Alan Machin's Blog - January 2010
Click here for details of the November 8/9 International Conference on EduTourism in Cuba
Images of cameras used on this month's postings are from two private collections and are used with permission
A Great Name in Home Movies
While Pathé Frères were developing 9.5mm film in Paris the Eastman Kodak Company was working on its amateur system based on 16mm film. It introduced it the year after Pathé switched to 9.5mm 1923. The 16mm gauge became well established but was more expensive and Kodak devised a clever alternative in 8mm, known as double run film. It was really 16mm film which was run through a camera with a framing system using only half the width. At the end of the cassette films run the photographer had to take out the cassette and reinsert it the other way round, rather like a compact cassette audio tape. The film was then used again with the camera recording new images on the other half of the films length. When sent to Kodak for processing the film was accurately slit down the middle and the two halves spliced together. This meant that the standard Kodak 16mm film could be used to supply users of 8mm, although there was a difference in that it was punched with twice as many sprocket holes than 16 to improve the precision of running through the camera and projector. However the narrow film with its single line of holes down one side could only be used for images 4.5mm wide. Compare that with the 8.5mm width of image on 9.5mm film and, incidentally, the 10.26mm achieved with standard 16mm film. Standard-8 film, as it came to be called later, had about the tiniest images to be found on any gauge of film.
The Great Name in this posting is neither Pathé nor Eastman, but Paillard Bolex. That is a company name which stems from two important technical innovators Möise Paillard and Jacques Bogopolsky. The first was Swiss, the second Ukrainian but living in Geneva. Paillard founded a watch- and music box-making business in 1814 in Sainte-Croix, Switzerland, Bogopolsky invented a combined 35mm camera and projector aimed at the amateur market in 1924. Four years later Bogopolsky launched his Autocine A camera, followed by his matching projector, having combined with the Paillard Company to manufacture them under the Bolex model name. Paillard Bolex would become one of the most revered names in cinematography, mainly for 16 and 8mm, though they also marketed a 9.5mm version. Their cameras and projectors have a quality which reflects their watch-making ancestry, precise and with a jewel-like quality.
The film company Castle supplied a range of features for 8mm and 16mm. It had been set up by Eugene W Castle, an ex-news film cameraman, in 1924. At first the Company produced business films including advertising, but in 1937 turned to home entertainment titles and these quickly dominated the output. Castle gained the rights to make home movie newsreels and the first of these showed the horrifyingly spectacular destruction of the airship Hindenburg when it arrived in Lakehurst, New Jersey, in 1937. Ten years later an arm of Universal Pictures took a majority stake-holding in Castle and increased its catalogue with new subjects. Travelogues and documentaries were one of the distributors staples throughout the companys existence. This ended in 1984 with the onslaught of video sales. As new technologies took over the home market it is interesting to note the cultural changes happening as well. The French travelogue pictured, which would often have been pronounced Gay Paree in pseudo-French style, would mean something quite different today.
The panel on the right is from the projector manual (the Paillard Bolex M8, one of the best machines, sold from 1949 onwards). It describes sound-synchronisation add-ons for the projector using a tape recorder and special control unit, or a different version using a sound-track stripe to be added to the home movie which was then fed through a device called a Sonorizer.
There are two cameras shown, both 8mm. The larger H8 is virtually identical to Paillard Bolex's 16mm machines, many of which were used from the 1950s onwards to make professional films including TV productions. Being an 8mm camera it did not turn out the same quality but it was still a high grade machine. The smaller C8 camera with its three lenses appeared first in 1954 and followed the B8 of a year before with two lenses. Reflex viewfinder versions of these machines, in which the viewfinder used the light path through whichever lens was in use, were launched later, as were zoom lensed models.
Movie Films as Souvenirs
Above is a Pathescope Baby film projector. The famous French company who designed and sold it worldwide from late 1922 onwards was also involved in making cinema newsreels - the Pathe News series. Every cinema at one time ran short news films as part of their programmes, until the effectiveness of TV news broadcasts made them outdated. This projector used Pathe's 9.5mm film, almost as good as the 16mm film at the same time. It was a film gauge that lasted until about 1960. Pathe had started out using 28mm film in 1912 but replaced it with the narrower gauge. There were advantages to the production of commercial films from master copies when using the narrower film. In addition, because it had a single line of sprocket holes down the middle of the film, one rectangular hole between every frame, the picture area was quite large, and certainly much better than the later Kodak 8mm film. The company boasted that given the lower magnification required when projecting its 9.5mm film onto a screen compared with the Edison-invented 35mm commercial film, that its own was the best on the market. There were some disadvantages though, such as the clarity of image across the frame not being quite even because the sprocket-hole position affected the printing. Nonetheless film buffs often consider it was at least one of the best, certainly for the amateur user. Like the downfall of Betamax video in the 1980s against VHS it was a story of Pathe being unable to compete with the marketing effort of Kodaks 8mm size, even though that film had only a quarter of the picture area.
The Baby was originally a hand-cranked projector, and the one shown here was a version capable of being operated that way. However, as can be seen, this one was an enhanced model for which the customer had bought the two extension arms fitted to carry up to 300-foot reels of film, running for about ten minutes. Also fitted is an electric motor driving a pulley wheel that has replaced the hand winder. The overall effect might be thought rather Heath Robinson in style or to US users, Rube Goldberg, to Swiss customers, Jean Tinguely in other words, a weird concoction of bolted and hooked-on bits and pieces. This projector is in my own collection and it enjoys a prominent display position because it is beautifully designed and engineered and quite different from other projectors. It contrasts with the Paillard Bolex machine that will feature in the next posting: that one is as sleek as a kitten while this one looks like that gawky predator, the Secretary Bird. Domesticated, of course.
On the left is a clockwork-driven Pathe camera for 9.5mm. The first were hand-cranked like the projector. Then Pathe introduced a clamp-on motor attachment which was of a similar size. The powered camera soon followed. It had fixed focus, variable exposure setting and a fixed lens and parallel viewer. Being relatively small and light (it is seen here a little bigger than it would appear in relation to the projector) it could be carried by travellers with ease.
Also shown is a 1952 catalogue of Pathe films; a metal cassette which held a 1-minute Mickey Mouse cartoon - its box is behind it; a 2-minute film in its box, this one being a travel film; and a rather-less-than ten minute film inside its cardboard case. There was a wide range of cartoon, western, drama and documentary films including quite a number of travelogues. Frame enlargements from some are included here. One is from a film about the Thames when projected, like the others, the film shows its scratches through considerable use and the frame jerks with the wearing of the sprocket holes for the same reason. That film came from the Pathe company. So did the little drama, shot in a studio, about big-game hunters shooting a leopard. The dead animal is seen being carried off by two native bearers. For most tourists now the camera would replace the gun. The third film was shot on a camera like the one here and shows the South Bay Pool at Scarborough around 1950 or so. The film itself has the usual folk on the beach, sat in deckchairs, kids building sandcastles, mum and dad grinning and waving at the camera, living on in a sense from six decades ago. Which was exactly what the home movie was all about.
Sand Bottle Pictures
A popular souvenir with Victorian travellers in Britain was the picture made in sand in a glass bottle. On the left, above, is a bell-shaped bottle with a sand picture of the western end of the Isle of Wight. The rock formation known as The Needles is close to Alum Bay where there are many colours of sand thanks to the geology of the cliffs. These pictures were created by trickling sand into the bottle, possibly through a hollow reed or straw, or sometimes by means of a tiny scoop on the end of a wire. The picture is made only of sand grains held in place by the pressure of other grains which fill the bottle right to the top stopper. On the base of the bottle is glued the remains of a label mentioning Alum Bay, but no other details remain on it. The style of the bottle and the label suggests a date either late in the nineteenth century of early in the twentieth. I havent come across specialist studies of the art form in general. The most amazing sand bottle pictures are probably those by the American artist Andrew Clemens. He lived in McGregor, Iowa, and produced incredibly detailed pictures for sale as souvenirs for a dollar or so. In 2008 one of his bottles, showing the US flag and bald eagle, was auctioned for $6,900.
The sands came from Pictured Rocks in Pikes Peak State Park. Below is a link to a web site description of his work. His pictures make the ones below look very crude.
The right-hand bottle picture was bought in Malta in 2001. A street seller in Valletta was making them and had a table of examples for sale. I would guess he was from the Middle East, possibly Jordan where the art appears to flourish.
Click here for pictures of Andrew Clemens' sand bottle art
A Souvenir for Soldiers
A fairly standard potted history within a seven page leaflet, but oh, how different the aim and the audience were.
This pamphlet is headed, as seen, Rome: Allied Soldiers Souvenir Guide. There is no publication date but it would be towards or just after the end of the 1939-45 war when thousands of Allied military personnel would have been in Rome. The pamphlet is folded down from two foolscap (345mm x 195mm) sheets. It has a map shown and four photographs. It was prepared by British Army Education in co-operation with US Special Services Rome Area Command. I wonder if that mean the Yanks paid for it? The Army Education department was quite vigorous and sometimes even radical in its approach. Here they would have been keen to have the service personnel well informed about the city, partly no doubt to bring home to them the importance of minimising damage. It would also have been advantageous to let the Italian residents know efforts were being made (also using lectures) to educate the military about the importance and prestige of their city. The history given is largely about ancient Rome the Roman Empire and its achievements in war and peace but there is a paragraph about medieval and later Rome. It is clear that one aim was to stress how much the ancient and medieval periods contributed to the world. After that nothing is said about the creation of modern Italy or the rise of Fascism under Mussolini in other words, Rome is a precious jewel which was only tarnished by the twentieth century wars.
