This vintage photograph features a fourth grade class from a school in Berwick, Pennsylvania. I suggest to viewers that they put this photograph under magnification and be prepared for a trip back to a 1920 school classroom. I know that the students are in the fourth grade because it is written on the chalk board. The board also reveals that the teacher is named Miss Drake and that the date of the photograph was April 20th, 1920. There is a second teacher in the classroom. The class includes boys and girls. The kids dressed up for their portrait. The boys are wearing neck ties and the girls are also dressed up. Many of the girls have bows in their hair. Note the old style desks, the piled books, the American Flag, the Red Cross poster, and the old style calendar. It is particularly interesting to observe that all the seated children have their hands clasped and resting on their desk. Looks just like the discipline commonly seen in American schools today; or maybe not. The photographer of this image is the Lowry studio which was located in Berwick. The name of the studio is embossed on the bottom right hand corner of the mat. Mr. Lowry wrote an article in Abel’s Photography Weekly (1922) which attempts to answer the burning question “Is the Customer Always Right?”. Berwick is about 28 miles southwest of Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. Among the town’s claims to fame is that it is the place where the Wise Potato Chip Company was founded in 1921.This photograph is from the post cabinet card era and it measures 10″ x 8″.
Grapes? Paper Bags? When did paper bags get invented anyway? Why did the photographer choose to photograph four teenage girls eating grapes? Is there some kind of symbolism in the image or is it meant to just show four girls enjoying a picnic? This cabinet card photograph presents a number of interesting questions and I can only answer one of them. Paper bags were invented in 1852. At least that is when Frances Wolle patented the machine that manufactured paper sacks and founded the Union Paper Bag Company. The reverse of this cabinet card has an inscription stating “Stella Pape, 1888″. Stella was actually her nickname. Her given name was Destella L. Pape and she was born in 1872. She was about sixteen years of age at the time of this photograph. In the 1900 US census she was living with her mother (Mary) and older brother (Nielson) in Butler, Pennsylvania She later married George Reiber who was a man twenty-one years her senior. The couple had a son in 1905 who was named after his father (George). Stella Pape died in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania in 1956. She was buried with her son (see the photograph of her gravestone below). The photographers of this image are Criley & Wagner. To view more of their images, click on the category “Photographer: Criley & Wagner”.
A nicely but blandly dressed couple pose for their portrait at the Strunk studio in Reading, Pennsylvania. The couple do an excellent job of hiding their emotions as they pose for this portrait. John D. Strunk was a talented and prolific photographer. The Cabinet Card Gallery has a large collection of his photographs. To view these images and to learn more about him, click on the category “Photographer: John D. Strunk”.
This cabinet card portrait features an adorable baby standing on a chair. The baby is wearing a ring with an attached bracelet. The child looks a bit fearful as she poses at the Chase gallery. The photo studio had three locations, all in Ohio. There were galleries in Newark, Granville, and Thornville. The advertising on the front of the photograph indicates that the photograph was taken in 1893. The reverse of the photograph has an inscription which is difficult to read (see image below). The child’s first name is clearly Ray. Research suggests that the baby is Ray Mc Slyer who was born in Ohio in 1892. Frank Chase (1863-1941) worked as a photographer in Cleveland, Ohio in 1884 and then in Newark between 1885 and a least 1905. He worked in Newark with his father, George W. Chase (1839-1925) except in the mid 1890’s when he operated a studio in nearby Granville.
