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Laurels for Ivy

Ivy, at least the evergreen variety known to climb and adhere to brick walls, is academically synonymous mostly in the northeastern United States with that of the Ivy League. But this isn’t about those educational institutions and membership in the well-known sports league. Rather, ivy for the purposes of this post during late Spring is symbolic for the ties that will bind newly minted graduates at this time of year: “The connection between the college and its graduates”, is how Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts aptly describes it, and the continuing reason her senior offspring have, since 1884, ceremonially planted it on a special day before Commencement.

1-ivy-procession-june-18-1Detail: "Ivy Procession June 18, 1900": vintage cyanotype loosely inserted into dis-bound album leaf: ca. 1900 by unknown American photographer: 10.0 x 24.8 cm | 18.2 x 27.5 cm. Ivy Day at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, the day before Commencement, begins with a procession of graduating seniors walking around Seelye Hall on campus. They are flanked by junior students in foreground carrying the ivy chain, which is actually made of laurel leaves. Notice the two women and young boy at far right of frame photographing the scene with box cameras. Leaf from larger album with direct provenance to Mary Ruth Perkins, 1878-1975; Smith College class of 1900 graduate and Chairman of the class yearbook committee that year. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

2a-hamilton-wright-mabie-1"Hamilton Wright Mabie: Smith College Class of 1900 Commencement Speaker": vintage cyanotype loosely inserted into dis-bound album leaf: ca. 1900 by unknown American photographer: 8.5 x 7.2 cm | 18.2 x 27.5 cm. Mabie, 1846-1916, an American essayist, editor, critic, and lecturer who attended Williams College and Columbia Law School, is shown here in the background along with two Smith graduates: his daughter at left Lorraine Trivett Mabie -1877-1906, and Mary Buell Sayles - 1878-1959, who went on to become a noted social reformer, writer and educator. In 1902, Sayles conducted the first "systemic study of housing conditions in Jersey City" (Davis-1984) and was a New York City housing inspector. Leaf from larger album with direct provenance to Mary Ruth Perkins, 1878-1975; Smith College class of 1900 graduate and Chairman of the class yearbook committee that year. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

2-woman-with-cameraDetail: "Head of Ivy Procession" (June 18, 1900): vintage cyanotype loosely inserted into dis-bound album leaf: ca. 1900 by unknown American photographer: 7.5 x 8.5 cm | 18.2 x 27.5 cm. With the front of the Smith College Ivy Day Procession made up of graduating seniors Cornelia Gould, Carol Weston, Caroline Marmon and Harriette Ross making their way forward in background, a woman with camera at far right of frame walks to position herself for a good vantage point. Leaf from larger album with direct provenance to Mary Ruth Perkins, 1878-1975; Smith College class of 1900 graduate and Chairman of the class yearbook committee that year. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

3-head-of-ivy-processionsDetails: "Head of Ivy Day Procession: 1897-1900" (Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts). All: vintage cyanotypes loosely inserted into dis-bound album leaves: ca. 1897-1900 by unknown American photographers with each leaf: 18.2 x 27.5 cm. Upper left: 1897: 9.4 x 11.4 cm; Upper right: 1898: 9.5 x 12.0 cm; Lower left: 1899 (Louise & Carrolle Barber) 8.5 x 5.5 cm; Lower right: 1900 (Cornelia Gould, Carol Weston, Caroline Marmon, Harriette Ross) 8.1 x 5.5 cm. Leaves from larger album with direct provenance to Mary Ruth Perkins, 1878-1975; Smith College class of 1900 graduate and Chairman of the class yearbook committee that year. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

5-overhead-processionDetail: "Ivy Procession on the way from College Hall around Seelye Hall" (June 18, 1900): vintage cyanotype loosely inserted into dis-bound album leaf: ca. 1900 by unknown American photographer: 8.3 x 8.5 cm | 18.2 x 27.5 cm.Taken from an overhead angle, this photograph shows throngs of hat wearing spectators in foreground and background watching the procession of graduating Smith College seniors. Each wearing their traditional long white dresses, they walk in pairs while flanked by junior class members holding the ivy chain made from laurel leaves. Leaf from larger album with direct provenance to Mary Ruth Perkins, 1878-1975; Smith College class of 1900 graduate and Chairman of the class yearbook committee that year. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

