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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Roll Play: 1901

Roll Play: 1901

Anytown, U.S.A., circa 1901. "A quiet game." 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Come On Dice!

Daddy needs a new pair of shoes!

Shoeless pose

That shoeless kid, there, wearing what looks like papa's hat, wears shoes all the time. They're too small for him, by at least a size. Witness the toes: habitual curling-in, toenails bunched up at the nailbed, callused DIPs and PIPs, and the looks-nice-from-here-but-probably-hurts arched big toenail.

Meanwhile: does the kid with the cap also have a wad of something stuck back against his gums? I didn't see the seeds, either, and was thinking he's stepped in tobacco-spit. Watermelon = much better.

Whatever the circumstance, this image is endlessly evocative. Yowza.

Smoking Allowed

Looks like wooden match scratches on the wall next to the boys. Some smokers were tall and some shorter -- and mostly right-handed!

In the back pocket

I expect that the bottle contains shoeshine. Note the shine box on the step. Wonder how many customers noticed that the shoeshine boy was barefoot or in worn-through soles?

Shoeshine Mister?

Seeing the kit next to the barefoot boy made me wonder if he is the owner due to the irony of shining others' shoes when you have none of your own. That brought to mind the bible quote regarding "the cobbler's children have no shoes." A friend of mine whose dad owned a small grocery store said he grew up eating only the day old (or older) groceries that could no longer be sold while the freshest mdse. was up for sale. I have an air conditioner repair man who does not have a/c in his own home. These are streetwise kids if they can figure out how to play craps at such a young age. I still cannot figure it out and I've passed my "threescore and ten."

Once at a party an inebriated friend was making fun of my ethnic group and said that we painted onto our bare feet white socks and black shoes. The observant spectator in the doorway is provocative. This photo would make a wonderful painting. It brought to mind this entire myriad of emotions and more. Sorry to be so verbose. Have a nice Sunday.


Watermelon! I see it now. Thanks.


Looks like the barefoot roller was captured during the all important finger snap after the roll (To ensure they come up a winner). The game is probably Cee-Lo. And you're right, Mr. Watermelon should have slept in that day.


It makes me wonder who was murdered before the picture was taken!

[Mr. Watermelon, with a knife. - Dave]

This one's on me

No shoes on one and worn through shoes on the other. I wonder what is in the bottle in his back pocket. Perhaps a little young to indulge.

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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