H. G. Olds. News of an unknown

Abel Alexander y Luis Priamo
(Translated into English by Leigh Fisher)


In memory of Josune Dorronsoro

Harry Grant Olds was an important figure in the history of Argentine photography, of whom little was known and nothing was written, despite many of his images being widely known. We were even ignorant of his first names, since he always initialled his work, an option we respected in the title of this book. There were several reasons for such ignorance. His photographic work was mostly published as postcards for which historians have shown scant interest. Furthermore, though important fragments, postcards are viewed as single pieces that do not easily give an overall view of an author’s work, as is the case with album collections, and thus can conceal or mask, so to speak, the consistency of a sustained production. Moreover, the poor quality of the photomechanical impressions at the beginning of the century and the reduced size of the postcards are likely to confuse or, at least, distract us from appreciating the plastic value of the images. Only after learning that an important archive of Olds’ original negatives had been preserved and the editorial decision was made to publish this volume, did the interest and necessity emerge to investigate his life, career and photography.1

Another reason why Olds is unknown is the virtual non-existence, in the hands of antiquarians, collectors and museums, of albums and copies of his work pasted onto cardboard, materials that historians use to study photographers of the past. Everything indicates that Olds did not edit his views, everyday scenes and popular types in this way. He delivered his photographs without mounts and with a damp seal displaying his name and address on the back. He did not supply, then, the typical clients of the 19th century, the collectors and amateurs, but rather a new type of editorial and commercial market that made immediate use of the images. This distinguished Olds from his predecessors, like Panunzi, Christiano Junior, Alfeld, the Boote brothers, Chute & Brooks, Moody and Rimathé, and made him representative of the transition between the 19th and 20th centuries. This was characterised by the extraordinary revolution in photomechanical reproduction seen in photography, the press and the graphic arts.2 On the one hand, Olds belonged in practice to the 19th century until the end of his career because his professional works do not appear in any format less than 18x24cm. But on the other hand, he was a 20th century photographer, because he published his shots mainly in graphic media using modern printing techniques.3

So far as is known, Olds made no gallery portraits, since he devoted himself exclusively to institutional, documentary and journalistic photography, publicity and landscapes. In some of his few, brief, published advertisements that we know of, he described his speciality: HG Olds. North American Commercial Photographer, said one advertisement that appeared in the Anales de la Sociedad Rural Argentina (Annals of the Argentine Rural Society).4 At the beginning of the century, commercial photography was a new professional field in Argentina. Olds, to our knowledge, was the first to use the name to promote his work. He worked for several years in Buenos Aires without advertising in periodicals, contrary to the current commercial practice of the time. The earliest known concrete reference indicating that he had a photographic shop dates from 1907 and appeared in the Kraft commercial guide. It was directed at the mercantile market, not at the common man who was looking for a place to have his portrait done.5

El Tigre
Buenos Aires, ca 1901


Harry Grant Olds’ death certificate6 indicates that he was American and that he died on 24 December 1943. He was 75 years old, was married to Rebeca Juana Rank, also North American, and lived in Chacabuco 409.7 The legal documents of his estate8 inform us that he had been born in Sandusky, in the state of Ohio, in 1869. He was married on 10 May 1902 and had no children. His parents were Harrison Grant Olds and Georgina Judd Apthorp, who in 1902 lived in the state of Michigan (in Detroit, we know now). He left a sum of nine thousand pesos in deposits and titles, and four hundred hectares of land in the Central Pampas (the name then given to the National Territory of La Pampa) valued at eleven thousand pesos. There was no record of anything related to his profession as a photographer amongst his personal effects.

The Buenos Aires Herald9 dedicated an extensive obituary to him and published his picture. It stated that he was an old and highly respected member of the American community of Buenos Aires, and that he died after suffering a lengthy illness, which had rendered him practically bedridden for more than two years. The paper explained that he came to the country 43 years earlier,10 establishing himself as the original commercial photographer in Argentina; that his photographic studies of pedigree stock and all animals soon made him known among the large estancieros (estancia owners) and, for many years, he was the official photographer of the Argentine Rural Society, a fact that is confirmed by numerous animal plates kept in his archive. Also, that his pictures of the most famous estancias in the country were considered masterpieces of his profession. Although he was a reserved man and apparently not fond of social gatherings, he was always active in the city’s North American community institutions. The obituary points out that in 1917 he was among the founders of the American Club,11 that he joined the American Society of the River Plate, and that he was a collector of objects of art and antiques of all types, such that his house was a veritable museum of fine pieces, where his friends could always find him developing some new artistic idea. In addition to his wife, he was survived by a brother who lived in the United States.12


