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stamps

A few years ago a bunch of photos began appearing on ebay that were obviously not made by Weegee.
The only thing that connected the photos to Weegee was a stamp on the back: “Credit Photo by WEEGEE The Famous.”

Here are some of these stamps:

Here are some real stamps from the backs of real Weegee photos.

There are some obvious differences.

Our theory: In preparation for the book, Weegee by Weegee (1961), and perhaps for distortions, Weegee photographed his “Credit Photo by Weegee The Famous” stamp. In the enlargement and reproduction processes the stamp changed. (There is photographic evidence of this.) The C and E of “CREDIT” and the H in “THE” acquired artifacts, the type has fattened up, primarily the “Credit Photo by… The Famous” which is very thin on the real stamps, there is a notch in the circle, at the three o’clock mark, or opposite the final E in Weegee, and the circle is uneven – thin on the bottom, etc., etc…

It is Weegee’s reproduction of his stamp that has been the primary, if not exclusive, source of this image since 1961. Chronologically:

Weegee by Weegee (1961)
Weegee The Famous (1977)
Weegee’s New York (1982)
Weegee’s Wikipedia
Weegee’s Tote Bag (ca. 2012)

The stamp on the back of the “phony” Weegee prints, (based on a small JPEGs from ebay), appears to be an exact match to the reproduction of the stamp, and is not the original stamp.

IMG_2929
A real Weegee the Famous stamp is a little larger than 1 3/16th of an inch in diameter…

Approximately 90% of the “Credit Photo by Weegee The Famous” stamps that we have seen are in purple-ish/red-ish ink; off-center; not straight, or aligned with the print… Furthermore, the stamp was used primarily between 1941-1945 (after he was “famous”). The purpose of the stamp was practical and professional…

“An educated consumer is our best customer.”

Now, we move on to more important things…

(To be continued…)

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03-a-fellig
“This Photo Sold for Use in One Publication Only, not to be resold, loaned, syndicated, or used for advertising purposes without written permission. Credit Line Must Read Photo by A. Fellig, 5 Center Market Place N. Y. C.”
Used between 1937-1938. Purple ink.

04-a-fellig
“This Photo Sold for Use in One Publication Only, Credit Line Must Read, Arthur Fellig Photo, 5 Center Market Place, New York City”
Used between 1938-1941. Purple ink.

05-a-fellig
“Arthur Fellig, 5 Center Market Place, New York City”
Used between 1938-1945. Purplish-pinkish-redish ink. One of the most common stamps.

06-weegee
“Please Credit Photograph By WEEGEE”
Used mostly in 1943, and found on photos from 1937-1945. Purplish-pinkish ink.

07-weegee
“Credit Photo by WEEGEE”
Used mostly in 1941, and 1940-1942, and found on photos from 1937-1945. Pinkish-purplish ink. One of the most common stamps.

08-weegee
“Photo by Weegee, N.Y.C. 5 Center Market Pl.”
Used in 1943. Dark purple ink.

09-weegee
“Photo by Weegee, N.Y.C.”
Used between 1940-1944. Purplish-brownish ink.

10-weegee
“Credit Photo by WEEGEE, The Famous”
Found on photos from 1937-1945, but most common on photos from 1941-1945. Mostly pinkish-purple ink. (We think Weegee used this stamp from 1941-1945, after he was famous.)

11-weegee
“Credit Line Must Read, WEE GEE PHOTO, 5 Center Market Place, N.Y.C. This picture is sold to you for your publication only and must not be loaned, syndicated, or used for advertising purposes without written permission from us.”
Used between 1944-1945. Red Ink.

11-12-acme
“Acme Pictures, Inc. Eighth Ave. New York City, Please Credit ‘Acme Photo’. This picture is sold to you for your publication only and must not be loaned, syndicated or used for advertising purposes without written permission from us.”
Used between 1940-1945. Red ink.

21-weegee
“Please Credit WEEGEE, from Photo-Representatives”
Used on photos dating from 1937-1950s or 60s… in black ink… the most common stamp.

The four most common stamps, in order:
1. 21-weegee
2. 05-a-fellig
3. 07-weegee
4. 10-weegee

WTF, or what is this nonsense? Several years ago a brilliant colleague and I looked though thousands of Weegee’s photos that had a definitive published date. And then we looked at the backs of those prints. The above, approximate dates of when the stamps were used and the most common ink colors, is the result of our work. Obviously it’s not perfect; we couldn’t look at every Weegee photo; a photo could have been stamped at any time, etc., etc… Nevertheless, it’s probably not too wrong, it’s a start, a step in the right direction…

weegee_stamps_geh
Weegee’s stamps, from the GEH’s Notes on Photographs webpage (a link is here). (All images are screen shots from that webpage:-)

To be continued…

photo-representatives
(a screen shot from Notes on Photographs)
Please Credit Weegee From Photo-Representatives, in black ink, is stamped on the backs of thousands and thousands of Weegee photos.
(Of course which photos have a “Please Credit Weegee From Photo-Representatives” stamp is indicative of something. Presumably, only photos that Weegee had in his possession from around 1953 to 1959, or perhaps as late as the mid 60s, have a Photo-Representatives stamp, in black ink. These photos could have been made at any time. A photo, made and printed in the 30s or 40s could have a Photo-Representatives stamp. Perhaps at some point in the 1950s someone stamped all, or many, of Weegee’s photos with a Photo-Representatives stamp.)

