Quote and Credit

Quote and Credit


What Does YOUR Swimsuit Reveal?

I believe it is time for the 5th anniversary installment of "WHAT DOES YOUR SWIMMING SUIT REVEAL?" here on Dull Tool Dim Bulb.  For the sizzling summer of 2012, we present not quite extraordinary illustrator M. Miller, who used virtually the same gag twice on the cover of Screwball Digest!  Enjoy the long weekend!

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Tipped off to Tintypes and a Tip of the Hat to Robert E. Jackson

Pioneering  photography collector Robert Jackson wrote recently to tip me off to a few interesting tintypes available on eBay, so I bought them.  Mr. Jackson, who is largely responsible for the vintage vernacular photography field had his staggering snapshot photo collection documented by no less than the National Gallery of Art and Princeton University Press five years ago now with THE ART OF THE AMERICAN SNAPSHOT 1888 - 1978. The lovely book is still available and still essential.  When Robert told me "you can't go wrong" with the price on these photos, I thought the same about his book.  You can't go wrong.  It is 300 solid pages of extraordinary images and smart essays, worth every penny and more. 

As for the tintypes, they look mundane enough until you look behind the sitters.  My interest in tintype photography lies in the plight of traveling folk art portrait painters when they were replaced by the invention of the camera.  I attempt to prove they simply went on to paint backdrops instead in THE PAINTED BACKDROP: Behind the Sitter in American Tintype Photography.  As far as I know, still the only examination into what was in virtually every one of the millions of tintypes taken in a studio...a painting!  It is now available as an ebook for only $5.99, which is good, as the photographs look even better on your ipad.

Group of three tintype photographs with painted backdrops circa 1880 Collection Jim Linderman

Vintage Sleaze reaches 50,000 Followers on Facebook

Just for the record, Vintage Sleaze the Blog, my daily examination into the gutters of smut from the 1950's will reach 50,000 followers on Facebook today.  The site tells a true story EVERY DAY about the publishers, artists, photographers, models, censors, scoundrels, gangsters, burlesquers, vaudevillian villains, writers, distributors, gag cartoonists and readers of soft-core sleaze from the golden age of smut.  Guess what?  It turns out "glamour" photography wasn't so glamorous!  It sounds bad, but it isn't...and like Dull Tool Dim Bulb, every word true.  Mostly.

"Hear no Evil, Speak no Evil, See no Evil" cover from Exotique Photo Album Number Three, circa 1958 (No Date in Publication) 

Real Cowgirls Vintage Photographs collection Jim Linderman

Cowgirl Costumes collection, circa 1950 - 1960 Jim Linderman

To send a free postcard from the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame go HERE

To see some cowgirls who grew up...sorta...go HERE

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A Scary Man in a Uniform World War One Scarecrow Collection Jim Linderman

World War One Scarecrow Collection Jim Linderman

Mabel loved a man in a uniform, so when she asked for a photo of her favorite, he of course replied, but it might have taken him a while.  Our World War One Doughboy had already turned his khakis into a scarecrow, thus protecting his sunflowers instead of his countrymen, and as far as I am concerned putting them to darn good work.  I am glad he survived the carnage. 

World War One Scarecrow snapshot, circa 1920  Collection Jim Linderman


All That Glisters is NOT Gold Tin Cans and a Misquote Folk Art Craft

All that glitters is not correct.  All the GLISTENS is not gold, from the Merchant of Venice, and I can't understand Shakespeare at all.

Trio of Candle holders made from Tin Cans, bedecked with fake jewels, painted gold.  Collection Jim Linderman

Meet Me at the Nebraska Fair ! No Native Americans Allowed

Welcome to the Nebraska County Fair in 1905. 

