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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • NORWAY IN SEPTEMBER, c. 1920s

A Close Shave: 1915

A Close Shave: 1915

Queens County, New York, circa 1915. "Shaving at Broad Channel." Continuing our weekend visit to the cottage colony on Jamaica Bay, Long Island. 5x7 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection. View full size.

 

Progress?

Just because the razors mass marketed today have more blades than I have fingers on my hand, doesn't make them better. In 1915, the razor this guy is using is probably a Gillette Old Type or Single Ring, a razor any collector would love to have, and any man who loves his face should LOVE to shave with. If you get past the marketing hype and explore the history of these razors, you might find yourself in for bit of a treat.

The reclining figure.

It’s not a duck-like head but it’s the figure’s right arm folded in a way that her hand stands as a pillow for her face. Yes, certainly must’ve been based on a cartoon. I can imagine it being a birthday gift from his friends. Whether he liked the cartoon or because they mocked him on being a sleepyhead. Don’t blame me if I fill the blanks with a lot of perhaps...

The faucet

I think that faucet works by squeezing, sort of like a pair of pliers. I've seen very old water fountains with that sort of doodad.

The doodad over the window.

Is that a sculpture of a reclining nude -- with really big feet?!

[Tchotchkologists please identify. Inscription reads "The Sleeping [Beauty?]." Head looks a little like a duck. Cartoon character from the funny pages? - Dave]

What the?

Is that some fertility goddess carving on the ledge behind him? Somehow, it fits.

The Vase

I love the vase.

Definitely a kerosene stove

Note the cup at the middle of the generator tube. You filled that with alcohol to pre-heat the generator (or vaporiser, in the UK). This is unnecessary with white gas, which is more volatile. I'd like to have that stove for my collection, but I sure am glad I don't have to burn it in the house.

I also like the straight drainpipe, with no trap. Probably none needed, if it dumped straight into Jamaica Bay!

I Love the Details

The reclining nude over the window, his eye in the itty bitty medicine cabinet's mirror, the pinecone pull for the shade, the winged faucet handle.

[Or maybe more like scissors. - Dave]

Big Feet

What is that on the molding above the window?

Hot Water

Seems to be a kerosene/white gas fired burner next to the sink to heat the water that would be in the tea kettle under the sink. The bottle under the table appears to be fuel supply for the burner. Also I am surprised to see that they had wife beater undershirts back in those days. That is a really classic redneck sink brace system.

Studio Apt, 25 sq ft, fully furnished.

Kitchen and Bathroom in the same room.

And just like the Brady Bunch, no..um... Privy shown.

Hot water!

Gotta love water heater. A kerosene stove and a teakettle. I've used the same setup when when I go camping.

Cold Running Water

A kettle and a Primus stove for heating the cold running water. The stand under the Primus and the burner ring above it are not standard accessories, they look like they solve the chronic problem of balancing a pot on a Primus burner.
The British Army used Primus stoves in WWII and many came onto the surplus market. The very large ones had a nasty habit of splitting at the seams under operating pressure shooting burning fuel in all directions.

Newfangled indeed!

None of those crazy traps on that sink drain, just a straight shot down!

A Cold Water Flat?

Note the kettle under the sink, with some type of heating stove for hot water next to it, as well as the single faucet on the sink. Yeah, we have came a long way, man, where shaving in comfort, at least for most of us, is a foregone conclusion. I remember the days, when I nicked myself more than a few times, using a razor not too far technologically advanced from the one in this picture. OUCH!!

Cutting-edge

He's got one of them newfangled safety razors!

 
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