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Alternate Processes

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Laurels for Ivy

Ivy, at least the evergreen variety known to climb and adhere to brick walls, is academically synonymous mostly in the northeastern United States with that of the Ivy League. But this isn’t about those educational institutions and membership in the well-known sports league. Rather, ivy for the purposes of this post during late Spring is symbolic for the ties that will bind newly minted graduates at this time of year: “The connection between the college and its graduates”, is how Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts aptly describes it, and the continuing reason her senior offspring have, since 1884, ceremonially planted it on a special day before Commencement.

1-ivy-procession-june-18-1Detail: "Ivy Procession June 18, 1900": vintage cyanotype loosely inserted into dis-bound album leaf: ca. 1900 by unknown American photographer: 10.0 x 24.8 cm | 18.2 x 27.5 cm. Ivy Day at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, the day before Commencement, begins with a procession of graduating seniors walking around Seelye Hall on campus. They are flanked by junior students in foreground carrying the ivy chain, which is actually made of laurel leaves. Notice the two women and young boy at far right of frame photographing the scene with box cameras. Leaf from larger album with direct provenance to Mary Ruth Perkins, 1878-1975; Smith College class of 1900 graduate and Chairman of the class yearbook committee that year. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

2a-hamilton-wright-mabie-1"Hamilton Wright Mabie: Smith College Class of 1900 Commencement Speaker": vintage cyanotype loosely inserted into dis-bound album leaf: ca. 1900 by unknown American photographer: 8.5 x 7.2 cm | 18.2 x 27.5 cm. Mabie, 1846-1916, an American essayist, editor, critic, and lecturer who attended Williams College and Columbia Law School, is shown here in the background along with two Smith graduates: his daughter at left Lorraine Trivett Mabie -1877-1906, and Mary Buell Sayles - 1878-1959, who went on to become a noted social reformer, writer and educator. In 1902, Sayles conducted the first "systemic study of housing conditions in Jersey City" (Davis-1984) and was a New York City housing inspector. Leaf from larger album with direct provenance to Mary Ruth Perkins, 1878-1975; Smith College class of 1900 graduate and Chairman of the class yearbook committee that year. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

2-woman-with-cameraDetail: "Head of Ivy Procession" (June 18, 1900): vintage cyanotype loosely inserted into dis-bound album leaf: ca. 1900 by unknown American photographer: 7.5 x 8.5 cm | 18.2 x 27.5 cm. With the front of the Smith College Ivy Day Procession made up of graduating seniors Cornelia Gould, Carol Weston, Caroline Marmon and Harriette Ross making their way forward in background, a woman with camera at far right of frame walks to position herself for a good vantage point. Leaf from larger album with direct provenance to Mary Ruth Perkins, 1878-1975; Smith College class of 1900 graduate and Chairman of the class yearbook committee that year. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

3-head-of-ivy-processionsDetails: "Head of Ivy Day Procession: 1897-1900" (Smith College, Northampton, Massachusetts). All: vintage cyanotypes loosely inserted into dis-bound album leaves: ca. 1897-1900 by unknown American photographers with each leaf: 18.2 x 27.5 cm. Upper left: 1897: 9.4 x 11.4 cm; Upper right: 1898: 9.5 x 12.0 cm; Lower left: 1899 (Louise & Carrolle Barber) 8.5 x 5.5 cm; Lower right: 1900 (Cornelia Gould, Carol Weston, Caroline Marmon, Harriette Ross) 8.1 x 5.5 cm. Leaves from larger album with direct provenance to Mary Ruth Perkins, 1878-1975; Smith College class of 1900 graduate and Chairman of the class yearbook committee that year. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

5-overhead-processionDetail: "Ivy Procession on the way from College Hall around Seelye Hall" (June 18, 1900): vintage cyanotype loosely inserted into dis-bound album leaf: ca. 1900 by unknown American photographer: 8.3 x 8.5 cm | 18.2 x 27.5 cm.Taken from an overhead angle, this photograph shows throngs of hat wearing spectators in foreground and background watching the procession of graduating Smith College seniors. Each wearing their traditional long white dresses, they walk in pairs while flanked by junior class members holding the ivy chain made from laurel leaves. Leaf from larger album with direct provenance to Mary Ruth Perkins, 1878-1975; Smith College class of 1900 graduate and Chairman of the class yearbook committee that year. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

6-ivy-procession-june-18-1Top: "Ivy Procession June 18, 1900": vintage cyanotype loosely inserted into dis-bound album leaf: ca. 1900 by unknown American photographer: 10.1 x 24.5 cm | 18.2 x 27.5 cm. Ivy Day at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, the day before Commencement, begins with a procession of graduating seniors walking around Seelye Hall on campus. They are flanked by junior students in foreground carrying the ivy chain, which is actually made of laurel leaves. From the college website: "Ivy Day has been a Smith tradition for more than a century. The class of 1884 was the first to plant ivy as part of the ceremonies leading to its graduation, thus providing the day with its name." Leaf from larger album with direct provenance to Mary Ruth Perkins, 1878-1975; Smith College class of 1900 graduate and Chairman of the class yearbook committee that year. From: PhotoSeed Archive. Bottom: "Seelye Hall, Smith College Campus". From the same vantage point as the panoramic photograph taken above, this digital iPhone photograph from January 15, 2018 shows what the campus looks like today. Named after the first president of the college L. Clark Seelye, construction on Seelye began in 1898 and it opened the following year. Photo by David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive.

 

7-singing-fair-smith-in-fr"Singing Fair Smith": vintage cyanotype loosely inserted into dis-bound album leaf: ca. 1900 by unknown American photographer: 7.7 x 8.5 cm | 18.2 x 27.5 cm. On Ivy Day at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, hundreds gather in front of College Hall to watch members of the choir assembled on the steps sing the traditional 1890 song "Fair Smith". The lyrics are by R.K. Crandall and Dr. B.C. Blodgett: "Fair Smith, our praise to thee we render, O dearest college halls, Bright hours that live in mem'ry tender, Are wing'd within thy walls. O'er thy walks the elms are bowing, Alma Mater, Winds 'mid branches softly blowing, Ivy round thy tower growing, Alma Mater. "And while the hills with purple shadows Eternal vigil keep Above the happy river meadows, In golden haze asleep. May thy children still addressing, Alma Mater. Thee with grateful praise addressing, Speak in loyal hearts thy blessing, Alma Mater." Leaf from larger album with direct provenance to Mary Ruth Perkins, 1878-1975; Smith College class of 1900 graduate and Chairman of the class yearbook committee that year. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

8-1900-head-of-ivy-process"Head of Procession reaching Ivy": vintage cyanotype loosely inserted into dis-bound album leaf: ca. 1900 by unknown American photographer: 8.3 x 5.4 cm | 18.2 x 27.5 cm. Smith College graduating seniors who headed up the Ivy Day Procession on June 18, 1900-Cornelia Gould, Carol Weston, Caroline Marmon and Harriette Ross, stand at the base of Seelye Hall where they prepare to plant ivy plant seedlings. Leaf from larger album with direct provenance to Mary Ruth Perkins, 1878-1975; Smith College class of 1900 graduate and Chairman of the class yearbook committee that year. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

9-ivy-plantedDetail: "Ivy vine seedling at base of Seelye Hall": vintage cyanotype loosely inserted into dis-bound album leaf: ca. 1900 by unknown American photographer: 8.3 x 8.0 cm | 18.2 x 27.5 cm. The evidence of Ivy Day at Smith College on June 18, 1900 is this Ivy seedling, planted against the year "1900" chiseled into the base of the then brand new Seelye Hall, a rusticated Georgian Revival building on campus designed by the New York firm of York and Sawyer. Construction on this surviving academic building which first housed classrooms and a library began in 1898 and was completed in 1899. The building took its name from L. Clark Seelye, (1837-1924) the first president of Smith College who served from 1875-1910. Rockefeller Hall at Vassar, an 1897 commission by the same firm, was the model for Seelye. Leaf from larger album with direct provenance to Mary Ruth Perkins, 1878-1975; Smith College class of 1900 graduate and Chairman of the class yearbook committee that year. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

In 1900, when these cyanotype photographs were taken, a new century beckoned on Ivy Day for those who would soon graduate from Smith. Like then as in the present, newly minted graduates the world over feel the same emotions that strains of Pomp and Circumstance invoke and traditions call for. Laurels are bestowed for hard work, fortunes and insight will be made or come from it, and hopefully, friendships made during college days will endure far into the future.

 

 

Say It With Flowers . . . . Do It With Dishpans

 

In 1926, Minnesota artist Cleora Clark Wheeler made the following observation in an article she wrote explaining her feat of photographing scores of fellow Kappa Kappa Gamma fraternity sisters by means of silhouette portraiture:

 

1-say-it-with-flowers-do-it-with-dishpans-portrait-of-wheeler"Silhouette Self Portrait of Minnesota artist Cleora Clark Wheeler" ca. 1926. (typography added by this website) The photograph was used to illustrate an article written by her published in The Key, the quarterly magazine for Wheeler's fraternity Kappa Kappa Gamma in December, 1926. (p. 500)

 

“anyone who saw the interested crowd getting their pictures on banquet night just before we all parted, will be sure it proved there is a way to have one’s picture taken without having one’s head turned.”

 

Using said dishpans in the title to this post, procured from a nearby hardware store outside Oakland, California, Cleora, or Cleo as she was known, went on to secure these pans used as reflectors for the photo shoot using her mother’s wooden tomato supports, placed in the trunk of her car before heading to the annual convention that year at Mills College from her St. Paul, MN home, a journey of 2000 miles.

 

So we will say it with our own flowers here: on the occasion of PhotoSeed posting a rare surviving folio volume of 23 of her delicate Japan-tissue photogravures of California landscapes taken and printed by Wheeler used as a sales catalogue, some further context into the life of this fascinating and talented woman is necessary in order to fill in the historical record.

 

2-designer-illuminatorDetail: Title of California Sample Book by Cleora Clark Wheeler, American: 1882-1980: gilt hand-lettering: "Cleora Wheeler Designer And Illuminator 1376 Summit Avenue St. Paul, Minn." 33.0 x 50.0 cm: folded, olive-colored cardstock leaf used as album cover. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

To be clear, photography was just one of the many talents American artist Cleora Wheeler employed in her 98 years. Although never married, it might be said her significant partner through life was her beloved fraternity, Kappa Kappa Gamma, which she was initiated into at the Chi chapter at the University of Minnesota on October 9, 1899. Graduating in 1903, she went on to serve Kappa her entire life.

 

A designer and illuminator, as she would often describe herself while working out of the third floor studio of her longtime St. Paul family home, often in the act of creating unique bookplates and greeting cards, Cleora wore many professional hats.  Artist, poet, school teacher, women’s advocate, business manager, an expert in steel die stamping, photographer and tireless promoter of her fraternity both locally in Minnesota and around the country were but a few of her passions.

 

With the knowledge that “Miss Wheeler thinks of California as her second home” as noted in a follow-up article describing her hand-colored photographic work and bookplates on display in 1922 at the St. Paul Public Library, her love of place and record of spirit is evident in pictorial photographic work taken in the American West ca. 1914-1921: a reaffirmation of the cross-pollination taking place in the arts by unconventional practitioners.

 

3-redwoodsLeft: "Redwoods": Cleora Clark Wheeler, American-1882-1980: ca. 1922: hand-pulled Japan-tissue photogravure: 10.7 x 6.2 | 20.8 x 15.1 Gampi | 25.0 x 38.0 off-white handmade paper (folded) | 33.0 x 25.0 cm olive-colored cardstock leaf. From: PhotoSeed Archive. Right: "Redwoods": ca. 1922: Cleora Clark Wheeler: hand-colored gelatin silver exhibition print from the artist's 1922 St. Paul exhibition Atmospheric Studies. A roadway in the Sierra Mountains leads to a stand of soaring redwood trees in this landscape study colored with Japanese dyes. Courtesy: Grapefruit Moon Gallery auction listing, Minneapolis MN.  

 

The following timeline by year in the life of Cleora Wheeler is meant as a starting point for this remarkable artist.  It begins with her birth in Austin, Minnesota in 1882 and concludes with a 1980 obituary printed in her alumni magazine. Although long-winded in some cases, I’ve decided to include some of the expanded background articles written by and about Wheeler in The Key, the Kappa Kappa Gamma quarterly. In addition to photographic work by Wheeler held by this archive, a link to 45 bookplates held in the Helen Brainerd Lay Bookplate Collection at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts can be found here, and a general search link to the Wheeler family archive at the Minnesota Historical Society Library catalogue is here. (type in “Cleora Clark Wheeler”)  Further suggestions for inclusion are welcomed. Please contact me through the blog or at admin@photoseed.com.


 David Spencer- February, 2018

 

4-december-1910-bookplate-advertisementTop: December, 1910 advertisement for new Ex-Libris book plate designed the same year by Minnesota artist Cleora Clark Wheeler as it appeared in The Key, the quarterly magazine of her fraternity Kappa Kappa Gamma. Bottom: "Ex Libris of Kappa Kappa Gamma, by Cleora Clark Wheeler": (American: 1882-1980). Ca. 1920-30. Hand-colored book plate shows the fleur-de-lis iris, the fraternity flower, with the artist's initials CW appearing on opposite sides of the base of cut flowers. Courtesy: Helen Brainerd Lay Bookplate Collection, Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections: Identifier: ms0048-s02-b02-f15-i001.

 

Timeline: Cleora Clark Wheeler: 1882-1980


1882: Wheeler is born in Austin, Minnesota. Her father, Rush Benjamin Wheeler, (1844-1930) was an East coast transplant who graduated from Yale. He was a lawyer involved in banking and real estate. Her mother Harriet Sophia Clark Wheeler (1853-1938) was a graduate of the University of Minnesota. Her siblings were two brothers: Frost Montaine Wheeler: 1878-1963 & Ross Clark Wheeler: 1886-1901. The family lived in St. Paul.

 

1903: Graduates from The University of Minnesota with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. She later went on to earn certificates of proficiency in engineering drafting and advanced engineering drafting from U. M.

 

  Moves to California and lives for a year: “Cleora Wheeler’s first work with the Young Women’s Christian Association was in California. Soon after her graduation from the University of Minnesota she was asked by Miss Louise Brooks of New York, national secretary of conventions and conferences, to be her assistant at the student conference at Capitola, Cal.” source: 1921 background on Wheeler in The Key.

Miss Wheeler thinks of California as her second home, as she spent a year with Pi after graduating at Minnesota.” -The Key: 1926 (Pi chapter at the University of California, Berkeley)

 

1904: Named Grand Registrar for the Grand Council of Kappa Kappa Gamma, with offices at 301 Pioneer Press Building in St. Paul, MN. source: The Key, October.

 

5-approaching-carmel-ks3Detail: "Approaching Carmel": Cleora Clark Wheeler, American: 1882-1980. Hand-pulled Japan-tissue photogravure ca. 1922: 10.2 x 7.5 | 21.0 x 15.3 Gampi | 24.2 x 38.0 off-white handmade paper (folded) | 33.0 x 25.0 cm olive-colored cardstock leaf. An archway of cypress trees near Carmel, California frames the famed Seventeen-Mile Drive along the Monterey coastline. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

1905: Wheeler’s love of nature,  a major theme that would soon emerge in her art, makes an initial greeting as Grand Registrar:

 

To all in Kappa Kappa Gamma, greetings! The wild thing of the woods has its call; the brook, playing with the bits of forest light and shadow, murmurs to itself; the wind, sighing through the trees, croons its melody and dies away; all nature is at peace, and sings. Song is the outpouring of a soul that cannot contain itself for very joy. Friendship is the life of that soul; a happiness too often unappreciated until perchance it is snatched away, only to leave a memory in its place. May we be worthy of this name of friend, appreciating more fully with each day the fortune that is ours. May we know a courtesy among ourselves that shall unconsciously touch each life we meet. May personal responsibility and devotion broaden into mutual helpfulness, and interest, and charity, until it meet and grace the world of kindly sympathy. (The Key: January: p. 298)

 

  Writes a poem in tribute to Anne Jones, a fellow Chi chapter member at the University of Minnesota, most likely a personal friend:

 

Jones. April 5, 1884-July 3, 1905. Initiated into Chi Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma October 16, 1902.

As breath of morning gently steals its way O’er sleeping valleys where the morning mist Half timidly awaits the smile of day, Gray mantled, ere the sun has kissed To gold the dim dew-crystaled haze, And gliding soft with footsteps all to fleet For ken of humankind, from out the maze Brings memories, intangible, replete With wonder-fancies, melodies akin To whisperings of heaven; thus she came, Her arms light laden with the green of springA radiance as summer showers win In afterglow, long held ere twilight claim A melody, low borne on evening wing.

 -Cleora Clark Wheeler.  (The Key: October: p. 534)

 

 

6-december-1925-the-keyTop: "At the Beginning of The Seventeen Mile Drive": halftone photographic reproduction by Cleora Clark Wheeler used to illustrate article on annual convention for her fraternity Kappa Kappa Gamma. Taken from December, 1925 issue of The Key, the quarterly magazine of the fraternity. The photograph is a variant of her photo titled "Approaching Carmel" seen earlier in this post. Bottom: "After Nightfall": ca. 1922: Cleora Clark Wheeler: hand-colored gelatin silver exhibition print from the artist's 1922 St. Paul exhibition Atmospheric Studies. Another variant of the halftone seen above, Wheeler used Japanese dyes and hand-painted white stars in the sky for this landscape transformed into a nighttime view featuring a twilight blue sky. Courtesy: Grapefruit Moon Gallery auction listing, Minneapolis MN.

 

1906: Wheeler now living in Berkeley, CA, possibly for reasons of health, where she continue her duties as Grand Registrar:  Notices:

 

 “Record charts may be ordered by chapters or individuals at any time. One dollar, including postage; twenty-five cents in addition if backed with linen. Address care Corresponding Secretary of Pi chapter, Berkeley, California. Cleora Clark Wheeler.” (The Key: October: p. 262)

 

 

1907: Relinquishes her duties as Grand Registrar by January. In February, a confirmed report in The Key (p. 71) states health is the reason for her absence from MN:

“Cleora Wheeler, whom you all met at convention; is spending the winter in California. We miss her very much, but are glad to say that her health is greatly improved.”

 


1909: Takes up work again with the Young Women’s Christian Association, (YWCA) with a notice in the February issue of The Key that she is now the business secretary of the St. Paul Young Women’s Christian Association. (p. 72)

 

 

7-lc-plate-reads-sunlight-thro-the-redwoods-by-lindly-eddy-1914"Sunlight thro' the Redwoods": Lindley Eddy, American: 1873-1946: ca. 1914. 14.0 x 8.5 cm. Tipped to page: 21.5 x 14.0 cm. Sepia gelatin silver print included in volume A Traveler's Prayer of California Mountains, photographs by Lindley Eddy with poems by Olive Hinds Simpson: Visalia, CA: Commercial Printing Co.- copyrighted 1914 by Olive A. Simpson. It would have undoubtedly appealed to the artistic sensibilities of Cleora Clark Wheeler had she come across this volume of poetry featuring ten photographs taken by Eddy in the Sequoia National Forest. The work was published the same year it is believed Wheeler first took up her series of western US photographs in Colorado. From: PhotoSeed Archive (volume for sale: please inquire)

 

1910:  The first advertisement for Wheeler artwork appears in the October issue of The Key for what is believed to be her new book plate, although it’s described as a “plate book”. Showing her business savvy, earlier in August she had registered copyright in her own name for the design:

 

THE
Official Plate Book of the Fraternity
IN INDIVIDUAL PACKAGES
25 CENTS
Plan to Send Them at the Holidays
ORDER EARLY
Enclose Stamps or Money Order
1376 Summitt Ave. Cleora Wheeler St. Paul, Minn.

 


⎯ A notice in the December issue of The Key along with an accompanying photograph of the artist that Wheeler had indeed designed the official bookplate for her fraternity:

 

 

THE KAPPA BOOK-PLATE

There have been a number of inquiries as to the designer of the Kappa Kappa Gamma book-plate, which was adopted by the Grand Council at Convention Session as the official book-plate of the Fraternity. The plate was designed by Cleora Clark Wheeler, of Chi Chapter, who was Grand Registrar from 1904 to 1906. Miss Wheeler was particularly happy in her choice of the fraternity flower for decoration; for the fleur-de-lis with its long stem and heavy blossom lends itself with special effectiveness to composition. The Kappa bookplate should be an incentive to the growth of our chapter-house libraries; for the chapter name may be used in it, just as well as that of the individual owner.

(note: At the 1890 convention, the fraternity chose the fleur-de-lis “as the Kappa flower for its dignity and grace and because in it the two blues are combined.”)

 

 

8-the-gopher-volume-16-1903-page-78The senior portrait and entry for Minnesota artist Cleora Clark Wheeler as it appeared in her 1903 University of Minnesota Gopher yearbook. Wheeler, 1882-1980, graduated that year with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and went on to earn certificates of proficiency in engineering drafting and advanced engineering drafting from U. M. Source: online pdf of The Gopher: Vol. 16, 1903: p. 78.

