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Showing posts sorted by relevance for query at the circus. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query at the circus. Sort by date Show all posts

Hagenbeck Wallace At The Circus in Black and White #31 The World's Lowest Type Human


Caption on reverse "September 2, 1938 L.A Calif. Afternoon crowd now leaving the circus. Sideshow Band was playing in the midway."

Look close and you will see one of the acts was "The World's Lowest Type Human" and I hate to speculate on that one. Suzie born with the Skin of an Elephant.


If the date on the reverse of this photo is correct, you are seeing the sun go down in the afternoon and the lights go out in the evening. Hagenbeck-Wallace ceased operation the same year.


For those of you animal rights folks out there, in 1913 the circus lost 8 elephants, 21 lions and 8 performing horses in a flood in 1913. That pales in comparison to the train wreck they had five years later, in which an engineer further down the track fell asleep at the throttle and crashed his train into the rear of the Hagenbeck's. Kerosene lamps on the circus train spread fire immediately to the wooden cars, and 86 circus members died, another 127 were injured.

AT THE CIRCUS IN BLACK AND WHITE is a occasional feature on Dull Tool Dim Bulb. This is number 31 in the series.

Original Snapshot 1938 Collection Jim Linderman


Order Dull Tool Dim Bulb / Vintage Sleaze / Jim Linderman Books and Tablet downloads for iPad HERE

Robert D. Good At the Circus in Black and White





Circus Photographer Robert D. Good advertised his services, among other places, in the circus section of Billboard Magazine during the 1940's saying "If you raised the circus, see it in pictures" offering real photo size images. 20 cents would bring you a sample and lists of photographs he had taken in the past. He called his studio "Circus Snaps" and frequently typed captions on the reverse of work along with his stamp.

I love this photograph, and you'll have to enlarge it to see why. A simple enough shot of the Sparks Circus Sleeper becomes a group of boys admiring the Circus Strong Man.

Robert was not only a photographer, he was a well-informed fan of the circus. His letter to Life Magazine on July 19, 1954 tells readers the "last living driver of the 40 horse team pulling the famous Two Hemispheres Band Wagon" was celebrating his 91st birthday. Good passed away in May 1974. A splendid photograph of the photographer appears on the Circus Historical Society "Bandwagon" pages for the May 1964 issue

"Sparks Circus at Lehighton PA. in 1946 Bus Converted into Sleeper for Performers" Robert D. Good Photographer Collection Jim Linderman

Spectacular Circus Banners Hanging in 1963 At the Circus in Black and White (and Color) #34 collection Jim Linderman


A group of exceptional circus banners in a pair of 1963 snapshots of the Ringling Brothers Barnum Bailey Circus.  Folks often think the glory days of the circus banner was long gone by then, but these look pretty good.  A real phantasmagoria!  Note matronly visitors standing near the entrance.  

Pair of original snapshot photographs dated 1963  Collection Jim Linderman


AT THE CIRCUS IN BLACK AND WHITE is a occasional feature on Dull Tool Dim Bulb. This is number 34 in the series.

Order Dull Tool Dim Bulb / Vintage Sleaze / Jim Linderman Books and Tablet downloads for iPad HERE

At the Circus in Black and White Ray's in La Crosse and Helen Mae Hoeft, Early Woman Photographer



A circus photo (of a sideshow banner for a "midnight ramble" show) taken by, or developed by, Ray's Studio in La Crosse Wisconsin. One Edwin Hill recounts the tale of La Crosse early photographers in his Master thesis in 1978. Ray's photo was in fact Helen Mae Hoeft, who used the shop name as a pseudonym to avoid sex-discrimination in the photo field. She feared customers would not buy photographic services from a woman when she started up in 1924. The name of the business has changed since, but as of 1978 was still in operation. I do not know if Ms. Hoeft took this photo or merely developed it at the studio for another, but the stamp is here. (Click "At the circus in Black and White" to see other posts in the series)

Untitled circus photo c. 1930 La Crosse, WI collection Jim Linderman

Mexican Circus Performers At the Circus in Black and White # 29







Entry number 29 in the Dull Tool Dim Bulb AT THE CIRCUS IN BLACK AND WHITE Series is a trio of original circa 1950 snapshots of a most handsome traveling circus troupe from Mexico. México circo ambulante!

Original Photographs Collection Jim Linderman


AT THE CIRCUS in BLACK and WHITE is a continuing series on Dull Tool Dim Bulb This is Entry number 29.

Miniature Sausage Grinder and the Urban Word of the Year At the Circus in Black and White #24




Click to enlarge, and you will see this handmade tiny circus even has a sausage grinder. (?) Now as the term has come to mean "a very aggressive and active female sex partner" according to the Urban Dictionary (One of my favorite sites, and a reminder now is the time to vote for your Urban Word of the Year ("Vatican Roulette" another name for the rhythm method or "Hit the Slide" to leave a job in a particularly dramatic manner are my favorites) I am wondering what the carver had in mind here...

MONKEY grinders, or ORGAN grinders were common at circus and carnival gatherings, but they were hand-turned musical instruments with a simian dancer, not meat makers. You have to cook sausage first, and this little guy doesn't appear to have sterno. Maybe he was selling dogs in buns.

