Stereoview of the South



A beautiful Stereoview and one I have owned twice over the years. Also known as stereographs, stereo views, stereoscopic views, stereo cards and my favorite, "Victorian Television." They were initially photographic experiments aimed at producing a more realistic image. If you are adept at staring at your own nose, you should be able to bring these images together and see the three dimensional Palmetto tree even without a wooden viewer. Once the photographic technique of mounting two nearly identical images to produce the 3-d effect was established, commercial photographers and suppliers churned these things out by wagon load. If you think your aunt's travel videos are boring, imagine loading images of historic buildings in Europe over and over and over and over into a clunky hand held eyepiece. However, they ARE actual photographs (of many types...nearly every early photographic form was produced in stereo) and on occasion achieve the simple, serene and elegant beauty of this image. Jerome Nelson Wilson went on to form a partnership with O.P Havens and produced southern regional views before passing away in 1897.

Albumen Stereoview J. N. Wilson Savannah Ga c. 1870 Collection Jim Linderman

Hobo Nickel Tramp Art



There are two ways to make a sculpture, one is to take away, the other is to build up. Hobo Nickel carvers take away. A form of tramp art , the murky origins are similar to the ugly notched cigar box frames and furniture one still finds in abundance at antique shows. Supposedly started by hobos, these amateur Augustus Saint-Gaudens learned to carve the relatively soft Buffalo Nickel, thus adding value and trading them for bigger sandwiches. The buffalo nickel was minted from 1913 to 1938. The noble chief was a composite of Iron Tail, John Big Tree and Two Moons. The buffalo came from the Central Park Zoo. As they circulate, the first thing to go is the date, which was not delineated enough, thus frustrating young boys who would thrill to find one in dad's change only to realize the obliterated coin would not fill a slot in their little blue folder. Hobo nickels are still made today, in fact there are entire conventions of makers. I guess they get together and swap nickels.

Hobo Nickel c. 1913-1938 (and) c. 1990 Collection Jim Linderman

Tiny Odd Fellows Painting


A dated miniature 1888 Odd Fellows painting, less than an two inches square. The triple link chain (3/4" long) refers to friendship, love and truth. The purple tent (1" tall) refers to the encampment.

One notable Odd Fellow member is Al Franken (International Order of Odd Fellows Manchester Unity) who is currently embroiled in an election dispute with bad loser Norm Coleman. As Franken should and will be seated soon enough, Coleman will thus become the only national politician who has lost an election to both a professional wrestler AND a professional comedian.

Miniature watercolor by William Distin 1888. Collection Jim Linderman

Garage Sale Pole


Looks like African Nail art, but it is the telephone pole down the road used for nailing up garage sale notices. Enlarge the pic. As you can see, the trunk was "double-girdled" with iron but the nails keep on coming. Many appear to be collaborative attempts shared by Father and son, which is nice.

James Scott and his remarkable Shrimp Boats African-American Yard Art




Lafitte, Louisiana is a short drive from New Orleans, but some of those New Orleans beads dripped down and landed in the yard of James P. Scott, at the time I met him a 70 year old man with short stature and a short cigar. I haven't been down since the levees broke, but I fear Mr. Scott and his boats would not have fared well even if they had they remained.

Three original 35mm photographs Lafitte, Louisiana 1992. Collection Jim Linderman

Eames Herman Miller Drafting Template


One of the nice things about moving to Western Michigan is landing smack dab into design history. Charles and Ray Eames began their relationship with Herman Miller in the 1940's, and Herman Miller has been expertly realizing their iconic modern design ever since. Zeeland is still the headquarters...the manufacturing trucks pass through town every day, they are a reassuring and comfortable sight. It is pleasing indeed to come across original ephemera from time to time. This is one C. Cook's drafting template from Herman Miller. As you can see, designs for the Eames Shell Chair and the Nelson Sling Sofa are here, and the original furniture is still common enough that my tiny outdoor patio has four of the stacking chairs in the summer. Computer Assisted Design meant the end for this plastic tool. Design is generally discussed as "before" CAD and "after" CAD. There came a day when all the worker bees at Herman Miller were told to lay down their pencils and pick up the mouse, presumably these templates were collected by staff and discarded en masse. Perhaps a few old-timers held on to them in case the damn computer broke. I imagine a few still miss the Scumex. (look it up)