 

1911: With the rough design of a new Kappa crest duly recorded in a 1910 committee report, the intent of the adoption of an official coat-of-arms for Kappa was soon becoming reality. (discussions began in 1905)  Because of this and given her proven design expertise on behalf of the fraternity, and with the aim of surely involving her in other design decisions regarding fraternity insignia, Wheeler is appointed by February as new Custodian of the Badge, an important oversight and secretarial role for the official fraternity Badge, a piece of jewelry in the shape of a golden key stamped with the Greek letters for Kappa and worn by chapter members. Wheeler’s role would have been to make sure changes to the key were permissible, and she held the position as Custodian through 1917.

 

In the October issue of The Key, two separate advertisements for Wheeler’s new book plate design featuring the fleur-de-lis iris appear. One, for correspondence cards, are stamped in gold and priced at 35 cents a dozen. Another is for her bookplate:

 

 

The KAPPA BOOK-PLATE
Several times the size
of this cut
In Individual Packages
of 25 Prints
Blue or black ink on English
gummed paper -25 cents
Black ink on Japanese handmade Vellum-50 cents
Tinted prints-50 cents a dozen
The design same size as the Book-Plate
adapted to Dinner Cards and Folders ⎯
Cards : Untinted, 30 cents a dozen
Tinted, 50 cents
Folders: Untinted, 50 cents a dozen
Tinted, 75 cents
Address: CLEORA WHEELER
1376 Summit Ave., St. Paul, Minn,
Enclose Stamps or Money Order

 

 

9-portrait-of-ccw-in-1910-from-the-keyAn early triptych of halftone portraits of Minnesota artist Cleora Clark Wheeler. Left: Studying a book, perhaps taken while she was still an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota in the very early 20th Century. Photo by fellow Kappa Kappa Gamma Chi chapter member Margaret Craig published in a 1910 issue of the fraternity quarterly The Key. Middle: Portrait of Wheeler in a sailor-inspired tunic as it appeared in the February, 1913 issue of The Key illustrating an article she wrote titled "Character By Handwriting- And Otherwise." Right: a photograph of Wheeler taken ca. 1911-17 when she was Custodian of the Badge, an important oversight and secretarial role for the official fraternity Badge, a piece of jewelry in the shape of a golden key stamped with the Greek letters for Kappa and worn by chapter members. Photo reproduced in the Fall 1977 issue of The Key.

 

1912: Wheeler becomes artistically involved in creating metal dies for the new fraternity coat-of-arms (also referred to as the crest) after consulting with the British College of Arms.  Earlier in 1910, A National Committee for Kappa, with Margaret Brown Moore appointed Chairman, produced the new coat-of-arms. Brown designed it with advice and help from Joanna Strange, BZ-Iowa, head of the reference department of the Carnegie Library in Pittsburgh, as well as from J. F. Hopkins, the designer of the Sigma Nu coat of arms. Moore’s design was then put on paper in the form of a watercolor sketch by Philadelphia heraldry expert Mark J. Rowe: “Margaret urged the Fraternity to protect the design so that “the technically perfect coat-of-arms will not be lost to us.” She expressed a wish that there should be perfect dies for stamping in gold and silver as well as plates for printing on documents and reports. Cleora Wheeler, Minnesota, prepared such plates and dies. The College of Arms in England was consulted before Cleora cut her die in filigree and it was made after the others that were modeled in the regulation way. When these were done, Margaret Moore declared that perfect reproductions had been made.” (1.)

 

 

10-ywca-ex-libris"Ex Libris Young Women's Christian Association of Saint Paul, by Cleora Clark Wheeler": (American: 1882-1980). Ca. 1915-25. Hand-colored book plate shows an archway of grape clusters with stems forming a pair of opposing columns. The YWCA organization is spelled out at center while the whole is surrounded by extracted Bible verses from Philippians 4:8: "Whatsoever Things Are True - Whatsoever Thing Are Lovely - Think On These Things". Wheeler first worked with the YWCA in California in late 1903 after her graduation from the University of Minnesota and in 1909 became business secretary for the St. Paul chapter. A 1921 article in The Key profiling Wheeler's accomplishments stated: "The national bookplate of the association used in all of the books at the National Training School, and in association libraries throughout the country is designed by Miss Wheeler". Courtesy: Helen Brainerd Lay Bookplate Collection, Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections: Identifier: ms0048-s02-b02-f15-i011.

 

1912-13: Wheeler moves to New York City and attends classes at The School of Fine and Applied Art, (now Parsons School of Design) where she studied color harmony.  Two folders of notes, including those by Wheeler made during lectures given by Frank Alvah Parsons, are held by the school in the present day, as well as a set of her bookplates in the Kellen Design Archives. Sources: WorldCat and ‪Minnesota 1900‬: ‪Art and Life on the Upper Mississippi, 1890-1915‬: 1994, Newark: University of Delaware Press.

 

An article in the October issue of The Key for 1912 states Wheeler issues the limited edition book “Kappas I Have Known” in  250 copies:

 

A novelty in college scrap books was presented at Convention by Cleora Wheeler, Chi, in “Kappas I Have Known, ” which can be used not only in college, but as a life time fraternity record. The book is divided into sections, under the heads, “My Chapter,” ” National Officers”, and “Kappas From Other Chapters;” and further space is provided for songs and other miscellaneous entries. The book is bound with stubs, so that clippings and snapshots may be pasted in to illustrate the careers of the notable Kappas therein enrolled. And a particularly pretty Kappa touch is added by the Fleur-de-lis design on each page, and the blue and blue binding. (p. 257)

 

 

11-cleora-clark-wheeler-evening-43-back-of-frameDetail: Frame verso: "Evening", by Cleora Clark Wheeler, American: 1882-1980. ca. 1922: 24.7 x 19.8 cm. The original series of framed photographs appearing in Wheeler's 1922 St. Paul photographic exhibition "Atmospheric Studies" (& also most likely the 1926 San Francisco Paul Elder exhibition) were each finished off on the frame verso with one of several trimmed and pasted book plates identifying Wheeler as author of the work seen at top. Below it is a pasted and engraved listing for photographs included in a separate subheading for the exhibition that were taken in a particular region. This example shows "Evening" held by this archive and listed as #43 in the overall exhibition under Monterey's famed Seventeen-Mile Drive subheading. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

Further details are included about this book, illustrated by a photograph in the advertising section for the December issue of The Key:

 

Bound in two-tone blue cloth with gold stamping; page decorations and headings in gray-blue ink to harmonize. Sewed by hand. special attention being given to the reinforcement of the back by transverse tapes, and by stubs arranged to offset extra bulk of Kodak Prints and Clippings. In this way the book not only offers space for such additions, but also overcomes the possibility of having it stand open when only partially filled. Edition Limited to 250 copies. Price $1.50 net $1.65 by mail.

 


1914: This may have been the first year Wheeler undertook her series of Western U.S. photographs that would eventually appear in her 1922 St. Paul exhibit Atmospheric Studies, under the exhibition heading Out Where The West Begins : Colorado. Sometime in the Fall,  Wheeler travels to Boulder as part of fraternity business as noted in the December issue of The Key:

 

“We were very glad to have Miss Cleora Wheeler with us for luncheon, on her way home from a visit with Beta Mu at Boulder. We enjoyed hearing of the rushing season there, and also the interesting convention news from Miss Wheeler and the five Sigma girls who attended.”


 

12-feb-1926-the-keyTwo examples of photographs taken ca. 1914-1921 in the northern California Redwood region by Cleora Clark Wheeler were later first exhibited in her 1922 St. Paul, MN exhibition Atmospheric Studies. Listed under the subheading "At Call-Of-The-Wild, California", they are: Left: "Day Is Passing" (#19 in St. Paul): seen here as a halftone as it appeared in the February, 1926 issue of The Key. Right: "Sunshine Beyond" (#14 in St. Paul): ca. 1922: hand-colored gelatin silver exhibition print shows a roadway in the Sierra Mountains with a stand of Redwood trees in background all cast in a yellow glow. The effect was achieved with Japanese dyes. Courtesy: Grapefruit Moon Gallery auction listing, Minneapolis MN.

 

1915: Wheeler’s photographic skills come into play as she visits the U.S. states of  Oklahoma, Kansas, Louisiana, Texas and Missouri while reporting on Kappa chapter houses for the article “Chapter Homes I Have Known”, accompanied by several halftones appearing in the December issue of The Key.  (pp. 317-21)

 

The magazine cover design for The Key changes with the addition of a new hand-drawn crest (coat-of-arms) designed by recent Xi chapter graduate Ruth Anthony beginning with the May issue. This cover design was used through mid 1927 when it was replaced by a simplified navy blue crest against a gray background.

 

 

1924-photograph-and-bookplateSeveral photographs by Cleora Clark Wheeler were most likely used as the basis for custom book plates engraved by the artist, as seen in this pairing. Left: "The White Birches At Bigwin" was a photograph taken in June, 1924 during the national Kappa Kappa Gamma convention held in Toronto, Canada at the Bigwin Inn and subsequently published as a halftone in the October, 1924 issue of fraternity quarterly, The Key. Right: "Ex Libris Cleora Clark Wheeler, by Cleora Clark Wheeler": This book plate drawn free-hand by the artist shows a similar grouping of White Birch trees. Examples of this book plate are known to have been pasted to the verso of more than one framed exhibition print included in Wheeler's 1922 exhibition Atmospheric Studies along with the additional designation of "California". This leads one to believe these frames were the ones shown in the 1926 Paul Elder Gallery exhibition in San Francisco. Courtesy: Helen Brainerd Lay Bookplate Collection, Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections: Identifier: ms0048-s02-b02-f15-i029

 

 

1916: Wheeler expands her offering of Kappa designs in a full page advertisement for book plates, dinner cards, social stationary and other items appearing in the February issue of The Key.

 

 

13-bookplatesBelieved to depict scenes in Colorado or California and may have been done from source photographs, examples of these bookplates by Cleora Clark Wheeler were exhibited at her 1922 St. Paul exhibition Atmospheric Studies. Left: "Robert Tatlow Barnard Avery Trask Barnard Their Book," by Cleora Clark Wheeler": ca. 1915-25. (Identifier ms0048-s02-b02-f15-i022). Right: "Ex Libris Frost Montaine and Emma Phyllis Wheeler," by Cleora Clark Wheeler": ca. 1915-25 (Identifier ms0048-s02-b02-f15-i021). Both courtesy Helen Brainerd Lay Bookplate Collection, Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections.

 

1918: In May, Wheeler becomes Director for the newly formed St. Paul Vocational Bureau for Trained Women:

 

1015 Commerce Building, St. Paul
MISS CLEORA WHEELER, DIRECTOR


Backed by the Women’s College Clubs of the Twin Cities, a Bureau for Trained Women was opened in Minneapolis within the last six months. The original idea was to open a branch office in St. Paul, with Miss Cleora Wheeler of St. Paul in charge. It came to be realized, however, that the work in the two cities would be sufficient in importance and scope to warrant the opening of two independent bureaus, so on the morning of May 8 the St. Paul Vocational Bureau for Trained Women opened its office for business. It is conducted under the auspices of the St. Paul College Club, the Vocational Committee assuming the responsibility of its organization and management, while Miss Wheeler is in charge as director.


Miss Wheeler was for five years chairman of the Vocational section of the St. Paul Association of Collegiate Alumnae, and served on the Board of Directors of the Minneapolis bureau during its organization period and until joining their salaried staff as temporary assistant. She was their representative at the February convention of the Association for the Promotion of Industrial and Vocational Education in Philadelphia; and visited the Collegiate bureaus of Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Detroit and Chicago. She also visited the headquarters of Women’s Work in Washington that the St. Paul office might fully cooperate with them and with the government.


The St. Paul bureau is particularly fortunate in securing office accommodations with the Ramsey County Women’s War Organization, and it is fully expected that this arrangement will prove mutually beneficial.  (2.)

 

 

14-cleora-clark-wheeler-bookplate-in-mt-holyoke-college-collectionExamples of bookplates by Wheeler: Left: "Cecily Wheeler Allen Ex Libris, by Cleora Clark Wheeler" : ca. 1930-40. (Identifier ms0048-s02-b02-f15-i045). Right: "Ex Libris Frank B. Kellogg," by Cleora Clark Wheeler": 1915. This bookplate was shown at the artist's1922 St. Paul exhibition Atmospheric Studies. (Identifier ms0048-s02-b02-f15-i020). Both courtesy Helen Brainerd Lay Bookplate Collection, Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections.

 

  First publicized notice of Christmas cards designed by Wheeler appear in the February issue of The Key. They are sold to raise money for French orphans impacted by WWI: “Epsilon made twenty dollars for the French children by selling the Christmas cards designed by Cleora Wheeler.” (p. 56)

 

1921: Accompanied by a reflective portrait of the artist, the December issue of The Key publishes a lengthy professional background story on her:

 

Cleora Wheeler’s first work with the Young Women’s Christian Association was in California. Soon after her graduation from the University of Minnesota she was asked by Miss Louise Brooks of New York, national secretary of conventions and conferences, to be her assistant at the student conference at Capitola, Cal. Soon after this she was elected business secretary of the St. Paul Association which was just organizing.


In a city association the business secretary banks the money, issues the membership cards, registers the gymnasium and educational classes, inspects rooming houses, acts as hostess, and audits the money if the association raises $250,000 in a whirlwind campaign for a new building. After helping in this way in her own city for two years, Miss Wheeler did county organization work under the state committee, assisting in the organizing of Mower County, Minn., the third county to be organized in the United States. It meant riding on freight trains to little towns throughout the county, arranging mass meetings and then lecture places for the state nurse, domestic science teacher, and sewing teacher who were sent down by the Agricultural Department of the university to give a ten-weeks’ course of lectures, the university collaborating in extension work with the association.


The next year under the National Board of the Young Women’s Christian Association Miss Wheeler was one of the two business managers of the student and city conferences at Lake Geneva. The national bookplate of the association used in all of the books at the National Training School, and in association libraries throughout the country is designed by Miss Wheeler. (p. 292)

 

 

15-san-gabriel"San Gabriel": Cleora Clark Wheeler, American-1882-1980: ca. 1922: hand-pulled Japan-tissue photogravure: 10.5 x 6.3 | 21.0 x 15.2 Gampi | 24.2 x 38.0 off-white handmade paper (folded) | 33.0 x 25.0 cm olive-colored cardstock leaf. In California, the famous bell wall at the San Gabriel Spanish Mission is seen in this pictorial view by Wheeler. The California Missions Resource Center states: "Six bells occupy an espadaña or bell wall. The oldest bells were cast in Mexico City in 1795 by the famous bell maker, Paul Ruelas. The largest bell (dated 1830) weighs over a ton and was used for over a century to ring the Angelus, a prayer said at morning, noon, and evening in commemoration of the Incarnation." From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

1922: The May 20th issue of American Art News prints a notice of Wheeler’s exhibition Atmospheric Studies:

 

“A collection of more than eighty prints of western scenes by Miss Cleora Wheeler, St. Paul artist, have been on exhibition at the St. Paul Public Library. They show a wide range of color and subject matter, and were done on trips which extended from the eastern reaches of the Rockies through the mountains and as far south as the Mexican border of California.   -G.E.P.” (p. 7)

 

⎯ In June, the artist’s first known public exhibition of hand-colored pictorial photographs as well as a smaller series of original bookplates takes place from June 1-15 at the Saint Paul Public Library under the auspices of the Saint Paul Institute. A slim eight-page exhibition brochure is printed listing the following sub-headings for the 76 exhibited photographs:

 

Out Where The West Begins : Colorado; California: At Call-Of-The-Wild, California; Pacific Grove; California: The Seventeen-Mile Drive; Santa Barbara; Farther South; La Jolla; Old Town; San Diego; Minnesota:  Senator Kellog’s Garden, St. Paul & White Bear Lake. A separate section for 14 original bookplates is also listed, and the entire list with all titles can be found on this website at a link featuring the original framed exhibition print Evening.

 

Some of the work for the exhibit was for sale, and a price list was printed on the last page of the brochure:

PRICE LIST

The prints in this exhibition are not for sale.
Duplicates can be ordered as follows:


SEPIA PRINTS
Large size, mounted as shown………$10.00
Smaller size, mounted as shown……..7.50


COLORED PRINTS

No. 34 ……………………………….$12.50
No. 40 ……………………………….. 20.00
No. 43 …………………………………10.00
All others …………………………….7.50
These prices include frames.


MINIATURE PRINTS
Made by hand from copper plates.
See sample book at desk.
Prints on Japanese tissue ……$1.00
No.  50,  No. 60, No. 63, colored ink, with
envelope …………………………… .50
Folders tinted to order, with envelope $.40 and  .50
Same without tinting ………… .15
Card without tinting …………. .10


CHRISTMAS CARDS
See sample books at desk.
Folders with Christmas wording.
Per 100 ………………………………$35.00 to $50.00
These may be ordered for fall delivery.


BOOKPLATE PRICES
Design ………………………………$25.00 up

Metal plate and prints are extra, cost depend-
ing on material.  Allow six months for book-
plate orders.  Estimates given.

1376 Summit Avenue             Midway 0234

 

16-cleora-clark-wheeler-1916-christmas-card-ad-in-the-minnesota-alumni-weekly-december-11-1916Left: Custom designed Christmas cards were a staple source of income for artist Cleora Wheeler as well as an important fund raiser for her fraternity. She produced them as early as 1915, when an advertisement similar to this one featuring a potted Bonsai tree was photographed alongside a box of cards featuring four different designs ran her Minnesota Alumni Weekly, (this ad from Dec. 1916) until the 1960's, when the cover of the December, 1963 issue of The Pen Woman magazine showcased card designs of Twin City churches. A 1944 article in the St. Cloud Daily Times newspaper of MN remarked: "Miss Wheeler has received nationwide recognition for her Christmas cards, hand-printed photogravures and hand stamped cards bearing her designs" Right: The Japanese inspired sensibility of Wheeler's design aesthetic can be seen carried over in this photographic landscape taken along California's Monterey coastline. In "Mustard Sky", a lone Cypress tree is shown atop an seaside ridge. This original hand-colored framed exhibition photograph was featured in her 1922 St. Paul, MN exhibition Atmospheric Studies, listed as #44 under the subheading "The Seventeen-Mile Drive". Courtesy: Grapefruit Moon Gallery auction listing, Minneapolis MN.

 

1924: In June, at the national Kappa convention held in Toronto, Canada at the Bigwin Inn, Wheeler makes 19 hand-cut silhouettes from black paper used as part of the Historical Pageant. The works were later reproduced in the October issue of The Key that year. (shown on pp. 250-253) Soon, Wheeler would take on the art of silhouette portraiture by means of photography. Additionally, a pictorial portrait of Kappa president May Whiting Westerman and Georgia Hayden Lloyd Jones, National Director of Provinces, appeared as a full page halftone in the issue and another pictorial photographic landscape: The White Birches of Bigwin, appeared on pages 248 and 255 respectively.

 

 

1925: Several California pictorial photographic works are published as halftones in the October issue of The Key with the following titles:

 

- Call-of-the-Wild, California

- San Juan Capistrano Mission-between Los Angeles and San Diego, California


 

17-the-key-wheeler-advertisementLeft: Although Cleora Wheeler never held editorial positions for The Key, the quarterly magazine of Kappa Kappa Gamma, it featured notices of her progress as an artist, support of the fraternity's mission nationally via her election to various Kappa positions, including Grand Registrar in 1904 and Custodian of the Badge in 1911, and as a continual mouthpiece for advertisements in its' rear pages featuring original artwork for sale. This issue shows a new cover design which debuted in May, 1915 featuring a new crest (coat-of-arms) designed by recent Xi chapter graduate Ruth Anthony. Right: One large advertisement appearing in the October, 1930 issue of The Key showcased no less than 18 individual Kappa designs by Cleora Wheeler made into steel dies. These were used to emboss custom orders of stationary, all from the third floor studio of her St. Paul, MN home.

 

Three further California images appear in the December issue of The Key promoting the national convention that would be held at Mills College outside Oakland, CA the following summer. The frontis photograph for the issue featured a view of a lone cypress tree that had become Wheeler’s signature California image known as “Near Monterey” taken along the Seventeen Mile Drive and was darkened and hand-colored with a star placed in the sky and re-titled “Evening”.

 

The article published on pages 415-17 of the issue is titled:

 

An Invitation To California

“The California chapters together with all Kappa alumnae in this western province unite in inviting every Kappa, young and old, to come to convention in California during the first week of August in 1926.” …The convention will be held at Mills College, in the suburbs of Oakland, across the bay from San Francisco.”

