Cabinet card of a pre-teen to teenage Native American girl. Interestingly, it's from Ardmore, I.T., I.T. standing for Indian Territory. Ardmore, I.T., is located in present day Oklahoma, and the town still exists. Based on the location, she was likely a member of the Chickasaw Nation.
This is a small Victorian pitch book featuring two of P.T. Barnum's acts. The front side is Admiral Dot, a little person, and the back side is a young, bearded girl, probably Barnum's most famous one, Annie Jones. Old pitch books are some of my favorite finds, because I love the lithographic illustrations on the covers. I've dug through piles and piles of old paper ephemera at antique stores all over the country but never found one. Unfortunately, it's always an eBay bidding war to get one.
This is one of a few rare booklets featuring P.T. Barnum's famous little person Tom Thumb. Our interest in Tom Thumb naturally flowed out of our interest in collecting sideshow memorabilia. It was further sparked by a visit to Bridgeport, CT, and to the P.T. Barnum museum there which had a very nice collection of Tom Thumb memorabilia. We also visited Thumb's grave the same day. I'll post a few more Tom Thumb booklets in the future, but I particularly like the use of color on this one.
This photo reminds me of photos they used to take of kids in the 80's. I don't know what they are called, but they show two photos of the same kid. One is a regular photo of the kid sitting, but then there's another photo that's smaller and higher up that looks sort of like a shadow or a reflection. If someone knows what I'm talking about, help me explain. Whatever the case, this oozes cheesiness, which isn't very common for a photo from this era. I don't even know if people back then really had a sense of something being cheesy. Maybe they had a sense of tackiness in furniture, decor, or behavior? I don't know...
Beginning in the 50's, vintage paperback publishers began releasing racially themed books. I haven't read all of them, but based on the cover art, blurbs, and titles, most seem prejudiced. A common theme is the "shame" that occurs when a white woman becomes intimately involved with a black man. Whatever the angle, let's just say that sensationalism and fear were important aspects.This book comes from Greenleaf, a publisher of 1960's "sleaze" (adults only) paperbacks. I tried to ascertain the tone of the book by examining the cover art, blurbs, and title. Although the book is called "The Color of Shame," which could suggest something prejudicial, it's hard to say so without reading the book. After all, the black man and white woman are shown to be cooperating to fight off a real evil, something worth of shame, the KKK. I'd actually be surprised if the book is prejudicial, since many of Greenleaf's writers were more progressive than the average American of the time. Whatever the case, the cover is interesting, and the book is highly collectible, being a racial paperback and featuring KKK imagery.
Of late, I've been watching my box set of the original "Twilight Zone." I had already watched all of season 1 so began at season 2 and now am watching season 3. Since Matheson wrote several episodes for the series, I decided to post a couple of rare mystery paperbacks he wrote in the 1950's. These books were released in paperback form for the first time, making them paperback first editions, or PBOs (paperback originals). Matheson didn't write many mysteries and since these are first editions, they are sought after by paperback collectors and Matheson fans alike. I love the tagline "Men--they're all pigs!". That's just pure pulp.
A friend of mine turned me on to this blog called "Awkward Family Photos." Google it if you're not familiar. I literally spent hours searching through the images on the site and laughed out loud many a time. It's hard to make me laugh, so this was saying a lot. Much of my amusement stemmed from the fact that family photos from when I was a kid are similar to some on the site. Let's just say we all had our awkward years (err, okay, I was pretty homely) and a few of us liked to wear those Cosby Show sweaters a bit too often (yes, me, but my brother and dad too). Looking through our collection of cabinet photos, I came across this photo. What's awkward is how the mom is staring intently at one daughter, while the other daughter looks at the camera with a morose expression. It makes you think "hmmmm....let me guess who mommy's favorite was..."
Once we'd gotten most of the juvenile delinquent posters we wanted, we started looking for other genres to collect. 1970's sexploitation posters seemed like a natural collecting interest. After all, we already collected 60's and 70's sexploitation paperbacks, and the posters were surprisingly, very cheap, many of them $20 or under. Thus began our foray into the genre.
When I was a kid, my brother and I would watch USA Up All Night, whenever we got the opportunity. Usually our parents were gone, and although they were pretty liberal, I'm not sure they'd have allowed it had they known. Most of the stuff hosted by Gilbert Gottfried, and then later Rhonda Shear, would probably seem extremely tame if I watched it now. But back then, movies like "Ski School," "Barbarella," and "The Toxic Avenger" seemed pretty risque. I'm still a fan of "Barbarella" today, but it would hardly make me blush. Then again, I'm pretty desensitized so not much does. Getting to the point, my sexploitation poster interest is also fueled by these early memories I have of watching similar fare on USA Up All Night. Awww, thinking about all this is making me feel pretty nostalgic. "Monstervision" with Joe Bob Briggs was also a favorite in the horror vein. I don't feel like there's a TV outlet for stuff like this anymore, what with the internet and Netflix and all the other resources.
So, enjoy the nostalgia that may or may not be induced by fare like "Tomcats." After all, they are "free, white, and twenty-one, and don't give a damn about anyone!"
"Wisconsin Death Trip" (1973) is a book by author Michael Lesy featuring photographs by Black River Falls, WI, photographer C.J. Van Schaick taken from 1890-1910. The cabinet cards of C.J. Van Schaick are mingled with news reports from the same period that chronicle contemporaneous events, many of them unusual. Reports of bizarre crimes-- a woman who smashed windows throughout the state until finally getting caught. Reports of murder, suicide, mental illness, disease, and depression. The harsh rural landscape of the Victorian Midwest becomes a character in and of itself.
