A Reevaluation: Clarence H. White

1-clarence-white-signature"Clarence H. White Autograph": Black ink, 1916. By his own hand, White autographed a manilla card-stock mount (36.2 x 28.6 cm) featuring a portrait photograph of himself taken by student Ruth Anthony Davis during the Seventh Summer Session of the School of Photography at Stevens Farm in East Canaan, CT that year. Please see portrait below. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

When I remarried a dozen years ago, an obscure bit of farce entered the equation leading up to the “I do” moment. The fateful convolution? My beloved hailed from Newark, OH: the same Midwestern US city where pioneering art photographer Clarence Hudson White (1871-1925) had spent his formative years before leaving permanently along with his family to New York City in 1906.

 

2-clarence-white-portrait-Detail: "Portrait of Clarence H. White": Ruth Anthony Davis, American (1880-1979): 1916: vintage platinum print: 24.2 x 19.3 cm | 29.0 x 21.5 cm Japan paper | 36.2 x 28.6 cm manilla card-stock: Davis, an early member of the Providence Camera Club, photographed her instructor Clarence Hudson White while she attended the Seventh Summer Session of the School of Photography at Stevens Farm in East Canaan, CT. A description of the school's location with emphasis on potential photographic subjects for students appeared in the March, 1916 issue of the International Studio: "The seventh summer session of the Clarence H. White School of Photography will be held at East Canaan, Connecticut, instead of Sequinland, Maine, as heretofore, during July and August. East Canaan is situated in a beautiful valley in the Berkshire Hills of Northern Connecticut, at an elevation of eight hundred feet above the sea level, and is surrounded by hills rising another eight hundred feet above the floor of the valley. The country furnishes abundance of photographic material, comprising, within easy walking distance, farms, rolling uplands, streams, rugged mountains and architecture of typically New England character, many of the buildings dating from Colonial times. Numerous industries, such as iron furnaces, lime kilns, and the like, afford abundant opportunity for pictorial work. The neighbourhood is by no means thickly settled, and those persons who enjoy the seclusion of country life will find it here. Not least among the attractions of this portion of Connecticut are the delightful climate and the practical freedom from mosquitoes." From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

But this aside is merely an excuse for the real purpose of this post: today is the official public opening of an exciting and ground breaking new exhibit on Clarence White at the Princeton University Art Museum in Princeton, New Jersey. ‪Clarence H. White and His World‬: ‪The Art and Craft of Photography, 1895-1925‬ will be on display there from October 7, 2017 to January 7, 2018. But don’t despair if you can’t make it right away, because the show travels to an additional three US museums through early 2019. Venue details along with additional links including one for the first comprehensive monograph on White published in conjunction with the show and authored by Anne McCauley, David Hunter McAlpin Professor of the History of Photography and Modern Art at Princeton University, concludes this post.

 

3-clarence-h-white-and-hiDetail: "‪Clarence H. White and His World‬: ‪The Art and Craft of Photography, 1895-1925‬": composite gatefold brochure for exhibit at Princeton University Art Museum which runs from October 7, 2017-January 7, 2018. Photographic illustrations by White left and middle: The Sea (Rose Pastor Stokes, Caritas Island, Connecticut) (detail), 1909, printed after 1917. Palladium print. Princeton University Art Museum, Clarence H. White Collection; middle: In the Orchard, Newark, Ohio (detail), 1902, printed after 1917. Palladium print. The Museum of Modern Art. Gift of Jane Felix White, 1941. Courtesy: Princeton University Art Museum

 

Several years before, I had taken a deep-dive into the remarkable life of White, whose arc resonated with me on many levels, especially his love for breaking the rules as applied to photographic lighting. To wit: what do you mean I can’t photograph my subject backlit? A simple optical concept today perhaps but in the late 1890’s? Revolutionary. I kid you not.

 

4-edge-of-the-woods-eveninDetail: "At the Edge of the Woods ⎯ Evening": Clarence H. White, American (1871-1925): Chine-collé photogravure from Camera Notes, Vol. IV, April 1901: 14.4 x 10.1 cm | 28.6 x 19.6 cm uncut: The photographer’s sister-in-law, Letitia Felix is shown at twilight in a wooded setting. Alternately titled as In the Woods; Evening, the photograph was first exhibited in the Third Philadelphia Photographic Salon the same year. (cat.# 202) Later that year, it was exhibited as part of the Newark Camera Club’s exhibition in the town’s Association Building from November 28-December 1, 1900 where it was titled as Edge of the Woods ⎯Evening.  The catalogue issued for the exhibit reproduced the photo as the frontis gravure for the publication. From: PhotoSeed Archi

 

In groundbreaking photographs by White such as his brooding landscape figure study At the Edge of the Woods ⎯Evening (1900), a remarkable twilight composition showing his sister-in-law Letitia Felix emerging from a thicket with just a hint of light on the horizon became just one example of his early output. White’s decidedly masterful reinterpretation of the possibilities of light and the photographic medium done with artistic intent was quickly getting accolades in the press, and his work was soon honored in salons the world over beginning at the end of the 19th century.

 

5-experiment-28-1907"Experiment 28": Alfred Stieglitz 1864-1946 & Clarence White 1871-1925, Americans: vintage japanese tissue photogravure published in Camera Work XXVII: 1909: 20.6 x 15.9 | 30.2 x 21.1 cm: In 1907, the year after Clarence White arrived in New York City, he collaborated with Photo-Secession founder Alfred Stieglitz on a series of portraits featuring two models. Shown here holding a glass globe, California model Mabel Cramer poses in a portrait later reproduced as a plate in Camera Work. Said to be a friend of the German American photographer Arnold Genthe and possessing a face worthy of Cleopatra, Cramer and a woman known only as a Miss Thompson, posed for a series of photographs intended to promote photography as an equivalent medium to painting. It was the only time Stieglitz would ever work in tandem with another photographer and shows the extent to which the photographers were allied aesthetically and technically. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

Not bad for a man with limited means and a high school education. Employed as a bookkeeper in 1890’s Newark nearly seven days a week for the same wholesale grocery firm his father worked at, (the family had moved there in 1887 from nearby West Carlisle, OH), White first took up amateur photography a year after his 1893 marriage to Jane Felix, with the young photographer diligently saving weekly spare change from his salary for camera and darkroom supplies. Reportedly, his reality of only being able to afford the exposure of several glass plates a week necessitated lots of planning in order to make successful photographs. With outdoor locations previously scouted throughout Licking County and interiors often taken in the darkened homes of family and friends, these same subjects were further cajoled into wearing fashions from the American Civil-War era or earlier in order to evoke feelings of times gone by for the compositions.

 

6-arthur-wesley-dow-1908Detail: "Portrait of Arthur Wesley Dow": Clarence H. White, American (1871-1925): vintage waxed platinum print, unmounted: 22.1 x 16.6 cm. From the Princeton University Museum website: "White was hired by Arthur Wesley Dow at Teachers College in 1907 and shared Dow’s philosophy that students of the fine and the applied arts should have the same fundamental training based on design principles (anticipating the approach of the Bauhaus in the 1920s)." from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

A founding member of the American Photo-Secession movement begun in 1902 by Alfred Stieglitz, White’s transition from Newark to New York City in 1906 began a new chapter of teaching by the photographer, who soon made the acquaintance of artist and arts educator Arthur Wesley Dow, (1857-1922) who hired White as an instructor at Columbia University’s Teachers College in 1907. White would go on to found his own groundbreaking schools of artistic photography utilizing a modern pedagogy learned from Dow among others: first in Maine beginning in 1910 and then in New York City in 1914. Besides emphasizing pictorial photographic technique as well as numerous technical processes as part of the school curriculum, modern composition as espoused by Dow was taught along with art history through lecture format in classes by artists including early American cubist painter Max Weber (1881-1961) and later by artists including Charles James Martin (1886-1955) in the early 1920’s.

