A Detroiter, Circa 1910s by Photographer Charles J. Merz

Real Photo Postcard, circa 1907 – 1918. Detroit, Michigan. AZO Stamp Box.

Price:  $10.00

We’re taking liberties with the title of this post by presuming that the subject above lived in Detroit. In any case, he’s a handsome guy, here in dark suit, light-colored tie and pocket handkerchief, and a detachable collar. He’s seated in a carved wooden chair, which most likely, belonged to the photographer. And we wonder if this chair could have folded – is that a seam we’re seeing on our right above the armrest, or is it just part of the carving?

The time-frame for the card is based on the AZO stamp box, all four triangles pointing up, and the fact that it is a Divided Back card.

As for the photographer:  Charles John Merz, son of Christian Merz and Elizabeth Trost, was born September 14, 1872, in Michigan. Both parents were born in Germany. He married Buffalo, New York native,Tillie Bischy on June 5, 1901. Their daughter, Olive, was born about 1905. And, it turns out that Merz was in the photography business for decades, which is unusual for the time, given that most photographers (and there was so many that went into the trade) had either a rather short-lived career, or had moved on to other occupations by the 1920s. (It would be interesting to see statistics on this subject.)

Charles appears to have gotten started in the photography business around age 20, or a little earlier. The 1893 city directory shows he was working for, or with, photographer, Herman Baron, at 49 Monroe Ave in Detroit. By 1896 he is with the C. M. Hayes & Co. studio, and listed as a printer. The most recent city directory with the Michigan Avenue business address was found for 1919. On the 1920, ’30 and ’40 census records he is listed as a commercial photographer. By 1930 he, Tillie and Olive, are living in Livonia.

In searching for other photographs or cards several can be currently found for sale online. But, the Clements Library at the University of Michigan holds an old album containing photos from 1888 to about 1910, about 147 total, including a self-portrait. These images are not online but see the link below for more info.

Sources: “Real Photo Postcard Stamp Boxes A-B.” (Playle.com). https://www.playle.com/realphoto/photoa.php. (accessed May 24, 2022).

Year: 1880; Census Place: Frenchtown, Monroe, Michigan; Roll: 595; Page: 399B; Enumeration District: 178. (Ancestry.com).

R. L. Polk & Co.’s Detroit City Directory, 1893. pp. 232 and 847. Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995.

R. L. Polk & Co.’s Detroit City Directory, 1895. p. 961. Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995.

Year: 1900; Census Place: Detroit Ward 10, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: 751; Page: 3; Enumeration District: 0109; FHL microfilm: 1240751. (Ancestry.com).

Michigan Department of Community Health, Division of Vital Records and Health Statistics; Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952; Film: 73; Film Description: 1901 Tuscola-1902 Branch. (Ancestry.com).

Year: 1910; Census Place: Detroit Ward 14, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: T624_686; Page: 13B; Enumeration District: 0217; FHL microfilm: 1374699. (Ancestry.com).

Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918.

R. L. Polk & Co.’s Detroit City Directory, 1919. p. 2840. Ancestry.com. U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995.

Year: 1920; Census Place: Detroit Ward 15, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: T625_814; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 457. (Ancestry.com).

Year: 1930; Census Place: Livonia, Wayne, Michigan; Page: 5A; Enumeration District: 1015; FHL microfilm: 2340810. (Ancestry.com).

Year: 1940; Census Place: Livonia, Wayne, Michigan; Roll: m-t0627-01833; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 82-177A. (Ancestry.com).

“Charles J. Merz Photograph Album (1888 – ca. 1910).”  Charles J. Merz photograph album, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan. (accessed May 24, 2022).

Smiling Young Man in Shaped Border RPPC

Divided back, Real Photo Postcard, unused. Circa 1920s. AZO stamp box.

Price:  $7.00

A happy guy, great pose for the camera, wearing a large-check patterned suitcoat, pencils in the pocket (maybe he was an accountant, an architect, an artist….), tie, hat pushed back, and glancing up and left. He chose a nice, diamond-shaped border to frame the image, it might remind you of a Native American (i.e. design on a Navajo blanket). See our category “Shaped Borders” from the Home page for more.

Two Swedish Women

Divided Back, Real Photo Postcard, circa 1907 – 1910. Photographer:  Fred A. Grinolds. CYKO stamp box.

