This is a blog about music, photography, history, and culture.
These are photographs from my collection that tell a story about lost time and forgotten music.

Mike Brubaker
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The Art of Austrian Postcards

13 October 2018

Vintage photographs come in a wide variety
of shades of grey and sepia tones.
Though these antique images are often
wonderfully detailed and clear
they are seriously deficient when it comes to determining
the natural color of eyes, hair, clothing, costumes and uniforms.

So when I acquired this delightful caricature entitled
Damenkapelle or Ladies Band in German
it was a cheap thrill to finally get some color,
even if just an artist's interpretation.

The postcard was not mailed and has no message.
The artist signature is printed in the lower right corner
but the cursive style is too difficult for me to even guess the name.
The only clue to its origin was a printers mark on the back
B.K.W.I. 9,3–1    Printed in Austria.

From at least the 1890s to the 1920s, Damenkapple or Damen Orchester, were an enormously popular musical ensemble in the cafes, restaurants, and music halls of the German and Austrian empires. The two German terms seem to have been interchangeable for both a ladies band or ladies orchestra. Generally the brass bands were from Germany and the string orchestras from Austria. This image of a the Österreichischen Damen-Orchester und Quatett -Sänger, J. Bach shows a typical Austrian ladies ensemble of nine musicians, all women except for two men in the back row. Most are string players with violins, a cello, and double bass. But there is a triangle, snare and bass drum on the floor in front. The man at the back left holds a flute, hidden in the dark shade of the half-tone print. Notice that the cartoon orchestra also has a bald-headed man playing trumpet in the back row.

This postcard was sent on the 28 of June 1900 from Karlsruhe in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. It's interesting that the writer added a personal touch with a heart drawn over the chest of the female double bass player. Perhaps she was the one to send the postcard.

The leader of the cartoon Damenkapelle shows off a fashion for ribbons and collars that mimics perfectly the fashions in the female musical troupes of the 1900s.

This image comes from a postcard of the Elite Original Wiener Damen-Orchester  „Austria“, directed by Ant. Altmann. Theree are seven women and two men, again mostly with string instruments, though one woman plays flute and another trombone. There is an upright piano in the background of the small stage. The women have white gowns with long sash ribbons, dark collars, and a kind of vest.

 The caption  reads:
Allerhöchste Anerkennung von Sr. k.u.k.
Hoheit des Erzherzogs Franz v. Salvator
Most Highly Recognized by Sr. k.u.k.
Highness of the Archduke Franz v.

The postcard was sent from Magdeburg,
the capital city of
Saxony-Anhalt, Germany
on the 20th March 1904.

The caricature of the Damenkapple has qualities that show the artist was very familiar with Austrian women's salon orchestras, but I was still unsure when it might have been produced. The bright colors and free brush lines were not unlike a postcard printed for tourists in the 1970s.

 Then I found this next postcard.

It is another colorful caricature by the same artist, as printed in the lower right corner. It is entitled Ständchen, a German word for a serenade in the form of a song addressed to a beloved. Four bandsmen with trumpets and tubas stand behind an imposing drum major with a broad chest and long baton. At one side is a military officer with a black plumed hat and a sharp Prussian style mustache.

But this postcard confirms that the era of the first card was indeed from the 1900s as this second postcard, which has the same printer marks, B.K.W.I. as the first image, was sent through the post. Despite the rough unclear postmark, the Austrian Kaiser Franz Josef's profile on the green 5 heller stamp is labeled 1908, in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of his accession to the throne.

The imperial Austrian military were well known for their splendid uniforms. The bandsmen's light blue trousers and dark blue tunics resemble the uniform of this Bohemian helicon player from Prossnitz that I featured in my May 2016 story called Austrian Plumbing.

The cartoon bandsmen have what looks like a flower or leaflet pinned to their shakos. It resembles the same style on the hats worn by the jolly Austrian bandsmen I featured in a story from March 2018 called Alte Kameraden.

The eye of a talented artist can capture things
that a camera never sees.
It's not just the color of a beard or sash that they observe
but the humor and fun of human nature on display.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where a picture is always worth a few thousand words.

The Haynes Palace Studio Car

06 October 2018

Mother with child,
perhaps the one arrangement
that has remained an enduring constant
for artists of classic
portrait studies.

Within the world of early photography
a mother and child posing for the camera
is possibly the most common genre for studio photos.
This maternal pair is a fine example
of its type in a cabinet card,
a photo style popular in the late 19th century.
Framed from above the waist
the mother wears a dark dress
of soft material, velvet maybe,
embroidered with a simple leaf design
on her bosom and sleeve.
Her baby, clad in
a white christening dress
just a few months old,
stares in wonder at the camera lens.

