Leninism as Political Religion: Soviet Iconography and the Deification of Lenin

Commanding People

Lenin and Jesus speaking and gesturing to their crowds of followers from up above.

Left: V. I. Lenin Proclaims Soviet Power. 2008.005.07.006. Leniniana Collection, Ryerson University Archives & Special Collections. Right: A 19th-century painting depicting the Sermon on the Mount by Carl Heinrich Bloch via Wikipedia. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ABloch-SermonOnTheMount.jpg

In many ways, living in the USSR was quite unlike what we experience in present day Canada.  Because of the stark contrast in the portrayal and treatment of political leaders between our cultures, researchers do not have to be familiar with Soviet history to identify unmistakable differences.

Banner Baby

An infant Lenin was the face of the Little Octobrists, the Soviet children’s league. Similarly, Baby Jesus is often depicted in Christian art. This Lenin banner resembles those common in Eastern Orthodox Christianity, the dominant religion of the areas encompassing the former Soviet Union. The Lenin image makes use of the familiar Eastern Christian halo design, as depicted in the Byzantine-style icons being carried in the procession.

Left: Little Octobrists small banner. 2008.005.01.013. Leniniana Collection, Ryerson University Archives & Special Collections. Centre: Baby Jesus 04 by Waiting For The Word via Flickr. Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC-By-SA). https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/6444921421/ Right: A cross Procession in Novosibirsk, Russia. By Testus (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Orthodox_Church#mediaviewer/File:Cross_Procession_in_Novosibirsk_04.jpg

In Canada, it is not commonplace to find flags, banners, note cards, statues or paintings created and showcased in devotion to our Prime Minister.  Conversely, Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin was featured on these sorts of materials and more, achieving a venerable status throughout the Soviet Union and beyond.  This is easily seen in Ryerson University’s Leniniana Collection, which consists of more than 800 items featuring the image of Lenin. A messianic Lenin effectively filled the void brought about by the USSR’s violent suppression of organized religion:

Certain symbolic forms probably recalled religious icons. The extensive use of the colour red, the distorted perspective (Lenin is far larger than the sun, the globe, and the worker and peasant on either side), the composition (Lenin flanked by the worker and peasant, just as Christ was sometimes flanked by two apostles), and the circular frame that surrounds Lenin (Christ was often situated in an oval frame) must have been familiar to Russians accustomed to the conventions of religious icons. (Bonnell, 1999, p. 146)

Tower of BabelLenin

The towers of Lenin and Babel.

Left: Lenin: Posters, Portraits, Leaflets 1917-1924. 2008.005.07.049. Leniniana Collection, Ryerson University Archives & Special Collections. Right: The Confusion of Tongues by Gustave Doré via Wikimedia Commons. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AConfusion_of_Tongues.png

By applying Lenin’s likeness, the colour red and Communist slogans and imagery such as stars, hammers and sickles onto a wide range of materials, Lenin and his party became omnipresent – like a god.  When they replaced the paranormal God with themselves, Soviets made their party into an alternative to Christian theocratic rule (Riegel, 2005).  The fact that Lenin was not supernatural was irrelevant: Leninism became the political religion of the state.

Confession

Lenin tells followers to let the party know everything, much like religious confession.

Left: More light, let the party know everything… 2008.005.07.004. Leniniana Collection, Ryerson University Archives & Special Collections. Right: Traditional confessional by I, Dontworry [GFDL http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html ), CC-BY-SA-3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 via Wikimedia Commons. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3ASt.leonhard-ffm-beichtstuhl001.jpg

Despite the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the propagated deification of Lenin continues to fascinate scholars and non-academics alike.  Much like saints of Christianity, Lenin’s corpse lies in a sacred mausoleum.  This site remains popular among tourists and researchers continue to seek to learn more about this infamous figure of revolution.

They Live

A lapel pin reads, “Lenin lives.” The banner next to it proclaims the same about Jesus.

Left: Mounted object with various lapel pins of Lenin. 2008.005.06.005. Leniniana Collection, Ryerson University Archives & Special Collections. Right: Jesus Lives – Signage And Posters In Dublin by William Murphy via Flickr. Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC-By-SA). https://www.flickr.com/photos/infomatique/4674198019/

To discover the Leniniana Collection at Ryerson University’s Special Collections, please make an appointment between 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday.  Contact us at specialcollections@ryerson.ca or at 416-979-5000 ext 4996.  We are located on the fourth floor in the library in room LIB 492.

Above Crowd

Lenin and Jesus: both in the clouds, above the people.

Left: V. I. Lenin on a Podium. 2008.005.07.011. Leniniana Collection, Ryerson University Archives & Special Collections. Right: Jesus’ ascension to heaven, as depicted by John Singleton Copley via Wikimedia Commons. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File%3AJesus_ascending_to_heaven.jpg

To read more about Leninism as a political religion, refer to the works cited.  Both sources are available through the Ryerson University Library.

Lenin God is with us.ipg

The Lenin lapel pin reads, “Lenin is always with us. Kaliningrad.” The shirt reads, “We are Russian! God is with us!” Leninists appropriated this common religious saying.

Left: Mounted object with various lapel pins of Lenin. 2008.005.06.005. Leniniana Collection, Ryerson University Archives & Special Collections. Right:Мы русские-с нами БОГ by ФестивальБратья via Wikipedia. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0, 2.5, 2.0 и 1.0. https://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/Файл:Мы_русские-с_нами_БОГ.jpg

Works Cited

Bonnell, V. E. (1999). Iconography of power: Soviet political posters under Lenin and Stalin. Retrieved from http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/text-idx?c=acls;idno=heb05220

Riegel, K. (2005). Marxism‐Leninism as a political religion. Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions, 6(1). http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/14690760500099788

Ingersoll to Kingston circa 1905

This unique cabinet card from the Lorne Shields fonds of the Historical Photograph Collection at Ryerson’s Special Collections features not only an uncommon composition, but also an interesting history of Canada’s railway systems inscribed on its verso.

2008.001.184. [Portrait of two women in a doorway with tree branch], cabinet card [ca. 1910], 20.4 x 12.6 cm (with mount). Left: recto, right: verso.

2008.001.184. [Portrait of two women in a doorway with tree branch], cabinet card [ca. 1910], 20.4 x 12.6 cm (with mount). Left: recto, right: verso.

Written in pencil on the back of this cabinet card are the arrival and departure times for a journey from Ingersoll, Ontario to Kingston, Ontario via both the Grand Trunk Railway and the Canadian Pacific Railway circa 1905.

2008.001.184. Detail of inscription reading: "Leave G-T Kingston 3:45 pm Toronto ar 10:15 pm leave 11pm ar at Hamilton 12:30 leave Hamilton 2:35am in Ingersoll 4:31".

2008.001.184. Detail of inscription reading: “Leave G-T Kingston 3:45 pm Toronto ar 10:15 pm leave 11pm ar at Hamilton 12:30 leave Hamilton 2:35am in Ingersoll 4:31”.

