I found these photographs in a box of old stuff last week. (December 2018) They are photographs I took in New Orleans in 1961. They are 2¾ in. x 4 in. prints produced by a commercial drug store or camera store photo-printer. A few have “May 1961’ stamped on the back by the film processer, but the photos were probably taken earlier. There are no texts with the photographs. Frankly, while I had not forgotten the protests, I had forgotten that I had made these photographs. They are of a civil rights demonstration made by CORE, associated with sit-ins at of some Woolworth’s five & dime stores, which had not allowed blacks to eat at the lunch counters.
There were a series of these sit-ins in the in late 1960 and the Spring of 1961; and by this time a process had been worked out between the New Orleans police and the demonstrators. Early on, there had been some arrests, some of them violent, as demonstrators tried to actually sit at the counters. By the time of the event depicted here, the demonstrators, specifically pledged to non-violence, conservatively dressed and orderly, picketed the stores, walking carefully in a demarcated lane on the outside edge of the sidewalk. The police presence was there to protect the demonstrators from any mob action and then, at this time, arrest them without undue force, take them to a judge to be charged with some minor felony like public obstruction, and then be released on bail. The photos depict an arrest after one demonstration. The white male carrying the upside-down sign is Sydney Goldfinch. The name “Barbara Brent” is hand-written on the back of the print of the white woman carrying the sign “Don’t buy where you can’t eat.” I don’t know who any of the others are. I have just looked up some background information on the web and found out a lot more about the events than I knew at the time.
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“In 1960, almost 40% of New Orleans’ population was African American. The city’s main shopping avenue was Canal Street, where all stores were white-owned, predominantly Christian, had segregated facilities, and didn’t serve blacks at lunch counters. The second busiest shopping avenue was Dryades Street, where the stores were also white-owned, but store patrons were almost all black. Blacks could use the facilities, but were not employed in the stores aside from an occasional janitor. Many of the white storeowners were Jews, themselves prevented from owning stores on the more high-ranking Canal Street by the white Christian majority.
Late in 1959, Rev. Avery Alexander, Rev. A.L. Davis (SCLC), and Dr. Henry Mitchell (NAACP) organized the Consumers’ League of Greater New Orleans (CLGNO), an all-black organization, to fight employment discrimination by the Dryades Street merchants. Their lawyers, Lolis Elie, Nils Douglas, Robert Collins, Ernest “Dutch” Morial, and others, provided free legal counsel. For several months, the League tried to negotiate with the Dryades storeowners, but made no progress.
In April 1960, the League launched a boycott of the Dryades stores that wouldn’t employ blacks for anything but menial labor. The boycott was effective. The week before Easter was traditionally a good time for business, but on Good Friday the streets were empty. Shoppers were replaced by community members picketing the storefronts.
A few stores began to hire blacks, but most continued to refuse. The Consumers’ League claimed credit for thirty jobs for black people on Dryades Street. During the boycott, students from Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA), Dillard University, and Southern University of New Orleans (SUNO), New Orleans’ three major black colleges, and white students from Tulane and the University of New Orleans joined the picket lines on Dryades Street.
Over the next months, the boycott continued and customers took their business elsewhere. Many stores closed or moved to white suburbs rather than hiring Blacks. Dryades Street, once a bustling commercial center had become a ghost town.
The Consumers’ League boycott, apart from stopping business as usual on Dryades Street, helped cohere the black community in New Orleans. Lolis Elie claims the League was “in many ways a spiritual movement.” The boycott inspired other protests which led to the formation of the Citizens’ Committee, a federation of black organizations that worked on desegregating downtown stores, businesses and employment between 1961 and 1964. Also born out of the boycott was the Coordinating Council of Greater New Orleans (CCGNO), a federation of black organizations that organized voter registration drives between 1961 and 1965.
While the League’s pickets were temporarily stopped by an injunction, college students formed a Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) chapter led by former XULA student body president Rudy Lombard, Oretha Castle from SUNO, Jerome Smith (one of the students who withdrew from Southern University in Baton Rouge), and Hugh Murray, a white student from Tulane. Lawyers Collins, Douglas, and Elie agreed to represent the students in future actions after the ACLU refused.
On September 9, seven members of the new CORE chapter staged a sit-in at the Woolworth store on Canal Street. The integrated group of blacks and whites were arrested and charged with ‘criminal mischief.’ In contrast to the Dryades Street actions, the protest on Canal Street was seen as much more of a threat to the existing order because it threatened not the Jewish storeowners but the wealthy Christian elite of Uptown New Orleans.
On September 12, city mayor Chep Morrison issued a statement in response to the Canal Street sit-in claiming “the effect of such demonstrations [was] not in the public interest of [the] community” and “economic welfare of this city require that such demonstrations cease and henceforth…be prohibited by the police department.” The mayor banned further sit-ins.
Four days later, September 16, CORE field secretary Jim McCain, Reverend Avery Alexander, and other members of CLGNO were arrested for picketing stores on Claiborne Avenue. The following day, Rudy Lombard, Oretha Castle, Dillard student Cecil Carter, and Tulane student Sydney Goldfinch were arrested for sitting-in at the McCrory’s department store lunch counter. Goldfinch, who was a Jew, was charged with ‘criminal anarchy’ with a $2,500 bond and potential ten years in prison.
As police control increased, not only were sit-ins and picketers arrested, but also those handing out leaflets were arrested for ‘leafleting without a license.’ Halted by lack of bail money, CORE sit-ins continued sporadically as funds became available. Raphael Cassimire led the NAACP Youth Council, picketing storefronts to protest segregation and the arrests. Angry white crowds taunted, abused, and attacked the CORE and NAACP demonstrators, beating them, scalding them with hot coffee, and throwing acid on them.
Lawyers Collins, Douglas, and Elie asked John P. Nelson for assistance in representing those arrested on September 17. During the days following the arrests, almost 3,000 people attended a support rally for those in jail at the ILA (longshoremen’s union) hall, and SCLC leader A.L. Davis opened his church to CORE activists for meetings and training sessions in nonviolent action.
The most acute stint of action was over though some protesting continued for the next year. By late 1961, the economic elites of New Orleans were feeling the impact of the boycott.
Members of Chamber of Commerce and other local economic leaders formed a coalition to negotiate settlement to the protests at Canal Street stores and lunch counters. Storeowners were becoming nervous about continuing demonstrations and picketing by CORE and the Consumers’ League after news of struggling storeowners in Birmingham reached New Orleans.
Business leaders and leaders of the black community formed an informal conference to negotiate the desegregation of the town. Lolis Elie and Revius Ortique represented the black federation, known as the Citizens’ Committee, and continued negotiation that lasted for more than two years, eventuating in steps toward desegregation of the city. CORE agreed to remain passive during the negotiations as stores removed signs from toilets and drinking fountains and slowly increased black employment.
The New Orleans sit-ins, boycotts, and arrests continued for years, culminating in a large Freedom March in September of 1963. Very slowly, more public facilities were desegregated. Even though New Orleans integrated slowly after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Dryades and Canal Street boycotts and pickets helped black solidarity in the city and involved students in the civil rights struggle.” rights-1960-1961 (Dec. 28, 2018)
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THE PHOTOGRAPHS. Copyright by William S. Johnson.

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I photographed this demonstration, but I also actually participated in a later demonstration, although I hasten to add that I wasn’t very political and I didn’t even know any of these people or any of this history until I read the above post today.
I was a sophomore at Tulane with a very simple, unadorned belief in justice and, apparently, a mild death wish. A friend of mine named Leonard Kratzer did have connections with some of these CORE activists and he told me about an upcoming demonstration and arranged for me to join it. On the day of the demonstration, edgy about both mobs and the police, obsessively humming Come by Yah to myself, I showered, put on dress pants, a white shirt and my only tie, (My normal clothes were blue jeans and a sweat shirt and I did not own a suit.) stuffed a pencil stub and folded paper in my shoe (for taking notes while in jail), and then Leonard drove me down to the demonstration on Canal street.
The way it was organized was that two people at a time, each carrying a sign, each starting at the opposite edge of the public space facing the store front, would walk up and down on the outer edge of the sidewalk in front of the store, crossing each other at the midpoint of their route, for the duration of their turn of picketing. (I can’t remember if the turn was for one or for two hours.) Then that pair would be relieved by another pair for their turn of patrolling the store. Everyone was supposed to be very polite, very correct, and very non-violent in their demeanor and actions. There was one other white person there that day, a blonde girl, who I didn’t actually meet. All the other demonstrators were very conservatively dressed, young, and black.
Leonard introduced me to the black girl who was my partner, whose name I didn’t really catch in the heat of the moment, I picket out a signboard, and then we started patrolling. I was 6 ft. 3 in. tall, weighed about 220 pounds, (The previous summer I had worked in a steel-fabricating plant in Ohio, and so was in pretty good shape.) and had a beard. (At this time beards were still so uncommon that they sometimes called for public comment, and I would be asked if I was Amish, a Jehovah’s Witness, a Hippie, or part of a rumored new social phenomenon that identified me as a Beatnik. I didn’t happen to be any of those things, but it comforted my questioner to place me in one or another category.) I was a little nervous as I picketed, which I dealt with by making some jokey comments to my partner while I paraded up and down. The point was that I didn’t look very respectable to my fellow demonstrators, nor did I show a sufficient gravitas to my colleagues, for whom this was a very serious, even life-threatening business, and everyone in our group seemed relieved when my turn was over without incident. My shift over, I left immediately – so I never even met the other demonstrators.

This photo has a date stamp of May 1961, so the demonstration had to have been sometime before that. But I may have waited until much later to get the photos developed up North, after I got back to Ohio. Oddly, this is the only photo that I have found of me demonstrating, although I’m sure the White Citizens’ Council files would have a few more.

And, to my mingled disappointment and relief, there was no confrontational incident. For reasons best known to themselves, the police did not make any arrests that day; and there was no howling mob of counter-protesters. This was, after all, not Mississippi, but New Orleans — the city which prided itself for being the most cosmopolitan in the South. The racism was a little more discrete and constrained in New Orleans.
There were only two small confrontations during my patrol, both, in retrospect, faintly risible.
The first was from a very old couple who strolled by me as I picketed. The man, probably 80 years old at least, almost five feet tall and, I swear, looking just like the Colonel Saunders — goatee and all — of modern TV advertising fame; quietly asked me as they went past: “How can you do this to your own people? To which I was quick enough to answer — “I’m doing this for my own people.” before they went out of range.
The second event was even less satisfying. As I paraded with my sign-board, another much younger but equally short, slight man kept dithering around, approaching me and breaking off his approach two or three times — clearly nerving himself up for a physical confrontation. Then he began to walk directly towards me. I caught his eye, slowly lifted the sign-board over my head with both hands and, basically, flexed my 220 pounds of steel-handling, hardened muscles, and looked like I was definitely prepared to fail the non-violent proscription of the CORE marchers. This fellow immediately spun around on his heels, ran across Canal Street — which was then thought to be the widest main street in America. (Several lanes for cars, a middle berm with two parallel trolley-car tracks, then several more lanes for cars) and from the opposite sidewalk yelled his angry opinions at me; (Curiously, with a heavy Spanish accent.) from several hundred yards away. Far enough away that I couldn’t really make out what he was actually saying.
So — with slightly deflated expectations for the day, I went back to the Tulane campus and the routines of student life, having played no very heroic role in the local movement for racial equality in America.
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In fairness to myself I should say that I did do a little more on this issue while at Tulane University.

This staid and rather innocuous flyer created a small storm on campus when it was published. (Additional texts and other signers on the verso not reproduced here.)

Once or twice Leonard brought some of his CORE friends to the Tulane student cafeteria and I would casually join them for a chat at the table which was surrounded by a large circle of frozen silence. After a while, everyone finished their coffee and left without incident. But this was really a small form of political theater and an even more awkward social situation than normal for me, and I didn’t really get to know anyone during these events.
And as a Junior, the only semester I actually lived in a dormitory on campus, I was picked to share the dorm room with the Sydney Goldfinch who had been active in the CORE demonstrations and who was now out on parole; as the administration thought we might be willing to room together. I met Sydney once briefly at the beginning of semester, then he never showed up in the room again. But I did get used to picking up the phone to a stream of vile and obscene threats and calmly saying, “Oh, you are looking for Sydney. I’m afraid that he’s not here now,” then hanging up. One byproduct of the sit-in demonstrations was that the White Citizen’s Council, a right-wing, racist group would create a dossier on you, with photos, etc., and then tend to follow up with harassing phone calls and the like from time to time. Sydney, being high profile, got a lot more calls than I did.
More significantly, I was a member of a small and very unofficial student group of political activists (mostly graduate students) who were determined to integrate the University. My role there was mainly to be the token undergraduate; however, I was also the editorial cartoonist and “Managing Editor” of the small journal/newspaper The Reed, which this group sporadically produced; running off several hundred copies on a mimeograph machine and distributing them around the campus. I worked as a part-time student assistant at the Tulane University printing office, so I had the skills and technology necessary for this position. I had earlier been refused a job at the university cafeteria because of the beard.

Curiously, given my Jackdaw nature, this is the only copy of the Reed I am now able to find, although I did get a complete set together for the Tulane University Archives, at their request, before I left town. I remember publishing several editorial cartoons on segregation, etc. in other issues of The Reed.

As “managing editor,” I recruited a small group of other undergraduates to hand out the paper around campus. Most of these were students from up north who had already decided that they were not coming back to Tulane next year anyway for academic or personal reasons. But, despite vague fears, there never were any violent confrontations about these matters on the campus. Tulane, calling itself “The Harvard of the South,” prided itself on its urbanity, had heavily recruited both students and faculty from around the country and abroad, and it was more liberal in its thinking than the surrounding city. Any overt hostility was suppressed, maybe only breaking out in the ferocious passion with which some of the fraternities — some southern, some New York Jewish — played each other in the intra-league softball games.
In any case, this informal student activist group did manage to embarrass the administration enough that the University did in fact integrate, admitting a single black man to the graduate Medical School program the year after I graduated, and within a few years there were black players on the Tulane basketball team.
But, never one for looking into the past, I lost track of what was happening at the University after I left, and afterwards I did not become involved in any type of political action, beyond signing an occasional anti-war petition during Vietnam. The equal rights movements intensified over the next few years, became extremely violent and vicious in some places, creating true heroes and many tragedies. Like most of my fellow citizens across the country, I followed these events with horrified disgust – but I was never again in a situation or place to actively participate again.


There was one odd situation that did arise later out of the White Citizen Council thing, and it was the only time that I personally felt actually threatened during the entire time. I happened to know a student, a former Marine, who, during the Christmas break, would buy an old banger auto, sell rides in the car to two or three students, then drive the car up to Cleveland, Ohio, dropping the riders off along the way, and then sell the car to some junk dealer – thus providing the cheapest ride for the students and a free trip home and maybe even a little pocket-money for himself. My parents were living in Wooster, Ohio at the time and I took this trip with him a few times. The only problem was that sometimes these cars didn’t always completely work, like the time we found out that the heater was broken when we got far enough north for it to matter.
Or, on this trip, as we were driving late at night through the endless pine forests of rural southern Mississippi, when a fuse blew and all the lights on the car went out. There was a full moon and a bright, clear sky that night, and one could almost see the trees by the side of the road in the milky moon light. So, the driver decided to try to tuck in behind some trucks and drive without lights until we would come to a truck stop where he could replace the fuse. So, we did this for about forty or fifty miles, suffering only one or two hair-breath escapes, along the way. I was sitting in the back seat behind the driver, when I realized that we were in Mississippi, and that if any police should see our car we would be stopped. The other students would probably be released without too much trouble, but with my beard and scruffy appearance I might have a little more trouble. This was the time when I began to seriously wonder about how connected the White Citizen’s Council’s files might be to other organizations throughout the South. In fact, I have to say that I really began to obsess about it during the hour it took us to find an open truck stop. But we did get to the truck stop, did find a fuse, were able to fix the car, and were able to drive out of Mississippi by morning. I have to admit to being very relieved when we drove over the state line into Tennessee.



Copyright for all photographs published here rests with the artist or with his Estate.

First, one must understand that for me, as for almost every other individual growing up in the 1950s who was interested in photography, W. Eugene Smith was considered the greatest living photographer by far. We had marveled at his LIFE photo-essays, which also helpfully kept pointing his talents out to its vast audience. And the various photography magazines were then heavily dominated by journalism and commercial photographic practices; and tended to publish articles titled “The World’s 10 Greatest Photographers,” etc., and W. Eugene Smith was always the first name to be brought out as the leading exemplar of creative practice in the field. At the time few museums collected photographs, fewer universities taught it as a fine-art. Photography was though by the art establishment to be a craft, or at best a semi-creative profession, and only a handful of photographers had any higher “artistic” pretensions. Smith was unusual in that he successfully co-mingled his extraordinary professional skills with a compelling creative aspiration; often lifting, through the force and beauty of his work, his professional tasks into works of creative art. His stubborn insistence that he could and should do so in the face of the system he worked within had cost him severely, both materially and emotionally, and his personal story had made him legendary among those people who followed these issues. And Smith’s liberal-humanist beliefs, which he so powerfully conveyed through his essays, also struck a responsive chord in my young mind.

In fact, my first formal photohistory lecture was on Gene Smith, in Len Gittleman’s beginning photography class at Harvard University. Interest in the visual media of film and photography was running red-hot among students in the US universities at the time and Gittleman, who taught the only course in photography at the university, had courageously allocated one of his precious twelve positions available for the class to me, a lowly employee of the university, instead of to any one of the two hundred or so legitimate students who had applied for the position. Gittleman required that each student in his class give a talk about an established photographer to the rest of the class. When my turn came, I loaded a book-truck up with about twenty bound volumes of LIFE magazines containing Smith’s photo-essays, wheeled the truck across the campus, and did a show and tell by opening and spreading these folio-sized magazines all over the large table that the class gathered around for these talks. (I could get away with this, as I was in charge of the circulation desk at the University library, and so had a privileged position vis-a-vis the issue of dragging a book-truck load of magazines around the Harvard Yard.) Later I became active in discovering the history of photography and, through several unusual circumstances, wound up teaching it part-time at Harvard and at Tufts University and elsewhere while still working at the library. Later, growing bored with librarianship, I left the university and became involved in teaching photographic history on a full-time basis. I was teaching at the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY when I was offered the job to go to Tucson and help Gene Smith put his archive collection together at the newly organized Center for Creative Photography.

Of course I accepted the job. I had thought that it was my resume, experience and charming personality that had got me the job and only when I arrived did I realize the truth. An administrative quirk at the University of Arizona meant that the position had to be offered to a professional librarian – and I happened to have that degree. The only other available candidate had been a young woman who was described as fairly “frail.” On the other hand, I was 6 ft. 3 in. tall, and weighed in at 210 pounds, and when I got to the university I was immediately faced with 44,000 pounds of stuff ranging from extraordinarily beautiful photographs to what seemed to be street litter (requiring over 3,000 square feet of storage space) stuffed into hundreds of boxes that had been hastily stored in whatever available locations that could be found around the campus. I was told the reason we knew that there was 44,000 pounds of stuff was that the eighteen-wheeler bringing it all from New York had been stopped for being overloaded at a weigh station somewhere in the Midwest, and the shipment had then been split into two loads on two trucks for the remainder of the trip. When I got there these materials were scattered all over the place and in the most chaotic disorder imaginable, and they were being anxiously and jealously defended by a grizzled old man who otherwise seemed barely able to stay upright for any great length of time.

Some additional backstory is necessary here. When first founded, the Center for Creative Photography was established with a very interesting premise. Initially, John Schaefer, the then President of the university, an ardent amateur photographer and Ansel Adams enthusiast, had wanted to acquire Ansel Adams photographs for the university. Adams, or his representatives, countered with a different proposal. He suggested that, instead of just collecting his photographs or any other random groups of photographs, that they start by collecting the complete archives of five or six of the major living photographers who formed a generation which, mostly by working in relative obscurity from the 1930s up to the fairly recent present, had regenerated or sustained the creative photography movement in the United States. The suggested artists were Ansel Adams, Wynn Bullock, Harry Callahan, Aaron Siskind, and Frederick Sommer. W. Eugene Smith was soon added to this core group. If Smith seems out of place in this listing of Modernist practitioners, please remember his role in raising photojournalism to an art form and the fact that during the second half of his career he had established himself as a “creative” photographer with those individual’s intent on establishing a new paradigm for American photography.

Adams’ plan was that the Center would collect a complete set of “master prints” of these individuals, as well as other work or study prints, correspondence, documents and all other pertinent materials from the artist. The artist, still living, would actually reap the benefit of their own work. (For example, Aaron Siskind, who had retired into a rather gentile poverty after a lifetime of teaching, was very grateful to the Center – in that the deal allowed him to travel broadly to keep extending his photographic vision until his death.) Each deal was different for the different artists. For example, Sommer, who has made and retained a very limited number of prints over his career, would have a very different type of contract than Smith, who, as previously noted, managed to bring 44,000 pounds of stuff to Arizona.

Smith’s deal, very roughly defined, was that he was to move to Arizona to teach as a full professor in the even more recently established photography section of the Fine Arts Department. (Harold Jones, after functioning as the first Director of the Center, had moved to the Fine Arts department to establish a MFA program in creative photography there – a move perhaps made to buttress the need for the museum of photography that had been summarily imposed upon the university by the enthusiastic President Schaefer.) Smith was also promised, or he thought he was promised, assistance to initiate a publishing program for Sensorium, a journal on the visual arts which he had attempted to start in the 1960s, and possibly for his own long-deferred semi-autobiographical “Big Book.” As part of the deal he was to select 200 “master prints” each year, over an extended period of years, for the Center’s collections, and also edit, sort and organize the other materials for their eventual transfer to his archive.

The size of W. Eugene Smith’s oeuvre is hard to comprehend. Gene Smith’s mother once publicly stated that he had made 40,000 images before he was twenty-one, and I later found that statement to be almost believable. And he continued to photograph at a prodigious rate for another thirty-five years after that. For Gene Smith, the finished work of art was not a single photographic print, but a complete photographic essay, which, for him, sometimes extended into hundreds of individual images about that story. He worked as a photojournalist who took hundreds of photographs to create his photographic essay, which he always felt was larger and more complete than it was possible to publish in any magazine of that time, he was never satisfied with any published version of his essays. Thus, whenever he could afford to do so, he printed up as many as five or six sets of 11 x 14 inch prints of the more complete version of the essay that he felt he had created.

When Smith came to Arizona one of his intentions was to sort through the collection of thousands of prints to determine which were, in his opinion, “master prints” representing the best of his vision, ideation, and technical skills. By agreement the Center of Creative Photography would then purchase a few hundred of these “master prints” each year until they had collected a complete set of “master prints” of his work. (Smith had estimated that there ultimately would be roughly several thousand prints in this collection, and, although at the time no one thought that the number would be that high, in fact his estimate was correct.) By the terms of the same agreement with the Center, Smith’s negatives, contact sheets, examples of his “work prints” and “study prints”, his book dummies and magazine layouts, his tear-sheets, his papers, his personal and business files, his memorabilia, books, magazines, records and audiotapes would all go into the “W. Eugene Smith Archives” as he released them, or at his death. So, originally, the terms “master print,” “study print,” “work print” were simply technical definitions which allowed the Center to handle the large collections of archival materials it possessed in an expeditious manner.

Unfortunately Gene Smith had a near-fatal stroke soon after arriving in Arizona, a stroke so bad that most people thought he would never walk or talk again. Yet within a year, although severely incapacitated, he was walking and talking and driving himself to meet those obligations he felt he had to the University of Arizona: planning and teaching classes, overseeing the construction of a darkroom, putting together a “Faculty Exhibit” the university had innocently asked from him, planning the revival of his magazine Sensorium, thinking about finishing and publishing his semiautobiographical Big Book, and sorting through the dozens of cartons containing his prints jumbled together with everything else he owned.

The newly-founded Center for Creative Photography was then located in a former bank building, complete with its own vault, located on a commercial street which dead-ended at the west side of the main University of Arizona campus. One portion of Smith’s materials were being stored on campus in a nearby building, which is now the elegant Arizona State Museum (North). (See photo on-line, if you care.), but which at that time was apparently awaiting renovation for the School of Anthropology, and which was mostly being used to store thousands of bags of dirt filled with the shattered fragments of pots which were locked behind wire cages in an otherwise seemingly unused building. This was a large building with a basketball court in the center front of the building, with several large open work spaces located behind the court, then all the shelves of carefully ordered bags of dirt, behind the locked cages. The front area of this building had been sectioned off to hold Smith’s materials and I never saw anyone else in the building either in the daytime or at night during the couple of years I worked there sorting through the materials. When I arrived the basketball court area was literally covered with dozens of cardboard boxes piled to a waist-high level, with narrow pathways winding between them. These boxes were filled with a random assortment of Smith’s smaller photographs, negatives, equipment, tools, slides, pots and pans and the like. None of these boxes were identified in any way, nor were they in any order. I found Gene Smith wandering around the basketball court, straining to open random boxes in his search for his teaching slides which he wanted to use for the class “Photography Made Difficult” he was scheduled to give when school started in the Fall. The near-fatal stroke Smith had suffered soon after arriving in Tucson the year before, and from which he was not fully recovered, had made even this task difficult for him. Smith was a badly-damaged man, suffering from the consequences of a terrible, almost fatal stroke from which most people had thought he would not recover, and living in the unfinished aftermath of what must have been one of the most chaotic moves ever attempted by any individual. He was fifty-nine years old but looked like he was eighty.

Portrait of Gene Smith, 1978, Copyright by Day Williams. Day Williams was a MFA student at the university who had been designated Smith’s assistant.

Gene Smith had a cane to help him walk and a straw cowboy hat, which was all the protection he took against the brutal sun and the 100 degree plus temperatures of summertime Arizona. He could not drive a car anymore, and there really wasn’t much public transportation or much of any other familiar lifestyle options available to this former New York City dweller. His palate, damaged from his World War II wounding, the physical damage from the beating he took in Minamata Japan, the near-fatal stroke had left him almost voiceless and groping for words that he once knew well – and yet he was indomitable, walking around the campus with a Nikon camera around his neck with a plastic milk bottle-top as a lens cover, groping through tons of stuff to put together his initial lectures, sorting through his thousands of photographs to supply the “Master Prints” owed to the Center as he selected other groups of prints to go to his other dependents, while also planning his first faculty exhibition at the University, setting up a darkroom and hoping to start his long-planned and long-deferred creative photography magazine and revive his dormant “Big Book Project.” He had understood that these projects would be supported by the University and felt responsible that his stroke and subsequent illness had kept him from initiating them at once and fearful that if he lost control of the situation he would lose this opportunity to complete these long-deferred projects. His body was that of a frail old man, but his will was prodigious, just stunning. I soon found myself in awe of this cranky, difficult, and amazing man who had engendered so many legends during his lifetime. I began to try to help him find his slides for the lectures and other things he needed, and even built him a bed/cot frame in the auditorium so that he could lie down and rest during the heat of the day. I generally tried to be as helpful as possible, as I attempted to develop an overview of where and what all this stuff was.

The second body of Smith’s materials was stored about ten miles away from the campus in one building of an abandoned public school near the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, which was located south of the city proper. This military base was one stop on a training route for military jet fighter pilots flying from base to base situated around the country; and during the winter months one or (more often) a pair of jet fighters would be landing there every hour or so, all day long.

Jet fighters landing at sunset, Tucson, Az.” Copyright by Harold Jones. Harold Jones was the first Director of the Center for Creative Photography, then he became the Chairman of the Photography Section of the Fine Arts Department at the University of Arizona.

These fighters approached the base from the north and their glide path, as they slowed to almost stalling speeds to land these planes, was over the city. The pair of fighters drifting down over the city became a familiar part of everyday life in Tucson. I’ve been told by Robert Heinecken, an ex-Marine Corps fighter pilot, that just flying jet fighters was automatically a dangerous activity as the jets were intrinsically unstable, and that if they lost power they had the aerodynamics of a brick. There had been several accidents in Tucson over the years. (In fact, I was working in the Center one day when I heard a loud boom, and running outside, saw a huge column of black smoke. A fighter jet had flamed out while landing and the pilot had, at great personal risk, guided the plane into a street in the middle of the city, barely managing to miss a nearby school, before ejecting from the plane at far too low an altitude.) Apparently this sort of thing had happened at least once before, with a plane crashing in the playground of a grade-school complex located near the airbase’s landing path. At that time the southern edge of Tucson was still a few miles away from the air force base and some clever and forward-thinking town manager had built a fine new modern grade school for the expanding city on that open land. Which plan worked well until a fighter jet suddenly landed in the playground swings. So the pupils were moved somewhere else and the buildings closed. The State then turned that small campus of several one-story brick buildings into a locked, fenced-in storage facility, and rented or loaned some of these spaces to the University. The Center had grabbed some space in this otherwise empty facility when the second truckload of Smith’s materials showed up.

Actually, I remember rather vividly the day on one of my visits to the otherwise unpeopled site, when I stood there unlocking the gated fence to this facility and watching two Marine Corps jets in the final stages of their landing, flying much too low and much too slow to do any maneuvering, then seeing a piper cub plane meandering directly toward them from the southwest. I calculated that the three planes would come together about forty feet directly over my head sometime within the next three or four minutes, and so I just stood there calmly waiting to die; until some frantic radio operator got through to the piper cub and he jerked away about three hundred feet short of the collision. Just another near-miss, probably not even officially reported.

