Thursday, November 14, 2013

Sepia Saturday 203 : Nothing But A Bumpy Field


As I have no doubt said before, looking at old images is a form of photographic archeology. You start out with the site; smoothed out and grassed over by age, and then slowly scrape away the layers of neglect to reveal a story from the past. Like any other archaeologist, we have our tools - our scanners and magnifying glasses, our on-line records - but at the end of the day we depend most of all on our eyes and our instincts.

As I went in search of a photograph for this week's Sepia Saturday - the theme of which is people framed by doors - I had high hopes of the faded photograph I chose. It matched the theme well, indeed for a moment I wondered if it could have been the same doorway as the one in the prompt image, but on closer inspection it wasn't.  It was an old and faded photograph, however, and those are always the best for us photographic archaeologists. There was an intriguing notice in the window and the woman and girl would hopefully be identifiable.

But sometimes a bumpy field is nothing but a bumpy field. All my efforts to read the notice proved unsuccessful - my best guess is "Wax Stall" which makes little sense - and the two figures don't remind me of anyone in the family tree. The house, with its stone construction on a hillside, certainly appears to be resonant of West Yorkshire, and the fact that the photograph was in the Family Photo Shoebox rather than the Old Photographs Bought at Jumble Sale Shoebox infused it with genealogical possibilities. But those possibilities will have to lie dormant for a little longer. As I said, sometimes a bumpy field is nothing but a bumpy field.
To see what archaeological treasures are being investigated by other Sepia Saturday participants, go the the SEPIA SATURDAY BLOG and follow the links.

28 comments:

  1. It seems to be a much taller door than usual. Is there anything significant about that. Or is there a second step behind the two women ?

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  2. Any idea what the sign in the window says?

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  3. The windows seem to be very tall too. Altogether a very tall photograph.

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  4. I'm interested that the photographer looked to the whole building, and the people seem incidental. Most of my family pictures kind of crop away the building, though it's still hard to see who the people are.

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  5. Something rather forbidding about that expanse of wall, I think. I think you are right about "stall" but "wax"? Hmmmmm - you are also right that it probably ISN'T that!

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  6. MRS SMALL? The landlady?

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  7. I thought it said Mrs. S(something) hard to see on this photo though. and everything does look tall.

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  8. I think the sign says "Mrs." followed by a name, too. There is other smaller printing below as well. Perhaps 'Mrs. Whoeversheis' gives piano lessons, or lessons in proper comportment for young ladies, or ??? The window dressing is rather fancy, though, so I'm thinking it might be a shop of some kind?

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  9. There's got to be another step surely? Or even two. Look a the basement window. That has to be below floor level. Still very tall windows though. The rooms must have high ceilings.

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  10. We call the above window of the door a transom. It can open to ventilate the room even if the door is locked.

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  11. So more questions than answers here. One wonders why the photographer put the two people in the lower left and showed a large part of the building side?

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  12. The window sign could be a political sign. Not sure if it was done in that day but in our village people would put a sign in the window with the name of the person they wanted the reader to vote for on the town council or whatever. I like the idea of an ad for a piano teacher, since the photo is of a lady and a young girl. I also like the idea of someone photographing the two windows and the basement window. I think whoever took the photographs had an artistic eye. It makes a nice composition. Whoever it was surely had a reason for including the windows. The average person taking a snapshot would have focused only on the people. Fascinating. I love doing this kind of detective work.

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  13. Whoops! Only just noticed the upper window. My lap top has a small screen. So perhaps it was a photo to display the new home of the family, otherwise why show a bedroom window? How about the sign saying "FOR SALE" ?

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  14. I like your idea of photo archeology, Alan. This shard from the Edwardian era invites us to imagine the full historic picture, but sadly, digging into the shoe box doesn't always unearth more fragments.

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  15. I clipped it and enlarged it and enhanced it, and looked at it six ways from Sunday, but I am completely baffled.

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  16. I'll join the confused brigade. It's definitely not cricket - but you waouldn't expect it to be on a bumpy field.

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  17. Love this photo -- did you crop it from a larger shot (more of the building, say) or is it the original composition? Whatever it is, it's great -- granite sills, a sense of grace...the sign is a puzzler: is it to notify a tradesman -- like the iceman or somebody -- that a delivery is needed?

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  18. But another haunting photo...love the term "photographic archaeologists" Funny how a photo of the unknown can gender so many thoughts. .

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  19. Maybe it's not a tall door, just very short ladies - and then the sign says Mrs Small :)

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  20. I enlarged the photo on Microsoft Picture Manager. Thought I saw something like "Bee." I had fun!

    Hazel

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  21. Wish I could help with the mystery, but no help here. Nice photo for the theme.

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  22. Bumpy field or not, it is a neat photo...love the ladies posing in the doorway, the rows of brick..even the blurred glass so people on the sidewalk can't peak inside!

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  23. I thought the photograph was exquisite -- for me, it had a visceral effect -- like a recognition, of I know not where or when or if. Thanks.

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  24. Not being able top read signs bothers me..it is like a nagging thought that you can never give up on. But I give up on this one...I would say it is Max Still if I had to guess..:)

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  25. I'm sure it's just me, but beyond this being a fun photo, I also saw a face in the lower two windows and the basement window below. But then every time I look at my bathroom faucet I think it's winking at me.

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  26. Like many others, I read "Mrs" Somethingorother. Maybe a boarding house? If you don't recognize the people, they might be neighbors.

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  27. Possibly a boarding house. Or, even another thought, why such an amount of heavy window coverings? I mean there's just no way much if any light would get through those windows, on the ground floor. So, perhaps it's not just a simple boarding house? But something else on the first floor level.

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  28. You certainly have a way with words Alan. I enjoyed this post.

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