I don’t know the difference between a ship and a boat, but I know what I like when it comes to vintage photography.

I personally believe that the key to a successful collection of vintage photographs is specialization.  Without it, I’d spend too much money and just end up with 1,284 random pictures.  To keep things in check, I have decided to specialize in black & white photographs of women on or near ships, boats, and various sailing vessels ($3 or less, please).  I particularly like it if it looks like the women are about to head off on a journey.  I’m not sure why I decided to focus on such a thing, but it probably has something to do with this picture.  It’s one of the first vintage photographs I ever purchased and it remains one of my favorites.

I recently went into an antiques shop down on Pioneer Square and told the proprietor what I was looking for.  I apologized if it seemed like a strangely specific request, but he told me it was nothing compared to what some people collect.  I didn’t ask him to explain; I just asked him where I should look.  He showed me a couple books labeled “Ships”, but they were mostly full of cruise-related ephemera like old menus, tickets, and luggage stickers.

I ended up having to go through the store’s stacks of unsorted snapshots.  I saw pictures of farmers, cats, dogs, drugstores, automobiles, livestock, sweethearts, mountains, swimmers, airports, newborns, corpses, forests, tree stumps, and a whole bunch of soldiers.  It took me about 45 minutes, but I finally found what I was looking for.  I found a picture to add to my collection.  Here it is:

I’m quite happy with it.  I can’t remember much from my high school photography classes, but I think the model and the photographer knew a bit about what they were doing.  If it weren’t for the background man in the checkered jacket, I think this picture looks like it could’ve been featured in an old 50s magazine like Life or Look.  I’m not sure what the article would’ve been about, though.

And while I’m here, I guess I should share the other pictures in my collection.  Here’s what I’ve found so far (hover over the image for my notes):

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25 Responses to I don’t know the difference between a ship and a boat, but I know what I like when it comes to vintage photography.

  1. Cori says:

    Lovely! Really, a lovely thing to collect.

  2. that is such a niche thing… I wonder if I even have a lady on a ship or boat in my collection

    • M-----l says:

      I know myself well enough to know that I have to pick a niche or I’ll end up with boxes and boxes full of vintage photographs. That’s what I did with baseball cards when I was a kid. I think I ended up with 36,000 of them. I don’t want that to happen with pictures; I don’t have that much money.

      I hope you’ll scan and post any appropriate pictures that you find in your own collection. Keep your eyes open in the shops, too. You can be my Pacific Northwest Agent and earn finder’s fees!

  3. phantomxii says:

    Boat (n): what to call a ship to piss off the captain.

    Ship (n): a big boat.

    Your new acquisition is gorgeous—the light and exposure, the details, the pretty girl. (She’s probably a pretty girl. It’s a bit hard to tell, what with the scarf and the squinting.)

    Is Big Balding Dude over there wearing a bathrobe? Probably. Hell, you’re on a cruise; why even get dressed? Maybe he’s her dad.

    • M-----l says:

      I think the background guy is wearing a very ugly coat. I imagine it being a half dozen different shades of orange and gold…sort of like my Grandmother’s old couch. I always wonder who the people are in these kinds of pictures and how they’re related to each other, where they are, when they are, etc. Sometimes there’s printed info on the back that helps explain things a bit. There’s nothing on the back of this one except a penciled in “$2”.

      (Sometimes I wish I was a pretty girl!)

  4. crankypants says:

    Very nice photo! I need to take a hint from you about specific collections. I try not to collect much of anything anymore, but when it comes to old photographs, yeah, it’s a good idea. In Chicago Michelle and I must have spent the same amount of time as you did sorting through a big pile of pictures. I ended up spending over $30, I think I bought 17 photos. i didn’t have super specific guidelines but most of mine were dogs, kids at a boys camp, people who reminded me of current celebs, and a bicycle photo for my sister. Oh and a series of school pics of a goofy looking kid whose name probably was Roy.
    Well done.

    • M-----l says:

      I hate to contradict my entire post, but I think what will end up happening is that I’ll eventually expand “women on ships” to “people on ships” to “people on trips” to “anything that even slightly speaks to me at all”. That’s sort of what happened with my CD collection. When I first started, I limited myself to James Taylor CDs and albums that were somehow related to him. I got to about 30 CDs and then the restrictions came off. I think you’ve got a good idea of what happened next.

      It’s already happening. I recently bought this one despite the fact that it didn’t meet the specific requirements mentioned above. It’s just a cool picture and the guy sort of reminded me of Aldous Huxley. I thought I would regret it if I didn’t buy him.

  5. crankypants says:

    Oh I like that one too! I have a 1960s version of Amy Winehouse and a 1930s (?) version of Anderson Cooper.

  6. aubrey says:

    Very thrilling, unknown-quantity-type photos. Love them all. Personally, I think the jacket is checked in colors of sage and gold. I’d wear it.

    I think vintage proprietors appreciate it when you come in with a specific interest. (I have a fairly large collection of menus – did any of those ships menus look interesting?) Ladies-Ahoy…why not?

    • M-----l says:

      I’m glad you approve. I consider you the style maven of black & white photos, vintage postcards, antique books, etc.

      I flipped through the menus without paying them much attention. Perhaps they’d interest a menu collector like yourself. The shop is called Fairlook Antiques…if you ever make it up to Seattle.

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