Pair of original snapshots of a handmade miniature circus, date unknown Collection Jim Linderman

#24 in Series "At the Circus in Black and White" on Dull Tool Dim Bulb the Blog

Dull Tool Dim Bulb is TEN Years old!




The site is ten years old.  There is no big whizbang shindig to celebrate, as I am working on a book.  There ARE a hundred or more people to thank. Lauren Leja, Natalie Curley and Shannon Regan in particular have contributed objects and ideas over the years.   ALL the followers are appreciated, many of them artists and art dealers, antique dealers and pickers.  Folks who "get it" and let me know they do.  Some of the brightest people I know and admire have found the site.

Most encouraging is the mail I have received from relatives, friends and such who have written me over the years and add to my stories.  Being thanked for writing about forgotten folks they knew, they married or grew up with. It is humbling.  For example, the post I did on obscure bluegrass and country performer Rem Wall.  Nearly FIFTY comments from folks who remember or knew him. What an honor it is to receive such feedback.

My wife Janna lets me do it.  Not everyone has a wife who allows their husband to dwell in curious places and sully his reputation with risque images once in a while.  I get to.  


There are a few special friends.  The late Jay Tobler, one of the smartest people I have ever known.  Robert Reeves, who shared my interests and made me laugh like no one else.  Jimmie Allen, A golden Southern Picker who influenced one of my most successful books.  Steve Slotin, a hero. Craig Yoe, the world's greatest comic art scholar and collector. Lance Ledbetter and Dust to DigitalBrian Wallis and the International Center of Photography.  Tanya Heinrich and the American Folk Art MuseumThe fascinating Dire McCain at Paraphilia published some of my favorite pieces. I could go on and on.  Lisa Hix at Collectors Weekly has been wonderful and written about a few of my
projects.

I can't thank enough the folks who took the time to write about the site and my projects.  Many of them are found on the side banner.  The banner is not often seen on a smartphone, so I am copying them here.  Since I don't make any dough on any of this really.  I am lucky to break even...so the words mean so much.

The people and publications who took the time to write about me have made what I do legitimate.  It is and was liberating and encouraging.  This list is again far from complete, but I truly never thought I would "receive press" and boy, have I had lovely things said about me.  Here are links to those to whom I am in debt.

"Linderman produces the most sublime books on dreamy, arcane subjects, sexy stuff, too, all with rare one-of-a-kind images." Craig Yoe 2017

"...disclosing an underground history of American popular culture one oddball tale at a time"
John Strausbaugh in The New York Times

 
"...one of the blog writers to watch for"
ARTSlant

"...wonderful, extraordinary, fascinating, remarkable and profound" Fans in a Flashbulb International Center of Photography Museum 2016

"Brilliantly Astute, Acerbic and Aesthetic Jim Linderman"
The Museum of Everything 2014

"Dull Tool Dim Bulb is always worth a visit" THINGS Magazine 2016

"...grumpy..." The Austin Chronicle 2014

"Perpetually ahead of the collecting curve...a one man Taschen. An authentically curious individual...diligently archiving the forgotten curiosities of American History"

Emma Higgins in Art Hack May 2012

"Jim Linderman likes Art, Antiques and Photography and his collection of Vernacular Photography, Folk Art, Ephemera and Curiosities is a wonderful place..."
LifeElsewhere with Norman B. 2014

"...collected over the years by Jim Linderman, a character who seems the perfect subject for a Harvey Pekar comic. Linderman treats collecting like a calling, and his finds have a resulting air of authority, stunning in their capture of bygone picturesque moments."
Derek Taylor Dusted

"The pictures, discarded artifacts of ecstatic Americana, come from the stash of Jim Linderman, who in his introduction recalls advice he’s plainly taken to heart: “Collect the heck” out of whatever you find interesting."
Drew Jubera Paste Magazine

"His interest in art is rivaled only by his interest in music, and one expression informs the other. He pursues objects with thoroughness and an innate sense of curiosity..."
Tanya Heinrich Folk Art Magazine


"Linderman acknowledges the obscure at the same time that he elevates it.... His collections tell vast stories in sotto voce, allowing curios and objects shadowed by mainstream culture and ideology to converse and be heard. What we hear is an enormous American sub-culture speaking in forbidden, marginalized languages: stuff discovered boxed in the attic out of embarrassment or zealotry, smutty ash trays crowing next to religious pamphlets, each claiming a part of the complex, sometimes contradictory, always conflicted American imagination, a chaos of memories that will one day vanish."
Joe Bonomo Author of Conversations With Greil Marcus, Jerry Lewis Lost and Found and No Such Thing As Was

"...he's one of the world's greatest pickers."
Brian Wallis in The New York Times
"Documenting--one clipping at a time--the scrapbook of a leg and garter aficionado that was dumpster-dived in Virginia in the 60s" "...an outstanding image-archaeologist who has compiled a shelf-ful of worthy and unique photographic histories."
William Smith Hang Fire Books


"Linderman has a knack for discovering untold stories and introducing them to a wider audience"
Joey Lin Anonymous Works

"Jim Linderman...makes us all look a little puny"
Could it be Madness-this?

