mad in pursuit journal

DISPATCHED FROM THE CROSSROADS, AT THE intersection OF myth & mystery

Paul Wall Collection Unravels

Photo by Paul Wall, Chicago. “Morning Downtown” 1st prize Popular Photography magazine, circa 1940.Funny how sometimes the internet seems devoid of interest in you, then one day it turns into a small town. I've made countless references to the photographer "Paul Wall" in these pages as I've tried to sell a stack of 126 photographs. Now his children have turned up on my doorstep with the message that only one of the photos is by their father.

The person who found me was Melanie, a former long-time girlfriend of Paul Wall's son. In nice chatty emails, she told me about the Chicago family and gave me his son's address.

The son doesn't have a computer so I printed out my illustrated listing and mailed it to him.

Yesterday he called from California. In my digging through the census records, I did find the right Paul Wall in Chicago. And (before I sold it) I did own one of his best photos, "Morning Downtown" (above). But the rest -- fuhgeddaboudit. He consulted with his siblings and the times and places simply don't track with the chronology of Paul Wall.

So now I'm correcting my web pages and will correct my Ebay listings. Since they aren't signed I have always listed the photos as "attributed to." I believe that my buyers have purchased their photos as interesting places, not as investments in a minor Pictorialist.

I guess I'll never know who the real photographer was for the 125 non-Walls. Mysteries always lead to more mystery.



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