Sunday, November 27, 2011

When a Dollar Really Meant Something

VINTAGE RESTAURANT or coffee shop signs are great examples of pop culture, and an excellent insight into the economic times of the day. Lay down a buck, get a meal and get change back. How cool.

Here’s a few to enjoy.

An Am repost from 1/27/08

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Laurence Hutton Collection of Life & Death Masks

(Above) Life mask of William Wordsworth (1770-1850) and death mask of Samuel Hayes Pennington (1806-1900).

(Above) Death mask of Henry Warner Slocum (1827-1894); and death mask of Jonathan Swift (1667-1745).

(Above) Death mask on decorated shield of Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885) and life mask of Robert E. Lee (1807-1870).

(Above) Life mask of Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) and life mask of John James Audubon (1785-1851).

(Above) Life mask of John C. Calhoun (1782-1850) and life mask of Abraham Lincoln (1808-1865).

I came across these life and death masks on the Laurence Hutton Collection of Life and Death Masks at Princeton University’s on-line rare books collection. Looking at one of these is as close to the real thing as you can get. I only wish Lincoln had eyes.

It’s a cool thing to think of someone agreeing to have their face wrapped in plaster of Paris gauze, then sit for it to dry, etc. It’s a very tedious thing to do. The dead ones are always easy. They don’t blink and never complain.

An AM Repost from 1/18/09.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Japanese Condom Packages

Oooo-kay. We’re looking at 15 actual condom packages that I have assembled for you. It took me a couple of minutes of head scratching, but I’m leaning towards “why not?” So what’s wrong with a love glove named “Monkey” or even “Kit Sack,” in fruit candy colors? Whatever. While the design may look like kid’s packaging to western eyes, there is no doubt the Japanese just see the world differently. Go Speed Racer, GO!

An AM repost from 12/4/08.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

A Scrapbook With a Focus

GAL, GAMS, AND GARTERS is a large scrapbook patched together by an anonymous aficionado of the ankle, thigh and leg, an enormous scrapbook found in a dumpster by a Virginia student in the late 1960’s. Now owned by my friend Jim Linderman, this scrapbook is also the subject of a new blog by the same name. Most of the work inside was done in the late 1950s. Like most scrapbooks from the period, this one can be looked at as more than the contents of it’s pages but as a total object d’art in itself. The pieced together sections, the yellowing of the tape, the placements—all create new visual imagery to be recontextualized today. I find the haphazardly pasted images—crudely taped and cut—to be a fun exploration into a personal, highly focused (albeit naive) design project. For my taste, I like the full pages better than the individual images. There, we can see the personal choices the original owner made as he went about his fetish-like project—as in images 2 and 3 from the top.

All of these vintage, mildly erotic images will eventually be available online in this new blog by Linderman, who says: “our anonymous artist was a serious aficionado of the leg, ankle and above, but there is no nudity, no sex and nary a nipple. However, the man with the scissors and tape, like the magazine editors who provided him with product, managed to skirt good taste with plenty of inspired photos. His motivation? Who knows? For that matter, who is to judge? I intend to scan through the pages once a week or so.”

Jim says his new blog, GALS GAMS GARTERS is
for those interested in “vintage erotica, fashion, vintage clothing and retro culture.” I say it’s also for designers, who may find a certain playfulness, fresh and direct-response style at work here.

If you would like to learn more about period American scrapbooks of various and mixed subject matter, check out Jessica Helfand’s new book, Scrapbooks: An American History, now available on Amazon. There is a short video about scrapbooks as personal narrative by Jessica at this link:

© Gals, Gams and Garters collection of Jim Linderman

An AM repost from 2/17/09

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