The storage space rented by the Center had once been a school-band practice room, with a semi-circular floor of stepped levels where the students sat and played, and with a smaller lockable room located inside the larger room. Dozens of large boxes filled with Smith’s huge collection of records, audiotapes, books and magazines were haphazardly piled up in this space; in some instances, stacked in piles higher than my head. These things may have been in the second truckload that had been put together after the weight-station stop. Also, the large retrospective exhibition of hundreds of framed prints that Smith himself had organized for the Jewish Museum, and which was then sent to tour Japan, then returned to the US in their wooden crates were placed there. This last was significant, because in the confusions of moving and his first stroke Smith had never been told or he had forgotten that this location existed, and it was only during a casual conversation with him one day that I realized that for months he had thought that all these materials had been lost during the move. I immediately checked out a pick-up truck from the university and drove him down there and at least relieved him of that worry.

The third body of materials were all the potential “master print” photographs. I did not see them at first, as Smith, with his long-held and possibly justified paranoia about all individuals in authority, had had an argument with the Center’s Director, and had removed them all from the bank vault to his rented ranch-style house in the outskirts of the city; where he was sorting them to decide which were to go to the Center and which were to go to his family and others. During his entire lifetime, when Smith was flush with money or resources and time he printed multiple copies of his favorite photographs, usually to an average size of 10” x 13” inches, and then mounted them on 16” x 20” boards. He did this for some of his early Black Star, pre-LIFE work, for several exhibitions of the World War II photographs, for many, if not all, of his LIFE essays, and, less completely, for work he accomplished after his career at LIFE. In some cases, as in the Pittsburg essay, he made at least six complete mounted sets, each consisting of at least 300 separate prints. However, there were times when he could not afford to do this with his work, and his essays in Haiti and Japan and later were not so completely documented. Nevertheless there were literally thousands of mounted prints or prints approximately 10” x 13” or better that Smith was sorting through in his house at the time of his death.

Smith had a second, fatal, stroke two or three months after I came to Arizona, while searching in the heat for some of his cats that had escaped from the house. After he died I checked out a 16 ft. open-bed stake truck from the university, gathered several students together, and we went over to his house and removed all the photographic prints. Smith had been renting a typical one-level ranch-style house, with a connected living-dining room, a bedroom, kitchen, bath, and with the attached open-sided carport that was standard for that area. He had furnished the house minimally with a bed, a couple of chairs, and a food processor for the smoothies, (Which, because of his damaged mouth, were all he could eat.) and with very little else. The story of the many cats that got so out of control and which had so damaged the rugs and drapes of the place that Smith was being evicted by his landlady is already known, but I will state that the entire place was a scene of even more chaos than that found at the other locations. The entire floor and almost every other horizontal surface of the house, except for the bathroom which was covered in cat feces, was crowded with dozens of one or two-foot high piles of photographs, with narrow paths winding through them. There was even a foot-high stack of photographs sitting between the burners of the gas stove, over the (fortunately) covered pilot light. It seems, from the arrangement of these piles of photographs, that Smith was attempting to make groups of prints to fit different purposes, or to go to different individuals. But there was no apparent system or order to the groups, other than Smith’s possible intentions, and any information or understanding of his intended purpose for these piles died with Smith’s death. After the students and I emptied the house and filled the back of the stake-bed truck with dozens of carrying cases of the photographs and as I was just about to drive away, I thought to check in the little closet-like utility tool-room located in one corner of the open-sided carport attached to the house, where I found several hundred more photographs piled up inside this barely weatherproof cubbyhole.

The previous agreement was abruptly terminated by his death, and suddenly the Center had to restructure its arrangement for the Smith archive. Smith had made a will, and its instructions came into play. By the terms of the will, the “master prints” made by Smith were to be divided among the Center (which would buy them all at once from the Estate, instead of over many years as had been the previous plan.), the Estate of W. Eugene Smith, (Which consisted of his first wife and their three children. John Morris was the Executor of the Estate and the person representing the Estate that I dealt with most often during this time, although I also met Pat Smith and his wife Phillis several times.), Aileen Smith, (His second wife.) and Sherri Surris, (The woman who had come to Arizona with him.)

Aileen Smith was to receive 200 “master prints,” and she had the absolute right of first selection from the prints. In theory she could have taken every available “Walk to Paradise Garden,” or all the copies of any other photograph she fancied, but she gave over the right of first selection to the Center, and when she chose her prints, she selected only one copy of each image. (I should mention here that a fourth group of prints also existed, kept separate from all the other prints throughout this entire process, which consisted of the photographs from the “Minamata essay” on industrial pollution which Eugene Smith and Aileen Smith had worked on together in Japan. Again, by the will, that body of work was owned by Aileen Smith and although stored at the Center, those materials were from the beginning handled separately from the main body of Smith’s earlier work.)

Sherri Surris was then to select her choice of 200 master prints.

The Estate of W. Eugene Smith was to receive all remaining “Master Prints,” as well as the cash payment from the Center for those which it had selected and purchased.

Everything else left in Arizona: the negatives, contact sheets, work prints, papers, the books and magazines and record collections, everything that was not designated a “master print,” would automatically go to the Center as part of the “study print” or “work print” collection in the Smith Archive.

After Smith’s death I collected and dispersed the cameras, tools, and other personal possessions as directed to Smith’s heirs and acquaintances. But my primary task was to bring some coherent order to the entire collection, then attempt to identify and bring all the images in the same essays together, then bring all copies of a specific image together so that the provisions of the will could then be carried out. So I began the task of locating, identifying, and sorting the various photographs while also sorting out and organizing all of the other random materials. For example, I mentioned that Smith had been using a milk-bottle cap as a lens hood on his Nikon camera when I first met him. After a year of winnowing through everything I had filled up a 16” x 16” x 20” box completely full of dozens of lens caps for many different types of cameras, some of them long obsolete – but none, unfortunately, for a Nikon.

More importantly, I had located and sorted all the potential “master print” photographs into some order. It was not easy, as there never was a complete or even adequate record of any part of the collection. And while Smith was one of the most famous photographers to the general public and the broad outlines of his career were well-known, there was no accurate chronology of his career in print, especially after his period at LIFE magazine. There was no real scholarly monograph on Smith. Furthermore, to most people he was known for perhaps a score of images which had been republished again and again over the years; as this was the practice of the journals and photographic history books at the time. That left thousands of photographs in this collection which were undated and unidentified; therefor it became necessary for me to attempt to identify the prints from Smith’s own unorganized and incomplete personal files and to embark on a detailed bibliographic search to attempt to create a more complete chronology of his career and of his work. Thus, almost by default, I became a sort of Smith scholar, tracing and identifying which prints belonged in which essays and thus tracking the development of his photographic vision and of his career.

It took almost a year, often working sixteen-hour stretches, to sort everything into the groups that could be used to identify the master prints and bring them into an order where they could be selected by the various parties designated by Gene Smith’s will. (My fiancé was in Boston, I felt that hanging out in a bar drinking beer and playing pool, which was the local dominant leisure activity, was boring, and the materials I was sorting through were fascinating; and so I was free and open to the idea of working very long hours.)

A late evening, after a rainstorm, in the Smith Collection sorting area in the Anthropology building. Photographer unknown.

“6 A. M., Sunday Morning, Center for Creative Photography,” copyright by Day Williams. Normally I did not sort prints on the floor, but the Pittsburgh essay had so many prints in it that I needed the space, so I waited for the Center to close on Saturday evening, then I brought those prints over from the Anthropology building and began to sort out the individual images. I worked all night and was just finishing up when Day Williams, who had been photographing around Tucson that night saw the lights on in the building and came over to investigate. I let him in, and he made this photograph. Then I packed the prints up again and took them back to the workspace in the Anthropology building.

At this point I was employed by the Center but was necessarily also working pro bono for all the other beneficiaries of the will as well; as no one could receive their portion until everything was sorted and brought into order. There was a degree of pressure from everyone to resolve all this as soon as possible, as some of Smith’s children needed money rather urgently and everyone involved wanted to get through the process as soon as possible. With Smith gone, everyone involved agreed that the task of designating what constituted a “master-print” should fall upon the Director of the Center James Enyart. As the only guideline that could be inferred from Smith’s actions was that he had been sorting through the dry-mounted prints on the 16” x 20” boards when he was still alive; that size of photograph was taken as the first guideline to designate a master print. This meant that the seven or eight thousand prints of 5” x 7” or similar size were designated “study prints” and would automatically go into the Center’s collections. Some of these prints were lovely, but it had to be inferred that, at least for everything up to and including his Pittsburgh essay, Smith had already during his lifetime selected and printed up and maintained, (In spite of the chaotic order.) multiple copies of those images he felt strongly about. This “documenting” of his own work was far less complete after Pittsburgh, but he still had hundreds of larger prints for his major bodies of later work. So there were still literally thousands of the larger prints to deal with. My sorting process was to bring all copies of the same image printed up to about 10” x 13” or larger together into a single pile. At times Smith had placed a negative in his enlarger and then printed a half-stop at a time up and down from what would become the ideal print, so in some cases there could be a pile of twenty-odd prints of the same image, of varying quality. Five or six or more of the prints in this pile would be of sufficient quality that they could be designated “master prints”, the remainder became “study prints” or “work prints” and would automatically become part of the Center’s collections. At other times there might be only one or two prints from an image that was in Smith’s possession at his death.

After everything was sorted, the Director and I went through the photographs together, essay by essay, print by print, and he would, with me providing any information if needed, select the “best” print for the Center, then determine how many of the other prints were good enough to be labeled “master prints.” I don’t remember the exact number now, but the Center selected somewhere in the range of 3000 individual “master prints” to purchase from the Estate, which still left thousands of prints for the others to select from.

Then Aileen Smith flew into Tucson and she and I went through the prints as she selected her 200 choices. My role was to present the prints to be viewed in a coherent order, record potential selections, answer any questions about their history that I might have found out during the year, and just be helpful in general. This process took about a week or two of concentrated work, talking about the prints, and recording the selections.

Then Sherrie Surris came back to town and took her turn, selecting her 200 prints.

At this point, something surprising and quite wonderful happened. All this organizing of the materials took more than a year of intense, often sixteen-hour days, of work by me – work that I suppose could have been considered beyond my obligations to the letter of my job description. Apparently there had been some discussion among the members of the estate with Aileen and Sherrie about giving me some prints for all the help I had been giving to them. I don’t know who first brought up the idea, and each handled the matter differently, but Sherrie was the first to give me a print from her selection. Sherrie had selected the specific print without my knowing her intentions, and then had to petition the others to allow her to choose it, because the particular image from the Nurse-Midwife essay was one of only two master prints of that image. The Center had the first print, and other beneficiaries had priority of choice over Surris for the second print. But everyone agreed to defer their right in this case and Surris was able to select that print and then give it to me. I had not expected this to happen and I was completely surprised, and further surprised that Surris had picked up from our general conversations that I loved this portrait of Maude Callens so much.

Gene Smith had indicated to me that the “Nurse Midwife” essay was one of his favorites. Maude Callens had spent her adult life daily facing and overcoming extraordinary obstacles and issues while delivering medical assistance and aid to the poorest residents of the rural, racist, segregated South. Smith had worked very hard to craft a photographic essay which he thought could stand up to the quality of the character that he had found in Maude Callens. And he was proud that his LIFE story had unleased a flood of financial support from readers which enabled the construction of a new, modern medical clinic for Maude. I, too, was moved by this woman, and by Smith’s beautiful, compassionate and moving photographs of her.

Maude Callen training another nurse midwife assisting a birth. Copyright by W. Eugene Smith. “Nurse Midwife. Maude Callen Eases Pain of Birth, Life and Death.” LIFE 31:23 (Dec. 3, 1851): 134-145.

The Estate and Aileen had each also decided to give me a print for helping them during this long process. Their conversation or decision had not been revealed to me and each gift happened separately. But both the Estate and Aileen at some point during these procedures informed me to select any print I wanted from the available collection.
Suddenly I had become the possible owner of a small collection, however tiny, of the work of an artist that I loved. Presented with this situation, my wonderful problem then became a curatorial issue. It constituted a tough decision that museum curators frequently have to face. Which one or two images does one select from the body of work of any artist to represent that artist’s work? I was not selecting to balance a collection as a curator must often do; nevertheless, some factors had to come into play as I thought about the issues. First, I was not interested in turning the photograph into cash. For me these were treasured items that I would hope to keep in my home and on my walls as long as I could do so. Thus I didn’t necessarily want a “Walk to Paradise Garden’ or a “Spanish Spinner” or anything with an established market value. (If you don’t already know this, it is a dirty secret that in the commercial world certain photographs by an artist are worth more than others. They are not necessarily even the best ones by that artist, but images that by some accident or other, have become established in the marketplace.) For example, at a later stage of this entire process, when I was showing the Estate prints to one of several art-dealers who had come to Tucson to evaluate the collection for a potential offer to purchase; this individual was rather crassly muttering aloud, “…$1000, $1000, $1000, $3000, $1000, $1000….” as we flipped through the prints. Curious, I asked him why he estimated the one so much more than the others. “It was on the cover of the Aperture monograph…” he replied. I told him that I knew for a fact that the publisher had selected that print for the cover and printed it in spite of Smith’s angry insistence that he wanted a different image. “Doesn’t matter…” was the reply. In fact, several of the prints I selected were not among the prints published in Smith’s essays.

Another of Smith’s major essays that had struck a deep emotional response from me was the “Spanish Village.” When John Morris, the Smith Estate executor, and I were going through the prints together, for some reason I went into a long, involved, and excited commentary on this print. Later he offered it to me and I accepted it. I selected this print rather than some more famous images because I felt that Smith had summed up the lingering weight of Spain’s feudal history, with its connections to the land and its rigid social hierarchies in one superb image, and that it also encapsulated the dominant idea that Gene Smith had wanted to convey in his essay about the impacts of the past upon present-day Spain. The print was never published previously because Smith made it as he was driving around Spain to familiarize himself with his subject, as was his practice, and while it is an iconic image of the theme he eventually developed for his essay, it was not near the actual village that he finally chose to photograph.

Harvesting grain, copyright by W. Eugene Smith. “Spanish Village. It Lives in Ancient Poverty and Faith.” LIFE 30:15 (Apr. 9, 1951): 120-129.

For Aileen’s gift I selected a photograph from Schweitzer’s hospital in Africa. Gene Smith had said that the essay never reached publication in anything like its complete form, and as I had had the unique privilege of locating, reassembling, and studying the scores of photographs that Smith had made into his version of the essay, I felt that Smith had indeed reached a creative high point in his art while working on this essay. The work is subtle, humane, passionate, and compellingly beautiful, and, in my opinion, a defining masterwork of the humanistic photographic essay, a genre which briefly held a dominant position in the leading edge of creative photographic practice after World War II. For me, Schweitzer’s Africa held a key position in both Smith’s work and in the history of the medium.

Nurse with flowers, patient’s funeral in Africa, copyright by W. Eugene Smith. “A Man of Mercy. Africa’s misery turns saintly Albert Schweitzer into a driving taskmaster.” LIFE 37:20 (Nov. 15, 1854): 161-172.

After the Center for Creative Photography, Aileen Smith and Sherrie Surris had made their selections, as mandated by the will, the remainder of the Master Prints then belonged to the Estate, but they were continued to be held at the Center for practical and administrative reasons. The beneficiaries of the estate had each selected a handful of favorite photos, but the bulk of the collection, which still consisted of thousands of master prints, was then offered for sale as a unit to a few dealers. At this time photography was just beginning to have a serious market value, with auction houses and a few dealers specializing in the medium. The Estate wanted to sell the entire collection of Estate prints at once, rather than selling it off piecemeal. Over the next few months several dealers came to Tucson to look through the collection to be prepared to make an offer. As part of the cooperation between the CCP and the Estate, I would show the prints to these dealers whenever one would show up. Some dealers would show up and just leaf through everything rapidly and then leave. A few spent more time and energy looking at the prints.

The dealer who actually purchased the collection from the Estate was Ken Heyman. Heyman was himself a known photojournalist who had had essays published in LIFE and had a book or two illustrated with his photographs of children, and who simply loved Gene Smith’s work. I was told that he had “family money,” which owned some of the largest copper mines in Arizona. Heyman bought the collection for what was reported to be the first million-dollar deal in photography, and then he opened a very elegant photography sales gallery called PHOTOGRAPH at 724 Fifth Ave., in New York to sell them. I had spent several weeks going through the collections with him and his assistant. Somehow hearing that the others had given me some prints for my help, he asked me to choose a print for my time and help and he said that he would mail it back to me after the collection was inventoried in New York. I selected another photograph from the essay on Schweitzer, simply because I loved the image. Ken did in fact send the print as well as Suris’s gift, (Which he had held for some obscure administrative reason.) to me several months later, as he promised.

Leper in Sun Helmet, copyright by W. Eugene Smith. “A Man of Mercy. Africa’s misery turns saintly Albert Schweitzer into a driving taskmaster.” LIFE 37:20 (Nov. 15, 1854): 161-172.

In terms of building my own little collection, I now had images from three of Smith’s major essays, images which displayed his narrative skills, his compassion, and his sense of the beautiful form. At this point I thought that would be all the photographs that would ever be available to me. But Aileen Smith had another idea. Because she appreciated my efforts with her collection and because she shared my love of Smith’s photographs she separately gave me two prints from the last major photoessay that Smith worked on, the industrial poisoning in Minanmata, Japan. These photos helped lead the fight for justice for the victims, bringing the story to a world-wide audience through exhibitions, articles and a pioneering book on industrial pollution.

Tomoko in Bath. Copyright by W. Eugene Smith. Minamata, by W. Eugene Smith and Aileen M. Smith. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1975.

Aileen Smith, who had married Gene in Japan to be respectable in the eyes of their conservative Japanese neighbors and colleagues as they were working together on the industrial pollution essay at Minamata; was, by the terms of the will, the sole owner of the photographs from that essay. The Minamata essay prints were also being stored at the CCP and she asked me to sort and organize that collection as well, as she was living in Japan, and had had to fly back and forth several times during this period of time. Aileen had already given me a copy of “Flags of vengeance” and a print of “Tomoko in the bath.” She then offered to pay me to organize her collection after I had finished with the first round of activity; and we agreed that I would take a few hundred dollars in cash and four more prints from the Minamata essay as payment for doing this job for her. So on the weekends over the next few months I sorted and organized that collection for her.

When I came to choose the prints from that essay I was faced with the decision of how to encapsulate the depth and complexity of a major photographic essay consisting of hundreds of photographs with just six images, two of which I already had been given. The work of art for Gene Smith was the sustained photographic essay, not just any individual prints within it, so for the remaining four images I hoped to choose some that conveyed the breadth of the narrative of the Minamata story, as well as being strong prints in themselves.

I selected one of Aileen’s prints and three others by Gene Smith. These photographs were not necessarily the most famous images in that essay, but they do refer to several of the main points of the Minamata narrative of disaster and protest, retribution, and eventual restitution.

There was another consideration as I made these selections. I had noticed just how important the hands and the gestures that people made were to Gene Smith throughout his career. I had already, within the very limited opportunities available, selected several prints that featured this interest. When I chose the Minamata images I thought it important to include an image of the twisted and crippled hands of a mercury-poisoned victim, photographed with such power by Smith; even though it was a poor choice from an economic point of view.

Fishing in Minamata Bay. Copyright by Aileen Smith. Minamata, by W. Eugene Smith and Aileen M. Smith. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1975.

Fish for lunch. Copyright by W. Eugene Smith. Minamata, by W. Eugene Smith and Aileen M. Smith. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1975.

Iwazo Funaba, Poison Victim. Copyright by W. Eugene Smith. Minamata, by W. Eugene Smith and Aileen M. Smith. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1975.

Shinobu Sakamoto, poison victim, Dressing for school. Copyright by W. Eugene Smith. Minamata, by W. Eugene Smith and Aileen M. Smith. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1975.

Flags of Vengeance, Minamata Protest. Copyright by W. Eugene Smith. Minamata, by W. Eugene Smith and Aileen M. Smith. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1975.

So, in addition to having the wonderful opportunity to meet and work with a great artist and a personal hero, followed by the extraordinary experience of spending several years of studying and working with one of the most remarkable collections of photography created by any artist, and that followed by several years of being able to bring a more complete picture of that work to the general public through several exhibitions and books, I have also had, through the unusual and kind efforts of individuals who I came to admire and respect, the luck to have a small collection of wonderful art hanging on my walls, and which I can always draw great pleasure and joy from any time I look up from this computer.

I later had to turn away from Smith to pursue other projects, and meet other wonderful artists and individuals during a long period of engagement with the multiple histories in photography, but I have always treasured the time that I spent working with this collection and with this artist.


“W. Eugene Smith: A Memorial Exhibition.” (Nov. 12, 1978 ‑ Jan. 5, 1979) Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ. (74 prints)
A Memorial Exhibition in Honor of W. Eugene Smith. (Nov. 12, 1978 ‑ Jan. 5, 1979). William Johnson. Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ. 1979. 8 pp.”W. Eugene Smith: Early Work.” (Nov. 15 ‑ Dec. 16, 1980) Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ. (110 prints).
W. Eugene Smith: Early Work 1937‑1948 (Nov. 15 ‑ Dec. 16, 1980). William Johnson. Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ. 16 pp.
“W. Eugene Smith: International Fotofestival Malmo, 1983.” Malmo, Sweden (80 prints, traveled throughout Europe)
“Foto presenterar: W. Eugene Smith.” Foto (Stockholm) 45:7/8 (July/Aug. 1983): 51‑66. 30 b & w. [Also issued as a separate offprint, as the exhibition catalog for the Malmo exhibition.]
“W. Eugene Smith Retrospective Exhibition,” (Jan. 22 ‑ Mar. 17, 1984) Barrett House, Poughkeepsie, NY. (89 prints, from the Smith family collection.)
W. Eugene Smith Retrospective Exhibition. (Jan. 22 ‑ Mar. 17, 1984) William Johnson. Barrett House, Poughkeepsie, NY. 16 pp. 1 b & w, 1 illus.


“W. Eugene Smith: Early Work.” Center for Creative Photography No. 12 (July 1980): 2‑20, plus a 99 plate portfolio. [Plus added section “W. Eugene Smith. A Chronological Bibliography. Section I, 1934‑1951.” 44 pp. (550 references).

“Deleitosa revisited: Unusual welcome given at location of Smith’s Spanish Village essay.” News Photographer 35:13 (Dec. 1980): 20-23. [Photographer Gary Chapman visited Deletosa, received cold welcome. Prompted “Smith expert discusses essay,” by Johnson on p. 21, “Archives spark interest in noted photographer, pp. 21-22,” with Day William’s photo of Johnson sorting Pittsburgh essay on p. 22, “Fellowship awarded,” on p. 22 and “Publication presents early years,” with portrait of cover, on p. 23.]

“Letters to the Editor: When is a copy an original?” Portfolio. The Magazine of the visual arts. 3:3 (May/June 1981): 96. [Discussion of W. Eugene Smith’s photographic practice.]

W. Eugene Smith: A Chronological Bibliography 1934 ‑ 1980. William S. Johnson. (Center for Creative Photography Bibliography Series no. 1) Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, 1981. 165 pp. 1750 plus references. [First issued in two parts: “Part I: 1934‑1952” was included in “W. Eugene Smith: Early Work.” Center for Creative Photography Research Series no. 12 (July 1980) and “Part II: 1952‑1980” was issued as a special supplement to the Research Series no. 13 (Nov. 1981). The two parts were then reissued as no. 1 in the Bibliography Series.]

W. Eugene Smith: Master of the Photographic Essay.
Edited, with commentary, by William S. Johnson. Forward by James L. Enyeart. New York: Aperture, 1981. 224 pp. 1878 b & w. [A modified catalogue raisonné of this artist’s work.]

“Yujin Sumisu: Kamera to tomo ni shakai ni ”taimatso” o kakageta shashinka.” (W. Eugene Smith: A photographer who lit the world with his camera.), pp. 7‑23; “Chronology,” pp. 102‑103; “Bibliography,” pp. 104‑107 in: W. Eugene Smith Exhibition. (Mar. 19 ‑ Mar. 31, 1982) Odakyu Grand Gallery, Tokyo. Pacific Press Service, Tokyo, 1982. 112 pp. 156 b & w, 19 portraits, 11 illus.

W. Eugene Smith. Introduction by William Johnson. (“Photopoche series, 7.” Edited by Robert Delpire.) Paris: Centre National de la Photographie, 1983. viii, 61 plates, 6 pp. 61 b & w.

W. Eugene Smith. Testi di William Johnson. (Series “I grandi fotographie”, edited by Romeo Martinez.) Milan: Gruppo Editoriali Fabbri, 1983. 64 pp. 66 b & w.
“W. Eugene Smith: The Middle Years.” The Archive [“Center for Creative Photography Research Series No. 20”] (July 1984): 4‑18, 54 plate portfolio.

W. Eugene Smith: A Chronological Bibliography. Addendum.
William S. Johnson. Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ, 1984. 72 pp.
“Public Statements/Private Views: Shifting the Ground in the 1950s.” on pp. 81‑92 in: Observations: Essays on Documentary Photography. Edited by David Featherstone. [Untitled No. 35] (1984). [Discussion of Robert Frank and W. Eugene Smith.]

Preliminary research, conception, and layout for Let Truth Be the Prejudice. W. Eugene Smith: His Life and Photographs. With an illustrated biography by Ben Maddow and an afterword by John G. Morris. New York: Aperture, 1985. 240 pp. 250 b & w.

“Focus on America: Portraits of Pittsburgh: The Vision of W. Eugene Smith.” Text by William S. Johnson. USA Today 114:2490 (Mar. 1986): 36‑43. 9 b & w.

Quoted briefly in: “Upfront Images: 150 Years of Photography. Of One Man’s Work. In a lifetime of photos, Eugene Smith aimed for the viewer’s heart,” by Reed Johnson. Times-Union. (Rochester, NY) (Friday, August 25, 1989): C1. 6 b & w.

Primary historical consultant, coordinator of the team making the hundreds of copy prints of Smith’s photographs, and one of the “experts” interviewed in the documentary film, W. Eugene Smith: Photography Made Difficult, produced by Kirk Morris and directed by Gene Laslo. With Peter Reigert as W. Eugene Smith. [Aired in the “American Masters Series” on Public Broadcasting Stations on September 25, 1989 and afterwards. Later released by Kultur DVD (no. D4543), running time 87 minutes.]

“W. Eugene Smith,” by William S. Johnson on pp. 172 –177 in: Original Sources: Art and Archives at the Center for Creative Photography, edited by Amy Rule and Nancy Solomon. Research assistance by Leon Zimlich. Tucson, AZ: Center for Creative Photography, The University of Arizona, 2002. 448 pp.

“Letter to the Editor.” Afterimage 26:3 (Nov./Dec. 2006): 2. [Letter correcting an earlier article’s misconceptions about the role of photojournalists before and during World War II and the misrepresentation of W. Eugene Smith’s activities during that period.]

“Introduction,” on p. 11 in “Volume 3: Essays and Texts.” in: W. Eugene Smith. The Big Book. Foreword by Dr. Katharine Martinez. Introduction by William S. Johnson. Essay by John Berger. Notes by Leslie Squires and Jennifer Jae Gutierrez. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 2013. 3 vol., with slipcase.


John Wood

Eagle Pelts – Ithaca, 1984. by John Wood. Silver print with toning. 16 x 20. Copyright by John Wood.

In an act of great generosity, John Wood’s daughter, Carol Wood, contacted us by e-mail in 2022 and offered to give us our choice of any one of John’s photographic prints – apparently simply because we had championed John’s work when he was still alive. As we had sent everything by John that we had previously owned (Including another copy of this print.) to the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas in Austin as part of the “Creative Project” in 2018, this allowed us to replace the print which we had loved. As well as being a beautiful photograph, it was also the image for the first page of the sixteen page original artist’s signature that John, like the other three artist’s in the collaboration, had chosen to make for the Project. Thus the print held an extra meaning for us.

John’s Story by William S. Johnson
The first and most lasting impression one takes from John is his quietness. John is now eighty-four years old, and his once trim, straight posture has been hampered by an illness that leaves him slightly canted. He also wears hearing aids now. And his voice, never loud, is even softer than it was twenty years ago. But John was always quiet and it has always seemed that his quiet came from a thoughtful calm tied to his subtle sense of balance and order. His dress, manner, and conversation still suggest the self-effacing competence that has traditionally characterized the classic New England character, and John does display many of those attributed characteristics. He listens more than he talks. He is reluctant to discuss his personal opinions casually and only when pressed will he express his thoughts on a subject. He is soft-spoken and misses being laconic only through a natural generosity that forces him to share ideas and ideals with others when he is requested to do so. John is firm in his conviction about public issues such as protecting the natural environment and ending nuclear proliferation, and he practices those beliefs within his everyday actions – but he will never tell you how to act or what to believe. In conversation, John uses a language and style of discussion that is open, non-coercive, and reasoned, even to the point of diffidence. When John is forced to talk about himself, he turns the discussion to his work instead. Even there, in an era when artists are often expected and frequently required to explain themselves and their work, John says little to force any specific direction for the reading of his work.