30 years or so before this postcard was created by hand and mailed, the Nebraska Legislature, realizing the land they had forced numerous tribes to live on was even more valuable than they thought, petitioned Congress for the extinction of the old treaties to create even worse treaties...with the following documented bile:

"Whereas, the Indians now on special reservations in Nebraska hold and occupy valuable and important tracts of land, which while occupied will not be developed and improved; and Whereas the demand for lands which will be improved and made useful, are such that these Indian lands should no longer be held, but should be allowed to pass into the hands of enterprising and industrious citizens;...[W]e urge upon our delegation in Congress to secure the removal of all Indians now on special reservations in Nebraska to other... localities, where their presence will not retard settlements by the whites."

Okay!  I wonder how many McDonald's and Wal-Marts have been created by enterprising and industrious citizens on that land by now.

Enjoy the fair!

Original hand drawn promotional postcard, Nebraska 1905  Collection Jim Linderman

Jim Linderman Books and eBook Downloads are available HERE 

Scarce Early Photograph of a Jug Band with No Jug African-American Street Musicians


My second good blues musician photograph in two years.  Period original photographs of African-American musicians are hard to find, and I have been very lucky indeed.   See HERE for another find from the same period.  

A washtub bass, two guitars (one which appears to be decorated, or possibly having inlaid wood?) and a fiddle.  This is a small snapshot taken at what appears to be the train station, although it could be a streetcar, but the Western Union sign leads me to believe it is the railroad, and of course there is a porter who appears as interested as the others.  The performers appear successful with sharp shoes and good dress.   This would be a darn smart jug band if they had a jug.  I am going to guess the nurses were on the way home.

My first guess was that the bass player could be Will Shade, ringleader for a hodge-podge of Memphis musicianers and jug bands.  In part because of his nickname "Son Brimmer" which referred to his habit of wearing a hat with a brim to shade his eyes. (and I believe also the title of his first recording, but haven't looked it up)  The hat here is unusual and brimmed.

Shade or not, the performer plays a "bullfiddle" which is a garbage can, broomstick and one string.  If you have never seen a musician play who COULD play one, you'd be surprised how effective the rudimentary instrument is.  I believe what we are seeing here dates to the Frank Stokes, Sleepy John Estes, Gus Cannon era.  The snapshot is a mere 2.5" x 3.5" but crisp as can be, enlarge it and see the details. 

If any of you out there recognize any participants or the location I would be much obliging.  I have one or two experts scratching their heads.  More heads is better!  How unfortunate that a photo can not sing or play...I would have loved to be met by this splendid looking group on my arrival.


Original Street Photograph Snapshot circa 1930 African-American Quartet Perform at Train Station.  Location Uknown.  Collection Jim Linderman


Tinsmith Horse Weathervane with Barn Cupola Folk Art

Some documentation here from when Main street had a tinsmith, or maybe down the road a bit.  Barn Cupolas are wonderful, big throwbacks to the family farm.  I don't think those huge chicken factories hidden back behind chain-link fences so you don't go see how they are raised need cupolas.  They need FANS for sure...but our major bird breeding manufacturing processes aren't too concerned with the blowing wind direction...or making the factory stand out.  An indication of their shame, I think.  What they are interested in is hormone fed birds and clipping their beaks so they don't fight.

Tinsmith with Horse Weathervane Sample and Trade Sign circa 1890 Real Photo Postcard Olivia Minnesota Collection Jim Linderman

King of the Squirrels Sideshow Shooting Gallery Target Squirrel

My "King of the Squirrels" shooting gallery target comes courtesy Candler Arts, a fine web source for unusual American folk art, primitives and curiosities.  Run by Kevin Duffy, the site is always a visual treat.  The Candler Arts blog shows a wide variety of objects, consistently worth seeing, and the corresponding gallery offers select items for sale.  A good reason to look is posted now, as the wonderful sideshow "game of numbers" shown below is there now.

I bought King Squirrel as I have been overrun.  The house is surrounded by giant maple trees, and this seems to have been a particularly heavy season for helicopter seeds.  You know the kind.  Evolution designed them to twirl down to the ground slowly, whirling as they go, to provide the seed a soft landing.  They make a feast for squirrels.  They have become every bit as annoying as pigeons were to me in the city, but without wings.  Unlike pigeons, you see the young, and even they fly from tree to tree like tiny Tarzans with tails.  They can expect to live about six years...unless I get good here with King.