 

7-charles-james-martin-etc"Interior Composition with Figurines": Charles James Martin, American (1886-1955): vintage etching on plate paper ca. 1915-20: 15.1 x 20.1 | 18.8 x 24.8 cm (trimmed): Martin studied with Arthur Wesley Dow, and later taught alongside him at Columbia University Teachers College. At TC, he also studied photography with Clarence H. White, and became an instructor at White’s School of Photography in 1918. Martin began teaching at the Art Students League of New York in 1921. The following background on Martin and his involvement with the White school appeared in the February, 1921 issue of "The Touchstone and the American Art Student Magazine": "The Clarence H. White School of Photography announces a course of instruction in Print Making by Prof. Charles J. Martin of the Department of Fine Arts, Columbia University. The purpose of the course is to develop an appreciation of prints through a study of fine examples and particularly through practice in etching plates, cutting blocks and printing. There will be also an opportunity to do photo-engraving such as the line cut and photogravure. The course will consist of twenty sessions. The earlier sessions are now under way, and the response to this announcement gives evidence that the student of the Photographic Arts is endeavoring to gain practical knowledge as well as artistic reproduction." p. 406: from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

At 54, Clarence White died of a heart attack while accompanying photo students during a summer session of his school in Mexico City in 1925. Besides his important contributions as a ground-breaking photographic artist in the late 19th and early 20th century, his legacy as a teacher is perhaps more important as we finally begin to reevaluate his importance in the larger history of early artistic photography. The Princeton exhibition and accompanying monograph-the first truly comprehensive volume on White ever published, will further our understanding and appreciation for this gentleman.

 

PhotoSeed is honored to have played a small role in the exhibition showcasing Clarence White’s talents at photographic book illustration. A slim volume loaned for the show, Songs of All Seasons, published in 1904 with prose by his uncle Ira Billman and photographs by White, will be included in an exhibit display case.  An additional rare illustrated copy of Irving Bacheller’s best-selling novel Eben Holden from 1903, with photogravure plates by White, will also appear after it was acquired by Princeton from this archive. This site further intends to publish additional posts over the next several years chronicling White’s groundbreaking schools of photography as well as other aspects of his early and later life in Newark, OH and New York.

 

8-landscape-woman-with-gloDetail: "Morning": Clarence H. White, American (1871-1925): 1905: vintage photogravure published in the volume "The Artistic Side of Photography" by A.J. Anderson: London, Stanley Paul & Co., 1910. 11.9 x 9.3 | 22.5 x 15.1 cm. The plate, titled "A Landscape", from a platinotype in the collection of A.L. Coburn, appears on p. 155. This moody landscape photograph with figure was taken by White on the bluffs in Newark, Ohio overlooking the Licking River, a location that appears in several of the photographer's compositions. From the Metropolitan Museum of Art Website, which holds an original platinum print dated to 1905 bequeathed by Alfred Stieglitz: "Morning perfectly embodies the tenets of Pictorialism: expressive, rather than narrative or documentary, content; craftsmanship in the execution of the print; and a carefully constructed composition allied to Impressionist and American Tonalist painting and to popular Japanese prints. His photographs from the period before he moved to New York in 1906 signaled a remove from the modern urban world. Neither genre scene nor narrative tableau, this photograph is a retreat into domesticized nature." From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

EXHIBITION SCHEDULE: ‪Clarence H. White and His World‬: ‪The Art and Craft of Photography, 1895-1925‬


Princeton University Art Museum  
       (10/07/17–01/07/18)

Further link to the exhibit at Princeton

Video:  Breaking down photographic processes used by Pictorialist photographers: a collaboration between the Princeton University Art Museum and the Yale Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage.


 

 

Davis Museum, Wellesley College                   
(02/07/18–06/03/18)
Portland Museum of Art, Maine
                      (06/30/18–09/16/18)
Cleveland Museum of Art
                                   (10/21/18–01/21/19)

 

 

Book link:
October 31, 2017
    408 pages, 10 x 11 1/2
346 color + b/w illus.
   ISBN: 9780300229080  
Hardcover
Distributed for the Princeton University Art Museum

 

 

 

 

 

The Beautiful Beyond

 

PhotoSeed celebrates the life of one of its profound influences on the recent passing of my father Charles Edward Spencer 1925-2017.

 

charles-spencer-photographs"Charlie Spencer and WWII Classmates" : unknown English photographer: gelatin silver K(odak) Ltd postcard ca. 1940: 13.8 x 8.7 cm : The author's father, about 15, is seen at far left striking a pose in Workington, on the west coast of Cumbria England (Cumberland county) during the early part of World War II. Born in Holyoke, Massachusetts in 1925 to English parents who sought their fortune in the United States, the American Depression forced the family back to their native Newcastle upon Tyne by 1933. A favored German aerial target during the war because of its important shipbuilding industry, Charlie was evacuated along with over 800,000 English school age children from Newcastle and other large English cities beginning in late 1939 as part of the British government's Operation Pied Piper, which eventually displaced 3.5 million people in the UK. Late in the war, he returned to Newcastle, (Benwell) reuniting with his parents Charles and Jane (Garland) Spencer and graduating there from Atkinson Road Technical School. An American by birth, he soon found himself serving in the U.S. Army of Occupation in Germany, where he was a reporter for the Stars and Stripes newspaper among other duties. His first eight years in America had certainly made an impression however, and he returned to the states for good in early 1949 aboard the troop ship USNS General Maurice Rose. Settling in the greater Bridgeport, CT area, he went on to become an advertising and sales promotion specialist for the General Electric Company in their small appliance division for fifteen years and later in the same capacity with other business ventures in CT. Married 61 years to Ann, he passed away in September, 2017. Note: girl in photograph is daughter from Workington family with whom Charlie stayed with during his billet. After Workington, he was billeted with another family in Siddick England. From: Authors personal family archive.

 

 

The call would come, I had convinced myself, for years. But it waited patiently. I reassured myself I was prepared, but for naught. When it did, from my brother Will, it was from his childhood voice over 50 years gone: punctuating his cries through the distance, he gasped for breath: “Dad did not wake up” he somehow forced through his cracking voice, cries and tears. My own response immediate: a shuddering to my core equal to his-helpless feelings not revisited since my toddler days-cries my father was now unable to comfort as he did throughout my entire life ⎯the finality of it all.

 

But goodness had shined its light, in this most profound form of sudden loss: my dad was now truly free of any miseries real for him in the physical present, and ones our family perceived in him during his long and noticeable decline. Vanquished. He was now free, and on his journey to the beautiful beyond.

David Spencer-

 

 

Summer Love & Remembrance

 From days gone by, an early summer scene for your viewing fancy.

woman-holding-wearing-poppi"Woman with Poppies": vintage Autochrome glass plate: Anonymous, perhaps British photographer: ca. 1910-20: 8.2 x 8.2 cm. Autochrome, the first practical color photographic process, was invented and first patented by Auguste and Louis Lumière of France in 1903. Commercially available beginning in 1907 and championed by pictorialist photographers the world over, Wikipedia states Autochrome was an additive color mosaic screen plate process. "The medium consists of a glass plate coated on one side with a random mosaic of microscopic grains of potato starch dyed red-orange, green, and blue-violet which act as color filters. Lampblack fills the spaces between grains, and a black-and-white panchromatic silver halide emulsion is coated on top of the filter layer." From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

See other examples of early color views in various processes from PhotoSeed here.

 

 

Freedom of Jones

 

That experiment of American Democracy, culminating in our annual celebration today of the Fourth of July holiday, has survived 241 times since that fateful Philadelphia signing, in 1776, of a remarkable document giving notice to the larger world our Declaration of Independence and legal right to self-rule, with benefits.