"...insatiable collector of ephemera and ringleader behind an incredible circus of blogs — including the treasure trove dull tool dim bulb"
The Cynephile

"Yo no sé ustedes pero creo que es uno de los mejores sitios que he visitado en mucho tiemp"
Color Me in Blog

"...there's something beyond the endless photos and postcards and weird propaganda from another time that he lovingly documents - I think it's the collection as a whole, the portrait of a person fascinated with culture and communication. I have met people like this before, and in reading Dull Tool Dim Bulb I feel I have been lucky enough to meet one more. This site is a goldmine in terms of links..."
The Hyggelic Life October 2009

"Linderman is always on the lookout for the new and exciting"
Chuck and Jan Rosenak Contemporary American Folk Art

"...an amazing collection..."
Revel in New York October 2009

"Jim Linderman has a nice little colllection of interesting books and blogs...But every so often he just loses it."
American Digest March 2010

"FOR MOST OF HIS LIFE, COLLECTOR JIM LINDERMAN has searched high and low for authentic things--unique and special objects that define the artistic culture of the American experience. From folk art to popular culture, from pulp fiction to Delta Blues-- Jim is a walking authority on so many things American they are too numerous to mention. One thing is certain-- his collecting interests are for things that have fallen through the cracks, those things lost and forgotten--the box of material under the table at the flea market booth. If it wasn't for dedicated collectors like Jim Linderman-- so many important objects about our culture would have surely been lost to time and indifference."

"Jim Linderman maintains a most interesting blog about the most amazing things from his collection—a site he calls “Dull Tool Dim Bulb,” the only curse words his father ever uttered. I love it, and read it everyday."
"...an excellent writer and I devour your blog daily. I am impressed at your deep knowledge of things within your niche..."
John Foster Accidental Mysteries
 

"I am grateful to Jim Linderman for first alerting me to the existence of the 1930s Spiritualist hymn "Jesus is My Air-o-plane."
William Fagaly New Orleans Museum of Art, Author Tools of her Ministry: The art of Sister Gertrude Morgan

"Linderman describes a long gone world...(he) claims not to be a writer but he is most certainly an excellent researcher..."
BOOKSTEVE

"Jim Linderman, King of the Internet Ephemeral Arts"
Spaniel Rage

"Jim is a fantastic historian...show him some love"
Astrid Daley Fringe Pop / Sin-A-Rama

"He came to us with hundreds of jaw-dropping baptism photos that he'd been collecting for 25 years," Ledbetter explains. "By the time he found us, he'd already done half a lifetime's works, and he trusted us to handle it properly." Lance Ledbetter in Creative Loafing 10/13/11


Thank you all so very much.  Everyone needs a hobby.  I am so grateful for mine.

Bike Tricks in the Dark Bicycle At the Circus in Black and White #25










#25 in the Dull Tool Dim Bulb Series "At the Circus in Black and White" isn't really at the circus, but certainly this pair of balancing artists did their share of work at them. Floating!

Set of Four Snapshots circa 1930 Collection Jim Linderman

Dull Tool Dim Bulb BOOKS Here

Howard Campbell and Woodrow Hill A Book and an Exhibition of Paintings




The first post I wrote for this site was about a piece of furniture I obtained from Howard Campbell.  Howard Campbell was one of the most interesting men I ever knew, and I barely scratched his surface.  This month a new book about Howard and his paintings done under the pseudonym Woodrow Hill is published, and a retrospective of his work is mounted at the Art Cellar Gallery in Banner Elk, North Carolina.  Both are fantastic.

It is hard to describe Howard Campbell, as those fortunate enough to have known him will readily agree.  He had a shock of white hair higher than a mountain.  Bare feet and  Bib Overalls.  (Howard didn't go many formal places, if he could avoid it)  He didn't go to many places he couldn't be barefoot either…including his back yard covered in snow, which I myself saw him do several times without a grimace.  Howard Campbell usually had a goal in mind, and he would speed towards it without thinking much about his feet.  His feet were tools to achieve a goal.

Howard was a painter and folk art collector in the mountains of North Carolina.  A good one of both.  His house,  precariously placed atop a mountain, was for him a refuge.  For me it was a museum with a great docent.   I am not sure if the house is occupied now, but I hope so.  We have allowed an increasingly facile world to be built around us. Howard's house was way up there, but real.

I am also not sure if Reader's Digest is still around, but they used to have a series called "Most Unforgettable Character"  or something like that.   It was a form of participatory journalism with a prize.  The local barber who found a baby on his doorstep and raised him as his own (despite having no wife) and the little fellow grew up to be a doctor who treated sick children even if their family had no money to pay for care.  Unforgettable persons were flawless role models who earned the amateur writer a trip to the mailbox every day for months hoping for a check from Mr. Luce and his publishing empire.  I don't have to say Howard was an unforgettable character.

When Howard was a young boy in Oklahoma, he visited a wonderland of small woodcarvings created by Earl Eyman of Oklahoma.  Eyman carved hundreds of tiny figures.  His house was a tableau of miniature circus figures, baseball games, marching bands and more.  Each figure intricately whittled and and painted by  Mr. Eyman.  Having only an eighth grade education,  Earl didn't read in his spare time.  Instead he created an entire town with a thousand inhabitants and charged a dime to see it.  It certainly impressed young Howard. 