There were a surprising number of similar leaflets and guides produced for the military during the twentieth century. These saw part of the soldiers activities to be as tourists and recreationists when on leave. We know how immensely important foreign travel was to these men and women, many of whom had never been able to venture abroad. The irony that on the one hand their task was to kill and destroy and yet on the other the effect was to absorb foreign cultural knowledge is remarkable
Click here for an Australian web site listing tourist and entertainment leaflets for military personnel
The Leeds Mercury's Trip to Paris, 1929
All kinds of organisations ran excursions and holidays from the mid-nineteenth century onwards and of course they still do. Your local newspaper probably offers them as agents of a travel operator. In the early days, church and chapel groups, social clubs and self-help associations in Britain, as elsewhere, set them up themselves, buying the services and goods they needed from suppliers. That is how Thomas Cook, Henry Frame and Henry Lunn started.
The Leeds Mercury was an influential newspaper in the West Riding of Yorkshire from its first founding in 1718 up to the time it was merged into the still-existing Yorkshire Post in 1939. Ten years before that merging it was running a conducted excursion to Paris. This is from its souvenir programme.
The Editor of the Leeds Mercury, W Linton Andrews, introduced the pamphlet under the heading Off to Paris! The Most Enchanting City I Know. He wrote Across the Channel one is in a new and stimulating atmosphere. He wrote about the complete change from the things to which one has been accustomed in the West Riding. Some ways will seem much rougher than ours, and will surprise you, but you must not expect everything abroad to come up to our English standards of comfort. But Paris, I feel sure, will lay a warm hand on your heart. Funny he didnt mention the standard of the food (lunch was to be taken at the Restaurant Leon Royale and I bet it wasnt reheated pork pie on a plate of peas).
Excursionists were picked up by train starting at Bradford Forster Square at 1:25pm on Sunday, 19 May, or at a number of stations in the County before setting off for Newhaven, arriving at 9:10pm. At 10:15pm their ferry set out across the Channel for Dieppe where it arrived at 2:05am. A train left with them at 3am for Paris, arriving at 6am. Auto-cars buses - took everyone for breakfast (7:00am) at the same restaurant where they would eat lunch at 12:30pm. In the morning the Auto-cars conducted them on tours of Paris and Versailles. Dinner was scheduled for 5:30pm at the Restaurant Leon Royale once more before they left for the station at 7:40pm for Dieppe. The ferry left there at 12:15am (Tuesday, 21 May by now) and the return journey train departed Newhaven at 5:10am. Breakfast was served on the train. Bradfordians would have arrived home at 12:47pm according to the planned itinerary, so this was not a day trip but almost exactly two, half of it in Paris, the rest in travelling. On the other hand, especially in those days when this might have been the only holiday taken that year, or indeed for a few years for some folk, the experience of the trains, ferries, window-gazing and social activities along the way would all have been part of the fun and a great adventure abroad.
A Trip to India - Book Souvenirs
These were some of the souvenirs brought back from a trip to India. The person who made the visit also returned with an ivory carving of the Taj Mahal and a large decorated brass plate with turned brass goblets which would be placed on it. This was on the eve of the First World War and entailed a long voyage out on the SS City of Birmingham belonging to the Ellerman City Line. About a year later on the return journey he bought other souvenirs at ports that his ship called at, such as a finely veneered book stand from Naples. He would not have thought himself a tourist but as someone going to work in a new job. It was because the War broke out that he changed his plans and returned to Britain. And yet his books and souvenirs would have matched those of a leisure visitor interested in learning more about the country.
The books are about India and the British Empire. Some were probably purchased in advance of the outwards journey to read on the ship and prepare for the stay, which was a working one in a textile mill in Poona. So there was a Geography of the British Empire (plenty of places were on the route), Memories of the Great Mutiny (of 1857) and A Vision of India, a discussion of the then current social and political situation.
The guide book shown here was not one of this travellers souvenirs but could well have been bought and read by him while living in the city. It is of an edition published around the time of his visit. The author was Lieutenant-Colonel Newell of the Indian Army who had written fifteen other guide books to places in India. This one cost 1 rupee and eight annas. It was part financed by advertising of Poona manufacturers and services such as the souvenir shop featured here and hotels advertising tourist accommodation. The booklet is about 90 pages and is a little less than our modern A6 size with no illustrations but two useful maps. The author wrote about caves, temples, forts and other prominent buildings with a historical background mainly drawn from Peshwar and British history. There is little about the current social and cultural life of the city and nothing on the political situation. Nor is there anything about manufacturing industry so our traveller will have looked in vain for mention of the silk trade where he was working. We would expect a different kind of guidebook today.
Souvenir Books: An example from the Holy Land
Here is an unusual and very attractive souvenir. It is a book 165mm long by 107mm high, with a leather spine. However, the front and back covers are made out of attractively-figured wood. It is a book holding a collection of pressed flowers arranged into small, neat designs on thin card pages bound in by linen strips to the spine.
The text is in Hebrew and English. Since Hebrew reads from right to left the front cover, as seen, appears where English readers would expect the back cover to be. The English front page is inside the left hand cover as normal for that language. The pressed flowers are fixed very carefully onto left-hand pages. On the right-hand pages the text appears, one column in English and the other in Hebrew. The English title page reads: Flowers from the Holy Land accumulated from the most important and sacred localities in the holy land, with topograph. histor. and statistical notes from the most accurate and latest statements. In Hebrew and English. Jerusalem. There is no indication of a publication date or publisher. From a note about the population of Jerusalem and other pointers I would hazard a guess that it is early twentieth century.
As more people travelled further and for longer periods into places where there was a different culture and history, so local guide books, histories and current affairs works became important. Some would have been bought in advance to help people prepare their visit. Others would have been purchased at the destination with the advantage of them having a local and probably more detailed viewpoint as well as making good souvenirs. This example is a particularly delightful one.
The Great Exhibition souvenir token
Shown here is a souvenir token of the Great Exhibition of 1851. As inscribed below the portrait of Prince Albert, it was actually struck in the Exhibition Building, nicknamed by Punch magazine at the time The Crystal Palace.
Many developments in Britain and abroad came together in the Great Exhibition. Held in Londons Hyde Park, the Exhibition was housed in a building made of glass and iron, the first major structural use of the two materials. They were effectively made like kit pieces to be taken from their manufactories to London and assembled by teams of semi-skilled men. The contents of the Exhibition were assembled from all over the world. There had been previous exhibitions of different kinds. France had organised one of industrial goods the type of object to be shown in the 1851 event. However, it was a national showcase. London was the first international expo as this kind of show would later be known and of course they still continue, though with far less publicity. The point about the Great Exhibition was that it showcased a world rapidly industrialising, with Great Britain at the forefront. It was therefore a mammoth promotional exercise for what we might now call Great Britain Ltd a commercial country busy creating a world empire.
The event was therefore a tourist event. Again, modern parlance might use the term business tourism, although for most of the 6 million-plus visitors it was a show to be viewed at leisure, rather than a giant department store. Business was done there. Orders would follow for the companies showing their products, everything from steam hammers for iron works to statues for stately homes. Foreign countries also showed themselves off with displays of traditional and cultural objects as well as manufactures. In this way it was a giant educational show. A far-sighted strategy of charging different prices on different days, and having a number of free admission days, ensured that different sectors of the public could attend in large numbers. It was as much a matter of class division as much as market sectors since the upper classes could pay more and mix with their equally rich peers without the common people getting in the way. The most crowded days (the busiest was over 109,000) were those on which the ordinary man and woman gained entrance at low cost. One effect was to silence the pompous pessimists who said that if the masses were allowed in then riots and revolution would follow. It didnt. There were few incidents of anything but enthusiastic and well-impressed folk enjoying the spectacle.
Exactly ten years before, Thomas Cook had led his famous party by train from Leicester to Loughborough for a day of leisure, picnics and speeches about temperance. During the intervening years the anti-alcohol speeches disappeared as Cook realised that people enjoying a day out and getting to know each other while visiting some interesting location was a positive thing to do. As with pilgrims and Grand Tourists the new excursionists, as they were known, were taking part in a heightened experience through a mix of adventure and improvement through discovery in other words, education mixed with entertainment, a potent mixture. When the Great Exhibition was announced Thomas Cook postponed plans to take his touring customers to the seaside or abroad and concentrated on the capital. The trains he hired from the Midlands and Yorkshire carried more than 150,000 people to the capital. It established his fame even more and was a key contributor to the success of the Exhibition. A quarter of the nations population visited the show. Many who were there will have returned with some kind of souvenir British manufacturers were entering a powerful phase of souvenir production of every kind, pottery figurines, bowls, flags, table and wall decorations, song sheets, pictures and brochures. Many showed the portrait of Prince Albert, Queen Victorias Prince Consort and the mastermind behind the Great Exhibition. The token was one such example.