 


The two additional halftones are titled:

 

- At the Beginning of The Seventeen Mile Drive
 
- The Cloister Stairway, San Gabriel Mission


 

18-the-wraith-gelatin-silver-and-gravureLeft: "The Wraith": Cleora Clark Wheeler, American:1882-1980. Sepia gelatin silver print, ca. 1922. Courtesy: Grapefruit Moon Gallery auction listing, Minneapolis MN. Right: 'The Wraith": Hand-pulled Japan-tissue photogravure ca. 1922: 10.1 x 7.8 | 20.7 x 14.9 Gampi | 24.8 x 38.0 off-white handmade paper (folded) | 33.0 x 25.0 cm olive-colored cardstock leaf. Cypress trees, one living and the other dead, stand sentinel among a rock outcropping, with the Pacific Ocean beyond. The landscape was photographed by Wheeler along the famed Seventeen Mile Drive on the Monterey, California coastline. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

1925: Working out of her St. Paul home, Wheeler produced an unknown number of original artworks for the Buzza Company of Minneapolis in this year or before, with lithographed motto art being a specialty. (see example pulled from the web along with this post) Minnesota Historical Society author Moira F. Harris comments on the artist’s working methods:

 

Her studio was on the third floor of the family home at 1376 Summit Avenue. There she designed and engraved the plates for her cards and bookplates. Some cards she printed herself on a hand press, while others were printed on handmade paper by Brown & Bigelow and sold through the St. Paul Book & Stationery firm. (3.)

 

The Hennepin History Museum in Minneapolis, MN supplied this short overview of the Buzza Company as part of their 2016 exhibit “Greetings”:

 

A History of the Buzza Company


During its prime, the Minneapolis-based Buzza Company (1907-1942) was one of the nation’s largest manufacturers of greeting cards, framed mottos, gift books, and party stationery. GREETINGS tells the story of the company’s rise and fall, its larger-than-life founder, and the hundreds of artists, poets, printers, and others who produced, sold, and shipped many millions of items from the company’s Lake Street headquarters each year. (George Earl Buzza: 1883-1957)

 

 

 

19-wheeler-illustration-1925-for-the-buzza-company-of-minneapolis-mnAround 1925 or before, Cleora Wheeler created original artwork like this example for the Minneapolis-based Buzza Company, which between 1907-1942 was one of the nation's largest manufacturers of greeting cards, framed mottos, gift books, and party stationery. This framed motto print made into a chromolithograph posted to Pinterest bears a 1925 Buzza copyright ("WHEELER" printed in lower left corner of artwork) and is titled "A Friend Like You": optimistic lines penned by the English-born American poet Edgar Albert Guest: 1881-1959.

 

 

1926: Interestingly, a review of Wheelers 1922 exhibit Atmospheric Studies is published nearly four years later in the February issue of The Key, with insight stating the artist had “tramped the California mountains” “for two successive summers” to produce the views. This may indicate the entire body of California work was taken ca. 1920-21, as it’s known she made a Santa Barbara landscape dated 1921. The issue features a commercial portrait of Wheeler to accompany the article. Four additional halftones of California landscapes are further reproduced in the issue.

 

California Photographs by Kappa Artist


THE California photographs by Cleora Wheeler which are appearing in these issues of THE KEY are reproductions of a part of an exhibit of seventy or more prints in colors which were recently hung in the art gallery of the beautiful public library of St. Paul, under the auspices of the St. Paul Institute. This constituted the only exhibition during the year which filled this large gallery with the work of one person. The pictures are being reproduced for the first time in THE KEY, and as they are part of a professional record they bear the name of the member who made them. Miss Wheeler thinks of California as her second home, as she spent a year with Pi after graduating at Minnesota. For two successive summers she has tramped the California mountains, and as a result has produced the pictures which you are now enjoying at the request of Mrs. Westermann, and of which Arthur L. Wilhelm, the art critic, wrote the following:

 


UNUSUAL QUALITIES ARE DISPLAYED IN WORK OF MISS
CLEORA WHEELER; SUBJECT MATTER SELECTED
WITH VIEW OF UNUSUAL

BY ARTHUR L. WILHELM

 

There is on exhibition at the St. Paul Public library this week a collection of colored California prints by Cleora Wheeler, St. Paul artist and etcher. The St. Paul Institute is sponsoring the exhibit. In the collection of more than eighty prints are many that have unusual qualities. All are atmospheric studies and are colored, many of them with fine Japanese dyes, giving a wide color range and depth. Miss Wheeler has grasped the fine essentials of design in many of her studies. Many simple little prints take on glowing beauty under the touch of her brush. The subject matter is carefully selected with a· view of the unusual. Here, in one print, one sees a fine flowing rhythm. Again one feels the structure of design carried out to a fine point. Again there is quality of the color that charms. Always there is something unusual to attract.

 

 

20-eucaliptus-screenTop: "Eucalyptus Screen": Cleora Clark Wheeler, American: 1882-1980. Hand-pulled Japan-tissue photogravure ca. 1922: 6.3 x 10.5 cm | 14.9 x 20.4 Gampi | 38.0 x 24.5 cm off-white handmade paper (folded) | 33.0 x 25.0 cm olive-colored cardstock leaf. From: PhotoSeed Archive. Bottom: "A Forest Screen": ca. 1922: Cleora Clark Wheeler: hand-colored gelatin silver exhibition print from the artist's 1922 St. Paul exhibition Atmospheric Studies. "Screen-type" photographic landscapes by Wheeler show up frequently in her California work, with the latter print (#27 St. Paul) taken in the Pacific Grove region near Monterey and gravure believed to be from Santa Barbara. Courtesy: Grapefruit Moon Gallery auction listing, Minneapolis MN.

 

COLORADO-CALIFORNIA


Miss Wheeler has arranged the prints so that one follows her in her journey to the West, where the pictures were taken. First we see eight prints from Colorado, the first rampart range of the Rockies, a field of wild sunflowers with a great up-thrust of rock in the background, and others. Then we have what she terms the “Call of the Wild,” with a score of prints taken at random along the coast and in the big woods of the Sierras. There are many pictures that are romantic in feeling and others that have a rich poetic sentiment. The colors are soft and glowing or in the nocturnes are dimmed by the blue of night. There are ten prints taken at Pacific Grove which· include pictures of the woods and sea, pictures with the fog stealing in, and prints tinged with the sunset glow.

 

DRIVE PICTURES THE BEST

 

Perhaps the most charming group of the exhibition is that taken on the famous seventeen-mile drive at Monterey. Here the old cypresses are shown with all their varied forms. Also the rocks and the sea are most charmingly depicted. There are pictures of young eucalyptus groves with a bit of flaming sky showing through the foliage. One print, “The Old Witch,” is a portrait of a famous old tree which is known to the thousands of tourists who have made the trip. There is a group of prints from Santa Barbara and several from points farther South. The exhibition is enhanced by an oil painting, a landscape done by the mother of the artist, which has a fine feeling of harmony and color. The entire exhibition is both unusual and charming. (pp. 27-8)

 

 

1926:  July. Fifteen silhouettes, this time by means of photography, are taken by Wheeler of Kappa members taking part in the Historical Pageant held as part of the California annual convention at Mills College. In addition, she takes scores of additional silhouettes of those attending the convention itself on banquet day. The silhouette photos of the pageant members are published in the October issue of The Key.

 

 

21-silhouettes-by-cleora-clark-wheelerThese two sets of photographic silhouette portraits taken by Cleora Wheeler were done in July, 1926 as part of the Historical Pageant held during the annual Kappa Kappa Gamma national convention at Mills College outside Oakland, California. The studies here reproduced as halftones were published in the October issue of The Key. "So far as I was able to find out, this was the first time the Oakland, Berkeley or San Francisco photographers had seen the experiment of silhouettes by this method, and they were interested" said Wheeler, in the article titled "Say It With Flowers … . Do It With Dishpans" published in the December, 1926 issue of The Key. Kappa chapter members were credited in the publication but in an unknown order. The first four are at left followed by 5-8 at right: 1. Loretta Shea of Lambda as "Alpha, 1870." 2. Mabel Paul, as "Beta Nu, 1888." 3. Beatrice Peters, as "Beta Omega, 1913." 4. Dorothy Fulton, as "Gamma Alpha, 1916." 5. Dorothy Lewis, as "Beta Rho, 1885, 1914." 6. Thelma Scheider, as "Beta Tau, 1883." 7. Martha Bordwell, as "Gamma Rho, 1888." 8. Abigail Semans, as "Rho, 1880, 1925."

 

November.  Calling Wheeler “a painter turned photographer”, partly referencing her motto work for the Buzza Company, an exhibition of her photographs-likely re-purposed from the 1922 Atmospheric Studies exhibition, are shown at Paul Elder & Company, a San Francisco bookseller & publisher. (1898-1968) The following notice for the show appeared in Bret Harte’s Overland Monthly and Out West Magazine that month:

 

A painter turned photographer will occupy the attention of the visitors at the Paul Elder Gallery October 25 to November 6.  Miss Cleora Clark Wheeler, of St. Paul, Minnesota, gained a reputation as a painter before she took up photography as her medium. As a result, her prints have a feeling of conscious design and a quality of painting. Those exhibited at Paul Elder’s will be some of her atmospheric studies of California scenes and a group of miniature prints from copper plates.


December. In The Key, the artist describes how she made the silhouettes that year:

 

 

Say It With Flowers … . Do It With Dishpans

CLEORA WHEELER

 

So Many persons have been interested to know how the silhouettes which I made in California last summer were done, that 1 am very glad to tell. It was with two huge electric lights of a thousand watts each, set into two deep dishpans. After the dishpans had been located at a hardware store, and the sockets soldered into place, they were nailed to the top of two of Mother’s two-by-four tomato supports which I took to convention in my trunk. They in turn were nailed at base of two wooden boxes which the janitor at Olney Hall found for me, and before the lights were put into the sockets Mr. Gibson the head electrician at Mills College made some special fuses of thirty amperes each, one of which was installed in the switchboard where the electric wiring from the room ended. Without these special fuses not only all the lights at that end of Olney Hall, but the big lamps themselves would have gone out as soon as lighted. He even provided some fuses of forty amperes each, to be kept on hand for emergency, in case the big lamps should suddenly stop.

 

 

22-capistranoArts & fine craftsmanship were integral to Cleora Wheeler's working methods, as evidenced by this representative leaf included in a California sample book she made featuring 23 hand-pulled, Japan-tissue photogravures individually mounted on hand-made paper contained within the ca. 1922 folio posted to PhotoSeed. This photograph is titled "Capistrano". Image and overall dimensions: 10.8 x 6.1 | 20.5 x 15.2 Gampi | 24.9 x 38.0 off-white handmade paper (folded) | 33.0 x 25.0 cm olive-colored cardstock leaf. The architectural study of archways was taken along the southern cloisters at the Capistrano Mission. From the missions online resource: "Mission San Juan Capistrano, became the seventh of twenty-one missions to be founded in Alta California. Like the previous six missions, San Juan Capistrano was established to expand the territorial boundaries of Spain, and to spread Christianity to the Native peoples of California." From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

A huge sheet was stretched across one end of the room, the two lights were focused on its center, from the front, and the person who was to have her silhouette, sat in the shadow between the lamps and the camera. The stool she sat upon was set upon a certain square, chalked upon the floor. The camera tripod stood on a triangle also chalked upon the floor as they had to be an exact number of inches apart. The camera was equipped with a special portrait lens which can be bought at any camera store for a dollar or two and added to the front of a camera lens. Regulation roll film was used which was very quick to operate. As a result the silhouettes were taken at the rate of two seconds each.


In order that there might be no reflection from walls, on the side of the person next the camera, black cloth was hung on one wall and an Oxford gown was hung over the looking glass on the other. Black oilcloth was fastened over the glass of the door leading into the hall, and over the transom above, so that no light from the hall lamps might enter. The girls lined up outside the door evenings, registered by number and the films were marked with the same numbers. · In that way each received her own negative and print in the end.


The developing solution was a special one, a formula which I brought with me. The photographer who prepared it for me on the coast had none of one of the ingredients. When it was located and added, it ate up the first roll of films, then when used one-tenth the strength, it blistered the second roll. After eight hours of experimenting in the darkroom I emerged with the mystery solved, and from that time on the negatives went through like magic. So far as I was able to find out, this was the first time the Oakland, Berkeley or San Francisco photographers had seen the experiment of silhouettes by this method, and they were interested. But they didn’t know what in the world to do when that first film was eaten up.


The silhouettes of Ruth Rochford (Mrs. George W. Schmitz of Berkeley) and her children were made by a reverse method, using the light back of the sheet, and directly back of the figure, the figure being the only thing to prevent its shining into the lens of the camera. The sheet was a piece of architect’s tracing paper, this time, wide enough and long enough to fasten over the entire area of an open doorway. Tracing paper (not tracing cloth) gives a more satisfactory light than a sheet. It is almost transparent and the light is suffused around the figure. Only one light could be used by this method, and as the amount was therefore cut in two, the length of exposure was necessarily to be doubled. It is impossible to expect a little child of two and a half years, as the youngest was here, to sit still more than one second, surely not four seconds. So a graflex camera was used as it has a very fast lens. The exposures were one second.


Frances Murphy of the Oklahoma chapter, whose silhouette appears at the top of the page, was the first delegate to brave the array of dishpans. Dozens followed her, and anyone who saw the interested crowd getting their pictures on banquet night just before we all parted, will be sure it proved there is a way to have one’s picture taken without having one’s head turned.

 

 

23-formal-portrait-working-in-studioLeft: This commercial portrait of Cleora Wheeler dates to the mid 1920's. A cropped variant accompanied a review published on her California photographs in the February, 1926 issue of The Key written years earlier by Arthur L. Wilhelm on her 1922 St. Paul exhibition Atmospheric Studies. An excerpt: "There are many pictures that are romantic in feeling and others that have a rich poetic sentiment. The colors are soft and glowing or in the nocturnes are dimmed by the blue of night." Photographic halftone courtesy: Helen Brainerd Lay Bookplate Collection, Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections: Identifier: ms0048-s02-b02-f15-i010. Middle: Variations of this single advertisement for products bearing designs by Wheeler: letter stationary, place cards and matching envelopes among other things, illustrated with a small photographic halftone of the artist working at an embossing machine inside her St. Paul home studio, continued to appear with regularity in the back pages of the Kappa quarterly, The Key. Right: At 95 years of age, Cleora Wheeler was still very active in her Kappa Kappa Gamma fraternity. Here she is seen looking at a Ritual volume during an annual convention display. The original caption in the Fall, 1977 issue of The Key pointing out "that the cover had been hand-made by her!".

 

1932: A historian at heart, Wheeler writes the chapter on Kappa insignia and compiles extensive illustrations included in the weighty volume: ‪The History of Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity, 1870-1930‬ published this year.

 

 

1930-1940’s: Advertisements for products bearing designs by Wheeler: book plates, stationary, etc, continue to appear with regularity in the back pages of the Kappa quarterly, The Key.

 

 

1952: The artist receives Kappa’s Alumnae Achievement Award, with the following notice appearring in the October issue of The Key:

 

 

Cleora Clark Wheeler, former grand registrar and custodian of the badge for the Fraternity, also prepared the text and illustrations on insignia which appears in the History of Kappa Kappa Gamma. Miss Wheeler is listed in Who’s Who in America and also in Who’s Who in American Art. She has recently served as national chairman of design for the National League of American Pen Women and holds certificates of proficiency in engineering drafting and advanced engineering drafting from the University of Minnesota. As a designer and illuminator of books and other publications, Miss Wheeler has gained national recognition. Her bookplate designs are represented in many collections. Of her work Miss Wheeler says: “The public seems to be especially interested in the fact that I learned’ the trade of steel-die stamping. It is a highly specialized field in the factories of wholesale stationery companies. It usually takes a girl nine years, stamping 1000 impressions a day by hand, to become an expert.” (p. 244)

 

1967: The following article published in the Mid-Winter issue of The Key gives a good overview of Cleora Wheeler’s accomplishments later in life:

 

CLEORA WHEELER, X-Minnesota, is one of America’s most distinguished artists in the rare field of illumination and etching. Forty three of her exquisitely fine drawings prepared as steel engravings, copper intaglio plates, and etchings on zinc and copper are on file in the Library of Congress, and in 28 university, historical and city libraries. She is listed in Who’s Who of American Women, Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Art, and Who’s Who in the MidWest.


She has long made book plates, plaques, dedicatory scrolls, and coats-of-arms for New York firms, on special order for customers so discriminating they realize the surpassing quality of her workmanship. She is an honored member of the National League of American Pen Women, serving as national chairman of design (1944-46), of Heraldic Art (1954-56), and of Inscriptions, Illumination and Heraldic Art (1964-66). The work of the print maker is a dedicated one, and Miss Wheeler has experimented with the quiet and esoteric medium (as did Durer and Rembrandt) until her form of expression is close to perfection. In 1960 she went to Santa Barbara to extract the secrets of an early artist named Monsen, who washed glass slides with purple color, using other colors on top, to bring out rich values of greens in mountain landscapes. Miss Wheeler does many fraternity designs, seals, book covers, and Christmas cards. Her work requires space, and the entire third floor of her home is her shop, with the basement used for storing supplies.

 

 

1950-1977: A single advertisement for products bearing designs by Wheeler: letter stationary, place cards and matching envelopes among other things, illustrated with a small photographic halftone of the artist working at an embossing machine inside her St. Paul home studio, continue to appear with regularity in the back pages of the Kappa quarterly, The Key.

 

 

1980: Wheeler dies. Her obituary appears in the Spring issue of The Key:

 

Cleora Wheeler Dies

Kappa records with sorrow the death of Cleora Clark Wheeler, Minnesota, at age 97. She died of pneumonia February 24, 1980. Her BA in engineering and engraving was from Minnesota and she studied color harmony at New York School of Fine and Applied Art now Parsons School of Art) and is listed in Who’s Who of American Women. She began her career as a designer of Christmas cards and illuminator of books and publications. Her bookplates are on file in Paris, the Library of Congress and in 30 other libraries. They were exhibited at the Smithsonian Institution from 1946-1964 and at the International Ex Libris Association of Congress, Elsinore, Denmark, in 1972. Miss Wheeler received numerous awards for her work and served as president, chairwoman and judge of several national art associations. She was a member of the National Society of Magna Charta Dames, a past president of the Minnesota branch of the National League of American Pen Women, a member of the International Bookplate Association, held various offices in the Daughters of the American Revolution and was a life member of the American Association of University Women. Born July 8, 1882, Cleora Wheeler was initiated October 9, 1899 and served Kappa her entire life. She was an active delegate to the 1902 convention and an alumnae delegate to the 1908 convention. She was Grand Registrar of the Fraternity 1904-1906 and Custodian of the Badge 1911-1918. She received Kappa’s Achievement Award in 1952 and was the recipient of her 75 year pin.


 

Addendum: Wheeler family History

 

Described as “one of the best preserved upper-class Victorian promenade boulevards in America”, the homes along Summit Avenue in St. Paul, Minnesota- including one owned by Cleora Clark Wheeler at 1376 Summit Ave. where she maintained her studio for decades, were individually described for their architectural significance as part of the 2003 online posting: Thursday Night Hikes: Western Summit Avenue Hike Architecture Notes, Part 2.

 

Significant biographical background for Clark, her mother, father and extended family are included with the summary. It was compiled from public sources as well as from the University of Minnesota, Northwest Architectural Archives by historian Lawrence A. Martin. The following is his summary. I have only confirmed and filled in several birth and death dates for Cleora’s mother and father that were missing and added a few paragraph breaks for purposes of style:

 

 

1376 Summit Avenue: Rush B. Wheeler House; Built in 1909 (Ramsey County property tax records and Sandeen; 1909-1910 according to Larson;) Early Modern Rectilinear in style; Clarence H. Johnston, Sr., architect.

 

The structure is a two story, 2496 square foot, eight room, five bedroom, two bathroom, one half-bathroom, stucco house, with a detached garage. The house was constructed at a cost of $5,500 (Sandeen; $6,000 according to Larson.) In 1916, Rush B. Wheeler was a member of the Minnesota Historical Society and resided at this address. The 1918 and 1924 city directories indicate that Mr. and Mrs. R. B. Wheeler and their daughter resided at this address. The 1930 city directory indicates that Mrs. Harriet S. Wheeler, the widow of Rush B. Wheeler, resided at this address. In 1934, Harriet Clark Wheeler, the widow of Rush Wheeler, and Cleora Clark Wheeler resided at this address.


Rush B. Wheeler (1844-1930,) the son of Orange H. Wheeler and Eve Tucker Wheeler, was born in South Butler, Wayne County, New York, graduated from the Cazenovia Seminary in New York in 1867, was a graduate of Yale University in 1871, moved to Minnesota in 1873, resided in Austin, Minnesota, from 1873 until 1888, read the law in 1876, was a member of the board of directors of the First National Bank of Austin, Minnesota, from 1880 until 1883, moved to St. Paul in 1883, practiced law, was engaged in real estate and loans, was a member of the St. Paul Chamber of Commerce from 1885 until 1900, was president of the Real Estate Exchange of St. Paul from 1894 until 1896, resided at 520 Summit Avenue in 1907, and officed at the Pioneer Press Building in 1907.


