Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Boxes...for Sepia Saturday 166

Click to read about Sepia Saturday.

I love Boxes !!

Well, just take a look at my Box Room ! 

I will always plump for a nice box in a supermarket rather than a polythene bag. Let me see what I can find in my box room of Sepia interest.

Ah yes !!

Mum's first Camera...Kodak Brownie....a real Box Camera

My mum was born in 1920, and this is what she got in July 1930 for her 10th birthday gift in from her parents:

I doubt she ever  lost it, but she was sure to get it back if she did!!
According to Wikipedia...The Brownie popularized (woops!... popularised....serves me right for copying US written text) low-cost photography and introduced the concept of the snapshot. The first Brownie, introduced in February, 1900, was a very basic cardboard box camera with a simple meniscus lens that took 2¼-inch square pictures on 117 rollfilm. With its simple controls and initial price of $1, it was intended to be a camera that anyone could afford and use, hence the slogan, "You push the button, we do the rest."

The camera was named after the popular cartoons
 "The Brownies" created by Palmer Cox, a Canadian illustrator and author.
I also have Mum's photo album of her summer beach holidays which covers her aged 5 to 17,  Rhyl 1925, Borth 1926 and 1930, Sheringham 1928, Hunstanton 1929, Filey 1931, Criccieth 1932, (including days out on Snowdon and at Portmeirion), Chapel St Leonards 1933, Tenby 1934 and 1937, Chapel St Leonards 1936.

Its the photos at Borth in 1930 that must include the first taken with her new camera:

Mum aged 10 at Borth, 1930, with her pet spaniel Billy, and cousin "Tim" Ian  Scholefield. The first prints. The viewer will notice that the photos, presumably taken by an adult, were still very much in the "snapshot" category, but so what? They do absolutely capture the atmosphere of young children loving their beach holiday.

You will probably remember last week's blog where I dealt with "Happy Families" and included a shot of a "Less Happy Family". Thank you for being patient. Here it is again, and I believe it is the very first photo taken by Mum herself, and worthy of printing and a place in her album. Clearly Mum had not mastered the unfortunate art of "say cheese" and getting her subjects to compose themselves. In fact her first photo was brilliant as it showed how it really was, a bitterly cold Welsh summer day......nobody for miles around except her mother, father aunt and my great grandfather William Barnes at age 82. We are a very British family made of stern stuff!

Borth beach....alternate view in colour. Courtesy BBC.

The negative envelope, with a very Welsh negative !!

Here are some of my other boxes that I like and which have Sepia qualifications:

Left overs in the stationery cupboard.

More left overs from the stationery cupboard, and relief for the geese.

Great grandfather William Slater's ivory billiard balls.

Not much demand for sealing wax these days.

"Part Rag Plain Flat- Green Blotting", by the late *Martin Rogers of Kirk Ireton and
the School of Art and Design, University of Derby.

The End

*Post Script

In writing this blog and including the last photograph I searched for my past friend Martin Rogers who was a very close friend when we both lived in Kirk Ireton, Derbyshire, in the 1980s and 1990s. I was very sad to read of his recent death. As the artistic Luddite that I am, I learnt so much from Martin, I understood his work just by knowing him so well, the wonderful coffee and food produced from his Aga, and his generous quiet nature. I remember him taking delivery of the several reams of green blotting paper to guillotine for this work. I am so glad I put this little box away safely and can share it with you now.


  1. I just love that picture,it is worth seeing again. Your Mum must have been pleased. It is typical of a Britain that will be past (or is it passed) when us old Fogies have gone.

  2. I like boxes too. I love that cold beach photo. I don't understand the green blotting photo.

  3. The Box Room really is a box room, what a green way of storing stuff. I always think it's a shame when packing cases are torn up and not re-used, so well done. I enjoyed leaening about your Mum's camera and seeing the results too.

  4. The only thing missing fro this post is a ball of string. Your box of sealing wax reminded me of my daughter coming in from the local club early in the morning and singing "Puff the magic dragon" at 3 am - "And brought him strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff"

  5. Such an interesting collection of stuff IN boxes, no less. I wish I had thought of this angle.

  6. I enjoyed your orginal "take" on the theme, and especially the photographs taken by your mother. That could only be a British summer holiday - wrapped in hats and blankets on the beach!

  7. Okay maybe I'm being silly, but I just enjoy looking at all these photos from way back when- back in the day, especially when it triggers a memory, mostly from my childhood! Great photos!

  8. The Kodak Portrait Brownie No 2 was first released in 1929, so your mother really was up with the play. It was available in a large variety of colours, and used 120 roll film. This would have produced prints measuring roughly 2¼" x 3¼" - I presume that's what the snapshots in the album measure? Does the Kodak film wallet have any indication where or when it might have been processed?

  9. Never thought of sealing wax being in boxes.

  10. We have both gone in the direction of Box Brownies. The photographs you illustrate taken by your mother are almost familiar to me : same size, same times, same backgrounds. It was a great period - the coming of age of "free photography".

  11. I didn't see your family photo when you posted it before but it's wonderful! The gentleman in the hat certainly doesn't look happy.

  12. Didn't realize how much I fancy boxes until I saw some of your collection and felt envious! After reading just 4 or 5 SS posts, I'm thinking of several directions I could have taken with the prompt that never occurred to me.

  13. Your mum's family photo reminds me of cold summers in the 1960's in Maine USA. Though not at cold as Wales!

  14. I Wonder What The Collective Noun For Boxes Is?
    Your Mum Took Some Good Informal Photos.

    1. Well foxes is a "skulk", "leash", "troop" or "earth", so lets go for a "bulk" or "boop". But we may be disappointed to learn that its a "pallet load".

  15. A super post, Nigel, that takes on all 6 sides of the theme inside and out. Preservation of such a personal history of both photo and camera is rare. I also have several similar boxes of bits and pieces. Having original boxes with original stuff is likewise rare. Vintage boxes containing smaller boxes are the most rare.