This Soviet-era porcelain vase commemorating the North Pole -1 expedition is pretty accurate: four men and a dog named Vesely were dropped off on a drifting ice floe about 12 miles from the North Pole in May, 1937. By the time they were picked up (at great cost) off of Greenland in February, 1938, the ice floe had shrunk considerably in size.
Propaganda porcelain first started to be produced following the Soviet nationalisation of the Imperial Porcelain Factory in 1918. The factory storage was filled with uncoloured plates, vases, and tea sets, which were all used as the bases for a novel form of Soviet propaganda.
This artifact, likely a brooch, depicts a 1920s-era flapper, cloche hat and all. It was found at an archaeological site in Jersey City, New Jersey. This and the many other artifacts found during excavation of a series of former houses, most demolished by the 1930s, provide a glimpse of the middle class families who lived in Jersey City in the early twentieth century.
Howson, Jean, and Leonard G. Bianchi
2014 Covert-Larch: Archaeology of a Jersey City Neighborhood: Data Recovery for the Route 1&9T (25) St. Paul’s Viaduct Replacement Project Jersey City, Hudson County, NJ, Volume 1. Cultural Resource Unit, The RBA Group, Inc.
Cyler Conrad writes about Dutch archaeologist Hendrik Robert van Heekeren, who after being captured by the Japanese during World War II, managed to collect prehistoric artifacts while a prisoner-of-war forced to work on the infamous Bridge on the River Kwai in Thailand: An Archaeologist on the Railroad of Death.
van Heekeren was born in Java in 1902 and became interested in archaeology while working on a tobacco plantation.
Through financing his own research and fieldwork, van Heekeren significantly contributed to the study of ancient Indonesia prior to the outbreak of the war. But, like many of his Dutch compatriots, he was captured after the Japanese invaded Java in 1942. By February 1943, he was forced to work on the Railroad of Death.
Dr. van Heekeren was working among stones dredged up from the Kwai for use in the construction of the bridge’s foundation when his experienced eye picked out an object that he immediately recognized as a Stone Age artifact. From that day until the day he was freed, he continued to find, and hide from his captors, numerous other artifacts. When he returned to the Netherlands after the war, he wrote a book about his discoveries in Thailand’s Kanchanaburi Province
Alvin Smith, The New York Times, December 17, 1972
van Heekeren’ books include The Stone Age of Indonesia (1957) and The Bronze-Iron Age of Indonesia (1958). He died in 1974.
Another beneficiary was the Rutgers Geology Museum. In 1936, the Works Progress Administration funded 21 paintings for the museum by Alfred Poledo, a little-known 1930s artist. Like, there is almost nothing on the Internet about him. There’s this at the Living New Deal, which indicates he was from Boonton, and there’s some census data that shows he was an Italian immigrant, born around 1888 and deceased by 1940.
At least three of his paintings are in the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University. The mosasaur, an extinct marine reptile whose fossils are found in New Jersey, is featured in two of the pieces, A Lagoon in Jurassic Time and A New Jersey Mosasaur, both dated 1936.
The undated Prehistoric Animals Ready for Battle is the only one that shows dinosaurs. What I presume is a Dryptosaurus (a New Jersey dino related to Tyrannosaurus) faces off against a Triceratops, while some hadrosaurs (the official New Jersey state dinosaur) walk through the background.
These three paintings were donated to the Zimmerli by Helgi Johnson, a professor in the Geology Department who died in 1974. It’s not clear whether the other paintings in the series are also in the Zimmerli or perhaps still at the Geology Museum.
There’s a new New York Times article on “Ranger Doug” Leen (not to be confused with the other Ranger Doug), a dentist and former park ranger, who rediscovered, preserved, and now recreates 1930s-era National Park posters created by WPA artists.
In the 1930s, posters for 14 parks, including the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, and the Grand Canyon were created by government artists. Fewer than 50 original posters are known to survive and there are no original copies for two parks, Great Smoky Mountains and Wind Cave. Ranger Doug now works with artist Brian Maebius to create new posters in the same style for other national parks.
Director W.S. Van Dyke had a reputation for getting things right the first time. Two movies he directed in the 1920s were shot on location in Tahiti. For Trader Horn (1931), he spent seven months filming in East Africa. His best known movies, however, are The Thin Man (he also directed three of the sequels), Tarzan the Ape Man (filmed in Hollywood, it used stock footage from Trader Horn), and several Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy films. ClassicMovieHub.com has several behind-the-scenes photos of Van Dyke at work.
The site of Petra in Jordan had been a tourist destination for almost a century when two British archaeologists, George Horsfield and Agnes Conway, arrived in what was then called the British Mandate Transjordan. Petra 1929 transcribes the field journal of their excavations in and around the Nabataean city.
In the 1920s, John Held, Jr., became famous for his drawings in Life, Vanity Fair, and other magazines that enshrined the iconic flapper image: lean and leggy, with beaded necklace swinging as she danced the Charleston with her companion, the round-headed, pencil-necked, Joe College.
The “tall, dark and tweedy” (Shuttleworth 1965) artist had come to New York City from Utah in 1912, where he found work as a commercial artist. As America entered World War I, John Held would take on another, clandestine, responsibility.