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Childhood Photography

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

A Happy 4th to All

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blog-fourth-of-july-bernardDetail: "4th of July", c. 1905 by Jeanette Bernard: American, born Germany: (1855-1941) gelatin silver print c. 1935-40 from original glass plate negative acquired by Culver Service : 18.7 x 16.1 cm: from PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

 

 

Needle in a Haystack

 

Surreal would be a good word for it. On the evening of Friday, November 4, 1904, the touring company of the Broadway flop Eben Holden made its way to a performance at a building called the Auditorium on S. 2nd Street in downtown Newark, Ohio.


1-blog-cover-eben-holden-n25Detail: Cover for "Eben Holden: A Tale of The North Country": Edition de luxe by Irving Bacheller. Lothrop Publishing, Boston: 1903. Gilt-engraved decorative cloth with circular design featuring a design of a ribbon interlaced with pinecones and leaves: 21.0 x 14.2 cm: One of the best selling novels from the very beginning of the 20th Century, this edition features 12 photogravure plates by photographer Clarence Hudson White. from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

Most likely in attendance that night? Clarence Hudson White, (1871-1925) the world-renowned pictorialist photographer who was a recent founding member of the American Photo-Secession and current Newark resident.  Only two years earlier, he had taken a series of photographs using his Newark neighbors as models for a special edition of Eben Holden that had been made into this very play.

 

Written by American journalist and author Irving Bacheller, (1859-1950) the story is a classic rags to riches tale that captivated the masses in the new American century when first published in July of 1900, eventually selling over 1 million copies. The setting at the beginning of the novel is the “North Country” of Northern Vermont , the Adirondack’s and St. Lawrence River Valley of the 1840’s and 1850’s. It tells the coming of age story of William Brower, orphaned at the age of six after his parents and older brother accidentally drowned as well as his relationship with Eben Holden, a farm hand who rescued “Willy” from the cruel fate of an orphanage

 

But this post is part collecting story, a kind of hunt for treasure, or  “spondoolix” as “Uncle Eb” would say in one chapter-his country ways and lack of education brought into sharper focus for the reader by Bacheller’s liberal usage of Holden’s spoken dialect.

 

2-blog-edition-de-luxe-andDetail: Top: listing for works by American author Irving Bacheller showing Edition de luxe of Eben Holden highlighted in blue: from: Illustrated Catalogue of Books Standard and Holiday 1903-1904: Chicago: A.C. McClurg and Company: 1903: p. 217 (the † denotes it is a work of fiction, published since November 1, 1902, under the rules of the American Publishers' Association. (from: Hathi Trust)Bottom: close-up detail showing autograph for CH White 02 at bottom left corner of representative photogravure plate from the Edition de luxe: from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

The Hunt is on

I consider myself a newbie collector, but one of the first things I put on my list 15 years ago when I first started out was one particular impression of Eben Holden rumored to have been illustrated by hand-pulled photogravures by White, the aforementioned famous photographer.

 

My curiosity had been piqued after seeing the volume listed in several bibliographies, typically stating the 1900 date. One such entry in author Christian A. Peterson’s Annotated Bibliography on Pictorial Photography did give me hope the work existed, even though finding one in the internet age would prove to be quite the challenge:

 

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, holds what is probably a unique copy of this book, comprised of the Lothrop text pages bound in leather, with an inscription by White and ten photogravure illustrations by him, including the portrait of Holden. (1.)

 

Because the novel had been such a success a century earlier, the reality of upwards of 500 vintage copies for sale on the web at any one time was daunting. My course of action however was simple, and eventually effective: send out a mass number of emails to every bookseller in the U.S. listing a copy from a suspect 1901 edition I had honed in on inquiring if it contained any photographic illustrations. 

 

3-blog-lothrop-publishing-Broadside advertising poster for Lothrop Publishing Company of Boston: 1897: artist: William Schumacher: American: (1870-1931) multiple-color lithograph printed on wove paper: 52.7 x 34.0 cm. Speaking of the beginnings of Eben Holden in the year 1897, author Irving Bacheller said "had unsuccessfully offered the first 'Eben Holden' as it then stood to two juvenile publications; but as I happened to be just starting off on a vacation at that time, I determined myself to see the Boston firm, which was the Lothrop Publishing Company. I met the editor, Mr. Brooks, at the Parker House, and told him the story as I had written it. He immediately saw the possibilities in it and declared I had a big thing if I could carry it out as it should be." (excerpt: "The Critic": Oct. 1904) vintage broadside (trimmed) from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

And so eventually luck prevailed. In 2007, a bookseller in Idaho finally said yes, and a bucket item was now on my library shelf. But that was not the end of it, as Alice would say, things got Curiouser and Curiouser!  Because collectors never stop looking, I soon stumbled upon a CT bookseller who knew exactly the significance of the White-illustrated impression, with an astronomical asking price. An excerpt from his description of the work stated:

 

Elusive and highly desirable work, absent from almost all museum and library collections devoted to photography, and one of only a very few photographically illustrated books produced by a leading member of the Stieglitz circle at the height of the Photo-Secession. (2.)

 

4-blog-estes-press-norwoodTop: detail: 1891 advertisement for The Estes Press (Dana Estes & Company) from "The American Bookmaker". The woodcut shows the brand new Estes Press Buildings located at 192 Summer St. in Boston first occupied around 1890. The firm housed many different companies involved in the bookmaking process, including: "The celebrated engravers, John Andrew & Son have their studios in the upper story…"; J.S. Cushing & Co., (book composition) Berwick & Smith, (presswork) and E. Fleming & Co. (binding). These last three firms left Estes in 1894 and became part of the Norwood Press. (from: Hathi Trust) Bottom: detail: exterior photograph of Norwood Press from the 1897 volume "Boston Massachusetts" by George W. Englehardt. The original caption noted the firm was located "Fourteen Miles from Boston, on the New England Road" and "as a whole employing nearly three hundred hands." This is where the Eben Holden Edition de luxe was printed. (from: Hathi Trust)

 

And so I sucked it in and didn’t purchase the second copy, which he told me he had originally purchased in Marlborough, NH.  Eventually he sold it to a European collection, but I’ve since visited him several times and made a few purchases over the years, something I highly recommend rather than doing everything through e-commerce.

 

But then lighting struck again five years ago, when I purchased a second copy which had been personally inscribed by the author in 1911 to John A. Dix, then governor of New York state.

 

Curiouser? The first copy, fourth edition imprint stated Two Hundred and Sixty-fifth Thousand, March 12, 1901 and the second copy was for Two Hundred and Seventieth Thousand, September 18, 1903.

 

5-blog-how-much-a-yardDetail: Clarence H. White: American: "How much was that a yard ?" Hand-pulled photogravure plate printed by John Andrew & Son (image: 12.2 x 7.5 cm | support: 20.0 x 14.0 cm ) from: Edition de luxe impression of Eben Holden: Lothrop Publishing, Boston: 1903. The Library of Congress states the model at right is Ann Fulton and the woman examining the dress is the photographer's mother Phoebe Billman White (1845-1920) : from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

Knowing the book now existed in multiple impressions with the Clarence White photogravures was perplexing to me at first, but I’m certain the inclusion of the White photographs was intended by the publisher Lothrop for a more discriminating audience, so its assumed they had the monetary incentive to publish more than the one impression-even with the fickleness and extra work necessary to bind an edition with hand-pulled gravures.

