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HomeContentsThemes > Humour

Contents

Nineteenth century humorous illustrations and photography
435.01   Nineteenth century humorous illustrations and photography
435.02   Cuthbert Bede: Photographic Pleasures (1855)
435.03   Interesting group posed for a Daguerreotype by a friend of the family / Interesting and valuable result (1855)
435.04   A.C. Kline: Jeff Davis "taking" Washington
435.05   Harper's Bazaar: A Combination Picture (5 May 1888)
435.06   Arthur Scheiner: At the Photographer (1890)
Humour in vernacular photography
435.07   Humour and vernacular photography
Exaggeration photo postcards
435.08   Exaggeration postcards
435.09   William H. Martin: Exaggeration photo postcards
435.10   Henry M. Beach: Exaggeration photo postcards
Humour on the street
435.11   Robert Doisneau: Looking through the window - variants
Political postcards in Britain
435.12   Unemployment in Thatcher's Britain
This theme includes example sections and will be revised and added to as we proceed. Suggestions for additions, improvements and the correction of factual errors are always appreciated.
 
  
Nineteenth century humorous illustrations and photography 
  
435.01    Nineteenth century humorous illustrations and photography 
  
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435.02    Cuthbert Bede: Photographic Pleasures (1855) 
  
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435.03    Interesting group posed for a Daguerreotype by a friend of the family / Interesting and valuable result (1855) 
  
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This two-panel cartoon from Punch's Almanack for 1855 uses humour to highlight the quality of daguerreotype portraiture.[1] 
  
435.04    A.C. Kline: Jeff Davis "taking" Washington 
  
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An amusing piece of photographic ephemera printed for A.C. Kline uses a pun to refer to "Jeff David 'taking' Washington. The joke being that the only way Jefferson Davis (1908-1889), President of the Confederate States of America during the American Civil War (1861-1865), was ever going to "take" the capital of the Union was if he took a photograph of it rather than by military force. 
  
435.05    Harper's Bazaar: A Combination Picture (5 May 1888) 
  
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in 1888 catches the slightly ridiculous nature of this practice with a concealed figure holding a baby with the husband's shoes showing beneath the child on a card photograph:
A Combination Picture
 
"Don't you think it would be better for my husband to hold her in his lap? She seems afraid to sit alone in a strange place."
 
The suggestion is found a good one, and the artist pronounces the sitting a succeess.
 
Startling result in the finished work.[2]
 
  
435.06    Arthur Scheiner: At the Photographer (1890) 
  
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In a Czech magazine Svetozor in 1890 a series of four cartoons by Arthur Scheiner (1863-1938) on the theme At the Photographer were published:
  1. "Do you really want to be in one photo? That’ll be difficult, but we’ll do our best. Sit down, please.
     
  2. "Be good, relax and smile, please."
     
  3. "Get closer and smile…"
     
  4. "And now, say cheese, please."[3]
 
  
Humour in vernacular photography 
  
435.07    Humour and vernacular photography 
  
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Exaggeration photo postcards 
  
435.08    Exaggeration postcards 
  
In the USA between 1905 and 1915 there was a popular craze for exaggeration, "tall-tale" or "freak" postcards[4] that used photomontage to highlight the wonders of the American West. William H. 'Dad' Martin of Ottawa, Kansas became the most popular of these photographers because of his wit and the wide variety of the subjects he chose to include. In his fictional world farmers sit astride corn cobs the size of buses, drive cars laden with vast onions and potatoes to market and chase rabbits the size of sedans.
 
Other photographers including H.M. Brown (Gilmer Valley, Washinton), Wolfe Photo (Burlington, Washington), O. T. Frasch (Seattle, Washington)[5], Henry M. Beach[6] (upstate New York), F.D. Conrad (Garden City, Kansas), Edward H. Mitchell, Alfred Stanley Johnson, Jr. and others made exaggeration photo postcards during their most popular era in the USA which was 1905-1920. 
  
