Thursday, June 28, 2012
Joel Montague never stops. He will hit his 80th birthday very soon and shows no sign of slowing down. He's in the process of completing a book on the famous pioneering Angkor photographer John Thomson, who took some of the earliest pictures of the temples in 1866. He's also off to a little-known part of China next week on a search for any remnants of a French enclave someone told him about. We also know Joel because he's an authority on early 20th century postcards, produced by the French to glorify their colonials exploits in Indochina, for which he's published a book. He also collects pharmaceutical labels and shop signs, as well as chromos. If you've never heard of the latter, then Joel gave an explanation all about them at Meta House tonight, explaining that trade cards, as they're also known, were produced by the French to accompany boxes of chocolates and to continue their glorification of Indochina. Other countries produced cigarette cards in the early 1900s, but that was too vulgar for the French who preferred to use chocolate as their vehicle for heralding their colonial successes. The projector wasn't working but everyone got the idea and another feature of colonial promotion was uncovered.