Herman Miller Drafting Template 1979 Collection Jim Linderman

Perkins Heartline Church


Original 35mm photograph Alabama 1992 Collection Jim Linderman

Duane Allman Postcard with a Giant Peach Explained



That I can not resist the phrase "nice big melons" is testimony to my endearing immaturity, but this post does have a more mature message, trust me. Exaggeration post cards are, of course, trite as can be. Ever since the Allman Brothers LP "Eat a Peach" was released in 1971 with a giant peach on the cover, our generation has taken these jumbo agriculture, fish and jackalope cards for granted. Like most postcards, the quantity is endless and the price is low. However, in these grim economic times, they do offer a brief smile, and you can hardly find a less expensive collectible. Thousands were created. These two happen to be good ones. First of all, they are early (one from 1909, the other from 1911) Second, they are in fact "real photo post cards" which are not real. Real photo post cards are actual photos, but they are printed on postcard stock for mailing. At their best, they are printed up in a quantity just enough to fill a narrow demand, say one copy for every member of a family, each participant in an event or everyone who wishes to remember a historical moment. I have always figured 500 tops for most RPPC images, and far less for most, but some have been printed in staggering numbers.

These real photos depict an unreal scene which didn't exist. At the time, it cost one cent to mail them, that's a pretty cheap joke. Postage today would be 27 cents, but you can mail it all the way to Alaska or Hawaii for that, and it includes home delivery. By the way, it is almost an urban myth that Duane Allman, an extraordinary musician, met his death riding his cycle into a peach carrying truck. But the cover shot was indeed a reference to the master of the empty Coricidin bottle slide guitar. I've heard him use the phrase "eat a peach" on a bootleg recording, and even through his magnificent stoned Southern slur, the inflection leaves no doubt he was referring to something much, much more fun than having a piece of fruit. So despite the broken urban myth, the image was a clever and fitting tribute after all.

Two real photo post cards, circa 1909, 1911 Collection Jim Linderman

Jesus Freak Van




Three Original 35mm photographs 1996 Florida Panhandle
Collection Jim Linderman

Hey, What's showing downtown?



Bear with my story here. Ten years ago I served on a jury as an alternate to convict a fellow of a drug charge. He had been held EIGHT MONTHS in Rikers Island for his " fair and speedy" trial, but that isn't the point of this post. The defendant, speaking only Spanish, attended the trial every day with an interpreter. He had a court appointed lawyer. A guard stayed with the defendant, two others were at the door to the courtroom during the entire trial. There was, of course, a judge. There was a bilingual stenographer. There were two lawyers for the prosecution who called two undercover policemen to testify. They called a court appointed chemist to describe the contraband. They had a person whose job was to tell us to stand up and sit down on occasion. There was another person who knocked on the door of the jury room when we were needed, and three people who were responsible for scheduling, that is, making sure all of us were in the right place at the right time. As it turns out, the defendant was not actually in possession of narcotics, he was charged with sales, although there was no money or drugs on the stoop where he sat...what he did was lift one hand and point to someone across the street who DID have drugs for sale. He was convicted and sentenced to five years, but allowing for the 8 months he had already served, it came to 4 years and 4 months. This means, including the jury, there were 29 people involved in convicting this prisoner. Oh...and one person who screened the movie "your responsibilities as a juror." That makes THIRTY. Deducting the 13 jurors, who spent one day waiting and three days "jurying"...17 full-time paid employees who earned their salary convicting the defendant. I assume he has been cared for and fed since. Now I am not advocating drug legalization or even finding fault with our jurisprudence system. I also don't use illegal drugs, I'm sick enough already. But I do often wonder if anyone has yet provided a job to our rehabilitated Spanish speaking ex-con with a five year record. The film being shown in this Texas town was directed by Elmer Clifton in 1937 with the slogan "a puff, a party, a tragedy".
"Assassin of Youth, El Paso, Texas" Original Silver Print Photograph c.1938 8 x 10 Collection Jim Linderman

The World's Largest Camera



Just some goofy Brit with his huge camera. I assume this is a model, since he is holding a smoke in his hand rather than a shutter release, this is an undated Real Photo Post Card. The OTHER shot here is the camera of George Lawrence, who in 1900 had horses drag his creation to a location near Chicago to take a 8 foot wide photo of a train. This month, the largest photograph ever was produced according to Guinness, it is easily found on the web but they cheated. It was done with a camera obscura (a pinhole camera) and I don't think the producers collectively shouted "smile."
"Kodaks" real photo post card n.d. Collection Jim Linderman

Robert Lee Williams of Atlantic City






The work and yard of the late Robert Lee Williams of Atlantic City, New Jersey. Mr. Williams had no lawn for kids to invade, so he yelled at them when they played on his concrete patio. His hand painted signs were not intended for decoration, their purpose was to scare away the "little basters" who danced and played loud music in his space. The imposing bulls on the fence were influenced by the Colt Malt Liquor Bull. Most terrifying were the dogs. TALKING dogs who said things like "we take it to your ass" and "we don't like stink shoes" while hounding the kids, each of whom either rode a bike or lugged a boom-box. Despite his grumpy nature, he was a religious man and painted several crosses, in one work he seemingly converted a delinquent who exclaims "a cross is easier to beire then to face these dogs" after dropping his stereo. Mr. William's yard was appropriated through eminent domain in order to build a spiffy new convention center. The convention center proudly displays commissioned William Wegman and Jonathan Borofsky artworks. Mr. Williams artworks have been lost.
Five original 35mm photographs c. 1994 Collection Jim Linderman

