Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Today’s card arrives from the shores of France, although it appears to hail originally from Marienbad, a town of film fame and described as a Czech spa town by our friends at Wikipedia. (It is embossed with a photo studio name, as well as Marienbad, which I can’t quite read in the upper left corner.) It was, of course, the small and somewhat odd Felix toy in the foreground that brought it to my attention initially.
However, it was the seriousness of this fellow (or gal) posed here with Felix, ball held under one paw, that made me acquire it for the Pictorama archive. This is a formal portrait of Fido, beloved pup, and from the quality of it a high-end pro production, my guess is that it dates not much earlier than the 1930’s. Of course, the evidence of Felix being featured might point a bit earlier, although that is a pretty off-model version of the great cartoon cat. There’s no writing on this card and it was never sent – it is pristine. Marienbad, it seems, was a high end resort before the WWII, but suffered after and fell on hard times. I would guess this photo was the endeavor of a fairly wealthy person from whenever it was executed.
Much of the Pictorama photo collection is made up of attempts, good and bad but always sincere, to document beloved pets – those folks who scoop them up for a photo, or who tried to capture them from the early days of daguerreotype and tintype forward. The earlier methods of photography were of course less effective to catch an impatient puss or restless dog. The sweet spot of the photos I have amassed is largely the photo postcard, of which this belongs to the high end studio version. I see fewer early studio portraits of cats and dogs than I would imagine really.
I believe I have mentioned that here on the east side of Manhattan I occasionally walk past a photo studio that features some animal portraits in their window, right next to charming photos of babies, small children and pregnant women. Of course dogs are much more likely to be hauled over to a photo studio for a portrait. The idea of loading Cookie and Blackie into carriers and finding them photo ready on the other side of that trip is not at all palatable or likely – and I will assume that our cats are not alone in that regard. My guess is that both the little Felix and the ball are the photographer’s props, not beloved objects of this pooch. However, I think that the sweet look in his or her eyes was all about pleasing a master, just on the other side of the camera – posing as requested, but happily trotting home after it was all done.
Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Interesting that this card would attract me. Those of you who know my taste in canines know that I run a strong preference toward large dogs – in fact, I really like the largest of the species – Tibetan mastiffs, German Shepherds and Bernese Mountain dogs. When it comes to dogs I like ’em to be more or less horse size. However, I admit to a weakening over time toward adorable little mops like this girl here. Clearly she is someone’s prized and beloved companion – beribboned and quite literally on a pedestal here. Her name, Floss, has been neatly painted onto the neg to be printed on the card. I could be wrong, but I don’t think she’s a youngster either.
While the history of carrying a small dog seems to go way back in time (for example ancient China – and I gather from Wikipedia that in earlier times small dogs were kept to attract fleas away from their owners, rather than the other way around) there came a moment in our culture when suddenly toting a small dog around as an accessory came into fashion for the wealthy and never really went away. It was a status symbol – although I have always found it a slightly odd one admittedly. I think of films from the 40’s where as soon as a woman character actor, generally not the star, strikes it rich, she suddenly has a jolly little dog under her arm for decoration. (This is not Asta I am thinking of!) While it is no longer limited to ladies in long dresses with ropes of pearls drinking tea, the lap dog out in the world still conjures up a feminine image of a certain kind now too.
Sometimes I am jealous of how in general in Manhattan people take their dogs everywhere, but of course, most cats stay at home. (Cats on leashes and my nascent attempts at that I will save for another time.) And of course it is dogs of all sizes that one sees, but the little dogs, often tucked in special tote bags, although occasionally in dog-styled strollers, that one sees everywhere – from subway to supermarket, dining outdoors. Those pups get to see the town while my cats are home snoozing.
However, as for Floss, I’m sure she was someone’s devoted pal and this photo is a lasting tribute. Good doggie!
Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Somehow it seems, if you are going to collect cats you are also occasionally going to end up with mice and dogs – if you’re me anyway. This is a dog entry. While having that luxurious dig through that drawer of photos on my birthday (see also my recent post, The Crimson) I found this fascinating card. Done in the fashion of the cards of those posing with a giant stuffed or wooden cut-out of Felix, these people put their shingle out for photos with this large stuffed and mounted dog. This card was not only never postally used, but you can see in this additional photo the lovely cardboard frame it has existed in for years.
There is nothing on the back of this card and I assume it has lived its life in this holder, although it is a bit big for the card. Regardless, it has been kept nice all this time and perhaps the holder is responsible. You can’t really tell from this photo, but the cover is meant to be for mailing – there is a place for stamp and address on the back when it is closed. The stuffed dog appears to be wearing a muzzle – seems unnecessary – and his platform is on wheels for easy repositioning. A jolly boardwalk scene in progress (with a hard forced perspective) has been painted as the background.
I like this dog, but hey, he’s no Felix the Cat and I wonder about this as an attraction. Is it a real stuffed dog? Local hero? I guess we won’t get the answer to that part, but this gentleman seems quite engaged. While this canine seems to be a St. Bernard, it reminds me of a lovely Tibetan mastiff I met on the street once. He was a rescue and belonged to a curator I knew. Moose is the most enormous dog I have ever met and he was very friendly. As I started petting him and talking to him he was ready to climb into my lap – all 150 lbs. of him! After meeting Moose, I really wanted a Tibetan mastiff – I just loved him and I adore big dogs. But, as Kim pointed out, Moose probably couldn’t even turn around in our apartment so I tucked that thought away for that future day when we are living in a house in the country somewhere.