Rush Wheeler married Harriet S. L. Clark in 1876. Harriet Clark Wheeler was a graduate of the University of Minnesota. Harriet Clark Wheeler and Cleora Clark Wheeler were members of the American Association of University Women and the Women’s City Club of St. Paul.


Cleora Clark Wheeler (1882-1980) was born in Austin, Minnesota, graduated with honors from St. Paul Central High School and from the University of Minnesota, received art training at the New York School of Fine and Applied Art/Parsons School of Art, opened a studio at this address, was a renowned artist, a designer, and an illuminator of books and other publications who received certificates of proficiency in advanced engineering drafting from the University of Minnesota, was a well-known bookplate and Christmas card designer, was also an architectural photographer and poet, was a wedding invitation designer, and was an expert in steel-die stamping with widespread recognition.


Cleora Clark Wheeler received an Alumnae Achievement Award from the Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity in 1952, after she served as the Fraternity’s Grand Registrar from 1904 to 1906 and as its representative to National Panhellenic Conference from 1905 to 1906, after she prepared a Song Leaflet and Manual of Information for distribution at the 1914 Estes Park Convention, after she attended the Fourth Inter-Sorority Conference in Chicago, where she was instrumental in bringing about the decision that the fraternities had the power of vote on recommendations only, not the power to legislate and hold their entire membership to rules passed by single representatives, after she served for seven years as the Fraternity’s Custodian of the Badge, after she prepared the text and illustrations on insignia which appeared in the 1930 History of Kappa Kappa Gamma, and after she created an official bookplate of the Fraternity.


Cleora Clark Wheeler was a member of the National Society Magna Charta Dames and Barons, whose membership is based upon the existence of a direct lineal descent from one or more of the twenty-five Sureties for the Magna Charta or from a Baron, Prelate, Knight, or other influential person present on the field of Runnemede, England, in June, 1215, was a judge for national achievement awards and was National Chairman of Heraldic Art of the National League of American Pen Women, and was state curator of the Nathan Hale chapter of the Minnesota Daughters of the American Revolution.


Cleora Wheeler also was a substitute teacher in the St. Paul Public Schools. Cleora Wheeler had an exhibition of her bookplate work, entitled “Atmospheric studies,” at the St. Paul Public Library in 1922, under the auspices of the Saint Paul Institute. Cleora Clark Wheeler was a niece of Charles A. Clark (1865-1929,) who was a Spanish-American War veteran and was a resident of the Far East. Clark airfield in Honolulu, Hawaii, was named for Clark’s son, Harold Melville Clark (1890-1919,) who died in a airplane crash. Rush B. Wheeler (1844 -1930) and Harriet S. Wheeler (1853-1938) both died in Ramsey County. Cleora Clark Wheeler (1882-1980) was born in Minnesota, had a mother with a maiden name of Clark, and died in Ramsey County. (current owner information as of 2003 was also included but has been left out here)  (4.)

 

 

24-evening-cleora-clark-wh"Evening": Cleora Clark Wheeler, American: 1882-1980. Hand-colored gelatin silver print ca. 1922: image: 23.6 x 19.8 cm; frame: 24.7 x 19.8 cm: Believed to have been taken around 1920, the medium of fine Japanese dyes in hues of blue, green and yellow were used to color this double-weight, rough surface print, the view originally taken in daylight but manipulated as a much darker print in the artist's darkroom with the addition of a lone “twinkling” star added to the "night" sky. The variant daylight version is titled "Near Monterey", and a photogravure version pulled on Japanese tissue can be seen on this website. "Evening" was catalogued as #43, appearing under the sub-heading The Seventeen-Mile Drive as part of the artist's 1922 exhibit ‪Atmospheric Studies: An Exhibition of the Work of Cleora Clark Wheeler, June 1-15, 1922. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

Notes:

1. “All About the Fraternity Coat-of-Arms”, Excerpt from January 2006 Historically Speaking, by Kay Smith Larson, Washington, History Chairman 2002-2006, excerpted in This is Kappa blog: accessed January, 2018.
2. The Journal of the Association of Collegiate Alumnae: Ithaca, NY:  June, 1918: pp. 704-05
3. Citation #19: St. Paul Pioneer Press, Jan. 2, 1967, p. 13; Crump, Minnesota Prints, 173. Moira F. Harris: Season’s Greetings from Minnesota: Minnesota Historical Society magazine Winter 2011-12
4. Excerpt: Thursday Night Hikes: Western Summit Avenue Hike Architecture Notes, Part 2: Observations on Architectural Styles: Western Summit Avenue Hike Assembled by Lawrence A. Martin. Webpage Creation: October 20, 2003.

 

 

Blue Boo

Happy Halloween!

 

paddy-and-the-ghost-decDetail: "Paddy and the Ghost — Dec. 9 1899": Henry Byett, (ca.1870-1949) English: 1899: vintage cyanotype mounted on card album leaf: (6.9 x 9.5 | 8.3 x 10.8 | 12.1 x 15.0 cm) This rare cyanotype "spirit" photograph is the lone blueprint in a small album of carefully composed, mounted and captioned gelatin silver photographs attributed to the English amateur photographer, who was for many years a railway clerk for the Swindon works of the Great Western Railway in England. Byett is best known today as having been a close friend of the celebrated English poet Alfred Williams, (1877-1930) Swindon’s “Hammerman Poet ” whom he met there in 1905. From: PhotoSeed Archive

SpringSprung

 

The Northern Hemisphere has once again thankfully undergone rebirth, becoming the season of spring and with it,  all the hope it represents for the continuation of our natural and human worlds.

 

1-gathering-flowering-dogwDetail: "Curtis High School Girl Gathering Dogwood Boughs": Charles Rollins Tucker: American: platinum: ca. 1910-15: 19.7 x 13.1 | 30.5 x 23.3 cm: A genre landscape study celebrating both spring and womanhood, the model is perhaps a thespian known to have attended Curtis High School on Staten Island in New York City, where photographer C.R. Tucker taught Physics at the time. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

Photographically, with the exceptions of those open-minded enough to embrace the obvious-something Alfred Stieglitz seized upon in 1893 when winter proved more than suitable for subject matter- the majority of amateurs a bit later at the turn of the 20th century seemed interested in dusting off their cameras only when those first buds and flowers of the season awoke once more.

 

This abbreviated compilation of images spanning the 1890’s through about 1940 from the PhotoSeed Archive-no matter how dated they may appear from the mores of days long gone by- is a reaffirmation dedicated to you that spring’s beauty and potential might give us all a bit of hope towards the future betterment of our often fragmented, present-day world.     David Spencer-  April, 2016

 

2-harbingers-of-spring-louDetail: "Harbingers of Spring": Louise Birt Baynes: American: gelatin silver: 1904: 20.8 x 15.5 | 35.6 x 27.9 cm: This study of skunk cabbage growing in the spring time may have been taken using an artificial light source. Author Frank Roy Fraprie mentioned the work in his article on photographing wild flowers for the March, 1904 issue of Boston’s Photo-Era magazine: "The plant must be photographed in its surroundings, for it has no stem or leaves at this season, to make possible a graceful arrangement at home, even if one were inclined to extend it hospitality. Mrs. Baynes has conquered all these difficulties, and her picture, “Harbingers of Spring,” is interesting to both the naturalist and the artistic photographer, - to one for its fidelity and to the other for its good composition." From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

3-magnolia-blooms-falling-"Spring Vista with Fallen Leaves": by Unknown Brooklyn (photographer) : American: carbon?: ca. 1905-10: 11.9 x 8.2 | 17.8 x 12.1 cm: What are believed to be Magnolia tree blossoms litter the ground in the foreground of this spring landscape study featuring a blooming Magnolia in the background, with the setting believed to be Brooklyn's Prospect Park as many known examples of this location were taken by this photographer. This photograph, with title supplied by this archive, is by an Unknown Brooklyn amateur photographer whose surviving work was discovered in a trunk in the American South. Background can be found by searching for this site's 2015 blog post: "No Junk in Trunk". From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

4-jeanette-bernard-cleaninDetail: "Cleaning up the Yard in Spring": c. 1900-05 by Jeanette Bernard: American, born Germany: (1855-1941) gelatin silver print c. 1935-40 from original glass plate negative acquired by Culver Service : 15.4 x 13.9 cm: alternate title: "Woman and Man Gardening"-George Eastman House NEG: 40724: 83:2640:0025: A spring cleaning study in a garden shows the photographer's daughter with pet terrier dog at her feet watching as a gentleman (perhaps a hired man) prepares to move a collection of dead branches using a wheelbarrow. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

5-anonymous-brooklyn-hand-"Magnolia Trees Blooming in Spring": by Unknown Brooklyn (photographer) : American: gelatin silver (hand-colored) from copy print: ca. 1910-15: 9.0 x 11.6 | 12.4 x 16.4 cm: This hand-colored landscape study showing several blooming Magnolia trees is believed to have been taken at Brooklyn's Prospect Park as many known examples of this location were taken by this photographer. This photograph, with title supplied by this archive, is by an Unknown Brooklyn amateur photographer whose surviving work was discovered in a trunk in the American South. Background can be found by searching for this site's 2015 blog post: "No Junk in Trunk". From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

6-clare-cressey-shipman-wiDetail: "Clare Shipman with Dogwood Blossoms": C.M. Shipman: American: platinum: 1904 or before: 17.5 x 11.8 cm | 27.9 x 36.0 cm tipped to black art-paper leaf from album: Born ca. 1880, Clare Cressey Shipman, spouse of amateur photographer Charles Melville Shipman, (1874-1947) examines a cluster of dogwood blossoms, most likely taken in the borough of Richmond on Staten Island, New York City, where the couple lived at the time. The photograph was included with other mostly naturalistic studies compiled in an album by the photographer with the final photograph signed and dated 1904. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

7-spring-central-park-hami"Spring Central Park": Hamilton Revelle, (1872-1958) English, born Gibraltar: bromoil (hand-colored) ca. 1930-40: 10.2 x 18.5 | 14.3 x 22.4 cm: This delicate hand-colored, blue hued study of a blooming tree in springtime in New York City's Central Park was probably done in the early 1930's along with another landscape study shown with this post. A British born stage and screen actor and consummate amateur photography on the side, he later specialized in the bromoil-transfer process after mastering other processes. The Broadway Photographs website includes a short bio: "Revelle's intense interest in photography perhaps derived from the art's capacity to arrest beauty in timeless perfection. He began carrying his camera equipment with him everywhere and spent his days, before going to the theater in early evening, perfecting his technical mastery of the medium, in platinum, silver, and autochrome. He was an avid experimenter with various printing papers and popularized the print of works on parchment. His portraits were displayed in international salons regularly during the first decade of the 20th century. The Royal Photographic Society of London awarded him its gold medal for excellence in portraiture." From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

8-apple-blossoms-charles-rDetail: "Apple Blossoms": Charles Rollins Tucker: American: platinum: ca. 1905-10: 20.3 x 14.7 | 32.7 x 25.5 cm: A genre landscape study celebrating both spring and womanhood, (notice the sunbursts at the bottom of her dress) the model is perhaps a thespian who most likely attended Curtis High School on Staten Island in New York City, where photographer C.R. Tucker taught Physics at the time. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

9-spring-central-park-hami"Central Park Spring with Eldorado": Hamilton Revelle, (1872-1958) English, born Gibraltar: bromoil: ca. 1935-40: 11.5 x 18.5 | 17.6 x 27.8 cm: This bromoil landscape study taken in New York City's Central Park includes a few hints of the Manhattan skyline, including the luxury twin-spired Eldorado apartment building opened in 1931, seen just to the left of the blooming tree on the right side of frame. A British born stage and screen actor and consummate amateur photographer, Revelle later specialized in the bromoil-transfer process after mastering other photographic processes. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

10-apple-blossoms-emma-jusDetail: "Apple Blossoms": Emma Justine Farsworth, American: hand-pulled photogravure published in periodical "Sun & Shade" New York: June, 1893: whole #58: N.Y. Photogravure Co.: 17.0 x 21.7 cm | 27.5 x 34.7 cm: From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

11-mary-tucker-with-apple-Detail: "Mary Tucker with Apple Blossoms": Charles Rollins Tucker: American: platinum: ca. 1905-10: 26.1 x 19.2 | 30.0 x 22.0 cm: Mary (Carruthers) Tucker, (1870-1940) spouse of amateur photographer C.R. Tucker, holds a bough of blossoms from an apple tree while wearing a hat adorned with flowers in this classic genre study celebrating womanhood in early spring. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

12-in-apple-blossom-time-hDetail: "In Apple Blossom Time": Henry Troth: American: lithograph, four-color: ca. 1915: 24.7 x 20.3: paperboard mount remnants with following additional details: Negative by Henry Troth; Artist Proof Fac-Simile; Published by the Henry Heininger Co NY.: This landscape study of a gentleman holding a basket in a roadway by Henry Troth shows a large flowering apple tree in the foreground. The Heininger firm, founded in 1885, marketed art reproductions and published postcards in addition to larger works like this. Metropostcard.com states this firm's "Fac-Simile Hand painted Nature Views were of course not hand colored but reproduced hand colored work in four color lithography through the use of paper grains. These cards also have a false plate mark." Another reference included in the publishing trade journal Geyer's Stationer from 1915 when this work is believed to have been produced stated: "The Heininger Co. are famed as well for their extensive line of artist proof facsimile nature pictures so perfectly executed that they readily pass for the high-priced hand-colored photoprints that command such generous prices on the market. The popular prices at which these art subjects are offered should command the instant attention of buyers, who already know the good value of their Abelart line, a complete display of which will be on view." Another Troth spring landscape, "The Hill Road" also appeared in 1915 produced by this firm. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

13-spring-by-george-seeley"Spring": George H. Seeley, American: hand-pulled Japan-paper tissue photogravure by the Manhattan Photogravure Co. included with Camera Work issue XXIX, January 1910: 19.7 x 15.8 | 29.7 x 20.6 cm | 30.0 x 21.0 cm- Enfield 1887 watermarked laid paper mount: A review in the February 25, 1910 issue of The British Journal of Photography discusses the ten photogravure plates by Seeley included with CW 29, and singles out this spring study with female model at the critique's conclusion: "Of the plates, the ten photogravures after photographs, by George H. Seeley, are remarkably rich examples of that idle sort of decorative toying with photography which “Camera Work" has always fostered. Mr. Seeley’s technical powers are very considerable. He is master enough to take great liberties with focussing, and does so with impunity; but the greatest enthusiast in art for art’s sake must admit that the subject-matter of Mr. Seeley's work is trivial and tiresome. "Girl with Bowl” is well designed and of exquisite quality. “Autumn" introduces a tambourine and bulrushes, with an inexplicable pose of the model. “The White Screen" shows the lady out of doors, dappled with the shadow from a tree. This is a charming study in tones. Next follow two subjects introducing an artist's palette—the first ridiculous and the next mystifying. Then comes a male nude of no attractions. “White Trees" and “Spring,” by their lightness and delicacy of tones, and the beauty of their suggestion, are, in our opinion, the best pictures of all. In the last two, the photographer’s title resources give out, and he contents himself with calling them No. 347 and No. 356. They do not suffer thereby. No. 356 is truly decorative, and shows us that Mr. Seeley has imbibed good ideas from the classics in painting."(p. 147: there is confusion as to the above numbers: a flysheet includes the pagination as plates VII (White Trees.) & VIII (Spring.): From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

14-leo-kraft-blossoming-ap"Backyard Apple Trees Blossoming": Leo Kraft, (1885-1927) American: gelatin silver print, ca. 1915-20: 19.0 24.3 | 21.0 26.1 | 33.0 x 39.3 cm. This photograph most likely picture's the backyard area of the photographer's Lakewood, Ohio home outside Cleveland showing a double-line of flowering apple or crabapple trees. The print is believed to be printed on Kodak's P. M. C. Bromide (double weight) paper like other known examples by Kraft in this archive.: From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

15-a-stiff-pull-peter-henr"A Stiff Pull": Peter Henry Emerson: British, born Cuba: hand-pulled photogravure by the photographer included in his limited, second-edition portfolio "Pictures of East Anglian Life": 1890: 20.7 x 28.8 | 34.1 x 42.6 cm: A farmer guides a plow behind a team of two horses as he tills the earth in the English spring countryside. England's Victoria & Albert Museum notes of this work included with this portfolio: "In 1889 Emerson published his controversial book 'Naturalistic Photography for Students of the Art' without images. 'Naturalistic Photography' examined his purist approach to photography, derived from his fascination with Naturalism in art, and attacked the prevailing artificial aesthetic in art photography. After its publication Emerson felt that his opponents had misunderstood his ideas. So, in 1890 he selected 10 plates from his book 'Pictures of East Anglian Life' (1888) that best illustrated his theories, and presented them loose in a portfolio dedicated to the ‘photographic student’, with the same title and cover of the book. He then donated copies of this portfolio to every photographic society in the country." Included in the work as plate III, "A Stiff Pull" is also reproduced as a line engraving on the oversized canvas board folio, but with the odd inclusion of the ocean with sailboats and gulls flying overhead on the horizon. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

16-parable-of-a-sower-samu"Some fell upon Stony Places,…": Samuel Hudson Chapman, American (1857-1931): platinum print included in his self-published volume: "The Parable of the Sower, Illustrated From Life, With The Series of Pictures Awarded The Allison Silver Cup of the Photographic Society of Philadelphia For the Year 1900: S.H. & H. Chapman 1348 Pine Street, 1901: 18.8 x 13.9 corner-glued | 31.5 x 25.4 cm: A dealer in rare coins along with his brother Henry, Philadelphia resident Samuel Hudson Chapman was also an accomplished photographer and president of the Photographic Society of Philadelphia at the time he published this volume which included this photograph in 1901. Showing a farmhand sowing seeds in the springtime, most likely done in the Italian countryside, the following copy accompanies the work opposite, from the King James Version of the Bible's Book of Matthew: "Some fell upon Stony Places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth; and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away." From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

17-frederick-boissonnas-foDetail: "Vers L'Idéal, Jeunes Filles Dansant : "Towards the Ideal, Young Girls Dancing" : Frederick Boissonnas, Swiss (1858-1946): hand-pulled photogravure by Munich's Verlagsanstalt F. Bruckmann A.-G. : 1911: 21.2 x 29.2 | 26.3 x 36.6 cm: Suggestive of an exuberant ritual acknowledging rebirth in spring, this photographic study of four female dancers can be dated to around 1911, when it was titled Vers L'Ideal "Towards the Ideal" and exhibited as part of the London Salon of Photography, where it was shown cropped to the central figures. These dancers were students attending a school teaching the "Dalcroze Method" of music pedagogy in Hellerau, Germany, now part of Dresden. The school was founded in 1910 by the Swiss composer, musician and music educator Émile Jaques-Dalcroze. (1865-1950) From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

18-sweet-springtime-ralph-Detail: "Sweet Springtime" : Ralph Winwood-Robinson, English (1862-1942): hand-pulled, Chine-collé edition photogravure from limited-edition portfolio "Amateur-Kunst: 37 Photogravuren Nach Naturaufnahmen" (Amateur Art: 37 photo Engravings after nature Photographs) published by Richard Paulussen at Vienna's Gesellschaft für Vervielfältigende Kunst: 1891: 20.6 x 26.8 | 35.6 x 48.2 cm: Titled "Sweet Springtime", this romantic landscape genre study showing a couple walking together (please see this website for uncropped version) down a road past a windmill was taken by the son of renowned English photographer Henry Peach Robinson. It was exhibited in Vienna during the groundbreaking 1891 "Internationale Ausstellung Künstlerischer Photographien" (International Exhibition of Art Photographers) organized by the Club of Amateur Photographers in Austria (Club der Amateur Photographen in Wien) the same year.: From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

Blue Prince

 

Discovering a needle in a haystack, with apologies to this farmhand happily lounging atop a salt marsh haystack before the turn of the 20th century, is the proverbial sensation one beholds when encountering a fine blueprint, or cyanotype photograph, for the first time.

1-man-on-a-salt-marsh-haysDetail: "Farmhand atop Salt Marsh Haystack" : anonymous American photographer: cyanotype: 1895-1900: 8.7 x 12.0 cm: The location of this photograph has been determined to be Plum Island in Newburyport, Mass, on Boston's North Shore. The marshes, in a tidal zone on the Atlantic ocean, is where salt marsh hay grows and then harvested. The farmhand would first use the wooden drag rake to collect the cut hay into piles. It would then be gathered and piled into layers above a platform (seen at bottom of photo) made from cedar wood staddles. This form of haystack making dates from the 17th Century is still practiced in the area in the present day. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

Given the excuse the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts is devoting significant wall space to their current exhibit:  Cyanotypes: Photography’s Blue Period, (through April 24, 2016-publication here.) all while keeping with this institution’s admirable mission of presenting photography as an art form to the public since 1904, I’m mounting my own mini-exhibition of vintage cyanotypes from the PhotoSeed archive here with the added bonus of several photographs that literally embrace and further the definition of “blue print”. So like our “prince” above, whose raking abilities are indeed most impressive, here’s hoping your own photographic gatherings include finding the unique beauty these gems in blue offer.