 

To this end, my research in preparing this post discovered 1901 to be the year Clarence White was first commissioned by the Boston publisher to illustrate a new edition of Eben Holden. The intended publication date of very late 1902 was designed to coincide with the lucrative holiday sales season. Even with the move to e-books in our modern age, publishers earn good money issuing ornate and extra-illustrated editions during this time of year catering to the once a year book buyer and bibliophile alike.

 

Known as the Edition de luxe, this edition of Eben Holden with the White photogravures priced at $2.00 somehow managed to miss the late 1902 holiday sales season. The curious fact of the inclusion of the imprint for March 12, 1901 on the limitation page and White’s signature including the year 02 on many of the 12 plates in the published work was basic economics for publisher Lothrop-they simply used existing leaves, including the old limitation pages from current stock when it was eventually released for sale to bookstores in 1903. 

 

16-ad-for-blog-john-andrewTop: detail: 1896: advertisement for John Andrew & Son from the "Boston Blue Book". (from: Hathi Trust) Bottom: detail: typical example of the firm's engraved credit appearing at lower right corner of image margin on plate recto from the 1903 Photographic Times-Bulletin. The John Andrew firm was established in Boston in 1852. from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

This was by no means unprecedented by Lothrop, or other large publishing houses of the era, as they would have set aside a certain number of unbound sheets from a best-selling work for limited impressions featuring artwork.  The first illustrated edition of Eben Holden featured halftone photographs taken by Joseph Byron from the Broadway production of the same name hadn’t even debuted until Oct. 28 of 1901. This also used the March 12, 1901 imprint date. Known as the Dramatic Edition, it was described in the trade monthly The Bookseller:

 

An illustrated edition of Eben Holden has been recently published called the Dramatic edition. It contains seven pictures of the play as it appeared in New York and a fine portrait of the author.” (3.)

 

6-blog-typography-eben-holDetails: with manipulations in PhotoShop to highlight typography: In order to show Boston's John Andrew & Son atelier printed the photogravure plates uncredited in the de luxe edition of Eben Holden, it is useful to analyze the script font typeface used for photographic plate titles. Column at left, top to bottom shows known examples from the Andrew atelier taken from the 1903 Photographic Times-Bulletin. Column at right shows plate titles from the Eben Holden volume. all from PhotoSeed Archive.

 

Published in 1903

Finally, with the eventual tenth imprint of the fourth edition stating Two Hundred and Seventieth Thousand, September 18, 1903, (6.) the makeup of the Edition de luxe was that of a small 8vo Octavo instead of the common edition, a 12mo Duodecimo. The inclusion of 12 fine, hand-pulled photogravure plates by White seen here is another matter altogether.  For one, other than White’s autograph-appearing often (and faintly) in the lower left hand corner of each plate image as CH White 02, the Edition de luxe  neglects to give him any printed credit  for the photographs nor the atelier who printed them.  This is very surprising for a special edition. Typically, there would at the very least be a separate illustrations page noting titles and page numbers at the front of a similar volume, but for whatever reason they were not included.

 

Stieglitz plays Go Between


With Eben Holden’s great success, the dramatization of the novel on the Broadway stage was logical for its day-especially since the Cinema was not an option because of the infancy of the medium. Lothrop’s piggy-backing of the work through this Dramatic edition, even by the “flop” standard of 49 performances, was but one way of keeping the work “fresh”- even a full year after initial publication.  At some point late in 1901, a result perhaps of someone seeing the play on Broadway or believing White’s work would lend itself nicely to a series of photographic illustrations, the Boston publisher-perhaps through an association with Fred Holland Day (who lived in nearby Norwood where the Norwood Press printed books for Lothrop) or Alfred Stieglitz in New York-gave White the commission for its second illustrated edition of the novel.

 

 

7-blog-staging-for-eben-hoClarence H. White: American: 1902: "She was still looking down at the fan": vintage Platinum or gelatin silver print: Showing typical retouching by White, the models are Alfred Dodge Cole, (1861-1928) a professor of Chemistry and Physics at Denison University and his wife Emily Downer Cole. (1865-1957) They play the roles of William Brower and Hope, whom Brower eventually marries in the novel Eben Holden. The photograph was reproduced as a photogravure plate and included in the Edition de luxe. Curators at the Robbins Hunter Museum where this and other White photographs are held stated the photographer had taken family photographs of the Downer family on the lawn of the home in the late 1890's and so he "would have been familiar with the house and furnishings from that commission.  It was common for Clarence White to ask acquaintances to pose for photographs, often in costumes that he would provide. The photographs for Eben Holden were staged with costumes from the Civil War era."  Photograph courtesy: Collection of the Robbins Hunter Museum in the Avery Downer House, Granville, OH.

 

Ultimately, Stieglitz’s publishing background, connections and established relationship with White through his editorship of Camera Notes, his new involvement with Camera Work,  as well as his having his own work exhibited in an early salon of pictorial photography in Newark Ohio in late 1900 and other exhibitions made Stieglitz a believer in White’s potential as an illustrator:

 

“What is especially fascinating, however, is what occurs when White is commissioned, as he was in 1901, to take up literary illustration himself. Through the assistance of Stieglitz, White received the commission to illustrate a new edition of the novel Eben Holden by Irving Bacheller. ( 4. )

 

And much later, the photographer’s grandson Maynard Pressley White commented about a bit of reluctance on his grandfather’s part in dealing with Lothrop as part of his Ph.D. dissertation in 1975:

 

“The correspondence with Stieglitz concerning the illustrations for Eben Holden is revealing of his character as well as Stieglitz informed him that he suffered from no such timidity and would—and indeed did—handle the matter with the publishers, as it turned out, to the advantage of White.” (5.)

 

8-blog-emily-downer-coleClarence H. White: American: 1902? : vintage untitled Platinum or gelatin silver print: The model Emily Downer Cole (1865-1957) poses wearing a different dress than seen in the published Eben Holden photogravure "She was still looking down at the fan" taken on the same settee in the front parlor of the Downer family home. This was likely an alternate study Clarence White took for consideration for his series of Eben Holden illustrations. Photograph courtesy: Collection of the Robbins Hunter Museum in the Avery Downer House, Granville, OH.

 

John Andrew & Son: founded in Boston: 1852


In giving credit to White and the firm that printed his photographs as gravures, a bit of elucidation seems in order to set things straight. Upon close inspection of these plates along with many others by Boston’s John Andrew & Son from the same time frame, I feel confident giving the Andrew firm credit for printing them. This is based on a near exact match in the script font used for the plate titles in the de luxe edition of Eben Holden as well as those plates credited to the firm appearing in the Photographic Times Bulletin from 1902-04.

 

I’ve included examples of the font as a comparison with this post. Another exact match is the same plate paper was used for both publications: this is very revealing especially on the plate verso where a very fine stipple pattern can be seen on the paper surface of the cream-colored plate paper. Perhaps the strongest association with the John Andrew atelier and the Norwood Press (which printed the de luxe edition) emerged in my research on business associations with some of the individual companies that came together in 1894 when that press was formed. These included J.S. Cushing & Co., (for composition and typesetting) Berwick & Smith Co., (for presswork) and E. Fleming & Co. (for binding). Beginning around 1890, all of these firms along with John Andrew were under one roof as part of the brand new Dana Estes & Company publishing house buildings on Summer Street in Boston.