The Eyman environment was dispersed, and over the years I would find them at antique shows and such, love them for a while, and then trade them to Howard.  He loved them even more than I.  For me, an Earl Eyman carving was as good as cold cash at the Howard Campbell mountain museum, and I squeezed a few things out of it by dangling the figures in Howard's face over the years.  I got good at picking them out, and I did it for Howard.  No small feat, as the figures were only several inches tall and their provenance was lost, having been removed from their home and eventually tossed into boxes with more important things.  One I found is here.  A sweet  little carving of a woman holding a flag.  Howard got that one too.  While he would trade me good things for them, I collected them for admission to Howard's place.

When I met Howard for the first time, we shared another interest.  I had just quit drinking, and he was trying to.  I told Howard, who would mask his vodka in bottles of Mountain Dew soda, that I would always be there to help him if he wanted to chat.  I succeeded in quitting and have been sober a long, long time.  Howard didn't.  I don't think that is a secret either of us kept to ourselves really,  so I can share it here.  It was appropriate a decade or so after I met Howard, that many of the 22 boxes holding his collection of books on Southern folk art were sold out of cartoons which once held vodka and whiskey bottles.  I don't know if it killed him, but it couldn't have helped.  My offer to help keep him sober may have ultimately allowed me to purchase the piece of furniture I mentioned.  It was one of Howard's favorites too, and he had a standing offer from me to purchase it whenever he was ready to sell it.  For YEARS.  And every time I visited and saw it there, the offer went up a bit, but he would wave me off.  To this day, although I never asked him, I believe he allowed it me to finally purchase it out of his own regret for failing to conquer the bottle.  After five years of my offers, he had two requirements.  One was the price, which was fair, and the other was that I never sell it.  People say that all the time but he meant it.  I won't ever sell it, and I have already moved it 800 miles twice.
The piece is handmade of southern yellow pine with an attempted decorative scroll and the original mirror.  It dates to the late 1800's and was likely made by an African-American man and former slave who ended up in Tennessee.  Which is where Howard found it, and he told me so.  There is a name in pencil on the inside I have never even tried to research.  I don't need to.  Art dealer's frequently lie.  Pickers usually do not.  Howard was flawed but particularly honest and he was a picker. 

There is not much space between tribute and rumination.  Howard is on my mind every time I glance at a cupboard next to me in the room I use for ruminating. 

Howard and a good friend once dismantled and carried an entire house up his mountain.  Which brings us to another of Howard's eccentric heroes, Cedar Creek Charlie, who painted his entire home like a demented American Flag.  Dots and dashes in red, white and blue, surrounded by wind toys and primitive patriotic detritus.  Charlie Field's house became famous in 1975 when it appeared on the cover of a book.  As it began to crumble, the pair of rural preservationists pulled it down and reconstructed huge portions of it in Howard's bedroom. in 1990, when yet another book included Charlie's house but mistakenly said the front door was in the Smithsonian, Howard took out an ad in a national magazine to say no, the door is not in a museum.  It is in my bedroom and I will thank you to be accurate, for he was, as I said, particular.   

Howard Campbell was a brilliant,  learned man. Neither is an exaggeration. A auctioneer north of Atlanta who sold a chunk of Howard's collection (while he was still living) asked him to write his autobiography for the auction catalog.  A portion follows: 


"I was always a collector. As a small child on our chicken farm in N.W. Arkansas, I dragged a horse skeleton out of the woods and tried to re-assemble it. The time was WWII. Mom and Dad were getting white rocks from hatchlings to broilers in seven weeks. I was dragging stuff out of the woods. I was an only; a self-absorbed/contained little kid. The parents (God keep them!) would ask me what I wanted for Christmas, birthday, whatever, and I would answer, “A little brother!” Because they had different rhesus factors it was 1947 before advancing medical technology gave it a chance. My little brother was born on Valentine’s Day in 1948. He and my sister-in-law don’t want any of this stuff! Being of sound mind and judgment, but realizing that a tree could fall on my head tomorrow...

But enough about me. Amy and Steve asked me to write some kind of bio-sketch that would emphasize my philosophy of collecting.

Philosophy, Schmilosophy! If it made me laugh, or chuckle, or snort, and it wasn’t too expensive, I dragged it home, where it was immediately lost amid the other junk...If it should affect others likewise, please bid and keep bidding! My poor widowed mother needs new shoes. That last sentence was a lie... My mother went to Heaven over five years ago. Like me, she hated shoes. Imelda Marcos she wasn’t.
Mom came close to being a Zen Master. She begged her children, grandchildren, etc. NOT to buy her ANYTHING for Christmas, birthday, whatever. And she meant it! I understand more and more what she was saying. Who wants to spend his last years dusting the bust of the deceased Duke?


It’s simply the thrill of the chase, or of the find, gentle readers. The money’s worth less (one Euro = $1.30) as I write. So keep bidding...

An English gentleman (Thomas Rowlandson - borrowed from Hippocrates) wrote “Life is short, but art is long...”* Remember that and keep your paddles in the air. Your kids don’t need expensive Nikes, Converses, etc. either. They’re better off barefooted. Watching out for broken glass or dog doo will serve to sharpen their perceptions. Believe me, I know."
 

Howard talked like that too.  He was funny.   He could paint too, but he never bragged on it.  Every time I visited Howard, he had a canvas in progress.   I wanted one of his paintings too, but he never delivered.  It was a different part of him, and one he did not really share with me, though I hinted over the years I'd love one.  I never took the time to find out how many he painted.  It turns out quite a few, and for years.  

