View Full Version : Old Photography Magazines!

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06-07-2006, 10:40 AM
Last night, one of the guys in the camera club I belong to gave me a stack of about 15 old photo magazines, and 5 or so magazines called "The Agfa Diamond".

The Agfa magazines are dated 1937 thru 1941, and the non-Agfa magazines are in the 1933 thru 1937 range. The non-Agfa magazines are "Photographic Digest," "American Photography,"Better Photography," and "The Pocket Photo Monthly."

I've been having a grand time looking through these! Cripes, the ads alone are great! :)

06-07-2006, 10:42 AM
I love looking at these types of magazines. Sometimes they show up at library sales as well. People drop them off there and the library doesn't need them so they get sold. Looking at the ads is the best part!

- Randy

06-07-2006, 11:02 AM
I find the articles are often more helpful than articles in current mags, Roger and Frances excepted, of course. They are more likely to talk about technique and improvising than what tool to buy next.

06-07-2006, 11:05 AM
Good point. There is a definite focus on technique over gear in the older photo journals.

- Randy

06-07-2006, 12:54 PM
I find the articles are often more helpful than articles in current mags, Roger and Frances excepted, of course. They are more likely to talk about technique and improvising than what tool to buy next.

Many of those old mags contain relevant information on technique in one issue than can be found in a typical contemporary book. I've learned a lot from them.

Quite useful for us folks who like the old stuff...:D

These old magazines can provide the necessary know-how (including the needed spells, incantations, and potions!) to resurrect the long dead (methods of photography, that is!)

And surprisingly, I've picked up a few which have would apply to the newer processes (d***t*l included) which often are far simpler and more elegant.
For instance, the chromogenic BW negatives as we know them today aren't exactly new. One article from a 1949 "American Photogapher" described a method for tamer highlights in 35mm film: pyro development followed by silver bleach to leave a brownish dyestain image without bulletproof densitities in the emulsion. That's one of the touted features of a typical chromogenic! :)

06-07-2006, 01:15 PM
I find that the old Photographic Annuals have a lot of value as well. The images are very different than those produced today, so they provide some interesting insight into the changes in photography over the years.

- Randy

06-07-2006, 02:50 PM
Also handy to have some of the older issues around when shopping for equipment. I bought my LF enlarger based on an article in a 1940s magazine. The auction description didn't give the format, just the name.

Aesthetically, I actually prefer many of the 40s-50s photos over what is published today. So much of today's work seems to be trying to show the dirt and pain of life.

Jim Chinn
06-07-2006, 03:02 PM
I have bought a few of the "Camera Annuals" from the late 50s and early 60s at used book stores and I have a set of 1890s publications called "Sights and Scenes of the World" which contain full or 1/2 plate reproductions. Sort of a competitor to National Geographic a suppose.

Of course before to much longer my collections of 1980s American Photographer and Camera and Darkroom will be antiques.

Roger Hicks
06-07-2006, 04:40 PM
I must have hundreds of original photo magazines from the early 20th century onwards, and books from the 1880s onward. I agree without hesitation that there is much in them that is still extremely valuable today.

Not all, however. I also have the Taschen's 'Camera Work -- The Complete Illustrations 1903-1917' and I have to say that it's an awful lot of very bad pictures and pretentious drivel -- but then, I was underwhelmed by the Steiglitz exhibition in Cologne a few years back. A clear illustration of Sturgeon's Law, I'd say ('90 per cent of anything is rubbish').

I thank DBP from the bottom of my heart for the kind words and would use this as a heaven-sent opportunity to plug The Photo School at www.rogerandfrances.com where we try to maintain the old tradition of taking the best pictures we can without being beholden to advertisers and plugging expensive kit. Sure I plug Leica but I've been using them since I borrowed my girlfriend's Leica II. It cost her twenty pounds (call it $30) in about 1970; I bought my IIIa a few weeks later when she wanted it back; and I just love Leicas. But I also use about 20 other cameras, from a Retina IIa that cost me 15 euros (a tenner, twenty bucks) three years ago to a 10x8 inch De Vere. I haven't yet shot a single pic with the 12x15 Gandolfi but I'm working on it. I just bought some new lens panels (plywood, not echt Gandolfi) today.

We freely admit that some of the illustrations to the Photo School articles ('modules') aren't brilliant but this is because we need to say 'this is how you do this'. If you read the modules; say, "I can do better"; and then do so, we account this a success. Besides, the Galleries should be better.

Much of www.rogerandfrances.com is free, so you can see what you're getting, but if you want to subscribe we'd be pififully grateful. Why not take a look?



06-07-2006, 10:11 PM
I would argue that you plug rangefinders, not Leicas. Or did I miss a bunch of articles about the virtues of the R-series?

Roger Hicks
06-08-2006, 04:35 AM
Sorry, I always forget about those...

Bear in mind that when I first started to lust after a Leica, the Leicaflex didn't exist. I still have difficulty in remembering that they aren't called Leicaflexes any more.