6-ivy-procession-june-18-1Top: "Ivy Procession June 18, 1900": vintage cyanotype loosely inserted into dis-bound album leaf: ca. 1900 by unknown American photographer: 10.1 x 24.5 cm | 18.2 x 27.5 cm. Ivy Day at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, the day before Commencement, begins with a procession of graduating seniors walking around Seelye Hall on campus. They are flanked by junior students in foreground carrying the ivy chain, which is actually made of laurel leaves. From the college website: "Ivy Day has been a Smith tradition for more than a century. The class of 1884 was the first to plant ivy as part of the ceremonies leading to its graduation, thus providing the day with its name." Leaf from larger album with direct provenance to Mary Ruth Perkins, 1878-1975; Smith College class of 1900 graduate and Chairman of the class yearbook committee that year. From: PhotoSeed Archive. Bottom: "Seelye Hall, Smith College Campus". From the same vantage point as the panoramic photograph taken above, this digital iPhone photograph from January 15, 2018 shows what the campus looks like today. Named after the first president of the college L. Clark Seelye, construction on Seelye began in 1898 and it opened the following year. Photo by David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive.

 

7-singing-fair-smith-in-fr"Singing Fair Smith": vintage cyanotype loosely inserted into dis-bound album leaf: ca. 1900 by unknown American photographer: 7.7 x 8.5 cm | 18.2 x 27.5 cm. On Ivy Day at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, hundreds gather in front of College Hall to watch members of the choir assembled on the steps sing the traditional 1890 song "Fair Smith". The lyrics are by R.K. Crandall and Dr. B.C. Blodgett: "Fair Smith, our praise to thee we render, O dearest college halls, Bright hours that live in mem'ry tender, Are wing'd within thy walls. O'er thy walks the elms are bowing, Alma Mater, Winds 'mid branches softly blowing, Ivy round thy tower growing, Alma Mater. "And while the hills with purple shadows Eternal vigil keep Above the happy river meadows, In golden haze asleep. May thy children still addressing, Alma Mater. Thee with grateful praise addressing, Speak in loyal hearts thy blessing, Alma Mater." Leaf from larger album with direct provenance to Mary Ruth Perkins, 1878-1975; Smith College class of 1900 graduate and Chairman of the class yearbook committee that year. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

8-1900-head-of-ivy-process"Head of Procession reaching Ivy": vintage cyanotype loosely inserted into dis-bound album leaf: ca. 1900 by unknown American photographer: 8.3 x 5.4 cm | 18.2 x 27.5 cm. Smith College graduating seniors who headed up the Ivy Day Procession on June 18, 1900-Cornelia Gould, Carol Weston, Caroline Marmon and Harriette Ross, stand at the base of Seelye Hall where they prepare to plant ivy plant seedlings. Leaf from larger album with direct provenance to Mary Ruth Perkins, 1878-1975; Smith College class of 1900 graduate and Chairman of the class yearbook committee that year. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

9-ivy-plantedDetail: "Ivy vine seedling at base of Seelye Hall": vintage cyanotype loosely inserted into dis-bound album leaf: ca. 1900 by unknown American photographer: 8.3 x 8.0 cm | 18.2 x 27.5 cm. The evidence of Ivy Day at Smith College on June 18, 1900 is this Ivy seedling, planted against the year "1900" chiseled into the base of the then brand new Seelye Hall, a rusticated Georgian Revival building on campus designed by the New York firm of York and Sawyer. Construction on this surviving academic building which first housed classrooms and a library began in 1898 and was completed in 1899. The building took its name from L. Clark Seelye, (1837-1924) the first president of Smith College who served from 1875-1910. Rockefeller Hall at Vassar, an 1897 commission by the same firm, was the model for Seelye. Leaf from larger album with direct provenance to Mary Ruth Perkins, 1878-1975; Smith College class of 1900 graduate and Chairman of the class yearbook committee that year. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

In 1900, when these cyanotype photographs were taken, a new century beckoned on Ivy Day for those who would soon graduate from Smith. Like then as in the present, newly minted graduates the world over feel the same emotions that strains of Pomp and Circumstance invoke and traditions call for. Laurels are bestowed for hard work, fortunes and insight will be made or come from it, and hopefully, friendships made during college days will endure far into the future.

