PORTRAIT OF A HANDSOME WESTERN MAN IN SPOKANE, WASHINGTON

A handsome man poses for his portrait at “Casper’s Studio” in Spokane, Washington. An inscription on the reverse of this vintage real photo reveals that the gentleman’s name is Vincent Vergel Matson (1885-1978). Matson dressed up for this photograph. He is wearing a western vested suit and western hat. Matson was born is South Dakota. The 1900 US census finds him living with his family on the Blackfoot Indian Reservation in Teton, Montana. The 1910 census lists him as living in Edwards, Montana and working as a farmer. By 1920, he moved again. This time he was residing in North Bonners Ferry, Idaho and working as a laborer. He was still working as a laborer at the time of the 1930 census and he was living in a Boarding House in Spokane. He was living in Kalispell, Montana at the time he registered for the draft in 1942. He was listed in the 1943 Kalispell directory as a laborer. At the time of Matson’s death in 1978, he was living in Beaverhead, Montana. My research did not find any record of Matson ever marrying. One has to wonder if Matson was a bit of a drifter. He appears to have moved around a lot, not letting the grass grow under his feet. He had no wife or kids, and could take on labor work wherever he lived. This postcard has an AZO stamp box indicating that it was produced between 1904 and 1918.

DRUMMER BOY: PORTRAIT OF JOHN NORRIS AT TWO YEARS OF AGE

This endearing vintage real photo postcard captures a barefoot little boy and his drum. He is looking quite proud and serious. The drum does not look like a toy. Perhaps it saw some action during the civil war. The reverse of the postcard has an inscription revealing that the child is named John M. Norris and that he is two years old. The inscription also states that this photograph was taken in 1914. The AZO stamp box offers a confirmation of the date. This stamp box was utilized between 1904 and 1918. This postcard was purchased near Austin, Texas.

Published in: on June 5, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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“IF LOOKS COULD KILL”: PORTRAIT OF A FAMILY AND THEIR DOG

 

I wish I knew what was going on in the photograph on this vintage real photo postcard. Mom, Dad and their child all are displaying very intense expressions. The man and woman are staring at each other. It is as if their eyes are throwing darts at each other. The child, wearing a nautical outfit, looks like he just saw a ghost. The child is standing on a wagon. The family dog is standing on it’s hind legs with one paw on the wagon. This postcard’s AZO stamp box indicates that it was produced sometime between 1904 and 1918.

Published in: on June 3, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Comments (4)  
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PORTRAIT OF AN ATTRACTIVE Y0UNG WOMAN IN A DARK DRESS

This vintage real photo postcard features a portrait of an attractive young woman wearing a dark dress with a high collar. She is wearing her hair loose and she is quite striking. This photograph was taken at an unidentified studio, at an unidentified location, and by an unidentified photographer.

Published in: on June 1, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Comments (1)  

TWO PORTRAITS OF BEAUTIFUL STAGE ACTRESS ALICE CRAWFORD (VINTAGE REAL PHOTO POSTCARDS)

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These vintage real photo postcards feature a beautiful actress named Alice Crawford (1882-1931). Miss Crawford was born in Bendigo, Australia. Her sister, Ruby Crawford was also an actress. Miss Crawford came to England with actor Wilson Barret in 1902 after appearing with him in Australia. Her London debut was in 1902 in in the play “The Christian”.  She was in the revival of the play in 1907. Other stage credits include “Antony and Cleopatra (1906), Matt of Merrymount (1908), and “The Passing of the Third Floor, Back” (1908). The New York Times (1909) announced her arrival in New York to perform in “These Are My People”. She is credited with film roles in “False Ambition” (1918) and Glorious Adventure (1922). There are fifteen portraits of Alice Crawford in the National Portrait Gallery, eight of which are by the photographer of the top photo postcard (Alexander Bassano}. Bassano  (1829 –1913) was a leading royal and high society photographer in Victorian London. Crawford was married to George Valentine Williams. He was wounded twice in WW I and was awarded the Military Cross. He later worked as a journalist, mostly in trouble spots. During WW2 he conducted “confidential work” for the British Government. He is best known as an author of Detective Fiction. He died in 1946. This postcard captures Miss Crawford in costume for her role as “Diantha Frothingham” in “Matt of Merrymount” (1908). Alice Crawford certainly qualifies as a “stage beauty” and she has an amazingly engaging smile. Bassano photographed the actress for Rotary Photo’s, Rotary Photographic Series (no.1852 R).                                          

