Back Stories

Anyone that knows me well has had to sit through at least one show and tell session in which I geek out on my mini collection of old photographs. I would almost hesitate to call them photographs, they are photographic objects, which is something different, something more. 19th century and early 20th century albums, cartes de visite, cased images, postcards, stereo slides, etc., while often beautiful, are also relics in that they provide something tangible. They connect us to our shared history as human beings. Often what I love about these objects isn’t the image itself but the way they were made, their presentation, being able to read and see first hand accounts of a person who lived a life that is only available to us through our imaginations.

These objects can be written on, held, they deteriorate and show signs of wear, they are used. In appreciation of their service, I’m posting a handful of images featuring the backs of photographic ephemera. These back sides often illustrate a photographic objects journey, or at least the beginning of it, and in many cases are just as beautiful as the front.


Russian cartes de visite, circa 1875


American cartes de visite, circa 1875


French postcard circa 1915



Spanish postcard 1907


French postcard, 1918

"My beloved, I am responding to your postcard you sent me from Lamballe and I thank you so much since I see that you think of this one who loves you. "