Fooled Again!

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Okay, time to admit it, if you are going to be a collector and take some chances, once in a while you are going to get burned – those are the rules of the game. A card that is suppose to be old is a reproduction, a stuffed toy is in poorer condition than advertised – it happens. In the process of doing a large buy on a postcard site, early one morning (think pre-coffee) I added this one into the batch, believing perhaps that the figure in the middle was actually wearing a Felix costume. Actually, don’t know what I was thinking. Once it arrived, it took a little while for me to even find the darn Felix!

Still, now that it is here, it is a strange and unusual card if not necessarily one I would have purchased otherwise. Roughly tinted, this shows an unusual line-up of men. There’s something decidedly gruesome about this group – um, not really jolly somehow. Perhaps it is the sloppy coloration. I don’t know – and the spirit of Felix, pasted to the window behind them, hovering over them.


Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: I have a special fondness for photos of photographers and this woman with her camera in the woods seems like my spiritual sister. The location is exactly the kind I like to photograph – off in the woods, far away from all signs of human life. I love the camera she has and, although I am going out on a limb saying this, perhaps it is the kind used to make photo postcards? (Photography comrades, please feel free to weigh in on this.) I like that sporty camera case on the log next to her too. She’s very nip and tuck this woman. Although, while I happen to be a fan of dresses as comfortable and practical, I am not entirely sure I want to do rough hiking in this garb. Having said that, it is long and therefore should protect her legs, and hopefully full enough to permit movement. However, even I rarely wear my pearls for a hike in the forest!

This card is unused and not dated in anyway. From her clothes we will assume it is the early teens – again, if I was a bit better informed I could probably pinpoint based on her camera.  One of the things I love about the history of photography is the way it grew like topsy from Daguerre forward. Women are the beneficiaries of the emancipation brought on by such things as the wide availability of bicycles and avocations such as photography. These two things alone allowed them freedom of movement and a creative outlet beyond the more traditional painting, sewing and drawing. Voting is a fight and a few years away.

The development of photography seemed like a mad happy race for the next better thing – as did so much that was unrolling in the years before WWI – until the war and the influenza epidemic sent everyone reeling. Progress continues, but the wonderful innocent joy at it sadly seems to turn dark as applied to warfare and healthcare. However, she remains poised for the future here and whatever it brings.

Coney Island Airplane

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post:  The back of this card identifies it as a Coney Island Souvenir, but otherwise it is unused and not dated. Several that appeared to be from the same album were put up for sale at the same time, but oddly, this was the only really compelling image for me. (I would have thought they would all be sort of fun, wouldn’t you?) I do love this one – how perfect and goofy! I don’t know what I like best – the creative abstraction of the “airplane” or the wonderfully artificial scene painted at the bottom. (Are those real lights coming through the scenery? They seem to cast all the way upward when you look carefully – tiny searchlights.) Or perhaps the man himself, posing with a Harold Lloyd-like concentration and aplomb! He is so very nattily dressed – nothing like a man who wears a boater well.

It is an odd set up for photos. As Kim pointed out, airplanes changed so quickly at that time it must have gone out of date almost immediately. It would have been an of-the-moment craze however. A few moments of dreaming what it might be like to be up in the air. Of course, you could wander out and climb onto the roller coaster and get a good idea.

A New Felix for Pam!

Pam’s Pictorama Post:  I don’t actually buy Felix dolls very often these days. There aren’t all that many that I do not have, and those I don’t own I frequently can’t quite afford on eBay – where the competition gets mighty hot. However, once in a while one shows up that wins for sheer quirky spirit, and this was one of those Felix-es. Something about the cock-eyed confidence of this little fellow caught my eye. Frankly, upon arrival he’s a bit more fragile than I would have bargained for, but these whacky toys all seem to have individual living expressions and I love his whacky appeal. On the face of it he doesn’t look like he comes from the East London Toy Factory, as featured in the previous post of that name. Still, he does belong to a category of Felix which appears singular and somewhat handmade.

His blue ribbon is most likely not original – I think some did bear a white bow at the time – but it is jaunty and I like it. It adds to his appeal. He maintains his whiskers, which frequently are among the first things to go. They are stiff and stand up on their own, curling a bit. His tail is designed to help him stand, but he barely does these days, and has a bit of help here. He will live on a high shelf because Cookie has already discovered him and decided that his smell is fascinating. Clearly she would enjoy making him a very expensive cat toy. Not on my watch, Cookie old girl.


kittens 1  kittens 2

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Hard to resist a photo of kittens and I fell for these little fellows, not once but twice!  The high fidelity of these snapshots jumped out at me and I thought the two photos should stay together. I purchased them separately, a week or so apart.