435.09    William H. Martin: Exaggeration photo postcards 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
  
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William H. 'Dad' Martin of Ottawa, Kansas (USA) was the creator of a number of exaggeration photo postcards[7] between 1908 and 1911 that showed the most extreme aspects of mid-western life. By the use of photomontage he juxtaposed agricultural products, objects and people to amuse the consumer. These cards are also called "tall-tale" or "freak" postcards.[8] 
  
435.10    Henry M. Beach: Exaggeration photo postcards 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
  
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Henry M. Beach[9] in upstate was one of many photographers and studio owners who sa the opportunity to made quirky "tall-tale" or "freak" exaggeration postcards at the height of the postcard boom in America. In his postcard We Caught these in the Rapids Just Below the Bridge at Forestport, N.Y.[10] vast fish are flying into the arms of anglers - indeed so vast that in another postcard We Had a Team to Haul Em Out at the Schenevus Fish Carnival.[11] horses are dragging them out of the water infront of crowds on onlookers. 
  
Humour on the street 
  
435.11    Robert Doisneau: Looking through the window - variants 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
  
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Political postcards in Britain 
  
435.12    Unemployment in Thatcher's Britain 
  
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Margaret Thatcher (1925-2013) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990 during what was a highly charged political atmosphere. Her intention was to reduce the power of trade unions and the resulting miner's strike of the 1980s traumatised the country. Unemployed was high and the chance of getting a job was remote at a time when Norman Tebbit famously said about the racial and unemployment riots taking place:
I grew up in the '30s with an unemployed father. He didn't riot. He got on his bike and looked for work, and he kept looking till he found it.
By the right it was seen as a solution and by the left it was seen a callous and unrealistic statement. The companies printing political postcards, most notable Leeds Postcards, used photographs that parody the postcards that could be bought in British cities and seaside towns. The distinctive orange and white design of government unemployment offices was used to parody the complacency of the middle class and the impossibility of getting a job. Showing an astronaut visiting a job centre was a serious reflection of the times.[12] The use of humour, parody and satire was intense in the postcards of this period. 
  

Footnotes 
  
  1. Λ Punch's Almanack for 1855 
      
  2. Λ "A Combination Picture", 5 May 1888, Harper's Bazaar, vol. XXI, no. 18, p. 300
     
    With thanks to Beverly and Jack Wilgus for bringing this to my attention. (Facebook, Victorian Images group, 5 April 2014) 
      
  3. Λ Svetozor, year 24, 1890, Nr. 1, pg. 11, 12.
     
    For the illustrated magazine Svetozor
    (Accessed: 28 May 2014)
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sv%C4%9Btozor
     
    This information was kindly provided by Fr. Gregor (pers. email to Alan Griffiths, 28 May 2014) 
      
  4. Λ Clément Chéroux & Ute Eskildsen, 2008, The Stamp of Fantasy: The Visual Inventiveness of Photographic Postcards, (Steidl); Alain Weill, 2011, Tall-Tale Postcards: Early Twentieth Century American Photomontages of the Unexpected, (Gourcuff Gradenigo); Hal Morgan. 1981, Big Time: American Tall-Tale Postcards, (New York: St. Martin's Press); Cynthia Elyce Rubin and Morgan Williams, 1990, Larger Than Life: The American Tall-Tale Postcard, 1905-1915 (New York: Abbeville Press); Roger L. Welsch. 1976, Tall-Tale Postcards: A Pictorial History, (New York: A.S. Barnes and Company) 
      
  5. Λ E. Morgan Williams Collection of exaggerated postcards
    (Accessed: 22 July 2013)
    www.fruitfromwashington.com/Varieties/art/williams_cards.htm 
      
  6. Λ Robert Bogdan, 2003, Adirondack Vernacular: The Photography of Henry M. Beach, (Syracuse University Press) 
      
  7. Λ Clément Chéroux & Ute Eskildsen, 2008, The Stamp of Fantasy: The Visual Inventiveness of Photographic Postcards, (Steidl); Alain Weill, 2011, Tall-Tale Postcards: Early Twentieth Century American Photomontages of the Unexpected, (Gourcuff Gradenigo); Hal Morgan. 1981, Big Time: American Tall-Tale Postcards, (New York: St. Martin's Press); Cynthia Elyce Rubin and Morgan Williams, 1990, Larger Than Life: The American Tall-Tale Postcard, 1905-1915 (New York: Abbeville Press); Roger L. Welsch. 1976, Tall-Tale Postcards: A Pictorial History, (New York: A.S. Barnes and Company) 
      
  8. Λ "Tall Tale Postcards: Storytelloing through the mail - A virtual exhibit", Michigan State University Museum
    (Accessed: 22 July 2013)
    museum.msu.edu/museum/tes/talltale/ 
      