John’s heritage, his family, and portions of his upbringing during the 1930s and 1940s did, in fact, take place in New England. John, the second of three sons, was born in Delhi, California in 1922. But his father had come from an established New England family. The Woods were among the first settlers of Concord, Massachusetts. Members of the family still owned land in and around Concord when John was growing up. John’s father’s family was large, established and reasonably well-off; they held the tradition that the men would go into engineering or the professions. John’s father, however, loved the land and he studied agricultural sciences at the University of Connecticut. After graduating in the early 1920s, he moved his wife and children to California to homestead a ranch there. But the post-war depression in produce markets plus several years of continued drought burned up that dream, and others that followed. After the ranch was lost the family returned to the east just as the Great Depression was settling into the country at large. So John grew up in a family that lived on the unsettled edge of hard times, never quite as desperate as some, but always needing a little help from the more successful and established members of his extended family. While John was growing up, his own family lived with the maternal grandparents in Kinston, North Carolina, then with his uncle near Rochester, New York, then with John’s paternal grandmother in Concord, Massachusetts. The family also lived briefly in other places as well. John attended nine different schools before he reached the eighth grade.

We were all over the place during the Depression. My father tried to manage a number of farms during that time, but it didn’t work so well. We moved to North Carolina
[where John’s mother’s family lived] where I went to school from the first grade to the third grade. Then we moved to Rochester, New York, and then to a raspberry and potato farm in western New York State, then back to North Carolina. At times it got bad…

I moved too much to make many friends. Because it was always a new situation, I retreated, I backed away. I was uncomfortable socially, and that has lasted through to this day. But I felt comfortable when I was out in nature.

My mother was a great reader and she read to me a lot. When I was young I wound up with an entire set of books by Ernest Thompson-Seton, who was an artist/naturalist. They had these nice, small illustrations. They were very important to me; I read them often. Except for my father, nature was more influential on me than any other thing when I was young.

Before we moved to New England we lived in North Carolina for several years. My mother’s father was a civil engineer and her family ran a piano factory in Kinston, a tobacco town. My grandfather spent a lot of time in Africa getting ivory for the piano keys and he had a lot of tales about that. But Kinston was difficult for me… However, after a year, we moved to Swansboro, which was a little fishing village on the coast. I was about eight or nine and Swansboro was a very interesting place. All kinds of things happened to me there that have to do with motion or water. The entire system there was meaningful to me. The fact of the South, the facts of Swansboro itself, a small fishing village with no electricity during the Depression, the experiences that I had there in relation to the water…. We went boating a lot, it was a very rich fishing ground then — it’s depleted now — but at that time it was very good and I became aware for the first time of all the different things that happened — fishing with gill nets for mullet, going out at night with torches to get flounder, reaching down into holes to get rock crabs.  We would go off and do things…it was an adventure.

[The core of this essay has been adapted from Horses, Sea Lions, and Other Creatures: Robert Frank, Dave Heath, Robert Heinecken and John Wood, by Susan E. Cohen and William S. Johnson. Belmont, MA: Joshua Press, 1986, 242 pp., 36 slides. This was a privately printed, limited edition book produced as one part of the artists’ collaboration , observed by Susie Cohen and Bill Johnson. Unless otherwise credited, all quotations from John Wood are drawn from a number of conversations with him by Susie Cohen and Bill Johnson during 1983-1985 during the course of this project. These were supplemented with several additional interviews with John in 1992 and in 2006.]

“For a time Louise [John’s mother] and the three boys, Norman (“Nonny”), John, and Jimmy, lived in Swansboro, North Carolina, near her sister Jenny who operated a small restaurant. Norman [John’s father] stayed up north to find work and irregularly sent down money. In Swansboro, Louise was particularly distressed with the schools and the poor atmosphere available for the boys. John remembers those years as difficult and fraught with tension, yet he loved the seaside landscape and the life of the small fishing village. He has strong visual memories from this home.

[Another source of information and quotes is the “Monograph on the Work of John Wood – Artist and Teacher,” by Laurie Sieverts Snyder, M. F. A. Thesis, Department of Art Media Studies, College of Visual and Performing Arts, Syracuse University, 1987. 69 pp. p. 7.]

There was a church for blacks across the street where we lived. Sometimes I would sit (hide) in the bushes behind and listen to the singing. I was nine (?) and the church was in a small fishing village in North Carolina. No black person was allowed in the village after sunset. Maybe they were more white in God’s sun and day. There was a bridge that crossed the Neuse River and connected it to a small sand island. At rip tide the water under the bridge was almost violent. I would walk across on the railing. Often we crossed to the sand island for a picnic. My first look at death was on that island. I found a man in the water. He had been dead for a long time and was black. His skin had changed to white in many places. I sat and looked fro a long time and I think I felt compassion for the first time. I know I was sad for another human being. I ran back across the bridge in some terror and told the man at the drug store. Later I found out that a black man had been murdered. Nothing was ever done about it. I didn’t understand. I never talked to my mother about that. My father was in the north trying to find work. (1932, maybe) My aunt ran a restaurant in town. My uncle was no help – he was usually drunk and often violent and I was afraid of him. One day he brought a black bear cub into the restaurant. I never found out what happened to the mother and I don’t know what finally happened to the cub. I did notice that he was very gentle with the cub. There was a lot of violence in that town smoothed and hidden by kindness. I just began to think about this.

[LSS “Monograph.” Unpublished letter, JW to LSS, postmarked 5 March 1985. pp. 7-8.]

This passage reveals many aspects of John Wood’s personality. In retrospect, this memory marks the first self-conscious moment when John felt compassion for another human being outside of the family constellation. This compassion or caring remains an integral element in John’s personality: it is present in his art work, in his relationship to his friends and students, and his concern for people in distress. The awareness that nothing was done to find the cause of death and the murderer was a lesson about the racial inequalities in that North Carolina town, and even as a small boy he realized this. Another important element in John’s childhood was his pleasure in the outdoors. Exploring alone was exhilarating and educational. To keep his mother from excessive worry about his safety, (Like tightrope walking the bridge rail across the riptide channel to the island) John developed the habit of not telling her what he did. Keeping his actions and thoughts to himself allowed John to develop independence and confidence in his own abilities to explore and observe. He found pleasure in his own company and he liked to look “for a long time.” He still does. He looks leisurely at everything: the landscape, work in museums, student’s work, his own work….”

[LSS “Monograph.” pp. 7-9.]

“The issues of subdued violence comes up frequently in John Wood’s memories….There were silent tensions between Louise and Norman. John remembers no angry conversations, but he does remember his father’s silences and absences and his mother’s complaints and worries. The anxieties in the home were never discussed with the boys – yet the intensity of feelings were present, covered over by “kindness” and silence. The notion that unpleasantness might not exist if you did not talk about it was strongly present in John’s childhood and replays itself over and over again. Compassion, careful looking, keeping your feelings to yourself, and enjoying the environment were enduring qualities developed by John in his childhood.”

[LSS “Monograph.” p. 9.]

“The marriage [of Louise Cheney Wood] to Norman Wood was not happy. After all the uprootings and insecurities, and finally moving to Concord to live with her domineering mother-in-law, she decided to divorce Norman in 1942. At the time of the divorce, John was an adolescent and doesn’t remember a great deal of fighting or major family discussions centered around the divorce. After the divorce, Louise had several jobs…”

[LSS “Monograph.” p. 11.]

John spent his high school years in Concord. Concord was a town that rode out the Depression better than many other parts of the country and John’s acquaintances and friends in school always seemed to have more money than he did. The Woods were a large, close family, and they provided John with much companionship, but he always felt that he was the poor relation, the son of the son who had not followed the correct direction or who had had the bad luck.

It was a nice family. My grandparents had four boys and one daughter. There were lots of cousins around and there were always family activities going on. I remember everyone always getting together. And I had a cousin, Hank Coolidge, who was wonderful. He took all us kids skiing and mountain climbing, and he was a wonderful storyteller. He was the first adult outside of my parents that I had any real attachment to.

I was brought up in a good New England family where you always did something artistic – but the Lord help you if you did it seriously.  My mother and my father’s brother were accomplished musicians. My mother’s family manufactured pianos at one point. On my father’s side, my grandfather was a wonderful family photographer. He documented all the family occasions, at any family gathering the old folding Kodak would come out and he would make portraits of all the kids. My aunt was a painter and a fairly good one, but never really committed to that. She taught Physical Education at the University of Connecticut. My dad became a freelance carpenter and cabinetmaker when the farming didn’t work out, and he worked as a patternmaker at the Navy shipyards in Chelsea. He made beautiful little watercolors all his life. I was aware of artists from a very early age. My great uncle was Thomas Hill, and a number of his paintings were in my grandmother’s living room.

Thomas Hill was an accomplished and successful painter working at the end of the 19th century. His best-known painting, “The Last Spike” (1881), commemorating the building of the first transcontinental railroad in 1869, hung in the rotunda of the California State Capitol for many years. John has a very fine painting of Yosemite Valley that Thomas Hill painted as a wedding present for John’s grandmother.

I took my first drawing class at the Memorial Art Gallery in Rochester. It was a Saturday morning class and I must have been in the third or fourth grade. I don’t remember any of the paintings at the museum, but I do remember that there was a photo show there and that I kept a catalog of that show for years.

I made watercolors when I was growing up; at some point I even took a watercolor course and a “How-to-Draw” course one summer down on Cape Anne. I liked to draw and I also made photographs all through high school.

I knew that there was such a thing as an artist but I didn’t connect that with me. I didn’t have any sense that it was possible to be an artist. It was possible to make watercolors and things like that but I don’t think I really knew what an artist was until later.

My mother and father were very sympathetic for creative work and they were supportive from the very beginning. But it was harder with the rest of the family. My uncles and my grandmother were demanding and disciplined people; they expected you to amount to something. I always got the feeling that it was necessary to do something important in the world, and art didn’t count. It was a kind of Puritanism… All my uncles were engineers. My father and one uncle tried to get out from under that, but they didn’t quite make it. They spent their energies getting out, and they didn’t have enough left to do anything else…. So there was a lot of art in the family but somehow I felt that it wasn’t open to me.

When I graduated from high school there was a great need for industrial draftsmen, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was offering a program to train high school graduates in drafting. It was a competitive program, but I was accepted into it. It was a short, intensive course that combined mechanical drawing, calculus, and physics. I went through that course, became a draftsman, and then worked at the Raytheon Company in Waltham for a while, then drafting for Sturgis Architects in Boston.

In 1941, I volunteered for the Air Force. I was nineteen, and for a normal kid growing up in our society at that time that was the only thing to do and that’s what I did.

John was commissioned as an officer and trained as a bomber pilot in the Air Force. His first assignment was to the Training Command, where his task was to verify that the new pilots and bombardiers knew their jobs.

“The Air Force gave him an opportunity to explore new areas of the United States: he was trained in California, Arizona, Texas, then stationed in Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Nebraska. He learned to fly a variety of large and small planes, and he spent most of his four years teaching pilots to fly…. He never saw active [combat] duty – a situation that was both a relief and a disappointment. He was an excellent trainer and he started to develop attitudes towards teaching that would prove helpful ten years later when he started teaching art. A hallmark of John’s teaching style is an ability to allow a student to find his way, to make mistakes and find his own solution. Wood explained to me that this was a lesson he learned repeatedly in the Air Force; the student pilot can only learn to fly by flying, so the flight instructor has to let go, allow the trainee to fly, even to make mistakes, and to solve them.”

[LSS “Monograph.” p. 12.]

Later he trained to fly a B-17 bomber for combat, but the war in Europe ended before he was assigned overseas. He then was reassigned to fly the B-29 bomber, but before he finished training for that aircraft, the war with Japan ended. His last task in the Air Force was ferrying B-29’s down to Texas for mothballing. He was demobilized at Lowrey Field in Denver, Colorado in 1945.

 I loved to fly; I was intrigued by the whole business, the entire kinetics of flying is like skiing… The Air Force wasn’t a wasted time for me because of the special and kinetic characteristics of flying; the ways that you perceive perspective, the way that things line up from the air, and the importance of these things all influenced me a great deal. For a long time I was unaware of those influences, but I know now that they were very important for me. My experiences determined a lot of the ways that I go about organizing things. The idea of a static one point perspective had always been uncomfortable for me and my experiences while flying let me escape from that concept a little bit.

I separated from the Air Force in 1945 in Denver. I spent the first winter just bumming around, skiing and such, and then I enrolled in the University of Colorado on the G.I. Bill.

John studied architectural engineering at the University of Colorado, seeking a discipline that would satisfy his own interests and still be viewed as practical and acceptable by his family. But he soon began to feel that the technically-oriented program at the university was not for him.

It was totally provincial. A lot was happening in structural architecture and design. Buckminster Fuller, Nervi, Mallart, and others were doing a lot in those fields, but I didn’t hear anything about it at the school. So I didn’t even know about those issues at that time. I came home at Christmastime a year later and I just never went back.

John moved back to Massachusetts where he lived with his mother in Boston. The city offered him personal freedom and cultural nourishment. He started a small commercial photographic studio (Anderson & Wood Photography: Aerial & Commercial) in Concord with his high-school friend, Bill Anderson, who had been a Marine Corps fighter pilot during the war. Bill and John began their business by flying a Piper Cub around Concord, taking aerial photographs of commercial greenhouse farms “with a Speed Graphic that we stuck out the door.” They then sold their work to the businesses they had photographed. In time they began to do portraiture and other commercial work as well.

I had been taking photos since I was twelve, but Bill and I both took a course on studio portraiture from a photographer named Shaw, I think, on Newbury Street in Boston. He had been a student of William Mortensen and he had all the print retouching techniques that Mortensen was famous for, but his original negatives were clean and well-made and we got a good technical training in lighting and negative making. The idea of Mortensen is a little embarrassing to me but I did keep the idea of reworking prints from that experience. And later, at the Institute of Design, when I got used to cutting up images and fitting them together on the page with typography, these things led into collage techniques in a very natural way.

As John worked over the next few years in his and Anderson’s studio, he gradually developed and fostered an interest in contemporary art and in creative photography.

I wasn’t aware of art photography, just what I’d seen in the magazines, photojournalism and the like. I feel that there was a real lag in my awareness, almost ten years of my life. In a way I consider myself, in terms of contact and influences, to be ten years younger than I am. I wandered around Boston in my spare time taking photographs. I was a street photographer for a time; it seemed necessary for me to do that, but I didn’t know where it was going to lead.

“Whenever he could, John looked at pictures. In 1949 he bought his first Rolliflex twin lens reflex camera for his own pictures and had his own, “very junky” enlarger in his mother’s Boylston Street apartment. In addition to the photography classes [with Shaw] he took drawing and watercolor classes and later he took night classes at Boston University in aesthetics and psychology. His relationship with his mother was very pleasant. He enjoyed the location of her apartment because he could walk to the museums and the Boston Public Library.”

[LSS “Monograph.” p. 14.]

I began to look for connections. I read some magazines like
U.S. Camera and American Photography, and I went over to the Boston Public Library and looked for books. They had an excellent collection of books on photography. That’s where I discovered Edward Weston and then Paul Strand’s portfolio on Mexico.

About 1948 or 1949 I saw an exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art in New York which was the first time I’d ever seen actual [creative] photographs. Some things were happening in creative photography and some people were out there but I didn’t know anything about it. My first contact [with contemporary art] was also through books. I remember very distinctly being in love with Kandinsky’s work, which I knew through the little Skira book. I didn’t have any friends who were artists, and the museums around Boston didn’t show much abstract work then — that movement was just getting started — except the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston which was open at this time. I remember hearing Oskar Kokoschka talk at his exhibit. I even took his portrait and had ideas of photographing other painters.

I was getting tired of the commercial studio and I was really ready for a change when I found Laszlo Moholy-Nagy’s
Vision in Motion in the library one day. I think that you discover people [as influences] once you’ve discovered it in yourself. Moholy-Nagy came to me after I’d already worked some of the ideas out for myself. But Vision in Motion really connected for me, and somehow I learned that Moholy-Nagy had set up the Institute of Design in Chicago.

I married Suzanne Watson in the Spring of 1950, and the idea of my stopping working in the studio became even stronger since the business wasn’t big enough to support both Bill’s family and mine. That summer we drove out to California to visit Zanne’s father. On the way I stopped at I. D., applied, and was accepted into the program.

John was twenty-seven years old. He had amassed considerable practical experience and had had brief contact with a broad range of art forms, but he still had not considered art a valid career. When he enrolled in the program at the Institute of Design in Chicago, he and Suzanne began living in a converted store-front. A colleague of his from that time, Ray Martin, recalls:

John Wood was especially important to those of us whose interests extended beyond commercial design to the fine arts…I was influenced by his experimental approach to art and design. …What made his presence at the school more impressive was the fact that he set up a complete living and working space in [the store front].  He had a photo darkroom, type cases and platen press, proof press, etching press, work tables, etc.  Because of John’s generosity, many students spent time there, talking, working, glad to be part of his creative realm.”

[Quote from LSS “Monograph.” p. 15.]

At I.D. I trained to be a visual designer, I wasn’t training to be an artist. I had practical issues to consider, like how to make a living. Even during the program it didn’t dawn on me that that was a way I could go. But when I got to I. D., I began to meet artists. Harry Callahan was the first person who impressed on me the idea that you could commit yourself to some kind of thing that was called “art.” Several people at I.D. were real artists — Callahan, Siskind, Hugo Weber (a painter), Misch Kohn (a printmaker) — and for the first time I began to get a feeling for what that meant. Even at that point I was choosing between different media; I started in photography but then I went into typography, print making, and design. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do but I was beginning to try to decide.

I knew Harry Callahan, but Aaron [Siskind] got there after I switched away from photography so I never took any classes with him, although I did get to know him. There was a young fellow from Denmark, Keld Helmer Petersen, who had published a book of color photographs — very abstract — who was teaching there, and that was the first color work like that that I had seen. Remember that everything was still isolated in those days, in the early 1950s, a small number of books were out. Maybe if you were really into things in New York City, then you might have known what was really going on, but otherwise it was pretty scattered.

Harry Callahan had his first show at the Art Institute of Chicago the first year that I was there and I think that that was the first photo show that they had there. Frederick Sommer came in for a week to teach and I was impressed by him. Art Sinsabaugh taught there as well, but I had become interested in printmaking by then.

There was a three-semester foundation course that everyone from graduate students to people just out of high school had to take, and a lot of the people were veterans, so it was a pretty lively group. Just because of the group that was there then, we became very interested in printmaking and we set up some presses and all that. That group consisted of Ray Martin, Ivan Chermayeff, Michael Traine, Norman Kantor, Marty Moskov, and others. Len Gittleman was a good friend of mine.
[Len Gittleman was a photographer and filmmaker who taught the still photography courses offered to the undergraduates in the Visual Studies program at Harvard through the 1960s and 1970s.] Len and I made a movie, THE PRESS, about the printing press. It was a nice movie but we had problems clearing copyright on the score that we borrowed from a recording of a work by Stravinsky and we never were able to get it re-scored.

While in his fourth year at school, and still a student, Wood began teaching a course in visual fundamentals at the Institute of Design. John graduated from the Institute in 1954. He had intended to move to San Francisco after graduation, find a job there, then buy a printing press and print his own graphics and books as well as work for other artists. But he was offered a job while still in his last semester at I. D.

In 1954 Charles Harder, the director of the New York State College of Ceramics in Alfred, New York was touring art and design schools in New York and Chicago searching for someone to teach printmaking and typography at Alfred. Alfred University is a small school founded in the 1830s and located in a tiny village in a rural portion of western New York, amid the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains. The school has always had a strong arts program and its New York College of Ceramics was highly regarded. Harder visited the Institute of Design during John’s last semester there, and, on the recommendation of the I. D. faculty, offered the position to John.

“At the time, the Alfred program was narrowly focused on industrial design, “pottery production,” and teaching, although it had continued its original objectives combining scientific, technical, art and practical training.  Charles Harder had become head of the design program in 1944 and, with his beliefs about teaching and education “in hand,” he was searching for a new faculty member.  His search would lead him to New York and to the Chicago’s Institute of Design.  Faculty there recommended John Wood as someone who met the criteria established by Harder.”

Harder’s philosophy and vision is well-documented; a potter would benefit by being taught concepts and skills other than pot-making.  By hiring John Wood and giving him the flexibility to teach what and how he wanted, the program could develop into what it is today.  John Wood brought his experience with foundations from I.D. and his own sensibilities about broadening students’ choices to the program.  He “didn’t want things to be isolated.” (Shefrin, et al.)  The environment of the department nourished an interaction between and among faculty and students that provided the opportunity for creativity and change, invention, and experimentation.

Harder’s belief in the importance to an education program of exposure to high quality media (music, art, design), was the beginning of the change process, but its form and success can be credited (in large part) to John Wood’s philosophy, creativity, adherence to specific values.  Harder had selected Wood on the basis of these traits; the person and the environment were a good match.”

[Wood, Carol. “John Wood…” Unpublished Essay, 1997. 6 pp.]

When I first got to Alfred I was just going to teach one class. It was nice for me to be earning a real salary after so long. I really loved teaching and I still do. I have a great deal of difficulty with the bureaucracy in schools and with the interpersonal politicking that goes on, but I like the teaching. ‘Zanne and I decided to stay for four years and take one class through the school… but, for one reason or another, we’ve been here ever since.

“Changes were often brought about because of Wood’s own personal experimentation and desire for ways to manipulate and move images.  For example, his experience in Chicago had included work at a graphic design company doing big posters.  When he arrived in Alfred, he really wanted to continue that work but had to develop the technology here in order to keep it going.  He describes adapting a photo-silkscreen process in order to combine photography and lithography, and building a complex system for developing movie film.  Through his work and exploration, the crossing of media happened.  (Shefrin, et al.)

The course in visual design was conceptualized and taught as a foundation program–Wood was left to his own devices about what to teach. Again, his quiet commitment to typography and photography led him to provide his own equipment so that the students could explore those media.  He did not serve in an administrative position; from the start he effected change from the classroom. As early as 1955, one year after he arrived, the curriculum was changing to offer a “track” considered fine arts, for the first time, rather than strictly design.”

[CW. “John Wood.” p. 3.]

“When he arrived at Alfred John taught visual design, typography, book design and printmaking. However, for his own work he wanted photographic facilities and this he set up with his own equipment at the college. The students became interested in photography so he started teaching photography on his own time. When he started to have as many students in his photography classes as there were in the ceramics classes, Ted Randall, chairman of the art department, suggested they start a photography program.”

[LSS “Monograph.” p. 18.]

“By 1965 the Department of Design became the Department of Art — “reflecting more accurately its work and activities” (NYSCC Annual Report 1965, Appendix F)  In the period of time between the first mention of fine arts and the structural shift to the Department of Art, Wood’s ideas about visual design permeated the program.  The first team-taught course, however, was almost accidental.  Eric Renner (faculty member during the late Sixties) who taught 3-D studies, and John Wood decided to teach their classes together.  Wood remembers this as an historical event, and also as an exciting, collaborative time period in the history of the school.”

[CW. “John Wood.” p. 3.]

“The BFA Program in Photography “…began in 1970 in response to the need and demand for such a concentration… and by 1977 was offering five courses to about one hundred and sixty students each year…”

[“Video History Project: Resources: Groups: Alfred University.” (Aug. 22, 2006).]

There is a thread of tension running through John’s quiet narrative of his early life; a sense of pressures felt and possibilities denied. Alfred must have seemed like an unexpected turn in the road, and possibly something of a haven. Suddenly John had the opportunity to live amidst the type of countryside he loved. At the same time he was permitted –even encouraged- to unleash the suppressed creativity that had always been a part of him.

And John did exactly that. He taught at Alfred with care and commitment for nearly thirty-five years, until his retirement in 1987. Former students of John’s, at all levels of accomplishment and commitment, respond with affection at the mention of his name. In a statement published when she was appointed Dean at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2006, E. Jessie Shefrin began her list of important influences with John Wood’s name.

[“New York State College of Ceramics. College News. Veteran art professor leaves to become dean at Rhode Island School of Design.” (Aug. 22, 2006)]

Shefrin had earlier stated John’s importance to the teaching program and its students at Alfred in a ceremony honoring him at the reopening of the design study studios at the school in 1995.

He came to Alfred in 1955.  He came as an artist, to teach and to learn.  He left in 1987 to continue to teach and to learn.  He is teaching something right now by being here.  He is teaching something about re-turning, about re-making, about re-visioning.  He is teaching about being present.  And don’t look now because he is probably doodling on a napkin that will probably find its way into a book, which we will probably end up buying in a few years for our rare book collection.

And that’s the way things go with John. One thing turns into something else right in front of your eyes and often without words.  So, you have to pay attention.  You have to learn how to listen visually.  You have to learn how to get your own attention, or you might not hear the voice of Black Elk speaking to you about Wounded Knee on December 12, 1890 in one of John’s drawings.  You might not notice the small article in today’s paper on page twelve about the thousands of Rwandans murdered by government forces in a makeshift refugee camp.  You might not stop on your way home to look up and see the woodcock circling above your head about to dive down, telling you it is spring.  You might miss the connections.

And that’s the way things go with John.  They connect.  Sometimes now.  Sometimes then.  Sometimes here.  Sometimes there.  Sometimes circuitously — sometimes so clearly and simply that nothing can be said, and you are left dumbfounded, not knowing how you got here or where you’re going but knowing that something profound has just happened to you.

In recognition of all the small and indestructible gifts that you, John, have given to the many people who are seated before you now and the many people who couldn’t be here, to the students in all the studios in this school working right now, who aren’t here, because they aren’t alumni yet but who somehow feel who you are, because the gifts get passed on.  They get passed on in the tools that get made and used.  In the vessels that hold tusche.  In the lines drawn around the bend, on the top of the hill.  In the light that gets captured in a moment and then gets reprocessed 20 times, 20 different ways.  In the moving images that spur dreams.  In the marks that float off the pages and turn into angles of repose.  In knowing that to get to a place you have never been, you must go by a road you have never taken.

We celebrate the opening of our new studio facilities by naming them not after you, not for you, but in the spirit of you.  And in so doing, we challenge ourselves to create open studios where ideas, energy and conversation can move freely up and down the stairs, around the corners and across the building; to be mindful of the boundaries, the borders and the territories that come with doors that lock; to re-dedicate ourselves to the practice and joy of teaching and its intricate relationship to the living process of making work.

We offer you all our love and all our thanks.”

[CW.”John Wood.” p. 1. Quoting from pp. 4-5 in VITA (alumni publication) School of Art and Design, Alfred University, 1995-1996.]

“When Wood retired in 1988, former students and faculty were invited to write their “testimonials” for presentation to him at the formal retirement dinner.  The response was overwhelming; testimonials were sent in from all parts of the country and from every generation of alumni.  Writings, drawings and photographs were included in the packets; demonstrating the impact John Wood had on their lives.”

[CW. “John Wood.” p. 4.]

Yet in 1984, when the Society for Photographic Education asked John to be the “Honored Speaker” at its annual meeting, John hesitated for several weeks before accepting the honor; for he was neither a member of the SPE, nor was he certain that the honor should come to him.

John had participated in the Invitational Teaching Conference at the George Eastman House held in November 1962 which was one of the seminal meetings leading to the formation of the Society for Photographic Education. And John sat on three of the panels presented during the conference. When asked why he did not join the new organization; John simply shrugged and said, “Those things are difficult for me. I attended once in a while, but I don’t particularly like organizations.” Later, choosing to expand his answer, he continued:” I don’t have an intellectual relationship to photography, I like to read about it, but...” In response to the statement that he made very smart photographs, he said, “Those are two different things.” When pushed a little further, he stated his philosophy of teaching.

I’ve been teaching now
[1984] for thirty-one years and that’s occupied a lot of my energies. The first five years at Alfred I was learning how to teach. I guess I’m a good teacher partly because I listen and I’m also willing to meet the student exactly where he or she is. I don’t impose my philosophy on the student. I try to have them discover their own position. If I would take pride in anything it would be that I feel all too often that some people will go to a person’s work and say why didn’t you do this or that, but I’d much rather go to the work, find out what’s there, see if I can find out whatever the seed is that’s going on, and then let the student find out what that may be.

Also, I was trained at the Institute of Design, which grew out of the Bauhaus philosophy. And their foundation program was very good and exciting and a lot of my ideas came out of that experience. One of the interesting parts of that philosophy was that it is much better to teach a philosophy of tools and materials rather than a specific tool. And I also happen to believe that process is more important than what the final product looks like. I seem to be good at putting together problems that lead people towards that discovery. A good problem for me is where students at any level, no matter what their background, can approach it equally.

And I’m not cynical with the students either.

I manage to teach one or two workshops every summer. I’ve been doing that for about fifteen years now. I’ve taught at Penland in North Carolina, at Haystack, the Parsons School at Lake Placid, New York, and I’ve taught quite a few summers at the Visual Studies Workshop. I like the workshops, particularly if they are short. It’s a different relationship than in the regular school sessions.

In addition to teaching, John has continued to create his own art with a relentlessness that is only partially hidden by his modest manner and his lack of self-promotion. John creates art continuously, moving across the various mediums of drawing, photography, painting, printmaking, and bookmaking in a process that sifts, reorders and extends the ideas, concepts, and processes that are combined within his organic, elegant body of work. The consistency of this long effort was pointed out by Aaron Siskind in a 1978 interview. Aaron stated, in the context of a conversation about an artist’s concerns with and dedication to the creation of his art, “...more recently, …we have a person like John Wood, whose motivations are of the purest – I mean he’s one of the most dedicated human beings you can find in this world.

[“A conversation between Aaron Siskind and Diana Johnson,” Spaces. Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, R.I., 1978, p. 15.]

