Old Moscow Photos Reappear
May 10, 2011 6:33 AM   Subscribe

"Howe snapped more than 400 photographs in Moscow and St. Petersburg with his hand held Graflex camera, a state-of-the-art device that allowed its user to shoot without a tripod. His photographs of pedestrians, street vendors and aristocrats are rare glimpses of everyday life before the upheavals of World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution — and sparked huge interest in Russia among history buffs and local museums."
posted by gman (20 comments total) 85 users marked this as a favorite
Neat set! Troubled though by the "Copyrighted" indicator on each page. If these photos are from 1909, how can they be copyrighted? Or is it because they were unpublished that they're able to be copyrighted now?
posted by the dief at 7:11 AM on May 10, 2011 [3 favorites]

this one is great: Moscow Cucumber Street Vendor - The natives eat them whole, rinds and all, as we eat apples.

thanks for this.
posted by jammy at 7:27 AM on May 10, 2011

These are friggin amazing and oddly enough, since i just spent two weeks working in Moscow and staying in Red Square, precisely what I had been searching for while there - pictures of what my daily walks looked like before the Revolution. Love it!
posted by spicynuts at 7:33 AM on May 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

Some of Howe’s dispatches could have been written yesterday: “The only people were afraid of the camera were the police, and they made me put the machine back in its case. … It was easy sailing however, as I always got the picture I was after before the nearest cop would get his eye on me,” he wrote.

The Department of Motherland Security, no doubt.
posted by three blind mice at 7:42 AM on May 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

Also make sure to see the photo set from Berlin 1909. I found it really haunting, looking at all the opulence, splendor, and military might, knowing what the world was going to go through just five years later.
posted by MrVisible at 8:14 AM on May 10, 2011 [3 favorites]

Thanks for the comments. The unbelievable reponse to the photos makes all the years of preserving and reconfiguring formats of the negatives and scrap books worthwhile. My great-grandfather would be amazed - or with him more likely highly amused. I have been facinated by all of his photos and collateral material on the trip since the earliest childhood I can remember - some 45 years ago or so. Andrew
posted by cranewoods at 8:24 AM on May 10, 2011 [30 favorites]

@ cranewoods
I am sure that your great-grandfather is proud of your efforts. This is a beautiful collection.
Well done sir.
posted by dougzilla at 8:48 AM on May 10, 2011

Very nice !
posted by lobstah at 8:54 AM on May 10, 2011

I love this bit about the Moscow Thieves Market:
When Konstantin Stanislavski, the founder of the Moscow Art Theater, planned to stage The Lower Depths play by Maxim Gorky (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lower_Depths), a group of actors, directors and designers made an excursion to one of the bunkhouse in the Khitrov market to see with their own eyes the environment and people to be imitated on the Moscow Art Theater stage. They hardly survived there. Their saver was their guide Vladimir Guilyarovsky, nicknamed the King of Moscow newspaper reporters, who often had visited the Khitrov market, and was familiar with both the policemen and gangsters of the area (he was highly reputed among them for his unique physical strength and dauntless courage) He managed to stop the beginning of the robbery and possible slaughter of the theater people by outrageous burst of obscenities which overwhelmed the mob, made them slack-jawed out of surprise on hearing the fantastically virtuous word combinations, and the final result of mob’s stupefaction was a storm of applause. Happy ending!
posted by malocchio at 9:03 AM on May 10, 2011 [5 favorites]

Wonderful photos—thanks for the post, gman, and for your work, cranewoods!
posted by languagehat at 9:33 AM on May 10, 2011

I'm curious about the copyright status as well. How does that work?
posted by -t at 9:40 AM on May 10, 2011

I previously consulted a copyright attorney about the copyright issue. About a dozen of the photos were published in articles he wrote back in 1909 - they are all photos of race horses. The work I have had done to the restore the negatives (including the previously published ones, which are a small percentage of the collection) and adjust format is the basis for establishing copyright on the balance. I have not dwelled on it though. More importantly than that to me, believe it or not the images you are seeing are all very low resolution compared to my original scans from the negatives which are 10 to 20 times higher resolution than anything on the web - they are just amazing in quality (I also inherited one of his Graflex cameras - a picture my father took of my sister with the Graflex was an entire page in Life Magazine back in the late '50's - the camera was already an antique at that time, dating to 1919). My goal in all of this is to find a sponsor to do a traveling exhibit of prints back to Moscow, whith the exhibit eventually finding a suitable permanant home. He was Andrew Murray Howe II, I am Andrew Murray Howe V - I am mainly just concerned about being a good stewarrd of this remarkable guy's legacy.
posted by cranewoods at 10:02 AM on May 10, 2011 [8 favorites]

Not to bore anyone, but there was a return trip in 1911 that Murray could not attend because he had become head of the advertising department for Union Carbide (founded by the owner of the horses). Here is what was said about Murray in an article by the journalist that replaced him on the 1911 trip:

“If my gossip in this letter is confined to American, vs Russian, horses, it should be recalled that as of this writing have been here only five days, and it would be presumptuous of me to attempt anything with much “local color” until a later date when I hope to be able to brush in some – although I feel that my efforts will seem rather low-keyed after the bold strokes of Mr Howe.

