Photography

Crayon Enlargements: The Original “Digitally Enhanced” Photos

Past Noble Grand, Grand United Order of Independent Order of Odd Fellows, 1890-1900.Past Noble Grand, Grand United Order of Independent Order of Odd Fellows, 1890-1900. United States. Museum Purchase, 95.067a.

Of the many striking portraits to be displayed in the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library’s upcoming exhibition, “What’s in a Portrait?,” the work pictured to the left is a staff favorite. Depicting a Past Noble Grand of the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows in his top hat and collar, the portrait possesses a simple grace—not only in its subject’s facial expression, but also in its delicate artistry. 

 

But, you may be wondering, what is it—a photograph, or a drawing? It's a crayon enlargement, or a print enlarged from a photographic negative and then highlighted by hand with chalk, graphite, and pastel. Also referred to as a crayon or pastel portrait, the crayon enlargement was a popular medium between the 1850s and early 1900s. Born out of the carte-de-visite, it allowed people to have their favorite carte images of loved ones blown up for wall-sized display.

 

While there came to be a number of methods through which this type of image could be achieved, the process generally involved a camera with an angled mirror attachment which captured and directed sunlight first through the photo negative, and then through a special enlarging lens onto a piece of treated paper. These images, called solar enlargements, required several hours’ exposure time and repeated readjustments to keep the mirror aligned with the sun’s movement. (See the details of this process and its fascinating evolution in this article.) As illustrated by the example above, one of the process’s tell-tale signs was the fading circular outline around the image where the edges of the lens rendered the image blurry.

 

Photographers quickly discovered, however, that not only did this process magnify imperfections on the negative, but also that images that looked fine in their original, small size needed to have their contrast, depth, and detail enhanced to produce pleasing wall-sized images. These problems could be addressed with hand coloring, which was done with crayon, pastel, charcoal, gouache, and watercolor. Artists favored easily blendable materials and matt papers for the softer-looking end result they produced.

 

While some photographers did the coloring work themselves, many hired artists who specialized in photographic coloring. An artist with a practiced hand enhanced the portrait of the G.U.O.O.F. Past Noble Grand. Below is a different, and earlier, crayon enlargement from the Museum’s collection; in this portrait of a member of the Amoskeag Veterans' Association signed by New Hampshire photographer Henry P. Moore, stark white tones highlight the subject’s shirt and buttons, creating vivid contrasts.

Member of the Amoskeag Veterans' Association, 1860-1870.Member of the Amoskeag Veterans' Association, 1860-1870. Henry P. Moore (1833-1911). Concord, New Hampshire. Gift of Peter G. Dowd, 2017.030.1a.

 

If you are curious to see more portraits from the Museum’s collection, you can view the online version of "What's in a Portrait?" here. We hope you’ll find time to enjoy it while the Museum & Library is closed due to the stay-at-home advisory in Massachusetts. Also, please join us on Facebook and check out our other online exhibitions and online collections. As always, we welcome your comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

References:

“Crayon Portrait.” A Visual Glossary of Photographic Techniques. Parisphoto.com. Accessed April 27, 2020 at https://www.parisphoto.com/en/Glossary/Photochrome1/

 

Gary E. Albright and Michael K. Lee. “A Short Review of Crayon Enlargements: History, Technique, and Treatment.” Topics in Photographic Preservation, Volume 3. 1989, Photographic Materials Group of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works. Pp: 28-36. Accessed April 27, 2020 at http://resources.culturalheritage.org/pmgtopics/1989-volume-three/03_05_Albright.pdf

 


"What's in a Portrait?"

Portrait
Members of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows Patriarchs Militant, 1870-1900 United States Gift of Jacques Noel Jacobson Jr., 86.60.4.

The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library invites you to explore our new online exhibition, “What’s in a Portrait?,” now available on our website. This exhibition includes paintings, prints, and photographs from the gallery exhibition, "What's in a Portrait?," which will be opening at the Museum & Library in the coming months.