Although John will freely explain how any specific work that he has created was generated, he usually does not care to discuss any meanings that it might have. He becomes uneasy if either he or someone else starts to interpret any pieces in terms of a specific, thus limiting, critical framework. He is more articulate and at ease when he is discussing his own discoveries and the directions he has chosen to follow to create his art. The free-flowing form of such a discussion, pausing at one point for an embellishment, jumping to another point to add a highlight or some coloration to his discourse, is in itself a most apt delineation of the evolution and dimensions of his creative process.

I’ve been accused of spreading myself thin and I admit to it. My studio is full of the different directions that I travel, which range from purely abstract exploration to image making of one sort or another. I cut through several mediums. I do go through a whole range of things. I’ll do one thing, then that will lead to another, then to another. It’s hard for me to say where things stop. I’ll make a collage which leads to a montage which leads to the next thing and so on…my objects are always going through different transformations.

John will photograph a pile of pebbles he had gathered and placed outside his studio to break the runoff of the rain from his porch roof. He may make a silver print from that negative, then later make a xerox enlargement from that print and use that xerox as a negative to generate a cyanotype contact print, which, in turn, may be collaged into a larger work with other prints or drawings, or combined with handmade paper, or maybe bound into an artist’s book. And the image may appear in a different form or a different configuration in another work the following week, or the following month, or five years later.

I’m continually recycling things; I hate to throw anything away. I’ll recycle images back and forth for a long time until eventually I get embarrassed that a particular image is showing up so often. Then I’ll remove it. When I’m making a piece and I’m in the process of searching for something I need in my studio — a negative or a particular print or whatever — quite often I come across something else. It’s a kind of continual process that goes on. It can get exasperating if I can’t find what I’m looking for, but I don’t object because a lot of my images grow out of that search. It looks chaotic but the process works for me. I’ll start over here at this spot [in my studio] and then on the way over there to pick something up I’ll get stopped by something interesting. I used to fight against that but I don’t anymore. That’s the way I work and it’s where the things that I’m most exited about come from.

John does not claim to have total control over the act of creativity. The idea of process is very much a part of his work. He leaves the work open and the process ongoing to include the viewer as the final link in the creative act.

When I’m putting images together I don’t have a narrative that I’m trying to tell. I locate images randomly and then move them around until I find things that I feel have some relationship to each other. That relationship may be in terms of color, an aspect of geometry, or some sense of how an image works. At some point, if I’m lucky, two or three things will begin to operate: the colors, the formal aspects, or perhaps the shapes. Shape is very strong with me. I like the idea that shapes have a life to themselves which is not a narrative life but some kind of feeling that effects us very strongly. I think these things are universal…

So I play with this material until some kind of connection begins to be made. They certainly are not verbal connections, but some kind of vibrations begin to happen and the pieces begin to echo each other. When I work best things are just flowing out. I trust my subconscious; I think it knows more than my conscious mind does.

The way I work with the doublet collages, for example, it’s like a poetry structure; it’s like Haiku, the form lets you put disconnected things together and the viewer has to connect them for himself. It’s in the connecting that it becomes important.

John was quietly amused when asked if he were religious. He denied any adherence to a particular belief, although he commented that he was impressed by the lifestyle and ideas of Zen Buddhism. Transcendentalism, a philosophy born near 19th century Concord, Massachusetts, with its precepts about the close and quiet observation of nature and the assertion that intuition should dominate empirical experience, also forms the backbone of John’s thought. He has found even more direct influences in people and events closer to his own time.

I started out studying architectural engineering, so I’m very interested in structure. Buckminster Fuller was the first person to make me aware of a different kind of structure that I hadn’t intuited before. He was important to me in the sense that all of his world ideas really hit a chord and so he was a kind of hero for me. I like a lot of the “primary ideas” that he had about things. Fuller was great at distilling things down to one idea. He would start with a little triangle and gradually the whole world would evolve out of that. He preached continually that we have the knowledge to solve our world problems and that we must do so now. He was an optimist. It’s obvious that we have the information; but the work isn’t being done, is it? But Fuller came to I. D. to lecture when I was there. He talked literally for three days straight; the energy was amazing.

The idea of structure informs John’s way of seeing the world. Both his heritage and his training stress systematic thinking and creative solutions to practical problems. At the time he leaves space for the beneficial possibilities of intuition. John feels most comfortable when he senses the presence of a pattern or perceives a congruence within his own art and a system of order within the larger world. He feels best when his work alludes to an interconnectedness within the structures and events of the world. This is apparent in the pleasure John shows when describing the principles behind a model of an icosahedron made by the intersection of three golden rectangles that he built out of card-board and string years ago, which now hangs in a corner of his living room; or at demonstrating an elegant solution to a difficult carpentry problem; or in the little wooden “figures” — balancing tightrope-walking katchina figures, birds, or little fantastic animals he makes as presents for his now grown children — works which display a touch of quiet whimsy and a delicate artisanry hard to match outside of Calder’s Circus.

Much of John’s artwork is set up to demonstrate the rule of some process, or the dominion of a form, or the nature of a structure within the medium, which John then explores or expands through the deft play of his ingenuity. These principles fuel John’s continued interest in the “system drawings” and the folded-paper drawings, as well as his experiments with the multi-framed photograph series.

While John takes pleasure in working with aspects of the materials he uses, which he then can play within and against a continually renewed series of innovative solutions, this is not the sole or even the primary aim of his art. John insists that his works contain combinations of meanings – multiple associations, groupings of visual possibility, personal meaning, and metaphoric potential. In short, he insists that they function as poetry. And, in that context, his continued investigations of the boundaries of rule and the possibilities of intuition take on the dimensions of questioning the boundaries of order and freedom.

Landscape is one of the major sources of nourishment for John and consequently one of the major themes in his art. He has drawn upon several different landscapes over the years. First, there is the landscape that he has lived in for years, the gently rolling hills and rural meadows around Alfred, New York. It is a countryside of farms and reverted farm-lands, with open fields bound by hedgerows of scrub timber and patchwork blocks of deciduous forest. In the summer this country can be beautiful, the meadows full of flowers, butterflies, and birds. The winters are harder, laden with the heavy snowfalls common to the snowbelt on the underside of Lake Ontario. It’s a quiet country. Those parts of John’s work that reflect this landscape are also quiet, private, and gentle.

The light is different in Alfred than in New Mexico and the gestures of the landscape are different and the whole kinetic changes — the wind and the rain, and all the rest of it — is different. And those are the things that I react to. I don’t draw them specifically, but I react to them when they come up. Although the landscapes of Alfred and New Mexico are different, my relationship to them is the same.

It isn’t just that you look out there and see a mountain. It’s how things fluctuate with it. If a gesture is very important to me, if it’s something that moves and so forth, those are my sources to develop from. Sometimes I’ll have a mountain in my drawings, but almost invariably there will also be some situation that moves with it.

The other important landscape for John is the more flamboyant, colorful countryside of northern New Mexico. John fell in love with that country years ago when he and his wife Suzanne camped there while traveling to California. John spent a sabbatical year in Santa Fe in 1965, painting and drawing and establishing contacts with the local people. Since that year John has spent almost every summer in New Mexico. His son, Michael, now lives in Santa Fe with his family. And old friends such as Eric Renner, a colleague of John’s since they taught together at Alfred in the mid-sixties, live in New Mexico as well.
John frequently includes images of his friends in his work; it is one of the ways that the works resonates for him. An important figure which has appeared throughout John’s art during the past years is a portrait of a friend he made on his first visit to New Mexico in 1965.

At some point I was photographing in Chimayo, which is a little Mexican weaving village up in the mountains, and I met this Malacio, who was a Spanish man who had lived there a long time. He’d worked at the YMCA in El Paso for years and years and then retired and moved back up to his home town of Chimayo. I met him and rented a nice little studio room from him that year. I used to go up there three times a week to draw during the entire year that I was out there. I would arrive up there and start down to the studio and Malacio would always come to the door and ask me in for a cup of coffee. I’d go in, have a cup of coffee and we would talk, and then I’d go down to the studio and work.

After that, I’d go out there and rent the studio from him every year until eventually he sold it. He wanted to sell it to me and I wanted to buy it, but it never happened and eventually I figured out that all the deeds are held by the “ditch people” (who run the irrigation ditches) and if I had bought it I would have been one of the first Anglos in there and I think that they just wouldn’t accept that.

Anyway, he was just a wonderful man and we became very good friends. His mother had been an herbalist and the studio room was filled with dried herbs. I would ask him if he knew anything about it and he would always say “no.” But as the years went by he gradually taught me some things, so I learned several good teas and things like that from him.

John has made works in a variety of media that use portraits of Malacio. The portraits frequently are embedded within the New Mexico landscape, or juxtaposed against the New Mexico sky, to convey the interconnectedness of the man and the place.

I relate the indigenous Spanish people to that landscape and the Indians even more strongly because there are still traces from way back. The ruins that you find are Indian. So that part of what’s out there did affect me – it’s a source.

The third landscape valued by John is more metaphorical. It is the landscape of the past history of human creativity. Just as John values the tropes and concepts that allude to the presence of an order in the world, so is he attracted to those traces of past systems of ordering and craftsmanship he finds in the world around him. In the southwest, John is attracted to pictographs, or the patterns on prehistoric pots, or the patterns left by the ruined foundations of an Anasazi dwelling, which are still sitting in the terrain of the present. In New England, John is attracted to the craftsmanship of a ship carpenter’s railing or a weathervane. In every situation he chooses subjects that are intimate in scale, that are specific, and particular. Nothing of the grand vista for him: the vision is always private, the perception is always elegant.   

When John fits together his multilayered collages he is actually fusing a landscape of the past and the present, the terrain and its history, its physical presence and its psychic feeling. Within that structure John will make two major statements. The first is an honoring of certain values, of friendship, or the character of individuals who he knows and likes, or the qualities of intellect and skill that go into the creation of systems of conceptualization and actual works of art, the values of civilization. The second statement is an acknowledgement of the threats to the values and qualities he admires. His “gun in the landscape” series, his references to nuclear disaster, the implications of violence and destruction, are co-opted into his art patterning. These works frequently have a quality of uncertainty about them. John responds to the issues posed within the work with a wry, grim humor.

Drawing is the thing that affects me the most. I’m continually in a state of drawing and no day goes by that I don’t draw something. Mark-making, calligraphy, the kinetic motion of the movement of the hand, are very important to me, probably more important than anything else.

When I go out to New Mexico and draw, I don’t draw what I see. I absorb what I see, and the movement of the landscape, the space, the light, and the colors all come out on the paper. Sometimes it resembles the things out there and sometimes it doesn’t. My abstract work grows out of this as well. The gestures of the landscape are in a lot of my abstract drawings. A lot of my work is horizontal and I think that’s because it grows out of the landscape, which is horizontal for me. A lot of my systems drawings grow out of actual situations.

After I started doing my systems drawings I discovered the Mimbres pottery of the southwest. The designs on that pottery are sometimes crudely drawn but the configurations are always complex and profound. These “primitive” people must have had such a clear sense of order…

Then there are my “self-stenciled drawings,” which are based on the idea of a primary measuring fold, which depends on how many ways that you can fold a sheet of paper…It’s the simplest thing in the world and yet the space becomes very dynamic. These things grow out of some self-determining system.

I suppose that if I had to boil my work down and then do only one or two kinds of art, then I would go for the kinetic drawings and straight photography. I used to have a very nice relationship with photography. It was a peaceful thing that I did. I loved it and I did it, and so forth. Gradually it became a little more intensive. I finally discovered that photography is very hard, in that it’s difficult for me to get the images that I want since it’s such an instantaneous medium. But it’s becoming easy — or at least fun — again.

In photography the place where I discovered that I could work with the issue of any kind of system ideas has been in the multi-framed groups [as in “Nathan Left to Right and Right to Left” or “Self-Portrait Holding a Rope”] where I lined up the frames of the individual prints in ways that broke from a straight forward recording of the subject. Some of my early photographs, the multi-framed pieces, were an attempt to get some kind of kinetic energy into my photography. These weren’t movie making, although I also tried making some short films, but I was just trying to explore the idea that the camera itself could move and that I could move the camera. For a long time this was the most important issue for me and it grew out of my interest in kinetic issues. When I first started doing the multi-framed photographs I wanted my action of taking the picture to become part of the thing. The kinetics of the visual message differ from the kinetics of the taking message…

I had done a number of multiframed images before I went out to New Mexico, but when I was out there I photographed with a 4″ x 5″ and I also had a 35mm camera, and I began to really feel that I wanted the movements that I was making while I was taking the photographs to show up in the photographs themselves. So I began to think about that.
I think about these things [conceptual ideas about the medium] a lot and my sketchbook is full of little ideas about how the frame works and all that sort of thing. But it’s only when these things come together with something that I care about — a person that I know or a situation that I’m interested in — that it becomes interesting to me and I make a photograph. Just the idea by itself is not enough for me.

I think that things have a secondary life. For example, a photograph that is really loved by a lot of people does begin to have a kind of energy that it didn’t have before. And I think, although it’s really difficult to get at, to explain with words, that when a photographer is really concerned about something over a period of time, then that energy begins to enter into his work. And that it is different than someone who takes a pretty picture — I don’t know how — but it’s there in the work. I really think that if some kind of energy is brought to bear in making an image, even in photography, which is the most mechanical of mediums, that it communicates itself somehow.

I think that each artist has to think out the relationship between his work and his use of materials and energy. Each artist is different, and what may be wasteful and overdone for one may be necessary for another.

John lives a lifestyle that, while neither excessively frugal nor unreasonably restricted, is careful and modest in the use of the panoply of consumer goods available in America. His sense of citizenship extends into social and political arenas. He keeps informed on issues, he votes, he knows why he’s voting as he is. He quietly supports the activities of a number of world relief organizations. On those occasions when he has determined that an issue needs more active support, he has expressed his opinions publicly, participating in protests against ecological abuses or the Vietnam War. When social or political issues come into his art however, he is most vigilant that they remain in a controlled fashion, staying in a careful balance with other, visual, concerns.

My life is pretty simple in some ways. I live out here in the country. I think that my life has a number of threads that do interpenetrate each other. I would like to keep those things in balance somehow or other — the environmental and political concerns, my personal life. I don’t sacrifice one at the expense of the other although the concentration of my work may get sacrificed while I’m trying to maintain a balance between all that.

‘Zanne and I were active politically; we support things. But I have to say that I’m becoming more and more non-political as time goes by. But that’s separate from my image concerns; my image concerns are a much harder nut to crack. For example, I would like to have gun control in the United States and I’ve done a whole series of images about “the gun in the landscape,” but they are actually pretty mild, they are often almost whimsical. I feel funny about the fact that they are never very outspoken when I remember some of the earlier photo-collagists such as John Heartfield who used his work like a weapon. I haven’t done that and I don’t know what it means except that my imagery is more on the lyrical side. Maybe we should hang everything up and go out and fight against nuclear proliferation, but so far I haven’t done that. I let the ideas creep into my imagery. I guess I want my photocollages to interact with how I feel about my friends, people I know, and the world. I’m always in argument with myself either to do more or to tend to business.

I did a lot of protest things during the Vietnam war — I started doing collages about 1963 or 1964. I wanted to make how I felt about the war known, and the photocollage seemed to be a wonderful way to do it. I started a series that I call “quiet protests.” I very consciously did not want to create propaganda. Some people exploited all of the emotions associated with the war to their own advantage and I didn’t want to do that, but I wanted to take a stand somehow or other. These “quiet protest” pieces were never vicious and they always have an aesthetic edge to them. There were several images that were probably stronger in their protest but they weren’t as interesting to me because they didn’t meet the boundaries of my aesthetic judgments – I wanted some sense of the whole thing wrapped together.

Since then concerns have become more difficult, and things are more subtle, but they are the same. I’ve made work on the nuclear bomb and on the environment. Environmental things are much harder to get at, but I’m still dealing with them.

I no longer think that I can do photographs that are going to change the Department of Defense, or that my photographs will stop a major corporation from polluting the land and that’s why I maintain my position about abstraction in art. I’m a formalist about my own work. I would maintain that you can say something about your world with abstraction. That’s how you really get at the guts of a thing through your work. If you present some sense of life to somebody else then that’s how you’re doing it. I feel that pretty strongly. My work becomes more and more abstract as I go along. I think that art has its greatest effect when it makes people sensitive to life. And that’s more important than how well or badly images can stir people to immediate political action. That belief gives me the courage to do the kinds of things I do.

In 1970 John published a prose poem in the catalogue for the exhibition 12 x 12 held at the Rhode Island School of Design. The poem outlined his perception of life as a citizen and as an artist.

Thoughts on large numbers
and small
I’m one person and have

two children and
one wife
Some small numbers have
a direct relation to me
35mm tri-X 20 exposures
28mm f2.8 400 ASA
One at a time sometimes
several at a time
one two three
I know how to photograph
my friends and even
begin to know about
small numbers
But I’m part of some large numbers
10 photographs can be
arranged in
3,628,800 different ways
There are 3,200,000,000 people
in the world
many are hungry and
some are not
The last unpolluted air in
the USA was in Flagstaff
six years ago
Rivers catch fire in Cleveland
It takes 50,000 gallons of water
to make one ton of paper
We discard or destroy 20,000,000
tons of paper every year
There are 83 million cars
in the U.S.A.
142 million tons of smoke & fumes
Our highway program destroys
one million acres of oxygen
producing trees and green stuff
Six percent of the world’s people
use sixty percent of the
world’s resources
Large numbers are hard to feel
but the idea is there
no matter how you number it
I’m pleased that Weston followed
his vision in spite of the
depression and that Einstein
knew more about atoms than about politics
But maybe the time has come
for creative photography
to encompass the large
problems without propaganda
or journalism
No answers but I want
the large numbers to
enter my photography

[John Wood, 12×12, Carr House Gallery, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, R. I., 1970, n. p.]

And again in 1977, in a statement written for an exhibition held at the Vision Gallery in Boston, John stated his belief in what made the creative act valuable for him.

I would like my pictures to be abstract
and poetic visual images
of friends and the world
no story telling
sometimes slight propaganda and quiet protest
on the edge of clear meaning.

In 1983 John, who had enjoyed his experience while team teaching with Eric Renner, was interested when Susie Cohen and I approached him to participate in another collaborative effort. Our project involved four artists—Robert Frank, Dave Heath, Robert Heinecken and John Wood meeting with us and together with each other several times over a two year span, showing work and exchanging ideas among themselves and with us, then finally all spending a week together in isolation to work out a final collaborative project. An aim of the Project was to try to document the process of creative activity rather than simply display the art product resulting from the creativity. The Project was loosely formed, with the photographers choosing and controlling what, if anything, they wanted to produce.

Ultimately, each of the artists agreed to produce an original sixteen-page signature for an artist’s book. Each did so, and the final product of the project was to be an exhibition and book of those signatures with our supporting texts plus an accompanying exhibition of the signatures as well as a body of related photographs by each artist. “The Project”, as we called it, was supported by Eelco Wolf, then a Vice-President for the Polaroid Corporation in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Wolf was providing support for several innovative artists’ projects leading to exhibitions and books at the time. This support paid for Susie’s and my time, everyone’s travel and incidental expenses, production and exhibition costs, etc. The artists contributed their interest, ideas and time. The project was completed; the exhibition chosen and framed, the book designed and waiting to go to press, when the Polaroid Corporation acquired a new President; who established new and different policies for the company’s corporate support for the arts, and the funding support for this and other projects, over Eelco Wolf’s protests, was withdrawn. 

John’s sixteen-page signature for this project consisted of a nine image sequence of 16” x 20” black and white prints, which, for the book signature, opened with a vertical image page right and ended with a vertical image, page left, with seven double-page spreads of horizontal images sandwiched between. This sequence was later published in 1987; in the exhibition catalog 4 x 4 Four Photographers by Four Writers. Susie Cohen wrote the essay accompanying John’s work in that catalog. Her essay was in two parts. Part I was essentially the statement about John’s work that she had written for the Polaroid Project book. Part II was a discussion of the new photographic sequence itself.

“I. John Wood is an accomplished artist in a dozen media: printmaking, photography, bookmaking, painting, collage, graphic design, sculpture, installation, and a few he has invented combining those listed. “Accomplished artist” implies recognition by a knowledgeable community of a committed artist’s sustained and successful effort. This has some value for John. He is unassuming but not unworldly. The finished work, and the recognition of it are to John as clothing is to the naked body: it protects, it becomes, it provides access to the wearer. It is not, however, the essential spirit of the man. There is one medium that John uses that comes as close as an artifact can to expressing its maker, and that is drawing.

John draws every day without fail. He has described himself during this activity as “being in a state of drawing.” I gather several things from this spare phrase. John uses speech economically. He is succinct because other languages are more nearly equivalent to his feelings, and, in part, because he is shy. His spoken language is not colorful, but neither is it hyped or exaggerated. He conserves with language as he conserves with water and other resources. He says what he means.

“A state of drawing” is something like meditation, a being with the self that for John is neither analytical nor mystical, but during which he gathers and clarifies those forces which allow him to express himself wholly. In a state of drawing his perceptions concentrate as rhythms and then move through his practiced hand to paper.

The majority of sketches and drawings that John makes are abstract. The “systems drawings” use a series of spaced points to determine a symmetrical design, with roughly equal positive and negative spaces, like Mimbres pottery. Other drawings, done outdoors, refer to real objects in the landscape. All the drawings have in common marks that are both loose and certain, qualities that are only superficially at odds. And all of them, at whatever point on the representational-abstract spectrum, resonate with John’s understanding of nature as both mutable and abiding, restless and enduring. The antecedents of John’s drawings are the organic abstractions of Marin, Dove, and O’Keeffe. Some of his lines rustle as in a breeze; others erode; still others merge like rivulets into streams and rivers.

These word images are from my imagination. Perhaps they are too literal for John. But it is as tempting to describe his drawings this way as it is to conjure figures in clouds, or, more to the point, as it is to believe like Steiglitz in equivalences between a man’s being and the multitude forms of nature. I suspect that what I must name to understand, John intuits. The harm in a name is that it freezes the rhythm of a thing, which may be why John seems always in quiet stride and when he is still, he cups his body around a thing as you would cup your hands over a firefly.

John likes to be and work where nature is active, which can be almost anywhere to the tuned eye. He built his studio in a meadow and watches its cycles from a wall-sized window. He wanders a beach not far from home where a skin of white sand covers black sand, and even a casual toe print creates chiaroscuro. He makes drawings in the sand; some wash away, others he photographs. As much as the gentle east coast hills he likes the raw New Mexico landscape. In that crisp light, John draws cactus from their eye-level with bristly colored spikes that show his admiration for the strategy of their form.

It is this last, John’s belief in the relatedness of form and survival in nature and in the possibility of it in the acts of man, that shapes his perception and sets his work apart from a passive, romantic — he might use the word “rosy” — appreciation of nature. The difference, expressed in all his work by rhythmical kinship among elements, in his drawings by the record of his moving hand, is the difference between a view of nature as finite, to be imitated for its solutions and a view of nature as a process, from whose trial-and-error man might discern a method for his own survival. This is why John’s work is not primarily an art of social action: it is not the what of his work — though the people, places or things depicted can be guaranteed to have personal value to John — but the particular way they fuse that is for him a work’s meaning and power.

John surrounds himself — builds or finds or acquires — with examples of the fusion of workable substance and applicable force. These range from palm-sized stones, to a 15-foot branch used as a railing in the stairway of his house, to the ladder he built of stacked pyramids for his studio. John makes feathery paper and stick sculptures that move in the slightest breeze; installs multipaneled and folded pieces in corners so that they change with the viewer’s approach; uses the finite number of corner-to-corner folds of a piece of paper in combination with drawing to make geometry a mobile experience.

He greatly admires Buckminster Fuller. He loves to watch dance.
The components of rhythm are movement and order. In John’s case, his love of movement is a matter of personality. Order he has studied for 40 years as it applies to each of those media in which he works. He has experimented with the size, shape, and heft of pages as they turn in a book; with tone, perspective, and frame as photographic principles; with transparency, stroke and texture as ingredients of watercolor. So I modify what I said at first. To call John “an artist accomplished in a dozen media” is not wrong, but it unduly fragments his guiding passion. In a sense, John has only one subject, one technique, one piece of equipment, one medium. The subject is fluidity; the technique, integration; the equipment, hands; the medium, sight.

II. Landscape in art supposes a crucial distinction between Man and Nature – that Man is conscious, that Nature is not. Man and Nature have parallel, but separate existences. …nature’s awesome power is mitigated by our ability to think and feel. The separateness permits the artist to locate upon the unknowing planet metaphoric identifications with ourselves. Artists in all media, photography included, invent metaphors for consciousness, and use the metaphors to describe, explain or moralize our acts… Much of John Wood’s photographic works are landscapes. Like all landscapes, John’s incorporate his own and societies’ values. In past work, such as the extended “gun in the landscape” series, John juxtaposed mass-produced weaponry against rocks and beasts, ancient pictographs, the remains of native American dwellings and finely crafted objects such as water vessels and weathervanes. John used the dichotomy between culture and nature to express his concerns as a husbander of nature and America’s ambivalence toward the preservation of nature.…

In the past, John’s landscapes appealed gently for ecological sanity. His recent landscapes are darker, and more urgent. …Kinship of shape, tone and subject also coheres John’s larger grouping of images. The threat of nuclear disaster to the survival of life on earth suffuses a reading of nine photographs John sequenced in 1985. Each of the images is shrouded in dark tones; several reverse positive and negative tones; and several are seen from such abrupt or unusual angles that a first and lasting impression is one of disturbance to the natural order of things. The sequence is an anguished vision, but not a hopeless one.

The first picture, of the lower half of an eagle with an identifying label strung on its talons and dangling on its belly, is a vertical image. The last picture, of a tiny baby scrunched in a car seat, is also vertical. The visual equation of symbols – the first, national: representing great and unfettered freedom (alas, the bird is dead) and the second, personal and universal: representing regeneration (the baby is John’s grandchild) – acts simultaneously to heighten a sense of loss and to engage a sense of protection. In these key positions, nature’s fate is matched to our own.

The seven internal images are all horizontals, and with the exception of the mid-point of the sequence, all are landscapes. The first of these is positive/negative reversed, so that open sky above a field of grasses looms darkly above oddly shadowed, broken stalks. The second landscape, again in reversed tonalities, is a rephotographed collage. A postcard of a Golden Eagle, in proud profile, has been placed on a tangle of star shaped leaves. While the third landscape is in correct tonality, it echoes its precursors in subject and shape. Two trees, tightly grown together, are photographed so that they appear to be falling. This angle emphasizes their roots, which seem like talons clutching loosened earth unable to hold them.

The sense of disorder in the second set of landscapes is even more disturbing than in the first. Now , it is not an overcast field, a nearly extinct bird, one rotted woods, but widespread and profound destruction. The first of these images is another view of the star-shaped leaves. The bird is gone; above the leaves, between them, dusting their surfaces, the air is choked with charcoal smog. Then, the woods again. From dead center of the image, to the edges and past the edges, are concentric rings of energy so violent they literally shake the earth: trees fall helter-skelter bouncing like matchsticks. In the last landscape, a river rushes forward, carrying torn branches over a waterfall that seems to spill into the viewer’s space.

In all of these landscape images, the formal devices are used to conjoin our destiny to nature’s. John has attempted to go beyond identification with nature, even beyond empathy with it. He has tried to subdue his consciousness by moving his eyes and hands in ways that resemble the gestures of things moved by natural and man-made energies. But we are conscious and nature is not. The Pathetic Fallacy does not work in reverse. John, the picturemaker, knows this very well.

The fifth image of the sequence is its core and key. In it, an American flag unfurls across a house. A cast eagle, wings spread, rides atop the flagpole. The stars of the flag look like the leaves; the house leans precariously, like the trees. American flag, family home, bronze eagle – all are inventions of the imagination. They are symbols of the human needs to bond, to believe in things, to shape a world. In this sequence, the symbols and what they stand for, are endangered.

It  takes an act of courage to present sophisticated formal expression as a means of “quiet protest” (John’s words) in this postmodern age, an age in which pictures are litter and image inundation has numbed us equally to violence and to the magic of simple things. John combines simple things – the matching of shapes, the continuity of gestures – to cohere a complex world. For John, the interconnectedness of subject and form, of the natural and made, stands for the possibility of a peaceful coexistence between ourselves and nature.”

[Cohen, Susan E. “The Art of John Wood.” pp. 30-37 in: 4 x 4 Four Photographers by Four Writers: Eileen Cowin by Mark Johnstone, Nathan Lyons by Leroy Searle, Mary Ellen Mark by Shelly Rice and John Wood by Susan E. Cohen. Boulder, Colo.: University of Colorado, Boulder, Dept. of Fine Arts, c1987. 39 p. 9 b & w. 1 color (on front cover) by Wood.]

In the 1980s John experienced two major lifestyle changes. He separated from his first wife to live with the artist Laurie Snyder and in 1989 he retired from full-time teaching at Alfred University, although he continued to teach workshops throughout the decade. Laurie Snyder had attended Swarthmore College in the mid sixties, then married and had two children. In the 1980s she went back to school, describing herself as “An over-thirty undergraduate at Cornell, formerly a potter, …looking for a better way of expressing myself…” I found it in photography. I attended a lecture by John Wood at Cornell in 1982, and was impressed with the work and the man.” More than a year later she took a week-long summer workshop with John where they met and fell in love. Laurie submitted a “Monograph on the Work of John Wood – Artist and Teacher” in 1987 in partial fulfillment of her MFA degree requirements at Syracuse University. This is an extensively researched document with a detailed look at Wood’s biography and body of work. Laurie lived and taught in Ithaca, New York and John moved there in 1987, joining Laurie and her teenaged sons Noah and Benjamin, living in a converted farmhouse in a picturesquely rural setting surrounded by the extensive fields and woods of the Cornell Agricultural Experimental Station crop testing sites. When Laurie was hired to teach at the Maryland Institute College of Art in 1993 they began to divide their time between Baltimore during the academic year and Ithaca during their summers, with frequent trips to give lectures and teach seminars and offer workshops at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Colorado, at the International Center for Photography in New York City, the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY and elsewhere through the 1990s. They married in 1996.

