Wednesday, December 30, 2015

All Things Merry and Bright

Definitely from the Sinister Nineteenth Century Department.  Time to read The Scripture.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Acknowledged Favorite

I don't think he's really playing.  Charming and peculiar detail: the white lozenge-like ornaments on the chair, the violin, the bow, and of course His Himness's "shorty" leather overall.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Joy to the World Etc.

Dutch (I think) Xmas greeting with a sinister someone seeming to rise out of a steaming hot bathtub which turns out to be a little bed.  I covet purply nightshirt of female urchin on the left.  If they happen to look up, they are going to jump out of their skin.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Men in Their Off-Hours (Not)

Mustaches required, it seems.  Don't know when this photograph was taken, but it remains a still-daunting challenge to the viewer.  Do not ignore or demean us.  We are intel-ligent men.  We gave you many things you value.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Still In The Asparagus Biz

Another beautiful card showing Sicilian occupations and their costumes.  Gorgeous subtlety to the colors here.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Preternatural Children Department

A slightly odd version of the standard circa 1900 French 'pretty child' postcard genre.  The blowsy hair and the tension in the arrangement of the mouth--a slightly curled lip on one side and raised nostril--makes this sequin-speckled girl strangely "adult" in presentation.  There's a critical dimension, a kind of incipient bluestocking-ism, here that puzzles.  Puzzles me, at least.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Home-Made Dog Brontosaurians

A hand-colored postcard drawn in  idiot savant mode.  (The medium is chalk pastel.) Luckily, dogs' short legs and insanely long backs (are they meant to be Retrievers?) do not impinge altogether disastrously on the nobility of the scene.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

My Favorite Derviche

The hair, the hat--he'ze got it going on.  And did I ever say turquoisey-greeny-yallery is my favorite color combination of the moment?

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Still Going Strong!

Dreadful how I've been neglecting my Almanac!   A rich haul from most recent Vintage Paper and Postcard fair, tho.....  So stay tuned.   

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Saturday, June 20, 2015

We Struggled To Understand

But some things are just not self-explanatory.  No, this is not--as far as anyone knows--Rachel Dolezal.  But then who is this coy lady and what is that *thing* she is posing in?  It looks at first like a gigantic piece of rubber tubing, but in the bottom frame, it has begun to take on the appearance of a giant eggplant.  She's resting in it, seemingly unperturbed.

Let's All Be Sultry Together

Not a contact sheet, exactly, but a scan I made after hauling off a bunch of anon. photos from a junk shop on 18th Street in the Mission.  I will need to process everything individually, obviously--especially those strips that ARE from contact sheets, of the same cheesy model--but I think the scan page make an intriguing all-female portfolio as it is.

Click to zoom, of course.

Thursday, June 18, 2015


There is hair and there is hair.  And sometimes it takes your breath away. 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Someone Running Through Spray

It's a very sad day; this image feels especially good.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Scarlet Pimpernel.....

.....  you go here, you go there---how can I ever thank you enough for what you've done for me.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

So I Don't Care?

Who exactly is speaking here?  Pierrette or the homunculus?

The Funny Little Man--to quote the title of Virginia Smith's book (one of my favorite books ever)--is a design joke that never gets stale.   See another version (one of many I have) below.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Don't Point That Thing At Me

To my chagrin, one of my suppliers of archival news photos has gone out of business.  (Sniff.)  But before the sun sank into the sea, I made some interesting bargain purchases: this being one.  Valley Forge Hospital, 1944--so I presume it shows some kind of rehabilitative therapy for a military man.  All very PT-109.  

Yet hard not to marvel, too, at the suggestive poetics of the image and     *serious* plumbing works here on view.  A veritable plethora of stop cocks and nozzles.   Those basins on the right were obviously edited out when the photo ran, but what exactly are they?  Urinals?  Sinks?  Bidets?   Part of the treatment?