I am thrilled to know an exhibition of Mr. Campbell's paintings is to be on exhibit starting August 27 at the Art Cellar Gallery in Banner Elk, North Carolina in conjunction with what looks to be a fascinating and remarkable biography written by his brother. HOWARD CAMPBELL AND THE ART OF WOODROW HILL.  There is a free preview of the book HERE. I eagerly await both.  In a perfect example of consistency, Howard's meticulous paintings mirror both his interest in the authentic material culture of his world and his love of quirky things.  I have purchased a copy of the book, as I am a collector and collectors spend money if they have any.  Howard told me that once.  I happen to have just the amount needed, and while it is pricey my only regret is that he can't sign it.  It would give me an excuse to see him.  That the show is in Banner Elk is appropriate, as once in a while, Howard would truck down some smalls and put them in an antique booth there.

He served in the Navy.  His bathtub was hand built of stones from the mountain below his house, and he listened to the radio, bluegrass usually, from a space taller than the towers which broadcast it.


The Art Cellar Gallery, which is exhibiting the paintings of Woodrow Hill August 27 to September 27, 2014 is HERE

A book of drawings done in 1974 titled CAMPBELL THE BARBARIAN published in conjunction with Howard Campbell and the art of Woodrow Hill is HERE




 HOWARD CAMPBELL AND THE ART OF WOODROW HILL is available HERE

Guest Post by Natalie M. Curley Antique Dealer




Natalie Curley is one of the rare breed doing the heavy lifting for collectors.   All these objects have to come from somewhere, and the folks who find, save, protect, share and sell them to others are how I connect with the past.  Natalie is a little like me…she has to own an object to understand it, and that unending search to learn is what keeps her going.  Anyone can sell an object, that's what Craig's list is for.  But it takes a special person to find it, figure it out, treat it with respect and pass it along at a very small mark up to other collectors.  I own things with Natalie M. Curley provenance and so do many others.  It's time to share a favorite source.  I asked Ms. Curley to discuss a few of her finds with us and to explain what gets her up in the morning.  Ms. Curley has a splendid website, sells on eBay, restores and frames objects and hits the road early to find great stuff.  See what Natalie has available at CURLEY'S ANTIQUES and on her eBay listings.  Stay up to date with Natalie's travels on her Facebook page.

Because Ms. Curley's interests are wide, we are posting two versions of this piece.  One here, the other on Vintage Sleaze the Blog

"Prior to the hipster “heritage,” and crafty “repurposing” revolutions born of reality television so many years ago, the only context the public really had for the artifacts of their collective history not stored in struggling museums seen only on childhood school trips were the legions of condescending retirees smelling vaguely of lilac and rambling about “book values” running prissy but dusty antique shops in vacation towns. I rightly cannot fault y’all for not finding those very accessible or worthy of your precious free weekend hours. But for folks like me, weirdos ooking for points of connection in an uncomfortable world, the very idea of “forgotten” makes our hearts race and we think you’re crazy to resist! An abandoned parking lot or the field of an underutilized historic landmark in need of the funding, completely uncatalogued piles of every single thing ever possibly made by man or machine before this very day with no answers and not many hints, likely beginning an hour before dawn and potentially slogging through mud or 90 degrees, sounds better than sex! Its a never ending number of too crazy to be imagined stories, lives lived, lost achievements, personalities and insights all silenced by the years and the graves just waiting to wake up and chat. The age and construction of a thing, the society that produced it, the intent (folk art is ALL intent) of the maker, the make-do necessity of the materials used, how its aged and how its been damaged all tell the story. I can become aware of things I never imagined and with the context I piece together, so can the new owner. In the process, we all learn something about ourselves. Theres nothing better than that discovery and I’ve made ALL my professional choices in this life so that I can afford to run away to this circus every-day."


 
Art Deco Figural Electric Holy Religious Crown Antique Prop Remnant
Handmade and electrified by the same tiny hobby light bulbs any early train set would use, but a mystery past that. The imagination runs wild, part of some odd religious revival or stage play? Carnival prop or weird advertising? No idea, but its all patina and sculpture now!

 


1920s Post Toasties General Grocery Store Advertising Work Apron
The early 20thc American economy was not only moving rural to city, self reliant to national, but was unknowingly writing the rules of a modern global economy at the time. Like so many of our most insightful antiques, who would expect this apron to survive nearly 100 years? It dates to pretty much the moment when BRANDS made family owned General Stores into competitive groceries, first launching invasive campaigns into our collective conscious. The lucky laborer to wear this one got to wear a sign on his chest and advertise the day’s specials!

1919 Ruth Law Aviatrix Vintage Pilot Plane Barnstormer Antique Photo Pitch Card
Real historically relevancy is a rare treat, here is Ruth Law (Oliver) identified “Apollo Fair Mrs Oliver (married) on her frame stunt flier, August 8 1919” on reverse. Law bought her first Curtiss plane from Orville Wright in 1912 and in the next decade worked as a commercial pilot, dropped “baseballs” (grapefruits) from planes to Dodger catchers, set many flight records before being denied entry into WWI combat when we entered the War in 1917. Her passionate article “Let Women Fly” became canon for even decades later aviatrix.
 