(The Great Exhibition token measures 40mm in diameter. The centre illustration is of the Prince Albert Memorial on the edge of Hyde Park with one of its corner statues representing figures from the British Empire. The Memorial marks the location of the Great Exhibition and the gilded figure of Prince Albert looks towards the Royal Albert Hall and the museums of Exhibition Road, all created with help from from the profits of the Great Exhibition).
People must have collected things since the year dot. Colourful, attractive stones may have caught the eye. Sharp-edged ones may have promised some great use for cutting or chopping. Others, like the Stonehenge Bluestones, might have been prized because it was thought they offered cures from diseases and injury. For the elderly relatives mentioned in an earlier posting a pebble or broken piece from each seaside resort or country beauty spot became a reminder of where they had been a souvenir.
As knowledge accumulated in the minds and books of specialists the significance of what was found out there increased. Geologists were piecing together the story of the physical Earth through the study of rocks, minerals and fossils. Field expeditions were necessary, both to obtain specimens for later study but also through observation to understand relationships, changes over time and the effects on landscapes. During the eighteenth century and its relative stability and peacefulness not only were mine-owners looking for mineral ores and coal but gentlemen amateurs were filling cabinets at home with specimens of minerals and fossils. Some professional fossil collectors existed, the most famous of them being Mary Anning of Lyme Regis. She supplied important finds to academics like Henry de la Beche and collectors such as Thomas Birch. Mary Anning also observed and interpreted what she saw, adding much to the knowledge of the time. Shown above are some geological specimens: the four to the left, clockwise from top left, are a tumbled pebble of malachite, a cluster of iron pyrites, an ammonite and a piece of fluorspar. Shown in a thin sliver of stone bottom centre is a fossilised fish. Each of these specimens is only two or three centimetres wide, though the fish remains measure about five centimetres.
Plants were different in that they were trickier to preserve in collections. From at least the early seventeenth century apothecaries organised herbarizings for apprentices. These excursions from London and doubtless other cities set out to help them identify herbs in the field and to learn how to collect them for medicinal uses. But flower-collecting went back much earlier for obvious reasons of decorating homes with colour and shape and sometimes in order to be displayed or presented to someone as a token of affection, respect or religious belief. If flowers were to be preserved it was necessary to press them flat between absorbent papers. The dried flowers could, as in the example shown, be arranged artistically and kept with care for decades.
The people collecting man-made artefacts domestic pottery, tools, parts of weapons, clay writing tablets were contributing to the knowledge of human history. Private collectors would show off all kinds of things in what were called Cabinets of Curiosities, the forerunners of museums. All kinds of oddities might be lumped together along shelves with little rhyme or reason. The shoe of a boy killed by a bolt of lightning might be placed alongside a prehistoric arrow head, a strange, stuffed animal made from sections of three or four others as an exercise in attracting paying visitors might sit next to a shard from a Greek vase. Above right is a flint arrow head, only 3 centimetres from tip to base.
Curiosities or souvenirs, private treasures or academic evidence, these things were what the traveller and the tourist came back with.
Souvenirs: Tourist Tat or Treasures?
Following yesterdays thoughts about the quality of souvenirs, here is an illustration. In the photo on the left are seen two students who were on a visit to Malta. This was as part of a residential study course in 1998. They are seen at the Mnajdra Temples. The photo could be a holiday snap with the pair framed in the entrance to the prehistoric ruins, amongst the oldest in the world. Er sorry, ladies, I do mean to refer here to the Temples. They give a sense of scale and of relaxation and enjoyment even if they were on a study course. Education ought to be fun to some ah degree.
You cant tell much about the layout and scope of the Temple ruins from this photo. Even if there were several taken from different angles it would not be possible to get a clear picture in your mind about their design. Reviewing photos from twelve years ago certainly helps those who were there to remember what was seen, but not entirely.
On the right is a resin model (bought at Luqa Airport on the island, so airport art?) by Gawain Debono. We can assume hundreds have been made and sold to tourists. This model does what a tourist would need a helicopter or hot-air balloon to do give a view from a high angle taking in the whole of the Temples. This view, as it happens, is of the Hagar Qim Temples right next door to the folk at Mnajdra, but the point is the same. The model, which is about 12cms wide, is a better representation than the photograph in many ways, although it does not indicate the scale given by the figures in their photo, nor does it show the surroundings of the Temples which are on open land close to spectacular cliff tops. It doesnt show detailed textures or colouring that a close-up photo might give. On the other hand the picture of the layout, proportions and nature of the Temples comes over well. In addition, there are no tourists in the view so it is a little easier in the mind to imagine people of around 4,000 to 2,500BC engaged in activities on the site. Hmm ... the model view is of ruins ... what we need is a picture of what they would have looked like at the time. The problem there is that we may not know, and historians might insist that we must just speculate. Yet how should lay visitors do that without guidance from the archaeologist .. should we imagine a stone roof, no roof, a wooden roof? Its all right being an archaeologist with a range of possible options in mind. Its a problem for a visiting tourist trying to capture the nature of the site and its significance from what they see.
Creating souvenirs is not easy and often controversial.
Souvenirs: The Grand Tour
All the main historic phases of tourism pilgrimage, Grand Tour, excursions, package holidays and what might now be called Do It Yourself tourism have had remarkable effects on the home culture. None has had such a fundamental effect though as the Grand Tour through its direct influence on every aspect of the national and local life. From politics down to interior decoration, the Grand Tour undertaken as an education for future statesmen and landowners produced souvenirs which were both material and ideological. The first young men to be sent abroad went during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I over four hundred years ago. While their kind of tour through Western Europe to Italy and possibly Greece had begun to wane during the early nineteenth century, it is arguable that the idea itself continues in the form of the gap year travels of students in this century. They travel on their own or with their fellows rather than with an older tutor. They fly rather then travel overland and they reach places in all parts of the globe but especially south east Asia and Australasia, with the Americas and sometimes Africa also featuring. Europe can make itself the destination, too, including Eastern Europe now it is open to much easier travel. There is a new element: many of the modern day Grand Tours involve working to pay the way. This new experience and all of the other adventures they encounter, give the young traveller much to relish and reflect upon during their subsequent years.
From the classical Grand Tour the returning traveller carried back ideas about architecture, music, politics and society as well as pictures and artefacts. They also came back with knowledge of gaming houses and brothels, food and alcohol, to a level far less attainable closer to home. Indeed, as knowledge spread from those young men who had completed the two or three year tour spread, the enthusiasm for other men embarking upon their own travels must often have been that of sex tourism with drink and general fun and games added. With some passing reference to architecture and more socially-acceptable cultural habits as well, of course, a tradition which is still honoured today.
The souvenirs shown above are both modern but very much in the mould (no pun intended) of what would be souvenirs in the classical days of eighteenth century Grand Tour.
The miniature on the left is about 13cms high. It represents Michelangelos statue of David in the Galleria delAccademia in Florence. This particular one was bought in a shop at Rome Airport, and so it could be referred to as Airport Art aimed specifically at tourists, but it is available with thousands of other representations of statues, churches and palaces in the tourist shops of Rome, Venice, Florence and just about everywhere else. Asked to name a famous statue and people will quite possibly name this one first. Copies stand in outdoor and indoor locations around the globe and miniatures like this one are stood on shelves in a million homes. Why? Because the original is considered to be an example of the finest sculptural craft, by one of the greatest artists of all time working in a city renowned for its cultural life. Oh, and if you have a full-length copy then you have a figure of a naked male at ease. Statues of naked figures, male and female, adorn stately houses and parks around the world. Officially they are supposed to suggest that the owners appreciate fine art and culture. Unofficially they are soft porn in an acceptable form.
Other super-charged Grand Tourers would buy paintings of landscapes with woodlands, waterfalls and classical figures of gods and goddesses. They might have commissioned such paintings with themselves included dressed as ancient Greeks or Romans or else in fine English or Scottish costumes, with a ruined temple, statue or urn and perhaps a dog or wild animal or two for good measure. Compare these with the millions of photos on Facebook showing a gap-year traveller in front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, Leaning Tower of Pisa (pretending to hold it up), Grand Canyon or Great Wall of China. Or riding an ATV in California, a camel in Egypt or leaping out of a plane in Australia parachute attached, of course. We have all done it... when, something similar anyway. I have a photo snap of me sat on a miniature steam train in Llandudno around 1950.
On the right is a replica of a piece of red-and-black ware, as if part of a broken urn or krater bowl which was bought in the shop of the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. It is about 10cms high. Such shards of pottery are turned up in excavations daily round the Mediterranean. They might be prehistoric by a few hundred years or more recent and gradually fit together in the great jigsaw puzzle that is history. Athens has at least as many tourist shops as Florence or Rome. The street markets are full of them along with old junk and interesting antiques and bygones. Is this tourist tat or a way of remembering, even studying, some historic remain that lies hundreds, thousands, of miles away? Can we recall the shapes, textures, interplay of colour, light and shade of the original without something to help us to remember and understand better? There are good representations and bad. Beauty and the understanding of it are in the eye of the beholder.
Since the practice of pilgrimage is as old as humanity and continues to this day it is impossible to sum up just what souvenirs would be brought back by the pilgrim traveller. Shown above are just two traditional souvenirs from Christian tradition scallops shells and a Lourdes token.