Impressively, using the Grand Trunk Railway (inscribed as “G-T”), the traveller would have been able to make the trip in just under 13 hours, leaving Kingston at 3:45 p.m. and arriving back in Ingersoll at 4:31 a.m. with transfers in Toronto and Hamilton. According to Google Maps, the same journey today would take 13 hours and 50 minutes using Via Rail Canada (including transfer waiting time). Whether either of the women in the photograph were travelling can only be speculated.

Screenshot of Google Maps route from Kingston to Ingersoll using Via Rail Canada and Kingston Transit.

Screenshot of Google Maps route from Kingston to Ingersoll using Via Rail Canada and Kingston Transit.


Special Collections, located on the fourth floor of the Ryerson Library, holds numerous examples of late nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century photographs, including cabinet cards, cartes de visite, tintypes, daguerreotypes and ambrotypes, as well as contemporary guidebooks and manuals. To access Special Collections give us a call or send us an email to book an appointment at: specialcollections@ryerson.ca or 416-979-5000 ext. 4996.

Kodak in Toronto, 1899-2005: A Century of Traces

The Home of Kodak in Canada, promotional material, 1942

2005.001.07.03.05.04. The Home of Kodak in Canada, promotional material, 1942

Over the course of its 106-year presence in Toronto, Kodak affected more than just the history of photography in Canada. In satisfying its need for cutting edge photographic manufacturing facilities, the company contributed several ambitious architectural projects to the cityscape. Through these contributions, Kodak left an indelible mark upon the city, the traces of which are still visible today.

The following history documents Kodak’s presence in Toronto from 1899 to 2005, focusing on its three central facilities on Colborne Street, King Street, and at Kodak Heights. This history was constructed from documents and artefacts contained within the Kodak Corporate Archives and Heritage Collection at Ryerson University (Accession #2005.001). These items and more are currently on display on the 4th floor of Ryerson Library. For more information, visit Ryerson Archives and Special Collections.

Kodak’s early days in Canada

In 1888, George Eastman founded the Eastman Kodak Company in Rochester, NY. In 1899, after successfully operating on the American market for over a decade, Eastman set his sights north, dispatching Kodak employee John G. Palmer to Toronto to determine the viability of establishing a subsidiary in Canada. Palmer discovered a robust market for photographic products and, on November 8, 1899, Canadian Kodak Co., Limited was incorporated under the Ontario Company’s act. The nascent company established headquarters in downtown Toronto, embarking on a relationship with the city that would last more than a century and would constitute the heart of the company’s manufacturing operations in Canada.

Colborne Street (1899 – 1901)

Colborne Street Map

From Atlas of the city of Toronto and suburbs : in three volumes, Goad’s Atlas and Plan Co., 1923. G1149.T6 G6 1923 r

Following Canadian Kodak’s incorporation in 1899, the company established premises in an existing building at 41 Colborne Street, Toronto. The property was intended to serve as an assembly and distribution centre, rather than a site of manufacturing: the fledgling company imported bulk film and photographic paper, as well as completed cameras, from Rochester for packaging and distribution in Canada. The property was leased to Canadian Kodak Co., Ltd. for 3 years at $840 per year. Consisting of four floors and a cellar, 24 ¼ x 71 feet each, the site housed the entire Kodak plant and its staff of ten. A further 7-year option on the property was offered by the owner but never taken. Largely unchanged from its original structure, the Colborne Street building still stands today.

Canadian Kodak Co., Ltd. Headquarters (1899-1901), 41 Colborne Street, Toronto

2005.001.3.259. Canadian Kodak Co., Ltd. Headquarters (1899-1901), 41 Colborne Street, Toronto

41 Colborne Street, 2014. The original building on Colborne Street still stands today.

41 Colborne Street, 2014. The original building on Colborne Street still stands today. Image courtesy of Google street view.

King Street (1901 – 1917)

King Street Map

From Atlas of the city of Toronto and suburbs : in three volumes, Goad’s Atlas and Plan Co., 1923. G1149.T6 G6 1923 r

The Colborne Street premises soon proved insufficient to house the rapidly growing Canadian subsidiary. With its lease set to expire in 1901, the company set out to find a new site for its operations in what was then Toronto’s manufacturing district. In September of that year, Canadian Kodak purchased an empty lot at 588 King Street for $70 per foot and hired Toronto architects Chadwick & Beckett to build a new plant. Over its 17-year tenure at this facility, Canadian Kodak began its transition to a manufacturing operation, producing its own photographic film, paper, and mounts. The company also began to import camera parts—rather than completed cameras—from Rochester for assembly and distribution in Canada. Like the Colborne Street site, the King Street premises quickly proved too small to house the growing business and two additional buildings were constructed in an adjoining lot. By 1908, the King Street factory had expanded to its full capacity and the company had grown to 108 employees. Like Kodak’s Colborne Street plant, the King Street facility still stands today, now part of a busy retail strip in downtown Toronto.

Scaife Patent Gravity Filter, W.B. Scaife & Sons, Co., 1909. This cyanotype is one of only two known surviving blueprints from the King Street premises.

2005.001.03.1.02.1. Scaife Patent Gravity Filter, W.B. Scaife & Sons, Co., 1909. This cyanotype is one of only two known surviving blueprints from the King Street premises.

Letter, December 24, 1903. George Eastman authorizes John Palmer to purchase the vacant lot adjoining the existing King Street plant for the purpose of expansion.

2005.001.08.01.02. Letter, December 24, 1903. George Eastman authorizes John Palmer to purchase the vacant lot adjoining the existing King Street plant for the purpose of expansion.

Canadian Kodak Co., Ltd. Headquarters (1901-1917), 588 King Street West, Toronto, frontal view.

2005.001.3.260.004. King Street premises, 588 King Street West, Toronto, frontal view, 1901-1917.

King Street premises, rear view, 1926. This portion of the factory, bordering Adelaide Street, was constructed during Kodak’s King Street expansion. This image was taken nearly ten years after Kodak had completed its move to Kodak Heights.

2005.001.3.260.012. King Street premises, rear view, 1926. This portion of the factory, bordering Adelaide Street, was constructed during Kodak’s King Street expansion. This image was taken nearly ten years after Kodak had completed its move to Kodak Heights.

588 King Street, 2014. Like the Colborne Street property, the King Street building still remains.

588 King Street, 2014. Like the Colborne Street property, the King Street building still remains. Image courtesy of Google street view.

Kodak Heights (1913 – 2005)

Kodak Heights Map

From Atlas of the city of Toronto and suburbs : in three volumes, Goad’s Atlas and Plan Co., 1923. G1149.T6 G6 1923 r

By 1912, Canadian Kodak had outgrown its King Street facilities. That year, George Eastman visited Toronto to establish a sustainable plan for expansion. The result of his visit was the purchase in 1913 of 25 acres of farmland at Eglinton Avenue and Weston Road, Toronto, for $5,000 per acre. Soon after the deed was signed, construction began on the original seven buildings at Kodak Heights. The property was nicknamed Kodak Heights by company executive S.B. Cornell.

George Eastman visits Toronto, 1912. Eastman and executives John Palmer and S.B. Cornell survey the land that would soon become Kodak Heights.

2005.001.06.06.1.071. George Eastman visits Toronto, 1912. Eastman and executives John Palmer and S.B. Cornell survey the land that would soon become Kodak Heights.