 -David Spencer, February, 2016

 

2a-herschel-lace-cyanotypeLeft: Detail: "John Frederick William Herschel"(1792-1871): Julia Margaret Cameron: British: Albumen print: 1867: image: 35.5 x 27.1 cm (sight): The Cyanotype, or blueprint process, was first invented by John Herschel in 1842. It involves first exposing a negative, oftentimes through the contact print method with paper (or even cloth or another matrix) first treated with ammonium ferric citrate. In daylight, the matrix is then developed using a solution of potassium ferricyanide. The resulting print reveals itself as a brilliant blue hue known as Prussian blue. (ferric iron compounds being changed into ferrous iron). From: PhotoSeed Archive. Right: Detail: "Braid and Thread Lace": Julia Herschel: British : (1842-1933 ) : cyanotype: 1869 or before. It's intriguing to know the inventors daughter used the process herself (John Herschel was known to only use his blueprint process to reproduce notes and diagrams) to create artistic statements, like this original photograph bound with the volume: A Handbook for Greek and Roman Lace Making published in London in 1869 and printed by R. Barrett and Sons. From: Spencer Collection, The New York Public Library. "A handbook for Greek and Roman lace making" The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1869. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/7dd58e00-0898-0133-038f-58d385a7bbd0

 

 

3a-anna-atkins-british-algaeLeft: Detail: "Title Page": from: Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions: Anna Atkins: British: (1799-1871) : cyanotype: 1843-1853. This title page in the author's own hand is part of a multi-part volume of 231 original cyanotypes featuring contact prints of British seaweed specimens first copied on individual glass sheets by William Henry Fox Talbot's photogenic drawing method by Atkins and then reproduced by John Herschel's newly invented cyanotype or blueprinting process. The importance of the work is summed up by The New York Public Library, which owns this rare volume formerly in the library of Herschel: "Photographs of British Algae is a landmark in the histories both of photography and of publishing: the first photographic work by a woman, and the first book produced entirely by photographic means." From: Spencer Collection, The New York Public Library. "Titlepage." The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1843 - 1853. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-4af4-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99. Right: Detail: "Sargassum plumosum":from: Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions: Anna Atkins: British: (1799-1871) : cyanotype: 1843-1853. These beautiful seaweed specimens was the second plate in the pagination for Vol. 1 of "British Algae". From: Spencer Collection, The New York Public Library. "Sargassum plumosum." The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1843 - 1853. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/510d47d9-4af6-a3d9-e040-e00a18064a99

 

blog-cyanotypes-blue-period-installation-photographs-2016Composite: April, 2016 installation photographs from exhibit: "Cyanotypes: Photography's Blue Period" at the Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, MA. Running from January 16-April 24, 2016, the show was the first comprehensive exhibit on the medium of cyanotype ever held in the United States. Vintage examples from the museum's own holdings as well as loans from other institutions and private individuals spanned the period from the 1850's to the first decade of the 21st Century. The exhibit was curated by Nancy Kathryn Burns, Assistant Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs at the museum & Kristina Wilson, Associate Professor of Art History, Clark University. Both additionally edited the volume: "Cyanotypes: Photography's Blue Period" published by the museum: ISBN# 978-0-936042-06-0. Installation photographs by David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive

 

4-sailboat-salt-marsh-haysDetail: "Sailboat near Plum Island" : anonymous American photographer: cyanotype: 1895-1900: 9.2 x 12.5 cm: The location of this photograph has been determined to be Plum Island Sound (the Parker River) in Newburyport, Mass, on Boston's North Shore. In the distance can be seen many salt marsh haystacks. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

5-tall-swing-north-shoreDetail: "Portrait Grouping with Tall Wooden Swing" : anonymous American photographer: cyanotype: 1895-1900: 8.5 x 11.5 cm: Most likely taken within the Plum Island area of Newburyport, Mass., (by the same photographer as it was included in small album of views as previous post photographs) this intriguing photograph shows an oversized wooden swing within a mowed field. One theory for the size of this swing would be because tidal changes could submerge the structure. Note lower margin of photograph where it was torn to fit a pre-cut window within a small album. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

6-pony-pulling-parade-carrDetail: "Pony Cart in Parade" : anonymous American photographer: cyanotype: 1895-1900: 8.8 x 11.4 cm: Most likely taken in or near Newburyport, Mass., (by the same photographer as it was included in small album of views as previous post photographs) this slice of small-town American life shows a pony pulling a floral-decorated cart guided by a young lady traveling down a dirt road, perhaps on Memorial Day. Above can be seen a Victorian home with three parade watchers who stand at upper right. A set of trolley tracks can be seen in road beyond horse. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

7-woman-in-white-dress-190Detail: "Woman in White Dress Standing next to Chair" : anonymous American photographer: cyanotype: 1895-1900: 8.3 x 8.5 cm: Her name perhaps lost to history, a young woman wearing a white dress stands on a porch and looks away from the camera: a most unusual genre pose indicating she may have been playing a role of some type: for a play? or as an honored guest who had taken part in the parade depicted in the previous photograph? This view also likely taken in or near Newburyport, Mass. (and was included in the same small album of views as previous post photographs) From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

8-home-interior-two-women-Detail: "Portrait Study near Window" : anonymous American photographer: cyanotype: 1899: 9.7 x 6.3 cm: Most likely sisters, this moody interior portrait is unusual for amateur work of the period because the photographer instructed his subjects to avert their gaze to the camera. The woman at left holds what is believed to be a folded fan while her companion holds a ball of yarn in her lap. Photograph may have been additionally printed on commercially available presensitized Venus paper manufactured by the Peerless Blue Print Co., as it was included in a cardboard box of this brand with an expiration date of 1899. Location for this image may have been the midwestern United States, as it was included in this Peerless box of loose cyanotypes purchased from an Indiana seller. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

9-favorite-chair-home-inteDetail: "Favorite Chair near Window" : anonymous American photographer: cyanotype: 1899: 9.4 x 12.0 cm: Another moody interior portrait, this time absent of any human subjects, is nonetheless interesting due to the feeling it evokes with the framed portrait of the bearded gentleman on the wall above what might be or was his favorite living room cushioned chair. Photograph may have been additionally printed on commercially available presensitized Venus paper manufactured by the Peerless Blue Print Co., as it was included in a cardboard box of this brand with an expiration date of 1899. Location for this image may have been the midwestern United States, as it was included in this Peerless box of loose cyanotypes purchased from an Indiana seller. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

10-teacher-at-blackboard-1"Schoolteacher at Desk" : anonymous American photographer: cyanotype: 1899 or before: 10.5 x 9.1 cm: With slight motion blur seen in her face, a schoolteacher holding a pencil works on papers at her desk in front of a large blackboard listing student lesson plans including Arithmetic, Geography (Europe topical review) and Language, (Punctuation-4 rules) with additional lesson plans at left outlining sentence structures. The 1896 volume: The War in Cuba, Being a Full Account of Her Great Struggle for Freedom can be seen on the desk at left. A chalk drawing of holly leaves is at very top of blackboard, so view may date to the Christmas holiday of 1898. Photograph may have been additionally printed on commercially available presensitized Venus paper manufactured by the Peerless Blue Print Co., as it was included in a cardboard box of this brand with an expiration date of 1899. Location may have been the midwestern U.S., as it was purchased with other cyanotypes from an Indiana seller. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

11-man-at-desk-january-189"Man with Bowler hat at Desk": : anonymous American photographer: cyanotype: 1899: 6.5 cm round | 11.3 x 8.8 cm: Possibly a self-portrait, a man wearing a bowler hat seated next to a desk stares away from the camera. A calendar featuring artwork of a horse preparing to pull a two-wheel cart dated January, 1899 hangs on the wall. Photograph may have been additionally printed on commercially available presensitized Venus paper manufactured by the Peerless Blue Print Co., as it was included in a cardboard box of this brand with an expiration date of 1899. Location may have been the midwestern U.S., as it was purchased with other cyanotypes from an Indiana seller. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

12-mary-tucker-cooks-at-poDetail: "Mother cooks at Point O' Woods LI": Charles Rollins Tucker: American: cyanotype: 1899: 12.5 x 17.3 cm: Mary (Carruthers) Tucker,(1870-1940) the spouse of amateur photographer C.R. Tucker, cooks on the beach at Point O'Woods. Wikipedia states this private retreat-even today- may have been the first settlement on Fire Island in Long Island Sound, and was originally organized in 1894 for religious retreats, some from the Chautauqua assemblies before ownership passed to the present-day Point O' Woods Association in 1898 after the first group went bankrupt. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

13-woman-cooking-in-kitche"Woman working in Kitchen" : anonymous American photographer: cyanotype: 1899: 11.9 x 9.2 cm: Wearing an apron and looking towards the camera, a woman prepares to place some type of food into a pot on a shelf above a stove while working in a home kitchen. Photograph may have been additionally printed on commercially available presensitized Venus paper manufactured by the Peerless Blue Print Co., as it was included in a cardboard box of this brand with an expiration date of 1899. Location may have been the midwestern U.S., as it was purchased with other cyanotypes from an Indiana seller. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

14-picnic-on-lake-1899Detail: "Picnickers enjoy a Meal": anonymous American photographer: cyanotype: 1899: 8.0 x 10.6 | 9.9 x 12.5 cm: A party of seven fashionably-dressed men and women enjoy a picnic outing next to a lake. Photograph may have been additionally printed on commercially available presensitized Venus paper manufactured by the Peerless Blue Print Co., as it was included in a cardboard box of this brand with an expiration date of 1899. Location may have been the midwestern U.S., as it was purchased with other cyanotypes from an Indiana seller. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

15-on-horseback-1899Detail: "Horseback Trail Ride": anonymous American photographer: cyanotype: 1899: 9.0 x 11.2 cm: Two men on horseback, who appear to be in military uniform at left, and a woman rider wearing mosquito netting over her hat and accompanied by a canine Whippet, stop for a moment in sunlight on a rural forest riding trail. Photograph may have been additionally printed on commercially available presensitized Venus paper manufactured by the Peerless Blue Print Co., as it was included in a cardboard box of this brand with an expiration date of 1899. Location may have been the midwestern U.S., as it was purchased with other cyanotypes from an Indiana seller. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

16-dorothy-tucker-point-o-Detail: "Dorothy Tucker at Point O' Woods Beach Camp": Charles Rollins Tucker: American: cyanotype: 1901: 11.5 x 17.5 cm: Dorothy Tucker, (1899-1986) who appears to be no older than two years old, the young daughter of amateur photographer C.R. Tucker, stands at the entrance to a large canvas tent with American flag flying overhead on the beach at Point O' Woods. Wikipedia states this private retreat-even today- may have been the first settlement on Fire Island in Long Island Sound, and was originally organized in 1894 for religious retreats, some from the Chautauqua assemblies before ownership passed to the present-day Point O' Woods Association in 1898 after the first group went bankrupt. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

17-dorothy-tucker-mary-tucLeft: Detail: "Baby Dorothy Tucker with Mother": Charles Rollins Tucker: American: cyanotype: 1899: 7.0 x 5.4 cm: Right: "Dorothy Tucker dressed in Fur-Trimmed Coat Next to Chair": Charles Rollins Tucker: American: cyanotype: 1900: 12.2 x 8.6 cm: Born in August of 1899 on New York's Staten Island, Dorothy Tucker was a constant subject for her father-a high school physics teacher at Curtis High School on the island-who trained his camera on her from birth to late teens. As a cyanotype, the photo showing Dorothy with her mother Mary Tucker (1870-1940) at left was thought well enough to frame behind glass as a family keepsake, lending credibility to the fact the process was not just considered a first way of proofing photos before a final selection was made. Instead, with the sequence shown in this post of four formal portraits of Dorothy as cyanotypes, the process was readily embraced by certain amateurs like Tucker. Both from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

18-dorothy-tucker-childhooLeft: "Dorothy Tucker Profile": Charles Rollins Tucker: American: cyanotype: ca. 1903: 9.9 x 7.2 cm: Right: "Portrait of Dorothy Tucker": Charles Rollins Tucker: American: cyanotype: ca. 1903: 9.3 x 6.9 | 17.8 x 12.8 cm. Born in August of 1899 on New York's Staten Island, Dorothy Tucker was a constant subject for her father-a high school physics teacher at Curtis High School on the island-who trained his camera on her from birth to late teens. Unlike many of the examples of Dorothy held by PhotoSeed that lack a mount, the cyanotype portrait of her at right was center-glued to a gray exhibition card, with another variant example printed in platinum showing evidence of being exhibited. Both from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

19-dorothy-tucker-with-fan"Dorothy Tucker with Fan": presumed photographer: done in hand-inscribed, block letters: F.L.C.: American?: cyanotype: 1912: 16.5 x 8.6 | 22.0 x 11.3 cm: Shown presented within its tissue-guarded, ribbon tied folder, (22.6 x 12.3 cm) Dorothy Tucker, not quite 13 years old, strikes a pose with a fan inside her home on Staten Island, New York. She was most likely "performing" a part in a school play for "F.L.C.", presumed to be the photographer of this work who was certainly an acquaintance of Dorothy's amateur photographer father Charles Rollins Tucker. The presentation folder additionally dated in blue ink May 18, 1912 & annotated Dorothy Tucker in graphite along lower margin. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

20-possibly-prospect-park-"White Birch Trees on Hill": by Unknown Brooklyn (photographer) : American: cyanotype: ca. 1905-10: 11.6 x 8.8 | 16.8 x 12.3 cm: A tantalizing backdrop of an unknown city can be seen in the distance at right of this cyanotype image featuring several sturdy white birch trees scarred in several places by penknives declaring true love. Possibly with a location of Prospect Park in Brooklyn, this photograph, with title supplied by this archive, is by an Unknown Brooklyn amateur photographer whose surviving work was discovered in a trunk in the American South. Background can be found by searching for this site's 2015 blog post: "No Junk in Trunk". From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

21-swans-at-prospect-park-"Swans in Mist": by Unknown Brooklyn (photographer) : American: cyanotype: ca. 1905-10: 8.8 x 11.6 | 12.6 x 17.7 cm: Swans glide through mist on a lake in a park setting-possibly Brooklyn's Prospect Park as many known examples of this location were taken by this photographer. This photograph, with title supplied by this archive, is by an Unknown Brooklyn amateur photographer whose surviving work was discovered in a trunk in the American South. Background can be found by searching for this site's 2015 blog post: "No Junk in Trunk". From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

22-dogwood-trees-prospect-"Dogwood Tree in Bloom": by Unknown Brooklyn (photographer) : American: cyanotype: ca. 1905-10: 11.7 x 8.9 | 16.8 x 11.7 cm: A Dogwood tree blooms on the edge of a meadow in a park setting-possibly Brooklyn's Prospect Park as many known examples of this location were taken by this photographer. This photograph, with title supplied by this archive, is by an Unknown Brooklyn amateur photographer whose surviving work was discovered in a trunk in the American South. Background can be found by searching for this site's 2015 blog post: "No Junk in Trunk". From: private U.S. collection.

 

 

23-chicago-linotype-operat"Man Standing Next to Linotype Machine": unknown photographer: cyanotype: ca. 1895-1905: 11.9 x 9.6 | 13.2 x 10.6 cm: With the only annotation being the word Chicago written on the verso of this intriguing card-mounted cyanotype indicating origin, it's interesting to note that blueprinting, in addition to recording mechanical drawings, was also commonly used to make a record of large machinery like this early Linotype machine, an invention that revolutionized the speed of printing, particularly for newspapers and magazines. Invented by the German-born Ottmar Mergenthaler, (1854-1899) who has an uncanny surviving photographic likeness to the gentleman appearing in this cyanotype, the Linotype was first commercially used by the New York Tribune newspaper in 1886 and was in use into the 1970's, when it was largely replaced by offset lithography printing and computer typesetting. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

And now, examples of “blue prints” owing their roots to the beauty of the cyanotype reproduced using alternate photo-mechanical and photographic processes:

 

24-starlight-charles-doty-"Starlight": Charles Edward Doty: American 1862-1921: blue-toned collotype published in periodical "Sun & Shade: An Artistic Periodical": New York: January, 1890: whole #17: N.Y. Photo-Gravure Co.: 11.2 x 19.4 cm | 27.6 x 35.0 cm: The popularity of the cyanotype process gave reason for firms like the Photo Gravure Co. of New York to provide print runs for a larger audience of works like "Starlight" whose source imagery was originally a cyanotype. The model, said to be one Miss Emma McCormick, was photographed by Hamilton, Ohio portrait photographer Doty with outstretched arms against a backdrop of stars that were most likely added in the engraving process. Doty, according to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, which owns hundreds of his original photographs, went on to become the "official photographer of the United States government in Havana," his duties included documenting the modernization of Cuba under American governorship. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

25-nestor-stekke-bundling-"Bundling and Gathering Faggots": Nestor Stekke: La Louvière, Belgium: blue-tinted collotype published in Sentiment d'Art en Photographie: Brussels,: Vol. II, No. 1, Planche 1: October, 1899: 16.1 x 22.3 | 26.5 x 37.2 cm: Featuring the work primarily of Belgian photographers but open to all, this folio-sized high-quality photographic plate publication, (The Feeling of Art in Photography) under the direction of Camille Smits with reproductions executed in collotype by Jules Liorel, featured the award winning work of pictorialists who entered monthly contests on a given theme judged by painter (M. Titz) and amateur photographer Van Gèle. Short-lived, Sentiment debuted in October, 1898 and ran until January, 1901 when it was renamed L'Art en Photographie . From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

26-leon-sneyers-female-blu"Nude in Darkness": Léon Sneyers: Belgium:(1877-1949) collotype published in L'Art en Photographie: Brussels: No. 8: August, 1901: 12.4 x 8.3 | 37.0 x 25.5 cm: Translated to "Art in Photography", this folio-sized plate work was a continuation of "Le Sentiment d'Art en Photographie", with primarily Belgian pictorialists entering their work in contests on a given theme. Published by Jules Liorel, who also printed the plates in his Brussels atelier, a bibliography of this monthly work states it was "undoubtedly inspired by "Die Kunst in der Photographie", a German publication, and by "L'Art Photographique" published in Paris". This observation was made in reference to the fine-quality plates issued with it, as in this female nude study by Sneyers taken in the shadows and printed effectively by Liorel in collotype using an ink color combining deep black and violet to compliment the closed eyes of Sneyer's model. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

26a-scheveningenpier-frank-s06"Fruit Seller on Scheveningen Pier": Frank G.(eorge) Ensenberger, American: 1879-1966: blue-toned bromoil transfer print: 1910: 7.6 x 13.1 | 27.0 x 22.3 cm: A young woman balancing her load of grapes and other fruits for sale with a yoke stands on the Scheveningen Pier at the popular seaside resort located in The Hague in the Netherlands. In May, 1910, amateur photographer Frank Ensenberger of Bloomington, Ill sailed from Boston to Europe with his family, where he spent four months touring Great Britain, the Continent and other countries all while documenting the trip with his camera. On his return, approximately 900 selects were made by him and printed in various tints as bromoil transfer prints by an unknown professional photographer. They were gathered by country in leather-bound volumes, of which PhotoSeed owns nine. A prosperous business merchant and president of Ensenberger's home furnishings store in Bloomington, the Bloomington Pantagraph newspaper wrote of his photographic efforts during the trip in September, 1910, commenting: "The proofs show Mr. Ensenberger possesses the rare instinct of recognizing the setting for a good picture when he sees it, many of the views being truly artistic." Truthfully, his work was competent overall, with many of the plates being more "snapshot" in nature although documentary images scattered throughout the volumes show better than average compositional qualities. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

26b-portrait-group-of-chil"Children Portrait Group in Holland": Frank G.(eorge) Ensenberger, American: 1879-1966: blue-toned bromoil transfer print: 1910: 7.6 x 13.1 | 27.0 x 22.3 cm: Standing in the middle of a roadway in Holland, a group of six children in their native dress stand for a portrait, the boys at right wearing traditional wooden shoes. In May, 1910, amateur photographer Frank Ensenberger of Bloomington, Ill sailed from Boston to Europe with his family, where he spent four months touring Great Britain, the Continent and other countries all while documenting the trip with his camera. On his return, approximately 900 selects were made by him and printed in various tints as bromoil transfer prints by an unknown professional photographer. They were gathered by country in leather-bound volumes, of which PhotoSeed owns nine. A prosperous business merchant and president of Ensenberger's home furnishings store in Bloomington, the Bloomington Pantagraph newspaper wrote of his photographic efforts during the trip in September, 1910, commenting: "The proofs show Mr. Ensenberger possesses the rare instinct of recognizing the setting for a good picture when he sees it, many of the views being truly artistic." Truthfully, his work was competent overall, with many of the plates being more "snapshot" in nature although documentary images scattered throughout the volumes show better than average compositional qualities. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