 

 

Kodak City: the Sequel

 

Speaking of photography in general, of which this website is particularly enamored of, our recent visit to Rochester, New York and attendance in the three-day conference “PhotoHistory/PhotoFuture” sponsored and organized by RIT Press and The Wallace Center at the Rochester Institute of Technology gave new meaning to their claims for the medium: “there has never been more of it than there is today.” That might be stating the obvious, especially in 2018, but the new meaning part was my own takeaway and inspiration.

 

1-eastman-museumBy George, Still Relevant: During a reception at the George Eastman Museum for conference attendees, a young George Eastman,(1854-1932) who founded the Eastman Kodak Company, looms larger than life in a photograph taken in 1890 by Nadar. Entrepreneur and Philanthropist are emphasized on the wall label, and with good reason. From the museum's website:"The George Eastman Museum is located in Rochester, New York, on the estate of George Eastman, the pioneer of popular photography and motion picture film. Founded in 1947 as an independent nonprofit institution, it is the world’s oldest photography museum and one of the oldest film archives. The museum holds unparalleled collections—encompassing several million objects—in the fields of photography, cinema, and photographic and cinematographic technology, and photographically illustrated books. The institution is also a longtime leader in film preservation and photographic conservation." David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive

 

In present day Kodak city, the power of ideas relating to what made this place significant as an imaging industrial behemoth still exists, but has now gone in a new direction. With all due apologies, but the pun indeed appropriate, a snapshot of those ideas put forth by the conference attendees and speakers shows their passion for the medium’s minutiae both preserves and continues this essential democratic language. Those of memories past surely, but more and more the future in the form of ones and zeroes hurtling forward.

 

Although the “Big Yellow” of Rochester’s past is long gone, the ideas nourishing photography’s entire corpus continues apace, an alternate reality both present and future. For those curious enough, the RIT conference program along with a list of presenters can be found here, along with a few photos from the weekend courtesy of yours truly.  David Spencer- 

 

 

2-mary-panzer-street-shootersDocumentary photography practiced as commerce on busy streets around the world, a genre roughly known as "Movie Snaps" because of the retrofitted movie cameras used in their making, was part of a fascinating presentation under the working title “Street Vendor Portraits Around the World: Czernowitz, Capetown, San Francisco, More!” given by independent scholar Mary Panzar of Rochester. Here, the hybrid look of Winogrand meeting Arbus becomes a document in a projected frame of a woman sporting fur and white gloves at left while a gentleman unaware at right emerges to flash and instant celebrity from a movie theatre on a nighttime street. David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive

 

3-tryptchTriptych in the Dark: Left: During his presentation “Did Talbot Make Daguerreotypes?”, the eminence of English photography pioneer William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877) is shown here by an image most in attendance had seen, yet Grant Romer- formerly of the Eastman House but now Founding Director of the Academy of Archaic Imaging, challenged us with another view: a decidedly unflattering profile of the paper/negative pioneer he rightly remarked might have made for a different public perception for the emerging medium had it been the lone evidence of his existence. Middle: a quote of photographic philosophy by American writer Susan Sontag (1933-2004) struck this observer as particularly relevant in the present day- University of Illinois Springfield professors Kathy Petitte Novak and Brytton Bjorngaard used it as supporting evidence while speaking on “The Blurring Distinctions of Taking versus Making Photographs: Teaching Photography in a Digital Culture”. Right: the appropriated late Victorian era reality of the dark underbelly of a small Wisconsin town through the lens of Black River Falls photographer Charles Van Schaik repurposed by author Michael Lesy in his 1973 cult classic "Wisconsin Death Trip" was supporting material for Nicolette Bromberg of the University of Washington, who argued photographic archivists need to understand context in her paper “Loss of Vision: How Art Historians and Critics Misjudge Early 20th Century Photography and How Early Photographers Along with Art Museums and Archives Help to Obscure the Photographic Record”. David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive

 