South Elevation of Building 5, 1914. This architectural ink drawing on calendered cloth is for one of the original seven buildings and one of the largest buildings at Kodak Heights.

2005.001.03.1.05.2. South Elevation of Building 5, 1914. This architectural ink drawing on calendered cloth shows one of the original seven buildings and one of the largest buildings at Kodak Heights.

Workers in horse-drawn buggies excavate building 7, Kodak Heights, July 27, 1914

2005.001.06.01.002.4. Workers in horse-drawn buggies excavate building 7, Kodak Heights, July 27, 1914

Constructing the bridge connecting building 3 & 5, Kodak Heights, September 20, 1915

2005.001.06.01.002.4. Constructing the bridge connecting building 3 & 5, Kodak Heights, September 20, 1915

Kodak Heights construction, looking NE, Building 5, October 15, 1915

2005.001.06.01.002.4. Kodak Heights construction, looking NE, Building 5, October 15, 1915

Meeting the Plant’s Power and Transport Needs
To meet its massive energy needs, Canadian Kodak built and maintained its own Power House (Building 1) at Kodak Heights. Upwards of 50 tonnes of coal were burned every day, the smoke from which was released through a 200-ft chimney constructed by the Custodis Canadian Chimney Co. The structure soon became a local landmark.

Drawing for Power House chimney, Canadian Custodis Chimney Co., Ltd, 1914

2005.001.08.03.01.02. Drawing for Power House chimney, Canadian Custodis Chimney Co., Ltd, 1914

Kodak Heights chimney, date unknown

2005.001.06.03.008.02. Kodak Heights chimney, date unknown

Canadian Kodak also contracted with the Canadian Pacific Railway Co. to extend tracks into the Kodak Heights property, allowing easy delivery of supplies and coal. The tracks ended inside the Power House, reaching the building via a custom-built trestle.

Proposed Sidings for the Canadian Kodak Co., Ltd., Canadian Pacific Railway, 1914

2005.001.03.1.03.3. Proposed Sidings for the Canadian Kodak Co., Ltd., Canadian Pacific Railway, 1914

Rail trestle to Power House, ca. 1918

2005.001.2.254.012. Rail trestle to Power House, ca. 1918

Architectural Design Challenges
The manufacture of film was a complicated multi-step process that required equally complex facilities. The sensitivity of film and paper to their environment required extreme cleanliness and climate control. Many steps of this process were performed in dark rooms lit by safe lights.  In addition, the production and storage of cellulose nitrate film required safety precautions that impacted the plant’s design.

This diagram, from the 1954 promotional brochure Kodak in Canada, illustrates some of the production activities accommodated at Kodak Heights. Note dark rooms 9 through 12.

2005.001.07.03.05.08. This diagram, from the 1954 promotional brochure ‘Kodak in Canada’, illustrates some of the production activities accommodated at Kodak Heights. Note dark rooms 9 through 12.

Employees operating Pako Corp. Filmachine, ca. 1950-1960. Due to strict environmental controls and low lighting, employees often wore clean white uniforms and carried “safe” flashlights, much like these two employees in the film processing department.

2005.001.06.03.733. Employees operating Pako Corp. Filmachine, ca. 1950-1960. Due to strict environmental controls and low lighting, employees often wore clean white uniforms and carried “safe” flashlights, much like these two employees in the film processing department.

Letter (excerpt), October 31, 1913. A Kodak plant engineer describes the result of an insurance inspection in which Associated Factory Mutual Fire Insurance deemed the plant too risky to insure unless hazardous film was produced and stored in a separate building from photographic paper.

2005.001.08.03.01.01. Letter (excerpt), October 31, 1913. A Kodak plant engineer describes the result of an insurance inspection in which Associated Factory Mutual Fire Insurance deemed the plant too risky to insure unless hazardous film was produced and stored in a separate building from photographic paper.

Nitrate film production table, early 20th-century. Plant design had to accommodate the production of hazardous flexible cellulose nitrate film base, which was cast on 200-ft long tables such as this one.

2005.001.06.03.216. Nitrate film production table, early 20th-century. Plant design had to accommodate the production of hazardous flexible cellulose nitrate film base, which was cast on 200-ft long tables such as this one.

A New Home for Kodak
By 1916, the original seven buildings of Kodak Heights were complete and the company began its move from the King Street premises—a move that would finish in 1917. Kodak Heights was a source of pride for Canadian Kodak. The facility was often opened for tours and played a significant role in the company’s marketing. The property would become Canadian Kodak’s headquarters until its closure in 2005.

Kodak Heights Aerial Photograph, 1918

2005.001.3.484.001. Kodak Heights Aerial Photograph, 1918

Kodak Heights, promotional material, 1919

2005.001.07.03.05.01. Kodak Heights, promotional material, 1919

Kodak Heights Pond, 1916

2005.001.06.03.541. Kodak Heights Pond, 1916

Kodak Heights Gateway, ca. 1960

2005.001.06.03.233. Kodak Heights Gateway, ca. 1960

Billing and entering office, 1917

2005.001.3.499. Billing and entering office, 1917

Camera assembly, 1923

2005.001.06.03.373. Camera assembly, 1923

Kodak Heights Expansion
Kodak Heights grew steadily over its lifetime. In 1939, construction began on the Kodak employees’ building (Building 9). This 4-storey building was designed to accommodate the activities of the Recreation Club, the Department Managers’ Club, and the Kodak Heights Camera Club. It housed an auditorium, cafeteria, gymnasium, club room, locker room, and camera studio and had an adjacent lawn bowling green. The building opened in 1940. Expansion at Kodak Heights continued until the late 20th-century. By 1987, the property housed 18 buildings.

Building 9, 1988

2005.001.06.06.2.027. Employee Building (Building 9), Kodak Heights, 1988

Cafeteria, Building 9, Kodak Heights, 1948

2005.001.3.271. Cafeteria, Building 9, Kodak Heights, 1948

Ladies Lounge, Building 9, Kodak Heights, 1964

2005.001.3.272. Ladies Lounge, Building 9, Kodak Heights, 1964

Kodak Heights Demolition and Remains
On December 9, 2004, Kodak Canada announced the closure of its manufacturing operations. June 30, 2005 would be the last day of operations at Kodak Heights. In the subsequent months, most of the plant was demolished. Today, only the Employees’ Building remains.

Chimney demolition, 2005

2005.001.06.03.371. Chimney demolition, 2005

Chimney demolition, 2005

2005.001.06.03.371. Chimney demolition, 2005

Employees’ Building (Building 9), Kodak Heights, 2014

Employees’ Building (Building 9), Kodak Heights, 2014. Photograph courtesy of author.

Kodak Heights, 2014

Kodak Heights, 2014. Photograph courtesy of author.

To learn more about the history of Kodak Canada, the history of Canadian architecture, and the history of photography, visit Ryerson Archives and Special Collections on the 4th floor of the library.