 

asbury-park-boardwalk-sceneDetail: "Asbury Park Boardwalk": Laural J. Jones, American: 2004 digital scan taken from ca. 1938-1945 black and white film negative: A woman who may have become the photographer's second wife, Edith, sits with a white hat on her lap on a bench at center in this bustling summer boardwalk scene taken at the Fourth Ave. entrance. The 18-hole Asbury Park Obstacle Golf course can be seen directly behind the bench at center and at left. Courtesy: Private Florida Collection

 

 

Freedom of expression, and with it speech as it relates to the right of picking up a camera and chronicling daily life in one own’s creative bent without fear or favor are American freedoms held dearly by this website. I long hope our presently divided country can see the worth and value of all her citizens understanding each other and getting along for the betterment of the whole.

 

 

2-military-paradeDetail: "Fifth Avenue Military Parade": Laural J. Jones, American: 2004 digital scan taken from ca. 1938-1945 black and white film negative: Possibly taken before World War II, a little girl at far right holds an American flag as US infantry troops march up Fifth Ave. in New York City. The location of the photograph is W. 27th Street. The former La Primadora Havana Cigar shop can be seen at center at 234 Fifth Ave. and a Horn & Hardart automat is in the lower floor retail area next door at 236 Fifth Ave. Courtesy: Private Florida Collection

 

Not Lost Forever: the work of Laural J. Jones


With the blessing of a good friend who owns this documentary work in the form of developed 35mm black & white film negatives, and dating more than 20 years past the offerings of the more typical pictorialist body of work featured on PhotoSeed, I’m taking advantage of America’s national holiday to introduce to the world a gentleman who knew a thing or two about self-expressionistic ideals enshrined in our Constitution, the work of American amateur photographer Laural J.(ohn) Jones. (1897-1980)

 

3-rms-queen-elizabethDetail: "RMS Queen Elizabeth in New York Harbor": Laural J. Jones, American: 2004 digital scan taken from ca. 1940-1945 black and white film negative: Although it is unknown when this photograph was taken, onlookers witness the famed 85,000 ton RMS Queen Elizabeth ocean liner in this photo. She initially docked on March 7, 1940 at Pier 90 in quarantine anchorage off Staten Island following a secret voyage to the US from Greenock, Scotland in order to evade German bombers. Courtesy: Private Florida Collection

 

Reminiscent in some ways to the much larger body of unknown photographs done by Chicago nanny Vivian Maier (1926-2009) after her life’s work was rescued from a storage locker in 2007, Jones work by contrast and fate was preserved in only two shoe boxes. Residing for more than five years in a Florida antique store before being discovered and saved, spooled negatives by Laural Jones along with an assortment of very small printed photographs are believed to have been placed there from an estate sale originating from the photographer’s second wife Edith, who had lived with Laural in the community of Harbour Oaks, south of Daytona Beach.  

 

 

4-laural-j-jones-triptch"Self-Portraits of Laural J. Jones: 1897-1980": Laural J. Jones, American: 2004 digital scans taken from ca. 1938-1953: black and white film negatives: The photographer is seen here in a series of self portraits with the center view taken at his office in New York City, where he was employed as the secretary of purchasing for Bell Bakeries, Inc. Courtesy: Private Florida Collection

 

Since all that remains are negatives, and with sparse details of his life slowly emerging from US Census and other web resources and records only recently, the Michigan-born Jones is known to have owned the then-new Leica camera sometime around 1938, around the time he is believed to have commenced his early interest in photography. In one surviving photograph stamped 1942 that is an obvious self-portrait, the photographer is nattily dressed and smoking a pipe while he inspects a copy of Popular Photography magazine.

 

 

5-times-square-new-years-eDetail: "1938: Times Square at Night": Laural J. Jones, American: 2004 digital scans taken from ca. 1938 black and white film negative: In this view showing Times Square at night in New York City taken between Christmas and New Year's Eve 1938, a large banner for the year 1939 hangs above the entrance to the Hotel Astor at far left which exclaims those to Celebrate New year's Eve in their Grand Ball Room and Grill. A large lighted Christmas tree is in center background while at far right, the Loew's Criterion marquee advertises in glowing lights the American movie western "Ride a Crooked Mile" starring Akim Tamiroff and Frances Farmer. Courtesy: Private Florida Collection

 

Earlier, on Thanksgiving day in 1918, he was first married to the former Ruby A. Armour, (1899-1977) and is listed in a newspaper wedding announcement from the time as being the assistant manager of the Grand Leader Department Store in Battle Creek, with Ruby working there as a clerk. The year of the marriage, the future photographer is described as tall and slender with blue eyes on his World War I draft card, although it appears he was never called up. The couple lived with Laural’s father Mayver Jones, a carpenter for the Advance-Rumely Co., and mother Cora at their home at 129 Somerset Ave. in Battle Creek.

 

An interesting newspaper account from 1933 showed Laural shared a passion for carpentry like his father, and was also skilled in design. That year he spent several months constructing and designing a custom travel trailer coach in his father’s Someset Ave. carpentry shop meant to “conform with the new stream-line automobiles”. It was: “20 feet in length, maroon color with aluminum top. The interior is divided into two compartments, and is finished throughout in paneled veneer, walnut finish. The forward compartment is furnished with built-in library table, Pullman couch upholstered in brown Spanish leather with chairs to match, and folding typewriter desk, and radio, with an oval rug as floor covering.” The couple also seemed to have the luxery of time and money: they hit the road late that Fall pulling the new coach in route to St. Petersburg, FL, where they spent the Winter.

 

In 1935, according to his 1980 obituary, Laural moved to New York City from Michigan in order to serve as secretary in charge of purchasing for Bell Bakeries Inc., a large commercial concern with factories throughout the eastern seaboard and beyond. But it’s not clear if Laural’s wife Ruby accompanied him on the new adventure. That’s because 11 years later, the Battle Creek Enquirer newspaper for June 4, 1946 lists the couple receiving a divorce before Battle Creek circuit court Judge Blaine W. Hatch the day before.

 

 

6-chock-full-o-nuts-at-nigDetail: "Chock Full o' Nuts at Night": Laural J. Jones, American: 2004 digital scan taken from ca. 1938-1945 black and white film negative: This nighttime view believed to have been taken in Brooklyn Heights shows the popular post-Depression coffee shop with the large China Palace restaurant behind it. The coffee brand still marketed today featured shops selling a cup of coffee and sandwich for only a nickel. (at the time, there were 18 shops around New York) A police officer looks on at foreground left while a gentleman wearing his hat can be seen seated along a row of stools through the open doorway of the establishment at center. Courtesy: Private Florida Collection

 

7-union-strike-rally-at-niDetail: "Union Rally at Night": Laural J. Jones, American: 2004 digital scan taken from ca. 1938-1945 black and white film negative: Holding flares and American flags, a nighttime rally of custodians employed by New York City custodians, members of School & Library Employees Local Union 74, takes place at an unknown New York City location. Courtesy: Private Florida Collection

 

8-luna-park-coney-islandDetail: "Entrance to Luna Park, Coney Island at Night": Laural J. Jones, American: 2004 digital scan taken from ca. 1938-1945 black and white film negative: Luna Park was an amusement park in Coney Island, Brooklyn, in New York City that first opened in 1903 and was destroyed by fire in 1944. It finally closed in 1946 after a second fire. Courtesy: Private Florida Collection

 

Taking advantage of city life, while using the Leica 35mm rangefinder to record night scenes a speciality, Laural Jones documented a fascinating and important record of Manhattan and the outer boroughs from the late 1930’s and into the 1940’s, with some of the larger events unfolding before his camera spanning the later years of the American Depression and leading through to the re-ordering of a new world order brought on by World War II. Sadly, the story of preservation as it relates to someones creative and personal artistic endeavors is one consistent with people’s indifference to memories and Photography’s evolving history. But survivors like Laural Jones do show up, thankfully, and in these nine digital offerings, I think you will find plenty to be fascinated with and hopefully inspired by.