Olds came to Buenos Aires to establish a photographic business in April 1900, after living for a little under a year in Valparaíso, where he worked in the portrait gallery of Obder W Heffer, as indicated by John Waldsmith in the previous essay of this volume. In February of that year, when he had decided to leave his employer and was preparing to cross the Andes, Olds started to take a series of views of Valparaíso, that he considered exceptionally fine negatives, better than anything here which you can judge by comparison.13 The series is certainly extraordinary. Forty negatives have been preserved, but, from their numbering, it appears that at least thirteen are missing. As he started to number this group of photographs from one, and the numbers do not appear repeated in his Argentine work, these photographs probably represent the start of his professional activity in South America.14 The series, also, had a certain symbolic character, since with it Olds abandoned the gallery portrait and moved away from his earlier career. It was as if he had taken the decision to break free in order to apply new ideas that he could not put into practice whilst living in Mansfield and to dedicate himself to the photography of landscapes, everyday life and popular types.15

Successful start

The phrase establishing himself as the original commercial photographer in Argentina, used by the reporter of the Buenos Aires Herald, confirmed that Olds was one of the first photographers, if not the first, to devote himself to a market distinct from that of the portrait. It is likely that he had already thought of this professional genre before leaving the United States, since in the few days that he stayed in Buenos Aires en route to Valparaíso, he observed that there were no galleries dedicated to the speciality.16 Apart from questions of taste, we know from his letters that he did not consider commercial work to be qualitatively different to that of portraits. His decision was largely determined by market criteria that proposed following the most promising, least exploited course of action and making himself independent by means of a low initial investment in equipment and furnishings.

Olds’ activity and professional achievements within such a short time of settling in the country were remarkable. With the help of his uncle he became acquainted with estancia owners and other businessmen who entrusted him with important work, such as the 240 photographs that he took for the Drysdale firm in May 1901. These were mentioned in a letter to his father and were probably copies of earlier negatives that he had taken for the firm for promotional purposes. Waldsmith deduced from Olds’ correspondence with his family that with only two commissions—Drysdale and La Martona—he earned almost five thousand pesos in his first nine months of activity. This is an eloquent indicator of his rapid professional success and shows his excellent nose for sensing the potential of commercial photography as a business, albeit in an unfamiliar environment. It also illustrates the importance of photography to large commercial and agricultural firms of the times, unthinkable a few years earlier.

By 1901 Olds was the most featured photographer in La Ilustración Sudamericana (The South American Illustrated), the first important magazine to publish photographs in Argentina. He was also the exclusive supplier of photographs to the first postcard publisher in the country. In order to achieve both things, he needed to have commercial ability as well as an extensive archive of images. Thus, after a few months of work in Buenos Aires, he had put together a collection of 350 negatives, his general collection, as he called it in a letter he wrote to his brother Charles on the 25 January 1901. Today we would call such a collection, the author’s ‘bank’ of images. Olds compiled these negatives in spare time available between contracts for the commercial world. Even taking into account his reliance on a helper, given the difficulty of moving the photographic equipment of the time one can conclude that he worked quickly and achieved high quality results. Despite the fact that landscapes and everyday shots were taken regularly in every country in accordance with accepted 19th century patterns (for example plazas, promenades, monuments, churches, hospitals, historic or government buildings, natural landscapes, folkloric activities, trades, ambulatory salesmen, etc.), the photographer still had to have a sharp eye, good information and a lot of experience to ensure that images taken with little time in places often visited for the first time were satisfactory, aesthetically as well as technically. In this respect the work of Olds was brilliant.