Experiencing Travel through Photography

The History and Growth of Travel Photography

Not long after the announcement of L. J. M. Daguerre’s daguerreotype process in 1839, the photographic medium and its technologies began to develop rapidly.  While the unique image of a daguerreotype was well-suited to decorative portraiture, the lack of a negative and long exposure times made the process less profitable for landscape or travel photography since photographers could not reproduce multiple prints to sell to the public.  As photographic technologies advanced, the invention of tintypes helped to lower the price of photographs by producing images on affordable metal plates, the sturdy nature of which also allowed for them to be shipped or mailed abroad.  The increased use of the “wet-plate” negative process in the mid-nineteenth century allowed photographers to make multiple, saleable prints from one negative and thus became one of the more profitable processes for a travelling photographer despite the process’s cumbersome nature.

It was not until the invention of the Kodak camera in 1888 that photography truly became a popular hobby.  Persuaded by the company’s slogan, “You push the button and we’ll do the rest”, consumers embraced the newly accessible nature of photography which no longer demanded the knowledge and technical skills as had been previously required.

While it was not until the last quarter of the nineteenth century that photography fell into the hands of the general public, photographers had long since been documenting exotic places abroad, returning with images that allowed citizens in their home countries to become familiar with far-away, foreign places despite having never left their hometown.  Early photographers** known for doing so include Francis Frith, Maxime du Camp, J. P. Sebah, and Samuel Bourne, to name just a few.

As travel methods advanced and became more readily accessible, people carried their own cameras and documented their travels, returning home to brag to friends and relatives about where they had been, presenting their photographs as proof of their exotic experiences.  It is these types of photographs that we find in the Lorne Shields fonds.  Containing photographs of scenic landscapes, major sites of attraction and other tourist snapshots, we can explore countries not only half way around the world but also as they existed over a hundred and fifty years ago.

Today, travel photography remains popular as ever as both cameras and global travel become increasingly accessible to the public.  Tourists now scramble to get photographs of themselves at whatever landmarks are deemed “must-sees” in their respective destinations, with the infamous “selfie” becoming a dominant sub-category in travel photography.  While the photographic medium has improved exponentially since its conception, we must be wary of our recent addiction to the accessibility and instantaneity that digital photography – particularly cell phone photography – continues to provide us with.  In light of our haste to document and communicate our travels, we must pause to consider a concern that many have started to address: at what point are do we sacrifice our genuine appreciation of the travel experience in order to prove our being there, as we increasingly spend more time producing or interacting with these “proof of experience” photographs than with the actual landmark or destination itself.

 

Travel Photography in the Lorne Shields Fonds

Best known as an avid bicycle collector and historian, Lorne Shields’ interest in collecting began at an early age when he observed ­– and later helped to operate – his father’s business, selling bicycles and various parts and accessories.  Though his initial interest was primarily focused on acquiring bicycle-related objects and memorabilia – such as photographs, books and magazines–, his passion for and dedication to collecting soon expanded.  Photography became one of his many collecting interests and in 2007 he donated part of his photographic collection to Special Collections at Ryerson University’s Library.

Comprised of boxes of photographs, textual materials and photographic albums, the Lorne Shields Fonds includes a variety of photographic material including studio portraiture, landscape photography, and many amateur snapshots, and almost half of the photographic albums are titled after countries or travels abroad.

These travel albums consist of photographs primarily from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and include photographs taken in Italy, France, Spain, Sweden, England, Morocco, Malta, Korea and many other countries.  Photographs of well-known landmarks and tourist attractions include sites such as Place de la Concorde in Paris, France; Plaza de Isabel II, Spain; The Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy; the Temples of Venus, Mercury and Jupiter in Rome, Italy; various locations in the Grand Canyon, in Arizona, U.S.A; and many more.  Below is a small selection of the vast number of images in the fonds that address photography’s use in documenting travel in the late nineteenth and early to mid- twentieth centuries.

 

Seoul, 14 Januari 1913. [In the album "Transiberia".] Not all travel photographs were fantastic vistas or of popular tourist attractions; some were about the more typical daily scenes experienced. 2008.001.013

Seoul, 14 Januari 1913.  From the album Transiberia.  Not all travel photographs were fantastic vistas or of popular tourist attractions; some were about the more typical daily scenes experienced. 2008.001.013

Kung Chu Ling {Mantsjoerije) 13 Januari 1913.  [From the album "Transiberia".] Documenting travel methods, like trains and steamboats, was not uncommon.  2008.001.013

Kung Chu Ling {Mantsjoerije) 13 Januari 1913.  From the album Transiberia.  Documenting travel methods, like trains and steamboats, was not uncommon. 2008.001.013

Cadix, 24/25 Mei 1912 / Parque Genovès.  From the album Tangiers. A view of Parque Genovès in Cádiz, Spain.

Cadix, 24/25 Mei 1912 / Parque Genovès. From the album Tangiers. A view of Parque Genovès in Cádiz, Spain. 2008.001.020.

2 Juni 1912 / Stierengevecht.  From the album Spain.  There are several page with photographs of bullfighting.  2008.001.027

2 Juni 1912 / Stierengevecht. From the album Spain. There are several page with photographs of bullfighting. 2008.001.027

Photographs in Egypt, c. 1900-1920..  From album Egypt.  An image showing a page of photographs in the Egypt album.  2008.001.032

Photographs in Egypt, c. 1900-1920. From album Egypt.  An image showing a page of photographs in the Egypt album. 2008.001.032

More photographs in Egypt.  From album Egypt.  2008.001.032

More photographs in Egypt, c. 1900-1920. From album Egypt. 2008.001.032

Malta / Chapel of Bones, Valletta..  c. 1930-1941.  From album Malta, Italy, China.  2008.001.2.002

Malta / Chapel of Bones, Valletta. c. 1930-1941. From album Malta, Italy, China. 2008.001.2.002

Naples / King's Birthday Review, c. 1930-1941.  From album Malta, Italy and China.  Captions (left to right; then top to bottom): Artillery returning / Commander-in-Chief + Staff returning / Queen returning / King returning.  2008.001.2.002

Naples / King’s Birthday Review, c. 1930-1941. From album: Malta, Italy, China.  Captions (left to right; then top to bottom): Artillery returning / Commander-in-Chief + Staff returning / Queen returning / King returning. 2008.001.2.002

Street of Fortune, c. 1930-1941.  From album Malta, Italy, China.  2008.001.2.002

Street of Fortune, c. 1930-1941. From album Malta, Italy, China. 2008.001.2.002

Temple of Venus, c. 1930-1941.  From album Malta, Italy, China.  2008.001.2.002

Temple of Venus, c. 1930-1941. From album Malta, Italy, China. 2008.001.2.002

Temple of Heaven, Pekin / Bronze Urn in Llama's Temple Compound, Pekin, c. 1930-1941.  From album Malta, Italy, China.  2008.001.2.002

Temple of Heaven, Pekin / Bronze Urn in Llama’s Temple Compound, Pekin, c. 1930-1941. From album Malta, Italy, China. 2008.001.2.002

Italy / Bay of Baia, c. 1930-1941.  From album Malta, Italy, China.  Three photographs are presented together to form a panoramic vista of the bay.  2008.001.2.002

Italy / Bay of Baia, c. 1930-1941. From album Malta, Italy, China. Three photographs are presented together to form a panoramic vista of the bay. 2008.001.2.002