Mrs. Sauer and her Fabulous Four Seasons




A complete set of four linen postcards, each depicting a season, crocheted by the remarkable Lena Sauer of Covington, Kentucky in 1937 (or thereabouts, if my handy guide to dating postcards is correct, these were published in 1938) . As the reverse of the cards point out, each season shown took from 750 to 1050 hours to complete. (Ready? Set.......CROCHET!) The backs also point out highlights, such as "93 colorful tulips, even an ash tray on the coffee table with a smoking cigarette, license plates on those cars amaze everyone and no larger than the nail on your hand." As with ALL my postings, feel free to enlarge the images for detail. Squint. Imagine.
I will have much, much more to say about postcards and postcard collecting in future posts, so tell your friends!
Feel free to look up "crochet" on wiki...it has a long history, all of which is as boring as the process itself.

Set of four Curteich Art-Colortone Linen Postcards, unmailed
1938 Collection Jim Linderman

Bowling Ball Salesman Sample



The Brunswick company shut their bowling ball plant in Muskegon, Michigan (twelve miles from where I found this salesman sample) in 2006 and moved the entire operation to Mexico. An all too familiar story by now. However, this story has a twist and smile...read on.

By DAVE ALEXANDER | The Muskegon Chronicle January 12, 2009 Muskegon workers are making bowling balls again. Taking up the Brunswick Corp. tradition of bowling ball production that was moved to Mexico in 2006, a small independent producer of bowling items has launched a new line of professional-grade balls. The Motiv line of bowling balls is being made out of the Wilbur Products plant in Muskegon Heights.

I sincerely hope corporate giant Brunswick enjoys paying the gasoline transportation cost to move every damn one of their 14 pound Mexican Bowling balls to the United States, and that all you hipsters can buy yourself and Dad a Motiv ball this year.

Bowling Ball Salesman Sample 4.5" diameter 2 pounds c. 1960 Collection Jim Linderman

Shroud of Turin




A photograph which has taken a photo of itself! Actually, a beautiful 19th century vignette photo of a young woman, printed on paper, which was then tipped into a small paper folder along with an early cellophane insert. The original photographic image has leached through the protective cover leaving a ghost image, which has then in turn also passed the image onto the other side of the paper sleeve. Three images for the price of one, but you would have had to wait over 100 years for the cloned photos to have developed.

Original Photograph in original protective paper sleeve w/ toning
c. 1900 Collection Jim Linderman

How to make a Church



Most make-do churches hang a sign and open for business. This congregation not only did that, they took the time to let a little bit of God in.

Original 35mm photographs Northern Geogia c. 1999 Collection Jim Linderman

Engraved Calligraphy Indian Penny with a Dove



A tiny masterpiece the size of a penny. In fact, it IS a penny! An Indian cent, though the image of Liberty in an American Indian head dress has been rubbed out and a calligraphic form dove has been expertly engraved. Known in numismatic circles as a "love token" the technique of intricate line engraving on coins is an unusual form of amulet. There were 1,849,648,000 Indian pennies produced from 1859 to 1909. As far as I know, there was only one engraved like this, but the person who did it was most accomplished and certainly engraved for a living. As such, this is not really "folk art" since the name implies amateur status...but the folky dove is a common image in other folk art forms of the period. Calligraphic drawings, hand decorated introduction cards, school children penmanship lessons and the like are often seen with similar images, but one this small on a coin is quite unusual. Love Tokens were just that...tokens presented to a loved one. Most have initials carved on them. It is possible this is a "blank" and was done while waiting for a buyer to request it, the name of his sweetie would have been engraved below the bird, however as wear from circulation is evident on both sides, this was carried for a long time. Wealthy (or naive) suitors could present their lover a gold coin carved with initials. Less fortunate would and could impress with a simple penny enhanced such as this piece. They are often seen with a hole punched for carrying on a charm bracelet or necklace. Coins have served many purposes other than commerce. They have been placed over the eyes of the dead, used to ward off evil, passed around for good luck, turned into "pawn" jewelry and even swallowed.