Each is an artist with their own interests and ideas, and each has developed a uniquely personal style to best express those interests – but they both also share many similar concerns and interests in the same mediums and materials. Both work freely across photography, drawing, printmaking and collage as favored forms; and both are strongly committed to the artist’s book as a means of expressing their ideas.

In a 1992 interview both artists responded to the question of mutual influences:

Susie Cohen: I would like to ask each of you what it is like to move into a situation where you have a partnership with a person who is equally creative. I know that you are both strong advocates of each other’s work, and I’d be interested to know how the partnership affects your work and also what kinds of seepages there are from ideas between you and among you and the way your work looks? What does it feel like to be living with a person who you consider a peer and a creative partner as well as a life partner? Is that fair?
John Wood: Sure, it’s a good question.   Laurie…? (laughter)
Laurie Snyder: I was curious as to what you would say first.
JW: Well, first of all I think it’s very desirable –so far anyway. We’re very compatible. I’m talking about not just in our general living, but in terms of working. I’m very happy to share with Laurie some of the skills that I’ve developed through the years –particularly in binding and stuff like that. And we share images back and forth. I think her sense of work is quite lively and I think that influences me. Well, simple things, like we do share images. Some of my images are in Laurie’s work and some of Laurie’s images are in my work and that hasn’t created any problems for me. I don’t know if it has for her.
LS: I’d say that of those pictures that we share, we also have some that we clearly think of as separate pictures. If there were, say, a thousand negatives then there are probably about twenty percent on either end that are yours or mine. Then there are some in the middle that are general domain. I sometimes think of them as if we were sharing a box of crayons.
JW: Well, for example, we both do use the cyanotype as a gestural medium. You can put the cyanotype chemicals down on the paper as a gesture. [In brushstrokes rather than as an even coating.] We both do that. So there is going to be a certain similarity to the work.  And, yes, there are specific negatives that usually appear in a piece that really works for one of us and we each generally claim those negatives as our own.
LS: It seems to have one’s signature on it, in a way.
JW: Yes.
LS: But then there are others. We have a sort of generic pine tree that it seems like we both use. It’s just this pine tree smack dab in the middle of this big negative… And we have several of the mountain pictures where we don’t even know who took the slide. We used the same camera at the same site and we each took ten or twelve slides. I made enlarged negatives from those slides and either one of use can use those negatives in any way we damn well choose. But there are certainly other negatives that one or the other of us has taken that’s to be in the box [negative drawer] that says “Laurie” or says “John.” And then there are some negatives that just float around… And we ask each other’s permission, too.
JW: For instance, Laurie’s working on some family things. I wouldn’t dream of taking one of those images. If there are any negatives that are just generic images, then I’d feel free to use them. But I wouldn’t dream of using images of any of the immediate things that she is dealing with.
LS: We started using each other’s negatives during our residency at the Anderson Ranch in Colorado. It’s so easy to take pictures there that you could have gone to the drug store and bought on a post card. It’s the goddam mountains just sitting there and the picture looks the same whether you take the picture or I take the picture. The first pictures you make look just like other people’s pictures. You think, ‘God, this is hopeless. It’s sort of comical when you realize it. On that trip we took one 35mm camera, one 2 ¼ camera and one 4 x 5 camera between us and we used them interchangeably. And the negatives sort of became part of our private public domain.
JW: And I’ve been in this type of situation for a long time, because I made negatives of pictures taken by other people in the newspapers and magazines during the Vietnam War to use to create some of my early collages; where I added color or the textures of the collaged materials to create my own statement. I made them until eventually I became embarrassed, because the collages were always reproduced in black and white, which took away all the hand things I did to create the new image and those things were not there anymore and the borrowed images in the piece would pop out at me and I just felt that it was wrong. So I stopped then….

[Cohen, Susie and William Johnson. Audiotape interview with Laurie Sievert Snyder and John Wood in John’s studio at Ithaca, NY on July 25, 1992.]

During the summer of 1992 the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY. held an exhibition of John’s work which specifically featuring his concerns on ecological issues and nuclear dangers. Quiet Protest: Recent Work by John Wood displayed thirty‑three works by the artist which ranged across several media. The exhibition contained an installation piece in a small alcove, which consisted of nine willow twig tripods or teepee structures, each with a square of hand‑made paper containing a single printed word, hanging by a long thread from the tripod’s apex. A limited-edition artist’s book titled With What Will We Build Our Nuclear Waste Box? was also placed in the small room. In the main gallery were thirty-two large prints and a second limited‑edition artist’s book, titled Oil and Water, made with acrylic, paste paper, graphite, watercolor and computer text. Both books were open and available for reading by anyone attending the exhibition. There were several diptych prints and one piece, titled “Bird Names,” consisting of seven silver prints and a printed statement, among these thirty‑two prints. The prints ranged from straight silver print photographs to cyanotypes, and monoprints. Most of these works were collages, made with silver prints, applied watercolor or applied acrylic, graphite, etc. Several of the prints were identified as being from specific series, including the Fall Creek Rock Drawings, the Colorado Series, and the Exxon Valdez Series.

Two printed statements were displayed with the works in the exhibition.

“On March 24th, 1989 the Exxon Valdez ran aground spilling 10 million gallons of oil in Prince William Sound, Alaska. On March 24th I made a list of all the waterbirds with the name of a color in their name.
Lawrence Rawls is chairman of Exxon
George Nelson is director of Alyeska, pipeline company (7 firms)
Joseph Hazelwood is the captain of the tanker
Third mate Gregory Comsuis pilots the tanker
And John Wood, the artist, drives his car.

In my pictures
I try to see around
the corners of
feel objects
and touch the
enormity of what we do

I wonder if small acts
can bear on our problems
that is my hope
John Wood 1992”

In July 1992 Susie and I visited and interviewed John and Laurie at his studio in Ithaca, NY, and I published parts of that interview in the September 1992 issue of The Consort, which featured the exhibition.

“Susan Cohen:Why did oil become the symbolic element of waste in your photographs exhibited in “Quiet Protest”?
John Wood: Well, because of the Exxon Valdez event and the fact that we all personally use oil, and that it’s a full circle; which we have to think about in one way or another. And I try to find ways that add that sort of idea in my imagery.
SC: There are so many things that we waste that I was interested in why you chose that one. The picture “Laurie’s Cobble,” with 1/4 teaspoon of oil. It’s astonishing how far that oil goes…
JW: Well, when the Exxon Valdez spill happened it was ten million gallons <197> or whatever it was. That was a specific number, and it was a dramatic act. And it was the responsibility of the corporations, but it was also our own responsibility.
Laurie Snyder:Every time you get the oil changed in your car you’re asking them to throw away four to six quarts of oil. Where does that oil go, when you go to the gas station?
JW: Anyway that’s why I dealt with that topic and I think all of the things I’ve dealt with in a similar fashion are just such a complex thing. But it all comes around and envelopes us and I wanted those things to be in my imagery. In the early series on guns in the landscape, for instance, there’s nothing about that series that literally says I’m against guns. Yet I am, and I feel that those images say that, they say it very specifically, I mean, they don’t say it specifically but they say it abstractly, or metaphorically. And the toxic waste pieces, the works about nuclear waste, it’s the same thing. I list a number of words like “granite,” “glass,” “paper,” “air,” “water,” and I say how are we going to contain our nuclear waste? And there’s nothing that really protests, there’s nothing lethal about what I’m saying, nothing that’s going to solve the problem. It’s just the way I can get at stuff, I guess.
William Johnson: Your imagery refers to nuclear waste issues and to oil spills and issues of pollution and conservation, but you don’t make strident, overtly political propaganda. You have quietly produced images dealing with these concerns, about issues of conservation and pollution and atomic energy and atomic waste for many years now, so was there a specific reason to focus that on those things in this show? Or is this just a continuation of a long‑term effort?
JW: Well, the show itself is a continuation of my work, there is nothing about the show that is very different from anything else I could pull out of my files…
WJ: It’s what you’ve been doing since at least the 1960s.
JW: Yes. The reason it gets kind of concentrated in the show is that I am still doing it, I guess.
LS: Also, you and Jim Wyman (Curator of the Visual Studies Workshop Gallery, and of this exhibition.) discussed whether you could design a show that would be around a central concept to help solidify it.
JW: I think Jim wanted it to be even more specific, but I didn’t. “Quiet Protest” was my name for it simply because he wanted a name, I look at it as an exhibit of my work.
WJ: Can we describe the show a little bit? What do you call these wonderful tripod pieces? Would that be a sitework?
LS: Wonderful tripod pieces, there you go, it’s his tripod installation. It was his attempt to be a trendy artist. (Laughter.)
JW: Yeah. Years ago I did a series of sculptural things where I figured out how I could support a piece of paper in space. I ended up with about fifteen pieces, one of which is this tripod of three willow sticks with the thin paper supported just off the floor with nine threads which are hanging from the tripod. So, when I was trying to think of a project that I wanted to do this was one of the things I came up with. I repeated this thing that I had discovered a long time ago. This tripod suspending a piece of thin Japanese tissue was interesting to me. It sways on the nine threads, and it just stays there. So when I had the idea of doing a simple installation of these things I figured out how I wanted to do it and I went out and cut the willow sticks and trimmed them and peeled them and I did the string and I made the paper and I printed one word on each sheet of paper and I suspended them from these tripods.
WJ: And the words are “Granite.”
JW: “Salt,” “Paper…”
LS: “Steel.”
JW: “Steel,” “Glass,” “Lead,” “Clay,” “Wood” and “Water.”
WJ: These nine tripods are presented in a small alcove in the exhibition. One of the things that I remembered when I looked at that was that there were some air currents or something. The pieces were swaying with a very subtle elegant movement, sort of floating under these very tenuous‑looking stick tripods.
JW: A gust of wind would have demolished the whole setup.
LS: A kid on a tricycle.
WJ: Then there’s an artist’s book there in the space, which you can pick up and read, and it has the same words printed one per page, on graph paper. And this particular work was titled “With What Will We Build Our Nuclear Waste Box?”
LS: It’s quintessentially ephemeral, lightweight, and fragile and yet it’s dealing with things that are supposed to make you feel secure like granite, steel, and heavy solid things which aren’t going to move.
WJ: What else is in the exhibition?
JW: There are two books and there are a lot of my images, collages…
WJ: How big?
JW: They’re mostly in the 22″x30″ range.
WJ: And these are collages with photographs?
JW: Collages with silver print photographs, also cyanotypes and other materials, and hand applied colors, graphite, etc.
WJ: There are words in some of well?
JW: There are texts in some of them. A typical piece is the collage consisting of several photographs of corn cribs so that they have a slight shift of perspective. And there’s a big smear of liquid graphite. The title of that is “How to Hide Nuclear Waste.” And this is an ironic statement, this is where it becomes very difficult for me, because I mean this as a protest. There’s too much secrecy about the nuclear waste. There’s not enough said about it, but what is said is not true or it’s distorted or all the rest of it. So this statement, “How to Hide Nuclear Waste” is about that.
LS: You had another piece that played on the same issue, a collage which included two photographs of paper bags held closed with a clothespin at the top. It was concerned with how to store dangerous materials. In your talks with students and other people you’ve said that you felt that, in a sense, every human being should have some nuclear waste that they had to store and keep safe. It would spread this idea around that we have huge storage places that would clearly wipe out whole pockets of populations that live around those places, but if every person had a small amount that they had to…
SC: They’d be more serious about keeping it. It becomes closer to each of us.
JW: Every one of my images, whether conscious or not, has a number of different levels, for example in the picture of the corn cribs which is about how to hide nuclear waste. Well, we’re also hiding it in our food chain. And the paper bag thing was reflecting on the fact that we’re dealing with things that have such an extremely long life and we’re not really thinking about it carefully. I mean, a stainless steel canister, in terms of the life of nuclear waste, is almost as fragile as the paper bag. And its that kind of multiplicity that I’m seeking in the pieces.
SC: But there is actually nothing that we know of that can contain those wastes.
LS: We have no way of testing anything for the period of time that is required…
JW: And we’re being misled about it.
WJ: But it also seems to me that instead of pointing the finger at the government or something like that, you’re saying it’s the responsibility of each individual human being to be concerned.
JW: Well, that’s the circular thing that I feel, it all comes back to each one of us.
WJ: I don’t think about nuclear waste each day, I put it out of my mind everyday, although, as you say, it is probably one of the more important issues of our time.
LS: But if you had a coffee can that was your responsibility to keep safe from Josh and Susan and you knew that your neighbor had one too, you’d make sure that you both knew where it was at all times.
SC: I’d worry about my neighbor a lot more than I do now, that’s for sure.
LS: Yeah.
SC: But it might create a closer chain among humans…
LS: But, in a sense, what we’re talking about is that nuclear waste is our neighbor and yet we put it out of our minds. And I think that’s what John is trying to grapple with, without chaining himself to a fence at the proposed depot site.
JW: Well, I feel that this is my subject matter in a way that I can’t ignore. I still love to take nice photographs, I like landscapes and I like nice silver prints and stuff like that, but I feel a little uncomfortable with that right now. I feel that if I’m going to display stuff, that it has to go beyond that…
LS: Some of the reasons you work with the nuclear waste issue in particular is that some of your family and colleagues in Alfred are sitting on the proposed site. In fact, your former property is not more than ten miles from the proposed site of New York State’s largest storage facility.
JW: Yes, that comes very close personally. My grandchildren live less than five miles from this proposed site. But also a lot of my friends were willing to be arrested.
LS: They put their lives on the line.
JW: Yes, Bill Perry, was actually arrested.
LS: Yes, he spent the night in the jail.
JW: Blocking these inspectors who were going to survey the site and do stuff to it. Not only in Allegheny County but Cortland County, which is right next door. These people are really battling. And it wasn’t a battle of “not in my backyard,” because I don’t know what the answer to that is. They were battling more that the government has to think more about this. I mean, it has to be solved in a better way than secretly burying it somewhere. I don’t know which official said this statement, but he said, “Trust us, we know what we’re doing.” They don’t know what they’re doing. And there’s no reason at all in the world to trust them, in relationship to things that have happened in the past about nuclear waste and what happens with it.
WJ: But, again, while this has become a fairly pointed and specific issue to you recently, issues of the bomb and gun control have been a long‑standing concern in your work for many years now.
JW: Ever since I’ve been a conscious artist — you know, somebody that’s dealing with ideas — these have been my concerns. And I think that’s one of the reasons why photography was interesting to me. Particularly collaging, that permitted me to feed this kind of stuff into my images. It doesn’t occur in my drawings, for instance. I don’t make drawings of protests or I don’t make drawing of George Bush and make it pointedly propagandistic…
WJ: But you also don’t make photographs of that either. You make photographs of natural things around you in your life. The picture called “Laurie’s cobble” is a photograph of a very smooth oval rock with a drop of oil spread on it.
JW: It was a pink cobblestone that Laurie brought me from Nova Scotia and originally I made a photograph of it and that was the title of the photograph. There’s a little text that said Laurie went down to the beach at six o’clock in the morning and brought me back this cobblestone from Nova Scotia so I had this cobble and I had this photograph that I’d made of it that had nothing to do with nuclear waste or oil spills or anything else. And I felt the need to bring this into the context of the oil spill and I put some oil on it and rephotographed it.
LS: Well, if we had a big oil spill in our yard, you know it would effect us very closely. We don’t live in Alaska and we don’t live on the coast, but if you take something that’s important to you personally and it gets polluted, that infects you. John took an object of love and intimacy and by putting a teaspoon of oil on that particular rock, that act made it more hard‑hitting. It practically made me cry. But then, in the end, the actual rock that the oil spill is on is just gorgeous.
SC: Unfortunately, yes.
JW: That’s one of the things that I run up against because I don’t want to make images that are ugly. I mean, I’m dealing with an ugly subject, I suppose, but I want my images to be beautiful. But this has a long history, I mean Picasso’s “Guernica” is a beautiful painting and Goya’s etchings are exquisite to me, so I guess that’s what the artist does if he’s going to deal with this. Heartfield’s images weren’t so beautiful, I mean he was much more specific…
SC: Oh, but they do have a whole unity about them, it’s that same wonderful thing about the way something hangs together, it means what it means by how it looks.
JW: I guess if an artist is really going to be cutting, he goes and does street theater or protest in some way other than his work.
LS: But that certainly is not your way.
JW: That is not my way.
SC: Laurie, do you deal with the big issues in your work? John directly addresses the big issues although he does it with a bird or a pebble <197> it’s contextualized. What are the issues of your work? It’s interesting to me because earlier we talked about how you both often use the same negative of a pine tree in a picture. I mean, I guess I’m getting to the old basic thing, the picture is not about what’s in the picture, the picture is about what else is going on in the picture.
LS: I do a lot of imagery that derives somewhat more out of personal experience, in that sense, it is more diaristic. I don’t particularly think of it as particularly about me, but a lot of the imagery comes out of really ordinary kind of everyday kind of stuff <197> a tomato that I’m peeling, or making bread, or things like that, but I don’t think of it particularly about peeling tomatoes.
SC: But what’s the transforming process that makes the personal act into something that could touch everybody.
LS: But often, as you’re peeling a tomato and you think, “God, the skin as it hangs off the fork looks like Michelangelo’s flayed skin on the Sistine Chapel that I studied in art history about 25 years ago…” And so I’m sitting here peeling tomatoes on a hot summer afternoon and I think, “Oh shit, I better photograph this thing.” I mean that’s very common for me. A lot of times I can’t make the photograph then, there are seventeen people coming for supper or something, so I write it down at night and some other time I take the photograph.
SC: But somehow the recognition of the small event as representing something larger, or something within the continuous history of art making, that doesn’t disappear, it shows up.
LS: Yes, I think so.
JW: And the photograph can do that, that’s what it can really do, I mean it’s the melding together that comes out of your own experience.
LS: And I’ve always liked that in other people’s work, that sort of attention to the little details that seem as important as the big issues.
JW: I think that could be said about my work and Laurie’s work. I mean her issues are just as important and broad as my issues.
LS: I don’t take on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
JW: But I don’t either.
SC: But the value of life, I didn’t mean to say that your work is less because it dealt with private issues, I guess I was trying to work around what that whole concept is.
LS: I have a photograph where I use strudel dough, the image is of some very thin dough through which you can see the contours of the hand, an old hand. The picture really is about skin and fragility and feelings and feelings of being punctured. I guess I use my mother fairly often in my pictures. It’s handy, she’s around all the time…
SC: She’s got these good old hands?
LS: She’s got old hands, they’re extremely capable woman’s hands that are now very old, a little less capable, but certainly heavily used tools.
JW: But you see, to me, that would be an issue that’s just as broad as a ten million gallon oil spill and I guess I would hope that some of my images would have some of that also….
[Conversation continues]…”

[Cohen, Susie E. and William Johnson. “Quiet Protest: Conversation with the Artist.” The Consort: A Calendar of Photography, Film and Video Events in and around Rochester with Reviews, Interviews and Critical Essays (Sept. 1992): 1-14. 9 b & w. (Office of University Educational Services, George Eastman House).]

John has worked across a wide range of visual media during his career, making work ranging from large painted canvases to small wooden constructions. But one strong constant in John’s art-making practice since the 1950s has been his interest in the artist’s book. He has taught artist’s book making classes and workshops to hundreds of students and he has made more than fifty artist’s books. Most of these were in extremely limited editions – either unique copies, or in editions of from three to a hundred copies. In 1996 he had the opportunity to create an artist’s book at the Visual Studies Workshop Press in an edition of 3000 copies. This book OZONE ALERT, againextends John’s ecological concerns.

The texts are short:

“the other day I read on a highway sign WARNING OZONE ALERT.” 

Miners Take a yellow canary into the
Mine to warn them of danger. The
bird’s collapse alerts the miners to bad air.

I wonder if our songbirds will warn
us of bad air and will we be able to
understand their song?

In July 1995 I took photographs of
The cooling towers at three mile island
And made a list of 89 birds with color in their name.”

This is followed by twenty-seven pages of landscape photographs, varying from distant views of the nuclear cooling towers to close-up scenes of flowers, rocks or rubble found in both urban and rural sites. Each of these scenes has a single line of text, consisting of the 89 bird’s names, printed across the middle of each page:

“blue-footed booby yellow crowned heron white ibis great blue heron yellow warbler,” etc.

The mixture of the beautiful and the mundane, the poetry of the birds’ names against the grimness of the industrial views, sets up a dynamic of attraction and repulsion, and leads to a sense of unease and disquiet that plays out through the patterns and modulations of the pages of the book. A form of communication, which John has pointed out, that you hold in your hands and view at a personal distance and read at a personal rate of speed – in other words, a private, privileged and intimate form of communication. And John sets up a dynamic in his book that is not intellectual, not a reasoned argument for or against nuclear energy – rather his tropes and figures call up an intuitive sense of possible danger and potential loss, a foreboding rather than a prediction, a call for caring concern rather than an argument for specific action.

[Wood, John. OZONE ALERT Rochester, NY: Visual Studies Workshop Press, 1996. 32 pp. ]

When I interviewed John in 2006, he first warned me with that always almost painful honesty that he had always shown me that he was “slower now” – by which he meant that he couldn’t remember some of the past events in great detail any more and that he also had some trouble finding the correct words he was seeking when he attempted to talk about issues. But the amazing diversity and beauty of his art practice over the past twenty years hasn’t seemed to have been in any way slowed down. So our interviews became sessions where I simply enjoyed the wonderful art that he showed me, piece after piece; while I tried to frame very direct, very basic questions. Looking at some lovely computer prints which had lists of single words incorporated into the images, I asked if he had ever enjoyed Concrete Poetry, to which he responded he had been very interested in it back in the 1960s. Something in the color and line of one work impelled me to ask if he had ever been influenced by Paul Klee. He answered, without an ounce of sarcasm or irony, “Wasn’t everyone?” Then finally I asked the most basic and hardest question of all. “Why do you make art?” John looked surprised, even bewildered by the question; then answered “How could I not?”

Horses, Sea Lions, and Other Creatures: Robert Frank, Dave Heath, Robert Heinecken and John Wood, by Susan E. Cohen and William S. Johnson. Belmont, MA: Joshua Press, 1986. 242 pp., 36 35mm slides bound‑in. Limited edition, 16 copies, printed on an IBM‑AT computer, with WordStar 2000 software.

“Quiet Protest: Recent Work by John Wood. Conversation with the Artist,” by Susan E. Cohen and William Johnson. The Consort (Sept. 1992): 1‑14.

John Wood. On the Edge of Clear Meaning.
Text by David Levi Strauss, William S. Johnson and Ezra Shales. Book design by Joan Lyons. Gottingen: Steidl, 2008. 178 pp. 168 illus. [Accompanied an exhibition first co-hosted at the George Eastman House, the Visual Studies Workshop and the Memorial Art Gallery, Rochester, NY, then traveled to the International Center of Photography and the Grey Art Gallery, New York, NY, then elsewhere.]

Three Photographs by Robert Frank

Its October, 2017. My trip to Mabou to visit Robert Frank happened more than thirty years ago and I’ve forgotten parts of it already, but more importantly, even those parts I do remember are starting to fuzz a little, so I want to try to write this down before I lose it altogether….


The photograph is titled “Washington DC on a Monday Afternoon ca. 1952.” It presents an enlarged three panel strip of 35mm negatives depicting a car passing in front of an American flag painted on a brick wall, framed on each side by a half-image of the photo taken before (front end of car approaching) and then afterwards (car gone, small group of people walking by and looking at the wall – probably because the photographer was photographing something strange), with 35mm negative socket holes included on bottom of print. The title is hand-written by Mr. Frank in black ink under the bottom margin and “For Bill on a wonderful October Sunday in Mabou in 1984, Robert Frank.” is inscribed in green ink in the print. The print has irregular burned edges, which Mr. Frank informed me were created on one lazy, but bright, afternoon in Mabou by focusing the rays of the sun through a beer bottle to burn a line of holes around the edges of the print.

I was to fly from Boston up to Halifax, then drive a rental car across and up the long narrow spine of the Nova Scotia peninsula to Mabou, where Robert had his summer home, to spend the weekend talking together and observing him in that space, and then return home. As I was doing this as part of the long-term experimental collaborative exhibition project with the four photographers Robert Frank, Dave Heath, Robert Heinecken, and John Wood, which Eelco Wolf, at Polaroid, was backing; the technical details of the trip, the plane-tickets, car rentals, etc. had been organized by his very efficient secretaries in his office, as was the customary practice.

Susie and I had already been working on and off with Robert Frank as part of this collaborate project. We had visited him in his New York loft to explain the project to him and to ask him to participate. Robert had come to Rochester, NY to meet the other artists and participants, and to decide whether to participate in the project, and there had been some further meetings in our apartment in Belmont, Mass. And I had spent several times observing him at various other points – most notably when I had functioned as his temporary assistant and observer during a commercial “photo shoot” in Boston, after Frank had been asked to make photographs for an album cover for the J. Giles Band. (I have attempted to describe this event in one of the Knute Rockne Oasis Newsletters that Susie and I published for the project’s participants as the project developed.)

I had always loved Frank’s photographs and had been impressed by his reputation; but “reputations” can be problematic and I had attempted to maintain some distance as an “objective observer” throughout these events. But frankly, in an early visit to his New York apartment I had seen some of his entirely new, post-The Americans photographs, which had not yet been published anywhere and were not known to the public at that time; and their beauty and power had simply blown me away. And observing Mr. Frank over the course of earlier meetings and events I had come to believe that he was perhaps the smartest, most instinctively intuitive individual I had ever met. I was, I’m afraid, swept away and a little bit in awe, in spite of my efforts be a neutral observer, and when he invited me to come up to spend a week-end in Mabou I was keyed up and had had little sleep for several nights before the trip.

But the trip started off poorly, in a small twin-engine airplane, which probably could hold about twenty passengers, but which had only about a half-dozen seats filled on this flight. The flight was supposed to leave Boston in the morning and arrive in Halifax by mid-afternoon. But there were mechanical difficulties and we sat in the plane at the airport for several hours while a couple of mechanics peered at its innards and pounded on this or that until they felt that it might make it all the way to Halifax after all.

After we took off I don’t think we flew more than a few hundred feet above the ground, hugging the coastline all the way up to Canada. I remember flying over mile after mile of heavy dark-green forests, only broken up by sheets of dark-grey, deeply-scored rocks abruptly abutting the foaming waves of the blue sea. This is a brutal coastline that clearly shows the weight of geological glaciation as it projects the determinative forces of nature forcefully to the eye. There were few sandy beaches on this coast, and the human footprint seemed tentative at best. There had to be people living somewhere in the hundreds of miles we flew over, but I saw very little sign of them. A poor traveler, and already tired, I must have fallen asleep for the end of the trip.

In any case when we arrived at Halifax I seemed to be in a slightly muzzy haze. We arrived at the Halifax airport in the evening, long after the last flight was due, and several hours after the airport and its car-rental booth was scheduled to close for the night. The other five or six passengers, all apparently native to the area, quietly scattered and disappeared, leaving me in the virtually empty airport, where I didn’t even know how to find the exit to the street. However, I spotted the car-rental desk, where what seemed to be pretty much the only person in the airport, and for all I knew, the only living person in Canada, was quietly puttering around in a desultory way while preparing to go home. Rushing over, I told him that I was the individual that was there to pick up the car rented by the Polaroid Corporation; only to find out that Eelco’s normally impeccable secretary had screwed up and there was no record of any such rental agreement. After some discussion, I was somehow able to convince the man to rent the car to me anyway. (My story must have seemed so outlandish that it had to be true, and it may have been his only business of the day. And besides, aside from a tiny neck of land hundreds of miles to the north-west, Nova Scotia was virtually an island anyway – so where could I go in a stolen car?)

So the long autumn evening was turning dark as I left the airport, armed with verbal directions to Mabou from the agent, and with a map provided by him in the car. It should be easy. There was only one major highway that ran through the middle of Nova Scotia from Halifax up to the west coast of Cape Bretton where Mabou is located. I was to leave the airport, turn right, and then drive north for three or four hours for about 200 miles, then look for signage for Mabou. I left the airport and the scatter of Halifax lights disappeared behind me, the rare highway light-poles ran out, and I drove straight down the emptiest highway I had ever seen, fronted on both sides by a serried rank of dense foliage, into the heart of darkness.

Now, I am no stranger to long lonely cross-country drives. My father had worked for an oil-well servicing company then based in Oklahoma; and he had moved our small family – himself, my mother and me, – from oil-field to oil-field as they opened up. My family was from Oklahoma, but I was born in Effingham, Illinois during the Centralia Oil Field Boom in the early 1940s; then, in succession, the family moved to and lived from six months to two years each in Ohio, West Virginia, Texas, Peru, Venezuela, Columbia, Texas again, Alberta, Canada, and then Ohio again; all before I had reached high-school. And always in between these trips, we came back to my grandfather’s farm in Oklahoma to rest for a few weeks to several months and wait for the next assignment.

