Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit


Scarecrow Snapshot

I'd like to have met this fellow.
See his brother at rest HERE.

Anonymous Snapshot circa 1940 Scarecrow
Collection Jim Linderman
Order Dull Tool Dim Bulb books and ipad downloads by Jim Linderman HERE

American Library Association Newsletter Mentions Dull Tool Dim Bulb

American Library Association Newsletter mentions Dull Tool Dim Bulb

An image of a Valentine novelty gag, from Jim Linderman's Dull Tool Dim Bulb blogMining the margins of pop culture
Every morning Jim Linderman gets up in his home in Grand Haven, Michigan, grabs a cup of coffee, and sits down at his computer to blog. A former librarian and archivist, Linderman collects, researches, and writes about the marginal, the forgotten, and the not quite seemly in American folk art and popular culture. In his three blogs—Dull Tool Dim Bulb, Old Time Religion, and Vintage Sleaze—Linderman also discloses an underground history of American popular culture, one oddball tale at a time....
New York Times, Feb. 9

(American Library Association e- Newsletter February 15, 2012.


Carnival Cut-out Standee AKA Faces in Holes People Posing in Plywood

Carnival Cutout Standee. Three lovely woman on a "girls day" at the carnival! (Does this suit make me look hippy?)

Who doesn't have a photo in the basement or the attic of the kids in fake stockades at some western tourist trap? They are back, if they ever left, that is. Here is a company which will make them, disco-style.

Original carnival cutout snapshot circa 1940 Collection Jim Linderman


Dr. Locke Famous Phony Faith Healer 1933

I'm a little busy today, so no story, though I am sure there is a good one. Just a few real photo postcards of a "faith healer" at work. NOTE: This post is also on the blog old-time-religion, where miracles such as this occur on a regular basis.

Pair of Real Photo Postcards 1933 "Dr. Locke, Faith Healer" Collection Jim Linderman


Indecipherable Sign Says ? No Trespassing Homemade Sign Free Styling Picking Handmade Folk Art Signs

The best "no trespassing" signs are the ones you have to trespass to read. You can click to enlarge this one, but it won't help any. Usually, the worse the sign looks, the most you want to follow the directions. I once had a shotgun pulled on me near a no trespassing sign. I had stopped not to read it, but to steal what I thought was portions of a LONG abandoned whirligig nearby. I was wrong, but learned having a gun drawn on you isn't really so bad. I was worried more about buckshot in the rental car than I was for my life.

I saw those nice boys on American Pickers buy a factory made porcelain no trespassing sign this week. Two comments. Boys? That weren't no good no trespassing sign, and you don't even KNOW "Free Styling"

Original Snapshot, circa? Collection Jim Linderman


What Makes a Washer Woman Work on Wash Day? Whirligig with No Wind Works Revealed

A pair of snapshots reveal the workings of an articulated sign. Both women here are among the most commonly seen whirligig figures, but no wind is required for these.

Anonymous Photographs, circa 1920? Collection Jim Linderman


Jim Linderman Slide Show New York Times 2/12/12

CLICK HERE TO VIEW SLIDESHOW from "Mining the Margins of Pop Culture" profile article by John Strausbaugh from the New York Times February 12, 2012

Roly - Poly Carnival Sideshow Sign and Tommy Duncan Throttles Bob Wills

I never did find out what sideshow game Roly-Poly was, but if they really did award a prize to every player you can be sure it was from under the counter, not from the wall display in back.

I will, however, take the slightest excuse to share Bob Wills, especially when it is a number performed by the great Tommy Duncan. Tommy was smooth as the expensive whiskey Bob was able to drink to excess every day, but what made the pair work so well was the suppressed, seething tension in Tommy's voice every time the lovable drunk buffoon stepped on his lines with a patented "Aaah Haah" aside. You can tell Tommy wanted to throttle Bob, the biggest country ham in the state of Texas, but it was a good gig.

He finally left...and as the clip below shows, he should have stayed. Still, you have to see a real roly poly play the Bob Wills part. Gnaw on a biscuit.

