Tuesday, October 20, 2009

What Were They Thinking

This is a postally unused Real Photo Post Card (RPPC). It has a divided back indicating that it was produced after 1907. The card was manufactured by the Eastman Kodak Company. It is a variation on the A2.20 Azo 5. It has "Correspondence Here" instead of "Correspondence." There are triangles pointed upward in the corners of the Azo Stamp Box. The earliest known date (EKD) this card could have been used is March 10, 1910, with the latest known date 1918.

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Two young men have their photograph taken - one on and one off - a donkey in front of what appears to be a crude background of painted woods. The young man on the left is wearing a hat with lettering on the hatband. There appear to be two words; one may be LOOK. This hat may be a souvenir. The young man on the right has a wad of chew in his mouth and very dirty fingernails. They are both wearing bandannas, bandannas that look out of place with their clothing.

The Hat

Does the description above lead you to believe that these two young men rode their donkey to a photographic studio to have themselves memorialized? I seriously doubt that's what has occurred here.

The backdrop looks like the quality of those used by itinerant photographers. Itinerant photographers equipped themselves with traveling rigs, originally powered by horse or perhaps donkey, and then later they became motorized. With them the photographer brought everything necessary to process their work and rapidly deliver their postcards to the sitter.

Itinerant photographers traveled to small town events, local, regional, and state fairs, as well as circuses and carnivals. They made their money by taking posed portraits of the event goers with a variety of props. Photographers who took postcard shots from a permanent location (studio) most often added the studio name to the reverse of the postcard. We have no studio name on this postcard.

Our young men do not look like a couple of city boys. The dirty hands and chew could indicate these are two rural boys. The souvenir hat, the backdrop, plus props lead me to believe this is an obviously staged souvenir postcard most probably taken at one of the events discussed above by an itinerant photographer.

Other Postcard Articles:

Water Water Everywhere - A Postcard From Gatico, Chile

A Sign Of The Times - The Candlestick Telephone In A Postcard

Big Wheels - President Theodore Roosevelt and Family.

Sometimes Main Street Is The Whole Town - Glendive, Montana

Papa Can You Hear Me - A young girl in Montana looks for her father.

From A Simple Postcard - Grace Mathewson and her collection.



Bogan, Robert. Real Photo Postcard Guide. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2006.
Vaule, Rosamond. As We Were: American Photographic Postcards, 1905-1930. Boston: David R. Godine, 2004.


Anonymous. Two Young Men and a Donkey. Postcard. Unknown. ca. 1910-1918.


Anonymous Sheila said...

Poor old donkey! :)

October 31, 2009 at 3:41 PM  

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