The cathedral of Santiago de Compostela was ranked as the third most important destination for Christians wanting to make a pilgrimage, Jerusalem and Rome being the first two. The city is capital of Galicia in north west Spain. The name means the burial place of St James, this being the Apostle James, the son of Zebedee. He was one of the most important disciples of Jesus. It is believed though not by everyone that on his death his body was taken by ship to the Iberian Peninsula where he has spent time as an apostle. On the way, according to one story, his body was lost overboard during a fierce storm. However, it was washed up on a beach undamaged but covered in scallops. Buried in Galicia, St Jamess remains became the destination of a pilgrimage route and a cathedral built over the tomb its landmark. At the end of the middle ages because of the Plague, the growth of Protestantism and political unrest the Santiago pilgrimage declined. But in the 1980s UNESCO gave the site World Heritage status and the Council of Europe promoted routes to Santiago under its campaign for cultural trails. Now, pilgrims are again flocking there. As with many pilgrim destinations, a successful journey there can be marked by an official certificate given to the traveller, in the case of Santiago the stipulation being that he or she must have walked at least a hundred kilometres or cycled two hundred. In addition, they must have a credencial a Spanish tourist passport which helps people get overnight accommodation along the route at refugios, where a stamp is imprinted onto the document each night.
Scallop shells can be found in plenty around the coast of Galicia. It became the tradition that those who made the arduous journey to pray at the tomb should pick up a scallop shell and attach it by a cord to their clothing as a sign that they had been there. The shell seen here has a hole ready for a cord. It and the small metal shell (about 20mm wide) are modern and produced as part of a pilgrimage-related, web based, industry. Scallop shells had utility and symbolism for pilgrims. They linked with the story of St Jamess body being washed ashore in Galicia. Turned through 180 degrees from the position shown above the channels in the shell could be said to represent the rays of the setting sun seen each day as travellers made their way to Santiago. In the Middle Ages that journey was a brave undertaking as it ended at the end of the known world, close to Cape Finisterre, named by the Romans as Finis Terrae, the end of the land. Scallop shells were also useful as they could act as scoops for drinking water or small plates for food. The Council of Europe promotion of the Way of St James mentioned above uses a stylised sun with rays reminiscent of a scallop shell within a circle of stars as a logo.
Also here is a London-made token (its about 30mm high) used to mark the completion of a pilgrimage to Lourdes in France in 1934. Similar ones are still produced today for Lourdes where in 1858 Bernadette Soubirous had visions claimed to be of the Virgin Mary. A major pilgrimage activity has grown up around the story and the town, using also water from a local spring which the apparition of the Virgin had revealed to Bernadette Soubirous as having health-giving properties. Many popes and many hundreds of thousands of pilgrims have visited Lourdes since.
Almost 890,000 people visited Stonehenge in 2008 according to English Heritage. It sometimes feels as if every single one had their own idea about what Stonehenge was for.
It has been called a burial place, a place of sacrifice, an astronomical clock, a guide to the seasons, a place of pagan ritual, a place of druidic ritual, a place on a network of ley lines, a Roman temple, a representation of human fertility; the work of the Devil, Merlin, the Danes, Saxons or the Celts. It has been the subject of numberless academic studies on the one hand and dogmatic assertions on the other. Everyone seems to have their own particular axe to grind on the surface of its stones.
Whatever its function it must have been important enough to attract ancient travellers from great distances. Early routes along prehistoric tracks such as the Ridgeway or Watling Street might have been used to get to the significant places of the whole area with Stonehenge in its different phases being one of a number of destinations. The archaeologist Geoffrey Wainwright and others have suggested that Stonehenge might have had an importance as a place associated with healing. The ring of bluestones which is part of the site might well have been brought there deliberately from the Preseli Hills in south-west Wales. There are many claims that these have healing or other magical properties. In the illustration above the four little bluestone pieces, each about two centimetres long, had been chipped from Preseli dolerite, smoothed by a gemstone tumbling device and sold on eBay where there are all kinds of claims about their properties. Some people believe that chips of bluestone might have been removed from Stonehenge by prehistoric travellers anxious to benefit from whatever powers might have provided. Its important to note the use of suggested, might have had, claims, some believe and so on in these discussions. Have a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theories_about_Stonehenge or Stonehenge: The Story So Far by Julian Richards (pub: English Heritage, 2007).
The interesting thought is that whatever it was for; Stonehenge was a destination for travellers. Does that mean it was a tourist destination? The idea sounds like a shallow claim by some philistines from the heritage industry. Travellers .. destinations .. overnight stays .. special activity .. souvenirs ..... What would you think?
People often found it difficult to accept the picture that a camera produced in making a portrait of them. The old phrase the camera cannot lie came to mind and I wondered where it came from. So I googled it and found on a web site devoted to the origins of phrases a number of variations, all from the end of the nineteenth century. There was a quote from Robert Louis Stephenson implying it was an old theatrical phrase. In the American newspaper The Sandusky Register in February 1895 a writer recalled someone seeing a photograph of himself. He looked up from the proof at me and said: 'Good Lord! Do I look like that? 'The camera doesn't lie about such things', I replied*.
Of course it can. Or to put it better, it will produce an image which the photographer has selected and framed and then processed in order to communicate something in his or her mind. Taking a photo is never objective. It is highly selective. Tourism photography can be considered propaganda (smart hotel, blue sky, swimming pool, bronzed and happy families); it can be thought of a selecting all the best bits (exciting cities, colourful gardens, beautiful countryside, smiling, friendly people) or a record of events (when we went swimming, seeing the Mardi Gras procession, riding an ATV on the dunes, the foam party at the disco club). At one time people relied on memory alone to recall their travels. If they could afford it they bought a painting or commissioned one of a place or event. The Kodak cameras You push the button, well do the rest brought the ability to make an accurate pictorial record of a scene or occasion into common usage. Except that accuracy always depends on someones selection of the scene and how it is portrayed.
Before the mass traveller had access to affordable picture-making there were other ways of being helped to remember places. Many years ago some elderly relatives had a small back garden to their terraced house with a ferns and flowers and a ring of stones around a paving stone. This stone, small and irregular, was placed between two low brick columns topped with plant pots. The ring of stones Im trying to remember but think there were a dozen or so had been collected and set in mortar. Each had been collected from a different location on the occasion of a different excursion. Some were to places along the coast of North Wales, others in the southern Pennines on the Derbyshire-Staffordshire borders. The relatives could tell me where each had been found they were not labelled and they could recall something about the visit they made and what it was like. For two of the sisters in the family this was their way of being helped to remember. Their brother and a third sister (who was also an avid collector of cheap souvenirs) had a camera, took photos and developed them in a darkroom set up in a cupboard under the stairs.
Like many families in the 1950s we had a china cabinet at home. It contained china. The best stuff that only came out when the relatives visited from afar or there was a special celebration. Among the cups, saucers and plates there were some singular objects a figurine, a little alabaster pedestal bowl with four birds perched neatly round the edge, a bright yellow, wooden figure of a fisherman bought on someones trip abroad, and so on. Each had a story of a visit, an event, a special occasion when someone in the family had bought it to remember the time and place by.
Capturing something of a special occasion or place through something taken (like the stones) or purchased like the alabaster bird bowl is as old as humanity. Taking a photograph is partly an extension of souvenir acquisition. You can remember places a bit better by having an aide-memoire to hand in later years. And you can explain olden times to the children and grandchildren. You can also show them off to the rest of the family and the neighbours who you want to impress. Status is gained.
So from looking at tourist photography the next postings will consider some examples of souvenir hunting before musing about some of the effects of both these activities.
* See http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/camera-cannot-lie.html - accessed on 17.01.10
Early Photography Processes
This posting is a little out of sequence I should have introduced it earlier.
Photographic printing has been done by many different processes. To our eyes the early Daguerreotypes often look drab at first glance. If we havent seen actual examples but only book reproductions we may have missed the chance to enjoy their qualities. They were made using a polished copper plate that had been coated with light-sensitive emulsion. The photo was made directly onto the plate and was then developed and fixed with further chemical treatment to make it permanent. Each one produced was however physically very fragile and in that sense impermanent. Usually a clear glass was sealed over it and the whole photograph put into a special frame. Plates had to be used within an hour of being coated with silver iodide. Shooting the photo could take up to twenty minutes and ten at a minimum, meaning any portrait subject had to keep remarkable still for that time. A curved metal head-rest hidden behind the subject helped them to keep still. After taking the photo the plate was exposed to vapour from a heated bath of mercury and then soaked in a solution of common salt later sodium sulphate replaced the common salt. After drying the plate was sealed behind glass. It was a unique production. There was no way of producing copies except by a camera which would make just one Daguerreotype at a time.
The complex process spurred inventors to produce easier photographic media. The Daguerreotype was popular for only about fifteen years. There are enthusiasts who go through the complex routine today because they like the results so much. While we might see a drab reproduction of a Daguerreotype the viewer of an actual photo made by the process would see something giving the effect of looking in a mirror. In their day they were praised for their fine detail and exquisite perfection. And of course people had not seen anything else by way of an accurate reproduction. The expense of having a specialist make one meant that they were used for family portraits and more rarely outdoor shots, though those certainly were sometimes made. Not yet, and not for a long time, could the casual user take up photography. Recording the events and destinations of an excursion would be impossible for most folk for decades yet.
