Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Although I detoured slightly last week from my Felix fiesta, I am putting a cap on it (this edition anyway) with this really interesting series of photographs. One of the things that makes these unusual is that I purchased them as negatives. I was not able to purchase the entire lot – they were sold separately and went for a fair amount of money. However, with the exception of the one below, I feel I got the best of them. (Note the two small Felix dolls at the base of the huge one!)
I do not know what the story is here. At first I thought it was a family album of negatives, but after I saw the images of the large Felix that seemed less likely. Not surprisingly they were sold by a person in Great Britain. Then, after considering the whole collection I have developed the theory that perhaps they came from a photographer’s collection of negs. They are old, large format negatives and if I were able to print them by hand (which I would love to do someday when I have access to a darkroom again) I would be interested in seeing them as contact prints – perhaps even done as platinum prints. For now we send our thanks to our good friend, Eileen Travell, for scanning these and creating these positives.
They were taken in Kuala Lumpur and the larger than life Felix is in front of the Whiteaway Laidlaw department store in the one photo. Whiteaway Laidlaw was a British chain throughout India and the British empire of the East, undoubtedly supplying the British nabobs and wealthy locals with the necessities of European life away from home. It’s nickname was Right-away and Paid-for as it operated, not surprisingly, on a cash only basis. (Not unlike our Whole Foods-Whole Paycheck of today?)
So many questions remain. Was the photographer one of those who traveled around with his Felix doll props, much like the many I have shown with Felix on the beach throughout Britain, Australia and New Zealand? It is notable that the big Felix in these photos is very reminiscent of a postcard I treasure that was featured in an early post, Felix for a Cause. I would dare say the very same model. Enough to say, the sun never set on the British empire – nor on Felix evidently.
In addition to thanking my co-worker and friend Eileen Travell, Photographer for the Metropolitan Museum for making these “prints” for me, a very special thanks to Nora Kennedy and her colleagues in the Photograph Conservation area of the Museum who looked at the negatives and told me how to store them.