The late Robert Bishop, early director of the Museum of American Folk Art (now the American Folk Art Museum) had a way of evaluating the objects in the collection. "Good, Better, Best" was his mantra, and the criteria for determining which was which took into account everything from shape and form to wear and surface.
The first thing any boy makes, out of wood anyway...is a birdhouse. Some pine, a handsaw, the careful first lesson with a drill press for the window, a dowel for the perch and a dozen nails. Shop teachers grade on it, Mothers coo like birds over it and Father helps hang it in the tree. Soon the birds appear and teach additional lessons.
Sometimes, like Billy, the slow sweeping boy in Larry McMurtry's novel "The Last Picture Show" birdhouse makers can't stop. Shown here, in order...and to illustrate the concept of good, better best are the following:
1. The Garage Workshop of Mr. Ivan Laycock (real name) from Central Michigan who sold hundreds of his ramshackle, permanent marker covered houses to vacationers, circa 1992.
2. A circa 1930 real photo post card showing the wares of an anonymous maker who favored the "pumpkin patch, christmas tree, pick your own" approach to selling.
3. The Granddaddy of all birdhouses being shown by, well.... someone's Granddaddy in a c. 1930 snapshot.
See also my book IN SITU: AMERICAN FOLK ART IN PLACE HERE
Birdhouses Original 35mm photography, c. 1992 Birdhouses Real Photo Postcard c. 1930 Birdhouse Snapshot c. 1930 All Collection Jim Linderman
A continuation of my series on huge cameras. This one has a bonus...a big man and his big guitar! For earlier posts, click "big cameras" below.
Original Press Photo, early 1960's. Collection Jim Linderman
Okay, I am only going to do this once, cause that's the way I roll...er...flip. The Sombrero Kid was a dame! The first flip book (and I guess, the first example of interactive media) was patented in 1882. This one, an original circa 1930 or so, was one of a series of adult novelty books sold under the counter. ( I can tell it is an original because of the grimy, leering fingerprints, several of which are now mine) They have been reprinted... I'm reluctant to link to the vendor because I didn't think of the idea first, but here it is. And yes...my garage sale decorated living room. It is an 8 second long clip.
The Sombrero Kid (one of a series of four Animated Flippin' Flappers) circa 1930.
Collection Jim Linderman
Big story here for a simple postcard. One of the hospitals built by John R. Brinkley after he was hounded out of Del Rio, Texas. "Doctor" Brinkley invented a technique of implanting, I kid you not, goat testicles into men who were experiencing what is now advertised on TV more than soap...Erectile dysfunction. That's right. Big-time quack Brinkley charged thousands of pre-depression era men $750 to fix their lagging libidos by injecting them with actual goat nuggies. He is rumored to have given the goat nut cure to one of our Vice-Presidents, not to mention hundreds of poor farmers who had the unfortunate curse of being born before Viagra. He ran for Governor of Kansas and apparently won, but the election was stolen from him by legal maneuvers. As his lucrative radio advertising was being banned in the US, he opened the huge airwave busting XERA radio station in Mexico simply to promote his cure, thus bringing us border radio. No less than the Carter Family were played on his station. THOUSANDS of folk fell for his scams, including women who paid top dollar for medicine made of colored water, false fixes for STD's and more. The recent book by Pope Brock, "Charlatan" (linked on the right here) is literally one of the most incredible books I have ever read. My jaw dropped on nearly every page! Photography collectors can also collect his real photo post cards which he spread over the country like his radio broadcasts. Here is a link to a nice article by Lewis Baer from the Antique Trader which illustrates many of the RPPC images.
Brinkley Hospital Postcard by Curteich mailed from Little Rock 1944. Collection Jim Linderman
If I were asked to name the most beautiful objects produced in North America, I would not hesitate to say Navajo pre-reservation saddle blankets. To even stand next to a good one is thrilling. They often took a weaver 6 months to make, and the subtle variations in wool color, the placement of design (or the intentional lack of design) and the texture added by "lazy lines" adds up to just about the most beautiful and heart-wrenching visual treat there is. A brief search will turn up dozens of nice examples, but the essay by Joshua Baer, "The Last Blankets" explains my attraction as well as his own, and if you can find the book he printed on the same subject, you'll prize it as I do. I believe it is one of the finest essays ever written on collecting art...and why.
I would NOT, however, even think of saying "Umm...INDIAN TOBACCO FLANNEL PREMIUMS FROM THE 1920's." They are quite horrendous. These tacky fabric pieces were given away to placate the kids and wife while Daddy smoked away his health and the family funds. Most often seen representing the flags of all nations (I've even had a quilt made entirely from confederate flag felts) they are the size of a discarded paperback book and even less valuable. There is usually one laying on a table in your local antique mall with a 50 cent price safety pinned to it. Leave it there unless you need a floor rug for a child's "western theme" doll house.
Group of four Tobacco Flannel Premiums, c. 1900-1920 Collection Jim Linderman
The greatest Christian comic illustrator of all time was one Dr. E .J. Pace. I am sure he didn't imagine a blogger one day posting his work bathed in irony rather than a righteous heavenly glow...sorry, Dr. Pace. You've failed to convert me, the hands here offering pretty much my favorite things are just too tempting...but you were one hell of an artist. He is shown here with a nice bold signature so you will recognize his work henceforth. Mr. Pace's biography is available on the Christian Comics Pioneers page of Christian Comics International, a fabulous site that might just scare you right.