Roly-Poly Carnival Sideshow Sign. Circa 1930 Collection Jim Linderman


A Rare Unusual Photograph of Israel Thornstein or Charlie Chaplin or Something

Or something. A Dummy of Israel Thornstein? An Israel Thornstein Look-a-like?
(See Here)

Curious Original Photograph, circa 1920 Collection Jim Linderman

Book and E-Book Orders for Dull Tool Dim Bulb HERE

The Extraordinary Wood Carvings of Anonymous 1921 Snapshot Collection Jim Linderman

Some serious folk art wood carving by Anonymous, who was so good he even had his own special "wood carving coveralls" for when the chips began to fly! Too bad there is no identification on the photo reverse, but at least we know the work depicted was finished around 1921. Close-ups here show not only the remarkable carving, but his weapon of choice.

Anonymous snapshot of a folk art furniture maker and carver, 1921 Collection Jim Linderman

Tip of the Hat to Joey Lin of Anonymous Works

Chief Paul Protects the Public from Peep Show Perversion Second City Smut Vintage Sleaze Midget Movies

Chicago citizens will sleep better knowing the pin-up peep shows have been unplugged by Chief Investigator Paul Newey. Since there was no other crime in the second city on this day in 1959, Chief Paul invited the press over to see his collection of confiscated coin-op smut. Paul's pursuit of the peep shows was crime-bustin' action of the highest order. To celebrate (and convince the public Newey was on top of the situation) he flicks his ashes on the filthy coin slot in distain!

Original Press Photograph (8" x 13") Unknown Chicago Paper 1959 Collection Jim Linderman


Books and Downloads by Jim Linderman Available HERE

Folk Art Painted Tintype Ferrotype Hand-Painted Means of Production and the Consumer

A circa 1880 hand-painted tintype. It is remarkable to consider the photographic process which resulted in an actual unique physical object one could hold, paint by hand and frame has gone from black and white to gone in two or three lifetimes. I haven't quite figured it out yet, but the warmth of an image may have gone with the film.

As far as the public goes, each step forward in the photographic process helped the producer become more effective (and profit more) while leaving the consumer holding less of a product in his hand. While it is an art, and it is progress... it is easy to view photography from a simple supply/demand capitalistic perspective. Dags, so beautiful and shimmering, an amazing thing folks will still circle to see at a show, turned to cruddy metal tintypes which were churned out like pizza at the shore in one lifetime.

It wasn't long before paper came and paper went. Instant photos followed and dropped the quality even further. Now the darkroom is empty and the bits and bytes which tore the guts out of reproduced music have done the same to pictures.

More and more recording artists are releasing their product once again on vinyl. As I understand it, digital music provides only a very small percentage of the aural quality not only possible, but once common. Once even standard. The consumer loses but pays more for it than ever before.

What is yet to be fully understood is what we have lost in pictures. Is the photo above particularly beautiful or desirable? Nope, not at all. But you could hold it in your hands.

"Full Plate" tintype (ferrotype) painted by hand circa 1880. Collection Jim Linderman

Dull Tool Dim Bulb Book Catalog HERE

Rude Novelty Gag Adult Bad Tasting Valentines

Ten cents worth of eleven novelty gag Valentines. One shown.

No date, no publisher Circa 1960 Collection Jim Linderman

Carnival Punks Folk Art Knock Down Gay Terminology and the Ramones on Joe Franklin!

Years ago, I had the fortunate pleasure of visiting one of the most prominent collectors of American folk art on a regular basis. Besides teaching me much, I was learning at the feet of a master. (Literally...there was no room in his house and I had to sit on the floor.) We traded things back and forth monthly. I would study them, he would study them, and once in a while swaps were made. The stuff didn't have much financial value then, and I'm not sure if it does today.

I once brought the collector three huge carnival knock-down targets, each about 3 feet tall, with effigies of Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo painted on them. I didn't want Hitler in my house, so I hoped to trade them for an equally not valuable whittled miniature cane he had by a carver from Georgia. (Years later I saw Saddam Hussein painted on some carnival punks at the boardwalk in Seaside Heights, New Jersey, so things never change.)

I cabbed them down and presented them saying "check out THESE punks!"

What surprised me was that he immediately asked me why I called them "punks" and I really didn't have an answer. I'd just always known carnival knock-downs as punks. The collector was puzzled, which surprised me, as he had earlier curated museum shows having to do with esoteric material culture from the sideshow and such, and he certainly owned some. I figured no one could puzzle the master.