As a child, I had been driven cross-country several times, spending the long nights staring up out of the back window of the car at the amazing river of stars in the Milky Way and the very occasional fairy-tower of lights festooning a functioning oil-rig, the lights visible for miles on the high prairies of the Great Plains. Or on one trip from Edmonton, Alberta, driving even further up north to the edge of the Arctic Circle, with a day and a night of driving through mile after mile after mile of burned-over forest. And as an adult I had driven from Massachusetts or New York to Oklahoma, or Arizona, or California and back again more than once. I once calculated that I have driven through every state in the contiguous United States except Washington. I am very aware of the great distances and massive scale of the natural features to be found in our country, and I am experienced at driving through them.

But this drive up the Nova Scotia highway was spooking me. After driving in the dark for the three required hours without seeing, if I remember correctly, a single car, a single dwelling, or even a single road-sign, I stopped to read the map. And here I received an even more unnerving shock. The map, incredibly, had been printed in light green and yellow ink and I literally could not read it by the interior lights of the car. No matter how hard I strained, I simply could not discern the route or puzzle out the map at all, which seemed to me at best to be a badly faded piece of paper. I stopped in the middle of the highway and got out of the car and tried to read the map in the headlights – no fears of anyone running me over as I had not seen a living soul for more than three hours. But no matter how hard I tried, squatting and squinting, moving the map back and forth in the headlights, I was not able to read this map in these circumstances. Complete failure, I was shocked, feeling a new awareness of my failing night vision and a having very unnerving glimpse of my own mortality.

I started driving down the empty highway again, attempting to follow the half-remembered verbal directions and counting on my good directional sense. I decided if I just turned left at the first available exit (incredibly again, not marked with any signage. Apparently in Canada you should know where you are going, or you shouldn’t be there.) and kept driving down what by now were two-lane gravel backcountry roads, still without a single dwelling or shed or any other sign of human occupation. I estimated that if I kept going straight ahead I would eventually run out of land and there would have to be some sort of habitation on the coast.

By now it is very late at night for a rural area, but my strategy actually worked. After driving through all these interminable trees for another half-hour or so I saw the headlights of another car coming toward me and I pulled my car into the middle of the two-lane road, then got out and stood in my own headlights in as unthreatening a posture as I could find, until the driver slowly rolled up and I could ask him were I was and how to find Mabou. Extraordinarily, and fortunately, all of my guesses had been good, and I was only about 15 minutes away from Mabou.

Wikipedia tells us that Mabou is a “…small Canadian rural community located in Inverness County on the west coast of Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island. The population in 2011 was 1,207 residents. During the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century Mabou’s primary economic activity was underground coal mining with several collieries located in the surrounding area. The Inverness and Richmond Railway opened in 1901 to connect the mines in Mabou and Inverness to wharves in Mabou and Port Hastings. Mining activity ceased following World War II and the railway was abandoned during the late 1980s. Today Mabou is primarily a fishing port for a small fleet of lobster boats. It also hosts a high school serving central Inverness County. It is also a very strong community with many farms….”

But these events happened before home computers were commonplace, or before the internet, Wikipedia, and cell-phones existed. Back then all I knew about Mabou was that it was too small to even have a drug-store, as I remembered that Robert had taught photography to a group of women in a local adult-education class, and they had had to send their film to a drug store in a larger town down the road to be developed. That night as I drove down the main street of Mabou, there was no neon signs, no stop-lights, no roadside motels, or gas stations, very few commercial signs, or any cluster of commercial buildings as you would find in any American town of comparable age and size. Just a scattering of dark, mostly wooden, poorly lit buildings; reminding me again of that other trip that I took as a child to the far north of Western Canada, where we drove to a Hudson Bay trading-post at the very edge of the penetration of European civilization into the northern wilderness.

Everything in Mabou was closed at that time of night, but following Robert’s written instructions, I found the correct street signs and then found the road his house was supposed to be on, and I followed it for a mile or so while driving out of the town again. The omnipresent trees had thinned out, thank God, but it is still so dark I could not see anything on my left side at all as I passed the occasional farmhouse on my right. Then, just as I had driven what seemed too far and I was beginning to feel lost again, I came to a brightly-lit house backed up into a hill, with five or six cars scattered along the driveway leading up to the door. It was about 3:00 a. m., and anything going on at this time of night felt a little dodgy, but I drove up the driveway, and following fragmented memories of back-country protocol, I got out of the car, walked up to about ten feet from the front door and called out to the house.

A long pause, and a young man finally opened the door. The living room was full of six or seven other men, all apparently drinking beer and watching television. Checkered shirts, work-boots, gimmie-hats; this was a fairly rough-looking group – and with fragments of Deliverance flashing through my mind, I apologized for disturbing them and very politely asked if anyone knew of someone named Robert Frank and where he lived. Another very long pause, while the man at the door was clearly making up his mind whether to answer me or tell me to fuck off. Then, finally, with what seemed to be great reluctance, he told me Frank lived in the next house, about a half mile further down the road.

I thanked him, got back into the car, and drove up to Frank’s house. Frank was still up and waiting for me in his kitchen. As he welcomed me, I apologized for being so late, but just said that the flight had been delayed and mentioned something about his neighbor being helpful. But I was clearly spooked, tired, and hungry; and without much conversation, Frank quickly cooked me some delicious bacon and eggs on his cast-iron wood-fired stove, then showed me to a bed in a small upstairs room, where I immediately fell into an exhausted sleep.

I woke up the next morning, in a plain, dun-colored room; almost empty except for the bed and in the middle of one wall a luminescent, brilliant blue abstract rectangle, which as I muzzily watched, seemed to be in a slow motion; with irregular lacy white bands appearing at the top of the frame, then calmly and steadily rolling down the picture plane and disappearing out the bottom edge. I lay there mesmerized by this visual wonder that Mr. Frank had somehow provided for my morning entertainment, before my sluggish wits kicked into gear and I realized that I was watching waves lazily rolling on the bay that Frank’s house looked out on. From the position I was at in the room, the window framed only a patch of constantly moving water, without any horizon or shoreline to situate the image. Last night had been so dark and my attention so focused on finding Frank’s house on the right side of the road that I had driven past several miles of open water on the left without consciously realizing it. Even as my rational faculties worked out what was happening, my sense of wonder at this rhythmically calming, quietly beautiful, visual event kept me attentive and appreciative of the beginning of this new day.

Windows have somehow always held a vivid place in my memory. Long before I became a student of photographic practice, (Where I learned that the frame — what to leave in, what to leave out, how to balance the shapes and spaces within the picture against its edges — is a most, perhaps the most, important tool for a picture-maker.) my strongest recollections of childhood were frequently focused around a window.

And all echoes of my past resonating through last night’s drive brought back one of the most vivid memories of my childhood to me. Our family had travelled widely through the United States, Canada and South America when I was a child, but we always went back to my mother’s father’s farm in Oklahoma between these assignments, and that was, I suppose, where it most felt like home. This was in the 1940’s and 1950’s, but my grandfather’s farm still had many of the characteristics of an earlier age. My grandfather’s farm was in south-central Oklahoma, a little south of the small town of Comanche, literally located on the old Chisum Trail where they had driven cattle up from Texas to the Abilene, Kansas stockyards from the 1860s to 1880s. Later a branch of the Kansas-Pacific railroad had been built along that route and my grandfather used that railroad to deliver his own cattle to the stock-yards. When my grandfather was younger he ran cattle; apparently (From an old photograph I once saw.) enough cattle to rent cattle-cars on the railroad every year, hire some boys or young men to ride on top of the cars to poke them through the slats with long sticks to keep them safely on their feet during the ride, (Hence, I assume, the terms “Cow Pokes,” or “Cow-punchers.”) and deliver them to the stockyards in Kansas. By the time I was growing up all this was reduced to a herd of about twenty head — not a lot by local standards, and the homestead was more diversified, growing corn and other crops. Each time we came back to the farm, it was reduced or changed a little. More acreage sold, the remaining fields rented out to younger farmers, the horses gone, then the mules he used to plow the cornfields and haul his wagon disappeared, the pigs replaced by easier-to-manage chickens, etc. The farm was coming close to the end of its natural cycle, as was my grandfather; who had raised a family, kept everything going and together through the Great Depression as so much of Oklahoma dried up and blew away, then lost his wife, and was himself grown old. His children, or all the sisters, including my mother, were patiently waiting for this natural event to play out, but I was, of course, too young to know what was going on.

My grandfather built the first brick private dwelling in that part of the world, the bricks brought in on the new railroad. Almost all the other farm houses then, ranging from shacks to larger well-built dwellings, were made of wood. Again, unusual for the place and time, the farmhouse had two stories and a round tower with deeply curved, now irreplaceably expensive windows that were a constant source of worry for my mother (and me, just a little) that I would somehow break them or shoot them with my Daisy Red Ryder bee-bee rifle. (I had already shot out the large plate glass window in the front door, while attempting to demonstrate that the gun was absolutely empty and therefore not dangerous in the house.) Curiously, no one took the gun away from me, or even punished me, as it was clear that I had already manifestly learned the lesson not to point any gun – even an unloaded gun – at anyone for any reason. In fact, I can’t remember ever being physically punished for anything, just a long quiet talk from my mother if I had done something wrong. From what I’ve since read or heard, that seems to be a very “Indian” way of doing things. (My grandmother was part Choctaw.) On the farm there was a telephone, but no electricity, so at night the house was lit by kerosene lanterns, cleaned and filled every day by my mother – a chore she had had since childhood.

My bedroom was upstairs, and the only occupied room on that floor at that time. Every day, just before dark I climbed the stairs, scurried through the windowless dim hallway with the mysterious and scary black stain on one wall, and reached the safety of my bed, eventually to go to sleep to be wakened by the sunlight coming through the window the next morning. The single window faced the back of the house and my view took in the various structures of a working farm: outhouse, sheds, pig pens and the stable and corral and then the rolling fields of the “back forty.”

Most of the time my grandfather’s farm was a place of tans and duns. Red earth, gnarled grey-brown Post Oak trees, seared yellow grasses were the colors dominating the hot, dry summers and the cold, dry winters. Not a barren or ugly land, but it provided only a spare and contained beauty to the eye most of the year. But in the spring, if we had been lucky with the rain, the land could briefly blossom. Burned in my memory, much more strongly than more consequential things from that time, is the spring day that I woke up and saw the window frame a vivid rectangle of verdant green. The rains had brought the grass into life again overnight and meadows behind house presented a startlingly vibrant, almost pulsating, landscape so different from all those views that had presented themselves through the long, grey winter. The brightness didn’t last for long, a day or so before the colors muted down and the dust took off the bright edge, but those few days were enough to build the strength to get through the summer once again.

Waking up again to another vivid landscape somehow wiped out all the frustrations and anxieties of yesterday and I felt calm and positive as I dressed, went downstairs and found Mr. Frank quietly engaged in the household economics of gradually battening down the hatches of his home before the winter weather closed in.

As Mr. Frank cooked up another breakfast I looked around his house. I was again forcefully reminded of my grandfather’s farm. Frank had electricity and running water, but much of the house resembled my grandfather’s. The furnishings were utilitarian and rather spare, a bit worn with age and usage. An old wooden-cased clock on the mantle and a few knickknacks, which had drawn a momentary attention or embodied the memory of some small event, were randomly scattered about. Most notably, there were no photographs on the walls, none by Mr. Frank or by anyone else. I don’t remember any specific pictures at all, but if there were any pictures, they would have been inexpensive commercial reproductions of mundane scenes by anonymous painters. The radio, critical for the weather and the news and entertainment through the long winter nights, was in the kitchen, which would be the warmest room in the house, which was also occupied by a sink, the cast-iron stove, a small table and a few chairs and a scattering of useful or needed tools or utilities, such as a shovel or heavy boots close to hand in some corner.

We sat down to breakfast and loosely planned out the day’s activities. And this new day was glorious: a light-filled day – sparkling, with crisp, bright, autumn weather, the sky a deep blue from horizon to horizon, so clear that you could see Prince Edward Island across the Bay – something that happens about once every forty years, or so Mr. Frank told me. It was a wonderful day, and far too nice to spend it inside huddled over a tape-recorder asking and answering arcane questions about almost forgotten past events. After breakfast and a short, desultory interview, Mr. Frank and I played hooky.

I began to help him with some of the endless chores attendant to rural living, such as splitting wood for the stove, etc. To my chagrin this skill, which once I had mastered fairly well, had eroded so that I was clumsy and awkward with the axe, and after a while Mr. Frank politically and gracefully got it out of my hands before I did some damage to something other than some chunks of wood. Then while Mr. Frank worked on some more of his chores, I spent some time wandering around the homestead; hiking out of the yard and uphill into the trees behind the farmhouse, just scouting around, taking in the general lay of the land. I later tried to write about this experience, but never really got it down on paper to my satisfaction:

“Robert Frank lives in Nova Scotia, a few miles outside of Mabou, in a farmhouse half way up a hillside facing the sea. The hill slopes fairly steeply down to the sea in front; behind the land continues several hundred yards higher to crest, then breaks into dips and rolls, with the interior hollows filled with heavy timber. At another place you would want to head upslope to go over into the woods nestled behind the first hill, but at Mabou your gaze is always drawn out to the sea, and it takes an effort to look behind you and up.
This farm was once an early settler’s homestead, a narrow frontage extending back from the ocean for several acres into the woodlands. At some point the acreage facing the ocean was cleared for farming, then later, when the farm was abandoned, let go back into scrub brush. Frank told me he accidentally set a blaze while burning garbage when he first moved in years ago. The quick winds up there immediately whipped it into a dangerous grass fire. Everyone for miles around turned up to put the fire out, just before it reached the next farmstead – an effective, if embarrassing way to meet your neighbors.
Now the ocean-facing slope is covered with tall grass and a scattering of younger volunteer evergreens. The heavy woods behind the first hill sit there quietly accruing beauty and value, as Frank doesn’t do any serious logging. There isn’t a lot of money to be made in Mabou now anyway – the mines are played out; the farming, on this cold, rocky land, is at a sustenance level; the logging is exhausted; the sea provides some fishing, but not enough for heavy industry, and it’s just a little too far off the beaten track for Canada’s tourism promotion to be all that successful. The people who do manage to make a life up there seem to know each other fairly well, and they hold to a sense of community which seems left over from an earlier time.
Frank is considered to be a valuable member of this community, although probably not for the same reasons he is accorded value in the world of art – even though he once did teach photography to the ladies who signed up at the local adult education program; using Diana cameras and mailing the negatives off to be developed in a bigger town forty miles away. Nevertheless, it’s clear that Frank finds this acceptance both valuable and nourishing to his own sense of worth. That nourishment, and the nourishment he takes from looking out to the ocean, have kept him at Mabou, a place not easily hospitable to outsiders, for many years now.
Another nourishment sustains Frank at Mabou as well. Robert is quietly competent in the ordinary skills common to a rural economy – cooking on a wood stove, chopping the wood to fuel the stove and heat his house, repairing the house, and rebuilding the homestead. These skills are everyday fare to his neighbors, but represent hard-learned lessons, learned late in life by the city-dwelling son of a wealthy Swiss businessman. I think Robert’s competence in the complexities of living in a hard land helps him feel closer to the kind of reality he prefers to inhabit, which he finds in Mabou.
His wife, June Leaf, has built a fine forge on the farm, where she can create those wonderful metal sculptures which are so full of grace and power, and size them to any scale she chooses – not like the loft in New York, where she has either to paint canvases or work small.
Robert has also made sculptures in Mabou, though he won’t admit it, preferring to identify them as collections of found driftwood logs and rocks, which he has simply piled together at scattered spots around his homestead. Robert doesn’t have a philosophy about these structures, he just likes to build them from time to time. But, in a place where very little is wasted or in excess, they do seem to provide several valuable services. For one thing, they offer surfaces for the eye to focus on at a near distance and so provide some relief from the constant draw of the water. Then again, the seemingly random scattering of these structures around the house and outbuildings of the farm is deceptive, for they are actually sited like rifle pits, commanding and protecting all the entrances to the homestead – talisman barriers designed to deflect or impede malevolent invasion. These constructions are a realized metaphor for what Robert readily admits – that Mabou is the place where he and June come to rest, away from the other, more modern complexities of the outside world.
There is a small outcrop of rock a few hundred feet upslope from the house and off to the left. One of June’s drawings, of two hands flexing open into wings, is cut into the rock, along with Robert’s daughter’s name and the dates of her birth and death. It’s really just a boulder about the height of a man, neither very noticeable nor prominent, which has broken through the scarf of the soil at that spot. But there you will always find a clear, unbroken view of the sea.”

From: “Souvenirs. Mabou.” The Pictures are a Necessity: Robert Frank in Rochester, November 1988, edited and published by William S. Johnson. “Occasional Papers No. 2.” Rochester Film & Photo Consortium. University Educational Services. International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester, NY: 1989.]

Later in the afternoon we got into Frank’s car and drove around a bit, to see the countryside and meet some of the people who lived there. Mr. Frank would occasionally stop the car at a chance encounter and introduce me to someone that he knew. The most vivid of these in my memory now was a man walking down a back-country road. He was probably in his seventies or eighties, with a full white beard and matching head of wild white hair capped with a Scotch bonnet, and dressed in a kilt. We stopped the car, Frank introduced me to him and offered a ride, which the man politely refused in a Scottish brogue so thick that I couldn’t understand a word of what he was saying. After all, Nova Scotia does mean “New Scotland,” and apparently there was some history that was now embodied by this individual.

As we drove around in that still, pellucid, crisp, amazing afternoon, briefly meeting a few people here and there, (All of the others spoke an English I could understand, and all of them commented on the gift of this amazing day.) I noted but was not shocked by the spareness or even poverty displayed by some of these farmhouses in Canada. The country just seemed to me, perhaps inaccurately, to be just a few decades behind the United States in its evolution into the contemporary world, although my own experience of moving through a rural world into urban America may have buffered the disparities that Frank was displaying to me. A more “sophisticated” big-city resident might have been shocked by the stripped, hard lives that I was being shown. As we drove around I gradually understood that Mr. Frank was showing me the wonderful diversity and character of the people living in his rural community. Frank would later bring the characteristics of this landscape and its peoples into creative play when he made the film Candy Mountain which was shot in and around Mabou, with a mix of amateur actors and local characters.

Then we drove into Mabou to the Co-op (a square wooden barn of a building, mostly empty, but with a scattering of foodstuffs and household supplies) to pick up some groceries, and then down to the local docks to meet the lobster boats which were just coming in with that day’s catch, to buy some fresh lobsters for dinner. There, while giving a brief explanation as to why a stranger was with him, Robert introduced me, ironically, as “Mr. Polaroid” to the captain as he was tying up his boat. The captain, flushed with what seemed to be a combination of native pride and a distain for large American corporations, impetuously handed us a brace of lobsters and, over our protestations, refused to take any payment. Back at his house, Robert built a fire outdoors and set up a cookpot to steam the lobsters and then we sat in the gathering dusk, eating lobster and corn and watching the sun set “…on a wonderful October Sunday in Mabou in 1984,…” The day had been so extraordinary, the clusters of small meetings and events so mundane yet so absolutely meaningful, that the day seemed complete and whole in itself. I didn’t attempt any more questions, went to bed early, and slept through the night. (Unusual for me).

The next morning Mr. Frank dug up this photograph from somewhere, wrote the note commemorating the wonderful nature of the previous day, and gave it to me as I left to return to Boston. The trip back to Boston was routine, without incident, allowing me the time to depressurize and return to the concerns of the everyday.

As so often with Mr. Frank, the gift of this particular print to me represents a metaphor about our relationship at that time, as it references the ideas I was attempting to identify and feature within the body of his work in the exhibition – his breaking the tyranny of the perfect Modernist frame and also of the photojournalist’s “decisive moment” through his use of sequence, fostering the idea of the photograph as a crafted object rather than a “window” as Mr. Szarkowski had put it. Frank’s restructuring the medium so as to deliberately bring abstract concepts like memory, loss and longing, hope and hope deferred, into the operative emotional range of a still photograph and developing a style which could create types of emotion and feeling that extended beyond the subject content of traditional photographs. All issues which have been thoroughly discussed in the critical literature during the past 30 years, but which, as far as I know, had not been mentioned by anyone at the time. I was struggling to develop a coherent understanding of some of these ideas about the work for myself during this time, but Frank summed them up in one quick intuitive act and gave me the present of the photograph to memorialize the issue.


“U.S. 90, en route to Del Rio, Texas, 1955-1956.” Three image strip. (Frank’s wife and children sleeping in car at the side of the road in first two images, truck stop sign in third image.) Reproduced on p. 53 in ARTFORUM 33:3 (Nov. 1994). Our copy has the following inscription: “Dear William and Susie and Bethanie and Joshua. Wishing you good luck – wherever it goes…. from “old man” Robert.”
I can’t remember the exact circumstances of Mr. Frank’s gift of this photograph to us, but it must have been during one of his stops in Boston during the time of the project. Susie and I were living in an apartment in Belmont, a suburb of Boston, and Mr. Frank visited us there several times during that time, stopping over when flying up or back from Mabou, or coming to Boston in response to some aspect of the project.

The dedication on the photograph names “Bethanie” and “Joshua.” “Joshua” is Susie’s and my son, who was born in the mid-point of the project, and who was bundled up and carried around by either Susie or me to a lot of these meetings, and so was well-known to everyone involved. “Bethany” is the youngest of my three children from a first marriage, then living with her mother and brother in Austen, Texas; but who was staying with us at the time. She would have been about 13 or 14, and in her “punk” phase. She has a strong, smart, creative personality and she and Mr. Frank got along very well, which is the reason for his dedication on the photograph.

The following information is not directly associated with the photograph, but of collateral interest, in a sense. A year or so later Bethany ran away from her home in Texas, somehow got to New York City and lived there on the streets for some time – for about six months. She refused to let her mother even know she was still alive and kept only the most tentative contact with me, and only if I promised not to tell her mother where she was. I did not know any of the names of her friends, or where she was living – only that she seemed to be based somewhere in the Greenwich Village area of Lower Manhattan. Literally the only person I knew in New York City at that time was Robert Frank and I knew that he spent a lot of time walking around in his neighborhood, and so I asked him to just keep an eye out for her. It seemed highly improbable that he would ever find her, but he promised to keep a watch. And they did run into each other. Bethany also knew Mr. Frank and found out that her knowing him gave her some sort of street credibility among the people she was with, as they knew he was a famous artist. So Bethany and Robert would talk from time to time and Mr. Frank would call to let me know she was still alive and healthy. This most fragile of connections was what sustained our hopes for her safety during this period. Finally, Bethany relented a little, came to live with us in Belmont for a while, and eventually went back to Texas to stay with her mother.


“Mabou, 1978.” [Clock reflection in window looking over Mabou landscape. Reproduced on p. 143 in Robert Frank, Moving Out. with inscription “For Bill Johnson – Robert Frank, 1991.”

The end point of the collaboration project between the four photographers and Susie and me was to have been a major exhibition and a book. We later published a document of the project, (Horses, Sea Lions, and Other Creatures: Robert Frank, Dave Heath, Robert Heinecken and John Wood, by Susan E. Cohen and William S. Johnson. Belmont, MA: Joshua Press, 1986. 242 pp., 36 35mm slides bound‑in. Limited edition, 16 copies, printed on an IBM‑AT computer, with WordStar 2000 software.) on a very early desk-top computer. That book explains the conception, process and aftermath of the project in greater detail.

The exhibition was to include the work that the artists had each generated for the project as well as a targeted selection of their retrospective work. To that end the photographers had each sent their collaborative work as well as a selection of 50 or 60 of their earlier photographs which we had selected together to the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY, which was to be the venue for hosting the travelling show. The exhibition was laid out and in the process of being framed when administrative changes at Polaroid, the parent company funding the project, caused the process to pause, and later to stop. We held the photographs at the Workshop for almost a year and a half, until it was absolutely certain that the funding for the exhibition had failed, and then I returned all of their photographs to the artists; then bundled up the other materials and leavings, put them into my closet, and tried to come to grips with the waste of essentially two or more years of work. What was and still is amazing to me was that the artists, who had freely donated their own time and energy to the project, had not turned sour or vindictive during this fraught and uncertain period of delays, and that they were all, each in their own way, extraordinarily supportive and generous to Susie and me throughout the process and even after its failure.

After we had acknowledged the end of the project, we then all turned to the business of living and earning a living, and went our separate ways. I had received a ridiculously small NEH grant to write a “guide” to photographic literature, which enabled me to buy one of the first commercially available desk-top computers (with a 20 megabite hard drive, – my God, the power!) on which we then – probably illegally in terms of the grant – wrote Horses, Sea Lions, and Other Creatures:… and on which I started compiling the bibliography for what would later become the 962 pp. Nineteenth‑Century Photography: An Annotated Bibliography, 1839‑1879., which is acknowledged to be a major reference resource by those people who care about that stuff. So the NEH never got its 90 page “Guide” but it did fund some other interesting stuff, and the poor harassed fund manager eventually got his taxpayer’s money’s worth after all.

Susie and I then moved to Rochester, NY for me to take up the newly created position of Director (later Coordinator) of University Educational Services at the George Eastman House. In that position I organized a variety of projects and programs for the consortium of universities that funded the position. Among these projects I initiated and coordinated a semester-long seminar on Robert Frank and, using my same computer, – computers were still not common and the Eastman house didn’t yet have any except in their Financial Office – put together and published the Occasional Papers No. 2. The Pictures Are A Necessity: Robert Frank in Rochester, NY November 1988. Edited by William S. Johnson. Essays by Susan E. Cohen, Jan‑Christopher Horak, William S. Johnson, Tina Olsen Lent. Bibliography by Stuart A. Alexander. (Jan. 1989) which has been described as: –“This scarce and much sought-after volume is the result of a film festival, seminar, and workshop with Robert Frank. It includes original articles on Frank and a lengthy interview.”

The seminar, open to anyone in the three consortium schools, consisted of showing all of Frank’s films throughout the semester, combined with lectures on the politics, culture, and the arts of the 1950s by various faculty members from these institutions, then capped with a two-day, all-day long meeting with Frank, who talked to the group about some photos taped to the walls and responded to questions from the well-informed and primed seminar audience. All of this was videotaped and transcribed into the self-published Occasional Papers No. 2, which was distributed free to the consortium members. Much of the materials in Susie and my essays were taken from the earlier Horses, Sea Lions, and Other Creatures….

Then, as happens, I didn’t have much to do with Mr. Frank for a while, although he had rather tentatively inquired at one point about the possibility of placing his archive at the George Eastman House and even wrote me that if he died tomorrow his lawyers had been instructed to do so, but I suggested he wait on the notion, as the institution was going through some tumultuous times and seemed to be facing an uncertain future at that moment. I knew that he had offered the materials to MOMA at one time and possibly elsewhere as well, and then changed his mind, so I did not take the offer that seriously anyway. I believe he finally wound up placing these materials at the Smithsonian in Washington.

However, sometime around 1991 I had to go to New York City for some other reason I now forget and I called Mr. Frank up and arranged for a visit. From time to time different people who had known about the “Polaroid Project” had suggested I try to get the book published separately, but I had resisted the idea of returning to that failed project. However, I had finally gotten over my own negative feelings and decided that I should at least get the permission of the artists before I approached anyone else. My purpose for the visit was to ask if he would mind if I approached any publishers with the book.

When I got to Mr. Frank’s Bleeker Street loft I found that he had cleared the afternoon for me, but it was apparent that he was very engaged in other projects; one of which was selecting the photographs for the forthcoming book Robert Frank, Moving Out, and there were dozens of beautiful prints leaning against the walls all around the perimeter of his living room. After he agreed that it would be O. K. with him if I tried to get a publisher for the “Polaroid Project” book, he walked over to the far wall and picked out two photographs, brought them back to me and said “Choose one.” Both of the prints were new to me, and neither had yet been published. I was completely surprised and a little flustered, but instantly decided on the following print, which I immediately and have always thought was both beautiful and profound.

However I did not select the print immediately, because the other print held a personal echo for me. I will have to describe the other print, for, as far as I know, it has never been published. It, like the clock reflection, was a vertical print, and also an interior at Mabou, depicting a corner of what may have been the same mantel that is reflected in the clock-window photograph. On the otherwise spare surface of the mantel a small cluster of nondescript items – a ceramic figurine, perhaps a postcard, or one of those glass balls with snow that you shake – sort of a small litter of tourist memorabilia – were casually gathered together. The framing was casual, the view slightly tilted, the focus was softened, and the image was printed in a muted monochrome, the actual subject of the items not important, so much as the mood of the photograph. The personal echo for me came from the fact that I had written about something like this before, and I knew that Mr. Frank had read what I wrote, because he had referred to the statement in a later conversation -something he otherwise never did during the period of our interviews for the project.