27-phil-bonnet-moonlight-o"Moonlight on the Riverway": Ph.(ilippe) H. Bonnet: 1904-1977: American: born France: blue-toned silver bromide print? ca. 1930-40: 24.8 x 18.6 | 38.6 x 26.3 cm: As a younger man, Philippe H. Bonnet was a staff photographer for The Tech, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's undergraduate student newspaper. He is believed to have graduated from MIT in 1931 as listed in the Tech. In the early 1960's, a newspaper said he was a well known Boston architect. He also later made a name for himself as a railroad photographer-especially of trolley cars- and made his own real photo post cards and stamped them individually as a "Ferroviagraph". This scenic view of a river in Winter is from a series of landscape photographs believed to have been taken by him in the Middlesex Fells Reservation, a 2500 acre natural area located just north of Boston. A double-lined, hand-ruled frame in blue ink compliments the deep-blue effect achieved through the action of blue-toning. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

28-blue-toned-flowers-germ"Baby's Breath Growing in Wild": unknown photographer: blue-toned gelatin silver print: ca. 1930-40: 12.5 x 10.5 | 13.2 x 11.4 | 23.8 x 31.9 cm: This delicate study of what are believed to be Baby's Breath flowers (Gypsophilia, or Das Schleierkraut) is presented here in an album by an anonymous photographer (purchased from a seller in Greece) including a selection of pictorialist works featuring nicely mounted cityscape, mountain, and marine views, several of which show Frankfurt, Germany. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

And in conclusion, a final cyanotype:


29-dorothy-tucker-mounts-pDetail: "Dorothy Tucker Mounting Photographs": Charles Rollins Tucker: American: cyanotype: ca. 1903: 11.3 x 8.6 | 15.0 x 12.6 cm: Seated on a stool, Dorothy Tucker, (1899-1986) the young daughter of amateur photographer Charles Rollins Tucker, is shown using an E. & H.T. Anthony brand Print Mounter to mount a photograph on a work table. Possibly taken for one of the yearly amateur Kodak advertising contests, the work space shows a Kodak Brownie camera at right rear, loose photographs, an album and a jar of what is most likely "Daisy" mounting paste with a brush next to it. Gripping the top of the mounter, young Dorothy prepares to slide the mounter with its two rollers over a print seen just to the right of it. The initials "EA" for Edward Anthony, are engraved on the side of roller. The E. & H.T. Anthony firm was considered the largest manufacturer and distributor of photographic supplies in the United States during the 19th century. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

California Pipe Dreamer

Sigismund Blumann, (1872-1956) an American who became an important editor and photographer after moving to San Francisco, California from New York City in the early 1880’s is our subject for this post, along with his involvement with and history of Camera Craft magazine. Never heard of him? A few relevant but by no means comprehensive list of details about this gentleman whose friends addressed him as “Sig” for short:

 

1-sigismund-blumann-1930Detail: "Self-Portrait of Sigismund Blumann" (1872-1956) : American: gelatin silver print ca. 1930: Blumann was editor-in-chief of San Francisco-based Camera Craft magazine from 1924-1933: Photograph courtesy Thomas High

 

⌘     West Coast champion for photography in his role as Editor-in-Chief of Camera Craft magazine from 1924-1933. Prolific writer for said journal whose love of language sometimes lead to his mangling of it, but only with the best of intentions.

⌘     Significant pictorialist photographer from the same period and earlier whose darkroom work was equally inventive and important.

⌘     Poet.

⌘     So gregarious in affect, photographic historian Christian A. Peterson duly notes, (1.) that as editor, he personally answered all correspondence sent to him by his 8000 monthly Camera Craft readers in addition to his regular duties of penning multiple articles for each issue.

⌘     Possession of a sly sense of humor: look no further than a ca. 1930 self-portrait in which his suit lapel sprouts a long cable release rather than a floral boutonnière.

⌘     Conservative writer in print who often took a while to accept new ideas: as one example, Peterson notes his use of the made-up word “Sewereelism” included in a 1938 editorial written by him on his feelings towards the failings of the art movements Surrealism and Dada for the magazine Photo Art Monthly, a publication he owned himself. (2.)

⌘     Pipe smoker extraordinaire. Featured not only in the above referenced self-portrait but immortalized by artist W.R. Potter in print every month as artistic caricature shown smoking and reading a book used for his Under the Editor’s Lamp column in Camera Craft beginning in April 1926.

 

2-camera-craft-june-1900-Detail: Cover Design: Camera Craft magazine: June, 1900: William Howell Bull: 1851-1940: American-California: 26.0 x 17.5 cm: two-color wood engraving : Sunset Press & Photo Engraving Company - San Francisco: cover price at upper right corner 15¢. Although this was the second issue of the magazine to appear, the first issue for May used the same cover design showing this stylish woman done in the Art-Nouveau style with small box camera slung on her side. From: PhotoSeed Archive3-camera-craft-may-issue-1900-everyone-reads-it-halftoneDetail: "Everyone Reads It": Mrs. C.S. Smith, American: Marysville (CA): halftone from June, 1900 Camera Craft magazine p. 57: 10.6 x 8.1 cm: A young girl holds up the very first issue of Camera Craft dated May, 1900. The design by California artist W.H. Bull was also used as the cover for June, 1900. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 Sigismund Blumann: Short Biography

For the past three years, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of corresponding with Thomas High, Sigismund Blumann’s grandson, and been equally fortunate in acquiring a small archive of Sig’s vintage work for PhotoSeed previously kept in the family. Unlike Sig’s friends, Tom tells me, as a boy of perhaps five or six, he would of course address him as Grampa Blumann. Tom goes on to say:

 

I only wish I had known him better – he died when I was a child, and my only real memories of him were playing rummy and whist with him.”

 

4camera-craft-july-1900-coCover Design: Chinese Firecrackers: Camera Craft magazine: July, 1900: William Howell Bull: 1851-1940: American-California: 26.0 x 17.5 cm: two-color wood engraving : Sunset Press & Photo Engraving Company - San Francisco: cover price at lower right corner 15¢. From: PhotoSeed Archive

Tom has also agreed to let me reprint for purposes of introduction the following short biography of his grandfather written in October, 2009, for which I’m very grateful.

 

Sigismund Blumann (1872-1956)  by Thomas High


Sigismund Blumann was born on September 13, 1872, in New York City, the son of Alexander Blumann and Rosalie (Price) Blumann.  He came to San Francisco with his parents in late 1881 or 1882, and subsequently became a professional pianist and music teacher.

Sigismund Blumann married first on August 30, 1894, to Adele Morgenstern.  They divorced in May of 1895.  He married second on June 4, 1901, to Hilda Axelina Johansson and they subsequently had four daughters, Ethel, Amy, Lorna, and Vera.

In the 1890s, Sigismund Blumann became interested in photography and had begun taking photos seriously by 1900 while living in San Francisco.  At the time of the San Francisco earthquake on April 9, 1906, he and his wife were still living with his parents on Army Street.  He volunteered to help the recovery and, with his official permits, got through the lines and took a number of photographs.

Mr. Blumann was also a prolific writer and he authored numerous articles, commentaries, and poems.

After the 1906 earthquake, the Blumanns moved to Davis Street in Fruitvale (later part of Oakland). From that time, all of his photographic work was done in his darkroom at the Davis Street home.

Photography increased in importance in his life, and at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition he combined all of his talents: he played in an orchestra, photographed the Fair, and worked as a correspondent for the New York Tribune and other newspapers.

In the early 1920s, Sigismund retired from an active career in music and entered the profession of efficiency engineering, with offices in the Monadnock Building in San Francisco.  His principal client was the Forster Music Publishing Company.

He continued his interest in photography and in 1924 he became editor of Camera Craft magazine. In addition to editing the publication and writing numerous articles for it, he also wrote the Photographic Workroom Handbook, published by Camera Craft in 1927.

Mr. Blumann’s last issue as editor of Camera Craft was in August of 1933.  Several months later, he launched his own magazine, Photo Art Monthly, which he edited and published until 1940.  During this period, he also produced several more manuals for amateur photographers, including the Photographic Handbook,  Photographic Greetings - How to Make Them, Enlarging Manual, and Toning Processes.

In 1940, he sold the Photo Art Monthly to his assistant, Franke Unger (who married photographer Adolf Fassbender about the same time).  She soon closed the magazine.

The Blumanns continued to live at their Davis Street home for the rest of their lives, joined by their unmarried daughters, Ethel and Lorna Blumann, both librarians.  He produced little photographic work in the 1940s and 1950s, contenting himself to dabble in photography and discuss it with his new son-in-law, William A. High, who married his daughter, Vera, in February of 1943.  Bill High was a commercial photographer before World War II, a combat photographer for the US Army during the war, and the founder of the photography department at Oakland’s Laney Trade School (later Peralta Junior College) thereafter.

Sigismund Blumann died in Oakland on July 9, 1956, and Hilda Blumann died on February 1, 1958, also in Oakland.

Sigismund Blumann’s photos are in the Oakland Museum, Minneapolis Institute of Art, High Museum in Atlanta, and elsewhere.

For further information, see “Sigismund Blumann, California Editor and Photographer,” by Christian A. Peterson, in History of Photography, vol. 26, no. 1. (Spring 2002).

 

5-chinatown-1901-blumannDetail: "Highborn Lady With Duenna": Sigismund Blumann: American: ca. 1901: This view is from a collection of at least 43 documentary photographs, with several corresponding paper negative envelopes dated 1901 by Blumann donated by his family to the California Historical Society. They can be viewed there as part of the collection “The Chinese in California: 1850-1925.” Photograph courtesy Thomas High

 

6-chinese-cobbler-by-bluma"Chinese Cobbler": San Francisco Chinatown: Sigismund Blumann: American: ca. 1901, printed early 1920s: gelatin silver print- app. 8 7/8 x 7.0": variant: "Shoe Mender": from California Historical Society collection: FN-34374: Photograph courtesy Thomas High

 

7-ruins-san-francisco-earthquake-1906Detail: "Ruins" (San Francisco Earthquake): Sigismund Blumann: American: ca. 1906: gelatin silver print: 13.0 x 18.0 cm: overprinted with Blumann's winged griffin monogram at lower right: Photograph courtesy: California Historical Society: The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake and Fire Digital Collection: Local Call # FN-33293

 

8-day-dreams-charles-rolli"Day Dreams" : Charles Rollins Tucker 1868-1956: American: gelatin silver print: June, 1906 printed 1915: 27.3 x 20.4 | 43.2 x 35.5 cm : First titled "Study in Home Portraiture" and published full page in the Oct. 1906 Photographic Times, this interior study later appeared as a full-page halftone in the July, 1907 Camera Craft magazine, and is a representative example of the pictorialist work that regularly appeared in its pages. Coincidentally, imagery like this was also gaining popularity during this time among amateur and professional photographers, and Sigismund Blumann was no exception, teaming up with fellow photographer Jacques Tillmany in 1907 on a part-time basis offering in-home photographic portraiture. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

Beginnings in Word and Photography

Writing under his infrequent pen name Charles H. Fitzpatrick in Camera Craft in 1925, (3.) Sig most likely gives us a small hint of his own beginnings in photography, a passion that would soon evolve into his extensive documentation of life of San Francisco’s bustling Chinatown neighborhood in 1901. (4.) Later in this capacity as street shooter, he played the role of  documentarian in the aftermath of the destruction of San Francisco in the 1906 earthquake and subsequent job as part-time portrait photographer after relocating to neighboring Oakland in 1907 due to the destruction. (5.) all while making his living as musical performer and teacher) :

 

Having become interested in Photography back in 1900 as an amateur with an old style Adlake plate camera, and two years later as a professional with a studio— and almost continuously since in Commercial Photography the author has had a wonderful opportunity to study composition both by experience and observation of the work of others. (6.)


9-camera-craft-july-1922-cCover Design: Camera Craft magazine: San Francisco, CA: July, 1922: 26.5 x 17.5 cm: two-color wood engraving : unknown artist and printer: cover price at upper right corner 15¢. This uncredited Camera Craft cover design first debuted with the January 1913 issue and featured a simple design of a plate camera shown in profile(lens board on right side) with dark cloth draped at center and bulb shutter release cable hanging down. This design lasted through the June, 1923 issue and was replaced with illustrations of architectural landmarks, notable western scenery and other thematic drawings done by San Francisco artist W.R. Potter through the September, 1924 issue. From: PhotoSeed Archive



It was sometime in the 1890s, photographic historian Christian A. Peterson notes, that he “first used his wife’s Kodak camera to make snapshots and soon began search­ing the photographic periodicals for information and advice.” (7.) His editorship of Camera Craft as momentous professional occasion aside, Sig’s immersion in all things Photographic may very well have reached a high-point by 1933, the year he became a charter member of the Photographic Society of America as well as being honored a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society.

 

10-boy-reading-camera-crafDetail: "Child Sitting on Tomato Crate Holding Camera Craft Magazine": by anonymous American photographer printed as unmailed postcard: gelatin silver print ca. 1920-25: 11.6 x 8.8 | 13.8 x 8.8 cm: written in graphite on verso: "with Love. Ellsworth" with the name "Walter" opposite address field. Child sits on crate stenciled on side as being from Pennsylvania-indicated "Packed For….PA " on side, with photo purchased from Parma, MI collector. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

Photography in itself however was not his only reason for being during his professional career as editor, and even earlier as a musician. This was because Sig was a romantic at heart, a dreamer who had a great fondness for language, and the will to commit it to paper.  Starting out for example, only in his early 20’s, he composed the following poem for the April, 1895 issue of the California-based magazine Overland Monthly:

PLEASURE.

PLEASURE is like perfect liquor,
Sweet to taste and after taste,
And like, too, in that when gotten
We imbibe too much, then waste,
And we find when pleasure passes
Life is empty as the glasses.

 

11-february-1914-california-camera-club-at-teh-time-located-at-833-market-street"Reception Room— California Camera Club": 1914: taken by an unknown photographer, this image appeared as a halftone illustration in the February, 1914 issue of Camera Craft for a story on the club, founded in 1890. At the time this appeared the club was located at 833 Market Street in San Francisco. The scene shows members seated with an exhibit of photographs on display at rear and on wall at right. Camera Craft regularly featured news of this important club, and future editor of the magazine Sigismund Blumann, although not a member, attended and was an occasional speaker. Photographic historian Christian A. Peterson notes Blumann spoke at this club in 1916 and much later, between 1934-40 attended gatherings here as well as at the Leica Club of Oakland, East Bay Camera Club, Golden Gate Miniature Camera Club, Photographic Society of San Francisco, San Jose Camera Club, and Western Amateur Camera Conclave. From: California State Library: Archive.org

 

12-up-the-path-by-cm-whiDetail: "Up the Path": Chester Moulton Whitney: American, b. 1873: 1914 or earlier: gelatin silver print: 24.8 x 19.3 cm: This photograph was illustrated as a full-page halftone with printed ornamental Art-Nouveau frame border in the August, 1914 Camera Craft, p. 422, and is a representative example of the pictorialist work that regularly appeared in its pages. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

Wearing the hat of Poet-in-Residence at Camera Craft, Sig never neglected this early love of poetry for the publication, often combining his own photographic efforts alongside original compositions. One example, which he titled Lugubrio, though technically not even a real word, appeared in April, 1927, and was his way of simply assigning a mournful, or lugubrious meaning to his own photograph depicting jagged rocks and crashing waves-seen in his dramatic coastal landscape most likely taken on the Pacific coast:

 

LUGUBRIO
By Sigismund Blumann

The drowned and dead, now turned to stone,
Stand watching by the shore
And you may hear them through the night,
From set of sun to morning light,
As they shall do for evermore,
Weep as they watch, and moan. (p. 177)

 

13-june-1917-camera-craft"Camera Craft is Now In": 1914: taken by an unknown photographer and used as a form of soft advertising, this image appeared as a halftone illustration in the June, 1917 issue of Camera Craft. It shows San Francisco business owner J.F. Brandert, owner of the Red Feather Store at 435 Jones Street, handing off a copy of the journal to a young visitor, with a display of three issues propped up on a bench at left in front of a window lettered with a graphic of the journal's cover: "CAMERA CRAFT IS NOW IN". From: California State Library: Archive.org

 

14-when-from-behind-the-moondipt-bush-titania-floated-in-a-silver-haze-july-1917-camera-craft"When From Behind the Moondipt Bush Titania Floated in a Silver Haze": 1917 or before: Sigismund Blumann, American: This photograph was used as the frontis halftone for the July, 1917 issue of Camera Craft helping to illustrate the article "Poetry and Photography" written by Blumann. The photo shows Vera Hahn, a childhood friend of his eldest daughter Ethel Blumann. (b. 1902) He said of the photo: "She was costumed for a pageant and we all wanted a memento of the charming vision she made in our garden, among the green plants." This early example of Blumann's work also included one of his original poems titled "To Childhood": the first stanza: "Oh blessed youth! When from the enchanted page | Fancy stepped forth and made the unreal real, | When from behind the moondipt bush | Titania floated in a silver haze and greeted me! From: California State Library: Archive.org

 

Camera Craft:  Western Photographic Journal

Although he’d been a contributor to its’ pages in words and photos after the first decade of being founded,  it would be 24 years from the journal’s 1900 founding until Sig would begin to establish an enduring legacy in the history of photography via his role as Editor-in-Chief of Camera Craft. Some historical background on the intents and purposes for this ground-breaking publication are in order.

 

15-paul-douglas-anderson-b"Boy Looking out onto Bay" (San Francisco?-title supplied by this archive): ca. 1920-25: Paul Douglas Anderson, American 1887-1964: toned bromide or gelatin silver print: 24.2 x 19.0 | 27.5 x 21.6 cm: P. Douglas Anderson was an associate editor of Camera Craft beginning in May, 1923 & became editor-in-chief by January, 1924, continuing through the July issue. He was replaced by Sigismund Blumann the following month. Active in photography between 1910-1940's, Anderson was a member of the Camera Pictorialists of Los Angeles and Pictorial Photographers of America. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

First based in San Francisco at 120 Sutter Street and issued monthly by the Camera Craft Publishing Company under the direction of editor W.G. Woods, the photographic journal Camera Craft was founded on the principles the West Coast of the United States should have an equal geographical mouthpiece of influence to counter that of the East Coast in promoting photography-for both professional and amateur workers. (to this end a separate page was devoted monthly to the happenings of many California amateur clubs) For the first issue of May, 1900, the following observations and arguments were made by the journal in support of these ideals:

 

The growth of photography, the introduction of simplifying methods in scientific picture-making, during the past twenty-five years is one of the wonders of the century. The phenomenal strides made by the photographic inventors of the world, resulting in the production of simple devices and convenient appliances, have made photography in all of its branches an almost universal fad. The Pacific Coast, ever ready to appreciate the merits of an innovation, has kept well abreast in the steady march of progress.

The wonderful climate of California lends itself enthusiastically to the wants of the photographer. The hand of Nature has reared, in eternal beauty, scenic effects unequaled elsewhere on earth. The very atmosphere of the Far West encourages the artistic impulse of its people. With such great natural advantages it is small wonder that when the western photographer has seen fit to cross the continent to compete with the eastern brotherhood he returns with laurels upon his brow. Not less wonderful is the existence of the largest Camera Club in the world in the city of the Golden Gate.

Yet, strange as it may seem, this great class of enthusiasts, this immense body of earnest workers has never been represented by a publication worthy of its trust. The photographers of the West have for years depended upon the journals of the East for enlightenment, but have looked in vain for recognition in their columns. It is to remedy this condition that Camera Craft now makes its bow to the public.