06-08-2006, 10:53 AM
Well, here's a little snippet from the October, 1935 issue of "The Pocket Photo Monthly," page 600:

If you are equipped for home processing, positive-negative developing and printing, and have not done so, try this. Expose a roll of positive film (Weston Meter speed #6) in your camera usinf fair daylight lighting. Process by developing in D76 ten minutes, or DK50 five minutes, or D72 diluted four to one, for four minutes, fix and dry. The D76 is best as it is a softer developer. Make a print from same in regular manner. (sic) If you have not done so before, you will be surprised that you get fair to good pictures, if you have not shot your subject of too contrasty light. Avoid a white object in direct sunlight against a dark background. Measure your light condition for the highlight.

Now isn't that something! :) OH! In keeping with "Nostalgia Week," yesterday I bought a Kodak Duaflex II with flash attachment, two bulbs, instructions, a close-up lens thing-y, in a carrying case for $7 US at an Estate sale. I don't know why I bought it... it just looked so cute! And the shutter fires. haha :cool:

06-08-2006, 10:56 AM
HEH!! I just found an article describing how to make your own developing reel for roll film! haha How cool is that! :D

06-08-2006, 10:58 AM
That's the stuff! It's just a blast to read articles like that after seeing the stuff that is in more modern magazines. By the way, I did the same thing a while ago. I got a Holiday Flash gift set, complete with manual and bulbs, still in the box. I'll never shoot with it, but it just looks neat. I can just imagine someone getting this set as a gift when it was new.

- Randy

06-08-2006, 02:46 PM
I picked up a book from 1939 on how to make color prints. It's all about how easy the carbro process really is.

tony lockerbie
06-09-2006, 08:32 PM
Hi BW girl, I totally agree that old mags are a treasure trove of information and as a collector the ads are what draw me in.
The printing quality of the photos in the old BJ's are beautiful even if the text is pretty heavy going.
I still have all the copies of Camera and Darkroom that I bought back in the seventies and eighties, a great magazine indeed. Is there a modern equivalent out in the US?
The only mags that I buy now are Black and White photo from the UK and View Camera from the US.

06-10-2006, 12:56 AM
From the "letters" section of the June 1940 issue of "Minicam Photography", a gentleman from Marlborough Massachusetts wrote:


May I say that I am an Old Timer in phtography, starting in the middle "Eighties" as a kid, with a 4 1/4 x 6 1/2" camera and a Dallmeyer landscape lens, doing all my developing and printing. Since then I've owned many cameras and travelled far, taking pictures all over the West, from the Arctics to Mexico- with not a thing to show for that part of the taking as everything of that sort was burned in a cabin at my ranch in the Colorado Mountains years ago. At present I own just two cameras: a 9x12 cm Linhoff equipped with a Turner-Reich Convertible f/6.8., the best all-around lens I have ever used for the work I try to do; a Series D Graflex- 3 1/4 x 4 1/4" - equipped wit a 6 1/2 inche, Zeiss Tessar, f/4.5.

I am interested only in landscapes, trees, flowers, animals, and occasionally, the small human-animal. I still stick to plates, considering this material far superior and a hundred percent easier to process than any sort of film. In fact, if I were forced to use film, cut, pack, or roll, I would give up photography with pleasure. I have never seen an enlargement made from film, if glass supports were necessary, that equalled an enlargement from a plate.

Tiny negatives do not appeal to me and I'd as soon go to hell for pasttime as to try and process those postage stamps-pardon the expression. I punched cattle for wages for many years, not in the movies or a drugstore either! but on the real Range where ten gallon hats and goatskin chaps were unknown. The smallest and only film camera I have owned was a Rolleiflex; a fine camera, but taking a picture too small to interest me.

I like MINICAM a lot, though I'm not thrilled with Hollywood in any way, Candids, Make-up, or bathing beauties photographed on a bum rock in the Grand Canyon. But you give lots of valuable information.

J.B. Bradlee Marlborough, Mass."

This really made my day when I first read it. Taught me two things: luddites aren't a new breed (of course they started off in the late 18th century bashing textile machinery :) )....and that the XXX vs YYY vs ZZZ kind of things we encounter now in photography have always been with us ! :D

06-10-2006, 01:55 AM
I used to sit in the University basement for hours, sometimes missing classes, and read through the old magazines. First heard of Adox from a way back magazine.

06-10-2006, 09:03 AM
I love it. Now I feel the urge to go back and read the letters sections of the old magazines. Up until now, the most recurring theme in mine, most of which are from the early 40s, is how to improvise in light of rationing. I particularly like one article on making ornaments from used flashbulbs. How the world has changed.

06-10-2006, 10:47 AM
I picked up a book from 1939 on how to make color prints. It's all about how easy the carbro process really is.

I found a step-by-step article this morning on making prints using this process.

I'm wondering if people here would want to read some of these articles... think I should make a list of some of them & post it? I'd be more than happy to scan the articles and put them in the database if anyone would want to see them.