…And in this case, we mean the desire to show off – not just what we own – but the fact that we can afford it!
‘Conspicuous consumption’ has long been a popular way to assert one’s success in life, if only by the rather tawdry yardstick of money. The child with the new phone, the youth with their flash trainers, yuppies with designer dogs and the middle aged man with the sports car, these cliches have equivalents from every previous era.
While still expensive, wrist watches became were quite common by the time of the Great War. Many were repurposed from old pocket watches so tend to be quite prominent – although that’s no bad thing when you want to show off! These photographic portraits from the time show the sitters in poses which allow them to do just that.
While it’s quite common to find posed portrait photographs of soldiers (from both wars), all too often the identity and fate of the subject is unknown.
Not so with these examples. In the first a member of the Parachute Regiment, Private Sadler, poses for a photo taken in Italy. The note on the back of the photo reveals that he was killed during the ill fated Arnhem expedition of September 1944.
On the other side of the lines was a young German airman who gave this photo of himself to a friend in October 1941. The recipient noted that he was killed in a bombing raid in Tobruk on 15th November 1942. A British serviceman later obtained the photograph and made the note ‘Killed in Italy. Rest in Peace’. However, it seems quite likely that he wrote this about the person carrying the photograph rather than the person it features.
In a world dominated by visuals and the technology to capture photos anywhere at anytime, the humble autograph has largely been superceded by the ‘selfie’. Why ‘settle’ for a signature when a photograph is easier to share and authenticate – especially when it looks better on your time?
That’s all very well for modern day evidence that you’ve been in the presence of greatness. But the stars of yesteryear won’t be providing any more photo opportunities. The only way to establish a link with them is to track down what they left behind. Original, authenticated autographs can change hands for considerable sums. A Buster Keaton autograph might be had for £380 while good examples of Charlie Chaplin’s fetch over £4,800. Bring the likes of Marilyn Monroe into the discussion and the bar is raised much higher.
These studio promotion photo postcards are normally auto-printed but every now and again you may encounter a hand signed one. The late Sir John Mills personally signed quite a few and they regularly make £150 or more. They’re an inexpensive way to start a collection and you never know when an original might turn up…
Certainly one of the most unusual items we’ve ever featured, this is a very rare bootleg recording of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Immigrant Song’.
Dating from a time in the seventies when Western music was banned behind in the Soviet Union, Russian fans would cut records into old X-ray plates. Hence they became known as ‘bone records’. Held up to the light, this one shows the image of a broken shoulder! The rough circular shape is because they were cut by hand and the hole in the middle was often made by a lit cigarette.
Usually, the value is determined by the condition of the record and whether it’s retained its original sleeve with Russian title.