Having read "Wisconsin Death Trip," I began to seek out photographs by C.J. Van Schaick. They come up occasionally in the market and surprisingly, don't sell for a whole lot. They are fairly uncommon, though. I was only able to track down the photograph of the Winnebago delegation and this photograph of a group of women playing instruments.The women playing instruments look pretty happy, at least in comparison to the sad tales of "Wisconsin Death Trip."
In 1999, filmmaker James Marsh adapted the book into an excellent film by the same name. I wholeheartedly recommend the film and the book.
This photo is one of several in our collection featuring Native Americans. Having taken all of the Indian Law classics available at our law school and having become very close friends with the handful of Natives at our law school, we started taking a special interest in collecting these photos. They really came alive after we began to learn extensively about the laws governing Native Americans and their historical context. Sovereignty. The discovery doctrine. Countless illuminating legal cases. I could go on and on, but I won't, as this isn't the place for it.
This particular photo features a group of Natives from the Black River Falls area of Wisconsin. Their tribal affiliation is Winnebago, and they were part of a delegation in support of the Spanish-American war. This photo was taken by C.J. Van Schaick, the notable Black River Falls photographer whose work is featured in both the movie and book "Wisconsin Death Trip." If you don't know about the book/movie, please check it out. Google it. Do whatever you can to get a copy of each. I will write more about C.J. Van Schaick and "Wisconsin Death Trip" in a future post.
When we first started collecting antique ephemera, drug related vintage paperbacks were one of our first loves. Of course, we moved on from there to any drug related detective or men's magazines and then to drug-related vintage movie posters. We don't own the elusive "Reefer Madness" poster, but this is pretty cool.
A few times I've bought a cabinet card and wondered whether it was taken to commemorate a harvest festival. Well, now I'm posting a cabinet card that must be a harvest festival photo. The costumes, the flowers, the scythe one of the gals is holding. Harvest festival or not, I think it's a pretty lovely photo.
I've done posts about spirit photos in the past, particularly about their history and their Victorian era progenitor William Mumler. Spirit photos weren't just a thing of the Victorian era, however. Their popularity lasted into the 20th Century, and the above photo is an example from the turn-of-the-century or perhaps from the nineteen-teens. I love how you really have to look for the "spirit" in this photo. It's lack of obviousness gives it a very ethereal, ghostly quality.
Pictured is a cabinet card of a Victorian era actor, Lyla Kavenaugh. The company "Newsboy" produced many photos of actors during this time. I googled her name, and Ms. Kavenaugh must have been a lesser known actor, as I could not find any information about her. Normally, we don't collect photos of actors but we were struck by Ms. Kavenaugh's outfit and pose. The powerful stance of her legs. The hand on the hip. The odd hat that looks like it belongs to a witch. It's hard to pass up a striking image given that most antique photos are pretty blase and run-of-the-mill.
I don't know that this is an occupational cabinet card, but it's fun to speculate that it is a bartender occupational piece. Whatever the case, it fits in with the last few photos I've posted, because it has a ton of character and nicely evokes the time in which it was produced. If this motley crew aren't bartenders, perhaps they are a group of friends and patrons of a particular establishment.
Another favorite occupational cabinet card from our collection. This one must be from the nineteen-teens based on the clothing. The purpose of the photo is unclear. Perhaps an advertising photo? It almost looks like the fellow doing the shaving is a young apprentice barber and the other fellow is the experienced barber. The fellow doing the shaving has quite the baby face, hence my suspicion. Whatever the purpose or context, cool photo.
Nice, albeit a bit ragged, occupational cabinet card featuring railroad workers. Purchased for a couple dollars at an antique store in Rogers, MN. I thought it had a lot of character, and occupational cabinet cards are not that common. You can go through thousands of cabinet cards at an antique store and only find one or two, if that.
This is one of those photos you come across and are completely struck by despite having very little sense of the context or purpose. It's possible that this girl was photographed praying to commemorate first communion or some other religious rite. Perhaps she was an actor in a play. Whatever the case, this photo strikes me as surreal and eerie every time I look at it. The white dress. The somber expression. The ghostliness of the white dress on the white background.
What an amazing dress and a really pretty photo. I love the cinched, wasp waist emphasized by the contrasting white belt. The lacy, body hugging black dress. The white, horizontal lines trimming the bottom. I wonder if this woman simply had fashion forward tastes or if she held some position that was avant-garde for a woman of her time?
Collecting 1950's juvenile delinquent movie posters and paperbacks has been a passion of ours and an obsession that lasted until we procured all of the best pieces for our collection. We still buy up minor items when we spot them for sale but feel that we've already gotten most of the "high-spot" items, so to speak. These two "juvie" posters are two of my favorites from our poster collection. I find it interesting how "Live Fast, Die Young" manages to tie the Beat Generation in with juvenile delinquency. I guess sometimes rebels get lumped together whether they are anti-establishment literary trail-blazers or "bad" kids shirking the values of ma and pa and society. As for "Juvenile Jungle," just what is "Naturama"? I suppose I could look it up... All I see is that it was a "wide screen technique." Not sure if the source on that was valid either.
FringePop is a showcase for uncommon and esoteric cultural artifacts. The focus is on unusual items from both popular and fringe culture, with an emphasis on subversive pieces. The items shown are from the author's personal collection, unless otherwise noted.
I am a pop culture buff and collector, who focuses on the odd, subversive, and fringe elements of Western culture. In 2005, I edited a book for Feral House called "Sin-A-Rama: Sleaze Sex Paperbacks of the Sixties." The vintage oddities in my collection include victoriana, sideshow, medical, and kitsch. I am also an amateur sewer, making clothing from vintage mod patterns.