A little girl dressed in big girl clothing looks adorable as she posed in the Marceau & Bellsmith studio in Cincinnati, Ohio. The child is wearing an elaborate hat and a large collar pin. She is also wearing a very cute expression which includes a half smile. Colonel Theodore C. Marceau (1859-1922) operated a studio at 285 Fifth Avenue in New York City. The studio was known for producing many celebrity portraits. Marceau was also known for pioneering the creation of national chains of photographic studios in the 1880’s. He became nationally known at the ripe young age of twenty-two when he served as a US government phot0grapher in Santiago, Chile. He was part of an 1882 expedition that recorded the movement of Venus. Later, he served on the staff of Governor Foraker of Ohio, then Governor Markham of California. After leaving public service he lived in Cincinnati (1885-1886) and executed a business strategy that he repeated several times over the years. He would capitalize and build photographic studios, take on a talented local photographers as a partner, build the business, and then sell it to his partner. His first venture took place in Cincinnati and his partner was Randolph “Ralph” P. Bellsmith. The pair produced the photograph seen above. Marceau eventually had branches in Indianapolis, San Francisco, and Boston. His partner in San Francisco was Frederick Bushnell who later built his own chain of studios on the west coast. In 1891 Marceau married a widow named Amanda Fiske and their marriage had a deleterious effect on Marceau’s finances and emotional well being. The marriage was of short duration and Marceau took on his wife’s debts and was rewarded by her habitual infidelity. Marceau took custody of his son and became embroiled in publicity generating divorce proceedings that lasted four years. In 1900 Marceau made New York City his primary operation. For about ten years he ran the Otto Sarony and the Marceau Studios out of New York. Using the Sarony name caused Marceau to fight Jonathan Burrow (purchaser of the Napoleon Sarony Studio) in court. Marceau was described as a skilled raconteur and he became very active in the photography world in New York. In 1905 he cofounded the Professional Photographers Society of New York with Pirie McDonald. Marceau, MacDonald, and B. J. Falk organized the Copyright League to give photographers stronger rights protection of their work. Marceau was quite successful financially. He employed profits from his studios to buy a large amount of New York City real estate. His name appeared in New York’s “Blue Book”. His estate was worth millions of dollars upon his death. His son, a Yale trained lawyer, took over the operation of his father’s studio after his father died but he sold it in 1922. To view the work of Marceau’s Cincinnati partner and to learn more about him, click on the category “Photographer: Bellsmith”.
This vintage photograph found it’s way into the Cabinet Card Gallery on merit. The image features a beautiful African American woman with incredibly soulful eyes. She is well dressed in her winter coat and hat. The photograph measures about 3″ x 4.75″. The photo is likely trimmed but does not appear so.
This cabinet card portrait features a well dressed and handsome couple posing at Edy Brothers studio in London (Ontario), Canada. The studio was located at 214 Dundas Street. The gentleman is holding some papers on his lap. The attractive young woman appears to appreciate jewelry. She is wearing a necklace and a ring. Edy Brothers Studio was a family run business for several decades between the 1860’s and teh early 1920’s in Brantford and London, Ontario. James Newbury Edy (1843-1890) and William Daniel Edy (1832-1911) were the original partners that started the business. William’s son Leslie Eli Edy (1864-1919) ran the business in the early 1900’s. The next proprietor was Franklin William Edy who operated the studio until it’s closure in 1922.
This stereo card is offers an adorable photograph of a little girl looking up in awe at a large St. Bernard. The dog looks friendly enough and the child does not seem intimidated. In fact the caption on the card indicates that the girl asks “Aren’t you big enough to talk? I am”. The little girl sits on a Persian rug holding a doll in her lap. There is also a toy block and another doll in the foreground of the photograph. Since this is the Cabinet Card Gallery and not the Stereo Card Gallery, a few words about Stereo cards may be in order. Stereo cards have a pair of photographs which give a three dimensional view when looked at through a Stereo Card viewer. This form of photography was in it’s prime between 1870 and 1920. A popular producer of these cards was Underwood & Underwood Publishers. Two brothers, Elmer Underwood (1859-1947) and Bert Elias Underwood (1862-1943), formed the company in Ottawa, Kansas in 1881. They later moved to Baltimore and later New York City (1891). At one point in time, Underwood & Underwood was the largest publisher of stereoviews in the world (10 milion views a year). This particular view was one of their publications.
This vintage photograph features an African American man and woman. The pair dressed up in their fanciest clothing to pose for this portrait. The man is wearing a plaid suit and a vest. The couple may be husband and wife though the man looks significantly older than the woman. The woman has her left hand on the man’s shoulder in a display of affection. The subjects of this photograph as well as the photographer are unidentified.This photograph measures about 4″x 5″.