I wouldn't have had a business the past forty plus years.
For each of us our first introduction to type was probably books or newspapers. Someone read to us when we were young and we longed to be able to read ourselves. Once you learned to read you realized that type could lead you on endless journeys, though you most likely weren't actually thinking about type itself.
When I was in art college studying design we went on a field trip to a local large typesetter. I watched a man sitting at a Linotype machine setting type. That was the one and only time I ever saw someone use hot metal. A lot of the hot metal was eventually destroyed, sold off as scrap metal.
By the time I got out of college type was already starting to be set more and more digitally, but still required a knowledgeable typesetter to do the work. I spent my first year out of college working for various companies doing paste-up of typesetting. It was boring and meticulous work. I eventually got a job at a large publisher where again I was doing mostly paste-up for months before I was finally given my first book to design. From then on I was often the one telling the typesetter what to do. I would write out detailed specifications, creating the architecture for the books. I was very good at this. A good compositor could typeset a whole book just by reading my specifications, no visual layouts needed.
And then, what can I say, the home computer came along, and then Adobe postscript, and….
All the typesetters I knew are out of business. Some had invested tens of thousands of dollars to try to keep abreast of what was happening, to no avail. First it was actually the larger compositors that disappeared. They were bought up by people in India who came in and shut down the US operations. Eventually the little houses couldn't compete. You would really be stunned to find out how much typesetting is being done in India today. Good paying jobs around the world were lost; whole industries disappeared. It's the story of free trade and the modern world.
There's another side to type that before only people who worked with type appreciated. The art of creating and using a font was not something we shared with the masses. And then again, the computer changed all that. Suddenly anyone could sit down and do typesetting without any regard to some of the most common rules required for good typesetting. People were able to collect fonts and use them however they wanted. You don't have to look far these days to find appalling typesetting, but there's not much we can do about it.
Looking at the Sepia Saturday prompt this week I spent a lot of time looking at the paint drying on the inside of my eyelids. Nothing. Nada. Zip. I could't think of anything that I had that would work. So I started perusing my drive in hopes I'd find something which would keep me from dragging out the heavy duty boxes of my collection. And then I saw it, an image from a post I did in 2009. It was meant to be because just as the ladies are rescuing art in the Sepia Saturday post so was I when I bought this photo.
So now, imagine everything getting wavy for a moment while we step back in time to January 29, 2009. You can add the Hollywood time traveling music if your imagination is up to it, something like wooooooo woooooooo.
Last summer I was wandering through my local flea market when I spotted this vintage photograph. I was immediately drawn to it, asked the price, and was told 3 dollars. Okay, first thing you need to know is I'm cheap. Very cheap. I put the photo back down and told the woman I'd have to think about it. I wandered around unable to concentrate on anything else I was seeing. Three dollars. I was stupid to not grab it. But then I kept thinking where will I hang it? It measures 12" x 14". Not huge, but just not sure what to do with it. Obviously I went back and said "I'll take it!" Had a bit of a scare because the woman had hidden it behind a stack of cheezy paintings and I immediately was mentally hitting myself upside my head thinking "FOOL! It was only 3 bucks!" She'd hidden it for me so nobody else would buy it. Nice lady. Anyway, enough about how I found this and a little bit about the photo.
The photographer was Mervyn D. Silberstein and this hand tinted photo has a date of 1914 beneath his name.
Mr. Silberstein was born in 1885 in San Francisco. However, he was raised in Healdsburg, California, north of San Francisco in Sonoma County. His father owned a dry goods store. While attending college in Healdsburg he took up photography. He was already a cartoonist and a writer for a local paper, the Sotoyome Sun. Eventually he opened his own photography store where he sold supplies and did photography work for the local community.
In around 1909 the Silberstein family moved back to San Francisco. Mervyn got a job at an advertising agency where he did graphic design, then called commercial art. He is responsible for the FTD Mercury symbol used by the florist industry.
He was fascinated by Chinatown and it is here that he took this photo. His work around Chinatown, mostly photographing children, covered this part of San Francisco following the great earthquake of 1906. He took mostly snapshots, though some photos were posed with costumes.
His photos were marketed as both postcards and, as he called them, Chinee-Graphs which were sold in wooden frames like shown surrounding the photo above. The frame on mine is original though missing the top piece seen in the brochure below. He claims that his work had been shown in art galleries around the country. I do have one review written by C. S. James, Critic Picture Department of the high end SF department store S. & G. Gumps stating, "...Mr. Silberstein's pictures...belong to an entriely higher class, being worthy of being classed both in photography and painting as art works."
Mr. Silberstein died in 1956.
Currently the Healdsburg Museum is the repository of much of Mr. Silbersteins work, including his cameras. They can be reached at P.O Box 952, Healdsburg, CA, 95448. Phone number is 707.431.3325.
That three dollars was worth every penny because looking at this smiling "grandfather" with the child always makes me smile. I get drawn in wondering about the people, if their relatives are still alive living in the SF/Bay Area. I wish there was more information online about Mr. Silberstein.