“Not too long ago a small work appeared on the wall of the kitchen of Robert Frank’s New York City loft. Tucked between the coat-hooks and the corner, yet somehow fitting in, the piece consisted of three small pictures grouped together. The first was a small, – perhaps six to nine inch – square, oil painting. It was a portrait of a woman, it was obviously European, it was obviously old and it was set into an elegant, deeply—flared gold frame. Under this lovely miniature portrait was another small painting. This one was an unframed landscape – cruder, the work of a charming amateur. Tucked together with these two paintings was a snapshot photograph of an older woman.
These three items seemed almost casually placed together, but they were so arranged that they presented themselves to the eye as one visual unit. And somehow the same casual deftness that had created a sense of unity among these three items had also set up a kinetic or spatial or spiritual dynamic on the wall so that in a mysterious sense these pieces took on an iconic feeling. In some undefinable but definite manner that corner of the room held the flavor of a simple, unobtrusive shrine. Shrine is too strong a word – rather the place gave the sense of the French souvenir – a memory, a recollection, a remembrance.
I can’t explain how Frank tucked these items together so that they were able to establish this emotional aura; all I can do is report that they did so. Separately presented, each piece would have roused a sense of curiosity about the subject and possibly a note of interest in the individual work. Placed together as they were, the separate items conjoined to establish an associative context, create a chord of feeling, build the possibility of a history, and allude to a sense of a past and of memory.
When pressed, Frank admitted that the photograph was a portrait of his mother, that she had painted the landscape, and that the older canvas had once belonged to her. Frank had brought these three small pieces back with him when he returned from his mother’s funeral in Switzerland not long before.
This particular creative statement by Frank was essentially a private act rather than a public gesture. He put this piece up on the wall of his kitchen for his own purpose and to meet his own needs. And, given the fluid nature of the objects that inhabit the New York loft space, this souvenir may not stay where it is for very long. Yet bound up in this simple, unpretentious work are many issues of importance to Frank’s strength as an artist.
Frank must have brought a mingled body of attitudes and sensibilities into play while he was putting this piece together. By creating this little memorial he was enacting a small act of veneration, or at least acknowledging the reality of the emotional power that this subject held for him. (Since the subject is his mother and his own past that’s not at all unusual.) Frank was spiritually acknowledging his sense of loss at her absence and the paradoxical presence of her in his thoughts in a specifically physical way, through the creation of the souvenir. At the same time the act of energy and emotion directed toward the creation of the souvenir also allowed him a means of directing and controlling the larger, more diffuse emotion of his loss into some more coherent and manageable pattern.
Robert Frank lives very close to his emotions. He doesn’t seem to box them out or damp them down as far as many people do. He inhabits a terrain that would be too tough for many and which is, I suspect, very tough for him from time to time. He has often stated that his real work can only come out of what he knows. The implication, not hidden very deeply, is that his best work can only come out of what he feels. On occasion Frank expresses some distress that his work is so much based on his own self, so tied to his own biography; but, in reality, he fully understands that the singular power of his work is based in precisely this area.

“Souvenirs. New York.” The Knute Rockne Oasis Newsletter & Journal of Critical Opinion. 1:7 (July, 1984): 1-2. Republished in The Pictures are a Necessity: Robert Frank in Rochester, November 1988, edited and published by William S. Johnson. “Occasional Papers No. 2.” Rochester Film & Photo Consortium. University Educational Services. International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester, NY: 1989.

So I stood there holding the two prints and pretending to choose between them, while, in fact, looking at the one photograph for as long as I could, because I suspected, (correctly, as it turned out.) that I would never see it again. After attempting to memorize the print for what seemed to be a very long time and what may have actually been a couple of minutes, – which was a very long time under the circumstances – I handed the other, better photograph to Mr. Frank. The memorabilia photograph was not a bad photograph, but it just did not have the power of the one I chose. I felt that Mr. Frank seemed slightly disappointed at my decision to ignore the implied personal reference in the one photograph, as was I; but he put the photograph I chose in a protective package and we went out to lunch and then over to browse in a bookstore before I left to return back to Rochester.

Earlier in the day Mr. Frank had told me he was starting to put together a new movie, and the only other interesting thing that happened that day was that he saw a young woman in the bookstore and he approached her and asked if she had been able to talk to her boyfriend about meeting with Frank to talk about playing the lead role in the movie he was starting to put together. This seemed to me to be a very casual way to organize a film, but one that seemed to work for Mr. Frank.

I suppose that for the conclusion of this narrative I should say that, other than getting the permission of the other artists as well, I actually never did approach any publisher to try to get the book published until one day in 2014, as Tate Shaw, the new director of the Visual Studies Workshop, and I were having a casual conversation, he brought up the subject again and volunteered to try to find a way to get the book published. After some research, Tate realized that the Workshop did not have the resources to fund this large an effort, and then, with Nathen Lyons, he helped introduce the idea of the project to Jessica McDonald, curator of photography at the Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin.

Jessica responded in a positive manner, and, after a little time, the “Polaroid Archive” of research materials, notes and correspondence, and artworks associated with this project, which had languished in banker’s boxes in my closet for so long, was, to my gratitude, transferred into a public institution where it could receive proper care and be made more accessible to people in the future.

It was only then, years later, while going through those materials to prepare them for the Ransom Center that I found a notecard from Mr. Frank (He sent notes or short letters to Susie and me from time to time long after the “Polaroid Project” officially ended.) which had been tightly folded and which I had failed to open properly , which stated that he “owed” me a photograph. I now assume that he thought I had come to visit him to pick up the photograph, when in actuality I had not known anything about it. That was the last time I actually met with Mr. Frank; both he and I had gone on to other things and, except for an occasional Christmas or birthday card, we never really interacted after that. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t even know his son had died until several years later.


Heinecken was physically a small man – and towards the end of his long debilitating illness, he was tiny. But when he had his health you never noticed his size because he always seemed, unobtrusively but decidedly, to be at the exact center of the energy of any room he was in. His size has relevance –because that, tied to his quick instinctual reflexes and ready intelligence, made it possible for him to excel as a Marine Corps jet fighter pilot and then as a pilot instructor in the mid-1950s. And that’s significant; because Heinecken brought many of the qualities of that life into his later life as an artist and a teacher. He tied together a sort of savage dedication to searching the boundaries and forcing the rules of established “high art” beliefs and concepts with an astonishingly rigorous methodology of practice in his art and in his professional activities. (This might seem unusual unless you understand what qualities are useful for flying very fast, very dangerous, fighting planes.) To these qualities he added an exact and precise and unflinching and, one might even say, moral sense of responsibility to his own commitment to the practice of art-making. Initially, it looks like an awful lot of his art was about sex and sexism and violence and the media that carry those issues so persuasively into our lives; but actually his art was about finding and facing those powerful and confusing inner forces that make us human.
A half hour on the internet will convince anyone of his distinction as an artist and the weight of his presence in current photographic practice and I’m not going to attempt to reiterate that information here. But please remember that Heinecken was also an outstanding teacher. He taught much more than the skills and practices of being an artist. He also taught, deliberately and carefully, to his students a sense of professionalism, the necessity of community, and the importance of nurturing and contributing to that community. Something he himself did as he could, for as long as he could. William S. Johnson
“Robert Heinecken 1931-2006. A Remembrance.” Afterimage 34:1/2 (July-Oct. 2006): 2.


HEINECKEN, by William S. Johnson (revised March 2014, 2019)

I met Robert Heinecken in the late 1960s or early 1970s. I had been invited to attend a small weekend gathering at my friend Carl Chiarenza’s house in Lexington, Massachusetts. This meeting consisted of photographers who were teaching photography at various universities around the country and who were officers of a young organization called the Society for Photographic Education. It was an unusual time. Photography was burning hot in academic circles; and art departments at scores of universities, which had previously ignored photography as a creative discipline, were scrambling to cobble together programs to meet the extraordinary demand coming from hundreds of students everywhere around the country. I, myself, was a reflection of those demands. I was trained and working as a librarian, who through a series of unusual circumstances was also teaching a lecture course on the history of photography for the Department of Fine Arts (meaning art history) at Harvard University. I had never completed a course in art history, and yet I was lecturing in one of the most prestigious art history departments in the country to a class of 250 to 300 students each week. And my friend Carl, who was a graduate student in the Fine Arts department at Harvard and who was also a professor at Boston University across the river, was giving lectures there each week to an auditorium filled with 600 or more students. As I said, an unusual time.

The known history of photography at that time consisted of Beaumont Newhall’s survey plus two or three other books written in English and a dozen or so books in other languages; plus maybe a two or three dozen books that might be stretched to be called artist’s monographs. The finest library collections held far fewer than a thousand books even distantly relating to the medium as an art form. And there were few other resources available to instructors. I remember that one set of a few hundred teaching slides was available commercially through the George Eastman House – one of only a handful of museums in the country that even considered photography as a potential art form. I was scrambling frantically through the magnificent general collections of the Harvard University Library to dig up 19th century examples of the use of photography and getting slides made so that I could teach a more complete and nuanced survey of the medium. I was at best one or two weeks ahead of the students in those lectures; and I hadn’t yet gotten close to learning much about contemporary practice. What I did know about contemporary work was mostly from the half dozen or so photography magazines that occasionally mentioned “creative photography” from time to time. That view of the medium was dominated by articles about the “stars” of photojournalism or fashion photography (W. Eugene Smith, Richard Avedon, etc.) on one hand or by Modernist photographers (Paul Strand, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, etc.) on the other.

I knew very little about the photographers attending this weekend meeting. I knew Carl’s work, a little bit about the Florida photographer Jerry Uelsmann, whose work was causing a stir in the few magazines which published “serious” photography, and a bit more about a former LIFE photojournalist named Cornel Capa, the brother of the more famous Robert Capa, who was at the meeting to promote his intention to put together an institution in New York City he was calling Concerned Photographers. Otherwise, I knew next to nothing about the twenty or thirty other individuals gathered at Carl’s, or about the field which they represented.

The morning had been given over to SPE business. The SPE President, a short, casually dressed man with a neat beard and long straight, impeccably clean hair drawn back into a ponytail, who apparently taught at UCLA and was named Robert Heinecken, had impressed me with the professional manner in which he had run the meeting, informally held in the back yard. I had also been impressed by the concern he had demonstrated in his remarks about attempting to assess the future of the community of students he and his colleagues were representing. It had been altogether a far more professional meeting of artists and teachers than I had expected.

That afternoon, after lunch, there was a break period with people sitting around in the living room, gossiping among acquaintances, chatting casually, resting, and building up energy to get back into the scheduled program for the weekend. Very slowly what appeared to be some commercial magazines began to be circulated around the room, being passed slowly from chair to chair. They were described as the latest work of this Robert Heinecken, whose professional demeanor had so impressed me in the morning.

One of these magazines reached me and I began to leaf through it. It consisted of conjoined pages removed from various commercial magazines of every kind, which had been disbanded, collated into a new order, then rebound. In the magazine the left page consisted of a full color pornographic photograph from a “men’s magazine”, the right page a full color advertisement for make-up or clothing from an expensive women’s fashion magazine. The paired images usually shared extended similarities in form and presentation, so much so that it often seemed that the same models, positioned in the same poses, were in both scenes. First, I was startled – this was unusual for me; there were no actual photographs made by the artist, certainly nothing of the black and white, pre-visualized Edward Weston, Ansel Adams type image which I associated with contemporary high-art photographic practice. And, frankly, I was shocked. The very idea of taking apart commercial magazines, then rebinding them in new configurations and calling that “art” challenged my understanding of what I considered to be a “fine art” practice. And the overt and frank referral to human sexuality within the work seemed both unusual and a bit unnerving to me as well, as my understanding of artistic practice certainly did not extend to incorporate pornography. But I kept leafing through the work and gradually I began to understand that this was a serious and sustained indictment of the use of subliminal sexuality in the public media. This is an old story now, but at the time it was both revelatory and a bit shocking, requiring one to re-access the barrage of images one was subjected to on a daily basis. I also had to accept that this was not some frivolous act, but the work of an artist engaged in serious social commentary, and also engaged in pioneering a novel means of expression to best depict that commentary.

But as I sat there trying to understand all this I experienced yet another shock. The artist had brought together pages where the nuances of color, form and shape found within each page complemented and expanded the visual impact of the conjoined double-page spread. In other words, he had taken individual “found” pieces and worked them into a coherent visual whole which extended well beyond the component pieces that it was made from. As I leafed through the magazine I gradually realized, looking beyond the subject content, that these pages often were — for lack of a better word — “beautiful.” And that the artist had created a work that was both a serious social commentary and also an aesthetically pleasing picture. I felt that the artist had taken some mundane and commonplace magazines and transformed them into a matured, complex, and expressive work of art. Which is something to be not found every day — even in the professional world of fine arts practice.

I don’t remember much of the rest of that weekend meeting. What I do remember was that on that afternoon, sitting in a chair in that living room, I had received a profound lesson in what serious art can be, and a revelatory expansion of my understanding of the dimensions of the practice of art-making.

A year or so later Heinecken came back to Cambridge again on a sabbatical leave; where he taught photography at the Carpenter Center for Visual Studies at Harvard for a semester. We got to know each other a bit more at this time, and gradually became friends.

Robert Heinecken was the son, grandson, great-grandson and nephew to several uncles in a multi-generational family of Lutheran ministers; yet he dropped out of college in the early 1950s to become a U. S. Marine Corps jet fighter pilot – a profession not known for its piety. And he excelled at this profession, on one occasion landing his crippled jet onto an aircraft carrier after another pilot had clipped his tail rudder and crashed into the sea. Heinecken was basically flying a brick at this point, and no one understood how he was able to land the plane. In those days in order to fly jet fighter planes successfully one had to have an absolutely controlled discipline, with the ability to master and perform the very delicate, always dangerous tasks needed to keep those unsteady objects in the air, and yet be able to combine this rigor and discipline with a complete willingness to “push the envelope” of any given situation in an absolutely hair-raising way. Even a brief glance at Heinecken’s oeuvre shows both of these qualities in profusion.

Later Heinecken became an instructor, training or retraining other pilots until the end of his enlistment. I think it is here that he developed and refined the skills and procedures and understandings that made him such a good teacher at UCLA and Chicago and elsewhere after he had left the Marines and returned to art school. Because Heinecken was widely and justly considered to be one of the best teachers of his generation.

A few years later my wife and I had the opportunity to observe Heinecken over an extended period of time, with multiple video and audio tape interviews spaced over a period of several months, observing him while he created his art on several occasions and sitting in on the final day of a seminar he was teaching that summer in Chicago.
Heinecken always attempted to wrap up his teaching sessions with a final talk to his students – a talk in which he outlined four issues that every student would have to face once they leave school if they wished to continue practicing as an artist/photographer. He laid out these four points and then developed his discussion of each part of these points in a very orderly, specific and detailed manner. It seemed more like a military briefing than anything else. Relying on a thirty-year-old memory, I’m afraid that I will have to generalize a bit, but I still remember the main points.

First, he talked about professionalism, and what that might mean to a struggling young artist. He pointed out that an artist was responsible to or at least would have to respond to four major issues throughout the remainder of their career. Heinecken claimed that each of these issues would at times place conflicting demands on the student’s time and energies, but that all of these issues were important to the individual’s development and that they should consider how best to manage them throughout their future progress as an artist.
1st. To develop their art. An artist has to make art. One had to keep working hard to continue to develop and expand their mastery over their own art practice.
2nd. To develop their career. Some time, careful thought, energy and action had to be devoted into developing their own career, otherwise they would always be working in a vacuum.
3rd. To develop their profession, which parallels, but isn’t quite the same as the first two issues. In spite of the romantic ideal of the individual isolated artist, in fact, the practice of art took place within a context of supporting institutions and organizations which also needed to be developed and maintained.
And 4th, to develop their community. Heinecken took pains to point out that the students existed within a specialized community of like-minded individuals consisting of those who enjoyed the practice and qualities of fine art photography and who valued and fostered it in their lives. This community consisted in those artists, educators, administrators, curators, authors, critics and collectors who chose to spend their own time, energy and money to foster the development of fine arts practices in photography. And as many more people in the world were indifferent or even hostile to the idea of fine art photography or the practice of art in general, this was a small and occasionally embattled community which only at times marginally interfaced with the larger cultural functioning of contemporary society. So it was necessary to be aware of and attempt to respond to those forces and ideas in play at the time, from censorship to funding to the health of the organizations or institutions, which might impact upon that community. The artist should always give some consideration of these issues and strive to help maintain a healthy environment within the community the student had elected to join by becoming an artist.

It might seem ironic that the man who had the public reputation of being a misogynist, but who had such a clear vision of the fragilities and frailties of the male ego and the force of sexuality in contemporary life, and who had been considered so radical at times, would expend such care to attempt to teach good citizenship to his students. But that was Heinecken; combing irony, humor, concern and compassion to challenge careless thinking at every level.



“No. 40. White Mountain Views. Tip Top House. F. B. Gage, Photo. Published by E. Anthony, N. Y.” 1859.

“Tip-Top House, Mount Washington, Sept, 1959. We were up early and proceeded to pack our chemicals, camera, and fixtures in two compact bundles, to be taken along with us. At nine o’clock we were mounted on Canadian ponies, each having a bundle weighing about twenty-five pounds before us in the saddle, where we held it during the journey up the mountain. Then, with a company of thirty-four others, we struck off into the bridle path. Nine miles of such horseback riding as that was no very pleasurable job while encumbered with glass ware, as we were. Up, up, through woods and clouds, winding around and climbing the rocks, on the verge of chasms and ravines, we held our way for four hours, until we arrived at the summit. The day was beautifully warm, the mountain was enveloped in clouds as we ascended, and occasionally we got glimpses of the glorious valleys below, as the clouds for a few moments opened and closed again. There was no vegetation for the last four miles; the only thing to be seen was the granite rock in fragments of all sizes, from the pebble stone up to those weighing thousands of tons! How is it possible for horses to climb over these rocks, hurled together in the wildest disorder, is more than I can comprehend; yet they do it, and seldom injure themselves or their riders.
Arrived at the Tip-Top House, we proceeded to occupy apartments previously engaged there. After dinner we took out the camera to take a view of the rude stone-house and its granite surroundings. A plate was sensitized and exposed with an unsatisfactory result; another, and then another followed with the same result. We were thunderstruck and completely puzzled, that our bath and collodion — the same which worked so splendidly only the day before – should now refuse to produce even an indifferent negative. But even the skies would not develop, by any device, and there was a want of intensity that betokened trouble ahead…. On the next morning our bath was again in working order, but a terrific storm had set in, so that we could not use it. During the latter part of the night we had been enveloped in a thunder-cloud, the lightning playing beneath us and the thunder rumbling at our feet. The cloud continued to envelop us all day, the atmosphere hourly growing colder. The next morning the moisture in the cloud had congealed on the rocks of the summit until they were white with ice.…Thus for three days the storm raged unabated. On the evening of the third day, just at sunset, the cloud disappeared, and our eyes beheld the great panorama of mountain, lake, and river. The ice on the summit, in many places, was fully eighteen inches thick, glaring white and desolate-looking in the sun, while the valleys below were smiling in their summer greenness. The next morning the sun rose clear, and the air was calm and still. Ninety miles away we saw the ocean with the naked eye. Myriads of vessels could be seen with the glass dotting its surface. Mountains upon mountains extended upon the other hand, villages, lakes, and rivers, the whole range of the Green Mountains, making a circumference of more than six hundred miles. There was just enough cloud and just enough sunlight to make it one of the most glorious visions that eyes ever beheld. Our host of the Tip-Top House assured us that it was the finest view of the season, and we felt well repaid for our imprisonment. We were early at work, but found it too icy to take views with comfort until nearly noon, when the party of travellers from the Glen House had arrived. We secured a capital negative of that party around the Tip-Top House. The party from the Crawford House arriving soon after, we secured two other negatives equally good. The ice had melted just enough to produce a fine effect in the pictures, and we thought it a fortunate addition…. Having secured all the negatives that we could, we packed up our apparatus and descended the mountain. When we reached the Crawford House—where we now are—we found ourselves very tired….” Gage, F. B. “Photography on Wheels. No. 2 (Concluded.)” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL (Dec. 15, 1859): 241-243.

Franklin Benjamin Gage is one of those unusual individuals who pop up throughout photographic history and help keep the field interesting – for me at least.
Gage, son of Royal Gage and Anna Tyler Gage, was born in East St. Johnsbury on July 29, 1824. He grew up, lived, and worked through the 1850s through 1870s, in the town of St. Johnsbury in Northeastern Vermont, far away from the power centers of New York or Boston or Philadelphia. Yet during his lifetime he gained a reputation as an acknowledged expert on photographic processes, and — as described in his obituary — “…Mr. Gage enjoyed a good reputation as an artist, and was one of the most industrious experimentalists in the business. To him the fraternity owes much of the progress that has been made in the various photographic processes….” “…He was a man of more than ordinary genius, and somewhat eccentric withal, was always inventing and trying new processes. It is said he “hardly ever finished two sets of pictures by the same process.”…”
Another editor’s description of Gage during one of his rare trips to New York City helps account for the “somewhat eccentric withal” comment. “Imagine a man of about thirty-five years of age or thereabouts, dressed in a suit of coarse New England black cloth, with a low-crowned black felt hat, light complexion, blue eyes, a whitey-brown beard like that formerly worn by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, reaching down to his waist, a rather closely trimmed mustache, long hair, hands stained all over with nitrate of silver solution and black as the ace of spades, Heavy cow-hide boots with soles an inch thick, and you have some idea of the personel of Mr. Gage.
In his manner he is quite reserved, talks very little, and that in the genuine dialect of a Vermont Yankee, occupying himself at the same time with combing his flowing beard with his fingers, in the same manner as you have seen a man running his digits through the mane of a horse…” Gage apparently was very fond of his beard, which was kept unusually long even for rural Vermont; as he mentioned it more than once in his various writings, and even identifying some of his early poems by signing them “By the Man with the Flowing Beard.”
At this point we do not know a great deal about Gage’s early life or career. Its stated that Gage learned daguerreotyping when he was about twenty-two years old, which would have been about 1848, and in 1850 he sailed from New York City to Savannah, Georgia for some unknown purpose, (Perhaps he was working as a travelling daguerreotypist, or assisting in a studio there?) and in 1852 he started a photograph business in St. Johnsbury, where he continued until his death twenty-four years later. There is a note in 1862 that Gage was related (A cousin) to a “distinguished literary lady in Boston.” That’s about all that’s known at Gage’s early life at this time. Some of these dates do not coincide with those in his published obituary, which have some inaccuracies. In 1866 Gates states he had had his first gallery for fourteen years, which would mean that he opened it in 1852. Advertising in the local paper also starts in 1852. Other inconsistencies are also present in later materials published on Gates. Further research could clear up some of the questions.
Before Gates opened his studio apparently anyone wishing to obtain a daguerreotype portrait in St. Johnsbury had to travel to Boston, (Several of the Boston galleries –Plumbe, Chase, Southworth & Hawes, J. A. Whipple and others advertised in the St. Johnsbury newspaper throughout the 1840’s and early 1850’s.) or wait for the W. D. McPherson’s travelling Daguerreotype Saloon to pull into town. In fact both the Boston galleries of J. A. Whipple and Masury & Silsbee had advertisements on the same page of the Sept. 25, 1852 issue of the Caledonian newspaper where Gage published his first advertisement for his new studio.
Once Gage established his gallery, between portrait settings and photographic trips to make landscape views for stereographs, he experimented endlessly to improve the varied photographic processes of his era; and beginning in the latter 1850s, he submitted the results of his experiments in clear, well-written articles to the photographic journals of his day; thus sharing the fruits of his discoveries with the profession at large. This generosity, if not completely unusual, was at least not the common practice in a competitive business whose practitioners tended to hoard its professional secrets to themselves.
Between May 1857 and mid-1860 Humphrey’s published more than forty of Gage’s articles. Then Gage apparently stopped submitting articles to Humphrey’s in 1860, and the reasons for this are not clear. But the editor of Humphrey’s Journal was an active supporter of the various attempts to have James A. Cutting’s patent overturned. To oversimplify this complex issue, Cutting had patented a part of the process critical to anyone making ambrotypes, – and, as ambrotypes were the hot new photographic process at the time, according to Cutting (And for a while at least, the Law.) nearly every commercial photographer in the country making portraits were supposed to pay a fee to Mr. Cutting for the privilege. Many felt that Cutting patented something that was already common practice and so many considered the patent unjust and possibly illegal; and it was considered to be hamstringing professional photographers around the country. Gage, who had paid for right to use of Cutting’s patent in Vermont, and to be the regional agent for Cutting, wrote letters to Humphrey’s supporting the patent. Beyond the fiscal issue, Gage might also have been supporting the idea of firm patents, as he had taken several patents out himself. In any case, the flurry of articles around this contentious issue were the last that Gage published in Humphrey’s. (On the other hand, Humphrey sold his Journal to Joseph H. Ladd in 1859, who would take over it’s editorship until 1862, when he hired John Towler as the new editor, a move that brought a new credibility to the journal. It is possible that Ladd, and then Towler simply went to other individuals for their articles. Certainly a wave of new, well-educated amateur photographers began writing for Humphrey’s in the early 1860s.) Gage did not publish any articles again until several new photographic journals, such as Philadelphia Photographer and Anthony’s Photographic Bulletin, began to publish in the late 1860s and early 1870s, and thus offer Gage new venues for his articles. But by then Gage was very ill, and only able to publish a few articles in these later journals.
Gage married Lauretta H. Huntley, also from East St. Johnsbury, in 1853 and between 1856 and 1867 they had three daughters –Beatrice, Genevieve, and Jesse, and a son, Elbert Ellsworth. (The daughter’s names may reflect Gage’s literary interests.) Gage wrote poetry, some of it puckishly humorous doggerel, some more serious and infused with that preoccupation with death and the afterlife which was such a staple of the literature of the period – and with Gage’s later poetry. Gage would write and publish poems advertising the virtues of his gallery and the value of obtaining portraits from him. (Marcus A. Root, the well-known photographer and author from Philadelphia and New York also loved to publish his poems in his advertisements in the New York newspapers; and there was even a brief fashion for advertising poetry that forced Brady, Gurney, and the other big Broadway galleries to hire writers to compose jingles or poems for their advertisements.) But the local St. Johnsbury newspaper also published Gage’s other poems, and later, short stories, as literature. In 1874 the Youth’s Companion magazine, published in Boston, published seven of Gage’s short stories, and published four more posthumously.
Gage seems to have been active in his local community. His exhibition of photographs were considered a highlight at the Caledonia County Fair each year, and the occasional “exhibitions” that he held in his gallery attracted viewers. The newspaper published his poems and short stories, and promoted his occasional poetry readings. He was a freemason, and in the 1870s elected an officer in the local Templar organization. This, along with his writings, indicates that he was religious, and probably involved in the social and cultural world of his church. He was active in the local Temperance Society. There are indications that Gage supported anti-slavery policies before the Civil War, and that he supported the Republican Party and Abraham Lincoln during the war. During the 1860’s Gage’s support of the war strengthened as it progressed and as the toll of wounded and dead soldiers from Vermont brought home the realities of that distant conflict. He acquired and sold cartes-de-visite of Abraham Lincoln and of “The Little Drummer Boy,” Willie Johnson, (A 14 year old Vermont volunteer who received the second Medal of Honor ever awarded.) and portraits of other Vermont military figures. He photographed and distributed prints of a sarcastic cartoon published in Harper’s Weekly pillorying a controversial attempt to “compromise with the South.” He held at least one poetry reading and donated the proceeds to the war charities, and in 1864 he donated $20, (a respectable sum for the time and place) to the local Ladies Soldiers Aid Society. These seem like small acts, but indicate both the mood of a culture and the cast of an individual temperament. Occasionally, usually around Christmas, he would run an advertisement offering to trade pictures for firewood – an act both practical and generous – making it possible for cash-poor farmers to obtain portraits of their families.
By 1856 Gage advertised that his was the largest photographic establishment in the state of Vermont; at first offering daguerreotypes and then adding all the modern processes and styles as they became available – ambrotypes, mezzotypes, ebonytypes, cartes-de-visite, cabinet portraits, and so on, as well as displaying and selling his stereo views. Like many galleries at the time he occasionally sold stereos or cartes-de-visite by other photographers in addition to his own. In 1857 Gage entered a brief business partnership with F. Rowell, and the team of Gage & Rowell made cheap ambrotype portraits in the studio; but then, under contract with Edward Anthony, they began taking stereo views in Vermont and in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The partnership was dissolved in February 1858 and Rowell, the junior partner, set up his own studio in Lebanon, NH. Gage quickly stopped making the cut-priced ambrotypes and tried to reestablish reasonably fair higher prices for his portraits. This policy, much debated in the photographic community, was seen to be a mark of professional responsibility. Gage proudly specialized in “life sized” portraits, which were hand-colored – again considered the mark of the more-skilled portrait studios. Gage never took another partner, but throughout the latter 1860’s, and suffering from illness, he advertised several times (apparently fruitlessly) for an apprentice or an assistant, or, finally, even for a clerk to help in the gallery.
With a score or more technical articles already published in the professional journals, in 1859 Gage published a sixty page manual, Theoretical and practical photography on glass and paper: with positive rules for obtaining intense negatives with certainty, which was well regarded and frequently used in America.


“Fairbanks Scales Factory. St. Johnsbury.” ca. 1868.

So how, in rural Vermont, did Gage learn the skills to become an expert practical chemist and experimental scientist? In the 1830s Thaddeus Fairbanks, a resident of St. Johnsbury, invented the platform weighing scale and then built a factory which manufactured and sold these scales. By mid century the town had become a prosperous center of manufacturing, and as it was located on the new railroad that linked Boston to Montreal, sales went world-wide. In 1842 the Fairbanks family had returned some of its wealth to the town by establishing the St. Johnsbury Academy, an excellent private school which then and still now provides a free education to any St. Johnsbury resident. It is quite possible that Gage obtained a fine education from the Academy, and that may be where he learned the rudiments of chemistry and the methodology to practice chemical experiments. Even if Gage didn’t attend the Academy, St. Johnsbury was a wealthy town, with an educated, skilled, and informed citizenry, and Gage would have had many opportunities to learn what he needed in that climate.