The four pictures above represent the kind of result made by four processes. They are not, however, actually the outcomes of the processes named but have been made by computer-based simulation using Corel Pro-Photo X2 software. The first three are all from pre-First World War photos and so are close to the kinds of subjects used by photographers in each medium. The fourth is a relatively recent photo of the Italian Gardens at Trentham in Staffordshire. Such scenes would have been common subjects for early colour work. I had thought that it looks rather more of a wide-angle shot than someone would have been able to take then, until I realised that the photo of New Street, Elland is of similar scope and was taken around 1910.
The albumen print shows the process which was introduced around 1855 and took over from Daguerreotypes in popularity. A photograph was taken on a glass negative and then printed onto paper. Albumen from eggs was used to bind the light-sensitive chemical to the paper, hence the name. The next photo, showing a family portrait of a nurse with newly born twins, was taken in 1910. They lived, incidentally, to ripe old age and shared their ninetieth birthdays at a very gathering of relations. This photo has here been processed to look like a platinum print. Papers treated with platinum-based chemicals made good prints stable over a long time, but were expensive. The last photo is made to represent the quality of colour prints made by methods devised by August and Louis Lumiere in 1904. Louis Lumiere was also important as a pioneer in the movie industry.
Several influences therefore controlled the level of use and results obtained by photographers, and still do. These include the cost of equipment, the cost of processing, the ease of use including taking photographic gear to wherever photos were wanted such as on holiday; the level of commitment of someone to learn how to take good pictures, and therefore the skills developed, the ease of processing and the ease and ability to show whatever pictures were taken.
We are so familiar with postcards that its easy to ignore them. They stand on racks around the world in tourist spots and non-tourist places alike. Which might raise the thought: are there such things as non-tourist places? Many might think there are plenty industrial towns, outlying suburbs in large conurbations, remote villages. I would not agree. All of those places get visitors. They might not be many, they might not be leisure tourists, but even tax inspectors, commercial travellers and the military, to name but three examples are either business tourists or travellers depending how you see it. And even military personnel if not engaged in fighting get time off to visit the local communities large or small. They could buy postcards. Its not unknown! Even people attending conferences are definitely business tourists in modern parlance. Often they take a partner along and special programmes are laid on for those accompanying persons. Then they themselves, having got to somewhere nice at the organisations expense, spend some money and their own time being a leisure tourist.
Taking the photograph is one thing. Showing and admiring it is another. Showing depends on the medium in use. A single print can be viewed in the hand or passed around limited but perfectly adequate within, say, a family. In the nineteenth century viewing could be enhanced by using a magnifying glass. There were some very elegant wooden viewers called graphoscopes which held the photo for viewing through an inbuilt, large lens. Some had twin stereoscope lenses included for looking at 3D photos. But whatever the photograph the experience of viewing it was limited to looking at a small, monochrome, flat picture. Stereoscope photos had a great advantage in that they were exciting, more lifelike. So in the 1850s and 60s those photos were extremely popular.
Then during the 1860s at some point the postcard arrived literally. They had three advantages. They were cheap, they carried messages and they could be sent to someone else via the relatively new low-cost postal service. However they did not at first carry a picture. The point about these cards was that they carried a brief message without any wrapping there was no envelope. In October 1870 the clergyman Francis Kilvert in Clyro, Radnorshire, wrote in his diary Today I sent my first postcards ... they are capital things, simple, useful and handy. A happy invention (Phillips, 2000:15). In Britain postcards stayed plain until pictures were allowed in 1895 on the message side. These were almost square in shape. As Tom Phillips recounts it was only in 1899 that the British Post Office decided to allow the oblong cards favoured by the International Postal Union. At that point Raphael Tuck & Sons produced a set of London views in full colour, one showing the Tower of London and a beefeater in uniform. Then in 1902 messages were allowed on the address side, which meant that the face could carry a picture or photo covering the whole area. In Germany cards had been issued for many years bearing the words Gruss Aus Greetings From as an opener for the message. The greetings card had been born and raised to maturity over there well before Britain (and the USA, by the way) followed suit.
The examples above are from the twentieth century, the first sent by a German tourist, the second one from Northern Ireland. Over the years these correspondents could have chosen from hundreds, thousands of designs on all manner of subjects. Some were funny, others serious; some showed events, customs or famous people. Most showed views of towns or countryside and were partly souvenirs, partly propaganda on behalf the sender and the people who produced them, helping spread the messages of tourism far and wide.
Phillips, T (2000) The Postcard Century: 2000 Postcards and their Messages, London, Thames and Hudson
Tourist Photographs - Commercial Slides
Tourists could buy pictures at their destinations from the earliest days. The catch was that the early travellers wanting a picture of a place or themselves at that place would have to commission one specially made. That would be expensive but at least for the Grand Tourists to Mediterranean countries usually well within their pockets these were the rich landowners heirs who could afford it. And in any case, being able to show off conspicuous wealth was what it was about.
The cheap alternative that everyone could afford arrived in the late nineteenth century the postcard, which will be discussed a little more tomorrow. There were other forms of media which carried pictures, notably pottery and porcelain, glass ware and wooden boxes. Usually these had views of notable locations Romes Colosseum, Pariss Eiffel Tower, a beach scene or popular public gardens. They might have local people in traditional costume or dressed as they would have dressed in olden times. Famous people might be shown. Well-known events might be depicted. These souvenirs could be hand-painted or printed by lithography or other process. Theyre still in vogue today along with moulded figures or castings.
Shown above are examples of straight photographs but in a medium which is rapidly disappearing. Slides technically, transparencies typically came in 35mm, square, slide mounts. They were not always of 35mm format however. The large American firm GAF sold Pana-vue transparencies of a larger frame size as can be seen above. The example here, from Charleston, South Carolina, was purchased in early 2008 at the citys excellent Museum where they were reduced in price to a dollar. They were old stock being sold off, the colours having faded with age until red shades were most prominent. The blurred appearance is because they are contained in a translucent plastic sleeve. The better manufacturers employed photographers shooting pictures on medium format transparency film rather than 35mm perhaps 6cms x 6cms. Special printing machines then made high-quality copies at standard, or slightly larger, 35mm frame sizes. The British firm Woodmansterne, which since 1986 has been a postcard producer, was first of all a supplier of very good 35mm slides like these. It had an extensive catalogue and like View-master in the 3D market it had come to fame through its tourist pictures with a strong educational aim. I believe that they shot medium format originals and then used converted 35mm cinema equipment running automatically to churn out thousands of copies of each master photograph.
These slides could be viewed through a single-slide unit held up to the light, or one provided with a battery-powered bulb and probably shaped like a tiny, old-style, TV set. Most were probably assembled into slide trays and projected on to screens as described in the posting of 3 January. It could be a sure-fire way to bore your family and friends with an evening showing off your holiday pictures, or an excellent and flexible way to deliver a lecture to a class of a couple of hundred students. Oh, all right, or a sure-fire way to bore the pants of them. Yes, I have done both.
Spectacular and Lenticular
Anaglyphs consist of two photos combined to make a stereo photograph in a particular way. Two photos are taken some 65mm apart side by side, as most systems. One records the subject through a red filter and the other through blue, green or occasionally cyan, filters. A print is made in which the two images are superimposed but one shifted sideways a few millimetres compared to the other. The print is viewed through simple spectacles with filters in places of the usual lenses. These match the original colours of the camera filters. The brain of the viewer combines the images into a three-dimensional image. The principle was first demonstrated by Wilhelm Rollman of Leipzig in 1853.
Many people have produced anaglyph images over the years. I remember when I worked in my universitys computer centre back in 1970 a lecturer experimenting with contour mapping using anaglyphic techniques on a computer pen-plotter. Theyre still in use and photographic versions are easy to find. In the illustration a publicity sample is shown along with the spectacles that came with it. As photos theyre fun and they work quite well but of course dont show the world in accurate colours and you can go a bit cross-eyed trying to keep the two pictures aligned.
Two inventors in America, Jerry Nims and Allen Lo, devised a camera named after themselves around 1981. The finished product was a printed photo that could be viewed without special headgear and working in a reasonable representation of true colours. This was done through the Nimslo system which used four lenses taking four photos at once rather than the usual stereo pair. It worked with any 35mm film. The camera took half-frame pictures but since it required four of them to make up one finished image, a 36-exposure film would allow only 18 completed images and a 20-exposure only 10. When the film was used up it had to be sent to the specialist processing laboratories. They used a lenticular printing process in which the four images per photo were printed through a special lens which effectively printed them in narrow strips and assembled the strips into a single image. The special lens angled the printing of each strip as it placed the combined image onto photo paper. Sealed onto the surface of the print was a thin plastic surface carrying matching prismatic elements. When the resultant lenticular print was view a 3D effect was seen. The camera manual instructed users not to photograph anything closer than six feet away from the camera and pointed out that beyond about 25 feet there would be little sense of depth in the finished picture. Processing was expensive and took time. The finished pictures could be of variable quality and certainly no match for, eg Kodak Realist-system pictures, even if they did need special viewers. The Nimslo went out of production.
In the centre photo above is seen what appears to be a high-tech, whizz-kid version of the Nimslo called the Nishika. The picture is from an advertising leaflet which incorporates a lenticular print. A scanned image reproduced here cannot, of course, give a 3D effect.
