While scanning more prints (and a few negatives and tintypes — I’m actually nearing the end of the task!), I was watching the decently-acted recreation of the demise of the Jesse James and Younger gangs, The Great Northfield, Minnesota Raid.
Now, understand — as the title strongly suggests — the setting is Northfield, Minnesota. That’s just down the road from here. The year is 1876, a brief wink of time ago in geologic terms. I mention this because I’ve been to Northfield. Its elevation today is 910 feet. Its tallest hill can’t be more than 100 feet higher than that. In the movie, however, Northfield has snow-capped mountains in the background and rolling foothills all around. Northfield has never, ever, in geologic time, had mountains — it is sedimentary country that used to be the bed of an antediluvian sea.
Now, maybe the fact the movie was made in the 80s is an excuse. But I’m not buying it. Did they intentionally intend to get laughs from Minnesota audiences? And from anyone who’s visited here? Fortunately, not everyone is so cavalier with settings. Fargo, for example, not only is laughably over the top with Minnesota and North Dakota vernacular and accents, but shows the great prairie expanses in the dead of winter. Sweet Land, a greatly underrated movie is set in a post-WWI Minnesota farming community, and is wonderful in the purity of the portrayal of the rural people and their life on the land of those days.
Mountains in Northfield, MN? You’ve got to be kidding me!
If it weren’t in poor taste to think ill of the dead, I’d be angry with my mother. I have scanned literally hundreds of photos made in the 1880s, 1890s and early 1900s, and some tintypes and daguerreotypes made as early as the 1850s, many of them formal portraits, and some of them gorgeous original prints that one would have hung framed on the wall or set in ornate desk frames.
Many of these prints, however, were stored under really poor conditions in her basement. It’s amazing that some of them have come to me in as good shape as they have. For example, yesterday’s finds included these three absolutely exquisite photos of my grandmother and her two sisters, probably taken in the first decade of the 20th century.
The photos appear to be selenium toned albumin prints pasted within the white ovals in the middle of a heavy, dark olive green-colored board.
For all these old photos, once they’ve been scanned, the resulting PSDs archived, and JPEGs uploaded for my extended family to view and download, they are now under archival plastic in books, or, in the case of these three, in archival ClearBags.
And while we’re on the subject, I’ve now found and scanned two daguerreotypes and well over ten tintypes. Those too will now be much better protected than they have been for the last 150 or so years. I don’t think anyone in my family appreciated how rare (and potentially valuable) they are.
Unbelievable! If only Mother had confided in one of her sons that she had this family treasure just downstairs.
One of several highly contrasty shots from this series.