There was great excitement in the Museum recently when we were given on loan one of the rarest exhibits ever, an Edison Idelia Phonograph, 65794, from 1908. Fewer than 500 of them were produced and this may be one of the rarest ones remaining, still in their original form. It has a mahogany cygnet horn and a sapphire stylus, not steel. It plays Edison Amberol cylinders, two minutes and four minutes, and there are approximately 70 of them in the collection lent to us, including Romain's 'The Trail of the Lonesome Pine' - photographed. Martyn has succeeded in getting the Phonograph to work and we have found a company in the USA which can supply a new rubber tube to connect the horn to the Phonograph.
There are also a number of 78RPM Welsh records from the 1930-40s in the collection, including David Lloyd singing Aberystwyth, as seen in the picture, and Jac and Wil singing 'Oh Tell Mam I'm coming' on the Welsh Qualiton label.
“The Manipulation and Editing of Photography” was Sue Clark's subject when she came to talk to us during May. She referred to the phrase, “The camera never lies”, but by the end of the evening, we were all of the opinion that it is not possible to believe what we see in a photograph. She had a number of pictures to show us, including the first photograph to be changed, or 'edited', ever in 1846. Since then, a number of different ways of editing and manipulating photographs have been used. One of the first methods was to paint the negative before printing, and so it was possible to add things to the original picture. This led to a number of stories about ghosts, and even about a monster in a lake in Scotland. It was also possible to delete something, such as a cigarette in Paul McCartney's hand, or to change something in the original photograph by painting. During the Victorian period when people were dissatisfied with the portrait taken of them by the photographer, a‘retouchist’ was on hand to improve the pictures.
Another method of editing photographs was to take more than one picture and combine them; a notable example was'The two ways of life' picture created from 32 negatives over six weeks. This led to the creation of composite photographs, by cutting pictures and putting them together and creating a collage. This was a useful way of creating a picture of a crowd of people, such as college students. It was also a good way of producing propaganda, and many satirical montages were produced between the two world wars.
Today, computer software is responsible for editing photographs, and it is used widely and very successfully, often with very unexpected, very serious results among the young, as they see the ultra-thin bodies of their heroes. Yes indeed, the camera can lie!
A warm welcome to everyone to our events at the Museum during the Mid-Summer Festival:
11/06/19, Quiz Night, 19.00 - 21.00.
15/06/19, A Technical Hands-on Day for Families, 11.00-15.00.
21/06/19, a lecture by Mike Farnworth on “The Welsh in Liverpool”, 19.00.