Since the formation of organized Freemasonry in the early 1700s, many men have taken pride in their association with it and other fraternal groups. In the 1800s and 1900s, many Masons commissioned portraits of themselves and, in them, chose to be presented as members of the fraternity, wearing jewelry or regalia that identified them as Masons. Some of these portraits marked personal achievements, such as election or appointment to a lodge office. Other images celebrated lodge events, like a new slate of officers or a summer excursion. "What's in a Portrait?" features portraits from the collection that help tell the story of the many people who participated in and shaped Masonic and fraternal organizations in the United States for over two hundred years.

The Museum & Library is currently closed to the public due to a state mandated stay-at-home advisory. We will keep you posted about Museum re-opening dates via our website, Facebook, and Instagram. In the meantime, visit our website to see more online exhibitions and collections.  If you have any questions or comments about "What's in a Portrait?," let us know in the comment box below or email us at [info@srmml.org]--we would love to hear from you!


"Cartomania" and Sitting for a Carte-de-Visite Portrait

2008_038_59DS1Woman and Man Wearing Fraternal Regalia, 1860-1863. Henry R. Cornell (1836-1906). Ligonier, Indiana. Gift in Memory of Jacques Noel Jacobsen, 2008.038.59.

The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library holds over two hundred cartes-de-visite, or small souvenir photographs mounted on stiff card backings, in its collections. Though diminutive in size (approximately 2-1/2 by 4 inches), these cards were immense in popularity in the US and Europe during the mid-1800s, as they offered a much more affordable and convenient way to have one’s likeness reproduced than had been previously available. Patented in 1854 by French photographer André Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri (1819-1889), cartes-de-visite soon came to dominate the photography market, with “cartomania” reaching its apex around 1862. More like baseball cards than calling or visiting cards, cartes-de-visite were traded among friends and acquaintances, who collected them and put them into specially made albums. Stationery shops sold cards depicting celebrities and well-known figures, as well.

2008_038_36DS
Independent Order of Odd Fellows Member, 1860-1869. Gift in Memory of Jacques Noel Jacobsen, 2008.038.36.

The experience of having one's photograph taken for a carte-de-visite was detailed with humor and wit by none other than Charles Dickens (1812-1870) in an 1862 issue of the weekly literary magazine he founded, All the Year Round. For all the delights of these cards, Dickens noted, sitting for one was "not a pleasant performance to go through." After entering the "dismal house" where the typical studio was located, the subject was shown into a cramped, darkened space strewn with well-worn props; "dazzled and oppressed by the glare of light above his head" the sitter in his "environment of pillar and curtain" had to hold his pose for the "utterly exhausting" thirty seconds it took to capture the likeness. "Terrific are the temptations of those thirty seconds," Dickens observed, when the sitter had to keep perfectly still and hold a steady gaze on some doorknob or keyhole. His account goes a long way in explaining the serious or stiff expressions on many subjects' faces.

Cartes-de-visite were more than just a cultural craze, however. These small portraits offered a new medium for documenting and preserving one’s identity and allegiances. They were very popular with soldiers during the Civil War. As shown in the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library’s collection (a sampling of which can be seen here), Freemasons and members of other fraternal organizations used them to convey information about their affiliations and achievements.

2008_038_52DS1
Royal Arch Mason Wearing Sash and Apron, 1860-1863. Culber Brothers, Hodges. White River Junction, Vermont. Gift in Memory of Jacques Noel Jacobsen, 2008.038.52.

Eventually, the carte-de-visite was eclipsed in the realm of popular portraiture by the cabinet card, which was larger and therefore more eye-catching to display. The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library will feature examples of cartes-de-visite, cabinet cards, and many other types of portraits in its upcoming exhibition, "What's in a Portrait?" To keep in touch while the Museum & Library is closed due to the stay-at-home advisory in Massachusetts, please join us on Facebook and check out our online exhibitions and online collections. And, as always, we welcome your comments below.

 

References:

Harding, Colin. "How to Spot a Carte de Visite (Late 1850s-c.1910)." Science + Media Museum blog, 27 June 2013. Accessed on April 8, 2020 at https://blog.scienceandmediamuseum.org.uk/find-out-when-a-photo-was-taken-identify-a-carte-de-visite/.

