This vintage real photo postcard features a horse drawn trolley in St. Augustine, Florida. Printing on the front of the card elaborates with “Rapid Transit at Capo’s North Beach”. Most of us would not think of a single horse pulled trolley as “Rapid Transit”, but compared to walking, the trolley was rapid transit. It wasn’t difficult to find a seat on the trolley when this photograph was taken. It’s only occupants were two passengers and the African American driver. Research revealed the story behind this particular trolley. In 1904, Paul and Ellen Capo built a boat landing on the east shore of the Tolomato (North) River, and used this horse drawn trolley to carry passengers over the dunes, to the beach. Beachgoers could swim in the Atlantic Ocean. The visitors to Capo’s North Beach arrived there via a ferry from downtown St. Augustine. The name of the ferry boat was “Pauline II”. The photographer of this photo postcard was P. A. Wolfe, of St. Augustine. Mr Wolfe was a very talented photographer. Many of his photographs can be seen at the website “Florida Memory” which is operated by the State Library and Archives of Florida. In 1921, he took a series of photographs of President Warren Harding’s visit to St. Augustine. P. A. Wolfe was born in England in 1886. The 1920 US Census reveals that he was married to Ina Wolfe and was working as a photographer in St. Augustine. The “AZO” stamp box on the reverse of this postcard indicates that it was published sometime between 1904 and 1918.



This vintage real photo postcard features three African American brothers posing for a studio portrait. The children are adorable. All three children are displaying a serious expression. The stamp box on the reverse of the postcard lists “Artura” as the producer of the postcard paper. “Artura”paper was utilized by postcard publishers between 1908 and 1924.

Published in: on October 27, 2017 at 6:19 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,


This vintage real photo postcard features two well dressed African American men posing for their portrait at an unknown photography studio. The men look quite fashionable. The shorter man is wearing a single breasted jacket and fedora while the taller gentleman is wearing a bowler hat and double breasted suit.The postcard has an “AZO” stamp box indicating it was produced sometime between 1904 and 1918.

Published in: on April 4, 2017 at 10:48 am  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , , ,




This vintage photograph offers a glimpse into Texas history and African American history in the Lone Star state. The image features an African American family posing for the camera while standing in front of their house. I found this photograph in Fredericksburg, Texas. The town is located in the Texas hill country and is very close to Johnson City, Texas, the boyhood home of former President Lyndon Baines Johnson. A tour of the area reveals similar houses still standing today. This photograph was very likely taken in that locale. The family seen in this image is composed of a father and mother, and their two sons. All four family members are dressed in their sunday best clothing and wearing hats. The family’s dog is included in the picture and even their cat makes a cameo appearance as it walks away from the front porch. This is truly an interesting and historic photograph.



This vintage real photo postcard features a pretty African American woman with soulful eyes and a slight smile. This young lady’s eyes are chock full of emotion. She is wearing a beautiful dress and a long necklace. The AZO stamp box on the reverse of this card, indicates that this studio postcard was produced sometime between 1910 and 1930.


Published in: on February 9, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,





This postcard is incredibly interesting in many ways. It is an artifact of theater history as well as American History (Race Relations). It also serves as an important symbol concerning African American History. The postcard appears to be simply an advertisement for a play produced by Martin Jones entitled “Mulatto”. The postcard offers rave reviews from New York newspapers. The New York Times reported the play was “Flaming with sincerity.” and the Mirror exclaimed “Stark realism”. The play was in it’s ninth month at the time of the issuance of this postcard and it was appearing at the Ambassador Theatre located just west of Broadway. Seats could be had for as low as 55 cents and for as high as $2.75. The play “Mulatto” was written by Langston Hughes. It was the first African American authored play to become a long-run Broadway hit. It opened in October (1935) and closed in September (1936) after running for 373 performances. The show then toured for two seasons. Langston Hughes wrote the play in 1930 and it was his first full-length play. The play covered powerful issues such as conflict between father and son, the power of class and whiteness, oppression of southern African Americans, and the lasting effects of slavery. The play also is seen by some as anti-lynching. The Broadway version of “Mulatto” was altered by producer Martin Jones without consulting with Langston Hughes. Jones took Hughes already shocking play and sensationalized it. Jones’s editing handiwork did not help Hughes’s reputation. The play, already emotionally charged, became very controversial. In fact, it was banned in Philadelphia. By the way, did you notice Mr. Hughes is not even mentioned on this advertising postcard? Hughes was much more than a talented playwright. He was also a poet, novelist, and social activist. He was one of the innovators of  “jazz poetry” and an important part of the “Harlem Renaissance”. He was born in Joplin, Missouri in 1902. He was left with his grandparents while his mother pursued a theatrical career. His grandmother’s first husband had fought and died for abolitionist John Brown. She helped shape his intense pursuit for social and racial equality. Hughes was an excellent student. In the 1910’s he moved to Illinois and joined his mother. They later moved to Cleveland, Ohio. After high school he lived a year in Mexico with his father and than enrolled in Columbia University (New York City) in 1921. He left school due to racial prejudice and held various jobs and published some of his writing. He received some harsh criticism from some of the African American community for his use of stereotypical African American dialects. He returned to college, graduated from Lincoln College, and continued writing becoming very well known. I mentioned that this postcard was very interesting from a number of perspectives. One feature that makes this postcard unique is the printed notation on it’s reverse. The “blurb” requests that theatre goers who attended a performance of “Mulatto”, write their comments about the play on the postcard and address it to a friend. The management promises to stamp the postcard and see to mailing it. This was a creative way to publicize and market the play to a “target audience”. This method was essentially low tech social media. The writer of this postcard utilized the opportunity to pen a message to a friend in Towanda, Pennsylvania. The postcard was mailed from New York in July of 1936. Referring to the play, the writer stated “You would like this. Remember our discussions on race prejudice in E. (Cornish’s?) class.” and “I know you would appreciate this”. One of the things that amazes me is that the writer actually discussed racial prejudice in school in the 1930’s and was interested in the topic.