When the Nimslo went out of production the rights were bought by a Nevada company, Nishika, in 1989. They marketed what looked like an advanced and prestigious version under their own name. It turned out that the camera was, according to most experts, cheap and nasty and marketed using very dubious techniques. It was essentially a very inferior plastic-bodied camera with a lead weight placed within to give it some feeling of solidity. The use of exposure variability and flash attachments was in practice, according to many people, a con-trick. It is worth looking up Nimslo and Nishika on Wikipedia to see the full details. Not for the first time would a genuine system camera fail to succeed and a dodgy system camera come a cropper. Both can be found on eBay, the Nishika and almost give-away prices.
The View-Master System
When the Brewster Stereoscope was shown at the Great Exhibition of 1851 it created a small sensation. Millions of images were printed and sold to a fascinated public. At that time it seems that 3D images were receiving wider distribution than their 2D counterpart. The invention of the postcard later in the nineteenth century would begin to change that. Seton Rochwites 1940s Realist stereo image system, described in the previous posting, used 35mm Kodachrome film to exploit the power of high quality colour images illuminated by natural backlight or light bulb.
At virtually the same time two stereo enthusiasts and businessmen from Portland, Oregon, turned to 16mm Kodak colour film to get a similar product. Whereas Rochwite had invented a camera for people to take their own pictures, William Gruber and Harold Graves were looking for an improvement on the Brewster-style viewer. Graves worked for Sawyers Photo Services in Portland who specialised in souvenir postcards. When the two men came up with what they termed the View-Master system they were extending the postcard into a new medium. They saw it as something for adults, something educational.
They showed the View-Master at the New York Worlds Fair in 1939. This was the latest in a line of international exhibitions which had begun in London with the Great Exhibition, and again it was an event which launched a popular stereo gadget. Within a few years Sawyers business was View-Master products. Scenic photos were what the company sold. Each card reel carried 14 images giving 7 views, having two images making up each 3D picture. The reel was pushed into the view and a lever changed the picture. It was gloriously simple. The reels were sold in paper slip cases as shown, rather like the gramophone records of the time in which a shellac disc carried the song and a paper slip cover the brand information. The reels were easy to handle, stock and display and when purchased tucked easily into a pocket.
Professional uses by the US Army and hospitals that needed sophisticated training aids boosted the cash flow of Sawyers. Their main business remained tourists, however, with the Grand Canyon and Carlsbad Caverns leading the list of subjects which grew enormous. In 1951 they bought up a competitor, Tru-View, which had collared the rights to Disney films, allowing Sawyers to sell its own Disney products including when it opened in 1955 souvenir 3D souvenirs of Disneyland. In 1952 the Company introduced a 3D camera, and although it was only produced for ten years it allowed people to make their own images some cutting and mounting accessories were also required and quite a number of these cameras can still be found.
The View-Master Company has gone through several changes of ownership since Sawyers was sold to GAF in 1966. Currently it is owned by Fisher-Price, itself part of Mattel. It still produces 3D viewers and reels, though it has changed its emphasis much more towards childrens TV and cinema subjects.
Stereo Photographs in the 1940s and '50s
Cameras using plates which had to be handled in some level of complicated sequence were not ideal. During the 1930s one of the inventors who sought to find a way of using standard film was Seton Rochwite. He worked for the an electric power company in Wisconsin and saw some black and white plate stereo photos taken by his boss. From that moment on he spent his photographic hobby time trying to devise his own camera. At first he used parts of two Kodak cameras, but when he set out to make a second he built it in metal with more parts he made himself. Kodak introduced its soon-to-be famous Kodachrome film in 1936 for medium format cameras and two years later for 35mm models. Rochwite thought Kodak would produce a stereo camera for the 35mm gauge. When nothing happened he set out to design his own. By 1940 he had created a system camera, mounts and viewer complete. The company which made the Verascope camera had introduced a similar-looking 35mm stereo version called the Homeos Richard, but it was not successful with only about five hundred being made. In later life he was not sure if he had seen the Homeos Richard system, but his own was different in key respects.
Rochwite devised a camera with lenses 70mm apart. The frame size was virtually square on 35mm with the left and right lens pictures being separated by a distance equal to two more frames. Subsequent frame-pairs became placed in a sequence which partially straddled previous shots while being added along the length of the film. Rochwite took his camera, viewer and mounting-frame system to the David White Company, who made optical instruments, in Milwaukee. This was in 1943. At first the company was unsure of the market but bought the rights to the system. In 1947 it was put into production by them and placed on the American market. The camera was called the Realist and the particular format, with square as opposed to the rectangular European shape of the Homeos Richard, was adopted by Kodak and many other brand names.
Shown here is a Realist Red Button viewer made by the David White Company, with a small collection of stereo photographs. These were taken some time in the 1950s and show views apparently taken on holiday in Colorado. I understand that the stereo photo shown in its mount does, when seen in the viewer, appear remarkably life-like, to the extent that you feel like speaking to the lady in the picture and asking her what she thinks of the mountains around!
Jules Richard's Verascope
Stereo cameras and photography have always been more expensive than two-dimensional photography. But Jules Richard, a Parisian entrepreneur, made the process at least easier and more convenient than the old-but-elegant wooden cameras allowed.
Above is one of Richards Verascopes, originally introduced in 1893. The camera was quite compact about 150 x 90 x 60mm and though heavy might possibly be called a pocket camera, though supplied with a leather case. Interestingly part of the pleasure in owning a camera must have come from it being conspicuous in some kind of smart carrying case. The Polaroid 95A described earlier is a good example. Modern digital cameras and picture-taking mobile phones are usually carried in the pocket, but at least when in use are little shiny jewels designed to catch the eye.
More than seventy different models of the Verascope were produced, the last launched in 1946 having a rangefinder. Each model was built of metal and in two, detachable sections. The front could apparently be used either way up. The photo shows a camera turned so the labels on the front for different features are readable from in front, though it might have been more usual to have them the other way up so that tilting the camera backwards allowed the user to read them correctly. The waist-level, mirror viewfinder in the picture is therefore underneath. It might have been the choice of the photographer to use the fold-out viewfinder frame instead. This could have been used on the right hand end or the left hand end of the camera according to preference, again by turning the camera over. Spirit levels are provided on both surfaces of the camera. Getting a level position is essential for making sure the two images taken each time could be superimposed when viewed later.
The rear half of the unit is the plate holder box which would slide off the front half. A thin steel foil blind would have to be slid into place first to protect the photographic plates. Inside the cassette or box were held twelve septa or frames, each with a glass negative held within (see the white dashed lines in the photo below). Another steel foil slightly thicker this time covered the negative. When a photo was to be taken it was slid out to one side and returned when the picture was shot. The plate box was then pulled out relative to one end of the camera body by a neat little folding finger-ring. The box was then pushed back. This out-and-in action had the effect of holding the frame with the just-taken negative back and dropping it into a gap: as the box was pushed in the other frames in their stack moved in front of it, placing the next unexposed plate to the front. A tiny number-counting disc then clocked up one notch, showing 12 when all plates had been used. At that time the box was detached presumably a loaded spare could take its place with the dark slide pushed in to protect the plates.
The photo pair in the illustration below is modern the car being the give-away and some collectors have been able to use old Verascopes by loading them with appropriate film in a darkroom, I believe.
We are so used to the idea of flat photos that it seems odd to think that we ought to be looking at three dimensional pictures instead. The world has three dimensions. Why not have photos with the same?
In fact this kind of photo has existed since 1849 when Sir David Brewster turned a prototype made in 1833 by Sir Charles Wheatstone into a more compact model. This he had manufactured commercially by Jules Duboscq in Paris and is said to have sold 250,000 stereo pair photos within three months. Queen Victoria had seen examples at the Great Exhibition in 1851, loved the device and through her own enthusiasm started a fashionable hobby. The stereoscope relied effectively at that time on a kind of double camera two lenses, two photographic plates side by side like the one shown above. Two photos were taken simultaneously. As the lenses and plates were placed with their centres about 6cms apart the photos had images from very slightly different perspectives. In early stereo pairs this would not be very apparent since the subjects were usually taken a distance away. More recent cameras (as will be seen in later postings) could photography at shorter distances when the variation could be seen when comparing the prints or slides taken.
During the nineteenth century many companies and individuals were selling stereo photos, some from catalogues with tens of thousands of views. The London Stereoscopic Company was one such, thriving from its origins in 1854 until fading away by 1922. Another was Underwood and Underwood founded in Kansas in 1882 and later based in New York where they became one of the worlds biggest suppliers. They were rivals with the Keystone View Company in Pennsylvania and were later taken over by Keystone who acquired the negatives of all their main competitors by 1921. This company had photographers travelling the world taking pictures for educational and home use. By 1935 they held some two million sets of negatives. The stereoscopic business finally closed at some date in the 1950s.
This was the story of the commercial stereo photo libraries. Private enthusiasts have always been active in this field from the days of the wood, brass and glass cameras through to the present day. There are many ways of taking 3D photos. Modern very high-tech systems have been invented using what are termed anaglyph images viewed through coloured spectacles and four-lens cameras making lenticular prints viewed in the normal way. Some DVDs and books incorporate lenticular images on their covers and can be found in any large high street supplier of these media. In the cinema 3D work is becoming much more common after a long period of time when 3D movies were only rarely released.
