Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Through A Glass Plate Darkly

October 23, 2013
   We love old photographs at True West and we print a lot of them. I asked our production manager, Robert Ray, to give me an educated guess on the number of photos we have run for 2013 and Robert, in typical fashion, said, "I'll count them." Okay, he just walked into my office and here is his guesstimate:

"We print approximately 1,400 every year."
—Robert Ray

   In our next issue, January 2014, we decided to run the Best 100 Photos of the Historical Old West and here's how we decided. First of all, it's the "best" not the most "important" which we did ten years ago (and Bob McCubbin did the choosing). No, these are the best because after all is said and done, we say so. Ha.

   Some are tired—we've seen them a gazillion times—but some of us never tire of seeing them. These would be your iconic photographs, like the tintype of Billy the Kid, which photo archivist Grant Romer grumbled when looking at all the "noise" in the photograph it's "like looking at enraged mud turtles." And, the dead Daltons, the mustachioed Wyatt Earp and the kneeling photo of Geronimo. And, of course, the Fort Worth Five. And we had to choose a few of those simply because, no matter how many times we run them, they are still "the best."

   We left a few out because we just ran them in a recent issue. These would include, Mountain Charlie (October), Rose of Cimarron (November) and Peaches (December). One we did decide to repeat is Lotta Crabtree (which ran in the November "Soiled Doves" issue), because Robert Ray found three versions of the infamous photo of Lotta smoking a cigar and we thought that warranted a rerun. That and the fact I get to use the headline: "Whole Lotta Love."

   Got up this morning and went for a walk up Old Stage Road and got inspired to do a little study on the phenom of staring at these old images, through the dust and the emulsion of age and damage:

Daily Whipout, "Through A Glass Plate Darkly"

"Libraries are not made; they grow."
—Augustine Birrell