 

David Spencer-

 

 

9-kissingDetail: "Picnic Kiss": Laural J. Jones, American: 2004 digital scan taken from ca. 1938-1945 black and white film negative. Laying on a blanket shirtless, and with a picnic hamper and two glasses balancing on top at left, the photographer Laural Jones kisses a woman that may be his future spouse Edith at an unknown location. This woman appears in many surviving negatives taken by the photographer, including one of her on the Asbury Park boardwalk at the top of this post. Courtesy: Private Florida Collection

 

 

 

Let the Children Selfie

 

Cute and engaging as they are, these photographs showing a little boy posing with his then new No. 1A Kodak Jr. Autographic camera and Staten Island, N.Y. resident Dorothy Tucker with her model 3A Folding Pocket model are not known to have been singled out by judges in the annual Kodak Advertising Contests they were entered in. 

 

1-let-the-children-kodak-1Detail: "Let the Children Kodak": Anonymous American Photographer: ca. 1915-20: Gelatin Silver print, mounted to vintage 1890's era cabinet card: 11.3 x 7.7 | 13.2 x 8.7 | 16.4 x 13.9 cm. This amateur photograph was submitted as part of Kodak's annual Advertising Contest around 1915. An unknown little boy in overalls is shown about to take a photograph using a pneumatic bulb shutter release in his right hand while posing behind a No. 1A Kodak Jr. (Autographic) camera. The camera was produced and sold by the Eastman Kodak Company of Rochester, New York from 1914-27. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

But times do change, and so has the company that promoted their namesake as a verb, as in the following slogan used to promote themselves for advertising purposes: Let the Children Kodak.

 

Belatedly, it’s reassuring to know Eastman Kodak did re-emerge from 20 months of Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on September 3, 2013. (1.)

 

For the record, Kodak now brands itself “a technology company focused on imaging”, with major divisions including separate Print and Enterprise Inkjet Systems, Flexographic Packaging, Software and Solutions, Consumer and Film, Advanced Materials and 3D Printing Technology.

 

2-little-boy-with-kodak-mo-89sDetail: "Let the Children Kodak": Anonymous American Photographer: ca. 1915-20: Gelatin Silver print, mounted to vintage 1890's era cabinet card: 10.9 x 7.7 | 13.0 x 9.7 | 16.4 x 13.9 cm. This amateur photograph was submitted as part of Kodak's annual Advertising Contest around 1915. An unknown little boy in overalls is shown about to take a photograph using a pneumatic bulb shutter release in his right hand while standing and holding a No. 1A Kodak Jr. (Autographic) camera. The camera was produced and sold by the Eastman Kodak Company of Rochester, New York from 1914-27. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

The Consumer and Film part of the above is what were interested in here, and happily, Kodak is at least trying to stay in the game, with an outside licensing agreement in place for their own branded PixPro series digital camera and camcorder line (manufactured in China) as well as a new Android™ based smartphone called the Ektra. The company does a good job in putting the Ektra in historical context with all the Kodak innovations going way back, with a company website copywriter pontificating a bit about how company founder George Eastman would …” totally understand the power of putting a camera into a smartphone, a device that everyone always carries.”

 

The reality however-and I do hope they push back given their rich heritage in photography-are plenty of negative reviews for the Ektra. (on CNET, among other sites) Luckily they have a few aces up their sleeves and are proactive and smart enough to diversify into smartphone accessories like wireless selfie sticks, vehicle dashboard mounts and mini tripods, among other things. Word in January, 2017 of the re-introduction of Ektachrome film for both motion picture cinematographers and still shooters scheduled for later this year has also made plenty of folks very happy indeed.

 

3-dorothy-tucker-with-3a-kDetail: "Dorothy Tucker with Kodak 3A Folding Pocket Camera": Charles Rollins Tucker, American (b. 1868): unmounted vintage platinum print ca. 1910-15: 23.6 x 15.0 cm: Dorothy Tucker,  b. August, 1899, of Staten Island, N.Y., the photographer's daughter, is shown holding what is believed to be Kodak's first postcard format camera introduced in 1903 and manufactured until 1915. Wearing an elegant hat and overcoat, Dorothy posed for a series of photographs that were entered over successive years by her father in Kodak's annual Advertising contests. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

So go out and buy that Kodak 40” Selfie Stick with Wireless Remote: impress your neighbors by taking photos and videos “to a whole new level of awesome” as the ad copy promotes, and don’t forget to take some ancient advice from a company that knew a thing or two about winning photo contests with cameras they once made themselves:

 

4-dorothy-tucker-with-foldDetail: "Dorothy Tucker with Kodak 3A Folding Pocket Camera": Charles Rollins Tucker, American (b. 1868): mounted vintage platinum print ca. 1910-15: 22.0 x 14.0 | 33.9 x 24.9 cm: Dorothy Tucker,  b. August, 1899, of Staten Island, N.Y., the photographer's daughter, is shown holding and snuggling up to what is believed to be Kodak's first postcard format camera (shown in closed position) introduced in 1903 and manufactured until 1915. Over a period of successive years, Dorothy posed for a series of photographs taken by her father and entered in Kodak's annual Advertising contests. Scott's Photographica Collection online resource states the 3A was manufactured in seven different models over its' lifetime and that the "1912 Eastman Kodak catalog prices the 3A FPK with Kodak Ball Bearing shutter at 20 dollars, with Kodak Automatic shutter at 25 dollars and with Compound shutter and Zeiss Kodak anastigmat lens at 61.40 dollars." From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

Pretty pictures of pretty children will not sell Kodaks, but the picture of a pretty little girl photographing her playmates will make other children want Kodaks to photograph their playmates.  Make an attractive picture of this sort and you have an entry for Class 4, which calls for pictures illustrating the slogan, “Let the children Kodak.” (2.)

 

 

 

1. see 2012 post on this website: “Kodak’s Work not Done”. A history of Kodak’s annual contests from this site can be found here.
2. excerpt: Thirty Days Left (Kodak Advertising Competition) in: Studio Light (publication of the Eastman Kodak Company): October, 1915, p. 20. A nice historical overview of George Eastman and the Kodak company can be found here on their website.

 

 

Making a Pitch

 

Like hot dogs, apple pie and a certain car company, the time-honored pastime of American baseball is once again upon us this spring in big league parks and dusty diamonds scattered throughout the land.

 

ted-kennedy-curveball-and-aDetail: Top: "Ted Kennedy Throws a Curveball": ca. 1905: vintage cyanotype, unmounted: 17.6 x 12.5 cm: American Major League Baseball Pitcher Ted Kennedy, 1865-1907, demonstrates following through while throwing an overhand curve ball. Shown wearing his St. Louis Browns baseball uniform, Kennedy excelled in the American spirit of being an entrepreneur, inventor and promoter long after his playing days, and was the first ever hitting coach in the Majors. Bottom: Detail: verso autograph from "Ted Kennedy" cyanotype in graphite believed to be genuine: app: 1.0 x 8.5 cm. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

Seen here making his pitch is Ted Kennedy, (1865-1907) one of the game’s early promoters whose playing days lasted a mere two years from 1885-86, pitching for teams including the Chicago White Stockings, Philadelphia Athletics and Louisville Colonels.   Play Ball!

 

 

 

Support our Vision, Validate our Passion

 

Like what you see on PhotoSeed? Have you ever thought of collecting vintage photographs? It might seem strange for some in our modern age of digital connoisseurship, where family photo albums now reside, along with everything else, on your smartphones. But actual physical photographs, unlike their digital brothers and sisters, do actually stand the test of time. You can even hang them on your wall!