4-ipiPhotographic Preservation: With a mission statement stating they are the "world leader in the development and deployment of sustainable practices for the preservation of images and cultural heritage", conference attendees toured the Image Permanence Institute, (www.imagepermanenceinstitute.org) which opened in 1985 as an academic research laboratory within the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences at RIT. For many visitors, IPI is known for their Graphics Atlas, (www.graphicsatlas.org) an online resource that helps identify photographic and other process print types. In front of a table with various displayed print types including a row of portraits toned with Polysulfide & Selenium Toner, Institute senior research scientist Douglas Nishimura at left chats with a visitor. David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive

 

5-luminous-printConference participants attended the exhibition "The Luminous Print: An Appreciation of Photogravure" organized by David Pankow, Curator Emeritus for the Cary Graphic Arts Collection at RIT now running through June 15, 2018. With beginnings in intaglio printing by artists working in the late 15th Century, photogravure's historical timeline which evolved by the 19th Century as a medium for "images from real life" is showcased by superb examples featuring plates from bound volumes, portfolios and individual works. The pleasure in real life can be seconded by this attendee, with the following observation from the catalogue true to form: "enjoy this exhibition for the beauty of its images alone and discover why it has been said that a photogravure print is endowed with a luminosity unequalled by any other process."David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive

 

6-jon-goodmanRoyal Visit: As an added bonus, conference attendees viewing "The Luminous Print" could rub shoulders with Massachusetts resident Jon Goodman, a master craftsman who has worked full time since 1976 as a photogravure printer specializing in the Talbot Klic photogravure technique . Beginning in 1980 through the Photogravure Workshop, a division of the Aperture Publishing Foundation and their namesake Aperture magazine and the Paul Strand Foundation, Jon has produced sumptuous, superb, and collectable portfolios of the early work of Paul Strand, Edward Steichen, and British photography. His mission continues today in his Florence, MA atelier along with a new interest: carbon printing. Displayed are six of Jon's gravure plates featuring the pictorial work of Edward Steichen from the 1981 Aperture portfolio: "Edward Steichen; The Early Years, 1900-1927". Top to bottom left to right: "Heavy Roses", "Moonrise, Mamaroneck, New York", "In Memoriam, New York", "Steichen and Wife Clara on their Honeymoon, Lake George, New York", "Three Pears and an Apple, France", "The Flatiron". Visit jgoodgravure.com and gravureportfolios.com for more information. David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive

 

7-rit-pressHistory of Printing: A series of oil paintings by three artists originally commissioned in 1966 by the Kimberly-Clark Corporation commemorating "Graphic Communications through the Ages" hangs within the offices of the RIT Press ( www.rit.edu/press/ ) and the adjoining Cary Graphic Arts Collection at The Wallace Center. This painting shows a detail of the work "George P. Gordon and the Platen Press" done by American illustrator Robert A. Thom, (1915-1979) with a detail at right by Thom: "Ira Rubel and the Offset Press". David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive

 

8-goudy-press-at-ritMaking an Impression: Taking center stage for visitors is the famed Kelmscott/Goudy iron hand-press featured among other working presses in the Arthur M. Lowenthal Memorial Pressroom within the Cary Graphics Arts Collection at RIT. Visitors learned it was first owned by the English printer William Morris and then Frederic Goudy, two giants of the letterpress printing art. The press was built in London in 1891 by Hopkinson & Cope- an Improved Albion model (No. 6551). Now featuring around 40,000 fine and rare volumes on graphic communication history and practices, The Cary Collection is considered one of the premier libraries on the subject in the United States. ( library.rit.edu/cary ) David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive

 

9-robert-capaAlternate History: The coverage by war photographer Robert Capa (1913-1954) for Life Magazine of American troops landing on Omaha Beach on D-Day during World War II was deconstructed after seven decades of public myth to facts by Staten Island, NY independent critic and historian A. D. Coleman. The first photo critic for the New York Times in 1967 and prolific author of books on photography as well as thousands of articles on the medium, Coleman presented his research during the conference titled “Deconstructing Robert Capa’s D-Day: The Unmaking of a Myth” that recently took place over three years helped by the efforts of war photographer J. Ross Baughman, Rob McElroy and Charles Herrick. As a former photojournalist myself for over three decades, I found his presentation convincing and enlightening: I still remember drying strips of film as a young photographer in large upright darkroom cabinets-the focus of some of the research when it was claimed a Life lab tech had melted Capa's film on deadline- the worst I remember was curled film! Please visit capaddayproject.com to learn more. Malcolm Gladwell, (revisionisthistory.com) are you interested? David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive

 

10-digital-elephant-in-roomDigital Elephant in Room: Visitors to George Eastman's stately 50-room Colonial revival mansion adjoining the Eastman Museum will always remember the conservatory, where a fiberglass replica mount of an African bull elephant hangs- a conquest by the company founder during a 1928 Sudanese safari. Conveniently- and speaking of elephants in the room, I earlier had thoroughly enjoyed listening and pondering conference presenter Stephen Fletcher's talk: “The Photographic Archivist is Dead, Long Live the Photographic Archivist!”, his call to action for the task of photo archivists in the 21st Century: what do we do and how do we preserve a portion for posterity and history the digital evidence of billions and billions of photographs taken-seemingly, every day? A photographic archivist in the North Carolina collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Fletcher's call to arms would surely have inspired Eastman himself, a hands-on guy who is reported to have overseen every aspect of the construction of his mansion and made sure it contained all the cutting-edge technology of its' day: from the Eastman Museum website: "Beneath this exterior were modern conveniences such as an electrical generator, an internal telephone system with 21 stations, a built-in vacuum cleaning system, a central clock network, an elevator, and a great pipe organ, which made the home itself an instrument, a center of the city’s rich musical life from 1905 until Eastman’s death in 1932. Eastman was involved in every aspect of the construction, paying close attention to detail and requiring the use of high-quality materials." David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive

 

11-smoking-did-not-kill-eastmanSmoking also Works: Perhaps the most startling object on display in the mansion-at least to those who do not know the intimate details of George Eastman's life- is a facsimile of his 1932 suicide note: "To my friends - My work is done - why wait? GE." Suppressed initially by the Eastman Kodak Company for decades, this news is sobering but important. Eastman had been crippled by a degenerative spinal disease and unable to walk, he shot himself through the heart in his upstairs bedroom. A music lover even after the end, a 1990 New York Times story on the renovation of the mansion noted he "requested a rousing ''Marche Romaine'' by Charles Gounod be played at his funeral". David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive

 

12-old-camerasFancy Box with Hole in It: Collectors and the curious had the opportunity to peruse the physical evidence of the history of photography during the concluding event of the conference, an antiquarian photography show and sale featuring 80 tables of wares including these vintage wooden box and Kodak cameras. Earlier, the RIT Press and Syracuse University Press showed off their latest offerings, including some wonderful photography volumes during the event. David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive

 

13-david-morrisLearned from Jon Goodman: During the antiquarian photography show and sale, Ontario-based visual artist David Morrish, co-author along with Marlene MacCallum of the 2003 volume "Copper Plate Photogravure: Demystifying the Process", shows off a page spread of original photogravures from his 2004 Deadcat Press imprint "Gaze" he was selling along with other work during the antiquarian photography show and sale. Earlier in the conference, Morrish and visual artist MacCallum, former professor in the Visual Arts Program at Memorial University of Newfoundland, presented on "Photogravure: Then and Now" highlighting the gravure process while showing how the medium’s ongoing relevance to contemporary art practice has influenced their own work in the production of print suites and artists’ books. Learn more at marlenemaccallum.com and davidmorrish.com. David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive

 

14-mark-katzmanFuture with a Past: St. Louis resident and commercial photographer Mark Katzman, the key force in proselytizing for the medium and beauty of hand-pulled photogravure worldwide through his website Photogravure.com, speaks with conference speaker Jeff Rosen during the antiquarian photography show and sale. Curious to learn what a real photogravure is, unlike the many who simply use the term-wrongly-to sell you something not what they claim? Head over to his newly redesigned site, where the mission statement is: "Peeling back a layer of the history of photography, this site examines the role that photogravure has played in shaping our shared visual experience. Through exploring thousands of examples, we learn about the relentless and ambitious 19th century pursuit to reproduce photographs in ink and discover the exquisite, sublime process that resulted. It is our hope that this site firmly establishes photogravure as not only one of the most under-recognized photographic processes, but also an important and beautiful art." David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive

 