 

9-blog-beneath-the-wrinkleClarence H. White: American: 1903: halftone: "Walking side by side to or from the school-house" was one of three photographs published to illustrate the Clara Morris story "Beneath the Wrinkle" published in the February, 1904 issue of McClure's Magazine. (12.8 x 9.5 cm) published: p. 430. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

With the move to Norwood in 1894, the Andrew atelier stayed behind in Boston at 196 Summer St. but continued to provide fine photo engraving work to the major publishing houses in Boston and New York. Known today for printing many of the photogravure plates beginning in 1907 for the monumental Edward Sheriff Curtis work The North American Indian, the firm sometime in the first decade of the 20th Century became a department of the Suffolk Engraving & Electrotyping Co. of Boston with offices at 394 Atlantic Ave.

 

Named after John Andrew, (1815-1870) a wood engraver born in England who immigrated to Boston where he worked with fellow engraver Andrew Filmer, the firm eventually made the transition to photo engraving, including the half tone and photogravure processes. Andrew’s son George T. Andrew succeeded his father at the business, located at 196 Summer St. An 1892 overview of the firm from the volume Picturesque Hampden gives some background:

 

JOHN ANDREW & SON COMPANY.
ENGRAVERS AND MAKERS OF FINE BOOKS, BOSTON MASS.


If we go back a few years, we find that in illustrating books and magazines wood and steel engraving were about the only methods available. Nor could steel engraving have any wide use on account of the great expense of printing. Ever since its start, in 1852, the firm, now styled the John Andrew & Son Company, has held a prominent place among illustrators, especially in work of the finest grades. Their reputation was made in the first place as engravers on wood, but the discovery of delicate chemical and mechanical processes has in later years led them to also take the photo-engraving and half-tone work which has at present such wide use and popularity. In this field they do work for some of the best magazines and books published in this country. In what they undertake they strive not so much to do the cheapest work in price as the best work in quality. Quite recently the firm has taken up the photo-gravure process in addition to those spoken of above. The industry we describe is not located in Hampden county, but the mention here is not inappropriate as the engraving of our pen and ink pictures was done almost wholly by this firm. Their address is 196 Summer street, Boston.

 

10-blog-songs-of-all-seasoDetail: Cover for "Songs of All Seasons" by Ira Billman. The Hollenbeck Press, Indianapolis: 1904. Gilt-engraved stamped cloth: 20.4 x 13.6 cm: shown inset with representative photographs taken by Clarence White reproduced in halftone in the volume. Photo left: "The Book Lovers" (p. 181); top right: untitled man with statuette illustrating poem "The Twin Flower" (p.137); bottom right: "The Gloaming" (p. 199). Billman was Clarence White's uncle and was "one of his earliest artistic influences in his life": From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

Photographic Illustration: a New Outlet


A newspaper clipping, believed to be from the Newark Daily Advocate in the Clarence Hudson White clipping file at the Newark, OH public library, includes the following undated (but 1903) story discussing Eben Holden in passing while concentrating on a new commission that inevitably came from it: costume-piece photographs by White similar to those he did for Lothrop for author Clara Morris’s story published in McClure’s magazine in February, 1904 entitled “Beneath the Wrinkle”:

 

PICTURES    From Real Life by Clarence White
Forwarded On Order to a New York Magazine-Local Artist’s Latest Work.


Mr. Clarence White received a command last fall from the art department of McClure’s Magazine to illustrate Clara Morris’ new story, entitled, “Beneath the Wrinkle,” that will appear in that magazine presumably in the near future. Mr. White was to have been given all the time he wanted, but in view of the change of art editors, Mr. White was notified about three weeks ago that the illustrations would be required immediately. Mr. White at once notified the publishers that he would use all his efforts to complete them immediately, and would forward them when completed. Today the set comprising six, were forwarded and as equaly as clever and well executed as the ones made for the illustrating of the holiday edition of Eben Holden that was to have made its appearance last Christmas, but was not completed in time for that season. The ones now in progress are all local personages, done in quaint, old-fashioned garb and surroundings, recalling vividly to mind the characteristics in dress and decorations then in vogue. They show the fine and beautiful artistic temperament of Mr. White in his striking correct interpretation of dress and customs of the period in which the characters live. Mr. White deserves the honor the illustrations will surely bring to him, as he is always conscientious and painstaking in whatever he undertakes in his profession.

 

11-dramatic-editionLeft: Irving Bacheller, (1859-1950) American journalist and author, wrote the novel Eben Holden which sold over 1 million copies. This portrait with facsimile autograph by an unknown photographer appeared as the frontis (13.3 x 9.1 cm) to the Dramatic Edition of the book-the first illustrated edition featuring photographs of the Broadway stage production that debuted Oct. 28, 1901 and ran for only 49 performances. Right: " 'Fore your other arm gits busy, wont you wind the clock?" (14.1 x 8.4 cm) Actor E.M. Holland at left plays the role of Eben Holden, Lucille Flaven plays Hope and Earle Ryder as an American Civil War officer plays William Brower. The important New York commercial photographer Joseph Byron, (1847-1923) founder of the Byron Company (currently, the 7th & 8th generations runs Byron Photography) took stage photographs of the play at New York's Savoy Theatre with plates published in the Dramatic Edition. from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

White Family Connections: Songs of all Seasons


During the time he received the commission for illustrating Beneath the Wrinkle in 1903, a more intimate family connection developed which allowed White the opportunity to take another series of photographic illustrations, 42 in all, published in 1904 within a slim volume of poetry titled Songs of All Seasons.

 

The author was nationally known poet Ira Billman, Clarence White’s uncle,  the brother of his mother Phoebe Billman White. In the volume Symbolism of Light: The Photographs of Clarence H. White published in 1977 which accompanied an exhibition of White’s work at the Delaware Art Museum and International Center of Photography, White’s grandson Maynard P. White, Jr. describes Ira Billman as a major influence on Clarence and Songs:

 

Among the gathering of aunts and uncles that gave meaning and context to the artist’s early life was Ira Billman, his mother’s brother. “Poetic” is the word most often used to describe White’s photography, and his Uncle Ira, a poet by avocation, was one of the earliest artistic influences in his life. …Billman’s work celebrates rural America; his poems are songs to people and to nature, and they are imbued with the deep religious sentiments of his Lutheran heritage, without being mawkish or even faintly cloying. What is important for the purpose of my discussion is that Clarence White made the photographic illustrations for Songs of All Seasons, and Billman dedicated the volume to him. (7.)

 

12-blog-irviing-bacheller-"To Governor John A. Dix with many good wishes from Uncle Eb an' me Irving Bacheller N.Y. Feb. 22 1911." This personal inscription by Bacheller to John A. Dix, then Governor of New York State, appears in a volume of Eben Holden with the imprint of Two Hundred and Seventieth Thousand, September 18, 1903, the actual year the novel was released for sale. In a 1901 newspaper article, Bacheller said the character Eben Holden was based on "a composite of my father and his hired man-a very jolly old fellow". from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

Ninety-one poems and sonnets are included in the volume. Here, The Test,  a representative poem from the work:

 

The Test

Not what I felt will be the test
When song and fragrance filled the hour,
And all the sunshine of the blest
Unfolded me to perfect flower.