The second photo postcard features Miss Crawford looking quite beautiful. Her hair is long and flowing and she has a flower hair band. Her eyes are beautiful and she appears to be holding back a smile. Like the first postcard, this card is also published by Rotary Photo and was part of a series (no. 1852 K). In fact both postcards seen here are part of the same series.  The postcard’s photograph was taken by the Dover Street Studio.  The studio was active between circa 1906 and circa 1912. The gallery specialized in taking theatrical portraits and was located in London, England. They were the successors to the Biograph Studios as well Adart (a studio that took advertising photos). Examination of the reverse of this postcard (see second postcard below) reveals that it was postmarked in 1907. The message on the back of the postcard is quite interesting because it contains comments about the photo on the postcard. The writer reports that she was charmed by a postcard from the addressee and she asks her how she likes “this one”. The writer also states that she was planning to go see “The Thief” at the St. James Theater. Billboard (1907) contains a review of the musical and describes it as an English version of Henry Bernstein’s “Le Voleur”.  The play was produced by Mr George Alexander and it’s cast included Mr. Alexander, Irene Vanbrugh, and Lillian Braithwaite. 

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PRISCILLA DEAN: TALENTED SILENT FILM ACTRESS AND LESS TALENTED “TALKIE” ACTRESS

Priscilla Dean (1896-1987) was a popular American actress who appeared in both silent films and theatre productions. Her career spanned two decades. She was born in New York to a theatrical family. Her mother and father were actors. She attended a convent school until she was fourteen and than launched her film career. Priscilla made her stage debut at the ripe old age of four and, as previously stated, her film debut at fourteen in films produced by Biograph and several other studios. She was signed to a contract by Universal (IMP) in 1911 and soon gained popularity as the female lead in the comedy series of Eddie Lyons and Lee Moran. She reached stardom after appearing in “The Gray Ghost” (1917). The advent of sound to the film industry impaired Dean’s career. She was relegated to low-budget films for minor independent studio during the 1930’s and her career fizzled out. Priscilla Dean has been called “an unlikely Diva”. She was described as being a plain woman, but cheerful. She is said to have had heavy features, a crooked smile, and an “unfashionably curvaceous figure”. However, her intensity on screen was considered “unmatched”. Dean was married to actor Wheeler Oakman (1890-1949) who was also under contract at Universal. The couple appeared together in “The Virgin of Stamboul”  (1920)and “Outside the Law” (1920). The pair divorced in the mid 1920’s and a few years later she married Leslie Arnold, a famous aviator. Dean died at the age of 91. Perusal of Miss Dean’s filmography reveals that she has 95 credits as an actress between 1912 and 1932. To view Miss Dean in the talkie film “Behind Stone Walls” (1932), click the You Tube link below. Keep in mind that she was considered a significantly better silent film actress than a “talkie” actress. This postcard was published  by Ross Verlag of Berlin, Germany. It was part of a series (No. 547/2) and was produced for Universal Studios. It was published sometime between 119 and 1924. The photographer of this portrait was Roman Freulich (1924-1974). Freulich was born in Poland and immigrated to the United States at the age of 14. He learned his trade from New York photographer Samuel Lumiere. He moved to Hollywood in the mid 1920’s where his brother Jack was a portrait photographer at Universal Pictures. Roman became a still photographer for Universal and produced many portraits of their major stars. He stayed at Universal until 1944 when he moved to Republic Studios. After Republic stopped production, Freulich did much work for United Artists.