Looks like this group was quite the handful. Two tuxedoes – what a haul! I am a sucker for the black spot on the chin of the one. The tabby is the one who looks like the hell raiser of the group; the white one is the sweet guy. Purring fluff balls!

The cuteness of kittens is clearly a necessary design of nature given the upheaval they generally cause. I remember when I first acquired my cat Otto as a tiny kitten – stinky, messy and determined to tear the apartment to pieces – her good looks saved her on many occasions as she scaled furniture and sometimes walls. She had jumping projects – for example she practiced repeatedly until she could jump to the top of the fridge from the floor. A loud crowing meow of pleasure when she made it! Just about the time you think you can’t stand it another day, bam! They have graduated and are magically less stinky, cleaner and civilized enough for everyone to get along.

The first cat I really remember as a kitten was my orange tabby Pumpkin. A gift from a friend whose Persian cat had strayed, he was an angelic ball of fur, small enough to be held in one hand and spend his first few nights in a Kleenex box. He eventually grew to the size of a small dog, with a huge striped tail and immense, sturdy cat paws. He allowed me to carry him around, but no one else dared pick him up. Pumpkin was a one girl cat. (That is until my father, in retirement, wooed him with smoked salmon and won his undying affection.)

Our Blackie and Cookie are barely out of kittenhood – Cookie still chases her tail routinely and needless to say they speed through the apartment for a rousing game of kill-the-guy several times a day. They are the first litter mates I have had since childhood. They are best friends who love to hate each other – that’s what being a kit is all about it seems.

We are out of town as this gets published – far away from our cat kids. Miss you guys! See ya soon!

Mickey Mask

Scan(5) copy 2

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Recently I was bidding on a rather fascinating Mickey Mouse mask from the thirties – an awkward thing, Kim seemed unmoved by it, but I found it very interesting. It doesn’t matter because it zoomed out of a price range that I could possibly justify paying – after all, it wasn’t even a cat. Still, almost by way of consolation, this photo appeared for sale on eBay – the man wearing the very type of mask I was bidding on.

While this can’t really compete with my past Mickey photo post Mickey Marches In it is still a pretty hot photo of the Mickey and Minnie dress up craze of the thirties. Halloween dressing up by adults seems, in general, to have been taken to a much higher level in the first part of the 20th century. That’s a pretty hot hula girl outfit behind the guy with the funny nose and the “S” or “5” on his pouch. And is that Little Miss Muffet and her Tuffet behind Minnie? I thought it was a turtle at first, but she seems very pleased with it either way. There’s a clown – there always is in these photos – and someone in a sort of raja outfit. Still, Mickey and Minnie are front and center and it has probably helped keep this photo bobbing around all these years instead of lost in an album somewhere.

If you look carefully, you will see that Mickey and Minnie seems to have a little wooden man on a wire like a leash. What on earth is that? And why are Mickey and Minnie taking him out and about? Their pet human perhaps – fitting for anthropromorphic mice I guess, not that I keep a mouse on a leash. This complements the dark side of this photo – after all, those masks are a bit terrifying.

Frozen Greetings

Polar Bear and Waitresses

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Someone recently sent me an article about people posing with Polar bear imitators on Germany (see The Mysterious German Fad for Posing with Polar Bear Imitators) and I realized that this photo postcard probably belongs to this genre. Although I had long intended to write about this photo, an early one in my collection, I had not so I offer it as an almost snow day post. (As I write the east coast is getting buried under a couple of feet of snow in what they are saying is likely to be record breaking.)

It had never really occurred to me whether or not this postcard was German – I bought it many years ago and it has been framed for almost all that time. Closer examination shows part of a sign that, yes, could be in German. I unframed it and yes – low and behold – it is inscribed in German on the back. It is date 1950 and signed Maria. It was not mailed. The article seems to focus on one collector of these photos – so I guess I know who I can always sell mine to!

As we all know, I am not likely sell however and I have always prized this photo. I am not sure why, but in my mind it took place in a resort in the Catskills – go figure. I believe I stumbled onto this photo on eBay years ago – it was an early acquisition. But really, who wouldn’t want to snuggle up for a photo op with Mr. Polar Bear!