Country house. Villa Elisa
Buenos Aires, ca 1901

First published photographs

The first published reference to Olds’ work in Argentina is found in two articles of La Ilustración Sudamericana which came out with his photographs: ‘Among the Toba Indians’ and ‘The Burning of Rubbish’, the first with nine photographs and the second with three.17 In both the photographer’s name was given. It was not, however, the first time that he had featured in said magazine: he had done so in two previous issues of the same year. In the first he illustrated an article on the Club del Progreso (Progress Club) with eight photographs. In the second he did the same with a another article titled ‘Buenos Aires Characters and Customs’, which had twelve photographs, and a page without text titled ‘The New Argentine Meat Packing Plants’, which had six photographs.18 But despite the importance of the collaboration (in the second case he produced eighteen photographs, the largest known quantity submitted by a photographer thus far), the photographer’s name did not figure. Only the third report accredited authorship: it was awarded to the magazine itself with the phrase: ‘from photographs of La Ilustración Sudamericana’.19

The article on the Tobas had as a subtitle: Photographic exploration of Mr Henry G Olds for La Ilustración Sudamericana among the Toba Indians of the Great Argentine Chaco (in August of 1901). The reporter who drafted the text explained that it was based on the story of the trip to the north of Santa Fe—that also included Entre Ríos—from our photographic collaborator, whose words were regretfully unable to be used because Mr Olds hardly knows our language. He added: the correction of style would have been mistreated and possibly sacrificed, but in exchange the spontaneity and life of all the episodes would have been reflected with much greater faithfulness.

On his photographic expedition, Olds arrived at the estancia San Cristóbal, property of the Santa Fe Land Company,20 whose buildings can be found a few kilometres from the city that took the estancia’s name. There he made some photographs and advanced north in a cart pulled by five horses, with his equipment and an old woman who knew the language of the Tobas and who acted as interpreter. More than once, crossing the Salado, converted by the prolonged drought into a great marsh, the wheels of the vehicle sank and got stuck, and they repeatedly requested help from nearby outposts to pull them out. The indigenous tolderías (tent settlements) in which he took the photographs were located more than eight hundred kilometres from Buenos Aires and could have been close to the present city of Tostado, which then was not more than a frontier military post surrounded by a few houses.

We suppose that the greater part of Olds’ photographs published by La Ilustración Sudamericana were taken on his own initiative and not at the request of the magazine. But we must not discard the notion that he worked on assignment with issues of journalistic interest, such as the burning of the rubbish in Buenos Aires—although he later kept the negatives and included them in his general collection. In fact, the editor of the article on this subject suggests it in his first paragraph and furthermore points out that interest in the question was shared by other city media: Recently the daily press has dedicated some attention to the matter which today is the subject of our three photographs, each more curious than the last, in order to reveal a very special aspect of Buenos Aires as a large city. We do not remember if it was La Nación that chose as the title for its articles about this municipal service, ‘What Buenos Aires Throws Away’, and from the figures contained in the text, the reader might deduce that in this also, Buenos Aires throws away a fortune.21 In the light of the above, we can consider Olds to be one of the first independent photo-reporters to work in the country according to criteria that are still valid: to do reports on his own initiative, to offer them to the media, as well as others with an approach pre-determined by those who commissioned them. If indeed from 1901 to 1904 Olds had the most photographs published in La Ilustración Sudamericana, in 1905 this number dropped off abruptly, since there were only two in the edition of 15 June.22


In May of 1897 the Central Post Office commissioned the Compañía Sudamericana de Billetes de Banco (South American Bank Notes Company) to print the first series of postcards with photographic views published in the country. They were printed as albertypes using images provided by the Sociedad Fotográfica Argentina de Aficionados (Argentine Amateur Photographic Society).

The massive use of the photographic postcard and the consequent expansion of the publishing business date from the beginning of the century, propelled by businessmen who, many times, came from philatelic commerce. From then until the First World War was the golden age of the photographic postcard.23

The first and most important editor of photographic postcards in those years was Roberto Rosauer, whose Casa Filatélica (Philatelic House) on 522 Rivadavia Street emerged toward the end of the century as the strongest in the business in Buenos Aires. He placed large advertisements of two or more pages in the magazine of the Sociedad Filatélica Argentina (Argentine Philatelic Society). At the end of 1901, he offered in one, for the first time, Cards with views of Buenos Aires and of the Argentine Republic edited by the House.24 Offering them in another, he reproduced one of the printed views, titled Hipódromo argentino (Argentine Racetrack), taken by Olds.25 In 1902, Rosauer finished publishing his first series of 103 postcards, of which 98 were from Olds.26 In January of 1903 the publisher launched a second series on the market, which reached the extraordinary figure of 1409 pieces, with views taken by different photographers: E Avanzi, the Argentine Amateur Photographic Society, EC Moody, C Onelli, Blom & Weber, OE Hahn, O Bollinger, AS Witcomb, among others, as well as Olds, who had submitted more photographs than anyone else: 224 (the Amateur Society followed with 168, Avanzi with 124 and Moody with 109).

Olds sold photographs to other important postcard publishers of Buenos Aires, like Stephan Lumpert, Jacobo Peuser, F Weiss, Kirchoff & Cía., GB Pedrocci, América Cristiana, Pita & Catalano and Mitchell. Except for the first two, all mentioned the photographer’s name on each card.27 Apparently the publishers did not acquire the exclusive use of the images, because there are published postcards by various firms with the same Olds’ photograph, and photographs taken in the first years of the century on postcards published ten, twenty and even thirty years later. It indicates that postcards provided a very satisfactory business to a photographer who had a good stock of images and knew how to sell them.

It is interesting to observe in these first postcards, and especially in those of Olds, the coexistence of images of poverty, even misery, with those of opulence and material progress. Scenes of slum houses or rubbish dumps coexisted apparently without conflict with others of Palermo Lake and the Rosedal (Rose Garden), where the ladies and gentlemen of high society walked. For the dominant culture of the day, the abysmal social and economic differences were natural, not shameful. Today it would be inconceivable—except as a parody—to print a postcard illustrated with images of street sellers in a big city, or of precarious slum dwellings. Today’s postcards only reproduce conventionally attractive images and those of tourist interest. The difference is not simply explained by the critical position of current public opinion on issues of social inequality; photography itself, that participated in the social conflicts of the century, gave birth to a genre loaded with ideological and political connotations: social photography. Because of it, the photographic images that today strive to show marginalisation and misery have to a greater or lesser degree incorporated a connotation of social denunciation, which excludes them from the category of ‘image’ of a country or a region, that is to say, from being postcards.

The Buenos Aires Cathedral
Buenos Aires, ca 1915


Olds did his first photographic work for the Argentine Rural Society during the livestock exhibition of 1901,28 for which he obtained from the institution the exclusive rights to take shots of the animals and the grounds. It is possible that he photographed the following annual exhibitions under the same conditions, that is to say, as the only authorised professional, until 1916 when he was replaced by Antonio Arata. As the official photographer of the society, he was given the use of a stand in the prized Palermo grounds.29

In the Almanaque Peuser (Peuser Almanac) of 1913 there appeared an important photographic series from Olds, of bulls, cows and prize-winning stock in the Rural Exhibition of the previous year. The photographer’s archive keeps a good number of negatives of pedigree animals. Mainly cattle, sheep and horses, their breed was recorded in pencil or punched on the border of a plate. The pictures were taken, no doubt, at the estancieros’ request, as often in open fields as in sheds or corrals. The journal Anales, the organ of the Rural Society, began to publish Olds’ photographs in 1909, and did so with some regularity until 1913. In general the images illustrate articles and do not appear to have been taken for this purpose, but rather chosen from the photographer’s archive. In these instances, the authorship of the photographs was not accredited. Occasionally, this review also printed Olds’ compositions on highlighted pages and attributed them to him; they were usually Buenos Aires country landscapes and showed a clear sense of the pictorial. In 1922 the publication changed from monthly to fortnightly and started to put photographs on the covers, where Olds’ shots alternated with those of Arata.

Other publications

Olds’ letters, donated in 1980 to the Oliver Wendell Holmes Stereoscopic Research Library, of the National Stereoscopic Association of the United States, are an extraordinary source of information about his activity from his arrival in the country until 1904. From then on, the only certain data on his work are provided by published photographs. They are not easy to find, as Olds never signed on as an employee of papers or magazines. Only La Ilustración Sudamericana, in the early years of the century, and the Anales de la Sociedad Rural Argentina, in the second and third decades, published his photographs with regularity. In Caras y Caretas, for example, he only appeared sporadically. In our opinion, through these collaborations Olds was looking more to promote himself in order to maintain market visibility, than to earn money. It is evident that his main work was institutional and commercial assignments, official or private. Thus, in 1910 he was commissioned to take photographic portfolios of the Italian, American and British pavilions at the Exhibition of Railways and Land Transport that took place in Palermo, one of those organised to celebrate the centenary of the May revolution.30 Original copies of these works have been kept but not the negatives.31

Another source of Olds’ work that we found is a book published in New York in 1917, which contains more than two hundred of his photographs of Buenos Aires, Córdoba and the north-eastern provinces.32 In the prologue, its author calls him the pioneer of landscape photographers of Buenos Aires, with more promotional intent than historic rigour. Mitchell, the publisher, who printed Olds’ photographs on his postcards, also published an album with his images of Buenos Aires. Another book with numerous Olds’ photographs was edited by Reginald Lloyd, Impresiones de la República Argentina en el siglo XX. Su historia, gente, comercio, industria y riqueza, Lloyd’s Greater Britain Publishing Co. Ltd., 1911. Finally, in the Archivo General de la Nación (General Archive of the Nation) there are original Olds’ copies with his name and address stamped on the back (one of them says Lavalle 1059 and others Lavalle 1362). They seem to have been bought from the photographer for the former Archivo Gráfico (Graphic Archive), created in 1939.

About the photographs

On the whole, one of the most notable characteristics of Olds’ saved work is the abundance of popular subjects: street sellers, markets, burning rubbish, street games and slums. Taken from Europe, these were not new themes in Argentine photography or in the plastic arts. The Portuguese Christiano Junior first started the trend here, as much in the studio as outside, in the 1870s. In the eighties and nineties, the members of the Amateur Photographic Society of Argentina and Samuel Rimathé followed suit, the former by means of studio portraits, and the latter, like Olds, exclusively in the open air.33 The most striking difference between those taken in the studio and those outside is the artificiality of the first, above all when portrait subjects adopted poses that were supposed to be typical of their position or trade. In contrast, outside shots give information about the subjects’ context and, in many cases, achieve a documentary result similar to that of modern photo journalism. It is not by chance that the genre of popular types abounded in the early years of the graphic press illustrated with photographs: it was then a material that was used both for postcards and photo stories.

Olds was particularly skilled in the choice of backgrounds for character portraits, individual or group. In these shots, the main focus was the people, positioned close enough to the camera so as to not to lose relevance within the frame, a technique which restricted the photographer’s freedom to make full use of the urban surrounds. Olds, however, surpassed this limitation and managed to describe the city with fragments of architecture, machinery and decoration: simple or carved door ironwork, windows and tops of walls, zinc or wood friezes, bordered lace curtains behind shutters, the texture of brick, verandas with corrugated iron roofs and round iron columns, dampness stains on plaster, a crane base in the port. Similarly, when he added people to a portrait background he did it with intelligence, enriching it, like the mulatto family of the riverfront which accompanies the image of the fisherman.

Olds’ mastery can be appreciated in his images of buildings and in large urban and rural shots. The precision of the framing clearly highlights the photograph’s subject and its relationship to the background; the composition captures attention because of its dynamism. He always chose the point of view in such a way that the diagonals and the lines of perspective made by roads, wire fences, constructions, rails or footpaths gave movement and vivacity to the composition. The internal space of his images is fluid and the observer always receives the impression that the position chosen for the camera was the only one possible. It is evident that Olds knew the range of possibilities available to the user of the large format plate and lens.


The book has been organised according to geographic criteria. The first part is dedicated to Buenos Aires and its environs, the most abundant material in the archive. The photographs of the common people have been given pride of place because of their abundance and quality, and make an exceptional contribution to our conceptual image of the city at that time. The second part presents urban and rural images of the provinces of Buenos Aires, Santa Fe and Córdoba. The negatives of the photographs taken in Tucumán and Salta have been lost; of those taken in Entre Ríos only two remain, and none of those taken in Colonia del Sacramento, in Uruguay.


1 Mateo E Giordano bought the archive more than twenty years ago from José Zupnik, Olds’ apprentice and collaborator in the last stage of his career. It consists of around 650 plates, mostly glass, of 20x25cm (the original archive would have had more than 5000 pieces). Zupnik, today an old man, describes Olds as a man of short stature, commercial ability, a drinker and ill-tempered. He bought the plates when his studio closed but cannot remember the date.

2 Until 1880 there only existed engravings, that is, impressions were made in black without medium tones. These were reconstituted by means of the system of lines more or less pressed together, typical of xylography. The German Maisenback launched definitively the use of a screen interposed between the original photograph and the printing plate which translated the image semitones into tiny black dots or squares more or less squeezed together (Marie-Loup Sougez, Historia de la fotografía, Ediciones Cátedra, Madrid, 1988). In La Ilustración Sudamericana, the most important literary and art magazine printed in the country in the last decade of the previous century, the first photographic image with semitones was published on 16 June 1894 (Number 36).

3 This circumstance indicates the important economic development that had been produced by then in the country, with the consequent market amplification and complexity that allowed a photographer to prosper by devoting himself to non-traditional types and forms of printing, although more than ninety per cent of them still earned their living taking portraits.

4 Anales de la Sociedad Rural Argentina, Volume LVI, 15 March 1922.

5 The shop was at 412, 25 de Mayo Street and operated at least until 1913, when it still figures in the Arlas commercial guide. In July 1915, the magazine La fotografía y sus aplicaciones (Photography and its Applications), Year 1, Number 1, indicated that Olds worked in 1059 Lavalle Street. He remained there until 1937, when the 9 de Julio Avenue was opened and the house was demolished. It was an office building, with Olds’ business located in four rooms on the fourth floor. The photographer’s last professional address was 1362 Lavalle Street (Anuario Kraft 1938, Volume 1, Buenos Aires).

6 Number 1205, Civil Register of the Buenos Aires Municipality. In addition to translating his wife’s names into Spanish, the document misspells Olds’ maternal surname, thus putting Opthorp instead of Apthorp.

7 The address corresponded to a building that is still preserved, in which then resided upper middle class families, several with Anglo-Saxon surnames. Olds and his wife lived there at least from 1922. Libro verde de los teléfonos. Guía no oficial (Green Telephone Book, Unofficial Guide), The Standard Directory Co., Buenos Aires, 1922.

8 Number 17,470, archive of the Buenos Aires Law Courts.

9 Edition of 5 December 1943.

10 It is not known for certain whether he returned to the United States during this period, but there are firm indications that he did at least once, as the Dirección Nacional de Migración y Población (National Directorate of Migration and Population) registered his arrival at the port of Buenos Aires on 3 August 1921, aboard the Vestris (information for which the authors thank CEMLA, Centre of Latin American Migration Studies). In La Nación on this day it read: Yesterday there entered the port proceeding from New York and intermediate stop the British vessel Vestris, from the navigation company Lamport & Holt, with passengers, correspondence and general cargo.

11 However, in the club register he does not figure as a founding member.

12 This, named Charles Olds, is supposed to have been the maker of the Oldsmobile cars.

13 Letter of 5 March 1900 from Olds to his brother.

14 Like the other photographers of the period, Olds labelled his negatives with a number, the subject and location of the photograph, information that he included as a brief inscription at the bottom of the image. During his career he used three procedures to write them. One, in the Valparaíso series, consisted of sticking thin strips of translucent paper with small typographic, printing characters on top of the negative emulsion. Another, apparently used in the second decade of the century, was to print the data in red directly onto the emulsion. Lastly, he wrote the data by hand, with china ink, on the support of the negatives. Each procedure corresponded to a distinct series of numbers which apparently started with one, but in no series did we find pieces with a number greater than 1000. Since his shop records and sample albums were lost, it was impossible for us to discern the criteria with which the series were organised, the date on which each started and the reason for changing the form of inscription. The initials S.A., for South America, added to the name Valparaíso in the inscriptions of the Chilean negatives, and which he later put on his earlier Argentine photographs, are unusual. Such initials are foreign to local habits and relate more to North American practices which may have occurred to Olds spontaneously or because he thought of selling his photographs in the United States (his interest in returning there after four or five years, mentioned in the correspondence quoted by Waldsmith, should be remembered).

15 Letter from Olds to his uncle John Apthorp of 10 August 1897.

16 Letter from Olds to his brother Charles, of 7 December 1899.

17 Number 209 of 15 October 1901.

18 Number 197-198 of March 1901 and Number 203 of June of the same year.

19 We know that they are Olds’ photographs because we found the negatives or because they came out in other publications with his name.

20 Firm registered in London, born from the payment of a debt contracted in 1872 by the provincial government and, in 1914, absorbed by the Forestal Land, Timber and Railway Company (Eduardo José Míguez, Las tierras de los ingleses en la Argentina 1870-1914, Editorial de Belgrano, 1985, p.183).

21 La Ilustración..., op. cit., p.209.

22 La Ilustración..., op. cit., p.209.

23 The postcard was invented by Henry von Stephan in 1865. It was a simple leaf, without illustration, with the destination address on the front and space for a brief hand-written text on the back, which cost less to send than a normal letter. The Austro-Hungarian mail adopted it in 1869 and, by 1876, when more than 30 countries in America, Asia and Europe had incorporated it, an international agreement allowed to extend its circulation beyond national limits (M Bergmann, ‘Historia de la tarjeta postal’, Revista de Correos y Telecomunicaciones, 72, 1943). In 1882 the Belgian mail innovated with an illustrated postcard, Henri Isanchou’s idea, which carried a lithographic image, in black and white or in colour, and a private message, over which the leaf was folded and closed. It arrived in Argentina in 1887 when the Mail hired the firm Juan H Kidd & Cía. to make them and started their circulation on 1 January 1888 (Jorge H del Mazo, ‘Cartas postales con imágenes fotográficas’, Bosé, 1, 1997). The illustrated postcard that we know today began to be used towards the end of the century, when it returned to its primitive design: one leaf with the text in view, but with a photograph on the front and the message and the destination address on the back.

24 Revista de la Sociedad Filatélica Argentina, VII, 76, November 1901.

25 Id., VII, 77, December 1901.

26 Marcelo Loeb & Jeremy Howat, Catálogo descriptivo de postales argentinas. Roberto Rosauer, 1901-1909, Marcelo Loeb Editor, Buenos Aires, 1992, and Marcelo Loeb, Catálogo descriptivo de postales argentinas. Jacobo Peuser, 1899-1935 - Stephan Lumpert, antigua casa Pernegg, Marcelo Loeb Editor, Buenos Aires, 1997.

27 We know that certain unattributed photographs reproduced on postcards were done by Olds because the negatives have been preserved in his archive, but we cannot be sure that others, equally anonymous, were not done by him, since their negatives could have been lost.

28 Letter from Olds to his mother of 3 October 1901.

29 We thank the son of the present Rural Society photographer, Roberto Arata, for this information; he also confirmed Olds’ relationship with important breeders, such as Leonardo Pereyra Iraola, on whose estancia San Juan he sometimes spent several weeks recording animals. It does not take much to imagine a certain friendship between the photographer and the property owner, who was an excellent amateur photographer himself and in 1889 was counted amongst the founders of the Argentine Amateur Photographic Society, as was his father, Leonardo Pereyra.

30 It was on the site occupied today by the First Regiment of Infantry and the Horse Grenadiers. as well as a commercial centre that can be entered from the corner of the Avenues Intendente Bullrich and Cerviño, on which survives, quite dilapidated, what remains of the central exhibition pavilion.

31 They belong to the Biblioteca Histórico-Cientifica, a private library in Olivos run by Roberto Ferrari.

32 Henry Stephens, Illustrated Descriptive Argentina, The Knickerbocker Press, New York, 1917. We thank Eduardo Airaldi for having allowed us to consult the volume.

33 Rimathé and Olds documented poverty with remarkable insistence. The former was called the first cultivator of social photography in the country (Sameer Makarius, S. Rimathé. Vistas fotográficas de la Argentina. 1885/1919. Catalogue of a photographic exhibition at the Buenos Aires City Council, 1987). The concept is usually understood in the sense of cultivator of social criticism, which, in our judgement, was not their intention. It is probable that they both felt sympathy for the lower classes, but it is impossible to separate this from the commercial interest around which their photographic production was oriented. On Rimathé, consult: Arnaldo J Cunietti-Ferrando, ‘El fotógrafo Samuel Rimathé, un documentalista suizo de la realidad argentina’, Memoria del quinto congreso de historia de la fotografía en la Argentina, Buenos Aires, 1996.

This text was published in the book ALEXANDER, Abel, Luis PRIAMO, Fernando ROCCHI y John WALDSMITH, H.G. Olds. Fotografías. (1900-1943), Bs. As., Fundación Antorchas, 1998)


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Queda hecho el depósito que marca la ley 11.723.

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