A well dressed African American man poses for his portrait at the J. A. Pfeifer & Company gallery. He is wearing a dress jacket, a pin striped vest, winged collar and bow tie. This handsome young man is unidentified. The reverse of the cabinet card lists Pfeifer’s name but also the names Smith and Mulligan Brothers. Presumably these three names belong to photographers who were employed the the Pfeifer studio. The address of the gallery is also printed on the reverse of the card. The business was located at 262, 264, and 266 South High Street in Columbus, Ohio. According to the book “Artists in Ohio” (2000), the photographer of this image, John A. Pfeifer (1859-1932), was active in the Columbus area from 1882 to at least 1913. During much of that time, he was partners with George C. Urlin of the “Mammoth Art Palace” on High Street. To view images by Urlin, click on the category “Photographer: Urlin”. The Oberlin Review (1888) noted that the Urlin & Pfeifer studio won the contract to be the class of 1888′s photographer. A competitor in the bidding was the Cleveland firm of Urlin & Becker. Urlin’s participation in the bidding under two different studios, caused the students to raise some ethical questions about the bidding process. Pfeifer proved to the students that he had the legal right to use Urlin’s name and the class “was convinced of his honesty and integrity” and retained him as class photographer. In 1891 Pfeifer and George D. Saas (1854-1924) founded Pfeifer & Saas Printers. In 1905 Pfeifer became the sole owner of the firm and renamed it the Pfeifer Show Print Company.
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