The way they have parted their hair, the short back and sides cuts, and the style of their Black Tie formal wear, puts these dapper gentlemen and this photo firmly in the 1930s. They remind me of the gorgeous, super talented dancer of that era Mr Frederick Austerlitz. (See photo, below)
The expression on the gentleman on the left’s face suggests to me that these two may not have been purely friends. His gaze, plus his lips pursed in a gentle and knowing smile, suggest deep familiarity with and a strong admiration of his companion. His friend’s attention is occupied by someone else outside of the booth, but his closeness to his partner is evidenced in his relaxed demeanor in the confined space of the booth.
As occasionally happened in the USA at this time, this booth was probably in the foyer of a dance venue or club of some kind. If the gentlemen looked this smart one can only imagine how wonderful the gowns and jewellery of the ladies might have been. The dance floor must’ve been a riot of moving colours and spangles!
What happened to these two during WW2? Were they in thrall to the machinations of Nazi Germany or victims of it? I hope they escaped the worst of it and lived long and prosperous lives.
Mr Frederick Austerlitz, better known as Fred Astaire.
Above are two beautiful young ladies, most probably sisters, posing on a day out with an unseen grown-up. If the collars are anything to go by, they look to be wearing the same style of white shirt. The younger child, in front, is wearing a hand knitted cardigan over the untucked shirt and her sister is wearing what looks to be a velvet jacket with a very fine line of nice shiny buttons.
Below, on a different day the elder girl again poses in a photobooth. This time she is holding up a sign. I love the slightly quizzical look on her face as she looks directly at the camera, with a slight downward tilt of her head. I am looking for help from my German speaking readers, as I have no idea what is written on the chalk slate she is holding. Maybe the language isn’t German at all? It could be a school photo but with no date on it, I doubt it. Or could it be commemorating a first day at school? If so, and if this is indeed a German photo, I would have expected her to be holding a schultüte (school cone). You can see a schultüte and read about what they are at this link.
So to my German friends, I would be very grateful if you could tell me whatever you can about these pictures.
All the photos date to around the 1930s.
This strip is another gift from my friend Ted in the USA. Since we met through our respective blogs, Ted has been very generous in his gifts of unique and interesting booth images. I’m so grateful to him and feel a flutter of joy each time I pull out the things he has given me.
Using the clothes and hairstyles as my guide, I would guess these images date to the late 1930s or early 1940s. It is quite unusual to find a strip from this era that has not been cut into individual frames. In the early years after its invention, photobooth machines were mostly situated in shops that offered other photobooth related photography services, such as enlargements, duplicates and framing. The machines were operated by an attendant who directed the poses. Once the photos were developed and dry, they were cut and placed in an envelope for presentation to the customer. There were eight photos to a strip.
You can see that these images have been taken with the help of an operator. There is none of the random squashing-in you see in later photos when the booths were unattended. The three ladies have been carefully directed to their respective positions allowing for no part of their faces to be obscured. In the first two frames the direction was to look left, the next to look right and the final one to look ahead. Whether or not they followed the instructions is another matter! I love the subtlety of the changes in each image, particularly in the eyes. They give the pictures a lovely gentle, and warm atmosphere.
There are some lovely details in the clothing and accessories worn by these three women. The woman on the right has a magnificent brooch in the form of a butterfly or bird wings at her throat. The huge buttons on her jacket look metallic in their shine. Maybe they have a gilt finish? The lady on the left is also wearing a lovely piece of jewellery in the form of a large sparkling pendant along with a matching sparkling hair clip. The ruffled collar of the lady who is sitting in the middle could be hiding some more jewels.
Below are some links to other posts that feature photos of Ted or relate to Ted in some way. Enjoy!
My Friend Ted
Two Old Birds In A Photobooth – A short story by Ted Strutz
Ted’s Photobooth Story – A real life photobooth tale
Three-Time Academy Award Winner In A Photobooth – Another strip from Ted
“Wave for daddy!”
This little boy is obviously feeling a bit overwhelmed by his encounter with a photobooth but is still relaxed enough to wave at the camera and hold his toy gently. I guess it is possible that the wave was a precursor to a vocal plea to be let out of the strange box he had been deposited into, but I prefer to think that this was, overall, a positive experience for him.
I believe the bunny this lad is holding is made by Steiff, as it is just possible to see the trademark button in its left ear. It appears to be holding something in its paw but I cannot work out what it might be. I am also unable to find anything similar online, yet again! All ideas of what it is, are, as always, gratefully accepted.
Easter is coming, so this is the first of three rabbit themed posts I will be doing to celebrate.
When I first saw this 1930s photobooth photo from Germany, I thought this young lady was holding a Mickey Mouse stuffed doll. Closer inspection revealed the toy to be a pug dog decorated with a tiny bell on its collar. At least I think it is a pug. I cannot find anything like it online, but if you Google “German 1930s vintage stuffed toy pug” the results are wonderfully amusing!
With her head tilted forward on an angle, it is hard to determine how old this girl might be. She appears to be a teenager as she is wearing earrings and a necklace. I don’t believe that would have been the norm for a younger child of this era. As well, her hands look to be those of an older child. Given the dog appears to be soiled around its muzzle, from lots of kisses and snuggles, I hope, I wonder if he is a relic of her childhood? Would she have deliberately set out with an old toy to get a photo taken with it? Against my theory that it is an older possession, is the fact that its paws are clean and unworn. Maybe it was new?
The pattern of her cardigan was recently, albeit briefly, back in fashion here in Australia. I’m not a great fan of this type of geometric knit, but the sitter wears it well. She obviously loves this toy. How wonderful that she is now able to share that love with us.
In this photobooth photo from 1930s Germany, you could almost miss seeing the tiny dog swaddled in a blanket. By the size and angle of the hand, it appears to me that this slightly nervous looking girl is not the one holding the petite pup. I won’t stand by that observation, as it could simply be an illusion of perspective created by the hand’s relative proximity to the camera, but it seems to be a hand too large to belong to such a small child.
The composition of this image is striking though, no doubt, unintentional. It nicely emphasises the diminutive size of both child and canine. I also like the fact that one can see the bottom of the backdrop curtain, a feature mostly obscured in early booth photos.
I do not own these two striking portraits, unfortunately. These are scans from the website where they were sold. I was taken by the gentleman’s confident and regal bearing, so put in a bid, but lost out at the last moment.
These poses are more suited to a formal studio-composed photographic portrait, than to a five minute snap in a humble photobooth. The images date from the 1930s and were taken in Germany.
My gent is wearing a very well tailored and no doubt fashionable overcoat. His felt hat looks luxurious and expensive. I can just see him flicking the brim upwards, after having positioned the hat at just the right angle, prior to heading out into a bitter winter wind. Around his neck he is wearing what my Grandfather called an opera scarf, probably made of white silk. I imagine his breast-pocket handkerchief also to be white and made of the finest linen. His scarf is covering most of his tie but one can just discern a flattened dot pattern woven into the, doubtless silk, fabric.
He looks to be a well off and important man, who knows that image and demeanour are everything. I wonder why he chose to take these photos? Was his hat or coat new? Did he want to try a photobooth for the first time? It would have been an innovation and novelty in the 30s. No doubt he was very pleased with the results as the photos have been kept in good condition for over 80 years. I am envious of the new owner and hope that they look after the photos so that they last for at least another 80 years.