Dickens, Charles. "The Carte de Visite." All the Year Round. Vol. VII, April 26, 1862. Accessed on April 8, 2020 at http://www.djo.org.uk/all-the-year-round/volume-vii/page-165.html.

"Cabinet Card." City Gallery, copyright 1995-2005. Accessed on April 8, 2020 at http://www.city-gallery.com/learning/types/cabinet_card/index.php.

Volpe, Andrea L. "The Cartes de Visite Craze." The New York Times. August 6, 2013. Accessed on April 8, 2020 at https://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/08/06/the-cartes-de-visite-craze/.


The Unusual Cabinet Card

88_42_65DS1Cabinet cards, introduced in the 1860s, were similar to carte-de-visites (small paper photograph prints mounted on card stock). They served as a popular alternative to cased photographs like daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes. Cabinet card photos measured approximately four inches by six inches and were mounted onto card stock. The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library owns hundreds of cabinet cards featuring portraits of Masonic and fraternal members. Portraits were the most common type of photograph featured on cabinet cards, which is why it is always interesting to find a non-portraiture card like these two staff favorites in the collection.

The photograph on the left, purchased by the Museum & Library in 1988, depicts a caricature of a Masonic Shriner wearing a fez and riding a camel. The image is a combination of an illustration and a photograph. The Shriner’s head is a photograph atop an illustrated figure and camel. We found little information about the photography studio “F.S. Fowler” in Herkimer, New York, but were able to identify a Shriner (Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine) group in upstate New York near Herkimer. Mason Frazier W. Hurlbut helped to establish the Ziyara Shriners in Utica, New York, in 1877.  The group covered nearly 50,000 square miles of territory from Rochester to Albany and boasted a large membership through the 1970s. For more information about the Shriners visit these past blog pos88_42_101DS1ts

The photograph at right, also purchased by the Museum & Library in 1988, shows a posed scene with  props. At the lower right hand corner of the photograph it reads “photographed from life.”  In the photograph a man dressed up as Father Time, holds the hair of a young woman kneeling at a broken column. The scene includes many Masonic props and symbols: the hourglass, square and compasses, the broken column itself, a sprig of acacia, and the all-seeing eye. The photograph may also be described as a depiction of "Time and the Virgin." This same depiction is in The True Masonic Chart and Hieroglyphic Monitor by Masonic author and lecturer Jeremy L. Cross (1783-1860). Some sources credit Cross with creating the "Time and the Virgin" symbol.

Edward C. Dana’s (1852-1897) photography studio created the card in Brooklyn, New York, in 1896. Dana, a native of Massachusetts, received training from Boston photographer James W. Turner before opening his own studio in 1875. We have found no evidence that Dana himself was a Mason but have questions about how or why the photograph was commissioned,  or if the photograph was part of a collection of “theatrical” portraits produced by the Dana Studio. To see these cabinet cards and others in our collection visit our Flickr page!

Have you seen cabinet cards similar to these? Let us know in the comments section below. 

Captions:

Masonic Shriner on Camel, 1870-1920, F.S. Fowler, Herkimer, New York, Special Acquisitions Fund, 88.42.65.

Masonic Broken Column or Time and the Virgin Symbol, ca.1896, Edward C. Dana, Brooklyn, New York, Special Acquisitions Fund, 88.42.101.

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save


United States in Stereo: The Birth of American Tourism

Sara Rose is a Curatorial Intern in our collections department and a first year graduate student in the Library and Information Science program (Archives Management Concentration) at Simmons College. Throughout the summer she has assisted us in our ongoing digitization efforts and online collection social media projects. She shares some insight below about some of the objects she's been working with during her internship. 

 

Summer. A time of warm weather, long days, and of course, vacations. Whether it’s a day trip a few towns over or a weeks-long vacation across the country, Americans have had a long love affair with summer tourism. In the late 1800s there was a dramatic rise in recreational tourism throughout the United States. The newly completed trans-American railroad made interstate travel accessible to the masses, many of whom were increasingly located in urban regions after industrialization. As urban Americans flocked to the seashores and wilderness for leisure, tourism became a profitable enterprise.