The stereo cards shown above, which were viewed using the simple hand viewer shown, were capable of giving travel pictures a remarkable strength as indicators of what the world was like. Later systems such as the Kodak colour transparency-pair images were getting close in their effect to computer cyberspace headsets. Perhaps one day lenticular printing and holographic projection will really make 3D imaging the standard form.
The next postings will describe some of the early ways in which people could take and view stereo photos.
TV and Tourism: The Diaries of Anne Lister
Before returning to this month's main theme of tourist photography, here's a different kind of photography and tourism note.
The BBC is to screen "The Diaries of Anne Lister" in the spring of this year. Anne Lister lived from 1791-1840 at her home of Shibden Hall in Halifax. She was a tenacious business woman, traveller and diarist besides managing the improvement of her late-medieval house, set in attractive grounds. The Lister family was also notable for the last of the line, John Lister, who was a very early pioneer of preserving buildings threatened by late-nineteenth century rebuilding. He moved some from the centre of rapidly expanding Halifax to parkland around the Hall. In due course it became a public park and Shibden Hall an early folk museum. This point is important here because Anne Lister's story could be partly filmed in the Hall, and because the film will be a boost to the visitor numbers later this year.
That is particularly because Anne Lister was a lesbian. Known locally as Gentleman Jack, dressing as a man and having at least three notable female lovers during her life, Anne Lister has been called "the first modern lesbian". She went through a form of marriage with her heiress lover and travel companion, Anne Walker. While in the Pyrenees Anne became the first woman to climb Mont Perdu and on a later visit in the area climbed the Vignemale. She was exploring Kutaisi in Georgia near the Black Sea in 1840 when she was struck with fever and died. Anne Walker had her body brought home for burial in a church near to Shibden Hall.
The saying that tourism is about the 'four Ss' - sun, sand, sea and sex - is well known. There has been a revolution in attitudes to the fourth S - sex - in the last thirty years. Some may say that it began in the 1960s, others the late '50s, but when working in the industry from the early 70s onwards it looked more to me like the real changes were during the 1980s for heterosexuals and not until the end of the last century, or even later, for homosexual partners. While older generations may have more conservative views and cultural norms have their influence it is apparent that younger generations are far more open minded and relaxed in attitude. It will not be long before terms like 'gay' and 'lesbian' with their associated preconceptions will fade away. People will have life partners according to their own choices. And after all, the nature of those partnerships is expressed through a multitude of life styles just as they always have been between males and females.
When Anne Lister kept her diaries - which run to millions of words - she had to use a secret code for a quarter or so of the entries in which she recorded her love life. It was not acceptable to do otherwise. Not until the 1930s were these decoded. When I worked for Calderdale as Tourism Officer between 1978 and 1985, with Shibden Hall a prime attraction within the district, Anne Lister was known about but only in general terms. Only specialist historians really talked about her story. From this year onwards that will inevitably change. Lister's life will have been opened to all. It will be seen in the context of civil partnerships, open same-sex relationships and a much freer attitude in general towards expressions of affection between people of the same sex. And it will illustrate once again just how influential TV and films are in creating tourism growth as people go to visit the house where Anne Lister lived.
A Family Album
Previous postings have looked at the cameras. What photographs would the average family have taken during the last century as photography grew in popularity and scope?
Really speaking, though, there is no such sweeping category as average family. Some families will have been able to afford top-notch cameras and be good at using them. Others used none at all, or else had a simple model which was used to take pictures of very varying quality. Some families, as time went by, might not have used still-photo cameras but invested in movie cameras instead. Throughout the twentieth century it had to be one or the other, or, for real enthusiasts with the money to spend, separate sets of kit to produce both. And the kit will have been bulky and expensive. Its only in this, the twenty-first century, that one small camera can do both - and one small computer can show both.
The graphic above is made up of photos from one family collection. The cameras shown only represent the type used by different members of the family over the years to take these photos. The collection of prints, like those belonging to most families, grew over the decades and was stored in boxes and albums. Most important to the early picture-takers were the family portraits, for very understandable reasons. These were like souvenirs of people rather than places. Some shots of nearby locations, events and characters were added, such as the two farm-workers. This photo was taken somewhere in North Staffordshire where most of the other very early ones were taken. Then, after the First World War, day excursions such as by charabanc a kind of open-topped, single-decker bus with seats placed successively higher towards the back in order to give passengers good views or by a friends car, as seen towards the bottom left, were made. Liverpool was a destination for some of these trips because of the interest of the docks and fine buildings. A steamship is seen in a photo taken from one of the Mersey ferries.
On occasion specially-valued portrait pictures might be taken, not by the excursionists themselves but by a studio at the destination. Early resort photographers used studios rather than tout for business on the front (the picture of a family of four walking towards the camera was one of those from Whitby) and the couple seen in front of Blackpool Tower is an example. It would be a better photo and everyone could be in the picture. As time went on better cameras like those described in previous postings, with colour prints or slides, became available and affordable. Residential holidays became regular, annual events. There is a picture on the bottom row, second from the right, taken in 1964 in a Moscow exhibition park. The children in a swimming pool were at Butlins Holiday Camp in 1982. The living sculpture figures bottom right were actually pictured just after the turn of the new century in 2003 in that popular new destination, Barcelona. Tourism was growing during these decades; cameras were allowing better and better photos. Having extensive souvenirs was one reason for taking photos showing the family or travelling partners in the latest locations was important, but more and more the recording of the destination itself, its own life and landscapes, was important, too. Travel was a way to explore and photography a way to record what was being seen on these journeys.
The First Digital Cameras
As computers were being improved in the 1970s camera manufacturers were busy looking at ways in which their equipment could be integrated with software-based systems. Sony introduced what was in many ways a traditional 35mm camera in 1981, the Mavica. The name stood for Magnetic VIdeo Camera. It looked like an ordinary model and had interchangeable lenses available. The obvious difference was the positioning of the lens to one end of the body. This was because, as an electronic camera, there was no need for the lens to be centred in the middle of a film track between winding spools. It was also an ergonomic feature marking out future models by most manufacturers, since the users left hand could hold and control the lens while the right was freer to operate the other control buttons. The big difference was inside, where a two-inch floppy disk was used to record images. This was a video camera using an analogue signal.
Seven Sony models were developed during the 1980s selling successfully before the company launched the first digital Mavica, the FD-5 in 1997. In the same year it also produced the FD-7 shown here, identical except that it had a zoom lens. Sony was by no means alone in this market during the 1980s. Apple, Casio and Kodak produced cameras. Kodak used intensive marketing to enthuse the public about computer-linked systems and so deserves recognition for popularising the idea. Sony itself had also launched the first of its extensive Cybershot range in 1996, the DSC (Digital Still Camera) F1. It was also a development from the original Mavica. The latter range was a popular model in the USA where it established itself through the move it made to standard floppy discs, easy to feed into a computer. Later the Sony Memory Stick became the standard on both Cybershot and Mavica. The Mavica range was discontinued after 2003 and the Sony Alpha has taken its place. The Cybershot continues.
Digital cameras were again only half the story since printers or electronic viewers were needed to see and show off the photos obtained. But the ability to view results instantly on an LCD screen incorporated in the camera body allowed checking of quality and the showing of pictures to other people. Special, small printers have been invented working directly from cameras or memory cards and laptop computers or pocket photo storage devices based on hard drives allow easier viewing. Being able to edit pictures by cropping and enhancing sharpness, exposures and colour balance means that more serious travellers can carry everything they need in a backpack. Others can view their pictures and either wait until they get home or visit a local processing kiosk to improve shots or make prints. And of course pictures can be sent around the globe within a short space of time by using an internet cafe, cell phone network or Wi-Fi or satellite service.
Up until the late 1940s anyone taking photos either had to develop them in a darkroom themselves or get them to a processing laboratory. It was either some hours to produce prints or days to obtain commercial photos. This meant not only a long wait before the excitement of seeing how they turned out, but prevented many of the subjects seeing themselves in the pictures, at least for an even longer time. For the more serious photographer there was no chance of studying how a photo turned out and then taking a new one with better camera settings or composition.
Edwin Land was a New Englander who studied chemistry at Harvard and then New York, but was happier solving problems of practical interest to himself rather than studying academically. He invented a film for polarizing light shone through it and a number of applications using the film. During World War II he produced devices to help the war effort. From 1944 he went on to work on his idea of an instant camera. By this he had in mind one in which the development of the negative and the positive print to be made from it would all happen in the camera with only minor intervention from the photographer. Not quite two years later the Polaroid Company which Land had set up a decade earlier with investment from businessmen manufactured sixty of what it called the Polaroid Land camera. These were put on sale in a Boston department store along with the special film. Fifty-seven cameras and all the film were sold on the first day.
Edwin Land went on to invent and develop many other optical devices but it was the camera which made his name with the public. Shown here is a Model 95A from the mid-1950s along with its smart carrying case. The beautiful styling goes with the inescapable fact that the system was expensive, much more so than the traditional systems. The results were not as good as the traditional product either and only one print could be made. This was because Polaroid cameras held both a negative and a positive sheet for every picture and when it was taken the camera squeezed developers between the two: the negative component then produced a positive image on printing paper and after a brief wait the picture was rolled out of a slot from the camera. The negative had to be peeled away and discarded.