Silets Bay Auto Camp

Scan(2) copy 8

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Perfect for these lazy days of summer and those of us who are dreaming of a vacation cottage of our own! Any of you who have been following this blog for a bit know that to some degree I consider Oregon something of an El Dorado of early photographs and here is another prime example. I am a complete sucker for this kind of light in a photo and frankly it could be of almost anything – just gorgeous. It has the same quality as early black and white nitrate film in good condition, filmed in low light it just shines with the spots of light. This card is unused and has nothing written on the back.

There is a Cutler City historical site which mentions the autocamp. There seems to be some disagreement on spelling and this site spells it Siletz rather than Silets. According to this the Siletz Bay Autocamp was a popular destination opening in 1927 on property that was originally owned by Charley DePoe, a Siletz Indian. (We will assume this is where the name came from and that the “z” is correct!) The property was subsequently in the hands of a George and Maryanne Cutler, and eventually Frank Gibbs who built the first cabins on the property immediately before it became the Autocamp.

It conjures up a summer idyll and no thoughts of lugging suitcases, sunburn or swatting mosquitoes. Just our dream vacation, in the woods, swimming in a lake and hiking in virgin woods – largely untouched since it belonged to the Siletz Indian tribe. Something to dream about from my urban concrete summer perch this year.

Speaking of Cats


Pam’s Pictorama Post: Before the internet and cat videos, there were cat postcards! This one from 1917 is bizarre and fascinates me. It is dated 1917 on the back and addressed to Mademoisell Zhiere Dreval a Jounnel (?) Vienna. I cannot read the French inscription and, oddly, there is no stamp despite the note, date and full address. However, it is clearly the front of this card that is of interest. A soldier surrounded by these Louis Wain-esque cat heads – depicting the moods of cats!

Let’s start with the obvious – why a soldier? Were these handed out to the French army in WWI so soldiers would be able to judge the various states of cats they might encounter along the way? One has to wonder – very wise of them if true.

In clockwise direction, starting with Doux they translate on Google as follows:

Doux = Sweet
Ardent = Burning
Gourmand = Greedy
Vorace = also translated as Greedy
Inactif = Inactive
Bouillant = Boiling
Fougueux = Mettlesome
Actif = Active

Gourmand and mettlesome are my favorites! The moustached soldier seems to be providing some sort of hand signals as well, mystically floating as he is, in front of a lurid sunset or sunrise.

There was a popular British book, The Language of the Flowers, illustrated by Kate Greenaway, which was published in 1884. It lists the meanings of various flowers – I was fascinated by a reproduction copy I had when I was a child. I wondered immediately if this was a play on that. I have grabbed the title page below.

language of the flowers

The truth is, all cats have their own expressions. I have labeled some of ours as follows: Queen of Everything, Huffy Puffy Stuffy, Piss Cat Ears, and Grumpus. Detecting a trend here?

A Small Gift for Kim

Pam’s Pictorama Post: A few weeks ago, right before my foot surgery, I was in East Hampton as described in my post Operculum about some seashell collecting that went on out there. Before heading back to Manhattan we stopped at a sale, held some sort of a town hall building. It was generally pretty upscale (no surprise there) and consisted largely of antique furniture, silver and some high-end vintage jewelry. (I just barely contained myself on that score – it is another weakness.) However, low and behold, for no particular reason someone was selling a whole jar of these. There were numerous giant insects one could choose from, but somehow this big, gorgeously colored beetle struck me as a perfect gift for Kim.

It is encased in a plastic material and if you look carefully you can see a little stand that came with it. Cookie was very interested in making it her own – she is a cat that enjoys balls and will bat them around by herself, making up cat games. However, we have decided that this one is ours and we’d like to keep it pristine.

For no discernible reason that I can explain, I have been buying Kim variations on this for years. I guess it is my own fascination – things encased in plastic and interesting bouncing balls – but he seems to admire them as well. Generally, I find ones that are really meant for bouncing – there were a number of different ones that light up when you bounce them – we all enjoyed those and I buy them whenever I see them. In turn, Kim purchased a ring that lights up for me which I enjoyed tremendously.

Another, an anniversary gift that we have attempted to keep from Cookie, is the mermaid below. To be honest, she is stealing it from me even as I write this as I have it off a shelve to photograph it to show you. Bad kitty!

mermaid ball