As to the scope of Camera Craft nothing can be said; it will have to speak for itself. The only promise made is the sincere intent on the part of the publishers to improve with each succeeding issue. The one hope of the magazine is that it may be so conducted as to meet the approbation of its readers and lend its aid to the material welfare of all interested in photography, whether for pleasure or for profit. (p. 26)

 

16-sigismund-blumann-columns-in-camera-craftThis triptych shows the three different Camera Craft magazine columns editor-in-chief Sigismund Blumann was involved with during his tenure at the journal from 1924-1933. "Under The Editor's Lamp" at top featured a caricature of the editor puffing a way on his trusty pipe while "Chit Chat About our Friends" at middle is comically subtitled "Ye Editor Retaileth Newes of Ye Profession And In Quaint Italics Titillateth Ye Sphynx With Hys Quill". "The Amateur And His Troubles", "conducted", appropriately enough by the man who had once made his living as a musician and orchestra leader, who already a feature of the publication when Blumann took over. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

17-camera-craft-cover-januCover Design: Camera Craft magazine: San Francisco, CA: January, 1926: Press of the Hansen Company, San Francisco: 26.5 x 17.5 cm: two-color wood engraved border design with inset halftone photograph: "Love Me, Love My Dog" by Madam Del Oro: American? 13.3 x 12.1 cm : cover price at upper right corner 15¢. One of the journal's seemingly obvious decisions, at least for the time, was to feature an actual photograph as a cover illustration for Camera Craft. Editor Blumann made this decision beginning with the October, 1924 issue. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

With its second issue for June, ambitions quickly shifted in support of the establishment of a West-Coast professional organization:

 

“Camera Craft intends to agitate the question of a Pacific Coast Convention of photographers. General inquiry throughout the state has led to the belief that such a convention is not only desirable but an actual need to those who make their living through the lens and shutter.” …We recall instances where photographers of this coast have attended conventions in the East and have returned with easy honors. Camera Craft would be pleased to learn of a serious consideration of the idea. A convention held in San Francisco with a first-class salon as an adjunct would undoubtedly lead to a permanent organization, and result in the advancement of the craft in a manner hitherto untried.” (p. 68)

 

18-sigismund-blumann-1928"Portrait of Sigismund Blumann": ca. 1928: Adel LaPerle Studio, Oakland, CA: gelatin silver print: Blumann was editor-in-chief of San Francisco-based Camera Craft magazine from 1924-1933: Photograph courtesy Thomas High

 

Although preceded geographically and in scope by the Pacific Coast Photographer, a short-lived monthly established in 1892 and believed to have ceased publication several years later, Camera Craft thrived as a robust Western photographic journal for the next 41 years. It first accomplished this under the capable tenure of editor Fayette J. Clute in the early decades of the publication before Sig took over in 1924, and was carried forward by him and others until the economic and human realities of World War II forced it’s hand. This occurred after the March, 1942 issue, when Camera Craft ironically headed back East so to speak, when it was absorbed by the Boston-based American Photography magazine.  An editorial appearing in the final issue stated the decision to cease publishing was made because editor George Allen Young was taking his place in the armed services among other realities.

 

19-japonica-sigismund-blum"Japonica" : Sigismund Blumann, American: ca 1920-40. gelatin silver print: 17.2 x 22.3 cm : This is a fine example of Blumann's pictorialist landscape work showing sand dunes and scrub trees, and was most likely taken on the West coast of the United States. Variants of this photograph have been similarly titled by the artist "Dune Pattern" and "Japanesque". This example signed in stylized Japanese initials at lower right corner: "SB". Three variants held by Minneapolis Institute of Arts: Accession #s: 99.230. (13-15) : From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

Sig As Camera Craft Editor: 1924-33

 

Photographic historian Christian A. Peterson, who called Camera Craftthe leading West Coast photographic monthly” and whose in-depth reassessment of Sigismund Blumann’s life and career was cited at the conclusion of Tom High’s short biography of his grandfather, called Sigismund Blumann:

 

a prominent tastemaker in Californian photography during the 1920s and 1930s”. (8.)

 

Having an audience of 8000 monthly Camera Craft readers after coming aboard as chief editor in 1924 was surely a great start to becoming a tastemaker, but Sig proved his worth during the following nine years for his ability to impart to readers the essential knowledge of the ever-changing progress of photography. This took place in conjunction with his maintaining the vision of remaining true to himself-no matter how quirky some of his readers undoubtedly perceived him- while unashamedly promoting photographic talent in the pages of the magazine where he saw fit.

 

20-samuel-adelstein-boats-Detail: "Fishing Boats at Anchor" (probably Monterey Bay, CA) Samuel Adelstein, American, California: b. 1866?-d. 1934: silver bromide print ca. 1920-25: 18.5 x 13.6 | 40.6 x 25.4 cm: Adelstein was an active member of the California Camera Club whose pictorial works including a series of nude studies were published in Camera Craft in January, 1918 as part of the article: "An Enthusiast's Experience". The year before, the journal stated he was "an enthusiastic amateur photographer, a native son, a Director of the California Camera Club, and one of the Board of Governors of the Civic League of Improvement Clubs and Associations": Immersing himself in the art of photography around 1916, he specialized in making enlargements (from sharp negatives) with a soft-focus Verito lens. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

But some things remained the same after he took over. One, perhaps appropriate considering his musical background, was his retention of the subhead: “Conducted by Sigismund Blumann” for the journal’s long-established editorial column The Amateur And His Troubles previously edited by Paul Douglas Anderson. This time, an actual orchestra conductor was indeed stepping in to conduct editorial affairs! Keeping this personal touch intact-especially to those who knew him as someone passionate of music his entire life, was just one way of his remaining connected with readers as well as professional and social acquaintances in the Bay Area. Under Sig’s moderation, the column continued to offer advice dispensed by any number of well regarded authors who broke down and offered solutions to problems encountered by amateurs in the field relating to anything from photographic equipment to darkroom dilemmas.

 

21-lububrio-californai-coa"Lugubrio": Sigismund Blumann, American: 1927 or before: gelatin silver print: 20.8 x 16.4 | 25.3 x 20.1 cm: This image, reproduced as a large halftone, was published on the same page as an accompanying poem of the same title for the April, 1927 issue of Camera Craft. The scene was most likely taken along the Pacific coastline. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

His second column, a new feature which debuted with the November, 1924 issue, was called CHIT CHAT About our friends. A vehicle for Sig’s effusive boosterism of photography in general, both professional and amateur, it was written in a style that might best be described, amusingly, as slightly syrupy in tone but delivered with erudition. Profiles on photographers he found interesting, and news of California camera clubs were a constant monthly feature of the column in addition to news of major upcoming exhibitions as well as critiques and results from those salons happening not only on the West Coast but throughout the United States and beyond. Comically subtitled: “Ye Editor Retaileth Newes of Ye Profession And In Quaint Italics Titillateth Ye Sphynx With Hys Quill”, the column’s “titillations” were often just longish aphorisms managing implied or direct associations to something photographic. Appearing rather infrequently at the column’s outset and disappearing altogether by August, 1931 when this inventive take on the English language was eliminated, they appeared from time to time, with several reprinted below for his January, 1926 column:

 

“Every time you get the best of a customer you have cheated yourself.”

“The most expensive lens may not be the best but the cheapest is pretty sure to be the worst.”

 

22-camera-craft-1927-toyon-inn"Past Presidents Nite At Toyon Inn Feb. 15- 1927" : by artist W.A. Bridge, American -California? : Used as a halftone in the March, 1927 issue of Camera Craft, this humorous cartoon illustrated a dinner dance commemorating a gathering of past presidents of the Pacific International Photographers' Association which took place at San Leandro's Toyon Inn on Feb. 15, 1927. Sigismund Blumann, who served as host of the event, made sure to comment in the pages of Camera Craft magazine that "refreshments" of a most unusual kind: ie: inebriating, were served at the event during the era of American Prohibition. From: California State Library: Archive.org

 

Lastly, and most importantly, one of the most personal reasons for Camera Craft’s success under Sig was his entirely self-written Under the Editor’s Lamp column, debuting with the April, 1926 issue. Already a fixture by means of the pen to his many readers-in prose as well as poetry- the column gave a final say so to speak to his personal views-conservative to be sure-on just about anything going on regarding photography and musings on current events. With accompanying column artwork by California artist W.R. Potter portraying Sig kicking back while puffing his pipe and seated at a library desk, the column became an effective way for this journal’s Editor-in-Chief to assume the role of oracle and brand ambassador. Sig’s short forward for his first Under the Editor’s Lamp :

 

When the desk is cleared of paste-pot and shears and the lamp is lit, it is good to put a match to the freshly loaded, old pipe and take a puff or two, letting the mind’s mind relax into mere dreams. The lamp is a sentimental fiction, of course, being a standardized glass bowl with a bulb glowing through, but the pipe is real, the mood is sincere, and we hope the mind exists, more or less.


Out go our thoughts to readers unseen, perhaps never to be met except as a large, critical, voracious body of men and women who consume the forty-eight pages of pictures and text and off-hand decide the fare has been very good, fair, or rotten. Little do they care what labor, what hopes, what ambitions went into every line and every illustration. Why should they. The best is no better than their due. (p.180)

 

23-spot-for-reflections-tr"A Spot for Reflections": Sigismund Blumann, American: ca. 1925-30: gelatin silver print : 9.8 x 6.5 | 18.2 x 14.5 cm : perhaps taken in Oakland or the Inverness area of Marin County, CA, this is a fine example of Blumann's pictorialist work in which he has titled the composition in gold lettering and triple-mounted the image onto fine art paper supports. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

M.Q. Developer to Develop Good Feeling


Because Camera Craft billed itself the official organ of the Pacific International Photographers’ Association, (PIPA) with owner Ida M. Reed acting as Secretary and headquartered in the same San Francisco offices as the journal, (703 Market in Claus Spreckles Building) news of the Association-which covered a wide western geographic area including membership from Alaska, Alberta, Arizona, British Columbia, California, the Hawaiian Islands, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington states- became a regular monthly feature of the previously discussed Chit-Chat column. By 1927, Sig was hitting full-stride at Camera Craft, his writing skills undoubtedly honed through his reminisces featured in the Editor’s Lamp column.

 

24-vera-in-the-woods-muri-Detail: "Vera in the Woods": Sigismund Blumann, American: 1920-25: hand-colored gelatin silver print: 24.2 x 18.6 cm: Taken among a stand of Redwood trees, perhaps in the present-day Muir Woods National Monument in Marin County, CA, the subject of this photograph is believed to show the photographer's youngest daughter Vera Blumann, b. 1911. Blumann was in love with the outdoors, and frequently took part in extended camping trips with family members to hike and photograph areas of beauty in California and the Pacific Northwest-trips he wrote about in the pages of Camera Craft. See variant: Minneapolis Institute of Arts: Accession #99.231.15. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

The following account is a result of this, of Sig’s prodigious social engagement with members active in the Bay-area camera club scene. In a humorous yet telling example of his own admission to preserve the rightful history of one particular PIPA (often referred to as a club) meeting for Chit-Chat, the March, 1927 issue duly reported on the Past Presidents Night dinner dance at San Leandro’s Toyon Inn on Feb. 15, 1927. Taking place when Prohibition was still the law of the land in America, (9.) Sig’s account made sure to include the lengths employed at the soirée in order for those attending to enjoy the social, and inebriating benefits of some “liquid cheer”:

 

But hold, before we close it must be chronicled as it shall be inscribed in the archives of the club that each guest found a developing tray and two glass graduates before him. It was a paper tray, so that when dropped the falling tray might not raise the deuce. In one of the two ounce graduates water was served and in the other M.Q. developer to develop good feeling. A bucket of Hypo was kept in the ante-room to fix the police, and everything was provided to make a perfect picture except bromide. If any was needed it was the next morning.  (p. 145: M.Q. was an alkaline developer for gelatine emulsions combining Metol and hydroquinone) 

 

25-photo-etching-yosemite-"Yosemite Falls | Yosemite Valley": Sigismund Blumann, American: dated 1926 & signed: "Dry Point Etching" ie: most likely a Kallitype or bleached and toned print on Vitava E (tching) chlorobromide paper: 13.1 x 9.0 | 23.7 x 16.5 cm: A specialist in alternative darkroom processes, particularly Kallitype, Blumann perfected his "Dry Point Etching" process and described it in lengthy articles in Camera Craft in 1925 and later in July, 1934 for his own Photo Art monthly using the pen name "Charles H. Fitzpatrick." This finished etching showing Yosemite Falls was originally taken as a photograph by Blumann in the Spring of 1925. Both photo and etching were illustrated side-by-side as halftones in the October, 1925 Camera Craft article titled "Making Photographs Into Dry Point Etchings". See the following citation at end of this caption in Notes field for a working description of the "Dry Point Etching" process. (11.) From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

Camera Nut to the End


Considering he was having an awfully good time in his position as Editor-in Chief, an observation certainly not witnessed by this writer but most obvious by the written evidence left for posterity, Sig’s resignation at the end of July, 1933 does seem a bit abrupt. Historian Christian A. Peterson speculates he and owner Ida M. Reed “parted ways over deep differences.” (10.) But with the installation of Camera Craft veteran George Allen Young to replace him, Sig was none the less given deserved praise by owner Ida Reed the following month:

 

Since 1924 we, and the readers of this magazine, have enjoyed his contagious enthusiasm, and his wide technical knowledge of photography,. He leaves with our best wishes for success and happiness. (p. 387)



Earlier, for his final Under the Editor’s Lamp column written in July, 1933 and published the next month, his nine-year run at the journal concludes with a perhaps knowing, but certainly wistful remembrance of his good times spent there. Recounting adventures in photography that summer while traveling the California High Sierra, Sig first gives accolades to the efforts U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt was giving to get American industry moving again during the ongoing Great Depression before concluding by stating his own continued love affair with photography:

 

Does thinking of Yosemite and speaking of photography seem like reductum ad absurdum to you? It should not for I can allow myself so very short a time in that garden of The God and I can so effectively carry some of its glory and inspiration over the rest of the year with what my camera has enabled me to bring home, that it is natural to raise the picture, as near as imagination makes possible, to the original.

As I look at the screen and project the pictures, studying how to express my reactions when on the spot, I once again smell the pines and hear the rush of the Merced as it boils over the Happy Isles. In the quiet and the benignancy of the red light fancy builds Half Dome, El Capitan, and the Domes anew.

The old rags that made us free. The open spaces that made us immortal in spiritual disembodiment. The camera that vitalized every hour of the day with its assurance of creative picture making. Friends, I am glad, very glad, to be a camera Nut. (p. 343)

 

With that, a poem by Sig somehow seems a good fit in ending this remembrance about the young boy who moved to California and proceeded through hard work and perseverance to embrace the Golden State as his own. Along with possessing the gift of innumerable talents and more than a few dreams, he managed to share them with many others.

 

THE QUIET CORNER
    by Sigismund Blumann

A PIPE, some books, a flower or two,

The picture of one gone before

Who stands without the open door

And shall not die.


When work is through

Some day, some day, when rest is won

And the long, long duty-season done,

I’ll sit me down to taste the best

Of books, tobacco, men and things:

To listen when the spring-bird sings—
Looking in peace toward the West.

 

Against that day, and I am spared,

My quiet corner stands prepared.

 

To see all work by Sigismund Blumann in the PhotoSeed Archive please go here.

 

26-the-poets-corner-after-Detail: "The Poet's Corner" or "The Quiet Corner": Sigismund Blumann, American: 1933 or later: toned pigment print: 10.6 x 7.5 | 16.9 x 11.6 cm: The author's trusty pipe can be seen at left in this still-life table top study reproduced as the frontis halftone illustration for the August, 1927 issue of Camera Craft. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

NOTES:

1. see: Early Years in Photography: “Sigismund Blumann, California Editor and Photographer”, by Christian A. Peterson in History of Photography, vol. 26, no. 1. (Spring 2002) p. 59.
2. Ibid: in: Photo Art Monthly, 1933-40: p. 73
3. It would not be until July, 1934, in an updated version of this 1925 Camera Craft article on describing the process of turning photographs into dry point etchings in Photo-Art Monthly, that evidence of Fitzpatrick and Blumann being the same person would seem to be confirmed. In it, the illustrated example of Blumann’s credited photograph titled “Land’s End” is also shown reproduced into the converted dry point etching with credit given to Fitzpatrick. Editorially, it might seem odd to continue this pen-name fiction with Blumann even going to lengths to construct a suspect history in 1925 of “Fitzpatrick’s” own beginnings although the reason was most likely intended as another way of imparting education on a topic deemed worthy and educational enough in the eyes and mind of the editor himself.
4. Copies of at least 43 documentary photographs, with several corresponding paper negative envelopes dated 1901 by Sigismund Bluman, were donated by his family to the California Historical Society where they can be viewed as part of the collection “The Chinese in California: 1850-1925.” The following link includes a smaller sampling of later printed examples, (some hand-colored) along with a rare surviving example titled “Ruin” (a detail included with this post) from 1906 of earthquake damage taken by the photographer as well as several portraits of Sig taken by others.
5. see: citation #1: p. 54.
6. excerpt: introduction: Making Photographs Into Dry Point Etchings: by Charles H. Fitzpatrick  Illustrated by the Author: in: Camera Craft: October, 1925: San Francisco: p. 485.
7.  see: citation #1 p. 54
8. Ibid: introduction: p. 53
9. American Prohibition was a nationwide constitutional ban on the sale, production, importation, and transportation of alcoholic beverages.
10. see: citation #1 p. 65 

11. In order to make one of these etchings, the article instructs that after first selecting a printed photograph with little detail, the next step is to: “draw as much as he can on the photograph, using Higgins’ Water Proof India Ink. When this is absolutely dry the silver is completely bleached out with Bichloride of Mercury or Iodine-Iodide bleachers. The pen shading and finishing is then done with care, when the bleached and washed print has been dried.” From here, the article states a copy negative must then be made which is used to make the final second-generation finished (and reduced for effect) “etchings” using various grades of photographic paper: “The method of reproducing drawings is very simple. Place drawing on wall or easel and camera on firm support exactly centering lens on drawing, making exposure on a slow copy plate by diffused daylight or electric light, and develop for contrast. In copying it is advisable to reduce the image one-third smaller than the original as a finer line is thus secured which improves the finished print. The writer prefers a buff stock, matt paper of medium grade and heavy; and has found Vitava E just right: This is a matter of choice, however, as good prints may be secured on Azo, Velox, Cyco, Kruxo, Defender, Haloid, Barston, Charcoal Black or other matt papers. Proceed as in ordinary photographic printing then tone by re-development, using whatever process you prefer. I use Royal-Re-developer with pleasing results.” In the later 1934 article: “Etchings From and With Photographs”, “Fitzpatrick”goes further in depth on this etching process, adding that after the second-generation reduced copy print is made, the print could be “treated through all the usual solutions in the usual way and may be developed in any of the prescribed formulae for blue-black, jet-black, warm-black, or dark brown tones. Or it may be subsequently toned by the bleach and redevelop methods. The particular brown of an etching is easily gotten on Vitava Athena with a developer containing Athenon. Azo P-2 or 3, Vitava Athena E, Novira in the matt smooth or rough are all fine for the purpose. Gevalux gives a wonderful image in a true carbon black color and velvet crayon patine.” Continuing, the article offers a summary of the entire process: “That is all there is to the whole thing. You could not complicate it if you tried. Just make an enlargement, work on it with pen and ink, bleach out the silver leaving the ink image, photograph the line drawing, make as many etching-prints from the copy negative as you wish. Where can you go wrong? How can you fail?” He concludes by saying the maker of these etchings could also go “one step further by using hand-sensitized photographic papers for this final second-generation completed “etching”: “Furthermore, should you desire to print on colored papers or card- board of such surface as cannot be bought ready sensitized it will be a simple matter to sensitize any stock with the well known Blue Print solutions, or if the various shades of brown and black are wanted to resort to Kallitype. These processes are as cheap as they are easy to compound and use; they work on any paper not too saturated with chlorides or unfixed dyes. Kallitype is moreover a beautiful process in itself and prints endure according to the care in making them.”

 

 


No Junk in Trunk

 

If the story is to be believed, the contents of a mystery trunk ⎯the artistic passion of yet another unknown early 20th Century photographer ⎯have been saved once again in the name of photographic collecting. The evidence was several hundred photographs tucked inside:

 

1-blog-japanese-hill-and-pDetail: "Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden Island" (at Brooklyn, New York Botanic Garden): ca. 1920-25: Unknown Brooklyn photographer: gelatin silver: 8.8 x 11.4 cm | 12.6 x 17.3 cm cream-colored, photographic paper stock: from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

The dealer had bought a trunk from an estate of a lady who had passed away.”

 

A story I’ve encountered before in my online foraging. My offer, in order to keep the archive together, was fortunately accepted, and now share with you a glimpse of some of these fruits.

 

Typically, when photographs enter this collection, initial research on origins and other factors are made and then set aside-often for years- until more deductions can be made or oftentimes additional primary source material percolates into that vast library we all humbly know as the public Internet.

 

2-blog-diptych-unknown-phoHusband & Wife? L: Detail: "Photographer in Boater Hat Behind Graflex Camera": ca. 1910-1920: Unknown Brooklyn photographer: cyanotype: 11.2 x 5.2 cm | 14.6 x 8.2 cm: image printed within leaf shape on thin cream-colored paper: R: Detail: "Woman Examining Magnolia Blossom": ca. 1910-1920: Unknown Brooklyn photographer: gelatin silver: 11.1 x 7.3 cm | 17.1 x 10.5 cm: both from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

But exceptions, at least in my world, always exist. For these latest trunk photographs coming to light, my discovery a small portion documenting a place and event celebrating 100 year anniversaries in 2015 were primary motivators in showcasing them now with this post. These were the establishment of the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden in 1915 at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, considered the first Japanese garden created in an American public garden, as well as a small cache of photographs taken the same year at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, California.