In closing I must add that there is mourning in the land of the Czar at Murray’s non-appearance. When the natives learned that the Billings stable was to return, it was supposed, of course, that he was to return with it, and the fact that he was not would undoubtedly cause the city to be draped in crepe, were it not for the fact that the Imperial Majesty himself is due for a visit, in about two weeks in consequence has the whole city in a perfect orgie with paint, calsomine, gold leaf and upholstery, streets are being repaved, windows polished, droshkies refurbished and harnesses besilivered, regardless of expense. The Czar however will depart May 21st (May 8 Russian style) and thereafter nothing will dispel the pall of gloom – for Murray is recorded in local history as the greatest Russian-American that has ever appeared in the shadow of the Kremlin. Innumerable legends exist regarding is prowess in the consumption of vodki and sakouski, of the famine in caviar and sterlite that followed his departure, and the drought in the wine cellars at the Metropole, the National Continental, the Imperial Club, and at “The Yards”. There is a Murray Howe Memorial Society composed exclusively of chefs, butlers, matres-de-hotel, waiters and bell boys. Who are still living in luxury from the shower of rubbles and kopeks that made his trail luminous. There is a similar society composed of droshky and troika drivers and ownership habitually depend on the largess for their sustenance hold periodical mass meetings upon the plaza in front of the Grand Opera House and petition the Czar to issue a ukase demanding his return: while night before last, at the performance by the Imperial Ballet of “La Belle au Bois Dorant” when the premires daseuse, the beauteous and sprightly Mlle Balaschava , learned that the American trotting legation was present and that Murray Andrevitch was not among them, she was so overcome with grief that she was obliged to omit her grand climactic “ ps-seul” in the last act, and a physician had to be hurried to her dressing room. But the biggest gloom prevails in the Thieves Market, where the most affectionate remembrances exists of the tall Americanski’s fraternal visits. The king of pickpockets has been inconsolable ever since he was told that his comrade from across the seas would probably never return to his old haunts, where, three years ago, they used a foregathering with much mutual enjoyment. From all which it will be understood that such an ineffectual understudy as myself is laboring under disadvantages impossible to overcome”
posted by cranewoods at 10:08 AM on May 10, 2011 [11 favorites]

That was beautiful. Thank you.
posted by jsavimbi at 10:56 AM on May 10, 2011

(The Tsar cannon is awesome, big balls and all)
posted by doctornemo at 11:04 AM on May 10, 2011

Exquisite photographs.
@ cranewoods: In my opinion, it should absolutely be possible to show them in Moscow. I am more or less familiar with the Moscow photography community. There are at least three different venues that would with a high probability be interested: Moscow House of Photography, Meglinskaya Gallery, and Gallery of Classical Photography. The first two are well established and the best you can get in photography in Moscow, the third one is new, and all I can tell about it is that it seems to be a serious endeavour. For all three venues, funding will be decisive. In my opinion, steps could be: contact the galleries, check who is interested, and get an idea of the budget that is necessary - than look for funds via the cultural department of the US-embassy in Moscow, or other funding organisations. If you are interested, let me know, and I will give you the names of the responsible people by memail. Their sites are: www.mdr.ru; www.meglinskaya.ru (site seems down, but gallery is not); and www.classic-gallery.ru. Good luck.
posted by megob at 12:43 PM on May 10, 2011 [3 favorites]

Actually, scanning and cleaning photographs is not sufficiently transformative for copyright. See here, but (most) of your images are probably still protected by copyright due to them being unpublished. As long as your great-grandfather died less than 70 years ago (check here), your images are still copyrightable. But I'd look *real* hard at the other evidence that your copyright attorney gave you, because maybe they got something else wrong? Anyway, worth digging into.
posted by the dief at 12:43 PM on May 10, 2011

Dief - agreed and thank you. He falls under the less than 70 rule. At the time we were looking at the 1909 photos and a set of 1000 aircraft photos from a World War II collection of my fathers (also deceased). He had indicated that due to the inhertence from the original photographer, the 1909 were clear cut (we did not get into the few that were published in 1909). The aircraft photos get very gray depending on what is done with them (have not done anything as yet). Same lines as the links you posted. Thanks for the input - very much appreciated.
posted by cranewoods at 12:58 PM on May 10, 2011

megob - I have been in touch with two Moscow museums (through Jon Earle at The Moscow Times) and one of the galleries you mentioned. They are all interested, and I am now in the "how much and how do I get a sponsor" phase. I am hoping the Mocow Times article will help. Thanks!
posted by cranewoods at 1:09 PM on May 10, 2011 [2 favorites]

posted by LobsterMitten at 4:56 PM on May 10, 2011

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