Both monochrome and colour films photos could be made. It was possible to take a new photo of a Polaroid print in order to make another though there would always be some loss of quality. This was also the case if anyone wanted a copy on a new slide of a film transparency. Traditional printing from negatives (in which any number could be made from one negative) involved some loss of quality. It was only when good digital photography was made available that copies could be turned out without loss of such quality.
I doubt that Polaroid photography was ever really very popular with travellers. Film packs were dear, the results never brilliant. The picture above is only a mock-up, using a photo of around the same date as the 95A camera shown, and attempts to indicate the kind of results obtained. On the other hand the professional could take photos where quick records were needed of events, crimes scenes or accidents. Special Polaroid backs could be fitted in place of film backs to medium and large-format professional cameras in order to check picture composition and effects before swapping to film for the real photograph.
Edwin Land introduced a movie film camera and special viewer (looking like a TV set) for a system he called Polavision in 1977. However it was a financial disaster and in 1980 Land resigned from the company. Kodak attempted to produce its own instant film system but was sued by the Polaroid Company for infringement of patens and lost heavily. Fuji developed its own system in Japan. But instant picture taking had to await digital photography for real success, as the next posting will show.
The Spy in the Pocket
Making cameras smaller and easier to use was an aim of manufacturers as soon photography became a popular consumer pastime in the late nineteenth century. Indeed, popularity grew with the launching of simpler, more compact cameras such as the Brownie Box. At the same time more efforts were made to meet the rising consumer demand for models that were easier to carry and use. An earlier posting (02.01.10) described the invention of the Leica 35mm system by Oskar Barnack.
An even smaller camera came in the late 1930s by Walter Zapp, a Latvian-born inventor. Zapp had been fascinated by the idea of a pocket camera capable of high quality pictures. In 1925 he came across the Leica and tried to correspond with Barnack about his dreams, though without success. However, with financial support from another German, Richard Jurgens, he made a wooden prototype using a high-grade lens manufactured in Vienna. The little camera was comfortable in the hand. It slipped easily inside a pocket. The principle of ergonomic design in which human capabilities governed sizes and functions were being used. In 1936 Jurgens found a company in Latvia who were interested in a metal version that Zapp made, but refused to believe that quality photos shown them had come from it. Zapp took pictures in the office of the technical director of the company, VEF-Riga, and laboratory staff there developed them. The technical director, Theodors Vitols, was convinced. Full production began in 1938 and by the following year 180 units a month were being turned out.
The outbreak war in 1939 caused a growth in demand. The little Minox was not only small and quick to use by tourists of whom there were fewer in the war period of course but by spies. It is said that the first one produced for sale went to an ambassador for the use of an intelligence agent. A popular image was born. After the war numerous films like James Bond in On Her Majestys Secret Service and many others showed a dashing agent whipping out the camera to photograph documents or secret installations. There is today even a web site devoted to movie clips showing the Minox used in this way.
However, the consumer travel market has not taken to this miniature marvel in quite the same way. The film is 16mm movie-type stock. It needs a more specialist processing laboratory. For home developing a special enlarger would be needed and slides would require a special projector. Both were available but far less likely to be stocked by a local photo shop. On the other hand, digital versions of the Minox are made today and other cameras such as one by Aptek which can take stills and video are becoming popular. The sub-miniature trend set by Zapp in Latvia continues today.
My own introduction to 35mm photography the label reminds us of the importance of it as a whole sector of the art and science of picture taking was on a school excursion. Armed with my Brownie box (this being early 1960 or 61) I noticed how many photos our geology teacher was taking with his compact camera, used at eye level. I asked him about it and was impressed no end by the fact it could take 36 pictures per roll against my eight. Within a year I had found a second-hand camera, though one which turned out to have a slight lens fault in certain light conditions. Nevertheless it brought me to the pleasures of using the medium, first for black and white prints, and then, joy of joys, colour slides.
Having a good camera is only the first half of the battle for impressive pictures. Photographers have to impress themselves first. After that, its a matter of impressing someone else family, friends ... colleagues ... and possibly customers. The commercial emphasis always tends towards selling cameras with features to make picture-taking easy. This is partly due to the customers delight in being seen to have a super-duper camera even if they cant take good pictures. A local photography shop owner told me that he had around a dozen customers who always bought the latest model. He suspected none of them took many photos. Getting used to a camera takes time and changing it too frequently doesnt give the opportunity to know it well and use it to best advantage. Anyway, taking print photos is OK since they can be passed around, shown in albums etc. Slides are much more difficult.
The delight of a 35mm transparency or slide is that within its cardboard frame is a tiny picture just like the illuminated window in a church. Im not pointing to slides as religious icons but at the almost magical way in which held against a light (the sunshine for a church window) the slide image seems to come to life. And each one can be held up to the light to be viewed, then passed on to somebody else to do the same. But that is a tedious task and the picture remains only a relatively few millimetres wide. So from the earliest days of reversal, as opposed to negatives-turned-into-prints, photography, a projector has been necessary. Schools used to have filmstrip projectors for showing commercial sets of pictures made in order to illustrate some subject or other. A slide attachment could often be used in place of the filmstrip winding mechanism in order to show one slide at a time. It would be shown and then retracted from the light path in a slow process.
Better projectors like the one shown could be loaded with 80 or 100 slides for rapid projection. An important requirement was always to sort the slides into the desired sequence first, often on a light box, otherwise holding them up to a light yet again. Slides were heavily used commercially as their fine-grained images produced excellent quality results when printed in, for example, sales brochures or magazines. Plastic sheets holding a selection of them could be viewed fairly quickly by editors in the way shown above. For lessons and lectures in school or the thousands of social group meetings held around the country every week the projected images were essential and very popular, informative entertainments. For seventeen years I would give perhaps 60-70 such evening lectures every year when working in public relations and marketing in the tourism industry. It was one of the best ways of getting highly effective messages over to narrowly targeted audiences. It was also hugely enjoyable and introduced me to all kinds of friendly people from whom I learned in my turn an enormous amount.
Pocket Picture Portability
As described in a previous posting it was the success of the Leica camera, invented in Germany by Dr Oskar Barnack, which revolutionised photography. In particular it made life much easier for travel photography as only a compact, metal camera had to be carried along with a supply of ribbon-like photographic film wound into small canisters rather than glass plates in wooden frames.
The 35mm format survives perhaps only just to this day, almost a century after it was introduced. Hundreds of makes and models of camera followed Barnacks format. The German Edixa shown above was one, compact, business and comfortable to use. The viewfinder on most 35mm cameras was eye-level, for most serious photographers far more useful than a tiny screen to be viewed in varying light conditions. This Edixa boasted a removable viewfinder top which then revealed a small glass screen usable at waist level, useful in many cases such as close-up work or low-angle shots.
It was the film cassette a modern version seen here that allowed these cameras to be small and convenient. The film could be developed in the photographers own darkroom or sent off to a commercial processor. Either 20 or 36 frames or pictures could be accommodated on the two popular lengths of film sold. Each film frame was a negative which had to be developed first and then used in a darkroom enlarger to print a positive image onto paper. Black and white film was first used and then in the middle twentieth century colour became popular. This could be negative again, to make prints, or else reversal to make colour transparencies slides, for projection onto a screen or, in professional use, conversion into printing blocks or plates for magazine or book work. At the right is a mock-up of a colour slide to indicate what one looked like. The fine-grain films used could produce very good photographs depending on the skill and care of the photographer.
Comparing early cameras with todays compacts and mobile phones with photo facilities shows how photography has changed. From a tourism point of view it helps explain the rocketing increase in tourist photography of all kinds. Linked with a knowledge of how the mass media have evolved over the same period makes clear how those changes have affected the tourism industries, their marketing and their impacts on communities.
The Manhattan Optical Company Cycle Wizard shown here dates from 1903. It folded up within its own wooden casing and was carried with the photographic plate holders shown in another small wooden case. There was also supplied a cloth which the photographer could place over his or her head while composing the picture on the ground glass screen, the equivalent of the modern screen viewfinder. It was a relatively dim image, hence the cloth cover to provide a darker surrounding.
The wooden plate holders were double sided. Fragile glass plates coated with light-sensitive emulsion were loaded in each side in a dark room, so the photographer typically carried four of them, ready for picture-taking. When the view was arranged by looking at the ground glass screen a plate holder was attached to the back of the camera. A thin metal cover had been protecting the face of each plate from the light. The one facing the lens was slid out. Having set the shutter and aperture manually the operator pressed a trigger and took the photo. The plate cover had to be replaced, the plate holder removed and the camera set up for the next picture. It was slow process.
There was no seeing the results of the efforts expended immediately. The plates had to be taken home to a darkroom and complicated development, washing, fixing and printing processes carried out. This kind of camera was usually used by amateur or professional enthusiasts who did their own developing. It was the Kodak Box camera with roll film loaded which took photos more quickly and the pictures could be sent for development to a processing works probably taking a lot longer than home developing but much easier and convenient.
And to show anyone else one of the prints made required passing them from hand to hand or sending through the post. There was no electronic transmission or computer viewing. Knocking off photo books (calendars, jigsaws or mugs) via a specialist web based production service was over a century away. Nor could you email it to a TV studio to show on that night's news if you happened to get a newsworthy shot.