Price:  $15.00

“These two girls came 3 miles last Sunday to have me take their picture they are both Swedes and are engaged to be married soon they cant talk very good English yet write me if you are coming to Cal”

I think these ladies may be sisters, there seems to be a definite resemblance. Don’t you love the hats? In particular, I love the long cloak of the woman on our left, with that double row of decorative buttons. Too bad the photographer didn’t include their names in the above note. But still, we appreciate the fact that he did write a description, and we appreciate the sense of occasion  it would have been for the women, Swedish immigrants, both engaged to be married.

As for the photographer, he was Fred Albert Grinolds, born in Oil City, Pennsylvania, March 2, 1879, mother’s maiden name Swartz. Fred must not have been in the photography business for very long:  November 15, 1911, he married Elba Vera Lovelass in Marshfield, Coos County, Oregon, his occupation given as “ratchet setter” (at a sawmill). By the 1918 WWI Draft Registration, he was working as a millwright at the Old Dominion Company (a copper mining operation) in Globe, Arizona. Nothing was found for him online under the photographer heading, but it sounds like this would have been in California, before he got married. He and Edna had two daughters, Edna and Bertha. Below is Fred’s obit found in The Modesto Bee, August 22, 1960:

Sources:  “California Death Index, 1940-1997,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VPWR-WK9 : 26 November 2014), Fred A Grinolds, 21 Aug 1960; Department of Public Health Services, Sacramento.

Year: 1910; Census Place: Newport, Coos, Oregon; Roll: T624_1280; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 0052; FHL microfilm: 1375293.

Registration State: Arizona; Registration County: Gila County. Ancestry.com. U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918.

“Fred A. Grinolds.” The Modesto Bee, August 22, 1960. Monday, p. 10. (Newspapers.com).

Boy In Tire, California 1929

Old photo, decorative border, 1929.

Price:  $5.00          Size:  About 3 and 7/8 x 2 and 7/8″

Well, we know the place and year of this photo from the easily read license plate. (A definite departure from the usual norm of trying to “will” a plate into focus. 🙂 )

It’s an Art Deco design that frames this cute shot of a little boy sitting inside the upright spare (Goodyear) tire. He’s in overalls and wearing a couple of strands of beads, with a big smile and clutching something in one chubby hand. An adult, probably his dad, is in the background. As for the car – Model T Coupe? We’ll have to check with our go-to site for car questions, Antique Automobile Club of America. There is no writing on the back (though from a genealogy standpoint we feel like we’re looking at somebody’s grandpa, with great-grand in the back) but it’s a nice slice of Americana – back when the family car was also one of many play destinations for the kids.

A Beautiful Family

Real Photo Postcard, unused. AZO stamp box. Circa 1910 – 1930.

Price:  $2.00

This postcard was found in Salinas, California, in an antique shop, next to the photos from the prior post. It was thought, at the time, that there was a link between the two (as in maybe the man in this postcard was the photographer) but, on second thought, I don’t think so (just based on the research from the prior). But anyway, a lovely family. I love the mom’s dress with the embroidery, the daughter’s delicate cotton dress, the father and son, both wearing ties.

Alamos, Sonora, Mexico, 1940s

Eleven black and white photos, circa 1940s.

Price for the set:  $40.00       Sizes vary, see each photo.

Here’s a group of eleven vintage black and white photos taken in Alamos and La Aduana, Sonora, Mexico, circa 1940s. They were found in an antique store in Salinas, California. A sticker appears on the back of two of the photos showing, “J. V. Ryan, 3425 Champion St., Oakland 2, Cal.”  He may have been the photographer.

There are multiple possibilities for J. V. Ryan in Oakland, too bad we don’t know the actual given name. Nothing shows up for the name at that particular address in census records or city directories. The person that does come up, at 3425 Champion St., is Charles A. Weck. His census records show him at this address since approximately 1935, occupation mining engineer. This makes sense, as I think these photos have a mining connection, as you’ll see in one of them. The best assumption is that they may have been taken by either Ryan (a possible miner?) or Weck; we imagine an employer sent one or both down to the Alamos area in some type of mining connection.

Sunshine in Alamos…..

Size:  3 and 1/2 x 3 and 1/2″

Three girls and a bell…..

Size:  3 and 1/4 x 3 and 1/4″

A hammock on the porch…..

Size:  About 3 and 3/8 x 2 and 1/2″

An old street…..

Size:  3 and 1/4 x 3 and 1/4″

 

 El Camino Real…..

Size:  7 x 5″

La Aduana, shrine in background. The “fountain has never been dry in 200 years…..” 

This fountain was not found in quick online searches. It’s unknown whether it’s still there and still running. The tower with two bells in the background is believed to belong to the  Temple of Our Lady of Balvanera in La Aduana, based on photo matches online.