15-eastman-museumKeeper of Memories: Located at 900 East Ave. in Rochester, New York, the George Eastman Museum, along with a section of his original mansion and gardens on 8.5 acres constructed beginning in 1902, is a grand American repository for the study of photography past, present and future. Besides a growing archive of over 400,000 photographic objects spanning the history of the medium, the museum also features 16,000 + examples of photographic and cinematographic technology- the world's largest. For those interested in the printed legacy, the accessible Richard and Ronay Menschel Library is also onsite, with a special collections and archive division housing "manuscripts, papers, and ephemera, including those of Alvin Langdon Coburn, Lewis W. Hine, Southworth and Hawes, and Edward Steichen, among other photographers, collectors, and inventors." Curious? eastman.org. David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

Let the Children Selfie

 

Cute and engaging as they are, these photographs showing a little boy posing with his then new No. 1A Kodak Jr. Autographic camera and Staten Island, N.Y. resident Dorothy Tucker with her model 3A Folding Pocket model are not known to have been singled out by judges in the annual Kodak Advertising Contests they were entered in. 

 

1-let-the-children-kodak-1Detail: "Let the Children Kodak": Anonymous American Photographer: ca. 1915-20: Gelatin Silver print, mounted to vintage 1890's era cabinet card: 11.3 x 7.7 | 13.2 x 8.7 | 16.4 x 13.9 cm. This amateur photograph was submitted as part of Kodak's annual Advertising Contest around 1915. An unknown little boy in overalls is shown about to take a photograph using a pneumatic bulb shutter release in his right hand while posing behind a No. 1A Kodak Jr. (Autographic) camera. The camera was produced and sold by the Eastman Kodak Company of Rochester, New York from 1914-27. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

But times do change, and so has the company that promoted their namesake as a verb, as in the following slogan used to promote themselves for advertising purposes: Let the Children Kodak.

 

Belatedly, it’s reassuring to know Eastman Kodak did re-emerge from 20 months of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on September 3, 2013. (1.)

 

For the record, Kodak now brands itself “a technology company focused on imaging”, with major divisions including separate Print and Enterprise Inkjet Systems, Flexographic Packaging, Software and Solutions, Consumer and Film, Advanced Materials and 3D Printing Technology.

 

2-little-boy-with-kodak-mo-89sDetail: "Let the Children Kodak": Anonymous American Photographer: ca. 1915-20: Gelatin Silver print, mounted to vintage 1890's era cabinet card: 10.9 x 7.7 | 13.0 x 9.7 | 16.4 x 13.9 cm. This amateur photograph was submitted as part of Kodak's annual Advertising Contest around 1915. An unknown little boy in overalls is shown about to take a photograph using a pneumatic bulb shutter release in his right hand while standing and holding a No. 1A Kodak Jr. (Autographic) camera. The camera was produced and sold by the Eastman Kodak Company of Rochester, New York from 1914-27. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

The Consumer and Film part of the above is what were interested in here, and happily, Kodak is at least trying to stay in the game, with an outside licensing agreement in place for their own branded PixPro series digital camera and camcorder line (manufactured in China) as well as a new Android™ based smartphone called the Ektra. The company does a good job in putting the Ektra in historical context with all the Kodak innovations going way back, with a company website copywriter pontificating a bit about how company founder George Eastman would …” totally understand the power of putting a camera into a smartphone, a device that everyone always carries.”

 

The reality however-and I do hope they push back given their rich heritage in photography-are plenty of negative reviews for the Ektra. (on CNET, among other sites) Luckily they have a few aces up their sleeves and are proactive and smart enough to diversify into smartphone accessories like wireless selfie sticks, vehicle dashboard mounts and mini tripods, among other things. Word in January, 2017 of the re-introduction of Ektachrome film for both motion picture cinematographers and still shooters scheduled for later this year has also made plenty of folks very happy indeed.