Bottom Castle Yorkshire, c. 1871-1892.  From the album Europe.  2008.001.2.001

Bottom Castle Yorkshire, c. 1871-1892. From the album Europe. 2008.001.2.001

Paris 1872.  From the album Europe.  A page showing multiple photographs taken in Paris.  The top left photograph is of  Pailaisides Tuileries (handwritten notation 1871); the top middle of the Bastille Column (handwritten caption Colone de la Bastille).  The bottom photographs show the Hotel de Ville before the commune (bottom left) and after (bottom right). 2008.001.2.001

Paris 1872. From the album Europe. A page showing multiple photographs taken in Paris. The top left photograph is of Pailaisides Tuileries (handwritten notation “1871”); the top middle of the Bastille Column (handwritten caption “Colone de la Bastille”). The bottom photographs show the Hotel de Ville before the commune (bottom left) and after (bottom right). 2008.001.2.001

Palaise du Luxembourg, c. 1872.  From album Europe.  2008.001.2.001

Palaise du Luxembourg, c. 1872. From album Europe. 2008.001.2.001

Versailles, c. 1872.  From album Europe.  2008.001.2.001

Versailles, c. 1872. From album Europe. 2008.001.2.001

L'Opera, c 1872.  From album Europe.  2008.001.2.001

L’Opera, c 1872. From album Europe. 2008.001.2.001

A page of photographs from the album Grand Canyon.  1947-1950.  2008.001.028

A page of photographs from the album Grand Canyon. 1947-1950.  People took photographs of each other at their exotic destinations to show family and friends when they returned home.  Handwritten notation “Morning Tour – Grand Canyon, Ariz.”.  2008.001.028

Cedar Mountain + Painted Desert from Lookout Point - Grand Canyon, 1947-1950.  From album Grand Canyon.  2008.001.028.

Cedar Mountain + Painted Desert /Lookout Point – Grand Canyon // The Water Tower / Grand Canyon, 1947-1950. From album Grand Canyon. 2008.001.028.

Bay Brdige from Ferry, San Francisco, Cali. / San Francisco from Twin Peaks, March 28 1947.  From album Grand Canyon.  2008.001.028

Bay Brdige from Ferry, San Francisco, Cali. / San Francisco from Twin Peaks, March 28 1947. From album Grand Canyon. 2008.001.028

 

Conclusion

Almost since the beginning of photography’s existence, photographers have been documenting their travels in foreign countries abroad.  Improvements in photographic technologies made travel photography increasingly profitable for photographers until the invention of the Kodak camera in 1888, which granted widespread accessibility to photography for the general public and led to an abundance of scenic landscape and tourist snapshots as individuals documented their travels across the globe.

The Lorne Shields Fonds presents numerous travel photographs in many of its photographic, documenting several countries and well-known sites in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  These photographs represent a specific type of photography at a specific point in time.  Today, this type of photography ­­– travel photography – is increasingly affected by the instantaneity possible with digital and cell phone photography, allowing photographs be shared literally moments after they are created.  It is this instantaneity that we must be wary of, as many begin to worry that the perceived importance of sharing these images immediately may detract from the experiences of travel itself.

 

 

References

British Library Online Gallery, curator.  (n.d.)  The World in Focus.  In Historic Photographs. http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/features/photographicproject/worldinfocus.html

British Library Online Gallery, curator.  (2009). Travel.  In Points of View.  Retrieved from: http://www.bl.uk/onlinegallery/onlineex/pointsofview/themes/travel/index.html

Flemming, J. (April 1st, 2012).  From Boneshaker to the Pneumatic Tire.  Ornamentum.  Retrieved from: http://ornamentum.ca/article/from-boneshaker-to-the-pneumatic-tire/

Francis Frith.  In George Eastman House Still Photograph Archive.  Retrieved from: http://www.geh.org/ne/mismi0/frith-sin_idx00001.html

Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Collections.  Retrieved from: http://www.mfa.org/collections/object/the-great-sphinx-at-giza-looking-southwest-334699

Research Photographs at Princeton University, curator. (n.d.).  Global Views: Nineteenth Century Travel Photographs.  http://www.princeton.edu/researchphotographs/exhibitions/

Sandweiss, M. A.  (2006, Winter).  Photography in Nineteenth-Century America.  History Now 10. Retrieved from:  http://www.gilderlehrman.org/history-by-era/art-music-and-film/essays/photography-nineteenth-century-america

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Early Days of Kodak: The Strategies Eastman Used to Form his Legacy

Even today, just over two years since Kodak filed for bankruptcy, George Eastman’s name is unforgotten for the acute business prowess he demonstrated during the formation of his legacy, the Eastman Kodak Company. Often compared to Apple’s Steve Jobs, Eastman was known for his ingenious business strategies that began the mass commercialization of photography and put a camera in every home.

Portrait of George Eastman at age 36.

Looking at Eastman’s childhood, it is no surprise that he became such an incisive business man. Although his father, George Washington Eastman, passed away when he was only six year’s old, he still managed to found one of the oldest commercial colleges in the world, the Eastman Commercial College, that later became part of the Rochester Business Institute. Entrepreneurialism was in Eastman’s genes. His family did not fare well after the death of George Washington, and as Eastman grew up he watched his mother struggle to keep the lifestyle her family had been accustomed to. It could be said that this may have helped to motivate Eastman to follow in his father’s footsteps.

Having shown an early interest in photographs and stereoviews, Eastman’s real journey with photography first began in 1877, when he purchased his first camera to take pictures on a trip he didn’t end up making. At the time, photography was an expensive and labour-intensive hobby that required patience and a lot of equipment. Eastman began experimenting with this camera and before long he had patented his first photographic contributions: a gelatin dry plate emulsion and a mechanism for coating glass plates. With these he began the Eastman Dry Plate Company. By 1881 Eastman had turned his company into a successful and sustainable business, but it was a different invention that truly set the stage for what Eastman’s business would become: film.

George Eastman aboard the Gallia. 1890.

Despite having already established such a prosperous business, Eastman still had bigger plans. At a time when the industrial revolution was still a recent memory, his 1932 biography by Ackerman states the four policy guidelines Eastman followed to encourage the growth of his company:

  1. Production in large quantities by machinery
  2. Low prices to increase the usefulness of products
  3. Foreign as well as domestic distribution
  4. Extensive advertising as well as selling by demonstration

Eastman wanted to find a way to replace the glass from a collodion negative, create a workable holder for that replacement, and build machinery that would be able to efficiently manufacture each invention. He looked to previous unsuccessful attempts at roll-film, such as one by Wernerke from the 1870s, and sought to improve on them and increase their usability. By June 1885, in collaboration with camera builder William Walker, George Eastman had patented and put on the market a form of roll film, a roll holder, as well as a form of sheet paper plates, a more recognizable substitute for glass. With this shift in focus towards his business, the Eastman Dry Plate Company was purchased by the Eastman Dry Plate & Film Company.

In 1889, George Eastman introduced Flexible Film in rolls, a lightweight, non-breakable substitute for glass. The transparent nitro-cellulose roll film base was cast on these 200-foot long tables.

In 1889, George Eastman introduced Flexible Film in rolls, a lightweight, non-breakable substitute for glass. The transparent nitro-cellulose roll film base was cast on these 200-foot long tables.

