Pammy K. is the Webmaster of Tullulah's, a site dedicated to classical nude paintings and vintage French postcards of the La Belle Epoch. She is a classical portrait/figure painter who painted portraits professionally for nearly 25 years. "I am an avid lover of the history of art of all kinds," she says. "I now consider myself a jack of all things Web and master of none....but I keep trying." We talked about her collection and all things classically nude and French in the following interview:
ephemera: Tell me about how you become interested in these very unique postcards?
P.K.: I am a classical portrait/figure painter by trade for about 25 years. About 10 years ago, while surfing the net for art of women, I discovered much to my dismay, that most of the paintings were pin-ups or the nude fantasies of most men and not classical in nature. I happened on a site with someone's collection of French postcards. Having never seen them in my whole life...or knowing that people actually collected postcards, sparked my interest. I wanted to find out everything I could about the photographers. At the same time, I began to use them for a more classical-style of painting women.
ephemera: What challenges or obstacles do you encounter in collecting vintage French postcards of this type? How do you overcome these challenges?
P.K.: When I started collecting postcards, they were cheap....I could purchase 100 cards for about $60, new old stock. I never saw a nude for more than $5. There were no websites with any information whatsoever. I contacted a few people in France to help me locate information...it was a long, slow process. In the meantime, I started writing opinion and speculative articles, based on the images and the styles of lighting etc. I found if I wrote something incorrectly, in the case of photographers and actresses, family members would write to give me the correct information....and sending documentation to verify their facts. My newest challenge is the fact that Google has relegated my site to the porn end of the Internet because I sell nudes and erotic-type images for download. They also will not index any of my articles. I have seen my articles copied EXACTLY on very objectionable websites. I cannot use Google checkout and have been banned from Paypal as well. I am currently re-working the site and trying to make it user friendly for all....and that includes not showing any nudes or risqué material....including my paintings. Check with me in six months on this one. The site has gotten huge over the last nine years so many stories will be going away or majorly revised.
I also developed a section of the ongoing prices of cards on the auction sites. The more I wrote, the higher the prices went. After a few years, I priced myself right out of the very market, I created. It didn't take long before the dealers on the two main auction sites, would post images based on whatever my story of the month was. Ultimately, this turned out to be a HUGE obstacle for my ability to purchase cards.
ephemera: Good luck with re-tooling the site to conform with the search engine requirements. That sounds like a big project. Tell me more about the collection. What are your favorite items in your collection?
P.K.: I have two personal favorites, and I still collect them. One are cards that are marked GG, Gerlach. He was a portrait photographer, just prior to the turn of the century. His images are romantic and the lighting exceptional.
My other favorite are German statue nudes. They used real people and painted their bodies as though they were statues....most of them are in bad shape and very hard to find.
ephemera: The collection is amazing. Congratulations on putting it together. What’s your advice for achieving success as a collector?
P.K.: To be successful as a collector, never let anyone know what you type of card you are collecting. As soon as a dealer knows, the price goes up. A good example of this are cards marked by the German photographer Traut....great turn of the century postcards. They could be purchased for about 65 cents at most trade shows for years. A friend of mine wrote a speculative article about Traut and now most of those cards go for in the $40-60 range. I took the article down but too late, almost of the articles I wrote have been copied word-for-word by other sites, so it's all over the Internet now.
ephemera: That's good advice. What resources do you recommend?
P.K.: Over the years, I have collected many different magazines and books all in French, each having just a little information in them. There is plenty of material out there but you have to be willing to translate. I also depend on the good people of France to help me. The French National Library is a great resource and the National Portrait Gallery in London are both more than friendly and helpful.
As far as storage, I store my cards in hard-back cases and keep them in albums according to what type of image they are...for easy access.
For tools, I depend on a good scanner and Adobe...most of the images are in such bad shape, I have to retouch them in order to group them as downloads. I scan at a high resolution and reduce them after retouching them. Most of the people who buy the images are artists or designers and don't want to spend their time retouching.
ephemera: This is such a fascinating subject. A lot of postcard collectors will appreciate this collection and learn from your experiences. Thank you sharing your advice and thoughtful comments.
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