PORTRAIT OF TWO WELL DRESSED AFRICAN AMERICAN MEN (VINTAGE REAL PHOTO POSTCARD)

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  
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POTRAIT OF AN AFRICAN AMERICAN FAMILY STANDING IN FRONT OF THEIR HOUSE IN THE TEXAS HILL COUNTRY

 

 

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.

AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMAN WITH SOULFUL EYES

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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.

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Published in: on February 9, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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POSTCARD ADVERTISEMENT FOR LANGSTON HUGHES BROADWAY PLAY “MULATTO” (RPPC)

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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.

LANGSTON HUGHES

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AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMAN SITTING ON A BENCH (REAL PHOTO POSTCARD)

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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.

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Published in: on December 15, 2016 at 10:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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ATTRACTIVE YOUNG AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMAN IN APPLETON, WISCONSIN

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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.

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Published in: on November 7, 2016 at 3:01 pm  Comments (6)  
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ADORABLE AFRICAN AMERICAN BABY IN SEATTLE WASHINGTON

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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.

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Published in: on October 30, 2016 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A PHOTO BOOTH PHOTOGRAPH OF A MIDDLE AGED AFRICAN AMERICAN MAN

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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  

VINTAGE THREE PANEL PHOTOGRAPH OF A YOUNG AFRICAN AMERICAN MAN IN SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS

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This three panel vintage photograph features a young African American man. He appears to be in his late teens and is nicely dressed in a suit and tie. Note his derby hat. Subject and photographer are not identified. The image was purchased in Austin, Texas and was part of a group of photographs described as the “San Antonio Collection”. The reverse of the photograph has residue that indicates it once resided in a scrap book or photo album.

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Published in: on October 20, 2016 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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PORTRAIT OF A NICELY DRESSED AFRICAN AMERICAN MAN (VINTAGE REAL PHOTO POSTCARD)

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This vintage real photo postcard features a well dressed African American man. He is wearing a ring and a nice hat. He is looking directly at the photographer. The reverse of the postcard has an inscription which includes his name as well as his wife’s name. The gentleman’s name is John Anderson and he inscribed the card to his wife, Inez Anderson. He humorously wrote that she knew that he was the “pretty man” in the photo. The postcard has an AZO stamp box which indicates that it was produced between 1904 and 1918. The lower portion of the postcard has eight tack holes which indicates that the postcard may have traveled a bit and been tacked to a number of walls. There is also residue evidence that the postcard once resided in a photo album.

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Published in: on October 16, 2016 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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