I don't get a ton of Judy Garland stuff in--she's tough to buy at the right price, but lucked into 5, well 4-1/2, Press Photos in the big batch of Mickey Rooney Press Photos that I recently acquired. Mickey is, of course, present with Judy in each of these five photos. They're currently at auction on eBay with the bidding starting at just $9.99 per photo, the auctions ending Wednesday night, March 23.
There are a couple of things I really love about Press Photos, one a universal appeal and the other not always so.
First, they're indisputably vintage. Not only do they often include press markings on both sides but very often either include a press tag (often dated) that provides the snippet of text that the newspaper or magazine uses to caption the photo at publication, and/or a date stamp, marked by the publisher at date of publication for reference purposes in their archives. These stamps, and sometimes just the tags, provide a simple way to date the photo for collectors. Buying vintage photos can be tricky for collectors and even dealers, there's a lot of so-called vintage merchandise out there that are actually later restrikes--three cheers for the dealer who labels their photos properly!
The second, often most-noticeable, trait of the press photo is its press markings. These aren't always desirable because they can change the appearance of the actual photograph, but personally I like it a lot because it adds a little history of the press and to the history of the specific photograph. Press markings include standard marks on back, most of these actually desirable, including date stamp, publisher's stamp, markings as to size, sometimes even a newspaper clipping showing the finished, published work. On front is where tastes may vary with crop marks on the photo surface to show which section of the photo was to be printed along with touch-ups and cover-ups, typically to either enhance the photo subject or obscure undesirable sections of the image.
Other markings you may see on back of the photo include those made before the photo even reaches the press service such as a photographer's stamp (very desirable, see Hurrell example on this page), studio stamp (Kindly credit M-G-M), or a stamp identifying the press service (A.P., U.P., etc.).
A picture is worth a thousand words and so I've included images here of both sides of each Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland photo so you can actually see many of the traits I've already described. Far from a lesson in vintage photos though this post was intended to be Mickey and Judy eye candy, so enjoy:
Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland Babes in Arms Press Photo stamped October 21, 1939 on back.
Mickey Rooney stares at photos of Judy Garland, Ann Rutherford and Diana Lewis on this Andy Hardy Meets Debutante Press Photo stamped August 14, 1940 on back.
This Press Photo stamped November 27, 1946 is one of a series of "The Life and Loves of Andy Hardy" (more from this series to come in a later post) that pictures Mickey Rooney with Judy Garland in the earlier film Andy Hardy Meets Debutante.
Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland perform a radio adaptation of their hit film Babes in Arms on this Press Photo stamped November 12, 1941.
Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland from Babes on Broadway. No date on this one, but press tag on back identifies it as vintage to the films release in 1941. Photo is also stamped Hurrell Studios on back.
From Life is Too Short by Mickey Rooney. Villard Books, New York: 1991.
Andy Hardy flicks always had a flock of pretty girls in them. In fact, the studio realized that the Hardy pictures were a great showcase for young actresses. Lana Turner ended up in Love Finds Andy Hardy as the knockout newcomer that I just had to invite to the Christmas Eve dance. Trouble is, I've already invited another girl, too (Polly Benedict, played by Ann Rutherford) and I end up with neither of them. I have a bitterly introspective moment in the movie when I reckon that I'll have to give up all this polygamy. But I manage to go to the party, anyway, with none other than Betsy Booth, a girl who was a real good sport and, boy, could she sing and dance too, and just be, well, like a girl you knew and liked and could just talk to and be real with (112).