Category Archives: Pictures From Nowhere

Look Into Their Faces And See History

I have no idea who Mr George Day of Fairbury, Illinois was, or how the photograph of him and – I assume – his wife came into my possession. But now they are mine and I am prepared to share them with the world. They are fine figures, serious subjects, people who do not smile lightly. Look into their faces and see a different age, see history.

There’s Tons Of Money At The Palace

Walking To The Palace (1924)  : Taken from a photograph album of unknown origin.

It is August 1924 and we are walking to the cinema to see Leslie Henson in his latest film, “Tons of Money”. Where the cinema is and who we are is unknown, but film itself provides a date stamp. The advert for the film claimed it was “the greatest British comedy ever filmed!”. It wasn’t.

A Grand Old Age

This is an old sepia photograph of a seaside resort, which was taken, I suspect, in the early twentieth century. I don’t know where it was taken: I am sure it is somewhere in England, but there are few clues in the photograph itself. There is what looks like a ruined castle on the top of a hill in the background, and for a time I flirted with the idea of Scarborough. The wall is too high, however, the buildings in the centre are too grand, and the harbour is missing. Wherever the photograph was taken it is evocative of a grand old age.

Stone Antiquities And Tree Trunk Props

This little Victorian Carte de Visite dates from a time when photographs were for special occasions, rather than the result of a selfie-click on a smartphone. Young men or women would have their photographs taken on birthdays and holidays, wearing their very best clothes, and posing against a background of stone antiquities and tree-trunk props (the props really were to prop you up and keep you still to accommodate the lengthy shutter speeds of the Victorian cameras). Every northern mill town would have its fill of photographic studios, and these would often have branches in the seaside towns that were becoming more and more popular for Bank Holiday trips.

Who this young lady is, I have no idea, but she has the look of a woman of strong character, who might just have severed that tree branch all by herself.

Removals, Renovations And Warehousing

Sometimes, old photographs lay around for ages, decades, centuries – holding within them images of great beauty. They are warehouses of history, repositories of memories, constantly being removed from pillar to post, from old cupboard to old shoebox. And then someone comes and with the help of a little digital renovation, a new image emerges from the shadows.

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