Sadly, since I first did this post the first page that shows up doing a search of Silberstein is my original post. Come on folks, I should never be listed as an authority for anything. Somewhere out there is someone who can add information about Mr. Silberstein beyond the slivers of history I found.
I doubt Team Stool Standing will ever become an Olympic event, but you never know. The world keeps getting weirder each day so I'm almost ready for just about anything. Eventually we all have to step outside our comfort zone.
When you're a caregiver for an elderly person you spend a lot of time worrying about them. And when they get sick with a bad cold you worry even more. And then when you see them coughing and sneezing and touching everything in sight you start to worry about yourself. You know there's no hope, you're going to get sick. And so that is how my life has played out lately. Tissues sticking out of my nostrils, mouth breathing, and eyes that wouldn't stop itching. Fortunately it has now mostly passed, but the downtime did give me time to spend wandering around online looking at vintage snapshots that I would never buy.
I've talked about my theory in the past that Kodak cameras set women free to express themselves in ways they'd never before been able to do. Being silly and having fun with no concern about what society thought was acceptable and often shows up in old snapshots. There were good genuine laughs to be had and shared. Today making pouty faces and taking selfies are the norm. Appearing self-absorbed seems to be a goal. So I wonder about the future poor soul fifty years from now wanting to collect "vintage" snapshots and faced with one selfie after another. I leave that worry to the future. Of course, a good portion of those photos will only be saved as digital files so there's a good possibility that many of them won't survive. Imagine a world free of Kardashian photos. Makes me smile.
But there is one thing I did notice the past few weeks which is that if you go in search of vintage photos you'll find the majority of them feature woman as the subject. I don't know why I never noticed this before. Shots of men are most often in uniforms or business suits. Occasionally you find them in casual clothes having a good laugh; of course the sellers immediately label them "gay" in hopes of taping into that market when they're actually just buddies having fun. Was it the actual fear that taking photos of playing around as friends would label them as homosexual so they stayed away from it? Women always interact differently than men so for them being both physically and emotionally close comes through as just girls being girls, no sexual connotation given.
So tell me what you think. Have women historically been the subject of snapshots more than men? I think in the future it will even out since men are just inclined to take selfies as women. And just think of all the genital shots in the future for all those unfortunate collectors. Perhaps they should be called taking a snapcrotch.
And now that I've read this back I think maybe I kept those tissues stuffed in my runny nose a bit too long and starved my brain of some necessary oxygen. But I'm still sticking with my theory. Women had more fun in front of cameras than men thanks to Kodak Brownies. _____
This week's Sepia Saturday prompt is a small village in England, Clovelly. I visited Clovelly a long time ago. I went out of my way to find it after having seen photos in a UK brochure.
The year of my trip was approximately eighteen months after an auto accident on Hollywood Boulevard. I'd spent ten months in physical therapy and was in the midst of a lawsuit to try and receive compensation for my losses. I was also on the verge of going nuts. My stress level was as high as it could go and I needed to leave everything behind. Find a place where for a short time I could shake out the cobwebs and feel free of everything. Yeah, so…the trip sort of worked.
The three months before my trip I'd spent fighting walking pneumonia. By the time I got to England the worst of it had passed, but I still had a horrible sounding cough that would shake the rafters in many old English hotels. So the reality was that Clovelly was not the best choice for me being that no vehicles are allowed and it's a walk down a steep cobblestone street from the car park followed by an even more stressful walk back up the same cobblestone street to the welcoming front seat of my rental car.
The cat as I went downhill.
The night before venturing to Clovelly I'd stayed in Bude and had gone to a local bakery in the morning to buy a meat pie for a "picnic" in Clovelly. When I travel I'm cheap; otherwise I could never afford to travel.
So meat pie in my purse, camera in my hand, I began my descent into Clovelly. The going down was easy. No problems. No coughing or lungs heaving. I stopped into a shop to buy a 7-UP. I stupidly assumed 7-UP would be available in England. I was wrong. I always got sold some weird concoction that wasn't lemonade or 7-UP. Generally it was pretty dreadful, but it's what they had so I bought it. As I wandered around the shop, eyeing ice cream bars, the owner asked, "Are you here for the job?" I turned and looked at him wondering if he was actually talking to me. I'm figuring I look like a tourist. I reek of tourist. Apparently not. I looked like a local and he wanted to know if I wanted a job. I told him no and he said, "Pity." Now I'm not a person used to compliments, but I took that as one and it made me smile and walk a little straighter down the hill. (I was not walking straight coming back up.)
I got to the bottom of the hill and heard people having a grand time in the Red Lion Hotel, probably very nice meals. But that was not my destination. I was heading for the beach for my picnic. Ummmmm…this is the beach. Not what a girl from California is used to. But I settled down on the stones with my lunch and my can of soda. It took a bit of work to move the stones around just right so my soda would sit level enough to not spill. Everything was going along fine and dandy until a hornet decided it wanted my soda. Let's just say it looked like a mad comedy routine with me battling the hornet for possession of the soda. Some people leave their hearts in San Francisco. I left my soda in Clovelly.
