facebook
instagram
EARLY JIMI HENDRIX ON POLAROID

An auction by Julien's Auctions in November 2021 1 included two shots of  Curtis Knight & the Squires taken at Ondine in New York City, probably circa June / July 1966. These sold for $896 which seems like a pretty good price for two fuzzy photographs but these actually were two ORIGINAL Polaroid shots of the band. The pictures are well known from hundreds of Curtis Knight lps but these seem to be the "master" Polaroids from which all of the other versions originate.

Julien's made no fuss about that and in fact listed the pictures as photos of Jimi on stage with the Isley Brothers so the Polaroids may not have been auctioned by a Hendrix collector.

The listing included good quality images of both sides of the photos. From these it was possible to see that the photos are original Polaroids, stamped on the back as such. To be more specific they are Rollfilm Type 42 Polaroids (as can be seen from the small "42" stamp on the back of the shots).

The dimensions of a Type 42 Polaroid are 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 inches (8.3 x 10.8 cm). The image area is 2 7/8 x 3 3/4 inches (7.3 x 9.5 cm). One roll had 8 shots.

The process used by these old Polaroid cameras differs somewhat from the later, nowadays more well known, cameras: after taking a photo and pulling the print out of the camera it had to be covered with print coater by hand, applied with a small sponge.  How all of this was done can be seen in a nice video posted on YouTube:



As photographers rarely managed to produce an even coating on the photo there are very often light brown stripes to be seen in these old Polaroid pictures. This is also the case here with the Ondine shots as well on several other old Hendrix photographs like those of the King Kasuals taken in Nashville in 1963.

curtis knight detail
A SPOT WITHOUT COATER ON AN ONDINE POLAROID

If you compare the spots with missing coater stripes on the Julien's Ondine Polaroids to the old shots as printed on the album covers these match exactly. The original uncropped "striped" prints have to my knowledge never been printed in any publication anywhere in anything resembling high enough quality for use as forgeries that would be this good. So based on the quality and completeness of the shots auctioned by Julian's I believe that they are the originals (though of course I haven't seen seen them "in the flesh").

An interesting detail about the Ondine Polaroids is that they don't seem to be just quick snapshots. As the two photos in the Julien's auction are uncropped one can see that they have been framed in exactly the same way. Also, one of the shots shows the audience dancing, the other an empty dance floor. It looks like whoever took the shots may have arrived before the club doors were opened, was sat at one of the tables or at the back of the room and positioned the camera stationary on top of something steady.

The location and the framing of the shots was planned in advance: the shot with just the musicians shows the complete band, perfectly framed so that all of the players are visible without any wasted space.

The shot with the audience is framed in exactly the same way but half the band is obscured. Clearly whoever took the shots wanted to make sure that the camera didn't shake and put in a steady position, perhaps before the audience arrived unfortunately not realizing that the dancing people would come between the camera and the band? In any case a lot of effort clearly was put into getting the best possible pictures with the limited means available.

 

 
SOURCES
1 The shots were lot #598 in the MUSIC ICONS 2021 -auction 6 November 2021 and sold for $896. The extremely inaccurate (as the shots are in fact of Curtis Knight & the Squires circa 1966) item description read:
"A group of two black and white Polaroid snapshots with each depicting a young Jimi Hendrix performing on stage at a small venue with the Isley Brothers circa 1964. The versos of both read in part "Polaroid." Hendrix is barely recognizable in a conservative v-neck sweater and plain white pants! 3 1/34 by 4 1/4 inches"
https://www.julienslive.com/lot-details/index/catalog/365/lot/158847

There is also a small typo in the description as the correct dimensions of a Type 42 Polaroid are 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 inches