 

PRETTY PRIMA DONNA: MINNIE ASHLEY

This vintage real photo postcard features theater actress Minnie Ashley (1878-1946). She was one of the great “stage beauties” of the end of the 19th century. She was a talented singer and dancer and she was featured in the madcap musical “1492” (1892). In Boston she performed with the Museum Company and in New York she was a member of the Augustin Daly Company. She had many successes including her performance in “A Country Girl”, “Wang”, and “San Troy”. Her acting resulted in a medical problem. The prolonged exposure to theatrical arc lights caused vision problems. In 1902 she left her acting career and married politician William Astor Chanler who was an affluent grandson of John Jacob Astor. Medical treatment did not help her vision problems and Miss Ashley than put her efforts into sculpting. Chanler and Ashley separated in 1909. She made an attempt at returning to the stage in 1911 but soon opted to pursue her sculpting. During her artistic career she worked under the name of Beatrice Ashley Chanler. In addition to the sculpting, she was active in philanthropy. The book “Famous Prima Donnas” (1900) by Lewis Clinton Strang, devotes a chapter to Minnie Ashley. He describes her as having “artless girlishness, remarkable personal charm, and skill as an imaginative dancer scarcely equalled on the American stage”. He adds that these talents explain her “sudden success” in musical comedy. He describes her dancing as “artistic in every sense” but asserts she was not exceptionally talented in the realm of acting and singing. However, Strang is very complimentary of Ashley’s appearance. He states “nature was indeed good to her when it endowed her with a most fascinating personality, a pretty piquant face, and a slim graceful figure. This postcard was published by the Rotograph Company (New York) and was part of a series (no. B 174).

HENNY PORTEN: MAJOR GERMAN FILM ACTRESS WITH ADMIRABLE PRINCIPLES (RESISTED THE NAZI GOVERNMENT)

 

Henny Porten (1890-1960) is the subject of this real photo postcard. Porten was a German actress and film producer of the silent era. She was Germany’s first major film star and appeared in more than 170 films produced between 1906 and 1955. Along with Asta Nielsen and Pola Negri, she was one of the three most popular German actresses. Her father was a film director and her sister was an actress/screenwriter. She began her film career without any stage experience which was an unusual phenomenon for German actresses. Porten was not well known outside of Germany. A large number of her early films were directed by her husband, Curt Stark. Stark died during World War I (1916) while serving on the Eastern Front. In 1921 she remarried a Jewish man named Wilhelm von Kaufmann. When the Nazis took power, she received much pressure to divorce her husband. She refused to comply and her career plummeted. She was denied a visa to emigrate. Her career blossomed again after World War II. The photograph of Miss Porten seen on this postcard is by the Becker & Maass studio of Berlin, Germany. The photographers were well known for portrait and fashion photography in the first decades of the twentieth century. They photographed dozens of German film stars for magazines and postcards. You can view more of this studios photographs by clicking on the category “Photographer: Becker & Maass”.  The postcard is published by Rotophot which began publishing “RPH” postcards in 1916. There were three different series: Buhnen-Sterne (stage star), Film Sterne (film star), and Film Sterne (displayed scenes). This postcard is from the Film Sterne series and was no. 216/3. The film star series ran from number 61 through number 224. The front of the Film Sterne cards included the name of the film studio represented. This card advertises Messter-Films of Berlin. These postcards were continued by the Ross Verlag company who’s origins can be traced back to the earlier Rotophot postcard company. The You Tube clip below presents Henny Porten in some scenes from “24 Hours from the Life of a Woman” (1931).

 

A WOMAN AND TWO COWS POSE FOR THEIR PORTRAIT IN A PASTURE

This vintage real photo postcard features a stout woman posing with two cows. The woman is wearing a wide smile. One might say that she is in a state of udder delight. This bovine aficionado seems a bit young to have gone to pasture. A postcard like this one would likely fall in the “rare” category. Over the many years I have collected real photo postcards, I have yet to see one like it.

Published in: on May 1, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Comments (8)  
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PORTRAIT OF AN ATTRACTIVE FAMILY WEARING WINTER CLOTHING

This vintage real photo postcard captures a mother and her two young children posing for their portrait at an unidentified photo studio. The whole family appears quite apprehensive about having their photograph taken. The trio are dressed for winter. All three are wearing winter coats and hats. The older child is wearing gloves and the youngest child is wearing a muff. This image features a  truly attractive family.

Published in: on April 30, 2017 at 2:26 pm  Leave a Comment