National Parks, seaside resorts, and other tourist attractions promoted vacation travel within the United States. Photography played a key role in the development of national tourist attractions, making it possible to mass distribute images showing various places of interests and inspiring wanderlust for the American countryside. Below are just a few examples of this kind of tourism promotion from the over 300 sterocards in the  Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library collection.

2010_055_277DS1This stereocard, titled “Grandeur of the Waters,” showcases the famed waterfalls of Niagara, New York. Visible on the left side of the photograph is a group of tourists taking in the view.

 

 

2010_055_163DS1

 

Another stereocard, titled “In Surf, Sand, and Sun,” depicts throngs of beachgoers on the shores of Atlantic City, New Jersey. Atlantic City, one of the earliest resort cities in the United States, has remained a popular destination for summer tourists to this day.

 

2010_055_175DS1This final stereocard shows a street lined with cottages on Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts. Signs can be seen offering summer rentals to the crowds of tourists who flocked to the Vineyard for vacation, as well as laborers looking for seasonal work.

 

To learn more about stereocards in our collection visit our previous blog posts here.

Captions:

Grandeur of the Waters, Niagara Falls, N.Y., 1905, H.C. White Co., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Fredric Woodbridge Wilson Collection, Gift of Thomas Garrett. 2010.055.277

 In Surf, Sand and Sun, Atlantic City, N.J., 1905, H.C. White Co., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Fredric Woodbridge Wilson Collection, Gift of Thomas Garrett. 2010.055.163

Fourth Avenue Campground, Martha’s Vineyard, 1873. Unidentified, USA. Fredric Woodbridge Wilson Collection, Gift of Thomas Garrett. 2010.055.175

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save


Say "Cheese"!

2001_015_10DS1In early 2011, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library curatorial staff began an ambitious project to digitize our historic photograph collection by scanning each photo and making the image and its basic descriptive information accessible via our website.  Flash forward five years, to today, and we have completed this project with more than 2,500 images accessible!  They are searchable by names, places and virtually any other term. 

In celebration, here is just one image from our collection – a photograph from 1913 showing members of Boston Commandery at the National Monument to the Forefathers in Plymouth, Massachusetts.  Part of the Masonic Knights Templar fraternity, Boston Commandery dates its founding to 1802.  The group often enjoyed making “pilgrimages” to visit other Commanderies around New England.  While the exact details of this 1913 trip to Plymouth are unknown, Boston Commandery had taken part in this monument’s dedication on August 1, 1899. 

The monument’s central figure is a depiction of Faith, with one foot resting on a replica of Plymouth Rock.  Four smaller seated figures around the base represent morality, law, education and liberty – all values cherished by the Pilgrims.  For other images from Knights Templar excursions, search our online collection or read this previous post.

Now that we have completed digitizing our existing photograph collection, we are moving forward with other projects.  We have started digitizing our collection of Masonic and fraternal badges, ribbons and jewels.  Over 100 of these objects are already accessible online, with many more to follow.  We will also be starting to digitize our collection of prints and engravings in the coming months, including our notable Dr. William L. and Mary B. Guyton Collection of over 600 images of George Washington (1732-1799).  Check back often to see what’s new!

Boston Commandery at the National Monument to our Forefathers, 1913, E. Chickering, Plymouth, Massachusetts, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library Purchase, 2001.015.10.

 


The Impressive Odd Fellow

2016_010DS1
Unidentified I.O.O.F. Member, 1883-1908, Osborn Company, Binghamton, NY, Museum Purchase, 2016.010.

Can you ever have too many badges, ribbons, or medals? Not according to this particularly proud and active Odd Fellow. We recently acquired this fantastic cabinet card featuring a sepia-toned portrait of an unidentified I.O.O.F. member wearing more than twenty badges, medals, and ribbons. The card was printed between 1883 and 1908 by the Osborn Company in Binghamton, New York.