Not what I aid will be the test
When by sweet waters wound my way,
And white-haired, thoughtful hills all guessed
The word I was about to say.


Not what I did will be the test
When stunned by cry of human needs
I dreamed I was myself oppressed,
And woke to passion of great deeds.


Not what I chose will be the test
When first I saw one world in hand
Is worth two in the bush-the best
Of which it is to understand.


O! none of these will be the test,
But what God knows I would have done,
Had I been nurtured in the nest
Of one, I now condemn and shun. (8.)

 

13-blog-eben-holden-gravurLeft: Clarence H. White: American: 1902: hand-pulled photogravure: (9.7 x 7.3 cm) in: Eben Holden: A Tale of the North Country: Boston: Lothrop Publishing. (1903) Appearing as the frontis portrait in the Edition de luxe, this unknown subject was the novel's namesake: a fictional character who was a former farm-hand and main father figure for the newly orphaned William Brower serving as the narrator in the work. Right: Clarence H. White: American: 1902: halftone: (12.0 x 9.2 cm) in: Eben Holden: Harper & Brothers Publishers. (1914) Part of the Pine Tree Edition of Irving Bacheller's (Collected) Works. This heavily manipulated portrait from the original photograph by Clarence White of Eben Holden published 11 years earlier also appeared as the frontis for the first volume in the Pine Tree series. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

Pictorial Illustration for Photography a Growing Field


By 1904, esteemed critic Sadakichi Hartman, writing in Leslie’s Weekly, weighed in on the growing use of photography for book illustration:

 

…and Clarence H. White, of Newark, O., has found a new opening for photography in the illustration of books. His illustrations for “Eben Holden” have attracted wide and deserved attention.” (9.)

 

14-camera-work-plateClarence H. White: American: 1902: "Illustration to "Eben Holden"" (1903) hand-pulled photogravure: (tipped image:19.7 x 15.0 cm | Japan paper support: 30.5 x 21.0 cm) in: Camera Work III. (1903) Two plates in the Edition de luxe of Eben Holden: "How much was that a yard ?" (seen in this post-CW IX: 1905) and this one: "Mother was living in the old home alone"-an interior portrait of the photographer's mother Phoebe Billman White (1845-1920) were also published as photogravures in Camera Work. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

And later that year, citing White’s involvement with Eben Holden while writing in the Photographic Times Bulletin, Hartman brought up the potential financial rewards possible for pictorial photographer in this new field:

 

“The only way to approximate a market value of pictorial prints is to investigate how much they might bring on the average, if offered for sale as illustrations. There is lately a decided demand for photographic illustrations, and consequently a certain standard price in vogue. The pictorialist, of course, and perhaps with some right, aspires to illustrator’s prices (i.e., $50-$100 for the full page of a magazine), but he has never reached it, with the one exception of Clarence H. White, who is said to have received several hundred dollars for his series of “Eben Holden” illustrations.” (10.)

 

15-cookies-in-his-pocket-pDetail: "Tucked some cookies into my pocket" : Clarence H. White: American: 1902: hand-pulled photogravure plate (11.9 x 7.3 cm) included with Edition de luxe of Eben Holden (1903): Lothrop Publishing, Boston. The young orphan William Brower is possibly modeled here by the photographer's son Maynard Pressley White (b. 1896) and his wife Jane Felix. (1869-1943) The scene shows Brower preparing to head out into the wilderness in a dog-pulled cart with Eben Holden at right. From the novel: "Our hostess met us at the gate and the look of her face when she bade us good-by and tucked some cookies into my pocket, has always lingered in my memory and put in me a mighty respect for all women." From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

This additional source of significant money to Clarence White and his young family through these illustration commissions invariably gave him additional confidence in his abilities as a photographer and financial peace of mind to eventually make his way to New York City, leaving Newark in 1906. It is also not a stretch to infer White’s own life mimicked the storyline of hard work that can earn the “American Dream” found between the pages of Eben Holden. Although the critic for the New York Times reviewing the play at New York’s Savoy theater didn’t care too much for the acting:

 

As an exhibition of dramatic craft “Eben Holden” is hardly worth serious consideration“…

 

he did, a few paragraphs later, write the production had a few redeeming qualities:

 

But, despite its defects, the play is wholesome; it is redolent of the woods and the fields, and it provides the opportunity for an evening of entertainment that need not be looked back upon with regret.  (11.)

 

No doubt Clarence White, had he been in attendance watching the play inside Newark’s Auditorium that 1904 November evening, would have agreed with these last sentiments of the big city critic, marveling and grinning to himself in the darkened hall while taking in the surreal juxtaposition that art imitating life can bring about.

 

 

 

Notes:

 

1. (White, Clarence H.) excerpt: An Annotated Bibliography on Pictorial Photography: Selected Books from the Library of Christian A. Peterson: Laurence McKinley Gould Library: Carleton College: Northfield, Minnesota: 2004
2. ABE listing: 120407. Besides multiple copies held by PhotoSeed, other known copies are in the Library of Congress, MOMA and Photogravure.com.
3. The Bookseller-Devoted to the Book and News Trade:  Chicago: January, 1902: p. 28
4. Peter C. Bunnell: Inside the Photograph: writings on Twentieth-Century Photography: Aperture Foundation: 2006: p. 47
5. Clarence H. White : a personal portrait: Maynard Pressley White: Ph.D. dissertation, University of Delaware, 1975: pp. 79-80
6. see Beaumont Newhall’s ‪Photography‬: ‪A Short Critical History‬, from 1938, lists Eben Holden with the White illustrations as being published in 1903 on p. 215
7. excerpt: see Symbolism of Light: 1977: p. 7
8. Songs of All Seasons: Ira Billman: Indianapolis: The Hollenbeck Press: 1904: p. 65
9. excerpt: Advances in Artistic Photography: Sidney Allan: in: Leslie’s Weekly: April 28, 1904: New York: p. 388
10. excerpt: from: What is the Commercial Value of Pictorial Prints?: Sidney Allen: in: The Photographic Times Bulletin: December, 1904: p. 539
11. excerpt: review: “Eben Holdenat the Savoy: The New York Times, October 29, 1901

 

 

 

Sharp as Needles & Woolly as Mary's Lamb

 

The 1905 Kodak Competition | Exhibition & Kodak Advertising Contests


The cryptic title of this post owes a debt to advertising. Seeing an opportunity to redefine their annual photographic contest for 1905 by marketing products to all kinds of photographers, the Eastman Kodak Company decided to embrace the two distinct schools of the period.

 

blog-dorothy-taking-photograph-of-doll-kodak-contest-1905Taken ca. 1903-05 and the subject of an extensive series of photographs by her amateur photographer father from infancy to late teens, Dorothy (b. August, 1899, of Staten Island, N.Y.) prepares to squeeze a bulb shutter while photographing her dolly. This photograph or variant was likely entered in one of the annual "Kodak Competitions" from the period, as it features the company’s products, including a tripod-mounted plate camera. (undetermined model) A camera and tripod case can be seen on floor along with a single plate holder and dark cloth. Dorothy holds the dark slide for the camera in her left hand while making the exposure. Mounted vintage gelatin silver print: 17.9 x 22.0 cm | 11.0 x 14.1 cm: from: PhotoSeed Archive (photographer details withheld pending further research)

 

The so-called “straight” shooters, whose intent was a picture sharply in focus and the “pictorialists”; those embracing the painterly concept of selective focus in their work.

 

1a-blog-cove-souvenir-kodak-competition-1905rLetterpress detail from cover: (24.2 x 18.0 cm) "Souvenir Kodak Competition 1905". This souvenir book is believed to have been published sometime in 1906 or 1907, the culmination of one of the company’s annual contests which included public exhibitions in major American cities at the end of 1906 and through March of 1907. From PhotoSeed Archive

 

This inclusivity was emphasized after the company announced criteria for their selection of judges for the 1905 contest:

 

In the selection of a jury we have had two important points in mind. First, the selection of gentleman of high standing and unquestioned competency. Second, the selection of gentlemen affiliated with neither of the warring factions ⎯men who are broad-minded enough to recognize merit where it exists in a picture, no matter whether that picture be as sharp as a needle or as woolly as Mary’s little lamb.  (1.)

 

2-blog-the-passing-show-benjamin-guppy-diptych-Left: Maine resident and amateur photographer Benjamin Wilder Guppy (1870-1960) won $10.00 and an honorable mention in the "1905 Kodak Competition" for this photograph: "The Passing Show", used as the cover photograph of the souvenir book: gelatin silver print: 6.6 x 5.2 cm. (PhotoSeed Archive) Right: the uncropped version of "The Passing Show" as it appeared in the Kodak exhibitions from 1906-07.: source: halftone from: "The Photographic Times": New York: December, 1906: p. 532

 

Rhetoric aside, these judges certainly had artistic ambitions. They were:

 

Charles Berg: (1856-1926) studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris and London, opening an architectural practice in New York City in 1880, and later designing one of the city’s earliest skyscrapers, the Gillender Building. In 1896 he became a founding member of the Camera Club of New York, and his amateur work reflected his classical training-classically draped models often surrounded by architectural elements.

 

Arthur Radclyffe Dugmore: (1870-1955) at the time of the 1905 contest a pioneering nature photographer, he had the distinction in 1903 of one of his photographs, “A Study in Natural History”,  a photogravure of baby birds,  appearing in the first issue of Camera Work I. He later became a recognized painter and printmaker.

 

Henry Troth: (1863-1948) was an active member of the Photographic Society of Philadelphia, a pioneering artistic photography society in the United States. A professional photographer specializing in genre and the natural world, his work appeared in magazines and volume compilations of poetry and verse, often uncredited, such as Poetry of Nature. (1909)

 

3-blog-1904-1905-kodak-contest-announcementsThe 1905 Kodak Competition as well as the annual contests that followed were heavily promoted by the Eastman Kodak Company in their dealer trade circulars. This composite of editorial and advertising matter are taken from 1904-05. Left: first notice for the contest appeared in December, 1904. Right column, top: Kodak dealers are told of the Advantage they would receive (in increased sales) by "pushing" the contest on their customers. Middle: In January, dealers are alerted that "all beginners in the field should have their attention called to the Novice class that has been provided for their especial benefit." "This contest is simply one of the means we offer you for stirring up interest among your customers." Bottom: The term "Boom", an arcane word similar to "Shout" from the beginning of the 20th century, was used in an advertisement for the contest in the May, 1905 issue of the circular. Letterpress pages from Canadian Kodak Co., Limited Trade Circular: Toronto: online resource courtesy Ryerson University Library Special Collections

 

Particulars

In late 1904, Kodak announced they would break down and eliminate what they felt had been barriers for amateurs and professionals alike in regard to photographic contests up to that period:  

 

A drawback to previous competitions has been the fact that many amateurs felt it useless to compete against their more experienced brothers while not a few of those who have become famous as photographers have been afraid to enter lest they might be awarded a forty-ninth prize and see, in the photographic publications, their famous names at the foot of a list of unknowns.

The terms of the 1905 Kodak Competition overcomes both of these difficulties. It provides separate classes for the novice and for those who have hitherto been successful and then bunches the prizes below fifth so that all such awards will be simply “Honorable Mention” together with a substantial prize.   (2.)

 

4-blog-lady-and-child-by-eduard-steichen-and-la-moulin-de-valcanville-by-pierre-lejardsTen original photographs printed on Kodak gelatin silver papers are featured in the souvenir book for the 1905 Kodak Competition. Top: "Lady and Child", (9.8 x 12.2 cm | 9.1 x 11.5 cm) likely from a copy negative or print, (as it includes a gray border) is by American master Edward Steichen. Printed on Portrait Velox paper, it is also known as Mother and Child — Sunlight,  (published as a photogravure in Camera Work XIV) and won the $150.00 first prize for him in the Class A Open category, featuring negatives 3 ¼ x 4 ¼ or larger in size. Bottom: "La Moulin de Valcanville" (6.2 x 8.5 cm |5.4 x 7.8 cm) by Pierre Lejards of Paris, France is printed on Eastman's Sepia Paper. It was awarded honorable mention and earned him a No. 0  F.P. Kodak camera in the Class F Novice category.  (Brownie Pictures) from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

A true marketing ploy, the company also made sure there would be plenty of time for those contemplating a submission for the contest. In America, entrants had up to November 1st to enter and in England, a month earlier, although this was changed to a later date to accommodate the mailing of the large amount of submissions, which totaled 28,000 entries worldwide. Particulars for the contest were printed in multiple publications, including the January 1905 issue of Camera & Dark-Room:

 

 

5-blog-composite-kodak-paper-brands-wd-platinum-mezzo-tone-sepia-paperThe September, 1904 issue of the Kodak Trade Circular featured brand logos of various Kodak papers, including W-D Platinum, (water development) Mezzo-Tone, and Eastman's Sepia Paper. Along with Portrait and Velvet Velox, the papers were used to print winning entries for the 1905 Kodak Competition souvenir book. Composite letterpress advertisements: Canadian Kodak Co., Limited Trade Circular: Toronto: online resource courtesy Ryerson University Library Special Collections

 

The 1905 Kodak Competition.
We have pleasure in announcing that another great picture competition is to take place during the year. The Eastman Kodak Company offer $2,000 in prizes and have arranged for two classes of competitors, “Open” and “Novice.” The “open” class is for all who may care to enter, but the “novice” is open only to amateurs who have never won a prize in a photographic contest. This is a feature which will greatly please many who do good work but who do not care to compete against the regular pot hunters.