It just screams picnic!
The same cat as I climbed uphill. She'd seen all of this before.
Having had enough of my picnic I headed uphill. It was a slow and very painful climb. I was leaning on posts, buildings, bushes…anything to keep me upright and moving uphill. Eventually I crash landed on a curb conveniently just outside the doctor's office. I was sitting there gasping for air when he came out with his black medical bag heading for an appointment. He was not expecting to find someone doing heavy breathing at his front door.
"Are you okay."
I could manage a nod and a wave of my hand.
"Are you sure?"
A smile, a wave, and a thumbs up. I think I probably got out "Yes, thank you" but I can't be sure.
The donkeys who kept whispering to each other and laughing at me.
And the nice lady who let the wild haired heavy breathing woman take her picture. Bless her.
Eventually I made it back to the car park and the rental car with the worst automatic transmission in the world. I sat for awhile just breathing before thinking, "Okay, now where?" In a little while I was back on the road to my next destination.
I'd like to say my health improved as the weeks passed, but the reality is a few days after visiting Clovelly I was staying with a friend at her digs in Oxford where I got a concussion on a low pitched ceiling. So the rest of my trip was cough two, moan two, and try to not die in any hotel rooms.
I'm late getting my post in this Saturday, but I finally found the slides and decided to share my story. It's rare I share anything from my life more than a few odd bits and pieces. This is just a slightly longer bit and piece.
A journey via vintage snapshots through the world of dolls and their owners from the early part of the 20th century to the 1960s. This is volume 7 in the Tattered and Lost Vernacular Photography series.
The Quiet Art of Reading at Amazon
Before being overwhelmed by a future of snapshots of people staring at nondescript tablets and smartphones, it would be nice to be reminded of the romance of reading a worn copy of a favorite book in a quiet and comfortable place. The beauty of the act of reading should be celebrated. That is what this book attempts to do.
BUCKAROOS AND BUCKARETTES at Amazon
Tattered and Lost: Buckaroos and Buckarettes is a collection of vintage snapshots for those who remember riding the range when they were kids. These adventures usually consisted of sitting in front of a black and white television or running around the neighborhood with our shiny six-guns strapped to our sides. Our imaginations created entire worlds that never existed. We sang along with our heroes, convinced that with a song in our heart and a six-gun on our hip we could vanquish evil. This book is dedicated to all the other buckaroos and buckarettes who rode their imaginations into the sunset while humming Happy Trails. Buy it at Amazon.
CAKES, PICNICS, AND WATERMELON at Amazon
Collecting vintage photographs starts out innocent enough with a few snapshots here and there, but at some point it becomes a bit more obsessive and you find yourself longing for the next image that makes you laugh or ponder the irrefutable confusion of being human. This book, Tattered and Lost: Cakes, Picnics, and Watermelon, the fourth in a series, shows the quirky world of sharing food from the 1890s to the 1970s in the United States. Sit back and enjoy watching people cut cakes (some people do it with such style!), go on picnics without your relatives, and watch people eat watermelon. Yes, eat watermelon. An odd category for sure, but one sure to make you smile. Buy it at Amazon.
Vernacular Photographs at Amazon
Tattered and Lost: Vernacular Photographs, is volume 1 in my self-published books showing photos from my collection. Photographs play off each other on facing pages asking the viewer to come to their own conclusion as to what they are looking at. Included is a photo of the Pennsylvania Railroad S1 steam locomotive, designed by Raymond Loewy, on display at the 1939 New York World’s Fair. And one of the few known copies of a photo taken by Rudolph D’Heureuse in 1863 proving there were indeed camels used by the U. S. Cavalry is included. So take a step back in time and visit with some folks who long ago smiled and said “cheese” never knowing how long those smiles would last. Buy it at Amazon.
TELLING STORIES at Amazon
In need of writing prompts? Looking for a gift for a friend who loves vintage photographs? Tattered and Lost: Telling Stories is now available from CreateSpace and Amazon. Click on the image to find out more! Buy it at Amazon.
CHILDHOOD at Amazon
A new and expanded edition of Tattered and Lost: Childhood. Available at CreateSpace and Amazon. Better price, more pages, larger trim size. Click on the image to read more about it. Buy it at Amazon.
Tattered and Lost is about some of the found and/or vernacular photography in my collection.
Unless you're an incredibly organized person you probably have a few stray photos tucked away that you've forgotten about. No matter how many family members or friends say they love you, sooner or later, a photo of you is going to slip through the cracks and end up in the hands of someone who knows nothing about you. Such are the photos at this site.
Photographs of the ordinary by the ordinary.
All photos are from my private collection. They may NOT be used in any manner without my permission. I retain all copyrights. Contact me if you wish to use one of them. You might be surprised by my answer.
All words are mine. I own them. Okay, well, the person who invented each word owns them, but I own my thoughts. It's about all I own. Don't steal my thoughts.