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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.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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To Build a Fire: 1920

To Build a Fire: 1920

        "Say, Bill, don't you think the girls did a marvelous job setting up the tent?"

California circa 1920. "Briscoe auto at campsite." We'd say it's about time to rustle up some grub. Also we call dibs on that camp chair. Now where'd we put the cocktail shaker? 8.5 x 6.5 inch glass plate by Christopher Helin. View full size.

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Two Couples, One Bed and One Tent

Is this the silent version of Bob & Carol and Ted & Alice?

Gum trees

I'm not sure exactly where they're camped, but it's certainly an odd location -- a eucalyptus forest. "Eucs" (or gum trees to our Australian friends) were planted in great numbers in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Given the location of many of the other photos in this series, I'm guessing the foursome might have been posed in a eucalyptus grove in either Golden Gate Park or the Presidio of San Francisco.

BTW, the piled up eucalyptus duff surrounding their campsite is notoriously flammable.

No Winchesters or Brownings here.

We have a fine pair or Remingtons in this cool pic. It's an easy mistake since both resemble similar guns though. The shotgun is a Remington model 11 and not it's more expensive Browning cousin. The giveaway is that the Model 11 has no shell cut-off switch on the side of the receiver like all A-5's. The rifle is a Remington Model 12. They were a little more streamlined than their more famous competitor Winchester. Kelpie is correct that the shotgun was a Browning design, but the rifle credit goes to J.D. Pedersen.

Where is Smokey when you need him?

Oh Man! That fire, not the mention the stogey that the guy on the right has fired up, are going to ignite that litter they're sitting on. Too bizarre.

Winchester .22 Pump Rifle

Kelpie, we had one of those Winchester .22s at the farm, and at least three generations there learned to shoot with it. It finally got so worn that, in the mid-1960s, it developed a dangerous condition. If there was a live round in the chamber, it would fire automatically when the gun was held level horizontally; no trigger pull required. Of course, my cousins and I thought this was great, but my uncle heard one of us bragging about our "machine gun" and took the gun out of commission.

Later, I had it repaired, re-blued, and re-stocked and it was like brand new, ready for new generations. Wonderful plinker.

Night Moves

If they are all planning to sleep in that tent, and assuming they take a "head-in, feet-out" attitude, arranging themselves in "spoons" positions perpendicular to the tent flap - whoever gets the far left spot will be at the bottom of a heap by morning unless they level out that ticking mattress.

Of course that cat-faced gal with the bundle may be plotting to sleep in the car.

Pressed trousers

The reclining chap must be new to camping judging by his neatly pressed dress pants and, as mentioned, the cigar ready to ignite the whole idyllic scene.

Mr. Browning, I Presume?

I see a nice Browning Auto 5 (A5) 12 gauge leaning on the car. Also, there looks to be a Winchester Model 1890 pump .22 "gallery gun" as well. Both of these were designed by Browning. I have an Auto 5 that shoots like a dream. Wouldn't give it up for anything.

London calling

Let's hope this little foray into the wilderness turns out better than the Jack London short story of the same name.

The fellow on the right is truly Mr. Safety Last. Note his right arm atop (or next to) the head of the ax lying on the ground.

The fellow on the left has his wedding ring on his right hand. (The photo isn't reversed, as evidenced by the car's steering wheel.) That is & was pretty common in several European countries/cultures.

Blazing speed

Next installment: We see just how fast the Briscoe machine can deliver them to safety, once their little campfire sets that mass of bone-dry underbrush ablaze.

Don't try this at home!

Building a fire without a proper fire pit is exceedingly dangerous and shows a lack of needed camping skills!

SHORPY OLD 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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