Because of the contemporary fascination with the photography, as well as the labour intensive traits of the hobby, many people involved in the technology were eager to improve on it. During the late 1800s and into the early 1900s many ideas were popping up and photographers wanted to ensure they would receive the credit for them, by applying for patents. Eastman himself was aware of the need to protect his inventions and made sure to attain patents (through application or buying them from other inventors) for every step of his new film system, a strategy continued throughout the life of the company. He, along with his business partners at the time, bought out all their foreign patents as well, and began to initiate step 3, opening an outlet in London, U.K. in 1884. By 1886 Eastman had placed a man named Joseph Thatcher Clarke in charge of in charge of linking the United States with Europe, to help protect the company’s American inventions.

Many doubted Eastman’s commitment to his early flexible films, and it did not initially catch on with experienced photographers. Consumers, still primarily established photographers, were not able to produce as good of results as they could with their glass plates. However, Eastman had confidence that the inexpensive and effective qualities of this product would eventually lead to mass manufacturing. In reaction to poor public response, Eastman added new products to his business: American film and a developing out paper called “Permanent Bromide”, which yielded better results than his earlier paper-based films. He dreamt of popularizing photography to the extent that everyone would participate in the practice, and added a photofinishing service that could provide enlargements and prints to those who used his films. Eastman now sold films, paper, prints and enlargements, yet there was still one component missing from the Eastman Dry Plate & Film Company that was hindering his products from reaching every household, and that was a camera.

The first Kodak camera, introduced in 1888, sold for $25, loaded with enough Eastman film for 100 exposures. It produced a 2 1/2 inch diameter negative.

The first Kodak camera, introduced in 1888, sold for $25, loaded with enough Eastman film for 100 exposures. It produced a 2 1/2 inch diameter negative.

It was in 1888 that George Eastman coined the word Kodak, a unique, short, memorable name that could not be mispronounced, and unveiled his first box camera along with a new system of photographic image making that anyone could use. Along with the slogan “You press the button, we do the rest”, Eastman had found a new market to sell his products to that experienced photographers had refused to buy. Anyone could purchase a camera pre-loaded with a pre-loaded 100 exposure roll of film, take their 100 shots, mail the camera back to the Eastman Dry Plate & Film Company in Rochester, and wait to have their prints and the camera loaded with a new roll of film mailed back to them. Within the next decade Eastman was able to improve his technology to make photography even more affordable, and his dream a reality.

Ryerson Library Special Collections, located on the fourth floor of the Ryerson Library, holds numerous examples of the formation of the Eastman Kodak Company, particularly in Canada, including cameras, films, photographs and more! To access Special Collections give us a call or send us an email to book an appointment at: specialcollections@ryerson.ca or 416-979-5000 ext. 4996.

References:

Ackerman, Carl W. George Eastman.

Brayer, Elizabeth. George Eastman.

Collins, Douglas. The Story of Kodak.

Jenkin, Reese. Images and Enterprise: Technology and the American Photographic Industry, 1839-1925. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1897.

Souvenir of Toronto: Announcing the Robert MacIntosh Collection on the History of Toronto

Ryerson University Library and Archives is pleased to announce the donation of the Robert MacIntosh Collection on the History of Toronto to the Special Collections department.

2013_007_Memorabilia

A few of the souvenir booklets in the collection, featuring photographs of the major sites to see in the city.  These early keepsakes often included views of Casa Loma, the Canada Life Assurance Company building, the CNE, and Sunnyside pool.

The collection of 141 books was carefully curated by collector, author, and longtime Toronto resident, Robert M. MacIntosh. Ranging in date from 1807 – 1988, topics include historical accounts, biographies of notable Torontonians (including John Toronto himself, Bishop Strachan), tourist keepsakes through the years, maps, centennial publications, and TTC brochures.  

An economist by trade, MacIntosh authored “Different Drummers, Banking and Politics in Canada” in 1992 before focusing his research on the early history and formation of the City of Toronto and publishing “Earliest Toronto” in 2006.

Browse all books in the collection.

2013_007_001_people

Books from the MacIntosh collection focused on significant individuals in Toronto history. Bishop John Strachan (often called “John Toronto”), was a staunch Tory, the city’s first Anglican bishop in 1839, and superintendent of schools.  An ideological rival to many of Strachan’s views, Jesse Ketchum was a representative in the 10th Parliament of the then Upper Canada. A writer and artist, Elizabeth Simcoe was the wife of Upper Canada’s first Lieutenant Governor John Simcoe and her diary is an important account of life in early York (Toronto).

2013_007_streets

Some of the volumes that detail the history of specific streets in the City of Toronto.  Yonge Street, the major artery through Toronto and once the longest street in the world, began construction in 1793 to link the new capitol of Upper Canada to Lake Simcoe.  Jarvis street, now home to the only reversible lane in Toronto, was once one of the most affluent areas of the city.  Taking it’s name from the original 1818 manor belonging to Dr. William Baldwin, Spadina now houses Toronto’s Chinatown, one of the largest in North America.

To view this or any of our other collections, give us a call and make an appointment: 416-979-5000 ext. 4996. Or email us at specialcollections@ryerson.ca.

2013_007_Celebrations

Some examples of celebratory publications and reports in the MacIntosh Collection.

Polaroid versus Kodak: The Battle for Instant Photography

In 1947, Edwin Land unveiled a new process that would change the direction of amateur photography. It was a one-step, one-minute process that produced a fully finished photograph, something no one had ever seen before. This process was the beginning of a new genre of creating photographs called instant photography. The camera that was made for this in-camera process was the Land camera, named for the inventor of synthetic polarizer and the instant film process, and the founder of the Polaroid Corporation. Many different models of these first Polaroid cameras, as well as many later models, can be viewed at Special Collections in the Ryerson University Library Archives, along with examples of different Polaroid photographs and instant film.

Polaroid Land Camera, model 95a

Polaroid Land Camera, model 95a. Manufactured 1949-1950.

Polaroid dominated the market for this unique and easy photographic process that was a huge hit with amateur and professional consumers. However, also among the shelves of Special Collections, are examples of cameras, prints and film made by a number of different manufacturing companies who tried to get in on this popular genre of photography. None were nearly as successful, as no one could compete with the Polaroid name or their (what is often referred to as brilliant) marketing campaign. Stars such as Steve Allen, Jack Paar, Sir Lawrence Olivier, Mariette Hartley & James Garner, Blyth Danner, Candice Bergen, and The Muppets loaned their talents to promoting Polaroid products at a time when many stars were wary of doing commercials.  

Then, in 1976, Polaroid was finally faced with their first real competitor for the instant photography market, an already established manufacturer of photographic equipment and materials: the Eastman Kodak Company. But Polaroid was prepared to deal with their competition, and by 1986, all of Kodak’s instant photography films and cameras had been pulled from the market, and Kodak ceased to manufacture any products that would directly compete with Polaroid’s instant photography niche.

Polaroid JoyCam, ca. 1995.

Polaroid JoyCam. ca. 1995.