 

screengrabScreengrab of the homepage for the PhotoSeed Gallery website hosted by Shopify e-commerce online platform: March, 2017

 

 

If you’ve arrived here by chance, or are a long-time visitor, you might have thought that some of these digital photographs are quite beautiful. Wouldn’t it be nice to…perhaps, acquire an original for yourself, a friend or loved one?  Well today is your lucky day.  After nearly two decades of collecting, I’m going in a new direction and launching PhotoSeed Gallery. The new venture is designed to give anyone in the world (we ship internationally) the opportunity to purchase vintage photographic works of art (never reproductions) created from roughly 1885-1920. Heck, you don’t even need to leave home to do it. A desktop computer will give you the best feel and display for the site, but if you insist, that aforementioned smartphone will also do the trick nicely from anywhere.

 

 

playing-at-shops-edgar-leeDetail: Playing at Shops: Edgar G. Lee, English: (1860-1915) vintage exhibition lantern slide ca. 1895-1905: 8.2 x 8.2 cm. A portrait photographer by trade, Englishman Edgar Lee was an active exhibitor in the Royal Photographic Society Salons from 1890-1903. The body of work he is best remembered for however is documentary, with 300 of his lantern slides held in the Woodhorn Museum and Northumberland Archives chronicling the residents, mostly poor, of the Quayside area of Newcastle upon Tyne. PhotoSeed owns several examples of Lee's work, including this street view showing a group of little girls- with two clad in white aprons at front and left- pretending to sell what appears to be an assortment of rocks or broken tiles arranged on a table made from slate and rocks. Interestingly, a postcard of this image: "Playing at Shops: The Slums, Sandgate" was later published by his Newcastle firm Thompson and Lee, the work possibly part of his earlier documentary involvement with investigations conducted by the Royal Commission on the Poor Laws and Relief of Distress in England held from 1905-09. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

Many websites solicit funding via one of those “donate here” buttons for their upkeep and survival. I can appreciate that, but somehow, in my humble estimation, it is so much better to support your love of photography by receiving something in return: in this case, tangible and real photographs. Going forward, gallery sales will be vital and necessary for maintaining PhotoSeed’s core mission of bringing attention to the often obscure and forgotten practitioners from photography’s past, as well as the critical and time-consuming scholarship their work demands in giving it the proper due it deserves for the larger historical record. And no worries, I’m a collector myself at heart, so our intent will always be the continual addition of rare and surprising examples to this record in the coming years.

 

Thanks for stopping by, and please consider a purchase to support our vision and validate our passion.

 

 -David Spencer          PhotoSeed Archive & Gallery  owner and curator  March, 2017

 

 

Old Nasty Women

 

The historical photographic record doesn’t flinch when it comes to the importance of women, and I present herewith a short gallery as evidence, many of these photographs taken by women themselves. Mother Earth was surely proud of those millions who turned out in rallies all over the United States and across the World in support of the fairer sex on Saturday. And in Washington, D.C., it was a pointed, diverse, and joyous message presenting the true story of America heard loud and clear countering the utterances of the keynote speaker the day before.

 

1-mexcan-family-living-near-sweetwater-texasA Message to Washington: "Sweet-faced Little Mother" : Detail: Anonymous American Photographer: 1911: Cyanotype postcard mailed to Washington D.C. from Sweetwater Texas showing a proud Mexican family in front of their Texas & Pacific Railroad section house. 7.4 x 9.9 cm | 8.7 x 13.9 cm: Besides being built with the hard labor of Mexican and other nationalities in the later 19th Century, continued maintenance of American railroads like the "T & P" in places like Texas in the early 20th was often performed by them, with the rail line providing section houses along the track for temporary quarters to live in. Writing to a Mrs. Burnside on the card's verso, the following appears in neat script: "This man came up and asked me to come and take a picture of his baby, "just borned"-When I got there, the whole family wanted to be taken-so here they are the sweet-faced little mother and the baby, not quite 2 weeks old. They are such a happy-hearted class of people." From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

2-song-of-the-meadow-lark-"The Song of the Meadow Lark": Mathilde Weil: American: (1872-1942) ca. 1900: Platinum print mounted on board signed in red with Weil cipher at lower right: 18.4 x 16.0 cm | 19.1 x 16.5 cm: black-painted wood frame: 28.4 x 25.7 cm: In December, 1899, critic Francis J. Ziegler, writing in Brush and Pencil for a review of the Philadelphia Photographic Salon, said of this photograph: "Among Philadelphia's artist photographers one of the most prominent is Miss Mathilde Weil, and her contributions to this exhibition are full of artistic excellence. Her "Song of the Meadow-Lark" has a suggestion of the Orient about it, notwithstanding the fact that the landscape is an American field and the two girls who have stopped in their reaping have American faces. This effect, I think, is due to the long braids of hair which hang down the front of one damsel's bodice, and the white jacket worn by her companion, the trimming of which repeats the same lines in artistic harmony." (p. 113) From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

3-doris-ulmann-woman-with-plow-from-roll-jordan-roll-1933"Woman Behind Plow": Doris Ulmann, American: (1882-1934): 1933: hand-pulled photogravure: Plate 39 from the deluxe volume Roll Jordan Roll: New York: Robert O. Ballou: (text by Julia Peterkin) 21.2 x 16.3 | 28.4 x 20.5 cm: A landmark photographic volume of the 20th Century featuring ethnographic studies and portraits, this volume features 90 full-page copperplate gravures done in the Pictorial manner. Writing for the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Texas, author Steve Watson describes the volume in part: "The book focuses on the lives of former slaves and their descendants on a plantation in the Gullah coastal region of South Carolina. Peterkin, who won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel Scarlet Sister Mary (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1928), was born in South Carolina and raised by a black nursemaid who taught her the Gullah dialect. She married the heir to Lang Syne, a 2,000-acre cotton plantation, which became the setting for Roll, Jordan, Roll. Ulmann began photographing there in 1929." From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

4-blind-by-paul-strand-cam"Photograph-New York": Paul Strand, American: (1890-1976): 1917: hand-pulled photogravure from Camera Work XLIX/L: 22.4 x 16.6 | 29.7 x 20.6 cm: This iconic portrait of a blind woman, who has been issued a peddler's license by the city seen above her sign, was taken by Strand with the aid of either a false or prism lens as part of a series of ground-breaking modernist photographs done on the streets of New York City in the Fall of 1916. Writing the same year this portrait appeared in Camera Work, in August, 1917, an essay on Photography for the journal The Seven Arts concludes with the following observations by Strand-observations that could also certainly apply to the joyful diversity of human beings themselves, as in this case- womankind herself: "The existence of a medium, after all, is its absolute justification, if as so many seem to think, it needs one, and all comparison of potentialities is useless and irrelevant. Whether a water-color is inferior to an oil, or whether a drawing, an etching, or a photograph is not as important as either, is inconsequent. To have to despise something else is a sign of impotence. Let us rather accept joyously and with gratitude everything through which the spirit of man seeks to an ever fuller and more intense self-realization." (pp. 525-26) From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

5-juliana-royster-woman-reDetail: "Untitled Study of Woman Reading to Children: Juliana Royster, American: ( 1876-1962) ca. 1905-10: Gelatino-Choloride (POP) print: 11.8 x 10.0 cm: An artist who excelled in multiple mediums, Juliana Royster, from Raleigh, North Carolina, learned photography while attending Saint Mary’s School there, and is best known in the modern era for her founding in 1917, along with husband Jacques (born James) Busbee, (1870-1947) the Jugtown Pottery in Seagrove, North Carolina. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

6-doris-ulmann-woman-looking-out-window-from-roll-jordan-roll-1933Detail: "Woman with Scrub brush Looking out Window": Doris Ulmann, American: (1882-1934): 1933: hand-pulled photogravure: Plate 66 from the deluxe volume Roll Jordan Roll: New York: Robert O. Ballou: (text by Julia Peterkin) 21.0 x 16.3 | 28.4 x 20.5 cm: A landmark photographic volume of the 20th Century featuring ethnographic studies and portraits, this volume features 90 full-page copperplate gravures done in the Pictorial manner. Writing for the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Texas, author Steve Watson describes the volume in part: "The book focuses on the lives of former slaves and their descendants on a plantation in the Gullah coastal region of South Carolina. Peterkin, who won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel Scarlet Sister Mary (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1928), was born in South Carolina and raised by a black nursemaid who taught her the Gullah dialect. She married the heir to Lang Syne, a 2,000-acre cotton plantation, which became the setting for Roll, Jordan, Roll. Ulmann began photographing there in 1929." From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