 

3-dorothy-tucker-with-3a-kDetail: "Dorothy Tucker with Kodak 3A Folding Pocket Camera": Charles Rollins Tucker, American (b. 1868): unmounted vintage platinum print ca. 1910-15: 23.6 x 15.0 cm: Dorothy Tucker,  b. August, 1899, of Staten Island, N.Y., the photographer's daughter, is shown holding what is believed to be Kodak's first postcard format camera introduced in 1903 and manufactured until 1915. Wearing an elegant hat and overcoat, Dorothy posed for a series of photographs that were entered over successive years by her father in Kodak's annual Advertising contests. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

So go out and buy that Kodak 40” Selfie Stick with Wireless Remote: impress your neighbors by taking photos and videos “to a whole new level of awesome” as the ad copy promotes, and don’t forget to take some ancient advice from a company that knew a thing or two about winning photo contests with cameras they once made themselves:

 

4-dorothy-tucker-with-foldDetail: "Dorothy Tucker with Kodak 3A Folding Pocket Camera": Charles Rollins Tucker, American (b. 1868): mounted vintage platinum print ca. 1910-15: 22.0 x 14.0 | 33.9 x 24.9 cm: Dorothy Tucker,  b. August, 1899, of Staten Island, N.Y., the photographer's daughter, is shown holding and snuggling up to what is believed to be Kodak's first postcard format camera (shown in closed position) introduced in 1903 and manufactured until 1915. Over a period of successive years, Dorothy posed for a series of photographs taken by her father and entered in Kodak's annual Advertising contests. Scott's Photographica Collection online resource states the 3A was manufactured in seven different models over its' lifetime and that the "1912 Eastman Kodak catalog prices the 3A FPK with Kodak Ball Bearing shutter at 20 dollars, with Kodak Automatic shutter at 25 dollars and with Compound shutter and Zeiss Kodak anastigmat lens at 61.40 dollars." From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

Pretty pictures of pretty children will not sell Kodaks, but the picture of a pretty little girl photographing her playmates will make other children want Kodaks to photograph their playmates.  Make an attractive picture of this sort and you have an entry for Class 4, which calls for pictures illustrating the slogan, “Let the children Kodak.” (2.)

 

 

 

1. see 2012 post on this website: “Kodak’s Work not Done”. A history of Kodak’s annual contests from this site can be found here.
2. excerpt: Thirty Days Left (Kodak Advertising Competition) in: Studio Light (publication of the Eastman Kodak Company): October, 1915, p. 20. A nice historical overview of George Eastman and the Kodak company can be found here on their website.

 

 

No Junk in Trunk

 

If the story is to be believed, the contents of a mystery trunk ⎯the artistic passion of yet another unknown early 20th Century photographer ⎯have been saved once again in the name of photographic collecting. The evidence was several hundred photographs tucked inside:

 

1-blog-japanese-hill-and-pDetail: "Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden Island" (at Brooklyn, New York Botanic Garden): ca. 1920-25: Unknown Brooklyn photographer: gelatin silver: 8.8 x 11.4 cm | 12.6 x 17.3 cm cream-colored, photographic paper stock: from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

The dealer had bought a trunk from an estate of a lady who had passed away.”

 

A story I’ve encountered before in my online foraging. My offer, in order to keep the archive together, was fortunately accepted, and now share with you a glimpse of some of these fruits.

 

Typically, when photographs enter this collection, initial research on origins and other factors are made and then set aside-often for years- until more deductions can be made or oftentimes additional primary source material percolates into that vast library we all humbly know as the public Internet.

 

2-blog-diptych-unknown-phoHusband & Wife? L: Detail: "Photographer in Boater Hat Behind Graflex Camera": ca. 1910-1920: Unknown Brooklyn photographer: cyanotype: 11.2 x 5.2 cm | 14.6 x 8.2 cm: image printed within leaf shape on thin cream-colored paper: R: Detail: "Woman Examining Magnolia Blossom": ca. 1910-1920: Unknown Brooklyn photographer: gelatin silver: 11.1 x 7.3 cm | 17.1 x 10.5 cm: both from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

But exceptions, at least in my world, always exist. For these latest trunk photographs coming to light, my discovery a small portion documenting a place and event celebrating 100 year anniversaries in 2015 were primary motivators in showcasing them now with this post. These were the establishment of the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden in 1915 at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, considered the first Japanese garden created in an American public garden, as well as a small cache of photographs taken the same year at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, California.