In fact, from 1963-1969, the Eastman Kodak Company had actually manufactured Polaroid’s instant film for them. At this time, Kodak was planning to introduce themselves to the market with a packfilm design, but later, after Polaroid released their SX-70 system in 1972, Kodak decided to go in a different direction and follow Polaroid with an integral type process instead. Although Kodak’s design differed from Polaroid’s in numerous ways, Polaroid filed suit against Kodak mere months after the release of the new products for the infringement of 12 Polaroid patents, accusing Kodak of illegally incorporating instant photography technology into their products. They claimed that during the 10 years the Eastman Kodak Company produced instant photography materials, they had cost the Polaroid Corporation $12 billion.

Kodamatic 940. 1983.

Kodamatic 940. 1983.

The final charges, announced in 1990, did not amount to $12 billion (what many considered a huge exaggeration), but at $909 million, they did come close to a billion. Found guilty on 7 of the 12 patent infringements after a trial in 1985, Kodak was forced out of instant photography the following year.  The widely reported ruling was bad news for customers who had purchased a Kodak Instant camera.

The case did end favourably for Kodak though, especially after the high demands from Polaroid, who felt that Kodak had intentionally copied their technology. After a 14-year legal battle, in 1991 Kodak was finally ordered to pay Polaroid a total of $909 million, $925 million with interest, the largest settlement ever paid out until last year when Apple was awarded $1.049 billion in damages from Samsung infringements.

As part of the settlement, Kodak needed to provide compensation for customers who had bought any of their instant cameras between 1976 and 1986 and would no longer be able to purchase film to use in them. Owners of Kodak instant cameras were invited to call a toll free number and register themselves in order to receive a settlement packet. The packet was mailed out to those who registered, and provided customers with instructions of how to receive a rebate check or certificate, which often involved removing the name plate off of the front of the camera and mailing it in as proof of purchase.

Kodak Colorburst 250. ca. 1979.

Kodak Colorburst 250. ca. 1979.

The Eastman Kodak Company did manage to recover after the Polaroid lawsuit, and with the sales of their popular movie films were able to regain their success. Unfortunately, the company was much slower with the uptake of the digital market, and in 2012 filed for bankruptcy due to lack of demand for the primary products made by their company, photographic films.

If you wish to pay tribute to some of Kodak’s instant photography cameras, you can make an appointment to come and see examples such as the Kodamatic 940, the Kodak Colorburst models 250 and 300, and the Kodak Trimprint 940 (with nameplates still intact!), as well as a wide range of instant cameras, film, and equipment made by Polaroid and other instant photography manufacturers that Special Collections keeps in their Heritage Camera Collection and the Kodak Canada Corporate Archives.

More information

Have a look at some of the original television advertisements for the Kodak instant Cameras.

For more detailed information on how the instant photography process works, have a look at this article by Tom Harris at How Stuff Works.

To make an appointment with Ryerson Library Special Collections, contact:

specialcollections@ryerson.ca

416-979-5000 ext 4996

Sources

Frezza, Bill. “Polaroid, Kodak, Apple: No One Escapes the Winds of Creative Destruction” Forbes, Sept 5, 2012. http://www.forbes.com/sites/billfrezza/2012/09/05/polaroid-kodak-apple-no-one-escapes-the-winds-of-creative-destruction.

Holusha, John. “Kodak Told it must Pay $909 Million.” New York Times (1923-Current File), Oct 13, 1990. http://ezproxy.lib.ryerson.ca/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/108482495?accountid=13631.

“Instant Camera Settlement.” Kodak Service and Support. http://www.kodak.com/global/en/service/faqs/faq0098.shtml.

“Kodak Settles Dispute With Polaroid the Fight Over Instant-photography Technology Took 15 Years and Cost Kodak $925 Million in Damages.” The Inquirer, July 16, 1991. http://articles.philly.com/1991-07-16/business/25783982_1_polaroid-patents-instant-cameras-instant-photography-business.

McCarty, Dawn and Beth Jinks. “Kodak Files for Bankruptcy as Digital Era Spells End for Film.” Bloomberg, January 19, 2012. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-01-19/kodak-photography-pioneer-files-for-bankruptcy-protection-1-.html.

Wurman, Richard Saul. Polaroid Access: Fifty Years. [S.I.] : Access Press, 1989. 

The Man behind the Glass: Robert Hackborn

Pictured is Hackborn visiting the Ryerson Library and Archives on March 7, 2013 with archivist Curtis Sassur. Hackborn explains the technique behind the matte glass. (Photograph by Dave Upham, University photographer)

Pictured is Hackborn visiting the Ryerson Library and Archives on March 7, 2013 with archivist Curtis Sassur. Hackborn explains the technique behind the matte glass. (Photograph by Dave Upham, University photographer)

Ryerson University students and researchers now have access to an extensive collection of materials related to Robert Hackborn’s work. For nearly four decades, Robert Hackborn worked at the CBC in the design and production of sets and visual effects for television shows. On display now at the Special Collections Library are some of these materials generously donated by Hackborn.

Robert Arthur Hackborn was born in 1928 in Toronto, and attended the Ontario College of Art (OCA) from 1948 to 1952. In 1955, Hackborn embarked on what would become a long and important career in the design and production of sets and visual effects for television when he took a position in the nascent Television Production unit at the CBC. His often leading-edge contributions to the many shows he worked on are of great cultural and technological significance.

While at the CBC, Hackborn helped to design a staggering array of variety, comedy, musical, sports, news, children’s, and scripted television programs. Starting with The Juliette Show in the late 1950’s, and continuing into the 1990’s, Hackborn’s designs and visual effects defined and enhanced the production of a vast number of shows at the CBC.  Among those featuring Hackborn’s input were: Mr. Roger’s Neighbourhood, Mr. Dressup, The Tommy Hunter Show, World Tour ’67, Wayne & Shuster, I Married the Klondike, Fraggle Rock, The Royal Canadian Air Farce, and The Kids in the Hall.

Hackborn also worked as a production designer with director Donald Brittain on several CBC/National Film Board (NFB) co-productions including: Canada’s Sweetheart: the Saga of Hal C. Banks and The King Chronicles.

This section of the display shows photographs taken by Hackborn during his career which document the processes of working on a television set.

This section of the display shows photographs taken by Hackborn during his career which document the processes of working on a television set.

During his career, Mr. Hackborn was also responsible for the execution of a very large collection of photographs that document the processes of working on a television set.  With a professionally trained eye for composition and his camera, Mr. Hackborn systematically documented the television production process of the shows that he worked on.  Featured in some of these photographs are Jim Henson and Fred Rogers.

On display are a group of color photographs taken by Hackborn, a sweatshirt, a children’s picture book, and figurines related to the production of Fraggle Rock.

On display are a group of color photographs taken by Hackborn, a sweatshirt, a children’s picture book, and figurines related to the production of Fraggle Rock.

Fraggle Rock

As part of the Robert Hackborn Collection, Ryerson has several objects, textual records, and photographs related to the production of Fraggle RockFraggle Rock was a popular children’s television show developed by Jim Henson and featuring his beloved live action puppets. The original English language version of the show ran for five seasons and 96 episodes between 1983 and 1987. On display are a group of photographs taken by Hackborn that show Jim Henson and others working with puppets on the set of Fraggle Rock, a sweatshirt and a children’s picture book produced as part of the show’s promotional marketing campaign, and three specially commissioned ‘Doozer’ figurines used by Hackborn during the set design process.