Disturbing Wonderful 19thc Victorian Nursery Rhyme Playing Cards 
Antique paper should not be. It was only ever advertising, marketing or toys made cheaply and treated poorly. The quality of construction and carefully crafted graphics make so much of it timeless, when its lucky enough to survive the trash bin for a century. Much of it becomes unique by default and theres no research to be done, and such is the case here. These might have been made by a popular Victorian printing company McLoughlin Brothers, responsible for so many of our classic fairytale and nursery rhyme images, or maybe not.


Depression Era Make Do Feed Sack Window Screen Folk Art Bee Keepers Hat
Handmade things are usually born of necessity, but the art is in the spirit of survival and joy.  There is nothing new in the reuse of feed sacks during the Depression and Dust Bowl years, it was so common that Feed companies started to print patterns on the fabric for their customers. What shows spunk is taking a bit of window screen (itself a commodity at the time) and having sewn it loosely to two pieces of old feed sack charge into a beehive to get the family a little treat or sell the honey. That’s something, and that makes me smile.
——
www.curleysantiques.com
www.facebook.com/curleysden
http://stores.ebay.com/rarebooksandpaper

Howard Campbell Folk Art Collector and Collecting. A Piece I Won't Sell


As this is the fifth anniversary of the Dull Tool Dim Bulb Blog I thought I might revisit the very first post, from 2008, and a piece which still sits in my office.  I love it, of course, but that isn't the only reason it still sits next to me as I write this.  It sits here because the person I obtained it from told me to keep it.

Howard Campbell was one of the most interesting men I ever knew.  I'm not quite sure how to describe Howard, and those of you also fortunate enough to have known him will readily agree with me.  Let's see…a shock of white hair higher than a mountain?  Bare feet?  Bib Overalls, even in the most formal of places?  (Howard didn't go many formal places, if he could avoid it)  He didn't go to many places he couldn't be barefoot either…including his back yard covered in snow, which I myself saw him do several times without even a slight grimace. 

Howard was a folk art collector in the mountains of North Carolina.  A good one.  His house,  precariously placed atop a mountain, was for him a refuge, but for me a museum.  I cherish my visits there still. 

When Howard was a young boy, he visited a wonderland of small woodcarvings created by Earl Eyman of Oklahoma.  Eyman carved hundreds of tiny figures…you can see a few here I used to own, but Howard never owned any.  The house was a miniature museum of circus figures, baseball games, patriotic scenes and more.  He charged a dime to get in.  The Eyman environment was dispersed, and over the years I would find them at shows and such, love them for a while, and then trade them to Howard.  He loved them even more than I.  For me, an Earl Eyman carving was as good as cold cash at the Howard Campbell mountain museum, and I squeezed a few things out of it by dangling the little carvings in Howard's face over the years.  I got good at picking them out at folk art shows and such, and I did it for Howard.  No small feat, as the figures were tiny and their provenance was lost, having been dispersed and eventually tossed into boxes with more important things.  Two I found are here.  I found an astounding little carving of a woman holding a flag once, and Howard got that one too.  

When I met Howard for the first time, we shared another interest.  I had just quit drinking, and he was trying to.  I told Howard, who would mask his vodka in bottles of Mountain Dew soda, that I would always be there to help him if he wanted to chat.  I succeeded in quitting and have been sober a long, long time.  Howard didn't.   I don't think that is a secret either of us kept to ourselves really,  so I can share it here.  It was appropriate a decade or so after I met Howard, that many of the 22 boxes holding his collection of books on Southern folk art were sold out of cartoons which once held vodka and whisky bottles.  I don't know if it killed him, but it couldn't have helped.  My offer to help keep him sober may have ultimately allowed me to purchase the piece you see above.  It was one of Howard's favorites too, and he had a standing offer from me to purchase it whenever he was ready to sell it.  For YEARS.  And every time I visited and saw it there, the offer went up a bit, but he would wave me off.  To this day, although I never asked him, I believe he allowed it me to finally purchase it out of his own regret for failing to conquer the bottle.  After five years of my offers, he had two requirements.  One was the price, which was fair, and the other was that I never sell it.  People say that, but he meant it.  I won't ever sell it, and I have already moved it 800 miles once.

The piece is a handmade desk, dresser, chest, whatever with an attempted decorative scroll and the original mirror.  It dates to the late 1800's and was likely made by an African-American man who was a former slave who ended up in Tennessee, which is where Howard found it, and he told me so.  There is a name in pencil on the inside I have never even tried to research.

Howard Campbell was a brilliant man. That is an overused term.  It applies here.  Amy and Steve Slotin, auctioneers north of Atlanta who sold a large chunk of Howard's collection while he was living (to benefit the American Museum of Folk Art, as he wished) asked him to write his autobiography for their auction catalog.  A portion follows:

"I was always a collector. As a small child on our chicken farm in N.W. Arkansas, I dragged a horse skeleton out of the woods and tried to re-assemble it. The time was WWII. Mom and Dad were getting white rocks from hatchlings to broilers in seven weeks. I was dragging stuff out of the woods. I was an only; a self-absorbed/contained little kid. The parents (God keep them!) would ask me what I wanted for Christmas, birthday, whatever, and I would answer, “A little brother!” Because they had different rhesus factors it was 1947 before advancing medical technology gave it a chance. My little brother was born on Valentine’s Day in 1948. He and my sister-in-law don’t want any of this stuff! Being of sound mind and judgment, but realizing that a tree could fall on my head tomorrow...