This real photo picture postcard features a middle aged African American woman sitting on a bench. She is clutching a purse in her left hand and is wearing a long coat. The AZO stamp box indicates that the postcard was produced by a studio sometime between 1926 and 1940.


Published in: on December 15, 2016 at 10:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,



This is a wonderful cabinet card portrait of a pretty young woman. The photograph features a great deal of uncertainty. The individual who formerly owned this image claimed that the subject is African American. In my opinion, the claim is debatable. One of the issues relating to some cabinet card images of African Americans is this very question. Some collectors and dealers sincerely believe they possess a portrait of an African American while others dishonestly make the claim in order to increase the value of the photograph. This particular image presents another interesting and debatable subject. The previous owner also claimed that this photograph is a memorial cabinet card. In other words, the photograph was made in honor of this young woman upon her death (not a post-mortem photo). The placement of the woman’s image inside a scroll, or whatever the shape represents, is the alleged tip off that it is a memorial photograph. I have seen experts provide conflicting opinions about such claims. Lets talk about what we do know. This young and attractive woman is making an interesting fashion statement. Her dress has little squares of fabric attached to it in what appears to be a haphazard manner. She is wearing a horseshoe collar pin and a thin necklace. If this photo is a memorial cabinet card, then the horseshoe certainly didn’t provide her with good luck. She is wearing her hair up. The photographer of this cabinet card is William T. Ross (1861-1945) who operated a studio in Appleton, Wisconsin. Ross appears in “Wilson Photographic Magazine” (1898) in an article that reports that he was elected Treasurer of the Convention of Wisconsin Photographers. Ross has a presence in a number of Appleton city directories from 1889 through 1934. He was born in Syracuse, New York and was married to Ella A. Ross. The edges of this cabinet card are scalloped and gold gilded. The reverse of the cabinet card has a ghost image (see below). The image was likely formed by the rear of the cabinet card being pressed against the front of another image while occupying a frame or album.


Published in: on November 7, 2016 at 3:01 pm  Comments (6)  
Tags: ,





This vintage photograph features an adorable African American baby posing for her portrait at an unidentified studio. The baby is so cute and appears uncertain but inquisitive about her visit to the photographer. The child is wearing a necklace and holding a rattle. The reverse of the image has an inscription. It appears that the baby lived at “182 Yale Avenue N.” in Seattle, Washington. It also appears that the baby’s name was “W. G. S——“. I can not decipher the name and would welcome any help that anyone can provide.  This photograph was purchased in Austin, Texas and was part of a collection of African American images that were originally found in San Antonio, Texas.


Published in: on October 30, 2016 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: ,



This photo booth photograph features a middle age African American man. He is wearing a white knit sweater and a driving cap. He is flashing what appears to be a pained smile at the camera. This photograph was part of a collection of African American images from San Antonio, Texas. Here is some history about photo booths. The first automated photo booth was patented by William Pope and Edward Poole of Baltim0re, Maryland. The first working model was exhibited at the World’s Fair in Paris in 1889. The first commercially successful photo machine was called the “Bosco” and it was patented in 1890. The modern concept of the photo booth was introduced by Anatol Josepho, a Russian immigrant who entered the US in 1923. The first photo booth was introduced on Broadway in New York City in 1925. Twenty-five cents would buy eight photos and the process took ten minutes. After six months time, the booth was used by 280,000 people. In 1927 a company paid Josepho one million dollars plus royalties for use of his invention nationwide.




Published in: on October 22, 2016 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment