Saturday, 27 April 2019

End Of An Era - (Volume 2 Additions)

Recently over the last couple of years an enterprising Ebay seller has made available the physical media photo football remnants of a once thriving Montreal Newspaper's (La Presse) Sports department. The newspaper that was founded in 1884 printed its final edition on December 31st, 2017 transitioning to a fully digital/mobile publisher from that point onwards. As a result of this the old archives were deemed irrelevant and luckily this provided an infrequent opportunity for collectors to snap up the rare and evocative photos.

Now although Collecting Canadian Football Volume II documented for the first time ever the known media photo sets of the Montreal Alouettes, the information is far from complete and the La Presse archives have filled in some gaps in the knowledge quite nicely!

 Chester McCance & Virgil Wagner of the newly identified set:

Those of you that are familiar with CCF VII will know that almost all classic Alouette team photography was done by Ed Bermingham. Here we see that his involvement with the team started at least as far back as 1949 in this great photo set with the players wearing their nifty crotch-defining two-tone pants.

Sometimes additional mimeographed information sheets were attached to the photos with an exact date, other times there are photographer date stamps on the reverse and sometimes you need to derive a year for an item from the combination of player, uniform and photographer's stamp info. Having CCF VII provides a reference of how the photographer's stamps changed over the years to help with the dating process. Some but not all of these photographs featured the photographer's logo horizontally on the front margins.

The era that I am referencing as ending in the blog post title, is of course the old Newspaper paradigm of maintaining physical copies of images and even producing actual physical newsprint editions. The era of actually issuing physical media photos with one player per item by CFL teams already ended generally over 45 years ago in the early seventies, overtaken by the eight per sheet head photos from about 1975 to 2000 with some straggler individual sets still being produced up to the late eighties or early nineties maybe.

 Rod Pantages & Gordon Ross of the newly identified set:

In 1950 Bermingham was still using the same stamp with both black and violet inks. Some but not all of these photos featured the photographer's logo vertically on the front margins, although it is probably likely that both placements occur sporadically in both season's sets. Thankfully the team went to a one colour pant design for this year.

Of course newspapers have gone out of business periodically (The Ottawa Journal and the Winnipeg Tribune, for example) well before this transition to the digital world we are currently experiencing. When they did their archives were liquidated and much of that material also found its way into the hand of collectors but it does not often get recirculated so that modern day collectors can acquire parts of it.

 Tom Hugo & Ron Murphy of the newly identified set:

Here is another newly identified set, I believe the photographer's stamp (which was obscured on the reverse scans) is the version shown below. The Hugo photo illustrates an important point in that sometimes a date stamped on the reverse of a photo could mean when a certain department received it for use and is not necessarily related to when the photo was actually produced. Hugo's last year with the Alouettes was 1959 so he was long gone by 1965.

The photos in the La Presse archives were naturally predominantly of Montreal players but there were also many photos from players of the other eight CFL teams. Newspapers would be sent images of players from other cities' teams regularly so that they could use them in their sports pages stories as well. In addition to the newly identified sets there were plenty of additions to sets already listed in the existing guide that will need to be updated at some point.

 Bob Bednarz & Hal Lewis
1967 Bermingham photos

This particular set of 5 X 7 portrait photos utilized the year dated stamps below, again in two different ink colours. But the uniforms are definitely not Montreal Alouettes and that is because these were media photos for the Montreal Beavers of the Continental Football League. While these photos will not be catalogued in any potential further update to CCF VII (because they are not Canadian Football) they do help solidify the timeline as to which Bermingham stamps were active during which periods for the photos.

It is somewhat ironic that La Presse was responsible for the first known team specific Montreal football themed collectible in 1928 (Clary Foran of the Montreal Athletic Association). And now 91 years later the dissolution of the paper's archives has enriched the amount of information about Montreal football history considerably.

 Peter Paquette & Barry Randall of the newly identified set:

The final newly identified set is one of the classic late sixties CFL photo sets with the combined head and action photo along with a write-up and team logo graphic. All photo sets illustrated in this post except the Montreal Beavers portraits are 8" X 10" in size.

The appearance of these previously uncatalogued vintage photo sets into the collectible marketplace is just another example of how there is always more new/old stuff to discover with Canadian football collectibles.