Finally--just noticed--that small touch of 'white out' masking liquid just beneath the man's hand, in front-crotch area.  Would seem to be there, presumably, to disguise any compromising militaristic bulge, especially given that Nurse Cherry Ames, playful medical minx, appears to aim her spray at her patient's more ticklish parts.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Is No Me

If any old photo nuts are out there who recognize this vision of loveliness, do please let me know!   Photo, which seems to have been marked up for use in a magazine in the 1930s, discovered in Paris, at flea market stalls off Rue St Paul.  I confess that expression-wise and tweedy-coat-wise, this lady might be mistaken by some for me.  I have never, however, let a cigarette ash grow so dangerously long that Smokey the Bear might have to be called in.  I'd say she's definitely French.   Perhaps Marguerite Yourcenar on a *very* good day?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Effortless Skill

French children's book cover, ca. 1920. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Guignol Toupée by Brian

I require help of Toupinet, for sure: floppy forelock of recently adopted Beach Boy hairstyle, has gotten just a little bit too floppy.  I was hoping to look like Brian Wilson, ca., release of "Don't Worry, Baby."  But I don't think it's working.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Nous Sommes T-Ball

I begin laborious but enjoyable job of sorting through massive pile of vintage postcards, ticket stubs, old illustrated papers, anonymous photos I acquired over the past three months in Paris.  Keep watching this space.

Here: a lurid specimen of French starter kitsch from the 1940s or 1950s: glossy pixie flesh and hair tousled just so--au point.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Last Paris Days

....and a final wander around the Cimitière Montparnasse.  One of its less fortunate inhabitants.   

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Antoinette & Blerio: or, The Up-Ended Monoplane

I've only just figured out this delightful card.  Googling "Antoinette & Blerio" led me at once to the celebrated French aviator and inventor Louis Blériot, who in 1909 made the first flight across the English Channel in a heavier than air aircraft. "Blériot was also the first," says Wikipedia, "to make a working, powered, piloted monoplane and the founder of a successful aircraft manufacturing company."  But Google was also twigging on "Antoinette"--a French manufacturer of "light petrol engines" of the very sort used by Blériot in his various experimental aircraft at the start of the twentieth century.  ("Antoinette also became a pioneer-era   builder of aeroplanes before World War I, most notably the record-breaking monoplanes flown by Hubert Latham and René Labouchèr.")

Ah, now it all makes sense: the impossible contraption the aerialist "Blerio"  is using (improbably)  to stand on here is part up-ended monoplane!   The place of performance is "sur the Champ d'Aviation"--probably referring to the Champ d'aviation de la Brayelle, an airfield near Arras, where Blériot tested some of his early planes.

Now the Collector must ponder: she thought to put this recently-acquired card in her large image-binder devoted to turn-of-the-century circus acts, but now it seems to be in the category of  "aviation" card.

Monday, February 16, 2015

One is Not Born A Woman, One Becomes a Woman

Teaching The Second Sex here to Stanford-in-Paris students: having difficulty engaging them in it---all those issues seems indeed *so long ago*.  The 'Female Masquerade' seemingly more entrenched than ever.....

Friday, February 13, 2015

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Our Special Outfits: Two Cartes de Visite


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Belle Epoque Advert

Have become fascinated by La Samaritaine, 19th-century Art Nouveau department store on the Rue de Rivoli.  Currently closed, while megabillionaire Japanese owners, who recently purchased the huge complex--complete with thermal baths-- try to figure out what to do with it.  This beautifully green-colored advertisement, with haughty child and lady (mother?) gently holding gloved hand of other lady, captures the antique glamor of the place.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Portrait on Wood

Found in little antiques shop in the Marais this week: a photograph attached to a piece of wood then handpainted.  I've not seen this particular handling of the photo before, and all one can say is the colorist knew what he/she was doing.  The comparison with "hand-tinted" tintypes and cartes de visite one comes across in the US hardly favors the latter.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Paris Est Étrange Department

Advert in a café window on the Boulevard Raspail.  The arms and legs are peculiarly disturbing.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Preserve Us...

...from Kidney and
Bladder Affections.

Thursday, January 1, 2015


A large cabinet card from Barcelona--world-wide source of good things.  I think it's a young woman, but Pierrot is a notoriously ambisexual archetype.