Saturday, May 21, 2022

Not the Same There as Here


Last week I mentioned traveling to Florida and, while there, getting the brainy idea to shop for antique photos. After all, I've had a grand time rescuing the cabinet cards I've found in antique stores up in Gold Rush country near my home in California. A little change of venue wouldn't scramble results too horribly, would they?

Think again. It's not the same there as it is here. I guess every place is different. While it is true that a location like Florida would be a prime place to gather photographs from all over North America—after all, snow birds come from Canada, too—a key factor necessary in the mix for success is shopkeepers' ability to curate available resources. Apparently, while the various shopkeepers managed to assemble some interesting collectibles, the location I chose in central Florida was not home to anyone able to amass the type of photo I was seeking.

While I have rescued photos from later periods—recall my discovery of the Irish photo album from the late 1930s—the date is not the only detail on my shopping list. My Florida shopping foray led me to more recent specimens—think Polaroids and other snapshots from the fifties and sixties—but it also included several older samples. Yet, with every format from earlier eras came a disappointment: the photos lacked the key ingredients that assist me in returning rescued photos to family members. I need a name as well as a location at the minimum to begin my search for the identity of the photo's subject.

It broke my heart, during last week's exploration in Florida, to walk away from several otherwise fine family photos from Morristown, New Jersey, for example, but even though the pictures were exactly what I was looking for, they provided none of the clues which make rescuing and returning the photos possible. Yes, several stores may include photographs in their merchandise, but not all photographs lend themselves to this type of rescue operation. Either that, or someone else has beat me to all the best sale items.

No matter what reason caused me to walk away empty-handed, the search reminded me of what fun it was to start a photo-rescuing project in the first place. I have Connie from Forgotten Old Photos to thank for the inspiration—and advice as I got started—and several resources close at hand in my own state for finding eligible samples. Perhaps now that I'm home, this would be a perfect time to take up this challenge once again. After all, people traveled from all over the continent to Gold Rush country, too.


  1. You are a Daguerreotype Angel. I wonder if it is possible to find dealers or traders online who have collections - from various states - who could offer old photos with the hand-written notations needed. At reasonable prices :-)

    1. Lisa, I have had that exact thought myself, but haven't yet figured out how to pursue it. At one point, I did know a woman who previously owned a collectibles shop and worked with antique dealers, but she moved out of the area and I've lost touch with her.

      I've found shopkeepers are reluctant to share information, perhaps thinking I might become a competitor. But I will keep an eye open for an opportunity to do just as you suggested. It seems the most reasonable approach.


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