But enough about me. Amy and Steve asked me to write some kind of bio-sketch that would emphasize my philosophy of collecting.


Philosophy, Schmilosophy! If it made me laugh, or chuckle, or snort, and it wasn’t too expensive, I dragged it home, where it was immediately lost amid the other junk...If it should affect others likewise, please bid and keep bidding! My poor widowed mother needs new shoes. That last sentence was a lie... My mother went to Heaven over five years ago. Like me, she hated shoes. Imelda Marcos she wasn’t.
Mom came close to being a Zen Master. She begged her children, grandchildren, etc. NOT to buy her ANYTHING for Christmas, birthday, whatever. And she meant it! I understand more and more what she was saying. Who wants to spend his last years dusting the bust of the deceased Duke?
It’s simply the thrill of the chase, or of the find, gentle readers. The money’s worth less (one Euro = $1.30) as I write. So keep bidding... 


An English gentleman (Thomas Rowlandson - borrowed from Hippocrates) wrote “Life is short, but art is long...”* Remember that and keep your paddles in the air. Your kids don’t need expensive Nikes, Converses, etc. either. They’re better off barefooted. Watching out for broken glass or dog doo will serve to sharpen their perceptions. Believe me, I know."



Well, that's Howard, and he talked like that too.  He was funny.  He was hilarious.  He could paint too, and while I can only find one online, it's a good one, a one-eyed dog and a young boy I believe is Howard.    I wanted one of his paintings too, but he never delivered.

Portions of the Howard Campbell collection of American Folk Art was exhibited at the William King collection in Virginia and the Hickory Museum of Art in North Carolina.  Once in a while, he would truck down some smalls and put them in an antique booth in Banner Elk, North Carolina.  He served in the Navy.  His bathtub was hand built of stones from around his house, and he listened to the radio, bluegrass usually, from a space taller than the towers which broadcast it.

Books and affordable ebooks ($5.99) by Jim Linderman are available HERE



Jim Linderman Interview 2010



Grand Haven Collector Nominated for Grammy for Historical Album
John Sinkevics, Grand Rapids Press January 31, 2010


GRAND HAVEN -- Jim Linderman jokes that the historical compilation of gospel songs and yellowed photographs probably ranks as one of the worst-selling Grammy-nominated albums ever.

But the Grand Haven collector, who worked 10 years as a CBS News researcher, also credits his peculiar fascination with old photos and roots music for producing something truly Grammy-worthy, because it preserves a rarely documented slice of American history.

"I guess I'm a popular-culture historian. I've always found a niche that no one else had paid attention to," he says, sipping coffee at his dining room table. "I just know no one had ever done a book on it before.As a result, "Take Me to the Water: Immersion Baptism in Vintage Music and Photography 1890-1950" is up for a Grammy tonight for best historical album, with Linderman listed as a "compilation engineer."

Linderman, who will attend the ceremonies in Los Angeles, spent more than a decade buying old pictures of river baptisms from around the United States. He then teamed up with Atlanta's Dust-to-Digital record label, which paired 75 of those photos with vintage recordings of baptism-related gospel songs and sermons. Linderman also wrote an introduction for the book.

"These pictures convinced me there is an art to photography. What they depict is so striking," Linderman, 56, says. "I knew I had something important, and I knew (Dust-to-Digital producers) would do a good job. ... Everybody who sees it, loves it."

A 1971 graduate of Grand Haven High School who moved back to West Michigan from New York in 2008, Linderman freely admits he's a bit of an eccentric. He describes himself as an "Americana iconoclast" who takes a non-traditional approach to collecting historical photos, music and objects.

"I'm a historian. I'm interested in the arts and how they relate to other cultural experiences. For me, it's all about authenticity," he says of his obsessive collecting. "I'm interested in obscure things. ... I'm interested in getting way down deep. That's where the contributions are made."

When Linderman decides to collect something, he goes all out. Over the years, he's collected ice-fishing decoys, delved into the seminal recordings of punk, jazz, blues, country and gospel music, and self-published a book based on a collection of photos of nude women whose faces are hidden from the camera.

"I'm constantly torn between Sunday morning and Saturday night," he quips.

He's compiling photos of circus-sideshow freaks as well as antique tintypes, small metal sheets containing photographic images. These tintypes feature portraits of people in front of elaborately painted backdrops that became popular more than a century ago. Linderman said no one's ever explored the art of these backdrops, which could be the subject of another book.

"If it wasn't for collectors, this stuff would be gone," Linderman says. "I just like doing things that aren't normal. I've never been interested in the mainstream."

It's an unconventional streak that extends to Linderman's teen years. That's when he'd sneak out of a window at home to watch then-fledgling punk icon and Muskegon native Iggy Pop and his band, the Stooges, play the Grand Haven Roller Rink. That's also where he saw early shows by rock bands MC5 and Alice Cooper.