It's a charming photo from the 1890s
that's not typical of my musical photo collection.
In fact the real reason I bought it was
not for the mother and child
but for the photographer's studio imprint on the back,

the Haynes Palace Studio Car.

This private railway carriage belonged to the photographer F. Jay Haynes of St. Paul, Minnesota. As written on the lower sign on the side of the car, he was the official photographer of the Northern Pacific Railway. This line ran from Minnesota to Washington state, serving as an important transcontinental link between the urban East and Midwest to the Pacific Northwest. Construction began in 1870 but the line was not completed until 1883. Like all the first railroad companies, the profit for the line came from selling land that had been granted to them by the US government in exchange for building a transportation network across the vast interior of America. In order to attract settlers to buy this land, the Northern Pacific engaged a young photographer, Frank Jay Haynes (1853-1921) to make promotional photos of the train stations and rolling stock.

Frank Jay Haynes on the Missouri River 1880
Source: Wikipedia
In 1880 F. J. Haynes made this self-portrait alongside the Missouri River. Considering that just four years before in June 1876 General Custer fell at the Battle of Little Big Horn, Mr. Haynes' six shooter and Bowie knife were necessary equipment just as important his camera. A close look at his camera shows that it has two lens side-by-side which allowed it to take 3-D images called stereoview photos. In the 1880s every household had to have a collection of stereoviews in the parlor.

After an apprenticeship in his home state of Michigan, Haynes started his own photography studio in Moorhead, MN in December 1876 and then three years later relocated across the Red River to Fargo in what was then still the Dakota Territory. While in Moorhead he contracted with the Northern Pacific Railway to take photographs of the railroad's property. With shrewd foresight Haynes made a deal that committed the railway to buy a set number of prints made from each negative while still allowing him to retain the right to make private sales of the photos for himself. He also got free passage on any of the Northern Pacific trains.

In 1885 Frank Haynes purchased a special Pullman train car which he converted into a traveling photography studio. The Northern Pacific gave him a discount to transport the Haynes Palace Studio Car at a rate paid by the mile. In exchange Haynes produced more photos of Northern Pacific steam engines and rolling stock. In 1888 Haynes posted an advertisement in the Brainerd Dispatch listing the dates and places his photocar would appear. Between April 21 and May 10, he parked his studio in seven towns from Brainerd to Perham, Minnesota along approximately 80 miles of track. Presumably in the following month he continued in this way until he reached his home in Fargo.

Brainerd MN Dispatch
20 April 1888
The photocar interior was spacious and well appointed with comfortable chairs for customers. Examples of Haynes portraits and landscapes were hung on the walls and ceiling. A large stove kept the compartment warm during the colder months. And most important for a photographer there was ample natural light from windows, which could also be shaded if necessary, and kerosene lamps overhead for the evening hours. The car also included a living quarters at the other end.

Frank Jay Haynes Railroad Photo Car interior, 1886
Source: Wikipedia

By the end of the year 1888 Haynes kept that shiny brass stove well stoked as he was now in Helena, Montana, about 830 miles due west from Fargo. It was his fourth annual visit but this time the free carriage rides for his customers would not be provided.  However his best cabinet photos were still only $4.00 per dozen. And he promised all his work would be delivered in time for Christmas.

Helena MT Independent Record
13 December 1888

In 1880 Helena was quite a large town of 3,624 people, but over the next decade its population exploded by 1890 to 13,834. In contrast, Fargo's population in 1890 was only 5,664. The reason for this boom was GOLD. In 1864 prospectors discovered rich deposits of gold alongside a  creek they named "Last Chance Gulch". It proved to be so productive that by 1888 Helena could boast of over 50 millionaires, a concentration supposedly higher in that era that any other city in the world. That amount of wealth built a new modern city that required skilled workers and tradesmen, including photographers.  And all of them arrived on the Northern Pacific Railroad.

As the railway company extended its line westward, Helena also became a convenient base for explorers mapping the vast uncharted continent of the northwest. Between 1869 and 1871 there were a series of geologic expeditions to the Yellowstone River basin, about 250 miles southwest of Helena in the Wyoming Territory. The fantastic geothermal wonders, wildlife and natural beauty of the Yellowstone region led surveyors to propose protecting it from development. Incredibly, congress agreed and on March 1, 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant signed a law creating the Yellowstone National Park, the first national park preserve in the United States and in the world.

Haynes brought his Palace Studio Car to Helena but never set up a permanent branch there, despite the obvious economic incentives. Instead in 1881, even before his first visit to the new Yellowstone National Park, he applied for a position as the official photographer of the park. Though such a job  did not exist, Haynes was granted a lease on a place in the park for a photography studio. The following year in 1882 the Northern Pacific finished a spur line to Livingston, Montana. But that town was still 55 miles from the north entrance to the park. A proper rail connection into the center of Yellowstone was not completed until 1908.

