Category Archives: Pictures From Nowhere

The Porthcawl Ventriloquist


This is a scan of a tiny print from an equally tiny album of photographs taken in Wales in the early 1930s. This particular print is captioned “The Ventriloquist, Porthcawl : Whit Monday 1932“. “Tommy Porthcawl” – whose real name was Sydney Valentine – was famous for his sketches and ventriloquist act on Porthcawl beach in the early 1930s. According to an interview with his daughter in 2006, his fame extended further than the rocky sands of Porthcawl, and he had appeared on BBC Radio on a number of occasions. Ventriloquism on the radio always seems to be an easy option as far as I can see!

Turning Up The Prince Of Wales


This little albumen carte-de-visite of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (who was later to become King Edward VII) turned up in a job lot of old Victorian prints I bought the other week. It dates from about 1862 and comes from the Paris studios of Emile Desmaisons. 

The print is now over 150 years old and as fresh as a pasteboard daisy. How many of the smartphone snaps of today will achieve the same longevity?


Who Is Crossing The North Sea?



One of the most difficult challenges with old photograph albums is identifying the albums creator, as – by definition in those pre-smart phone days – the photographer rarely features in the photographs themselves. In the 1925 Northern Capitals album, there is an intriguing series of photographs taken whilst the cruise ship was “crossing the North Sea” which seems to identify a series of potential photographers.

Surely it must be possible to analyse who is missing from each photograph and thus equate it with the four named photographers and thus identify who took the one marked “mine”. Good luck.

Northern Capitals 16 : Arrival In Oslo



The caption under this photograph states “Oslo and the SS City Of Nagpur from the mountains”. The camera lens clearly was not up to the challenge: either that or the ship has sunk beneath the sepia waves.


This time the caption says “Carl Johans Gate, Oslo – with the Grand Hotel”. I instantly recognised the scene as I had walked down the very same street less than two years ago.

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