7-moments-leisure-ben-boyd"A Moments Leisure": Ben J. Boyd: American, ( 1881-1958): ca. 1915-20: Gelatin Silver print, mounted: 24.0 x 14.4 | 26.3 x 15.4 | 34.2 x 26.6 cm: Silhouetted in a doorway, a woman takes a break from hanging laundry seen at center in this unusual home-life study depicting the everyday struggle of women done here by long-time Wilkes-Barre, PA resident and Camera Club member Benjamin Joslin Boyd. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

8-negative-gelatin-silver-"Female Head Study": unknown, probably American photographer: ca. 1900-20: Reverse negative, Gelatin-silver over Cyanotype photograph, unmounted: 8.7 x 6.2 cm: Whether intentional or not, and for the purposes of this post, this alternative, multi-process study of a young woman is symbolic for a joyous, multi-ethnic celebration of women's diversity everywhere. From: PhotoSeed Archive

New Year Liftoff

 

Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people.”

– John Adams

 

1-1906-balloon-liftoff-fro"First Balloon Flight Under the American Aero Club": 1906: James H. Hare: British: 1856-1946: Chloride print (POP) 17.05 x 12.05 | 17.6 x 12.8 cm: With a crowd looking on including officers, cadets and scientists, French aeronaut Charles Levee is seen ascending in the balloon "L'Allouette" from the siege battery at West Point Military Academy in New York State on Sunday, 11th February, 1906. This is the original photograph taken by pioneering British photojournalist Jimmy Hare of the ascent, which was published for his employer Collier's Magazine on 24th February of that year. The fledgling American Aero Club, based in New York City, hired Charles Levee to pilot their 28' diameter yellow balloon, which took 12,500 cubic feet of coal gas to inflate according to a New York Times dispatch. "Wearing an ordinary Winter overcoat and a close-fitting cap" Levee ascended at 3:55 p.m. in the basket of the balloon made of cotton-fabric (the first time a balloon launched from West Point) and traveled nearly 60 kilometers before finally descending at Hurley, New York at 8:10 p.m. with the aid of a rip cord. from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

Lately, I’ve become worried about that general knowledge thing. But this is not a lecture, and a new year is upon us, so bear with me here. Late this summer, I came full-circle back to my native New England after retiring from a 30-year run wearing the hat of photojournalist for newspapers across the country. Photographing and sharing the stories of people from literally all walks of life has been my best teacher and given me the most valuable education and perspective I could ever hope for in my career: the nuance of which I often find lacking in the public discourse of late rising from these so-called divided States of America.

 

2-minute-man-by-daniel-chester-frenchThe Minute Man Statue: ca. 1900: by unknown photographer working for Detroit Photographic Company: Photochrom: from album (29.0 x 40.0 cm) of 48 Photochroms depicting mostly New England historical places and views prepared by the Detroit Photographic Co. for use as a catalog in their offices. Statue in bronze by American sculptor Daniel Chester French (1850-1931) dedicated on the centenary of the Battle of Concord on 19th April, 1875: During the first battle of the American Revolutionary War, which took place here at The Old North Bridge on the 19th of April, 1775 in the town of Concord, MA, (then located in the British Crown colony of the Province of Massachusetts Bay) a group of 37 Acton, MA Minutemen led by Captain Isaac Davis (b. 1745) faced off (with other militia companies made up of about 500 men) against 100 British "Regular" troops. Davis was the first casualty at the bridge during the American War of independence, with Acton Minuteman Abner Hosmer, (1754-1775) a private who played his drum into battle as company musician, the second mortally wounded after being shot through the head. (Acton Minuteman James Hayward also died later that day) On the base of this statue are inscribed the first stanza of American poet Ralph Waldo Emersons Concord Hymn from 1836:"By the rude bridge that arched the flood, Their flag to Aprils breeze unfurled, Here once the embattled farmers stood And fired the shot heard round the world." Said to be modeled after Captain Davis but also known to have been done from live models posing in the studio of sculptor Daniel Chester French, the Minute Man statue proudly shows the enduring American spirit during the nations struggle for freedom and independence. from: Library of Congress: Call Number LOT 12003, p. 30.

 

3-old-manse-by-aw-hosmeDetail: "Old Manse, No. 3" from: Views in Concord, Mass.: ca. 1885: Alfred Winslow Hosmer, American (1851-1903) Pasted Albumen print on oversized cabinet card with gilt edging: 11.2 x 19.8 | 18.1 x 21.4 cm: Approximately 110 years later, another Hosmer descendent to Private Abner Hosmer, the photographer Alfred Hosmer, photographed scenes in and around Concord like this one for sale as souvenir keepsake cabinet cards of battleground scenes and places, including the Minute Man statue. This view, showing the stately pile The Old Manse, was built in 1770 for the Rev. William Emerson, (1743-1776) whose family witnessed the battle at the Old North Bridge of 19th April 1775 from the upstairs windows of the home. Later, Emerson's grandson, the acclaimed Transcendentalist writer Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) lived in the home and later wrote his Concord Hymn of 1836 as referenced previously in this post. The photographer Alfred Hosmer, whose surviving archive of over 800 glass plate negatives is housed at the Concord (MA) Free Library, is also significant, according to the library, for "his role in establishing Henry David Thoreau’s reputation as a major American author. He was one of the earliest admirers and promoters of Thoreau’s life and writings. He expressed his sympathy with and interest in Thoreau through his own first-hand observations of the flora and fauna of Concord, his Thoreau-related photography, his correspondence with other Thoreau enthusiasts, and his active collecting of Thoreauviana." From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

4-jaffrey-meeting-house"Witness to a Revolution" (American): 2015: David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive. With Mount Monadnock just off to the west, the waning light of day washes over the white clapboard siding of the Original Meeting House for the Town of Jaffrey, New Hampshire. Erected in 1775 only two years after the town's incorporation and after American Minutemen first began their armed fight with the British at Concord and Lexington, tradition states the frame of the structure was raised on Saturday, June 17th of that year, with workers recounting they heard booming cannon fire 70 miles east in Boston which they learned the next day was the Battle of Bunker Hill. Originally used by Congregationalists for church services and town business, worship took place here until 1844. The town website gives a few more details: "In 1822, the bell tower and spire were added, paid for by donations on the condition that the Town would buy the bell, which it did the following year. It was cast by the Paul Revere Foundry."

 

 

But I’m only one person, what can I do about it but spout a bunch of words?  Photography of course. The so-called Universal language. Like everyone’s favorite sports team. Surely one can have opinions concerning old photographs?  I’m betting yes and I hope you will.

