2597 Dust & Time.

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If you want to get technical, there is an argument about when photography actually started. It’s waged between camps of pedants and, frankly, not all that important. A case could be made that Alex is wrong in her description of the albums being from the start of photography as the layman understands the term. In case any pedants are out there who are passionate about the argument, I don’t care to have it with you. She’s simply speaking casually. At least by her standards.

Photography caught on in America in the years around the American Civil War. The pictures of the battlefields and what have you, swayed public opinion on certain issues. Although it could be said that the photographers weren’t exactly ethical in certain key ways… The media has been upholding that tradition since long before photography, but I digress.

Spirit photography, such as it is, also caught on as the grief of those who lost family made them easy marks to other unethical photographers. Another tradition that people have generally kept up over time. To cut a long ramble short, it’s an interesting subject that came to the fore in an interesting time. Worth looking into if you have the luxury of time and the inclination to learn.

I have long since read up on those times, as I’m sure many of you long time readers have guessed, since I reference the period here and there throughout the comic.

But that’s as may be. I’m sure you have better things to do than read what I’m spilling out here. As always, the links above can be used to support the comic. I implore you to consider doing so in these dire economic times, if you are not suffering as much as others. That said, I hope to see you back here on Wednesday for more low stakes adventures. Have a pleasant time till next we meet.


“In case any pedants are out there who are passionate about the argument, I don’t care to have it with you. She’s simply speaking casually. At least by her standards.”

Boss move, Jackie!

“But that’s as may be. I’m sure you have better things to do than read what I’m spilling out here.”

Doesn’t seem like it. It’s actually pretty interesting. Thanks for doing the research.

Anyone else watch enough non-fiction TV to shudder when they see a person handle an old, old item without gloves?

Just one more reason I like Alex. Nothing’s going to turn to dust or pick up human oils on her watch!

There are authoritative sources who actually recommend against gloving up for some old books since they can cause more damage.

The Library of Congress advises using gloves for photographs and books with metal/ivory or in cases where there may be a physical hazard (fungus, poison). For other old books, freshly washed and thoroughly dried hands with no gloves are preferred.

This article has a quote from the Library of Congress and a link to the LoC website, but the detailed information in the quote is buried a few pages into a LoC PDF.

I was coming here to say this. Gloves mean you lose the tactile feel to know how much you’re stressing the individual leaves (fun fact? the page is the side of the piece of paper. The piece of paper itself is called a leaf). With photos gloves yes, with books gloves no. So they’re doing what’s best for the media they’re working with right now.

That’s the nice thing about a high resolution scan. It has reached the point where you can resolve the fibers in the underlying paper and that meets the needs of 99% of all people who would ever want to see the photo. No further fondling is necessary. Unless you’re into that.
On an adjacent note I have some photography magazines from the early 1900’s, “Kodakery”, and silly cat photos were already a thing.

I just learned a few days ago that one of the oldest confirmed-date daguerreotype photos taken in the U.S. was of former President John Quincy Adams, taken around 1848. It was part of a set of other members of Congress (where Adams was serving at the time), including an early photo of Representative Abraham Lincoln.

John Q. Adams was a man who knew George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, personally. and his photograph survives today. The History just blew my mind when I found out.

And Oliver Wendell Homes Jr. (March 8, 1841 – March 6, 1935), US Supreme Court Justice December 8, 1902 – January 12, 1932) met both John Q. Adams and John F. Kennedy.

History is closer than you think it is.

Since one of my degrees is in History, I’m usually pretty aware of how close it is.

However, another such fun item is: President John Tyler (1841-1845), born in 1790. One of his grandsons is still alive as of this writing. The second died in 2020.

My parents had a book called, IIRC, “Meet Mr. Lincoln”. It was a collection of photographs of Abraham Lincoln. Yes, he was photographed enough to fill a book! Spent a fair amount of time flipping through that when I was a kid.

To quote Indiana Jones that belongs in a museum. Those pics are true treasures that any historian would love to have.

Alex saying “These are they” instead of “This is them” is good writing. True to the character.

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