He told me "punk" was a term used to refer to a younger homosexual man dating an older man. I had no idea. To me at the time, punks were the Ramones. Or as Joe Franklin, perennial host of a local TV show called them "The Ray Mones" while appearing as puzzled by them as my collector friend was at my punks.

I knew gay "punks" were called "twinks" which I believe may still be in common usage. I'm a little isolated here, so I don't know for sure, and we should refer to all without derogatory terms anyway. But that also makes sense, as my collector friend was Eastern big-city based, and I suspect knock-down targets received their punk name in the Midwest.

If you look up punk in a carny lingo dictionary, the slang term has numerous uses. As a rube, a child. a trick, a fake fetus in a bottle, a person primed for a scam, an "easy target" as it were...though the punks here were intended to be a hard target. That's why they had fur...to create the illusion of width, and the carny would also encourage the punk in FRONT of him to lean in "for a good toss" because you would then be throwing off balance. He would watch as ball after ball whiffed through the fur not moving the targets at all.

I found these androgynous punks in an antique mall. My "axis of evil" punks are long gone and I can't find a picture, but I cribbed one of a similar group from an auction website below. Mine were better, as they were entirely made by hand, but these will give you an idea. As a bonus, see Marky and Joey "Ray Mone" jabber it up with Joe!

Group of three unremarkable carnival knock-down ball toss targets (Above) Collection Jim Linderman


Sumo and Samurai versus the Sultan of Swat Vintage Sumo Postcards

These 100 year-old postcards depict Sumo when it was a bit more muscle and a bit less mass, but in a sport where the goal is not to be moved, either certainly works.

In Japan, the skill is still admired with reverence and tradition we can not even imagine. We love our sports players too, but certainly none of ours go back to 1684, the year Samurai seem to have completed their many centuries long metamorphosis to Sumo. Our biggest and earliest sports heroes only go back to the similarly built (but hardly fit) Babe Ruth, and there are still some of us alive to have actually SEEN the Bambino. (Not to disparage the Swat Sultan...at least he only cheated on his diet and his wife, and his only performance enhancing drug was hot dogs and beer.)

One other big difference between ancient tradition in the East and the mere 100 year old sports in the West? While winning a tournament certainly has financial reward, just look up the average salary of a Sumo wrestler.

Collection of Sumo Wrestler Postcards, circa 1910 Collection Jim Linderman

Order Dull Tool Dim Bulb / Jim Linderman Books and Ebooks HERE

Behold the Tower of Vegetables Real Photo Postcard collection Jim Linderman


Rubbing a New York State bounty in the rest of the world's face, a well-stacked and stocked "Vegetable Tower" reins over the State Fair of 1918. It was harvest time, and you know all those zucchini ripen at the same time. The upstate farmers must have run out of friends to pass them off to. Click to enlarge and you'll see corn, pumpkins and who knows what else. I do not believe the vertical cornucopia caught on...I find no mention of one at the WORLD'S fair twenty years later down in the city.

I have no idea how one glues a pumpkin to a tower.

Vegetable Tower New York State Fair September 1918 Collection Jim Linderman


What She Taught Me Vernacular Photograph Snapshot Collection Jim Linderman

Plucked from a photography book to reveal a lovely note from a best friend.

"She also taught me this"

There is quite a story told in this one little picture. Friendship, skill, sharing, play, joy and pride come to mind without much thought. Captions matter.

Untitled, Anonymous Snapshot, circa 1920? Collection Jim Linderman

Lucky Strikes Takes to the AIR Skywriting as a Technique for Increasing Brand Recall and Advertising Effectiveness

Looks like the breeze has started to "clutter" the Lucky Strike "message" a bit.

Skywriting has never been measured for advertising effectiveness that I know of. Certainly "brand recall" would apply here. That is the measure of effectiveness advertising agencies fall back on after the campaign is over and sales have not climbed one tiny bit.

"Hey Charlie? Did you remember what them skywritin' pilots put up there in the sky" "Ayup, sure do Gordy, T'was the Lucky Strikes"

Brand Recall!

What we do not know if either Charlie or Gordy went to BUY a pack.

Similar era photographs of a "ground team" working on market share for a competitor are HERE.

Untitled Original Photograph (Lucky Strike Skywriting Advertisement) No date Circa 1950 Collection Jim Linderman