that often resulted in torn or dislodged paper illustrations.

When Sav-Way entered into receivership all remaining stock was liquidated through distributors. This is the source of all those “Factory Reject” and “Vogue Second” records that are seen. It is reported that many of the left-over records were melted down to recycle the aluminum used in the core of the record.

Copy source above © AVPRC (The Association of Vogue Picture Record Collectors)

Images © Department of Special Collections, Donald C. Davidson Library; University of California, Santa Barbara; Visit here.

An AM repost from 6-1-09

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Beautiful Obsession of Snowflake Bentley

Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley (1865-1931)

Snow was a blessing for Bentley, who devoted his life to showing the beauty and individuality of snowflakes.

ANYONE WHO DEVOTES THEIR LIFE in the pursuit of a dream is my kind of person. The biologist who spent his entire life identifying rare species of frogs; the dedicated artist who pursues their work in spite of economic or other stresses; or the adventurer who has studied ship manifests and ancient maps in a search for a lost shipwreck. Even if ending in failure, courageous souls like these give the rest of us cause to reevaluate our own lives and to ask perhaps, at the end, did I do a single thing in my life worth being remembered for? Did I make a difference? Did I add to the beauty or enlightenment of the world—did I give something back?

To that end, today I want to bring to your attention the life-long work of Wilson A. Bentley (1865-1931), who lived in the small country town of Jericho, Vermont. His life-long pursuit of photographing snowflakes earned him the affectionate nickname “Snowflake” Bentley. It was his passion and dedication to prove that “no two snowflakes are alike.” He did indeed leave something behind—something wonderful.

At first, Bentley tried drawing snowflakes, but when that didn’t work he turned to photography. Through much trial and error, he finally succeeded by adapting a microscope to a bellows camera, eventually becoming the first person to photograph a single snow crystal in 1885.

He would go on to capture more than 5000 snowflakes during his lifetime, not finding any two alike. His snow crystal photo-micrographs were acquired by colleges and universities throughout the world and he published many articles for magazines and journals including, Scientific American and National Geographic.

Today, original photographs by Bentley are worth several thousand dollars, if you can find one.

In 1931 his book “Snow Crystals,” containing more than 2400 snow crystal images, was published by McGraw-Hill but has long been out of print. A soft cover copy, identical in all respects, can be obtained today from Dover Publications, Inc. On December 23, 1931, Bentley died at the family farmhouse in Jericho.

An AM repost from 2/24/09

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