“The Fraggle Rock Crystal Cave” matte shot. This painting, executed by Hackborn, was used as a background effect on the show. The blue portion acted like a green screen and pieces of glass protrude from the canvas. (2012.005.06.41)

“The Fraggle Rock Crystal Cave” matte shot. This painting, executed by Hackborn, was used as a background effect on the show. The blue portion acted like a green screen and pieces of Plexiglas protrude from the canvas. (2012.005.06.41)

Hackborn is credited with the art direction for Fraggle Rock during the inaugural 1983-84 season, and as a set designer for two episodes in the second season.

The Glass Matte Shot

During his career at the CBC, Hackborn worked to pioneer various special visual effects techniques for television production including the “Glass Matte Shot”.  To achieve this effect, images were painted onto a transparent glass matte placed in the foreground of and realistically inserted into the “real world” shot.  This type of special effect was typically used to add facades onto buildings, or to create historically accurate ‘period’ effects for shows set in earlier times.  The CBC film drama I Married the Klondike, and several sketches from The Royal Canadian Air Farce feature great examples of how the glass matte technique was used. The “Glass Matte Shot” process relied on a strong proficiency in lens-angle mathematics and a mature artistic vision in order to generate a realistic perspective and convincing effect. Shooting techniques like these were an important cost-saving tool on many CBC productions.

The “Glass Matte Shot” technique was pioneered by Hackborn during his time at the CBC.

The “Glass Matte Shot” technique, which incorporates reflective transparent glass matte into the shot, was pioneered by Hackborn during his time at the CBC.

Robert Hackborn retired from the CBC in 1993 after 38 years of service. Included in the collection here at the Ryerson Special Collections are photographic and textual documentation of the various film-based special effects pioneered and employed by Hackborn in his work, as well as documentation of the earliest show development process for the major children’s television programs Mr. Dressup and Mr. Rogers’ Neighbourhood. There are also records related to the creative processes behind Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock, including images of, and correspondence with Henson.

The Robert Hackborn collection represents a valuable resource for students and academics studying the history of Canadian television production and cultural output.

The Robert Hackborn Display at the Ryerson Special Collections Library.

If you would like to see this display and part of the collection, or for more information, please drop by the 4th floor of the library, or make an appointment: specialcollections@ryerson.ca. You can search our collection online at http://minisis.library.ryerson.ca/m2a/.

The Hackborn collection has also been profiled in the summer 2013 edition of the Ryerson University Magazine. “http://www.nxtbook.com/dawson/ryerson/alumni_2013summer/#/32.

Photojournalism: Tools of the Trade

New Exhibition: Special Collections display cases, 4th floor of the Ryerson Library the Ryerson Library building.

Photojournalism: Tools of the Trade

In recognition of the grand opening of the Ryerson Image Centre, Special Collections has put together a small exhibition featuring images of journalists from the Black Star collection with their cameras of choice and a selection of similar cameras from the Historical Camera Collection.

Drop by the 4th floor of the Ryerson Library to see the exhibition.

GRAFLEX CAMERAS

Developed and produced in the United states, the Graflex camera was favoured by photojournalists since it’s introduction in 1910.  This version from the 1940’s uses 4” x 5” sheet film (mounted in a film holder in the back of the camera) and the flash attachment used 1-time use flash bulbs.  The strong flash gave photographs the telltale high contrast look of news and paparazzi photographs from the 40’s and 50’s.  Dorothea Lange used a similar Graflex model (series D) to shoot iconic images for the Farm Securities Association from 1935-1939.

TWIN LENS REFLEX CAMERAS

Rolleicord Model 1 manufacutred 1934-1936Woightlander Brilliant, manufactured in 1937.Twin-lens reflex cameras use two lenses, one to view and focus through (above) and one to take the photograph (below).  A 45° mirror sends the image from the viewing lens to a piece of glass (called ground glass) for focusing.  The photographer looked down through the camera, which was usually at waist level.  These cameras used medium format, or 120, film. Rolleiflex, introduced in 1929 and used a square format (it was difficult to photograph with the camera placed on its side).

BRASSAï & THE MEDIUM FORMAT

Hungarian photojournalist George Brassaï began his career with a Voigtlander camera and continued to photograph with the Rolleiflex, long after many of his contemporaries began using the more convenient 35mm models.  He did not like the square film format, however, and cropped most of his images.

LEICA 35mm CAMERAS

Leica Camera

Leica iif camera, produced between 1953 and 1955. (2007.005.7.009)

Produced in Germany by Leica Camera AG, the Leica Camera popularized the 35 mm format and is considered to be responsible for the beginning of modern photojournalism.  The camera used standard cinema film, and it’s small size made it ideal for photographing fast paced, and often dangerous, news events.

HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON AND THE LEICA

French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004), often referred to as the father of photojournalism, began using the 35mm format in 1931, when he purchased a Leica camera, much like the one displayed here.  Cartier-Bresson photographed often for Life Magazine, travelling to places like Russia and China,

Cartier-Bresson described his style as the Decisive Moment:

“it is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as the precise organization of forms which gives that event its proper expression.”

35mm CAMERAS

Mamiya MSX 500, manufactured c. 1975: 2011.018.273Nikkormat EL, manufactured between 1972-1976This became the most popular film and camera format, both among professionals and amateurs.  Sturdy and multifunctional, with interchangeable lenses, these cameras found their way into civil wars, riots, and natural disasters around the necks of daring photojournalists.  Once exposed, the film was wound conveniently back into light-tight metal canisters that would protect the film until it could be developed.

CHARLES MOORE

American Civil Rights photographer Charles Moore is most known for his photographs of the Children’s Crusade in Birmingham Alabama in 1964.   His powerful images of the struggle for civil rights were published in the book “Powerful Days”. Photographs like these helped raise awareness of the need for a Civil Rights act in America.

For more information or to see more from the Ryerson University Library Special Collections, email specialcollections@ryerson.ca or call 416-979-5000 ext. 4996.

For more information on the Ryerson Image Centre or the Black Star Collection, please visit their website at http://www.ryerson.ca/ric/ or cal 416-979-5164.

 

The Wilhelm E. Nassau Camera Collection at Ryerson University

1920s studio camera from the Wilhelm E. Nassau Camera Collection

The Heritage Camera Collection more than doubled in size this past January thanks to the generous donation of approximately 500 cameras and pieces of camera equipment from Wilfrid Laurier University. The collection improves the holdings in European and Japanese manufacturers, and provides a greater selection for research in early camera designs. These cameras are on display inside Special Collections.

"Mouse trap" camera developed by William Henry Fox Talbot, ca. 1834 (replica made 2006) from the Wilhelm E. Nassau Camera Collection

Watch Camera from the Wilhelm E. Nassau Camera Collection

Polaroid 110A from the Wilhelm E. Nassau Camera Collection

Crystar camera next to Pony 135 for size comparison. The Crystar measures only _. From the Wilhelm E. Nassau Camera Collection.