 

3-blog-rb-tele-graflex-patR.B.Tele-Graflex Camera outfitted with Carl Zeiss Tessar lens ca. 1913 (last patent is for June of this year on camera bottom) Manufactured by the Folmer Graflex Corporation, Rochester, New York. The Unknown Brooklyn photographer who took the images seen with this post used a similar Graflex model pictured in the above cyanotype. Lightweight so it could be carried in the field and used on a tripod or hand-held, it features a revolving back so the glass or cut film plates loaded into individual holders could be oriented on the camera back for a vertical or horizontal field of view. The photographer looked through the top of the camera (shown in open position here) and focused on the ground glass inside while bringing the subject into focus by manipulating the bellows (not extended in this photo) using the knob located at the far left of the lens board on lower side of camera. from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

But there’s more as they say. Many of the photographs: gorgeous little jewels printed directly onto small impressed and ruled pieces of photographic paper which act as mounts-some toned in verdant hues of green for landscapes, blues for seascapes and others beautifully hand-colored, are known to have been taken in the mother of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden itself, the expansive 585-acre Prospect Park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux- Brooklyn’s version of New York City’s Central Park which is celebrating its’ 150th anniversary in 2016.

 

4-blog-vale-of-cashmere-foDetail: "Boy and Duck Fountain in Vale of Cashmere", sculpture by Frederick William MacMonnies, American: 1863-1937 (at Brooklyn Botanic Garden): ca. 1910-20: Unknown Brooklyn photographer: green toned gelatin silver: 8.8 x 11.6 cm|12.4 x 16.9 cm: from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

Frustratingly, the photographer’s identity responsible for these fruits is presently unknown, other than a cyanotype image included with the collection showing a dapper gentleman believed to be this person standing behind a tripod-mounted Graflex model camera. Photographically printed within the outlines of a leaf while standing in a park-like setting, he wears a straw boater hat while dressed in a suit and raises his hand clenching a pipe towards the scene before him as if to say, “now that’s a scene worthy of my camera”, or something to that effect.

 

5-blog-spring-at-prospect-"Spring at Prospect Park"(Brooklyn, New York): ca. 1910-20: Unknown Brooklyn photographer: hand-colored gelatin silver: 11.8 x 9.0 cm | 13.2 x 9.9 cm: from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

6-blog-james-earle-fraser-"The End of the Trail": sculpture by James Earle Fraser (American: 1876-1953) at Panama-Pacific International Exposition, San Francisco, California (Tower of Jewels in background) : 1915: Unknown Brooklyn photographer: hand-ruled & colored gelatin silver: 11.0 x 8.0 cm | 17.1 x 11.5 cm: from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

7-blog-yacht-harbor-panamaDetail: "Yacht Harbor at Panama-Pacific International Exposition" (Palaces of Agriculture & Transportation in background): 1915: Unknown Brooklyn photographer: gelatin silver with ink wash & photographic border: 7.4 x 11.5 cm | 11.4 x 17.8 cm: from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 Several other photographs showing an unknown woman, most likely the photographer’s wife, or perhaps the artist herself,  (can’t be ruled out) were also included in the trunk photographs. In one, a full-length profile view, she examines a Magnolia blossom in a park setting. (shown here) In another, her gaze is directed towards the camera while wearing an Asian influenced floral dress posing in front of blooming Wisteria vines.  The dealer who had initially acquired the photographs, according to the seller I purchased them from, stated they had been acquired from the estate of a woman, (most likely depicted in the photographs) who had (presumably) attended or graduated from Wesleyan Female College, (now Wesleyan College) in Macon, Georgia at the turn of the 20th Century. 

 

8-blog-diptych-californiaL: "Coastline with Rocks & Wave Action" (possibly California ) :12.3 x 9.0 cm | 17.7 x 12.6 cm: ca. 1910-1920: Unknown Brooklyn photographer: cyanotype with addition of clouds from alternate source photo: R: variant: "Coastline with Rocks & Wave Action" (possibly California) : 11.5 x 9.0 cm | 17.6 x 12.7 cm: ca. 1910-1920: Unknown Brooklyn photographer: gelatin silver: (mouse damage to lower margin): both from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

9-blog-new-york-harbor-shi"Steamer in New York Harbor": ca. 1910-20: Unknown Brooklyn photographer: green toned gelatin silver: 8.4 x 11.6 cm | 12.3 x 17.9 cm: from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

And even though the photographs ended their life residing in a mystery trunk in the American South, I’ll label them for now as being the work of  Unknown Brooklyn, in order to keep their attribution consistent for those searching this archive going forward.

 

 

 

Hope & Yearning for Light

 

Photography up to our modern day is by definition “Drawing with Light”, whereby the permanent recording of an object is achieved via electronic or chemical action. Simplistically this makes sense, but in order to make the outcome relevant and interesting enough to matter, especially in our visually overloaded present, practitioners to put it mildly need to include a bit of heart and soul into their efforts.

 

1-emery-gondorDetail: Linoleum cut: "Family in an Explosion of Light" : (20.5 x 18.8 cm impression | 28.9 x 25.0 cm paper) 1925 print by Emery Gondor, American (b. Hungary) : included in unpublished folio: "Sehnsucht nach Licht" (Yearning for Light) : "8 Original Linoleum schnitte von Emerich Göndör" (8 original Linoleum cuts by Emerich Göndör) from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

Emery Gondor (Emerich Göndör: 1896-1977) had these last two qualities in abundance. A Hungarian artist of prodigious talent who worked in multiple artistic disciplines including photography, the recent acquisition by this archive of some of his signed 1925 linocuts prove a teachable moment for why the manipulations of light and dark in another medium are instructive for creative souls in the present.

 

Some background, including the reality and history of turbulence in early 20th Century Europe, are critical to our understanding in how artists like Gondor could not be defeated by hatred which destroyed millions of lives and split apart society’s fabric there.

 

Indeed, his empathy for those shattered lives were taken to heart in the aftermath of his three and a half year service as a soldier in World War I which changed his life forever. Combined with his interest in progressive art education for children discovered in the early 1920’s while attending Vienna’s Academy of Industrial Arts and his work with emotionally disturbed children at the University Clinic there gave him an outlet and purpose for artistic expression, and would culminate towards the end of his career in the 1960’s as director of the art program at the Institute for Mental Retardation at New York Medical College (today : Westchester Institute for Human Development) after earning a degree in Clinical Psychology from New York State University. (1.)

 

2-emery-gondorUpper left: 1929 photograph of Emery Gondor when employed as artist for Berliner Morgenpost newspaper in Germany. Bottom left: humorous caricature from early 1920's shows the artist seated with legs growing into the ground like roots. His cartoon poking fun at an interminable wait to see an editor at Berlin's Ullstein Verlag publishing house earned him a twelve year career there, where he excelled in multiple artistic disciplines including press photography with theatre subjects a specialty. Right: cartoon titled "Generalprobe bei Reinhardt" (Rehearsal at the Reinhardt) shows the artist (first figure standing at left wearing glasses) along with other members of the press waiting outside the Deutsches Theater to be let in for a press review. The drawing appeared in the May, 1930 issue of Blätter Des Deutschen Theaters. (Journal of the German Theater of Berlin) Surreally, the first name in a contributing, alphabetical list of well known actors, artists, writers and composers for the issue was Benno von Arent, an art director and production designer who became a ranking member of the Nazi SS responsible for art, theatres and cinema for Hitler. sources: portrait and theatre cartoon: Series V: Clippings and Scrapbooks, 1909-1935: Emery and Bertalan Gondor Collection; Leo Baeck Institute; lower left: illustration from graphic arts journal PM, 1936: New York: "Mr. Gondor comes to America".

 

In an 1936 artist profile published in the graphic arts journal PM Magazine soon after his immigration to the United States from Europe, Emery Gondor writes:  

 

But my real interest and love is children. I illustrated many children’s books for the “Union Verlag” Stuttgart, the biggest children’s publishing house, and other youth-publications.” …I made up many hundreds of games for children, puzzles for adults, comic strips. I exhibited again and wrote many articles about humorous observations of children. I always received hundreds of fan letters from my children friends.” (2.)

 

The Germinal Circle


As a young artist living and just getting by in Vienna after WWI, Gondor did not shy away from progressive ideas as well as the opportunity to sell his original artwork while promoting himself. Traveling to London in late 1923, he did live caricature sketches of poems read aloud by their authors on November 5th and 23rd as an invited guest of the Germinal Circle. Organized by the Italian anarchist Silvio Corio and his lover Sylvia Pankhurst, a like-minded British writer whose mother Emmeline Pankhurst was the leader of the British suffragette movement, the circle was an artistic and literary salon for their short-lived political and cultural monthly magazine Germinal  founded the same year. (3.)

 

3-emery-gondorAlthough better known as an artist, Emery Gondor was an accomplished photographer whose work appeared in some of the largest European newspapers (principally German) from the mid 1920's into the 1930's. Work contained in his archive at the Leo Baeck Institute in New York City shows a talent equally adept at documentary in addition to staged subject matter including theatrical. Hartmuth Merleker, his former editor at the Ullstein newspapers Tempo and Berliner Montagspost, describes Gondor as not only an artist but a press photographer for the publications between 1929-1933. After learning his grandfather was a lithographer and father an engraver, an excerpt from his 1936 profile by the artist states further on the subject of photography: "I have always had an interest in the problems of reproduction technique. I learned press-photography too. In a short time I learned all the chemical and technical details. I worked one year for the "B.Z. am Mittag," the quickest German daily paper, as press photographer, and in accordance with my plan Ullstein built eight dark rooms for their daily paper photo service." Photographs by Gondor shown here: left: photomontage likely from the late 1920's of a theatrical subject. It likely appeared in one of Ullstein's German publications. Right: documentary subject of street musicians from early 1930's Europe or possibly 1940's New York; with Gondor's red-ink New York City stamp on print verso. Sources for both: Emery I. Gondor Collection; AR 25397; Box 2; Folder #49; Leo Baeck Institute.

 

Several of Gondor’s original linocuts, including one incorporated into an advertisement showing a figure with outstretched arms standing next to a grouping of over-sized flowers facing emanating sun rays were reproduced as part of promotional literature in Germinal. The artist from this period is described in a typescript document held with the reproduction in the library of the Leo Baeck Institute in New York City:

 

The Germinal Circle has pleasure in introducing the work of Emerich Gondor, a young Hungarian artist, who has not previously exhibited in this country. A rapid caricaturist and cartoonist, he works with equal facility through lithography, wood-cuts, lino-cuts and many other mediums. (4.)

 

4-emery-gondorLeft: detail: 1923 linoleum cut in two colors by Emery Gondor used as program advertisement for the Germinal Circle art salon's "Second Evening Exhibition of Drawings and Cuts which took place at the Ashburton Restaurant in London on November 28, 1923. source: Emery and Bertalan Gondor Collection; Leo Baeck Institute. Right: detail: same illustration with impression pulled in 1925 (20.5 x 18.8 cm ) used as cover maquette for Gondor's unpublished folio: "Sehnsucht nach Licht" (Yearning for Light) : "8 Original Linoleum schnitte von Emerich Göndör" (8 original Linoleum cuts by Emerich Göndör) from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

Sehnsucht nach Licht: Yearning for Light


Emery Gondor’s style in his surviving linoleum cuts  from the early 1920’s were certainly influenced by the German Expressionists, and of the heartbreak and for many, hope in the aftermath of the first World War. With emotional joy and pathos rendered in exaggerated strokes of light and dark, the symbolism of the sun and its streaming rays reaching out to embrace humankind is duly represented by his hopeful thematic subjects among others including a family, baby, old man, a blind man, and prisoner locked in a cell as well as the artist himself in signed impressions, several of which are seen here.

 

The original 1925 cover maquette linoleum cut by Gondor, featuring the aforementioned figure with outstretched arms, has the hopeful title Sehnsucht nach Licht . (Yearning for Light) Featuring eight original linoleum cuts with the themes outlined above, the work is not believed to have been published other than several copies, although seven of the eight plates as well as the maquette can be found here on this website as well as the full compliment and other examples of Gondor’s artwork from his career at the Baeck Institute online site.

 

5-emery-gondorDetail: Linoleum cut: "Old Prisoner gazing at the Light" : (20.0 x 18.7 cm impression | 28.5 x 25.0 cm paper) 1925 print by Emery Gondor, American (b. Hungary) : included in unpublished folio: "Sehnsucht nach Licht" (Yearning for Light) : "8 Original Linoleum schnitte von Emerich Göndör" (8 original Linoleum cuts by Emerich Göndör) from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

Sobering, but Necessary


Eventually, Gondor’s talents paid off. Besides honed artistic chops, abundant energy, charisma and a sunny disposition as evidenced by his ever-present smile seen in surviving photographs, he attained the title of Art Director for the Ullstein Verlag publishing house of Berlin, the largest concern in Europe. But then in 1933, the Nazis came, he wrote in the 1936 PM profile, and everything changed and was lost. In September of 1935, Gondor’s former editor Hartmuth Merleker of the Ullstein newspapers Tempo and Berliner Montagspost wrote a glowing review of his talents which spoke of this fine character giving him the needed credibility in the eyes of German authorities and the right to emigrate for his new life in America:

 

He worked mainly as comic and propaganda artist and as a theater photographer and absolved himself to everyone’s satisfaction. He tactfully refrained from attending any non-artistic, non-photographic activities, and as a Hungarian citizen was never known to abuse the right to hospitality he enjoyed in Germany to Germany’s disadvantage.” (5.)

 

6-emery-gondorLinoleum cut: "Child in an Explosion of Light" : (20.5 x 18.8 cm impression | 28.9 x 24.8 paper) 1925 print by Emery Gondor, American (b. Hungary) : included in unpublished folio: "Sehnsucht nach Licht" (Yearning for Light) : "8 Original Linoleum schnitte von Emerich Göndör" (8 original Linoleum cuts by Emerich Göndör) from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

Sobering in hindsight of course. What true artist in their own mind could “tactfully refrain fromany non-artistic, non-photographic activities” during the course of his or her work? Fortunately for us, Emery Gondor had a bit of luck going his way as well, with earlier examples of his artistic legacy preserved here for posterity and later career achievements benefiting those children he helped and inspired a testament to the abundant light emanating from his own oversized heart and soul.

 

David Spencer- October, 2015

 

Notes:

 

1. background: Emery Gondor: Biographical/Historical Note: from: Emery I. Gondor Collection: Leo Baeck Institute online archive accessed Oct. 2015. In Gondor’s 1954 application to publisher Doubleday for his book Art and Play Therapy published the same year, it stated he “is a sensitive clinician of long and varied experience. Early in his career he had no intention of becoming a psychologist or psychotherapist, but began as an artist and teacher of art after attending the Royal Hungarian University and receiving his diplomas from the Federal Academy of Art in Budapest. As a young art teacher, however, he was faced with the misery of children who suffered tremendously during and after the first World War, and felt that he had to understand more about their problems in order to be able to help them. Thus began his interest in the study of psychology.”
2. PM: 1936: Mr. Gondor comes to America: p. 7
3. Germinal, a quarto monthly ran for two issues in July, 1923 and one other unknown issue published in 1924. “This illustrated journal published fiction by Gorky, drama by Ernest Toller, poetry by Alexander Blok, by Anna Akhmatova and by Pankhurst.” see: Morag Shiach: Modernism, Labour and Selfhood in British Literature and Culture, 1890-1930: Sylvia Pankhurst: labour and representation: 2004: p. 103
4. see: The Germinal Circle: Leo Baeck Institute Archives: New York: Folder 1/16: Call number AR 25397
5. translated, hand-written copy of Sept 7, 1935 letter by editor Hartmuth Merleker contained in Leo Baeck Institute online archives. 

 

 

 

Nature's Camera

 

Spring, that time of rebirth for the temperate regions of the world, is thankfully showing itself off again. With new growth on trees, flowers showing off and the lingering sweet smells of airborne pollen, these are but a few signs of the season.

 

1-detail-nature-print-ca-Detail: Nature prints: English: unknown maker: (recto) leaf specimens with selective hand-coloring: ca. 1775-1825: 30.5 x 38.3 cm: laid paper leaf (separated) with Britannia shield and C&S watermarks. from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

2-philip-delamotte-talbotyDetail: "Flora", the Roman goddess of Spring and flowers: 1850: hand-colored lithograph from Talbotype by Philip Henry Delamotte (1821-1889) of hand-drawn and colored tracing of Roman mosaic (mid 2nd Century A.D.) at Cirencester, England. 14.5 x 10.2 cm: reproduced as plate V in: "Illustrations of the Remains of Roman Art, in Cirencester, The Site of Antient Corinium": London. This floor mosaic of Flora was one of three seasonal mosaics excavated at Cirencester in 1849. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

As children, our very first “photographs” joyously executed in winter climes would have taken the form of angelic impressions left in the newly fallen snow, or tropical: designs left on sandy seashores.

 

 

3-detail-nature-print-ca-Detail: Nature prints: English: unknown maker: mirror impression of unknown grass and leaf cluster specimens: ca. 1775-1825: 30.5 x 38.3 cm: laid paper leaf (separated) with Britannia shield and C&S watermarks. from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

6-nature-printed-british-sExamples of nature-printed British Seaweeds printed in intaglio by Henry Bradbury, English. (1831-1860) Left: Sphacelaria Scoparia Lyngb.: 1860; 23.9 x 15.5 cm: plate CLXXII from vol. III: "The Nature-Printed British Sea-Weeds: A History, Accompanied by figures and dissections, of the algae of the British Isles" : London: Bradbury and Evans. Right: Plocamium Coccineum, Lyngb.: 1859; 23.9 x 15.5 cm: plate LXVIII from vol. II: "The Nature-Printed British Sea-Weeds": Bradbury's technique commercialized nature printing for the masses-he adapted an 1852 process invented by Viennese engravers Alois Auer and Andreas Worring creating a matrix by placing botanical specimens between a sheet of soft lead and steel which were then electroplated, inked and printed. from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

photogram-of-fern-carrie-ta"Ink Splatter Photogram of Fern and Flowers on Paper", 1904: by amateur Irish artist Caroline Emily Tallis, (1889-1972) (21.9 x 17.2 cm): single page from English or Irish compiled Edwardian album signed lower right: "Carrie Tallis, Scotch House Kilkenny 15/7/04": from: PhotoSeed Archive

Our very own Pencils of Nature.

 

An impression of ourselves for sure, but also quickly obliterated-or not, like nature herself. Photography in this form has in a way been part of Earth’s plant and animal fossil record stretching back millions of years, with Mankind’s permanent efforts barely stretching back to the early 19th Century.

 

4-plant-and-flower-photogr(6) individual Photograms, ca. 1925, by unknown American photographer on Kodak Self-Toning, single-weight glossy paper. (gelatin-silver developing out paper) each: 10.8 x 6.4 cm. Even before he discovered how to permanently "fix" what eventually became known as paper photographs in order to prevent their fading, Englishman William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877) first used his Photogenic Drawing method in 1834 to produce photograms. To do this he first placed a botanical specimen on a sheet of salt and silver nitrate-coated sheet of writing paper which produced a temporary, exact image of it when exposed to the Sun. Soon after, the lustrous blue Cyanotype process, perhaps best known today by the artistic plant studies perfected by Englishwoman Anna Atkins (1799-1871) made between 1843-53, gave way to even cheaper commercial methods for the photogram. Using store-bought, pre-sensitized photographic paper which home darkroom hobbyists readily exploited-similar to these examples- the art form was popularized even more in the early 20th Century. Specimens: top row, left to right: Shepherd's Purse, Purple Violet, Yellow Violet; Bottom row, left to right: Bell Wort, Narcissus, Blue-Eyed Grass. all from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

5-nature-print-combined-caNature prints: English: unknown maker: ca. 1775-1825: multiple, mirror impressions of unknown grass and leaf cluster specimens done with black printers ink & selective hand-coloring on laid paper leaf. (separated at middle) Britannia shield and C&S watermarks: 30.5 x 38.3 cm. Addressing an 1857 meeting of the Royal Society of the Arts, English Aesthetic Movement designer Christopher Dresser (1834-1904) gave the following historical account of the art of nature printing, of which this sheet is a rare surviving example, although ink rather than carbon black was used: "The earliest mode with which we are acquainted of producing impressions of plants was this:—The plant, after being dried, was held over the smoke of a candle or oil lamp, when it became blackened by a deposit of soot, after which it was placed between two sheets of paper and rubbed with a smoothing-bone, which caused the soot to leave the prominences of the leaf and adhere to the paper. In this way an impression of the plant was produced. This method of procuring impressions was employed as early as the year A.D. 1650." from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

Enjoy this gallery of images celebrating the beauty of flora. From original Nature Prints ca. 1775-1825: inked leaves placed between a sheet of paper and pulled through a printing press; to mosaic red flowers adorning the head of a Roman goddess imagined by an artist around 250 A.D. transcribed and copied by the radical Talbotype process and published in 1850; to delicate British seaweeds copied into lead and printed 1859-60 to modern examples still nearly a century old: six silhouetted jewels ca. 1925 from the time photographic hobbyists gazed in wonderment at their first efforts emerging from developer trays in home darkrooms.