Size:  3 and 1/2 x 3 and 1/2″

Cacha Pomba? Center of the big silver mining district…..

Size:  3 and 1/2 x 3 and 1/2″

Shelter from the sun…..

Size:  About 5 x 4″

Casa Ruins, Alamos, Mexico…..

Size:  7 x 5″

Plaza de Armas…..

Size:  7 x 5″

Three Burros…..

Size:  7 x 5″

Sources:  Year: 1920; Census Place: Oakland, Alameda, California; Roll: T625_91; Page: 9A; Enumeration District: 129. (Ancestry.com).

Year: 1940; Census Place: Oakland, Alameda, California; Roll: m-t0627-00436; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 61-196. (Ancestry.com).

Temple of Our Lady of Balvanera. https://explore-sonora.com/temple-of-our-lady-of-balvanera/ (accessed April 1, 2022).

In a Field of Cabbage

Vintage photo from film reel, circa 1940.

Price:  $2.00         Size:  About 2 and 1/2 x 2 and 3/8″

I picked this photo up at the same time as the one in the previous post. Presumably, they came from the same person or family. This is an odd one, though. And I’m not sure if that’s really a cabbage field, just my best guess. This group sure seems pretty intent on looking down at….something. The soil, insects? No idea. I pictured maybe the guy in the foreground, in the white sweater, might be the younger guy from the prior post at Treasure Island. (Maybe.) Then pictured he and his uncles (not in this picture, and just my imagination from the Treasure Island one) are sightseeing and ended up in the Salinas Valley or the Central Valley or somewhere else in California, south of San Francisco. (It probably is California.) Was there a “U Pick” kind of thing going on back then, like apples or pumpkins? But nothing shows in old newspapers for advertisement. Or, maybe they were a college group. The one guy does have a college sweater on, hard to tell from where, though. So, maybe they’re all “ag” students and this is a field trip. One thing’s for sure (and I love it), they certainly are all well-dressed!

Treasure Island, California, 1939 or 1940

Vintage photo from film reel. Circa 1939 – 1940

Price:  $10.00          Size:  About 2 and 1/2 x 2 and 3/8″

See the next post for a possible related photo.

Treasure Island, San Francisco, California:  Three very smartly-dressed gentlemen, of Asian descent, pose next to a sign which points the way to the Parisian theater extravaganza, Folies Bergère, which was held at the California Auditorium. In the background is the California Building on the left and the San Francisco Building on the right. (The tips of the “pillars” for lack of a better word, that we’re looking at there, between the two buildings, are cut off in the photo.) And that is what was called the Lake of the Nations, or Pool of Nations, directly behind the flower bed.

Treasure Island is a man made island that was built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to host the Golden Gate International Exposition (GGIE), a world’s fair, that helped to celebrate the openings of the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge and the Golden Gate Bridge. The island had originally been scheduled to become an airport, after the fair was over but was instead turned over to the U.S. Navy, who used it for training grounds and education for a number of years. And, it’s very faint, but you can see one of the bridges in the background.

Check eBay for images of Folies program ephemera. For more on the history of Treasure Island and the GGIE, including videos, see the Treasure Island Museum.

Sources: Treasure Island, San Francisco. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treasure_Island,_San_Francisco (accessed January 23, 2022).

Folies Bergère. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Folies_Berg%C3%A8re (accessed February 14, 2022).

Golden Gate International Exposition. n.d. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Gate_International_Exposition (accessed February 14, 2022).

Treasure Island Museum. https://www.treasureislandmuseum.org/media (accessed February 14, 2022).

Three Gents

Real Photo Postcard, unused. Circa 1908 – 1918. AZO stamp box.

Price:  $5.00

I believe these guys, or at least the two on our left, may be brothers, due to their resemblance to each other, though admittedly, there is a tendency to see family links where there may be none. Human nature, I think. Or, you might just imagine them as buddies or business partners. We wonder where the photo was taken. That looks like an American flag flying from that second story window on the left, crossed with another flag, which we can’t make out. Those could be decorations for some type of celebration draped over the iron balcony, like trimmings in support of an upcoming or just past Independence Day parade. The only wording that’s easily readable on the buildings behind the gents is “Free Reading Room.” Though, some historian might be able to recognize the design on the window to the left of the door to the reading room, which would be a possible clue for location. Oh, then there is some other wording showing – that last line looks like a name that starts with “McShe…” something Irish or Scottish. Easy to miss, but it’s on the building showing between the two guys on our left.

Last but not least, the stories from the background….a guy walking, and two older guys seated, passing the time of day, inside a business probably, some place that needed a large doorway, maybe for deliveries.