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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.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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The Pantitorium: 1938

The Pantitorium: 1938

August 1938. "A cleaning and pressing shop in Urbana, Ohio." 35mm nitrate negative by Ben Shahn for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.

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Mr. Shahn was not averse to using Leitz's "Wintu" right angle viewfinder on his camera's accessory shoe for those sneaky shots.

Sneaky Ben

My guess he's the head in profile facing right. He was deliberately facing away from his subjects, pointing his small 35mm camera toward them unobtrusively (perhaps even partially hidden in his coat) in order to capture them candidly.

[Sneaky Ben used a 35mm Leica with a special right-angle viewfinder. You can see his profile reflected in many of the storefront shots. - Dave]

How did he do that?

Ben Shahn's reflection is noticeably absent in the photo. Darkroom technique, or vampirism?

[He is indeed reflected in the glass. Who can figure it out? (Hint: We've been through this before.) - Dave]

You're Next!

A Pantitorium was a shop where you could get your pants pressed while you waited, in addition to the regular cleaning services.

When After a Job

"When After a Job -- You Can't Afford to Look Untidy. The Man With a Good Job Doesn't Want To -- The Pantitorium"

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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