When I was putting together yesterday's post and wanted a picture that was obviously fabricated, I remembered seeing a large collection of old-fashioned "tall-tale" postcards somewhere on the web. Turns out the one I found is from our own local Wisconsin Historical Society site, which has been doing a great job of putting its excellent collections of vintage photography online. The whole collection is formally known as "Exaggerated Postcards 1900–."
Not too many photographers know this—or, if they do, they don't think about it often enough—but State historical societies can be great resources for seeing original vintage photographs. The late John Szarkowski immersed himself in the WHS collection early in his career, and Michael Lesy drew heavily on the WHS archives in putting together his famous 1973 book Wisconsin Death Trip (surely something close to the antithesis of the postcards under discussion).
Whether you find such spoofy, goofy tall-tale postcards charming or alarming is up to you, of course. (Something just occurred to me—I wonder whether a there's any correspondence between a liking for these postcards and a liking for verbal puns? I wonder if our favorite punster, Herman Krieger, is reading this. Maybe he could be our bellwether on this.) Kinda fun to see a lot of them together, though.
Mike (Thanks to Andy Adams)
Featured Comment by Herman Krieger: "Actually, my photos are rather straight; it's the captions that give some people corniptions."