Who, what, why, and where were Photo-Representatives?

Co-founded by Anita Beer and the great and brilliant Erika Stone. (www.erikastone.com)
Photo-Representatives was in existence from 1953 to about 1959.
In a January 1956 magazine article Beer and Klopfer write “… we felt that the gifted photographer, particularly the newcomer, had a definite need for personal representation since they were, generally, not too familiar with editors, publications and the constantly changing markets in New York.
This, added to the fact that most photographers find it more profitable when they concentrate on shooting rather than wasting valuable hours in making calls on photo buyers, resulted in the establishment of our agency.” ART P, January 1956, p.42
Photo-Representatives sells their “photographer’s work” and gets assignments for their photographers, researchers and discovers photo stories, does the billing and price setting, and “act as guides, critics, and friends in developing our photographers’ talent and direction.” Art Photography, 1956, p.30

Another quote: “Photography is a tough and highly competitive field and a photographer must use his ingenuity and artistry conscientiously to be able to succeed. If he performs well and dependably, we’ll do our part by being unsparing in our efforts to promote, place, and sell his work.” Art Photography, Anita Beer and Erika Klopfer, 1956, p.42

Where was Photo-Representatives located? 155 East 42 St. New York, NY, 10017, YUkon 6-6368 (Very close to the Chrysler Building)

IMG_7505
IMG_7506
Art Photography, 1956, p.42

Great bio and info.
Gallery bio.

IMG_4240
IMG_4243-2
Erika… and her people, Art Photography, 1954, (by William Stone)

From a Photo-Representatives info sheet, ca. 1953:
Introducing Our Photographers and Our Stock:

Weegee… Famous former news photographer and author of such books as Naked City and Weegee’s People… more recently known as the KING OF PHOTOGRAPHIC TRICKS… These are caricatures, kaleidoscope effects, double and triple images and every type of oddity you can imagine… JUST NAME IT, WEEGEE CAN DO IT
Mary Eleanor Browning… Medical subjects… large selection of scenics, pets…
Gene Lesser… Outstanding feature photographer and journalist…
George Daniell… Poetic, candid 35mm photographer…
Peter Buckley… Writer-photographer… famous for his books on foreign children… and bullfighting subjects…
Dimitri Rebikoff… Established in France… leading underwater photographer-scientist… available for underwater assignments…
Edward Lettau… Specialist in children and family life stories…
Horace Bristol… headquarters in Tokyo, Japan…
Bill Hughes… Speciality illustration.. Artist, as well as photographer… interesting techniques…
Paul Druckworth… Photo-journalist of such subjects as glamour, music… artistic approach.
Sonia and Andy Bullaty-Lomeo… Experts in doing art reproductions… also documentary pictures…
Jurgen Jacobsen… Glamour photographer and journalist…
Western Ways … Outstanding features on Western Subjects…
Stock… Most Everything… including scenics from every part of the world… children, pets, underwater subjects, street scenes, crime, nightlife, personalities, and documentary and artistic photos…

All Our Photographers Are Available for Assignments”

From a Photo-Representatives bio, ca. 1953:
“Weegee from Photo-Representatives
Weegee is a small man with bristly grey hair and round, observant eyes. He got his name as a news photographer for Acme in the 1920s… A book of his unvarnished New York by night photographs were published as ‘The Naked City.’ Surfeited with realism, he now enjoys fantasy, doing spectacular camera distortions and caricatures…”

photo-representatives

“A bad picture is a bad picture no matter how large it’s blown up.” Art Photography, Anita Beer and Erika Klopfer, 1956, p.42

When we look at these “Weegee Original Photograph”s (not Original Weegee Photographs), that are available on ebay, we think, “there is no way these are Weegee photos…” but then, the optimist in us thinks, “well maybe they are, it’s not impossible…”

How can one prove that they are “real”? How can one prove that they are “not real”?

Almost all, more than 90%, of the “Credit Photo by WEEGEE the Famous” stamps that we’ve seen are in a purple-pink color, not black, and they never have that ink residue. (We have to confirm the dates, but we believe that that stamp was used primarily around 1943 – but we have to double check that.)

The above example of a “real” Weegee stamp, is from the George Eastman House’s Note on Photographs, and can be found here.

Of course we could be wrong, but we think they are not Weegee photographs…

…from the GeorgeEastmanHouse! Notes on Photographs…

Main Weegee page…

Bibliography
Books by Weegee:
Naked City. New York: Essential Books, 1945. Reprint, New York: Da Capo Press, 1975.
Weegee’s People. New York: Essential Books, 1946. Reprint, New York: Da Capo Press, 1975.
Naked Hollywood. With Mel Harris. New York: Pellegrini & Cudahy, 1953. Reprint, New York: Da Capo Press, 1975.
Weegee’s Secrets of Shooting with Photoflash as Told to Mel Harris. New York: Designers 3, 1953.
Naked Hollywood. With Mel Harris. New York: Berkeley Publishing Group, 1955. [Slightly different picture selection than the 1953 edition.]
Weegee’s Creative Camera. With Roy Ald. Garden City, NY: Hanover House, 1959.
Weegee, by Weegee: An Autobiography. New York: Ziff-Davis, 1961. Reprint, New York: Da Capo Press, 1975.
Weegee’s Creative Photography. With Gerry Speck. London: Ward, Lock, 1964.
The Village. New York: Da Capo Press, 1989.

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