 

6-blog-april-1905-kodak-judges"Sharp as a needle or as woolly as Mary's little lamb" : In announcing the three judges for the 1905 Competition, the April, 1905 issue of the Kodak Trade Circular let it be known the contest would be open to all schools of photography, as well as degrees of experience. from: Canadian Kodak Co., Limited Trade Circular: Toronto: online resource courtesy Ryerson University Library Special Collections

 

The classes and conditions are as follows:


Class A. Open to all. For Kodak pictures 3 ¼ x 4 ¼ or larger, including the Panoram Kodaks.
Class B. Open to all. For Kodak pictures 3 ½ x 3 ½ or smaller, including No. 1A Folding Pocket Kodak.
Class C. Open to all. For enlargements of any size from Kodak or Brownie negatives on Eastman. Nepera or Photo-Materials Bromide Paper.
Class D. Novice. Open only to amateurs who have never been awarded a prize in a photographic contest. For Kodak pictures 3 ¼ x 4 ¼ or larger, including the Panoram Kodaks.
Class E. Novice. Open only to amateurs who have never been awarded a prize in a photographic contest. For Kodak pictures 3 ½ x 3 ½ or smaller, including No. 1A Folding Pocket Kodak.
Class F. Novice. Open only to amateurs who have never been awarded a prize in a photographic contest. For Brownie pictures only.
All pictures sent in for competition must be from negatives made with a Kodak or Brownie on Kodak N. C. Film, and must be printed on papers manufactured or sold by us.
PRINTS ONLY are to be sent in; not negatives.
Prints must be mounted, but not framed.
The title of the picture, with the name and address of the competitor, class entered for, and the name of the printing paper used for the pictures, must be legibly written on the back of mount.
The films must have been exposed by the competitor, but it is not necessary that competitors finish their own pictures.
No competitor will be awarded more than one prize in a class.
Not more than one prize will be awarded to prints from one negative, except that all Velox Prints will be considered In the awarding of the Special Velox Prizes regardless of the prizes said prints may have received in the other classes.
Contact prints from the same negative cannot be entered in two classes.
This contest closes at Rochester. N. Y., on November 1, 1905; at Toronto. Canada, on October 20, 1905. and at London, Eng., on October 1, 1905.
All entries sent in from the United States and the possessions thereof and from South America should be addressed to EASTMAN KODAK CO..
Kodak Contest Dep’t.     Rochester,  N. Y.   (3.) 

 

7-blog-soap-bubbles-by-alfred-stieglitz-Detail: Alfred Stieglitz: "Soap Bubbles", from 1905 Kodak Competition Souvenir book. (8.8 x 14.4 cm | 8.0 x 13.7 cm) Printed on Velvet Velox and believed to be from the original negative, Stieglitz received an honorable mention and $20.00 in the Kodak contest in Class C Open category for Enlargements. from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

History of Kodak Competitions

Little scholarship seems to have been spent on the annual photographic competitions which in turn lead to public exhibitions sponsored by the Eastman Kodak Company in the early years of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Besides accomplishing the desired result of brand recognition, they are undoubtedly a rich resource for understanding the changing aesthetic trends for primarily amateur photography during this period.

 

 

8-blog-list-of-awards-1905-kodak-contestDetail: letterpress: Awards for the 1905 Kodak Competition were announced and listed in March, 1906. Some of the results for the bigger names who competed in Class A, Open category, (negatives 3 ¼ x 4 ¼ or larger in size) are seen here. From: Canadian Kodak Co., Limited Trade Circular: Toronto: March, 1906: online resource courtesy Ryerson University Library Special Collections

 

Of the resulting exhibition which the 1905 competition spawned, a Photographic Times editor provided an overview but also gave it a veiled endorsement after it closed at Madison Square Garden Concert Hall in New York City in November, 1906:

 

While the Kodak Exhibition is prompted by commercial interests and is for the purpose of advertising the products of the Eastman Kodak Company, yet so skillfully is this concealed that each visitor comes away feeling indebted to the company.

 

9-blog-halftones-kodaking-by-alfred-stieglitz20 winning photographs printed as halftones (printed on coated manilla stock) are featured in the souvenir book for the 1905 Kodak Competition. This representative page spread features clockwise from top left: "Dream" by Annie W. Brigman, "Decorative Study" by E.B. Vignoles, "Hallowe'en" by Mrs. Myra A. Wiggins, "Kodaking" by Alfred Stieglitz, "Mountain Nymph" by Miss Jessie Willard. Dimensions of open book sans card cover: 23.5 x 34.5 cm from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

In 1897, one of the very first Kodak international competitions originated in England, which lead to a show known as the Eastman Photographic Exhibition.

 

Held at the New Gallery on Regent Street in London from October 27 to November 16, 1897, the exhibit drew 25,000 photographic entries from around the world, with $3000.00 in prize money.  It was organized by amateur photographer George Davison, (1856-1930)  a founding member of the British Linked Ring and Director of the Eastman Photographic Materials Company in England. In America, these annual competitions were promoted by Kodak advertising department manager Lewis Bunnell Jones. And with the known exception of the 1897 show traveling to America in 1898 where it was enlarged and displayed at The National Academy of Design in New York City in January, Jones’ hand became more evident beginning in 1905. At least five years of public exhibitions beginning in 1906, of which the Kodak Competition Souvenir of 1905 is one of the finest records of, was the result:

 

Under Jones’s autocratic supervision, Kodak’s advertising department devised some of the company’s most legendary campaigns and strategies, including the 1893 introduction of the Kodak Girl in magazine ads and posters; the Traveling Kodak Exhibitions that toured the country between 1905 and 1910; the famous “yellow box” packaging in 1905… “(4.)

 

10-blog-edward-steichen-sheep-study-kodak-exhibition-london-august-1907Edward Steichen won 2nd prize and $100.00 in the Class C open category for enlargements for this photo titled "Sheep Study". This halftone version from the enlarged exhibited print was reproduced in London's Amateur Photographer in August, 1907. Compared to the more commonly known version by Steichen's hand, a hand-toned photogravure published in Camera Work XIX, this image is practically "straight". The editors however make their feelings known it does no justice to his original intent: "In the second place, the pictures are not the original prize-winning prints, but enlargements made at the Company's English works; and however skilful the enlarger is, he cannot possibly always catch and elaborate the ideas of men like Steichen. Bearing this in mind, it is easy to imagine the beauty of Steichen's own enlargement of the "Sheep Study," No. 1, with the sheep blended into a soft mass of tones"…

 

Records from primary source material shed light on these competitions, which beginning in 1907 began to be annually known as the Kodak Advertising Contests:

 

1904:

Book of the £1,000 Kodak Exhibition.
This is the title, stamped in gold, on the cover of a handsome portfolio just issued by the Kodak Press. “To show something of the work that is being accomplished in pictorial photography by the devotees of the Kodak system.” The world-wide interest in the Kodak competition of 1904 naturally brought together much of the best work of the camera and the public exhibition of the competing pictures in London was an eye-opener to all who could attend. From this exhibition sixty or more prints were selected and have been reproduced in half-tone, which will enable photographers in the most remote localities to see the work of others and note the kind and quality of the work which finds favor with competition judges.  (5.)

 

And from The Photographic Times:

 

A detailed report of the results of the £1,000 Kodak Competition has been received in this country, and the results cannot but prove gratifying to those who take an interest in the advancement of American photography. There were something over 20,000 entries received, of which about 12,000 were from the British Isles, 2,500 from France, 2,000 from the United States, 1,700 from Germany and 2,000 scattering. The British Isles received 229 prizes, the United States 85 prizes, France 28 and Germany 12. It will thus be seen that the British exhibitors received one prize to every 52 entries, the French one to every 89, the German one to every 141 and the American one to every 23 entries. Our American amateurs, in proportion to their entries, carried off over twice as much as their British cousins, three and a half times as much as the French competitors and did six times as well as the Germans—at least such was the opinion of the British judges who were no less personages than Sir William Abney, Mr. Craig Annan and Mr. Frank Sutcliffe.  (6.)