 

 

5-aunt-ward-cr-tuckerDetail: "Aunt Ward": ca. 1890-1900 : Attributed photographer: Charles Rollins Tucker, American (b. 1868): mounted brown-toned gelatin silver or albumen print on oversized card: 11.1 x 18.4 cm | 20.4 x 25.5 cm. Believed to have been taken in Massachusetts, and with cane firmly held in elderly hand, this unknown "Aunt Ward", who was a blood relation to the photographer, can be seen standing in threshold at center, could rightly epitomize the hardscrabble resourcefulness of a typical New England Yankee before all the modern benefits of the late 20th Century Industrial Revolution kicked into high gear. At the front of her weather-beaten Cape Cod style dwelling can be seen a trusty ladderback garden chair parked to the left of the doorway as well as wooden gutters overhead leading to large rain barrels front and back and anchored from behind at far left by a shingled outhouse. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

6-george-seeley-the-white-Detail: "VII. White Trees": 1910: George H. Seeley, American (1880-1955) : hand-pulled Japan-paper tissue photogravure by the Manhattan Photogravure Co. included with Camera Work issue XXIX:full image: 19.9 x 15.7 cm: Amateur photographer and painter George Henry Seeley, a native of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, made his living as supervisor of art for his local school district. In order to take full advantage of the showy beauty of the Berkshire region with a hint of the Taconic mountain range seen in the distance, he positioned his sisters in this plein air allegorical composition, with the trunk and back of a white birch tree (Betula papyrifera) anchoring this triangulated landscape at left. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

And photographic puns besides the point, I’ve learned there is no such thing as black and white-especially concerning peoples lives and how those lives are lived. Speaking of that aforementioned questionable public discourse, I’m more of the belief life is all about colorful nuance, and unless you have walked a mile in someone’s shoes, as my mother would say, what do you really know to be their reality and truths?

 

 

7harriet-hosmer-and-hosmerHosmer & Sculpture: Left: Portrait of sculptor Harriet Goodhue Hosmer (1830-1908): by Frederick DeBourg Richards, American (1822-1903): ca. 1850-60: salted paper print on card mount ; photo (oval) 15.7 x 12.1 cm, on mount 35.5 x 27.9 cm: Considered the most distinguished female sculptor in America during the 19th century, and working in the neoclassical style, Harriet Hosmer clutches her sculpting tools seen at far left while wearing her artist's smock in this portrait probably taken in Rome, Italy. Born 50 years earlier than photographer and painter George Seeley, Hosmer finished her early education just north of Seeley's Stockbridge in the town of Lenox, completing a course of study at Elizabeth Sedgwick’s School for Young Ladies before learning disciplines including rowing, skating and riding. With an interest in anatomy at a young age spurred by her father Hiram's occupation as a physician, her artistic skills began to take form after she took private lessons when only 20. {Women were not allowed to attend medical schools during that time.} She decided to to travel to Rome to further hone her skills and quickly made a name for herself there, receiving her first commission in 1856. Many of her works survive, including a marble sculpture of Puck (Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, CT) and a towering 10' likeness in bronze of Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton dedicated in 1868 (recently refurbished) and located in Lafayette Park in St. Louis. Of this gender-breaking artist, Hosmer's friend Elizabeth Barrett Browning described Harriet as “a perfectly emancipated female.” from: LOC Call Number: LOT 14120, no. 20. Right: pasted paper label: "Views in Concord, Mass." ca. 1885: on verso of oversized cabinet card "Old Manse, No. 3": Photographed by Alfred W. Hosmer, Concord, Mass. label: 7.0 x 14.4 cm; card: 18.1 x 21.4 cm. Born 20 years after his cousin Harriet Hosmer, Alfred Winslow Hosmer (1851-1903) also had a connection with sculpture via his friendship with fellow Concord, Mass. resident and sculptor Daniel Chester French. French, whose first major commission was the Minute Man statue outlined in this post, also had his Concord art studio photographed by Hosmer, with several cabinet card views including French's life-size nude sculpture of the Greek mythical male shepherd Endymion listed here for sale. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

Through the platform of this website, I hope truth and reality of our shared photographic artistic past are presented with enough facts and context to make a difference. I’m hoping conversations will develop because it exists, and they will be shared in some fashion. Facebook likes, page views, and the latest and greatest apps don’t really concern me here. Instead, just about everything you see will be estate fresh, so dig in and have fun.

 

 

8-harp-o-the-four-winds-byThe Harp o' The Four Winds-Nantucket: Jessie Tarbox Beals, American, born Canada: (1870-1942) Gelatin silver print ca. 1905-15 (this example 1920-26 when she rented a salon-studio at 333 Fourth Ave. in N.Y.C.): 19.0 x 23.9 | 43.1 x 28.2 cm : Although not a New England native like Harriet Hosmer, Jessie Tarbox Beals was also groundbreaking for her gender, and is credited as being the first female photojournalist. New England and Massachusetts however played formative roles in her life. According to a short biography provided by the New-York Historical Society, which holds an extensive archive of Beal's work, Jessie was only 17 when she moved to Williamsburg, Mass from Hamilton, Ontario to join an older brother. There, her first job was teaching "seven pupils in a one-room schoolhouse for $7 a week"… later, she became interested in photography the following year in 1888 after acquiring her first camera in a magazine contest. Shortly, she became a professional after investing "$12 and bought a Kodak camera, with which she established a photo studio on the front lawn of her home. Local residents came to have their portraits taken, or to ask for pictures of their houses and other possessions. Beals was aided in her commercial endeavors by groups of Smith College students, (from nearby Northampton-ed) who wanted pictures to be made of their parties and picnics. By the end of two summers she was making more money taking photographs than teaching school." This example of Beal's landscape work was taken in the Bay State in Nantucket, a 1920 caption in the New York Tribune for it stating: "An early morning camera symphony—the Harp o' the Four Winds, Nantucket, Mass., at 5 a. m." From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

With mountains now in my backyard instead of the view of corn as high as an elephant’s eye from my last Midwest home, I’ve been thinking of late of the early ancestors and the roles they took-small but significant- in shaping from these parts an America I’m proud to call home.

 

Let me state off the top that my forebears did not come from money. Instead, other than the constant role of being soldiers in America’s early fight for Independence, they were hardscrabble Yankees: industrious farmers, deacons, bricklayers and later in the 19th century, stonemasons.

 

9-bennington-battle-monumeLeft: American Revolutionary War Brigadier General John Stark (1728-1822) points the way at the base of the Bennington Battle Monument in Vermont. 2016: David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive. On August 16, 1777, approximately 2,000 militia members led by John Stark soundly defeated British General John Burgoyne's army made up primarily of Hessians during the Battle of Bennington at Walloomsac, New York. Although the battle lead to Burgoyne's eventual surrender at Saratoga and "galvanized colonial support for the independence movement" (Wikipedia) the battle was not without 30 militia causalities, including 17-year-old Jonathan Hosmer, Jr., (1760-77) the second Hosmer to die in the American Revolution after his uncle Abner nearly two years earlier at Concord. Right: "The Connecticut": 1897: Charles Rollins Tucker, American (b. 1868): albumen print : 12.4 x 17.6 cm | 16.6 x 21.4 cm: Besides being a primary inland navigational route used extensively by Native American tribes hundreds of years before European colonization, the Connecticut River and its watershed encompassing the fertile Connecticut River Valley remains largely responsible for the regions continued development. This longest of New England rivers not only continues to fuel agriculture on a large scale but beginning in the late 20th Century, with its' large number of waterfalls, provided plenty of factories situated along its' banks the energy needed to power the Industrial Revolution, with the cities of Hartford, Conn. and Springfield, Mass being two of its most prominent to gain population and prominence. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

But like all families that have been here a while, I also have several relatives I’m quite certain are famous, and am most proud to say even significant. For details, please consult the small print under the respective photographs in this post for Private Abner Hosmer, an 18th Century Concord, Mass. Minute Man and Harriet Goodhue Hosmer, 19th Century groundbreaking American female sculptor.

 

The Hosmer’s & the Great Migration


The ancestors on my mother’s side, the Hosmer’s of Hawkhurst, Kent in England, were part of the so-called Great Migration. I’m now counted as a 12th generation Hosmer descendant, the first landing on these shores being James Hosmer, (b. 1605) a clothier who made the ocean voyage to the new world with his family aboard the good ship Elizabeth of London in April of 1635. They called themselves Puritans and were seeking religious independence from the Crown. (Charles I)  It might have stopped there, and I for one am ever grateful it didn’t, because James’ wife Ann and two young daughters died during the trip or shortly after they arrived and settled in Cambridge in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He remarried however, twice again due to death from disease in this new world, and went on to become one of the founders of Concord, Mass. two years later in 1637, where he made his living laying out grants of farmland and later serving as town selectman in 1660.

