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Some Vernacular Railroad Photographs [Hardcover]

Jeff Brouws , Wendy Burton
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 1, 2013 0393239381 978-0393239386 1

A remarkable collection of images taken by passionate amateurs that have both a historical value and an innocent charm.

Jeff Brouws and Wendy Burton have been collecting vernacular railroad photographs for many years, poring through disorganized boxes of snapshots at train shows and swap meets. With a keen editorial eye they have sought out the unusual, the lyrical, the pastoral, and the urban, ultimately assembling a collection that includes railroad landscapes, locomotives, bridges, and people primarily during the age of steam. This fascinating assemblage will appeal to fans of vernacular photography and rail fans alike. It is accompanied by an essay that includes a brief discussion of the aesthetic evolution of railroad photography in the early to mid-twentieth century and the phenomenon of the International Engine Picture Club, which acted as a clearing house and swapping mechanism for rail fans. 250 duotone photographs

Frequently Bought Together

Some Vernacular Railroad Photographs + A Steam Odyssey: The Railroad Photographs of Victor Hand + Steam: An Enduring Legacy: The Railroad Photographs of Joel Jensen
Price for all three: $101.76

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Editorial Reviews


“Beautiful and dramatic… a stunning collection.” (Frederick N. Rasmussen - Baltimore Sun)

About the Author

Jeff Brouws is a fine art photographer and part-time writer who has nine books to his credit, authoring five on railroads alone, the latest being The Call of Trains: The Railroad Photographs of Jim Shaughnessy. A book of his own photographs Approaching Nowhere (also from Norton) was published in 2006. His work can be found in major institutional collections around the country including the Whitney Museum of American Art, Princeton University Art Museum and Harvard's Fogg Museum. He resides in New York with his wife Wendy Burton.

Wendy Burton is a Fine Art photographer with work in the collections of The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art, The North Dakota Museum of Art and others. She has worked in the publishing industry for over thirty years, and is the author of Joy Is a Plum Colored Acrobat.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (July 1, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393239381
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393239386
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 7.6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #822,027 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great found rail photographs. July 26, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
It took a moment for me to get the idea. The pictures are sometimes small and sometimes by amateurs. But if you are aware, it will quickly hit you: this is the joy you get when you find a photo album in the attic and realize that Great Uncle John took pictures of trains. What a discovery!
So instead of the extravaganza photography we have come to expect from Jeff's multiple paean's to the world's greatest rail photographers, (which I also highly recommended) here we have a celebration of the world's amateur rail photographers. Put together, these less than "perfect" pictures paint a vision of the world of railroading that is more intimate and more real.
Each time I pick it up, i discover something new.
You will too.
Recommended for those who care about photography and trains.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amateur Photography and the Obsession of Collecting June 23, 2013
The act of collecting was once a particularly strong trait in Anglo-American culture. Much of my childhood was spent in the 1980s, before the Internet era, when kids--and especially boys--were still expected to busy themselves with hobbies that generally involved some form of collecting. I never traded baseball cards--mine was a football household, poor benighted fans of the Seattle Seahawks--but there were other milieus: coins, stamps, agates. And then there were the adults. My grandfather, for example, seemed to be a magnet for early Pacific Northwest mountaineering memorabilia, though this was not his most unusual collection. That prize went to rocks. As in pure, genuine, plain rocks. If he travelled anywhere interesting--Mount Hood, the Olympic Mountains, Canada, the Oregon Coast--a humble rock would get tossed into the trunk. Jeff Brouws and Wendy Burton's new book, Some Vernacular Railroad Photographs, is about the obsession of such collection, in this case of the amateur photographs of railroads.

The railroad has had a profound influence on American culture, and is a subject of much veneration in popular history. The chase of The General across the battlefields of the U.S Civil War, the joining of the transcontinental railroad with a gold spike at Promontory, Utah in 1869, and the tragic 1900 death of locomotive engineer Casey Jones in a collision in Mississippi are all well known pieces of American folklore. More than a half century after the last mainline steam railroad laid low its coal fires and converted to economical, unromantic diesel power, the steam locomotive remains so evocative that it is the chief avatar of railroads in the public consciousness.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You may have to look up the word "Vernacular". November 6, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
You know, I had in mind what I thought this book would be. It's not that. It's not a bad book, but I was expecting. I thought it would be photos from unidentified sources. For example, I found in one of my grandfather's album a photo taken by my great grandfather of the Empire State Express. A book of train snapshots. Now that's probably my fault for not thoroughly perusing the description. I gave it 4 stars because I found for a large book it often had rather small photos. Maybe that could not be helped. But it detracted some from the book for me.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting February 8, 2014
By Michael
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book was different but all the old pictures were fascinating. Definitely a thumbs up. I would recommend the book to someone who is interested in history.
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