 

11-blog-pastoral-moonlight-edward-steichen-camera-work-19Detail: Edward Steichen: "Pastoral - Moonlight" (Camera Work XIX, 1907: 15.6 x 19.9 cm) This blue/green hand-toned photogravure better reflects the intent of Steichen as it is by his own hand- especially when compared to the "straight" version exhibited in London in 1906 as part of the 1905 Kodak Competition. from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

1905-06

The subject of this post concerns the 1905 Kodak Competition, which concluded the following year in 1906 with public exhibitions in America as well as London, England in 1907.

 

1907

The 1907 Advertising Contest of the Eastman Kodak Company possessed a far greater value than the securing of good pictures for use in advertising the products of the Eastman Company. Its value from an educational and artistic standpoint is exceedingly great, and of inestimable value to all photographers and illustrators who use other methods than photography. The results of this competition were a revelation as to the possibilities of graphic illustration by means of the camera when handled understandingly.
The pictures possess human interest far surpassing anything that could have been drawn or painted, for the subjects were real live people, and not the imaginative creations of some artistic brain. Such pictures grasp and hold the interest of the reader and, when their story is pleasingly told, are most convincing.
Glance over the advertising section of any of the popular magazines, and see how important a part the camera plays in illustrating and in pictorially clinching the advertiser’s argument. In many instances, the picture has been that of some charming bit of femininity and used often only to hold the attention in order that the accompanying text might be read.  (7.)

 

1908


In 1908, the Eastman Kodak Company sponsored an advertising contest for professional as well as amateur photographers. $1600.00 was offered as cash prizes. Winning submissions would be used to advertise Kodak products. Mrs. W.W. Pearce, an active woman amateur photographer from Waukegan, IL, won first prize and $300.00 in the Class B Amateur class of the contest. The PhotoSeed Archive owns a vintage example of this winning print, and more background on the contest and results from 1908 can be found here.

 

1909


The contention that better pictures for advertising purposes could be produced by means of photography than by any other artistic method has been still further justified by the result of the 1909 Kodak Advertising Contest.
It is gratifying to note the continued interest of competitors in former contests, and also in highly artistic work submitted by newcomers in the field.
The jury which passed on the work was highly competent, consisting of Mr. Rudolph Eickemeyer, of Davis & Eickemeyer; Mr. A. F. Bradley, ex president of the P. P. S. of New York; Mr. Henry D. Wilson, advertising manager of Cosmopolitan; Mr. C. C. Vernam, general manager of the Smith & Street publications, and Mr. Walter R. Hine, vice-president and general manager of Frank Seaman, Incorporated, one of the largest, if not the largest advertising agency in the United States. Mr. Frank R. Barrows, president of the P. A. of A., was announced as one of the judges, but was unavoidably detained, Mr. Bradley acting in his place.  (8.)

 

1910


THE Eastman Kodak Company, always a most generous patron of photographers, both professional and amateur, has just closed its advertising competition for 1910. This contest has become one of the most important fixtures of the photographic world, not only because of the remarkably large cash prizes awarded, but also because of the tremendous stimulus it has been to the application of photography to advertising. Photo-era has many times called attention to the increasing use of photographs by the general advertiser, and one has only to pick up almost any of the popular magazines and glance at the advertising pages (more interesting, oftentimes, than the body of the letter-press) to see how greatly the ad-writer depends on the halftone cut from a photograph to present his goods in an attractive manner. In this development, beyond question, the Eastman Company has had a large share, and the successful contestants in its contests have gained valuable experience which they can apply with profit, should they so desire, to photographic illustration-work.  (9.)

 

1911


From our standpoint the previous Kodak Advertising Contests have been a distinct and growing success. They have supplied us with pictures that told interestingly of the charm and simplicity of Kodakery. But there has been one drawback. In the professional division (Class A), the prizes have gone so often to the same people that we fear other photographers are likely to be discouraged. In order to remove this possible objection to our contests, these former winners will be barred from participation in Class A in the 1911 competition.  (10.)

 

1913


1913 Kodak Advertising Contest — $3,000.00 In Cash Prizes.— The Kodak Advertising Contests are not for the purpose of securing sample prints. They are for the purpose of securing illustrations to be used in our magazine advertising, for street car cards, for booklet covers and the like.
We prefer photographs to paintings, not only because they are more real, but also because it seems particularly fit that photographs should be used in preference to drawings in advertising the photographic business. The successful pictures are those that suggest the pleasures that are to be derived from the use of the kodak, or the simplicity of the kodak system of photography — pictures around which the advertising man can write a simple and convincing story. Of course the subject is an old one — therefore the more value in the picture that tells the old story in a new way. Originality, simplicity, interest, beauty—and with these good technique —are all qualities that appeal to the judges.
In addition to the prize pictures we often purchase several of the less successful pictures for future use in our advertising. So it will be seen that in reality our prize money is even bigger than we advertise.
There is a big future for the camera in the illustrative field. There’s a growing use of photographs in magazine and book illustrations, to say nothing of the rapid advance along the same lines in advertising work. There’s a constant demand for pictures that are full of human interest. Such are the pictures that we need, that others need. The Kodak Advertising Contests offer an opportunity for your entry into this growing field of photographic work.  (11.)

 

12-blog-threading-the-needle-by-nancy-ford-conesDetail: platinum print: "Threading the Needle", (12.4 x 9.9 cm | 11.7 x 9.2 cm) by Nancy Ford Cones (American,1869-1962) This photograph, printed on Kodak's WD Platinum (water-development) paper, and featured in the 1905 Competition Souvenir book, won the $100.00 second prize for Cones in the Class A Open category, featuring negatives 3 ¼ x 4 ¼ or larger in size. Cones was born in Milan, Ohio but is listed as being from Covington, Kentucky when the photo was taken. from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

The 1905 Competition might certainly be considered key in launching the careers of many serious amateurs, and it undoubtedly gave others the opportunity to pursue photography professionally as a career:

 

The Kodak Competitions which have been held during the past six or seven years have been something of a revelation in that they have shown that a very large proportion of those amateurs who take photography seriously are frequent users of the Kodak. The same names that appear as Salon Exhibitors have appeared in the Kodak prize lists and often times the pictures that have hung on the Salon walls were from the same negative that won cash and honor in the Kodak competition.  (12.)

 

Doing the Rest


Similar to celebrity endorsement today, Kodak had the uncanny ability to associate the big photographic names of the early 20th century; including Stieglitz, Steichen and Brigman, with the idea amateur photographers using their products could become as skilled or famous. The often mocked Kodak mantra of “you press the button and we do the rest”-acknowledged even by someone as famous as Stieglitz himself -is ironically shot down when it is learned Kodak made the enlarged prints from competitor’s negatives for exhibition purposes for the 1905 competition and those following it:  

 

THE Kodak Exhibition, at No. 40, Strand, W.C, will come as a surprise to persons who are only accustomed to the ordinary enlargements of prize-winning photographs which are displayed in dealers’ windows; it will come as a decided shock to those who are wont to ridicule the “you press the button, and we do the rest” method of photography. Out of some twenty-eight thousand prints and enlargements which were submitted to the judges at the latest Kodak competition, some sixty were adjudged prizes varying from one to thirty pounds; and the negatives of these prints, which have become the property of the Kodak Company, have been enlarged into huge enlargements at the Kodak works, and are now on view for all to see.

