MP-0000.25.20 | Potato race on the "Argonaut", about 1900
Potato race on the "Argonaut", about 1900
Anonyme - Anonymous
About 1900, 19th century or 20th century
Silver salts on glass - Gelatin dry plate process
8 x 8 cm
Gift of Mr. Stanley G. Triggs
© McCord Museum
Keywords: boat (1192) , Photograph (77678) , steamer (448) , Transportation (2517)
Keys to History
Early in the twentieth century, amateur photography was still the preserve of the wealthy, who alone had the means to buy the equipment and supplies required. However, this only partially explains the popularity of photography among the well-off. More than money, time was needed and rich people have more free time than the poor. Is it any surprise, then, that the themes of amateur photographers are essentially activities of high society? Fun on a cruise liner! That could be the title of this photo showing the highlights of a potato race aboard a cruise ship. This is a major event, as can be seen from the number of photographers on deck.
A good racing potato must be nice and round. Then it can beat the other spuds handily, earn a place on the podium and perhaps even be photographed!
The decks of cruise ships were the scene of society life and all manner of gatherings. Even religious ceremonies were held on the deck of the Argonaut.
At the beginning of the twentieth century, photography was still practised exclusively by the upper crust. Although the relatively high cost of equipment was an obstacle to the democratization of photography, it was also ruled out as a hobby for more humble folk because of their lack of free time.
The number of photographers on deck indicates both the popularity of amateur photography and the highly amusing character of the scene depicted.