Yellowstone Falls, January 1887
by F. J. Haynes
Source: Wikipedia

Frank Jay Haynes, 1887
Winter Expedition to Yellowstone Park
Source: Wikipedia

In the winter of 1886-87  Frank Jay Haynes joined  one of the first wintertime expeditions into the Yellowstone. This harrowing adventure covered 200 miles and lasted 29 days. The party endured temperatures from −10 °F (−23 °C) to −52 °F (−47 °C) and nearly perished in a mountain snow storm. Despite these perilous conditions Haynes took 42 dramatic photos of the Yellowstone winter landscape, probably on glass plate negatives. These images and other photos he made of the park helped confirm its value as a national treasure.

This self-portrait from the 1887 expedition shows F. J. Haynes dressed head to toe in fur hide clothing and standing on a slope with two skis and a pole. I suspect it may be a studio photo taken in front of a clever  painted backdrop as the glare on the snow field behind him would have been very difficult to photograph using the methods of early photography. 

_ _ _

The dealer from whom I bought the photo of the mother and infant had another fine portrait also made by the Haynes studio. I could not resist buying even though it did not have the image of Haynes railroad photo car on the back.

This young girl
with her lace collar and pearl earring
is beautifully posed.
I have no reason to connect her
to the first cabinet photo
other than that the F. J. Haynes studio made both.
But I do know her photo was
"Taken when 11 years old."

The vignette effect  was a popular fashion
for cabinet photos in the 1890s.
The photographer's logo reads simply:

Haynes    St. Paul.

Just two years after his winter expedition to Yellowstone, Frank J. Haynes moved from Fargo, now officially in North Dakota as of its statehood in 1889, to Saint Paul, Minnesota. This may have been partly because the Northern Pacific Railway company was relocating its headquarters in St. Paul. But more likely it was because there were nearly 300,000 people living in St. Paul, the capital of Minnesota, and in Minneapolis, its twin city across the Mississippi River. There was money to be made for a talented photographer.

Haynes Palace Studio Photo Car, 1901
Source: Wikipedia
By the new century most small towns in America had at least one commercial photographer, and the new technology of film used by small box cameras allowed anyone to take their own photos, so traveling photo cars were no longer a profitable business. The 1888 price of $4 per dozen cabinet photos that Haynes charged was $2 per dozen with a Colorado photo car photographer in 1891. Just $1.49 a dozen from a Kansas railroad photo car studio in September 1892, reduced to only 99¢ by November.

Haynes maintained a regular route for his Palace Studio Photo Car from the 1880s until 1905 when he gave it up and presumably he sold it. His son, Jack Ellis Haynes, joined the photography studio in the 1890s, and in 1916 took over the business when poor health forced F. J. Haynes to retire. He died in 1921 in Saint Paul.

Over the years Frank J. Haynes produced several thousand portrait photographs and photos of railroad rolling stock. But it was probably his landscape photos of Yellowstone Park that he was most proud of.  After his first visit to the park in 1881 when he made over 200 photographs, he returned to Yellowstone, a 1,000 mile journey from St. Paul, every year until his death in 1921. His son Jack also succeeded him as the "official photographer of Yellowstone" and kept a branch of the family studio there until his own death in 1962.

At its height in the 1940s the Northern Pacific Railway operated a system of 6,889 miles of track from Lake Superior to Puget Sound. By 1970 it was not sustainable and merged into the Burlington Northern which later became the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway. In the 19th century the railroad companies opened up the expansion of a new America, but in doing so they introduced a new landscape to photographers who were inspired to use a camera to describe this beautiful country. Few managed the success and artistry of Frank Jay Haynes, and certainly few other photographers were as instrumental at promoting the public's awareness of America's preeminent national park. As a testimony of their power his photos are still used to promote tourism in Yellowstone National Park.

Earlier this year I posted another story about a photographer entitled Mrs. McMullin Took Their Picture. I was intrigued by newspaper reports on the competition Mrs. McMullin and her small town business faced from itinerant railroad photo car studios. These photographers were especially prevalent in Kansas where she lived. A simple search in newspaper archives using the term "railroad 'photo car' ", brings up over 3,500 hits in Kansas newspapers, over 20 times more than the number for other states.

My collection has several cabinet cards produced by railroad photo car studios but photos of one of these special train cars are very rare. Though there were some traveling photographers in the East, it was primarily in the West and Midwest that they worked, unknowingly documenting America's 19th century people and culture. It was a short-lived business type. The first photo cars appear in newspaper advertising in around 1875 and the last about 1920. By the second decade of the 20th century most photo cars had gone to the scrap yard. That's why finding an illustration of the Haynes Palace Studio seemed important to write about. Acquiring two beautiful portraits were just an extra bonus.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where every mother is proud.