 

10-taconic-range-in-berkshThe Berkshires: Modern & Vintage: Left: "Sunset Glow over Mount Greylock State Reservation": by Shannon O'Brien: North Adams, Mass: Fall, 2016 (iPhone): Right: Detail: "Williamstown Hills, Williamstown" (Looking toward North Adams) "The encircling hills of Berkshire." : Arthur (Wentworth) Scott, American: 1899: hand-pulled photogravure plate included in volume: Nature Studies in Berkshire by John Coleman Adams published by G.P. Putnam's Sons: In the volume's introduction, "Our Berkshire" Coleman Adams sets the stage for the reader: "To know Berkshire is to love it. To love it is to feel a sort of proprietorship in it, a pride in its glories, a joy in its beauties, such as owners have in their estates and patriots in their native land. He who was born here clings to the soil if he stays, or reverts to it if he moves from it, with a New England steadfastness as intense and deep as a moral principle." (p. 3) From: Archive.org

 

11-fall-and-winter"Fall & First Snow: Williamstown": 2016: David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive (iPhone)

 

 

As a native of the Nutmeg state, I’m now proud to hail from the Bay state in the Berkshire Hills. Time and inclination willing, there will be many more photographic treasures from the past displayed for public consumption on PhotoSeed, as well as the planned rollout in the coming year-finally-of PhotoSeed Gallery, an e-commerce platform through Shopify selling vintage work.  As your intrepid explorer and guide, I hope to present you with something worth thinking and conversing about in the new year and beyond.

-David Spencer-

 

12-allen-sisters-john-will"Williams Door": Frances and Mary Allen, American: ca. 1895-1905: Platinum print: 20.2 x 12.7 cm: Made from native old-growth, eastern white pine, this view shows the Connecticut River Valley Doorway built by joiner Samuel Partridge which graces the front of the John Williams house in Old Deerfield Village, Mass. The home, and doorway, (since removed in 2001, placed on display and replaced by a reproduction) is named for the Rev. John Williams (1664-1729) in the village, and is now owned by Deerfield Academy. (the door is featured in the private school's seal) Rev. Williams was "a New England Puritan minister who became famous for The Redeemed Captive, his account of his captivity by the Mohawk after the Deerfield Massacre during Queen Anne's War." (Wikipedia) Working in the pictorial photographic style at the end and beginning of the 20th Century, the Allen Sisters of Deerfield did a brisk trade for tourists through their staged genre scenes and colonial views of Old Deerfield, including the Williams door seen here which carries a price tag on the verso of .50 cents. The home was originally built in 1760 by the Rev. Williams' son Elijah Williams, a shopkeeper and tavern-owner. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

13-1910-jane-dudley"Tom and Betty Put the Things on Ammi": 1910: Sarah Jane Dudley, American: (1859-1940) frontis plate to the volume: A Daughter of the Revolution by Jessie Anderson Chase: Boston: Richard G. Badger: The Gorham Press 1910: Platinum print, mounted, with Dudley's cipher at lower right corner: 20.2 x 15.3 | 20.5 x 15.7 cm: Besides her interest in amateur photography, Whitensville, Massachusetts native Jane Dudley, a graduate of Wheaton Female Seminary, was the organizer of the Samaritan Association of Whitinsville. This vintage example of a genre study showing children dressed in 18th century clothing while dressing their doll in an attic was done in the very popular style at the beginning of the 20th Century known as "Colonial Revival", which took advantage of America's love of its' colonial past. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

From: A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law-1765

Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right, from the frame of their nature, to knowledge, as their great Creator, who does nothing in vain, has given them understandings, and a desire to know; but besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean, of the characters and conduct of their rulers.

 

–John Adams

 

 

Stages for Ages

 

All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages.

-From As You Like It, Act II. Scene VII, Jaques’s speech


1-cover-1876Detail: book cover: "Shakspere’s Seven Ages" Illustrated by J. Landy: Octavo with letterpress and seven individual pasted albumen portrait photographs by Landy: Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1876: from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

In life, Birthdays typically get all the attention. At least while your friends are around. Not so much death. But for certain souls long departed this mortal coil, it’s just as important. This is especially true for English playwright and poet William Shakespeare, whose passing on April 23, 1616 at 52 years of age- or 400 years ago today- seems like a perfectly good excuse to throw a party as well. Cincinnati portrait photographer James M. Landy (1838-1897) would have readily agreed, and he used the excuse of another anniversary-America’s first Centennial held in 1876 in Philadelphia- to showcase his new series of “character photographs” illustrating the Bard’s Seven Ages of Man from his play As You Like It . (1.)

 

Come along on a short photographic journey exploring these ages of the male species, according to Shakespeare. Have they changed with the passage of time?

 

2-first-ageThe First Age: Detail: "The Infant" : James M. Landy, American: 1876: pasted albumen print included in the volume "Shakspere’s Seven Ages": 14.0 x 9.9 | 24.7 x 19.0 cm: Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1876. Captioned text opposite book plate: "At first the infant, Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.": From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

3-second-ageThe Second Age: Detail: "The Schoolboy": James M. Landy, American: 1876: pasted albumen print included in the volume "Shakspere’s Seven Ages": 14.0 x 9.9 | 24.7 x 19.0 cm: Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1876. Captioned text opposite book plate: "Then the whining school-boy, with his satchel, And shining morning face, creeping like snail Unwillingly to school." From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

4-the-lover-third-ageThe Third Age: Detail: "The Lover": James M. Landy, American: 1876: pasted albumen print included in the volume "Shakspere’s Seven Ages": 14.3 x 9.9 | 24.7 x 19.0 cm: Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1876. Captioned text opposite book plate: "And then the lover, Sighing like furnace, with a woful ballad Made to his mistress’ eyebrow." From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

5-the-soldier-fourth-ageThe Fourth Age: Detail: "The Soldier": James M. Landy, American: 1876: pasted albumen print included in the volume "Shakspere’s Seven Ages": 14.0 x 9.9 | 24.7 x 19.0 cm: Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1876. Captioned text opposite book plate: "Then a soldier, Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard, Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel, Seeking the bubble reputation Even in the cannon’s mouth." From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

6-the-justice-fifth-ageThe Fifth Age: "The Justice": James M. Landy, American: 1876: pasted albumen print included in the volume "Shakspere’s Seven Ages": 14.3 x 9.7 | 24.7 x 19.0 cm: Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1876. Captioned text opposite book plate: "And then the Justice, In fair round belly, with good capon lin'd, With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut, Full of wise saws and modern instances; And so he plays his part." From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

7-sixth-ageThe Sixth Age: "The Lean and Slipper’d Pantaloon": James M. Landy, American: 1876: pasted albumen print included in the volume "Shakspere’s Seven Ages": 14.0 x 9.9 | 24.7 x 19.0 cm: Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1876. Captioned text opposite book plate: "The sixth age shifts Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon, With spectacles on nose and pouch on side, His youthful hose well saved, a world too wide For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice, Turning again toward childish treble, pipes And whistles in his sound." From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

8-seventh-ageThe Seventh Age: Detail: "Sans Teeth, Sans Eyes, Sans Taste, Sans Everything": James M. Landy, American: 1876: pasted albumen print included in the volume "Shakspere’s Seven Ages": 14.0 x 9.9 | 24.7 x 19.0 cm: Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1876. Captioned text opposite book plate: "Last scene of all That ends this strange eventful history, Is second childishness and mere oblivion— Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.” From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

1. James Landy: from: ‪Artists in Ohio, 1787-1900‬: ‪A Biographical Dictionary‬, ‪Mary Sayre Haverstock‬ et al: ‪Kent State University Press‬, 2000: p. 506