Cabinet cards, introduced in the 1860s, were similar to carte-de-visites (for more on CDVs read this post). They served as   a popular alternative to cased photographs like daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes. Cabinet card photos measured approximately four inches by six inches and were mounted onto card stock. The cards usually featured a photographer’s decorative stamp, name, and location. The Osborn Company was a family-run photography business owned by Emerson Osbourne from about 1883 to 1908 in Binghamton.

This particular photo caught our eye because many fraternal portrait cabinet cards feature a member wearing regalia with only one or two medals or ribbons. The ribbons commemorate various Odd Fellows events and field days in New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania.  There is a ribbon that reads “Calumet 62” and another that reads “Canton Scranton No. 4.” There are records of an active Calumet Lodge No. 62 in Binghamton, New York, from the mid-1860s to the late 1940s. There are also local Pennsylvania newspapers from the late 1880s that reference an I.O.O.F. Canton Scranton No. 4 group.

These findings lead us to believe that this proud unidentified Odd Fellow was most likely a member of these two lodges and perhaps others. Can you help us identify this photograph? Do you have information about  I.O.O.F. lodges in New York or Pennsylvania? Let us know with a comment below or email Ymelda Rivera Laxton, Assistant Curator, ylaxton[@]srmml.org.

References:

The Scranton Republican, Scranton, Pennsylvania, March 13, 1896.

William Summer Lawyer, Binghamton: it's settlement, growth and development, and the factors in its history, 1800-1900, Binghamton, N.Y. : Century Memorial Publishing Co., 1900.


Busy Beaver Lodge

2014_099_6DS1One of my favorite things about being a curator is connecting objects to each other. Recently, the Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library received a photograph of the officers of Beaver Lodge in Belmont, Massachusetts, in 1932. Two rows of men are arranged in their Masonic best in the lodge room with the Master’s chair and two columns visible behind them. They wear aprons, collars and jewels. The Deacon and Steward each hold their respective rods. Accompanying the photo in the gift to the Museum & Library were these rods – a wonderful opportunity to connect the objects to the photograph to help visitors and researchers to visualize how the lodge room looked in the early 1930s and the scale of the rituals that these men performed. 2014_099_9DP1DB

Beaver Lodge was chartered in Belmont in 1922. The population of the town had doubled between 1910 and 1920 and would do so again between 1920 and 1930. Members of the existing lodge, Belmont Lodge, numbered more than 500 and the officers realized that the time had come to form a second lodge in town. The name “Beaver Lodge” was chosen due to the location of Beaver Brook and the beaver ponds and dams nearby, as well as the inclusion of the beaver on the official seal of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts. 2014_099_8DP2DB

The lodge’s history recounts that “most of the Lodge equipment was donated by various Brethren, and the aprons, jewels, collars and other articles of equipment procured as soon as they could be made.” Presumably, this included the two rods shown here. Both are decorated with silver depictions of the lodge seal and the top of each is engraved “Beaver Lodge.” The Deacon’s rod is also marked “Presented to Thomas Stewart,” suggesting that he served the lodge in this office at some point. Stewart (1885-1968), who was born in Scotland, worked as an electrician and joined Belmont Lodge in 1917. He became a charter member of Beaver Lodge when it formed.

Reference:

Amos L. Taylor, “History of Beaver Lodge,” Proceedings of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for the Year 1947 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Cosmos Press, Inc., 1948), 330-341.

Beaver Lodge Officers, 1932, Fairfield Studio, Boston, Massachusetts. Gift of Keith C. MacKinnon, 2014.099.6.

Beaver Lodge Deacon’s Rod and Steward’s Rod, circa 1922, United States. Gift of Keith C. MacKinnon, 2014.099.8 and .9. Photographs by David Bohl.


Mapping our Collection

 Picture1

The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library is on HistoryPin! Historypin is a social media platform developed to help organizations, communities, and individuals share and map their photographs, videos, and oral histories. The Museum & Library launched its own channel in late summer and will continue to populate the site with images from our extensive photograph collection. You can find our channel at http://www.historypin.org/channels/view/64613/#!photos/list/. One of the great things about HistoryPin is that we can map our photographs by place and time.

