Why sit on stuff when you can give it away and be useful? Well exactly, and so I’ve been uploading some of my Charles Urban images to a new folder on Flickr. As well as plundering my digital archive, I’ve been copying and pasting images from Urban’s 1903 film catalogue, We Put the World Before You, available on the Internet Archive (courtesy of the indispensable Media History Digital Library). The images won’t be of the highest resolution, but they will be browsable and a lot easier to find.
I’ve done this before – lifting images from public domain books (i.e. on the Internet Archive, and strictly speaking US public domain) and making them separately discoverable on Flickr (for silent films in particular). Of course we have software programmes now which can extract images from digital libraries automatically, but they still need classifying by humans if humans are going to find them, and find them useful. So that’s what I do.
If you don’t know who Charles Urban was, then you haven’t been following this blog or some of my other web offerings, but in brief he was an Anglo-American film producer in the early years of cinema who specialised in non-fiction film – there’s an introductory post on him here and my website dedicated to the man is at www.charlesurban.com.
Below is a selection of Urban images from the 1903 catalogue, when Urban was just starting out as an independent producer, impressing his unique vision of what films could show and what they were upon an unsuspecting public. Despite the catalogue’s title, in 1903 he hadn’t had the chance to cover all that much of the world (mostly Switzerland, Canada, Egypt and London Zoo). But it was nevertheless a strong statement of intent.