Engraved Indian Cent with Calligraphy Dove c. 1859-1909 Collection Jim Linderman

Take Me to the Water: Immersion Baptism in Vintage Music and Photography 1890-1950


Dust-To-Digital will be releasing Take Me to the Water: Immersion Baptism in Vintage Music and Photography 1890-1950 featuring photographs I collected over a ten year period along with a CD of truly amazing and historic early songs and sermons from prominent collections compiled by Steven Lance Ledbetter. Essays by Jim Linderman, Luc Sante and comprehensive notes by Ledbetter. The original photographs have been donated to the International Center of Photography in New York. Dust-To-Digital is an award winning reissue label and much, much more. I am proud and honored to be involved with them on this project. There will be additional information about this release as it progresses. Please take the time to read their January 2009 newsletter, and make sure to note their outstanding catalog of releases, current, past and forthcoming.

Take Me to the Water: Immersion Baptism in Vintage Music and Photography 1890-1950 DTD-13 / One CD / 100 Page Hardback Book Release Date: Early 2009 With essays by photograph collector Jim Linderman and noted author Luc Sante, this release should be in stores in April.

19th Century Child's Handmade Paper Weaving



Did Josef Albers go to Kindergarten? Here are two circa 1900 (really) woven child's paper works which illustrate Albers "interaction of color" in remarkable prescient form. Once fairly common, but increasingly hard to find, these 19th century schoolgirl craft pieces are among the most underrated forms of early folk art. They often turn up as love tokens or valentines in the shape of hearts and under many different names (folded paper, woven paper, paper weaving, paper cuts and more)...but all are extraordinary miniature works of serious art despite being made for the most part by children. In fact, this technique, now seemingly forgotten except among enlightened educational organizations, was developed by Fredrich Froebel, not only the fellow who did invent kindergarten, but also became an unheralded artistic influence to many. If you are an adult and like art, you should collect the antique originals, they're precious. If you are a parent who would like to get your kid off the computer for a few minutes, find a source for "Froebel's Gifts". There are still high quality boxes of his "theories" being made and sold, mostly in wooden block form.

Pair of Kindergarten Paper Weavings, each 4.5" x 4.5" c. 1900 Collection Jim Linderman

School Composition Biology Drawing Antique


Old school student composition books seemed to be a good fertile place to look for antique drawings with folky primitive appeal. So I found one. I am guessing the worst students made the best drawings.

"Circulatory System of a Man, Lungs" student biology notebook circa 1880 ink. Collection Jim Linderman

Tintype Eyes



My esteemed blogeague John Foster, whose blog is linked here as Accidental Mysteries recently posted a handful of defaced photos from Square America, another recommended site. They're quite nice and each one tells a story.

Here is a similar image, a circa 1880 tintype with manipulated eyes. Creepy! The fellow's peepers additionally have attempted eyeglasses. The effect is to make the Victorian ladies look like today's crash dummies. I assume a child did it, but then I still doodle on posters and the magazine movie stars just for fun, so who knows. Enhancing, doctoring, tinting and manipulating photographic images didn't start with photoshop (or Life magazine around 1963, heh heh). Tintype photographers regularly colored and painted their product, either at the request of the sitter or just because they could. The deceased who had never had a picture taken were often propped up and captured, later open eyes were painted on so loved ones could remember the departed in a gruesome and artificial manner. Those with chains and jewelry would have gold highlights added on occasion, cheeks were tinted pink on a regular basis.

Original Tintype c. 1880 Collection Jim Linderman

Summer in South Carolina


I am in Michigan, a state which might draw up images of snow at this time of year. It should. If I hear the phrase "lake effect" once more, I'll throw up my frozen hands. So, a summer image. Queen size mattress on four hanging chains near St. Helena, South Carolina 1995. Looks comfy, and was.

"Swinging Mattress" South Carolina 1995 Original 35mm photograph Collection Jim Linderman

Bob Dylan, a Banjo, a Radio and Trout 2010


A simple life does not mean a trendy "return to basics" with shabby chic country deco, designer hemp rugs on the floor and rustic sourdough bread from your local equivalent of Balducci's... or even "cocooning" if you do it with a huge flat-screen not yet paid for. The average debt on a credit card is approaching $10,000, and even the average college student now carries a $2,000 balance on their card. (That coffee you "swipe your card" for is going to seem awful extravagant when you are still paying for a portion of it 10 years from now). I drive through middle class (umm...make that formerly middle-class) neighborhoods with so much junk in the garage neither of the cars will fit. In 1970, Bob Dylan stunned those who found some type of direction in his music by releasing "New Morning" containing the seemingly banal lyrics "Build me a cabin in Utah/Marry me a girl, catch rainbow trout/Have a bunch of kids who'll call me pa/That must be what its all about, That must be what its all about". Has he ever been wrong?

This tar paper looks nice and straight. The radio is free. Bring a banjo.

"Sister Mate" Real Photo Post Card Anonymous Itinerant c. 1915 Collection Jim Linderman