Early cast iron shooting gallery targets came in racks and this one has the original mount and cotter which held it on.  I suspect the KING tag is probably as that was the manufacturer or name of the touring carnival. 

Candler Arts blog is HERE and the.gallery is HERE
Game of Numbers Courtesy Candler Arts

Early 20th Century Cast Iron Shooting Gallery Target collection Jim Linderman

Dull Tool Dim Bulb books and Ebook downloads are HERE

Widdicomb and Adams Furniture Grain Decoration in Grand Rapids Folk Art and Fine Art

CLICK TO ENLARGE Collection Jim Linderman
Salesman Sample circa 1880 Collection Jim Linderman
Furniture graining has been done for centuries, it is a technique which adds fine (appearing) wood grain to lesser woods.  An embellishment and enhancement.  Until the late 19th century, this was done by hand.  Either by the hand of a trained furniture-maker in a detailed, "fool the eye" manner but as often by amateurs who frequently used a nearly inept, but often most exuberant manner.

Both are enjoyed, but for me the crazy swirls and outlandish whorls of the amateur are far most interesting than those of a trained professional.  It is that old fine vs folk argument.  Do you like pretty or primitive?  Fancy or free-hand?  Some were done with hand-held combs, some appears to have been done with whatever was at hand, or even the hand itself!
The super-primitive style shown below on a piece of furniture I own is a good example of my preference, but others certainly enjoy a more accurate representation.
Until I found this bronze salesman sample for a wood and furniture graining machine, I never even thought about it being done as part of a manufacturing process.  It was new...and as you will see below,  the company represented on this little advertising plaque was responsible for patenting a portion of the technique.

Grand Rapids has been known as Furniture City, so it makes sense the machine emerged and was produced there.  Widdicomb Furniture began as a cabinet making company in 1858.  George Widdicomb, and after the Civil War, his numerous sons and relatives,  grew the company into increasing larger facilities with a growing payroll. 

The company was not limited by style or look, eventually becoming a most well respected manufacturer of "Chamber" style, American Empire, Colonial Revival, Chippendale, and in the 1930s Art Deco.  Later products were influenced by modern Scandinavian, Japanese and Shaker design. 

Several companies over the years manufactured under the Widdicomb name, and the family had a few subsidiaries and branches operating as well.  In 2002, Whiddicomb was absorbed into Stickley, Inc. and John Whiddicomb continues to be manufactured in Manlius, New York.

There was interest in improving the graining technique among the several Grand Rapids furniture companies.  The fine photograph below is from the Rare Victorian websitehttp://rarevictorian.com/2008/12/graining-machines-simulate-hardwood-grains.html which mentions other companies, and refers readers to the book Grand Rapids Furniture by Christian Carron.
Robert A. Adams of Grand Rapids invented and received the patent for his graining machine in 1880.  He indicates "by this method all the fine lines and fibers of the natural wood can be transferred to cheap wood, dispensing with the tedious and expensive process of veneering" which must have been of interest to the Widdicomb family. Two of the Widdicomb brothers went into business with Mr. Adams, possibly as investors?  At any rate, John and Harry are listed as officers in the short-lived company on the sample here.

The company records and archives, which are stored at the Grand Rapids Public Library contains stock receipts dated 1881 for the Adams Graining Company, and one for Widdicomb has turned up HERE shown below.
The Adams company (or rather division or subsidiary?) was located at 62 West Bridge Street.  Adams Graining and Decorating was absolved in 1900, so it would appear the machine founded to utilize the technique was either absorbed into Widdicomb, or abandoned.

Note the brass "card" above was "Grained and Decorated By Our Process" and you can see it ranges from fancy to primitive.  The sheet is two-sided and gives a good example of the techniques available.  It measures 4" x 6"  or so, about the size of a cabinet card photograph, which is what I assumed it was until I picked it up. The Brass or Tin is no thicker than a tintype photograph.