Violins in School

28 September 2018

Monday’s child is fair of face

Tuesday’s child is full of grace

Wednesday’s child is full of woe


 Thursday’s child has far to go


Friday’s child is loving and giving

Saturday’s child works hard for his living

And the child that is born on the Sabbath day

Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.

These 26 boys and girls are all violinists with some unknown school orchestra in Great Britain. Probably they are in England, but as the large photo,  8 ¼" x 5 ½", is unmarked and without photographer's name or date they may just as well be from Scotland, Wales, or Ireland. The gentleman teacher's suit and the children's clothing looks similar to fashions for the late 1890s to 1915. The children, 10 girls and 16 boys, are roughly the same age, perhaps 9 to 11 years old. I think they have a quality about them that is more middle class than working class. My guess is the photo was taken about 1905.

On the lower left, placed in front of the knelling girl in a dark dress, is a chalk slate which has a ghostly imprint of handwritten words. Alas the letters, even with digital pixel adjustments,.are too faded to us to read.

The variety of faces in this school orchestra, some more innocent,  others more worldly, reveal personalities that I think are often formed at this preadolescent age, so that is why I chose to highlight a few of the children. What happened to them? Did they marry? Have children? Serve in the Great War? Survive the Great Influenza Epidemic?

We can never know any answers to those kinds of questions. But there is one thing I feel certain of. For the rest of their lives all 26 children valued their shared musical instruction and remained proud of their skills on the violin. It's a prediction that holds true for every day of the week.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where every photo always has class.

Driving to the Beat of a Different Drummer

22 September 2018

Jumping on the bandwagon makes perfect sense.
What musician would march if they could ride?
And how else would you keep up anyway?

But hopping onto a band automobile?
That doesn't sound very safe at all.
Especially if the only seat available
for the tuba player
is astraddle the car's radiator.

But once upon a time
one band decided that two automobiles
were better than any old old horse cart.
They were the Melrose Band
of Melrose, Wisconsin.

This postcard image was produced
using a half-tone newspaper pressing.
It likely commemorates some patriotic parade,
but unfortunately there is no date.
There is a proper photo version
in the internet's image archives
with a suggested year of 1918,
but I think it dates a few years earlier.

The car on the left
has the manufacturer's brand badge on the radiator.

It was made by the REO Motor Car Company
out of Lansing, Michigan.

In 1909 the REO was a popular model
sold by dealers around the country
whose advertisements
were illustrated with automobiles
very like the two in the Melrose Band's postcard.

Brownsville TX Herald
07 January 1909
The Reo Motor Car was just one of many new brands competing for the public's attention in the 1900s. In March 1907 the Pittsburgh Auto Show had 60 makes and 150 models on exhibit. Most of the car company names are now long forgotten, but at the time the Reo was very well known. It was started in 1905 by Ransom E. Olds after he left his first company the Olds Motor Vehicle Company which he had founded in 1897. The Oldsmobile company, also based in Lansing, became part of General Motors Co. in 1908 and lasted until 2004 when GM closed down production on what had been the oldest American automotive marque.

Pittsburgh PA Press
31 March 1907

The Reo company manufactured a number of automobiles and truck models and was one of the more successful brands in the early years of the 20th century. But competition was tough in the automotive industry and the Reo Brand struggled to beat Ford and GM production lines. The Reo company ceased making passenger cars in 1936. It continued to produce commercial trucks until 1975 as the Diamond-Reo truck brand. 

In 1911 the REO Foredoor Touring Car was promoted in newspaper advertisements. It had a 30 horsepower gasoline engine and cost $1,350, including the wind shield. The price would be roughly equivalent to about $34,000 today, though wind shields are no longer optional.

I think both cars that the Melrose Band are sitting in are Reo touring cars from about 1911. The earlier and later versions have features that I don't see on these cars. The postcard was published early in the century and I don't think it dates much after 1918, more like 1915-16.

Today Melrose, WI is a small town of around 400 citizens which is about what the population was in 1910. The bandsmen squeezed into the two cars seems a quaint old-fashioned image to our 21st century eyes, but in 1911 there were likely more horse drawn wagons and buggies in Melrose than automobiles. Most of these men probably had never ridden, much less owned, a gas powered vehicle, and it must have been an exhilarating thrill for the bass drummer and the tuba player when the Reo reached its top speed of 35 mph. So this photo is not about jolly antiquated vehicles. It's about modern technology and the future of speed and power.  As the Reo motto says, "You Can do it with a REO."

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where there is always time for a Sunday drive.


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