  9. Λ Robert Bogdan, 2003, Adirondack Vernacular: The Photography of Henry M. Beach, (Syracuse University Press) 
      
  10. Λ Private collection of Robert Bogdan 
      
  11. Λ Private collection of Robert Bogdan 
      
  12. Λ As a personal aside during this period I remember visiting a Job Centre and there were only two jobs available on the board - one for a glassblower in Cornwall and the other for an aircraft engineer in Saudi Arabia. (Alan Griffiths) 
      

alan@luminous-lint.com

 
  

HomeContents > Further research

 
  
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General reading 
  
Morgan, Hal, 1981, Big Time: American Tall-Tale Postcards, (New York: St. Martin's Press) [Δ
  
Rubin, Cynthia Elyce & Williams, Morgan, 1990, Larger Than Life: The American Tall-Tale Postcard, 1905-1915, (Abbeville Press) [Δ
  
Weill, Alain, 2011, Tall-Tale Postcards: Early Twentieth Century American Photomontages of the Unexpected, (Gourcuff Gradenigo) isbn-10: 235340104X [Δ
  
Welsch, Roger L., 1976, Tall-Tale Postcards: A Pictorial History, (New York: A.S. Barnes and Company) [Δ
  
 
  
Readings on, or by, individual photographers 
  
Philippe Halsman 
  
Halsman, Philippe, 1948, The FrenchMan. A photographic interview with Fernandel, (Simon and Schuster Publishers) [Δ
  
Halsman, Philippe, 1986, Philippe Halsman's Jump Book, (Harry N. Abrams) [2nd edition] [Δ
  
Halsman, Philippe, 2005, The FrenchMan. A photographic interview with Fernandel, (Taschen) isbn-10: 3822846414 isbn-13: 978-3822846414 [2nd edition] [Δ
  
Halsman, Philippe & Dali, Salvador, 1954, Dali’s Mustache, (New York: Simon and Schuster) [Δ
  
 
  
If you feel this list is missing a significant book or article please let me know - Alan - alan@luminous-lint.com 
  

HomeContentsPhotographers > Photographers worth investigating

 
Henry M. Beach • George Blair • William H. Martin • Bohumil Stepán  (1913-1985)
HomeHumour 
 
A wider gazeRelated topics 
  
Exaggeration photo postcards 
 
  

HomeContentsOnline exhibitions > Humour

Please submit suggestions for Online Exhibitions that will enhance this theme.
Alan - alan@luminous-lint.com

 
  
ThumbnailHenry M. Beach: Real photo postcards 
Title | Lightbox | Checklist
Released (December 29, 2007)
ThumbnailPostcards with a message (1980-2000) 
Title | Lightbox | Checklist
Released (September 17, 2010) These postcards are the copyright of different individuals and organisations and are shown here for educational purposes. Should any party with a legitimate claim wish to have an image removed please let me know.
 
  

HomeVisual indexes > Humour

Please submit suggestions for Visual Indexes to enhance this theme.
Alan - alan@luminous-lint.com

 
  
   Photographer 
  
ThumbnailA.C. Kline: Jeff David "taking" Washington 
ThumbnailArthur Scheiner: At the Photographer (1890) 
ThumbnailBohumil Stepán: Satirical photocollages 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailC.H. Shute & Son (Edgartown, Mass): No. 348. First day of April 
ThumbnailGeorge Cruikshank: Photographic Phenomena, or the new school of portrait painting 
ThumbnailHenry M. Beach: Exaggeration photo postcards 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailRobert Doisneau: Looking through the window - variants 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailRobert Doisneau: Un regard Oblique 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailWilliam H. Martin: Exaggeration photo postcards 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
 
 
  
   Themes 
  
ThumbnailPhotomontage: Exaggeration photo postcards 
 
 
  
   Techniques 
  
ThumbnailCabinet cards: Backs: Whimsy 
 
 
  
   Still thinking about these... 
  
ThumbnailHarper's Bazaar: A Combination Picture (5 May 1888) 
ThumbnailHumour: Illustrations 
ThumbnailHumour: Photographs 
ThumbnailInteresting group posed for a Daguerreotype by a friend of the family / Interesting and valuable result 
 
  
Refreshed: 08 August 2014, 15:16
 
  
 
  
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