Illustration from Pictures that Talk by E. J. Pace, no date (but I looked it up, 1929) Collection Jim Linderman
TO SEE MY BLOG OF SIMILAR MATERIAL click OLD TIME RELIGION
Announcing "The Painted Backdrop" a major new photography book examining the previously undocumented beauty of hand-painted studio backgrounds in 19th century tintype photographs.
Common wisdom holds the lowly painter was out of work when realistic images created by the camera came along in the 19th century. Maybe not! On the contrary, this beautiful book shows that some artists thrived during the period by creating extraordinary drapes, screens and sets for photographer's studios, both primitive and elaborate. With sublime illustrations from the collection of Jim Linderman, noted photography collector whose images were last used in "Take Me to the Water: Immersion Baptism in Vintage Music and Photography 1890-1950" and essays by prominent scholars, this groundbreaking book will be of considerable interest to any art, photography and history reader, library or book collector. It will open a new dialog on the relationship between painting, art and photography.
To be published in a limited edition with a target date of early 2010, this will be the first book available with the "Dull Tool Dim Bulb" imprint, a new small press endeavor striving to produce unique, beautiful and profound books for the artistic audience in conjunction with Dust-to-Digital.
STAY TUNED to DULL TOOL DIM BULB for further announcements.
Seven Tintype Photographs, Circa 1880 Collection Jim Linderman
Now here is an interesting tale. This is Minnie Haley, a woman before her time AND lost in time. In fact, Wiki, our god of all things nearly accurate, fails to even mention Minnie in their entry on Sexual Harassment. (The entry seems to claim it began in the 1970's) It appears Ms. Haley was the first woman in the country to charge an employer with, as the press reports here, "being forced to kiss and date" in order to hold her job at the California State Printing Plant in 1934. She Won the case. I am pleased to enter her name into future web searches for all time forward by virtue of my blog post.
Original Press Photo, 1934 Collection Jim Linderman
Until I came across this real photo postcard, I don't believe I had seen a photo of artist Fred Smith standing next to his concrete work, nor did I have an idea of the scale! The Wisconsin Concrete Park is being rigorously restored and protected by the Friends of Fred Smith, their site tells the story. I love how he constructed the wagon and horses into the trees. Astounding.
Real Photo Postcard, circa 1955 Collection Jim Linderman
A blatant and brazen attempt at branding precious and impressionable young children's minds from 1962 under the guise of a "museum" of things western. SHAME on you Wrangler™. There are no less than 4 pages out of 16 in which the child is directed to actually color the BRAND. The comic fails to point out this "authentic western wear" was created by one rough tough ropin' and ridin' hombre named Bernard Lichtenstein, a Polish Tailor who went by the moniker "Rodeo Ben." And by the way? Bring back a factory or two you greedy corporate varmints, we need the damn work.
Other "educational" publications of Custom Comics, Inc. include "Buster Brown of the Safety Patrol" for Buster Brown Shoes, 1960, and "Gilbert Toys presents Adventures in Science" 1958.
Cheap Coloring Book "Wrangler Western Museum" 1962. Collection Jim Linderman
Beach censors pass judgement in Atlantic City, 1924.
Original Press Photograph, "Bare Legs Being O.K.'D" 1924 Collection Jim Linderman
Vampire of Society, Midnight Assassin and Embodiment of Lust and Pollution (Voice of the Lonely Heart #4) Mystery of Lovemaking SOLVED
Max Stein was a publishing house located in numerous store fronts in Chicago from 1900-1920 producing pulp fiction, but they also put out a few "advice" books promising to reveal the secrets of life and love. Save your twenty five cents...though they claimed to "open wide Love's barred door and break down every barrier" it turns out my urges were indicative of "a soul blacker than the smutted walls of infernal regions." Ouch! (This is number four in the Voice of the Lonely Heart series)
"The Mystery of Love Making Solved" pamphlet circa 1910. Collection Jim Linderman
Here is a post for the extraordinary esthetic eyes which produce the blog REFERENCE LIBRARY. A beautiful site which constantly surprises me.
Canvas Commercial Laundry Tag with Matching Brass Safety Pin c. 1930 Collection Jim Linderman
Religious Tract, c. 1935 by D.W. Matter. Collection Jim Linderman
TO SEE MY BLOG OF SIMILAR MATERIAL click OLD TIME RELIGION
Ring Magazine began in 1922 and still reports on pummeled pugilists today. I always love coming across one of their early issues at garage sales and antique shops...faces of character with character to spare all presented in that now dated, hyper-realistic but tampered glow, like Norman Rockwell faces beaten with pastel rocks. In the magazine's entire history, only one woman has appeared on the cover. That would be Cathy Davis, also known as "Cat" in 1977, but it was later revealed her fights had been fixed. The Ring had a few scandals of their own over the years, but it is still read in second story rings where men smoke stogies and young meat assumes the crouch.
Faces from the January 1959 issue of The Ring.
Who would think there is an organization called "The Mouth and Foot Painting Artists" and that they operate their own website? I guess as a former researcher familiar with the Encyclopedia of Associations, nothing should surprise me anymore. Two talented artists who would certainly meet the membership standards are represented by my modest collection. The first, painter of the postcard here with a floating lilly pad rendered in oil and water, is the astounding Nyla Thompson. Note this is an original painting, not a reproduction, though I have read some were reproduced as standard postcards. She obviously painted the title as well. There are hundreds of dots which outline the petals...Nyla leaned forward many, many times to complete this painting. The second artist is Grace Layton, shown in a 1952 photograph by Warner Clapp.
Original hand (whoops...) MOUTH painted postcard, c. 1955 and Original Press Photo, 1952
Collection Jim Linderman