It continued after he graduated from Central Michigan University and earned a library science degree from Western Michigan University. After working five years for Upjohn pharmaceutical company in Kalamazoo, he headed for New York City, mostly because he wanted to explore the punk-rock music scene at clubs such as CBGB's and the Mudd Club.He worked as a researcher for CBS News for 10 years and later as a librarian for a major advertising agency. Suffering from chronic bronchitis and emphysema, he left New York for health reasons a little more than a year ago, returning to Michigan with his actress wife, Janna, to be closer to his parents, Craig and Beverly Linderman.

The idea behind his Grammy-nominated project was born when he spotted a photo of a river baptism in a book on African-American art about 15 years ago.

Intrigued by the human emotions and spiritual power displayed in the faded, wrinkled and scratched photos, Linderman began collecting them "because you can feel something going on in the pictures and because images are reflected in the water. As an artist, they're striking. The people (are) nervous. They're cold. They're wet. They're literally being saved. It's not just a picture, it's an event that's been captured."

At first, he pored over photos at yard and garage sales. Later, he scanned auctions on e-Bay, snapping up every baptismal photo he found.

With about 120 photos in hand, he contacted Dust-to-Digital, because the label specializes in historical compilations and reissues of rare gospel, blues, folk and country recordings. The label liked the idea and tracked down a host of historical 78 rpm recordings of baptismal services and related gospel songs by performers ranging from The Carter Family to The Southern Wonders Quartet.

Linderman concedes the project is "a break-even" proposition financially, because it targets a small niche audience. "They're not pop songs, so I knew (the album) wouldn't be a financial success, but I knew it would be an artistic success," he says.

Still, the rare photos will get more exposure come the spring: Linderman sold his collection to New York's International Center of Photography, which plans to open an exhibit of the photos in May.

While Linderman says fewer than 2,000 copies of "Take Me to the Water" had been sold as of early January, Dust-to-Digital's Steven Lance Ledbetter notes "sales have been steady. ... We hope the Grammy nomination and forthcoming exhibition at ICP in May will help the book and CD reach a wider audience."

("Take Me to the Water" is available online at amazon.com and dust-digital.com; Linderman also sells other books on his Web site.)

Linderman concedes "Take Me to the Water" faces stiff competition in the Grammy's historical album category from "The Complete Chess Masters" (a Little Walter compilation), "My Dusty Road" (a Woody Guthrie collection), "Origins of the Red Hot Mama" (a Sophie Tucker tribute) and "Woodstock -- 40 Years On: Back to Yasgur's Farm." Regardless, he's "thrilled" to be nominated for his "labor of love."

And after returning from Los Angeles, he'll hunker back down in the office of his Grand Haven home, tracking down more obscure, historical photos while listening to post-war blues music.

"I'm an artist. I do consider what I do the art of collecting," he says. "I have no shortage of ideas."

G0121Grammy river baptism.jpg


Striking Photographs by John Stryker. Fast Modern Action Pictures of the Rodeo









The modest little postcard folder I found here opens up a striking world...Stryker's world! A regional photographer who deserves to be rediscovered, John A. Stryker obtained his first camera in 1916 while occupied as a penmanship teacher and was soon attracted to more adventurous activity. Stryker began photographing the local cowboys and rodeos. I don't know what type of lens he used, but these images would almost qualify him to take pictures in a war zone with combat pay. Kodak thought so as well and used one of his pictures in an early advertising campaign. Stryker also used his voice to advantage at the rodeo. Blessed with a barreling baritone larger than those rodeo clowns hid in, it is said he could be heard 3/4 of a mile away without a microphone. So while taking pictures, he became a rodeo announcer and was soon hired by no less than the Ringling Brothers to announce acts!

After years traveling with the circus, Stryker retired to Fort Worth and spent the rest of his life taking pictures. In addition to many postcards, he sold images for restaurant place mats and through mail order. The images here are from "Stryker's Famous Rodeo Folder Number Three" and the postcard book became a catalog for selling enlargements at $1.00 each, but "if special, made to order glossy prints are wanted for reproduction, advertising and publicity" one is instructed to write for prices. He sold photos up to 40 x 60 inches in size and would "travel anywhere to make up-to-date pictures of rodeos, ranches, historical sites...and individual poses of fine cattle, horses or mounted people" and at one time, his inventory contained 1200 photos.

Stryker's work is held in the Lamb collection at the National Cowboy Museum and in thousands of postcard collections. I based much of the above on the history provided in Buffalo County Historical Society newsletter by Mardith Anderson.


"Famous Stryker's Collection of Modern Fast Action Pictures" postcard folder circa 1950 Collection Jim Linderman

Let's go to the Circus IN THE BASEMENT







There are LOTS of circus models, but I think only one is being auctioned this month in Canada. Maynard's in Vancouver is selling the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey circus made by Bert and Bill Backstein on May 20. As you can see, the Backstein boys even made tiny sideshow banners. The first two photos show but a "small" amount of the material being sold.

Other circus replicas abound. Just a few more are shown here, but there are hundreds of miniature circus carvings, probably one in each town... John Zweifel's staggering miniature with hoards of Lilliputians crowding towards the entrance...and the Lou Ann Circus complete with operating electric generators, room for 10,000 tiny people and enough entertainment for them all, finally the tobacco scented creation of Ed Hollis. Every boy wanted to run away and join the circus at one time or another...some had to be content with making one downstairs.

Assorted Post Card Miniature circus models, c. 1950. Collection Jim Linderman