There are many well-known names amongst the prizewinners—Steichen, Stieglitz, Harold Baker, Mrs. Barton, Miss Annie Brigman—but these only made the exposures and developed the negatives, Kodak has done the rest, and, as a rule, Kodak has done it uncommonly well. It is not, of course, to be imagined that the Company’s enlargements of negatives by such individual workers as Steichen and Stieglitz are similar to the results that these men would have themselves obtained, but the wonder is that the work has been done so well. The enlargements of Stieglitz’s negatives are particularly good, especially that of “Soap Bubbles,” No. 7, in which the feeling of light and atmosphere has been successfully maintained; and those subjects in which the figures are lit from behind, and, so to speak, silhouetted against the light, are not easy to handle. …
In considering the question of the awards, two facts must be borne in mind: in the first place, the judges in this particular competition belonged to the American school of photography, and the present tendency of this school is to ascribe great merit to original and beautiful schemes of natural outdoor lighting; and therefore we find Steichen’s tour de force, “Mother and Child,” No. 60, awarded the first prize in Class A; and photographs taken against the light have scored throughout. However, such subjects are undoubtedly beautiful, and the rendering of true values in such subjects is exceedingly difficult, and therefore the attitude of the judges is comprehensible. In the second place, the pictures are not the original prize-winning prints, but enlargements made at the Company’s English works; and however skilful the enlarger is, he cannot possibly always catch and elaborate the ideas of men like Steichen.

Bearing this in mind, it is easy to imagine the beauty of Steichen’s own enlargement of the “Sheep Study,” No. 60, with the sheep blended into a soft mass of tones; and the above-mentioned “Mother and Child” (with the imperfections in the values of the child’s hand corrected during the enlargement) must have been quite good in the original; Stieglitz’s “Bubbles,” No. 7, however, has lost but little through enlargement, and although Stieglitz would probably have rendered the subject in a higher key, the Kodak work is excellent.

Why has not Miss Annie Brigman’s “Melody” (15)  secured a first prize? It is certainly one of the gems of the collection, and it is good throughout, from the posing and lighting of the hand which holds the mandolin, to the subdued lighting of the music illuminated only by the light reflected from the face of “Melody.” Possibly the judges may have considered the lighting, which might have been arranged by Rembrandt himself, somewhat artificial; but there is no doubt that European judges would have thought differently. This picture, taken with a Kodak, enlarged on Kodak bromide paper, by the Kodak Company, is one of the finest pictures ever rendered by the camera.  (13.)

 

1-blog-melody-by-annie-brigmanDetail: gelatin silver print: "Melody", (16.4 x 11.2 cm | 15.7 x 10.6 cm) by Anne Brigman (American, 1869-1950) This photograph, which a critic in London's Amateur Photographer journal in 1907 proclaimed "One of the finest pictures ever rendered by the camera" is printed on Kodak's Carbon Velox paper, and featured in the 1905 Competition Souvenir book. It won an honorable mention and $20.00 for Brigman in the Class C Open category for Enlargements. The photo is also known as "Woman with Mandolin" from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

Notes

1. excerpt: Judges for the Kodak Contest: Kodak Trade Circular: Toronto, Canada: April, 1905
2. Ibid: Kodak Trade Circular: December, 1904
3. Camera & Dark-Room: Edited by J.P. Chalmers: New York: January, 1905: p. 30
4. excerpt: A Short History of Kodak Advertising 1888-1932: Kodak and the Lens of Nostalgia: Nancy Martha West: The University Press of Virginia: 2000: p. 27
5. excerpt: Book of the £1,000 Kodak Exhibition: The Camera and Dark-Room: New York: January, 1905: pp. 29-30
6. excerpt: £1,000 Kodak Exhibition: Notes, News & Extracts: The Photographic Times: New York: September, 1904: p. 426
7. excerpt: The Kodak Advertising Contest: The Photographic Times: May, 1908: p. 154. The top prize of $1000.00 was awarded to E. Donald Roberts of Detroit.
8. excerpt: AWARDS, PROFESSIONAL CLASS, 1909 KODAK ADVERTISING CONTEST: Wilson’s Photographic Magazine: New York: January, 1910: p. 46
9. excerpt: The Eastman Advertising-Competition: Malcolm Dean Miller: Photo-Era: Boston: January, 1911: p. 73
10. excerpt: With the Trade: 1911 Kodak Advertising-Contest: Photo-Era: Boston: March, 1911: p. 157
11. excerpt: Our Table: American Photography: Boston: May, 1913: pp. 311-312
12. Advertisements: Eastman Kodak Company: excerpt: The New Competition: The American Amateur Photographer: New York: Jan-Dec. 1905
13. excerpt: The Kodak Picture Exhibition: The Amateur Photographer: London: August 27, 1907: pp. 200-01

 

 

Christmas Spirit

 

blog-adolf-de-meyer-madonna-and-christ-childDetail: 1895: "LA VIERGE A L’ENFANT", (The Virgin and Child) Baron Adolph de Meyer: hand-pulled photogravure from: Bulletin du Photo-Club de Paris: December, 1896: 17.1 x 12.1 cm | 27.2 x 19.7 cm: PhotoSeed Archive

Suddenly

 

Non-sensical is how a childhood friend of mine described Friday’s shooting rampage at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut which claimed the lives of 26 souls: 20 first-grade students and another six, educators who worked there.

 

Detail: 1913: C.M. Shipman: American: his son, Mulford Cressey Shipman, (1910-1921) who died suddenly according to his obituary, plays with his toy sailboat in a birdbath: vintage platinum print with hand-coloring from memorial album: image: 21.8 x 15.2 cm: album support: 26.3 x 30.5 cm: from: PhotoSeed ArchiveDetail: 1913: C.M. Shipman: American: his son, Mulford Cressey Shipman, (1910-1921) who died suddenly according to his obituary, plays with his toy sailboat in a birdbath: vintage platinum print with hand-coloring from memorial album: image: 21.8 x 15.2 cm: album support: 26.3 x 30.5 cm: from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

He had come to know the school’s psychologist, a victim of the shooting who occasionally gave my friend rides to school because of proximity of residence. The news was equally devastating for me, because some of my happiest memories as a child and teen were spent in Newtown, a place very close to where I grew up. I often went to the Edmond Town Hall movie theater there with my dad and brother. It cost only $1.00 to get in back in the 70’s and 80’s and I’m sure it was front page news in the local newspaper—the wonderfully named Newtown Bee— when the price shot up to the current admission of $2.00.

 

The town landmark,  however,  is the large flagpole dating to America’s first centennial in 1876 just down the street from the theater. Along with picture-perfect 18th century colonial homes flanking main street leading up to it, this beacon with Old Glory now at half-mast is their version of Grand Central’s famous clock. With great restraint, foresight, and deliberate zoning keeping the fast-food joints far away, the town fathers and mothers have thankfully preserved their past and home, founded in 1705 and incorporated in 1711. Dating to before our Republic’s founding, it’s possible an American president has been through this neck of the woods before; perhaps just not in recent memory. Besides standing in solidarity with Newtown’s surviving families and helping to bring closure to our national collective grief from this most incomprehensible tragedy, let’s hope his visit there tonight spurs definite action and realistic solutions to our long-running conversation on gun regulation. We owe our children nothing less.