 

3-blog-rb-tele-graflex-patR.B.Tele-Graflex Camera outfitted with Carl Zeiss Tessar lens ca. 1913 (last patent is for June of this year on camera bottom) Manufactured by the Folmer Graflex Corporation, Rochester, New York. The Unknown Brooklyn photographer who took the images seen with this post used a similar Graflex model pictured in the above cyanotype. Lightweight so it could be carried in the field and used on a tripod or hand-held, it features a revolving back so the glass or cut film plates loaded into individual holders could be oriented on the camera back for a vertical or horizontal field of view. The photographer looked through the top of the camera (shown in open position here) and focused on the ground glass inside while bringing the subject into focus by manipulating the bellows (not extended in this photo) using the knob located at the far left of the lens board on lower side of camera. from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

But there’s more as they say. Many of the photographs: gorgeous little jewels printed directly onto small impressed and ruled pieces of photographic paper which act as mounts-some toned in verdant hues of green for landscapes, blues for seascapes and others beautifully hand-colored, are known to have been taken in the mother of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden itself, the expansive 585-acre Prospect Park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux- Brooklyn’s version of New York City’s Central Park which is celebrating its’ 150th anniversary in 2016.

 

4-blog-vale-of-cashmere-foDetail: "Boy and Duck Fountain in Vale of Cashmere", sculpture by Frederick William MacMonnies, American: 1863-1937 (at Brooklyn Botanic Garden): ca. 1910-20: Unknown Brooklyn photographer: green toned gelatin silver: 8.8 x 11.6 cm|12.4 x 16.9 cm: from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

Frustratingly, the photographer’s identity responsible for these fruits is presently unknown, other than a cyanotype image included with the collection showing a dapper gentleman believed to be this person standing behind a tripod-mounted Graflex model camera. Photographically printed within the outlines of a leaf while standing in a park-like setting, he wears a straw boater hat while dressed in a suit and raises his hand clenching a pipe towards the scene before him as if to say, “now that’s a scene worthy of my camera”, or something to that effect.

 

5-blog-spring-at-prospect-"Spring at Prospect Park"(Brooklyn, New York): ca. 1910-20: Unknown Brooklyn photographer: hand-colored gelatin silver: 11.8 x 9.0 cm | 13.2 x 9.9 cm: from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

6-blog-james-earle-fraser-"The End of the Trail": sculpture by James Earle Fraser (American: 1876-1953) at Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, California (Tower of Jewels in background) : 1915: Unknown Brooklyn photographer: hand-ruled & colored gelatin silver: 11.0 x 8.0 cm | 17.1 x 11.5 cm: from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

7-blog-yacht-harbor-panamaDetail: "Yacht Harbor at Panama-Pacific International Exposition" (Palaces of Agriculture & Transportation in background): 1915: Unknown Brooklyn photographer: gelatin silver with ink wash & photographic border: 7.4 x 11.5 cm | 11.4 x 17.8 cm: from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 Several other photographs showing an unknown woman, most likely the photographer’s wife, or perhaps the artist herself,  (can’t be ruled out) were also included in the trunk photographs. In one, a full-length profile view, she examines a Magnolia blossom in a park setting. (shown here) In another, her gaze is directed towards the camera while wearing an Asian influenced floral dress posing in front of blooming Wisteria vines.  The dealer who had initially acquired the photographs, according to the seller I purchased them from, stated they had been acquired from the estate of a woman, (most likely depicted in the photographs) who had (presumably) attended or graduated from Wesleyan Female College, (now Wesleyan College) in Macon, Georgia at the turn of the 20th Century. 

 

8-blog-diptych-californiaL: "Coastline with Rocks & Wave Action" (possibly California ) :12.3 x 9.0 cm | 17.7 x 12.6 cm: ca. 1910-1920: Unknown Brooklyn photographer: cyanotype with addition of clouds from alternate source photo: R: variant: "Coastline with Rocks & Wave Action" (possibly California) : 11.5 x 9.0 cm | 17.6 x 12.7 cm: ca. 1910-1920: Unknown Brooklyn photographer: gelatin silver: (mouse damage to lower margin): both from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

9-blog-new-york-harbor-shi"Steamer in New York Harbor": ca. 1910-20: Unknown Brooklyn photographer: green toned gelatin silver: 8.4 x 11.6 cm | 12.3 x 17.9 cm: from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

And even though the photographs ended their life residing in a mystery trunk in the American South, I’ll label them for now as being the work of  Unknown Brooklyn, in order to keep their attribution consistent for those searching this archive going forward.