Adams Graining & Decorating Company Metal Salesman Sample circa 1880 Collection Jim Linderman

The Case of the Tasteless True Crime Talisman Lindberg and the Most Famous Ladder in History by Jim Linderman

Gosh, didn't cops back in the 1930s have great coats?  Check them out...thick, rich leather and thigh-length long, with great leather boots too!  You won't see THESE guys on a Segway at the mall.  Anyway, the photo shows two hog-riding constables checking a barn for clues in one of our greatest national mysteries, the Lindberg Kidnapping Case.

I won't go into detail on the crime, as there is certainly enough for you to find yourself...and the tousled-topped national hero turned out to sorta be a creep anyway by nearly aligning himself with THE WRONG SIDE during World War Two. How the...?  At so called America First Committee meetings, the airman apparently lambasted our impending involvement in the war by lecturing others on American Jews and their undue influence.  Well...best left forgotten.
This post centers on a small aspect of the crime.  The same one our tuff-dressed crime busters were centered on as well.  They may look like the guys from "American Pickers" entering a honey-hole, but they were trying to find a connection to the central piece of evidence.

The ladder.

Bruno, or whoever, had to climb up to snatch the child, a horrible thing...and he built a ladder to do it.  The ladder became what used to known as "The Macguffin" in Alfred Hitchcock movies.  A recurring element which might mean nothing, but could just mean everything.  Literally the O.J. gloves of the 1930s. 

As the investigation progressed into trial, a spectacle unlike any before due to the nascent and emerging mass-media, slimy vendors sold miniature kidnap ladders outside the courthouse!  That's right.  Tiny souvenir wooden ladders, an early example of crime capitalism gone crazy!  The tasteless newspapers ran tasteless photographs of tasteless spectators holding tiny tasteless ladders for the camera.
I have looked for one of those wee ladders off and on for a long time.  I've owned a few miniature wooden handmade ladders, but had no way to tell if they were a legendary murder talisman representing the double horror of crime and unseemly opportunistic greed,  or simply something a father made for his kid's Farmer Brown playset.

I even consulted a Lindberg Kidnapping expert at one time to see if he knew where I could get one.  He brushed me off, clearly so as not to reveal his own pursuit of the holy grail of true crime novelties.

Guess who else was obsessed with the miniature ladder?  No less than Maurice Sendak!    He apparently traded one of his drawings for one, and used a similar image of a kidnapper's ladder leaned against a window in one of his works. 

Once in a while I do a true crime story.  You can see some of the others HERE.

Original 8 x 10 glossy press photograph March 7, 1932 with Handwritten description Collection Jim Linderman


Michigan Republican Rich Men Pass a Law Affecting your Daughter.

Without WANTING to enter the pathetic debate encouraged by Republican election tactical squads making women who already feel terrible about having a pregnancy terminated feel even WORSE by using their reproductive hard choices as a pawn in their efforts to keep rich white men in charge of our laws...here is a lovely homemade postcard mailed in 1905 I assume was used as a birth announcement.

The Republican House of Michigan passed a law last week requiring all fetal remains over 20 weeks be given a "proper burial" and that the cost be born by the woman who already feels terrible over the choice she had to make.

It requires all aborted fetuses after 8 weeks be buried, cremated or interred under exactly the same guidelines as any dead body. The cost of a burial or internment for an infant is an average of $4,600. The cost of cremation for an infant ranges from $250 to $400.  A fetus at 8 weeks is the size of a few paper clips. 

That's right.  The bill also makes any woman who has an abortion (be it your wife or your daughter) a criminal liable to prosecution if she has an abortion after 20 weeks.  It does not indicate the cost of hiring a lawyer to bail your daughter out of jail and defend her against charges (presumably murder) in court.  Would YOU like your daughter brought up on charges in a public court for having to have an abortion? 

There is stupid and there is stupider.  The wealthy Republican men in Michigan who voted to approve this bill fall well into the latter category, every single one of them, and anyone who votes for any of them does as well.  So does any Governor who would even consider for one second supporting or signing such a pinhead, ignorant, pathetic, shameful, obscene, hypocritical, ill-advised law.