Are you interested in finding photographs of Masonic and fraternal groups in your community? Do you want to explore the international locations of past Masonic events and gatherings? You can do that using the interactive map on our page. Visitors can not only browse the lists of photo collections but can explore a map of their region, city, town, or neighborhood.

Visitors to HistoryPin can also comment on photographs and videos they find on our site and contribute any stories or information they may have about a particular photo. This is yet another way to explore our collection and its connection to your community and history. 

If you have any questions regarding items you see on HistoryPin or have any issues viewing our channel please email Ymelda Rivera Laxton, Assistant Curator, at ylaxton@srmml.org.

 

image from http://s3.amazonaws.com/hires.aviary.com/k/mr6i2hifk4wxt1dp/15092812/a6fe680e-7b59-42c7-90e1-bb679a1392ac.png
Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library HistoryPin Channel

Masonic Tintypes

A tintype is a type of photograph that is produced by printing a direct positive of an image onto a thin sheet of metal (tin) coated with a dark enamel or lacquer. This photographic process was first described in a publication by photographer Frederick Scott Archer (1813-1857) in 1851 and is often referred to as the wet collodion process.Tintypes were widely enjoyed from the early 1860s to the late 1890s and were inexpensive and relatively quick and easy to make compared to their predecessor, the daguerreotype. Although tintypes were extremely popular throughout the American Civil War (1861-1865), they were soon surpassed in popularity by albumen carte-de-visites and cabinet cards.

The Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library owns a fantastic collection of tintypes, daguerreotypes and ambrotypes featuring Freemasons, fraternal members and their families. Below are two unique tintype objects in our collection.

Miniature “Gem” Album

2masonic tintype
Sprague Family Miniature "Gem" Album, 1875-1900, Unidentified Maker, Massachusetts, Gift of Britta Fleming, 2009.039.1, Photograph by David Bohl.

This miniature photo album, referred to as a “gem” album because of the small size of the images, measures just about 3 inches wide by 2 inches long. The photographs themselves are a tiny 3/4 by 1 inch and were created using a unique twelve-lensed camera that could make a dozen “gem” portraits with one exposure.  Gem portraits were commonly stored in special albums with provision for a single portrait per page. Slightly larger versions also existed. Some gems were cut to fit lockets, cufflinks, tiepins, rings and even garter clasps.

This album is part of a larger donation given to the museum by Britta Fleming, the niece of Harold Sprague (1887-1980), the Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts in 1952, whose Sprague family lineage is intricately tied to Massachusetts and United States history. You can read more about the Sprague family and the collection here.  

Set of 64 Masonic Portraits

2001_063_1DP1DB
Set of 64 Masonic Portraits, 1860-1900, Unidentified Maker, New Hampshire, Scottish Rite Masonic Museum & Library Purchase, 2001.063, Photograph by David Bohl.

This collection of tintypes and ambrotypes is a unique example of wet plate process photography. Each of the photographs includes its' own individual frame within the larger frame, which measures a striking 21 ¾ by 38 ¼ inches. The name and age of each of the men is written on the reverse of each photograph and many of the men’s faces have been tinted pink as was commonly found in photographs of this era. At the center of the collection of images is a photograph of a bible with the Masonic square and compasses.

The museum purchased this object in 2001 and it is believed to have originated from a New Hampshire lodge and to have been made some time in the 1860s. The museum cannot verify the information and is currently researching the legible names and ages to find out where exactly the portraits were made.

References:

The Daguerrian Society, Frequently Asked Daguerreotype Questions, The Daguerrian Society website, http://www.daguerre.org/, 2015.

The J. Paul Getty Museum, Photography: The Wet Collodion Process, The J. Paul Getty Museum website, http://www.getty.edu/art/collection/video/134942/photography:-the-wet-collodion-process/ 2015.

Howarth-Loomes, B.E.C., Victorian Photography, An Introduction for Collectors and Connoisseurs, St. Martin's Press, New York, NY, 1974.