Handmade Postcard 1905 collection Jim Linderman

Three Nights Only One Big Show! At the Circus in Black and White series #33


Frederico Fellini meets Tod Browning in this crazy period photograph of a wandering troupe.  Since Blockhead and friend take up two seats on the truck, they get the middle of the picture.  A trick-shooter,  a cootch girl, a band (of sorts) and you've got four shows a day.  They were there a while, electric lights line the tent.  One of a hundred such touring shows during the 1930s and I wish I could identify the players.  I see ten good stories here, and one more on the dummy.  

AT THE CIRCUS IN BLACK AND WHITE is a occasional feature on Dull Tool Dim Bulb. This is number 33 in the series.

Original 8 x 10 photograph, circa 1930 Collection Jim Linderman

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Youngest Reenactors Boys Camp Outing with Uniforms Collection Jim Linderman


Normally I would count the stars to date this photo, but they may be using an old one to create the proper environment for the boys...if you can call "playing war" proper in any context.  A wonderful photograph,  1890 maybe?  The Youngest recruits for the Spanish - American War?  The Earliest Civil War Reenactors?

You can ponder the details. My only observations?  There was not yet a national obsession with soda, so every boy is lean and fit.  This photo today would require the photographer to stand way back to fit everyone in.  The other?  Leave it to the adults to ham it up.  Every boy is doing his best to show the proper respect, but the hormone enraged goobers "running the show" are doping it up in back.

Anonymous Photograph, circa 1890?  "Boys Camp"  5" x 8"  (Mount 8" x 10") Collection Jim Linderman 

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Miles Labs Mrs. Shatwell and Nervine for the Blues

Dr. Miles may tell the jokes, but the joke is on you.  The man responsible for lauded legend "Miles Laboratories" was a snake oil salesman who gave away these real knee-slappers in order to advertise his "Nervine" for "spasms, fits and St. Vitus' dance"  all which are bad enough for you to seek a cure.  You'll grab for anything, even Dr. Miles Nervine which was also good for hysteria, sleeplessness and the blues.

It was so strong, it ALMOST made the jokes funny. 

Actually, as the recipe for Nervine seems to have disappeared like liver spots after a tonic, I had to dig around a bit.  Nervine was made out of Bromine, a product today used in pesticides and as a gasoline additive.  Ask the Tea Party if we need the FDA.  You know?  I wonder if that nutty Dr. Rand Paul found his Dad's supply back in a Kentucky shed.  His official photo here certainly looks like he got in the medicine chest..that is a relaxed expression if I ever saw one.
Miles made money on Nervine, of course, but the big bucks came when their bubbly mixture Alka-Seltzer™ had the good fortune of being introduced around the same time Prohibition was repealed.  Do you have any idea how many hangovers have been created since 1931?

Miles Labs ran from 1884 to 1979...when Bayer AG bought it in order to acquire another miracle cure, Flintstones™ vitamins!  Yes, Miles was famous for foisting Flintstones™ vitamins on the kids.   "Here.. eat a DINO, you'll feel better and pills are always good for you."

In 1995, Bayer AG removed all references to Miles on their products, as the population who remembered getting drunk on Nervine were all dead by then.
Here Mrs. Shatwell  (SHATWELL?  Are you sure this isn't a testimonial for  laxatives?) provides stirring evidence her insanity was cured by a Miles product.

Wait a minute...do I need to put a ™ after Shatwell?  It is available?  GREAT.  Call my lawyer pronto! 

Also shown here is Mrs. Love from Wigger Street, who drank NINE bottles. 
Now as for Nervine?  It is today a generic term for anything which affects the nerves.  You'll find all manner of wacky natural herb concoctions claiming to do it, including stalwarts of medicine such as Skullcap, Desert Pulsatilla, Western Moonwort, Monkeyflower and Golden Smoke. 

Dr. Miles Joke Book No Date Collection Jim Linderman