“St. Johnsbury.” ca. 1868.

St Johnsbury was also a gateway town into the White Hills region of New England, which had become a summer tourist destination for wealthy and educated city dwellers from Boston and New York and along the eastern seaboard. So there was always a layering of more open and cultured ways of thinking about the world available to the inhabitants of St. Johnsbury than was normally available in a rural community. In 1871 the Fairbanks family also founded the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum, an early response to the public library movement then developing in the United States. The Athenaeum opened with 9,000 volumes, and, two years later a small but significant art gallery was added, which housed works of art by American painters of the Hudson River School and others. So St. Johnsbury Vt. was a prosperous and active center and supported a level of cultural institutions and activity that was far larger than could be found in the average American community at the time.


“Library. St. Johnsbury.” ca. 1871.

Gage began to make stereo views of the White Hills scenery during the second half of the 1850s, on a contract with Edward Anthony, a publisher and distributer of this newly fashionable form of visual entertainment and education. These views put him amoung the earliest of the fast-developing profession of American stereo views makers. (As late as June 1860, the editor of Humphrey’s Journal could state: “We wish operators generally would take more interest in the making of stereoscopic pictures. There is hardly a locality in the country that does not afford scenes of interest for the operator, and of which he could not take pictures that would command a ready and remunerating sale.”) A careful and detailed history of the development of landscape photography in the Eastern United States has yet to be written; but if and when it is, certainly the role of the E. & H. T. Anthony Company will play a large role in that development, and just as certain, the very early work of Franklin Benjamin Gage will have a featured position in that history as well.
Fortunately, Gage published several informative narratives of some of his travelling experiences in Humphrey’s Journal, and a predominant feature of these stories is the often extraordinary efforts that he had to take in order to overcome the difficulties encountered while photographing outdoors with the complicated and refractory wet-collodion process, so that he could bring the stereo project to a successful conclusion. His essays are intelligent and informed, laced with occasional notes of humor, and they provide valuable insights into the shifts and shufflings, the actions and activities that a small-time professional photographer performed to survive while working during the period of enormous and rapid change in mid-century America. However he did not narrate one event that occurred at the beginning of his first photographic trip; where, through a series of ridiculous misunderstandings or even through malice, a hotel owner sent Gage’s bags full of photographic chemicals back by the railroad to St. Johnsbury as Gage was out scouting locations. But this incident indicates that the practice of outdoor photography or stereo view making was still very uncommon at the time, as Gage had identified himself and his activities to the hotel owner, who apparently still misunderstood what he was doing.
During large parts of 1859 and early 1860 Gage closed his portrait studio as he photographed landscape views in the White Mountains and elsewhere. At one point, after a long absence, he announced reopening the gallery in June and then six weeks later in July, wryly advertising “F. B. Gage has been seized with a fit of covetousness and is about to start for the Gold Regions, leaving the St. Johnsbury Portrait Gallery closed for further notice…” This notice, slyly reflecting upon the craze of the California Gold Rush of 1849, is actually referring to a supposed gold strike in Plymouth, Vt., to which Gage went to take stereo views. (Several of these views are in the photograph collections of the New York Public Library.).
In 1865 an enigmatic note in the Philadelphia Photographer magazine mentioned that Gage had stopped taking stereo views during the Civil War. “A letter from F. B. Gage of St. Johnsbury, VT, including stereos of eighteen landscapes taken five years ago, before “the rebellion drove me out of view taking into portraiture.” I have no idea why he would stop taking views in Vermont during the Civil War, unless the war damaged some segments of the stereo view market as interest shifted to the part of the country where the war was being fought. If the note implies that Gage lost his income from views, this in turn implies that some of his pre-war income had come from tourists buying views at his gallery and that the war severely impacted tourism in the Northeast. Or, what might seem even more unlikely, he felt that his unusual photographic wagon and apparatus would make others think he was a spy of some kind. One other, more practical reason he may have stopped for a while was his continued debilitating illnesses and the physical difficulties involved in photographing outdoors with the wet-collodion process.
Gage held a brief monopoly in the stereo market in his community – when he began in 1858 or 59 there are several indications that editors had to explain exactly what stereos actually were to their readers, and Gage could offer showings of his and other’s views in his gallery as an inducement to attract interest and customers. But as the craze for stereos swept the country that monopoly or priority very quickly eroded and Gage was soon facing increasing competition. The first competition was not from other photographers, but came from the local Goods Emporium, C. C. Child’s which was the equivalent of the Big Box Store in his day, which sold everything from eyeglasses and watches, books and toys, to china and silverware. C. C. Childs was soon importing and selling stereo views. The store even acquired a permanent table-top stereo viewer that held dozens of stereos on a rotating wire frame that the viewer cranked around to see the next card, which it installed as a permanent attraction to attract customers. The store could undercut Gage on price and offer a wider variety of stereos from other photographers than Gage could inventory on his more limited budget. This same pattern of wholesalers driving out individual stereo photographers and eventually depressing the market happened throughout the country through the 1860s. Another consequence of this flooding the market was that the “special” nature or novelty attraction of Gage’s views –and of his professional accomplishments– was inadvertently diminished as well.

scan0007 (2)

“19. St. Johnsbury, Vt. Looking S. W.” ca. 1871.

Then, after the unexplained break in taking views during the war, a break which lasted for almost a decade, Gage resumed view making in the late 1860s. But now he was facing much more competition from fellow photographers, who had began to move into territory first explored by Gage. Formidable competition arrived in the 1870s, as Benjamin Kilburn, from Littleton, NH, began making views in the neighborhood of St. Johnsbury. In 1870 D. A. Clifford, a long-time veteran photographer, actually moved from the East Coast into a studio above the Caledonian offices, where he was offering views of Mount Washington, one site of Gage’s early triumphs. Many other local photographers had colonized Gage’s former territory as well. In one of Gage’s early narratives he convincingly describes the almost untouched wildness of the Flume Pool in New Hampshire. During the next two decades very stereo view maker who could get to this noted attraction, from John P. Soule to the Kilburn Brothers, photographed it; and one local photographer named H. S. Fifield, from nearby New Hampton, NH, even set up a portable studio there for three months of each year to photograph tourists at the site and to sell his views. By 1875 other local photographers, such as J. N. Webster, of Barton, were offering “Vermont Views” as well.
In 1866 Gage expanded his gallery. “After fourteen years’ successful practice in my old gallery, I have just moved into a new one. I occupy one entire floor, forty-two by seventy-two feet. My skylight-room is twenty-eight feet square. I can operate on three sides of the light, east, south, and west, and I get a fine light at all hours, rain or shine.” And Gage again began experimenting there incessantly with processes as he continued to refine and expand his technical skills. Incidentally, during a severe thunderstorm in July 1868 Gage’s sky-light room was struck by a bolt of lightning, scattering bricks from a chimney, knocking down the stove pipes, tearing up the floor, throwing large splinters through the ceiling, etc., before running through the sink’s plumbing pipes to the ground in the basement. Gage had literally been standing by the sink at the exact spot of the strike a minute before the bolt hit, but had crossed the room to close a window and thus escaped being hurt or killed.
In the 1860s Gage took out a series of patents. In 1867 he obtained two United States patents – No. 66,581 “Process for making positive and negatives photographs in the Camera, on July 9, 1867 and No. 72, 627 “Improvements in photographic cameras,” on Dec. 24, 1867 and filed an intent to patent in Great Britain that same year. Then in July, 1869, he patented a process for using diffused light in the camera for the purpose of giving detail “…so as to render visible slight gradations of shade, both in the light and dark parts of the picture, and to unite softness and strength,” in the United States, Great Britain, and France. Unfortunately, nothing really developed out of these patents to Gage’s benefit.
Gage begun to take stereo “views about town” again in 1868, and by 1869 he was using a dry plate process to do so– which should have simplified his practice a great deal from the old wet-collodian system. In 1870 he made a view of Black River Falls in Springfield, VT, the site of the “original manufactory of the United States Piano Co.,” which had a large shop on Broadway in New York City. The Piano Co. then ordered 1800 copies, “which they will use this year to advertise their pianos.” I suspect this commission was a godsend for Gage.
There are indications that Gage suffered from bouts of ill health throughout his entire life, but it never seemed to keep him from pursuing his practice to the fullest extent of his abilities. However, in December 1870, “owing to increasing ill health” he offered to sell his gallery immediately. But there doesn’t seem to have been any takers and he kept the gallery running for another four years, until his death on the 23d of August, 1874.
The next year a George H. Hastings, advertising that he had spent the winter training in a gallery in Boston, set up a gallery “…in the old quarters, formerly occupied by F. B. Gage….”



 Stereoview cards by F. B. Gage are in several public collections: the New York Public Library, the Bailey-Howe Library at the University of Vermont, the George Eastman House in Rochester, NY, (not available on-line) and the St. Johnsbury History and Heritage Center, St. Johnsbury, Vt. (Not available on-line.)
The NYPL items are excellently catalogued and presented on line.
“NYPL Digital Gallery. Robert N. Dennis collection of stereoscopic views. > United States. > States > Vermont. > Hills and Dales of New England / F. B. Gage.”
[23 stereo views with the Anthony series title “Hills and Dales of New England” on printed labels attached to the verso of stereocards. This seems to me to be a later series issued by Anthony in the late 1860s – 1870s, which may have included some of Gage’s earlier images as well as later photographs which he took after the war. However, this series should not be confused with Anthony’s previously issued “White Mountain Views.” series of Gage’s photographs taken in 1859.

Some stereos in several public collections in Vermont are also available on-line, through the University of Vermont’s “Landscape Change Program” website, posted by the Geology Department at the University of Vermont. This site is focused on the subject matter of the photographic views rather than their photographic history; and the images are cataloged in a more fragmentary and incomplete manner. Several stereos by Gage are identified, but others by Gage in their collections are not properly identified. Nevertheless, one finds here that Gage made several stereoviews depicting the 3rd Regiment and Company G of the Vermont forces of the Union Army troops leaving for the war from St. Johnsbury on July 20th 1861.

Internet searches may also bring forth additional Gage items. An internet search presented a charming c-d-v portrait of a mother and daughter, and another site produced an excellent group portrait of a family, each image displaying Gage’s excellent mastery of his craft of photographic portraiture. These references, however, are often both fleeting and fugitive. Slightly more stable internet references are:

“Gage, Franklin B.” Craig’s Daguerreian Registry: The Acknowledged Resource on American Photographers 1839 — 1860.   [Birth and death dates, brief biography.]

Pearl, Peggy. “F. B. Gage, Dec. 21, 2011,” St. Johnsbury History & Heritage Center Newsletter

“Stereoviews of Franklin B. Gage. White Mountain Scenery” [2 views on-line: “View up Eastern Avenue, St. Johnsbury, Vt, 1871. and “Picnic at St. Johnsbury, July 4th, 1859.” No. 45. F. H. Gage, Photo. Published by E. Anthony, New-York.”]

An image of the “First U. S. Piano Co. Factory, Springfield, Vt., 1868,” of which Gage made 1800 prints for advertising, is available at

Commercial dealers in stereoviews have offered F. B. Gage cards for sale online. For example, at this time, (May 1, 2013) Jeffrey Kraus Antique Photographics, has a half dozen or so Gage stereoviews for sale on his website. Other sites, David L. Spahr, also lists three or four and lists at least one Gage holding as well.

[I would like to thank Peggy Pearl at the St. Johnsbury History & Heritage Center for her swift and courteous response to some of my questions.]


Gage, F. B. Theoretical and practical photography on glass and paper: with positive rules for obtaining intense negatives with certainty, by F.B. Gage. New York, S. D. Humphrey, 1859. 60 p.19 cm. [“Preface. This work was written more especially for the use of Amateurs, or beginners in the Photographic Art; yet it is hoped, and confidently expected, that much matter will be found in its pages which will prove useful and valuable, not only to the Neophyte, but also to those who have reached the advanced stages of Photographic Science — whether it be the professional man, or the savan who pursues the beautiful Art of “Sun-penciling,” con amore. The theory of light-Iodizing here advanced, is different from anything heretofore published, and will be found, in practice, to give better results-it is confidently asserted-than any hitherto placed before the public.
Every part touched upon, is intended to be made as plain and easily comprehended as possible, that the inexperienced may succeed, by its aid, in producing satisfactory proofs; and should the experimenter achieve but a tithe of the success which has attended the working of this Process in the bands of its originator, the result cannot prove otherwise than gratifying to both parties-to the Experimenter, in the superiority of his products over old modes of operating-and to the Author, in having contributed his mite toward ·rendering smooth and easy the rugged path of Photographic Science; and by extending encouragement to others, increase the number of its followers, in the hope of ultimately, at no distant day, achieving that triumph of perfection, which the manifold and constantly-developing beauties of the Art warrant all in looking forward to. This should prove the incentive and aim of every true lover of Aesthetic Beauty, The Author May 1, 1859.”]

 “Photography,” on p. 488-489 in: The Town of St. Johnsbury, Vt., a Review of One Hundred Twenty-five Years to the Anniversary Pageant 1912, by Edward T. Fairbanks. St. Johnsbury: The Cowles Press, 1914. 592 pp.
[“Photography The old-time Daguerreotype Car, painted white, sky-lighted, drawn by four horses, used to appear periodically on our streets prior to 1850, and all the sun-pictures of that period were taken under its glass dome; there are still a few surviving specimens of 1849 that were printed in the Brooks car from Boston, which was moored a little way below the old burial ground.
The pioneer daguerreotypist who obtained a residence was F. B. Gage whose St. Johnsbury Portrait Gallery was opened 1851 in the Emerson Hall building then standing on the Athenaeum site. He was ingenious, painstaking and skilful as an artist, with a touch of eccentricity and droll humor; he styled himself The-Old-Daguerreen, The-Man-with-the-long-flowing-Beard, creator of Daguerreotypes, Ambrotypes, Statutypes, Colorotypes; he took first premiums at the County Fairs and diversified the columns of the Caledonian with his whimsical verse. The lines here given were entitled
& So Forth & So On
By The Flowing Beard

How swiftly the moments of life hurry on,
   Nor slow forth nor slow on,
But swift as the tide of a swift rushing river
They flow forth & flow on
& so forth & so on.
Then O, as you row down the River of Life,
   As you row forth & row on,
Have your likeness preserved in a case or a frame
To show forth and show on
& so forth & so on.
And e’en though the weather be cloudy or fair
   Or snow forth & snow on,
And e’en though the tempest should rise in its wrath
   & blow forth & blow on,
We’ll take you a picture you won’t be ashamed
When you go forth & go on
To show forth & show on
& so forth & so on.

The Gage gallery in Brown’s block at the time of his death, was purchased by Geo. H. Hastings and has descended thro successive owners to W. H. Jenks, the present proprietor. Long time photographers on Eastern Avenue were T. C. Haynes and C. H. Clark. A photographic artist of eminence was D. A. Clifford over the Post Office block, who died in 1889. For 47 years he had kept himself master of every known process of his art. Among 167 exhibitors, English and American, at the Lambert exposition in New York 1878, the first prize for large carbon work was awarded D. A. Clifford of St. Johnsbury, Vt., and two of his pictures were kept by Mr. Lambert as specimens of American photography to be exhibited in England. Clifford was for several years, until his death, vice-president of the American Photographers Association; for his enthusiasm in the art he was called among the members the old war horse from Vermont; it was agreed that his landscape pictures were adding much to the popular fame of Green Mountain scenery, chiefly of this immediate vicinity.”]

“The-Man – With- The-Long-Flowing-Beard” on p. [n. p.] in: Stone, Arthur Fairbanks. Old Time Stories of St. Johnsbury Vermont St. Johnsbury, VT: Caledonian Record, 1938. (85th Anniversary of Passurnpsic Savings Bank St. Johnsbury, Vermont)
[“This isn’t a story about an Indian warrior, but a sketch of our pioneer photographer, F. B. Gage, artist, poet and philosopher. It was only a dozen years after the French Academy of Sciences had startled the world with the announcement of the discovery of photography by Daguerre and Neipee [sic Niepce] that Mr. Gage opened in 1851 the “St. Johnsbury Portrait Gallery.” For nearly a score of years he was the only photographer in town, though itinerant tin type producers appeared at our county fairs in their travelling road wagons. While many in this early period of the development of the art were thrilled to get a “Photo by Brady” our own townsfolk were just as pleased to have a “Photo by Gage”, and these early pictures are highly prized in many homes today. Like Barnum he believed in advertising, and this somewhat eccentric individual always included one of his whimsical poems in his Caledonian ads. Often using as his title the one that heads this story he referred to himself at other times as “Old Daguerreen” or “Creator of Daguerreotypes. Ambrotvpes, Statutypes and Colortypes.”
“For twenty-five cents
Is all the expense
Of an Ambrotype made of your face,
And for double that sum
If you presently come,
‘Twill be made and put in a case.”
His gallery was first located in the Emerson Hall block which stood in the fifties where •the Athenaeurn is now located. In the last of h is successful career he occupied the third story of the Brown Block which is now the home of the Jenks studio. Evidently he became dissatisfied with the credit system for he adopted in May 1856, the cash basis, with this advertisement on that date:
“Men of wealth, and men of fashion,
Men that sometimes get in passion;
Men that put all sorts of trash on
And, in fact,
Any one that brings the cash on”
It was at this time, too, that he announced “that having lately enlarged my Gallery and fitted up my reception room in a magnificent manner: the ladies will now find it pleasant to call and look at the pictures. I would remind them that
Queer old maids that are cross and fretty,
And young girls intensely pretty,
Wearing curls extremely jetty,
Will be very sure to get a
Capital Ambrotype at Gage’s.”
In a few years Mr. Gage added landscape views to his growing trade and was the first in this vicinity, and perhaps in Vermont, to produce pictures of the Vermont mountains and lakes and the White Mountain scenery along the “wild Ammonoosuc.” Like the famous Kilbourne Littleton artist [sic Kilburn Brothers, Littleton, NH) many of these views were two on a card for the use of the stereoscope, which was such a well known parlor ornament of those days. On one occasion he hired a hall and exhibited some 300 pictures with some explanations to an interested audience of both young and old. One of his most highly prized portraits is that of Willie Johnson, the 14-year-old drummer boy, who was presented with the Medal of Honor by Secretary of War Stanton for keeping his drum in the retreat of the Union soldiers at Harrison Landing, when all the other musicians in their panicky flight threw their instruments away. So now
“Have you heard what all the rage is;
‘Tis the Ambrotypes at F. B. Gage’s.
Pictures called by all the sages
The greatest wonder of modern ages.”]

 “Businesses: Photographers,” on p. 85 in Pearl, Peggy. A Brief History of St. Johnsbury. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2009. [Mentioned as the first photographer in St. Johnsbury, with a brief biography and a poem.
“For twenty-five cents
Is all the expense
Of an Ambrotype made of your face,
And for double that sum
If you presently come,
‘Twill be made and put in a case.”]

Gage is listed in the Vermont Vital Records Index, (Which states he died of blood poisoning, on Aug. 24, 1874 in St. Johnsbury.)
He was listed in the annual Walton’s Vermont Register and Farmer’s Almanack for at least the years 1855, (listed as a daguerrian artist), 1865, 1867, 1869-1873, (listed as a “Photographist,”). [These were the years accesible to me, it is probable that he was also listed in this business almanac for many of the other years during this period.] 
Gage is also listed as a “portrait and landscape painter” in Groce and Wallace. New York Historical Society’s Dictionary of Artists in America, 1564-1860.



“Proceedings of the Photographical Section.” ANNUAL REPORT OF THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK, FOR THE YEAR 1867-68. (1868): 1025-1035. [November 11, 1867. Mr. H. J. Newton in the chair; O. G. Mason, Secretary. Minutes of the last meeting were read and approved. Mr. Hull laid before the Section a series of prints from negatives made by the Zantmyre lens, and globe lens, showing the relative field and illumination of the lenses. He also read a letter from Mr. B. F. Gage, of St. Johnsbury, Vt., accompanied by a cabinet photograph and ambrotype, showing the peculiarities of the process which formed the subject matter of his communication to the Section. Mr. Hull also read the specifications of Mr. Gage’s patent claim, as published in the Philadelphia Photographer. Prof. Tillman asked whether any member had tried Mr. Gage’s device. Mr. H. S. Anthony thought it advisable that some competent person should try the process and report to the Section. Mr. Hullenback explained a method which consisted of exposing the plate to diffused light after its removal from the camera and before development. Then followed a general discussion upon various methods which had been used to produce similar results. On motion of Mr. Hull, a committee of three were appointed to make pictures by Mr. Gage’s process, and by the ordinary negative process, and exhibit the results at the next meeting of the Section. Messrs. Anthony, Hull and Chapman were appointed by the Chair to serve as such committee. On motion of Mr. Chapman, the name of the Chairman was added to the committee. …On motion of Prof. Tillman, the time of meeting was changed to the first Tuesday in the month, instead of the second Monday. The Section then adjourned to the first Tuesday in December.”
December 3, 1867.
Mr. H. J. Newton, in the chair; O. G. Mason, Secretary. Minutes of the last meeting were read and approved. Prof. Tillman read a letter received from Professor Joy. The committee appointed at the last meeting to try experiments with Mr. B. F. Gage’s negative process, reported progress….”


“New Pictures.” ANTHONY’S PHOTOGRAPHIC BULLETIN 2, no. 6 (June 1871): 184. [Gage (St. Johnsbury, VT) sends stereoscopic prints.]

Cage, F. B. “Bronchitis Cured By Photography.” ANTHONY’S PHOTOGRAPHIC BULLETIN 3, no. 1 (Jan. 1872): 405.

Cage, F. B. “How to Get Excellent Cotton with Little Trouble.” ANTHONY’S PHOTOGRAPHIC BULLETIN 3, no. 2 (Feb. 1872): 438-441.

“Obituary.” ANTHONY’S PHOTOGRAPHIC BULLETIN 5, no. 10 (Oct. 1874): 374. [Brief note that F. B. Cage (St. Johnsbury, VT) died.]


“Vermont Items.” BURLINGTON WEEKLY FREE PRESS (BURLINGTON, VT) (July 19, 1867): 2. [“Mr. Jonathan Bagley of Hartland was thrown from his carriage on the 3d inst. and almost immediately killed. He was an old man, over eighty.
A boy of 11 years, son of Dr. J. S. Morse of Royalton, was drowned in the river July 21, in attempting to swim across.
The surveyors of the Portland and Ogdensburg road are now at work in Danville searching for the best place for locating the road through that town….
…Abel Stacy’s dwelling-house in Concord was struck by lightning July 4th, tearing up the boards under Mrs. Stacy’s chair, but not hurting her.
A house in Hartford was struck the same day, and all the stove-pipes in the house knocked down, and the kitchen stove moved some inches.
The rum-sellers of Lyndon were looked after a little, by State’s Attorney Willard, a week ago Friday, and fined $50 each.
Patents were issued July 9th to W. H. Baldwin and J. H. Blake of Brandon, for improved railway chair; to B. O. Church and Harvey Smith of Brattleboro, for octave coupling for reed instruments; to G. Simpson and W. H. Edmunds of Waterbury, for improvement in lamp extinguisher; to Franklin B. Gage of St. Johnsbury, for process for making positive and negative photographs in the camera.
Martin Keith of Troy, Vt., was killed by a two year old bull, in his pasture, on the 4th. His body was found terribly mangled. The bull had never shown signs of viciousness, but was killed immediately.”]

[This weekly newspaper has been in continuous publication since 1837. F. B. Gage advertised in almost every issue of this paper during the more than twenty years that his gallery was open in St. Johnsbury. There were also special ads for specific events, and the paper published news items about a colorful local individual and valuable businessman in the community; and published his poems and short stories, etc. All together, there are hundreds of citations. I have selected some of these references here, which help put some flesh on the bones of the more formal accounts of Gage’s life and career.]

[Advertisement.] “Daguerreotype Miniatures.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Nov. 29, 1851): 3. [Taken singly or in groups at W. D. M’Pherson’s Daguerrian Saloon, opposite J. C. Bingham’s Drug Store, where he would respectfully invite all those who wish for a perfect Likeness to give him a call. Children taken of any age. Pictures taken from Portraits, Daguerreotypes, Busts, &c.; also, from deceased persons and invalids, at their residences. Pictures taken equally well I cloudy weather, and neatly set in Lockets, Rings, Pins or Frames – Prices $1.00 and upward. St. Johnsbury Plain, Nov. 24, 1847.”]

[Advertisement.] “F.B. Gage’s Sky-Light Daguerrean Gallery. St. Johnsbury Plain, Vt.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Sept. 25, 1852): 3. [“The subscriber having opened a skylight Daguerrean Gallery, three doors south of the St. Johnsbury House, would respectfully announce to the inhabitants of St. Johnsbury and neighboring towns, that he will be happy to wait on all who may wish for a correct likeness of themselves or friends. Having procured all the latest improvements in the Art, he is now able, by a new arrangement of light and the use of new materials, to produce pictures of a most Lifelike & Beautiful Complexion, as all may see by calling and examining specimens. These pictures are finished by a newly discovered process which gives them a richness and durability unsurpassed by any in this country or Europe. The public are requested to call and examine specimens. Come one and all; you will be equally welcome whether wishing pictures or not. If you have called once call again, and tell your friends to call also, as he-will be happy to see you at all times and show you anything new in the Art.
Pictures taken in cloudy as well as clear weather.
Perfect likenesses warranted in all cases or no charge.
Copies from Daguerreotypes, Portraits, &., neatly executed.
Miniatures for lockets, pins, rings, &c., taken in the most perfect manner.
Views of buildings and scenery taken in a style unsurpassed by any.
Likenesses of sick or deceased persons taken at their residences if desired.
Prices varying from 1 to 8 dollars according to style and finish of case.
Pupils instructed and furnished with apparatus
F. B. Gage, St. Johnsbury, Sept. 25, 1852.”]

“Daguerreotype Likenesses.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Dec. 11, 1852): 3. [“Our neighbor, Mr. Gage, is doing a good business in taking likenesses. His pictures look well, and he will satisfy all of his customers. He has a fine room for his purpose over E. Hall & Co’s Store.”]

[Advertisement.] “A Daguerreotype Song.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Jan. 8, 1853): 4. [“Supposed to have been sung by a lady after having visited F. B. Gage’s Daguerrean Gallery, three doors south of the St. Johnsbury House) St. Johnsbury Plain, Vt.
Air: Things that I don’t like to see.
One morning last week when I’d nothing to do,
And wanted to see something funny or new,
I went with my cousins Maria and Jane,
To visit the Daguerreotype Rooms on the Plain.
I merely went in just to make a short call;
And look at the pictures that hung on the wall;
But I saw just as soon as I entered the door,
I had never seen pictures more perfect before.

For there was Estella, Adelia, and Jane,
And I never saw pictures so rich or so plain:
And John and his sweetheart, and Sam and his wife;
I declare they all looked just as natural as life.
There were multitudes more both in cases and frames
But I never could tell you one half of their names,
I thought every one looked the nicest and best,
Though I think Jenny Lind’s not so good as the rest.

Now when I had seen them, they all looked so fine,
Said I to the Artist, “I’II sit and have mine.”
Then he had me sit down in a chair at my ease,
And, said he, “You may wink just as much as you please.”
And then, when I smiled just as much as I ought,
In less than a moment my likeness was caught.
So quickly ’twas taken, so nicely ’twas done,
To sit for my picture was nothing but fun.

And every one says,(so I know it must be,)
That my picture’s a very apt emblem of me.”
Since this is so perfect, I must have another,
To go to the West to my sister and brother,
And then I must have another to send —
But no matter to whom for he’s only a friend.
And now if the people will take my advice,
I freely will give it without money or price.

If you want nothing more, give the Artist a call,
Just to look at the pictures that hang on the wall,
‘Twill do you no harm just to drop in and see,
And take your friends with you, as I did with me.
He can take them as well whether cloudy or fair,
And you’ll find him at home for he always, is there.
He’s using a splendid new German Machine,
That was made by one Sohn in the Province of Wein.

If any should wish to acquire this great Art,
He’ll learn him the trade so he’ll-know it by heart,
And his pictures wont fade, as other Artist’s have done.
For you know that he hangs them right out in the sun.
And whether in lockets, pins; rings, or a frame,
You’ll see that his pictures are always the same;
And then, I am sure you’ll conclude with the rest,
That he’s always a little ahead of the best.”]

[Advertisement.] “Look out for Counterfeits!” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (May 7, 1853): 4.
[“Since ev’rythings’ new in these new-fangled times,
I’ll tell you some news, and I’ll tell it in rhymes.
‘Tis a bit of a secret, and you’ll keep it no doubt,
For it never would answer to have it leak out.
Kate told me the story, so I’ll tell it to you, —
For I know that the story is perfectly true, —
That a fellow from somewhere – nobody knows where.
Came to St. Johnsbury, & settled down there.

And, perhaps, you will think it a dreadful disgrace,
But he’s opened a counterfeiting shop in the place.
Where he counterfeits everything under the sun,
That ever the skill of an Artist has done.
He’s fitted a splendid new room in the town
Just below the ‘Post Office, kept by Jewett & Brown,’
And you’ll see his new sign hanging out from the door.
Just over the well-known E. Hall & Co.’s store.

There he counterfeits faces, and does them so brown
That he’s had a great rush since he came into town,
And ev’ry one says, since tis now all the rage:
If you need a good face you can get it of Gage.”
He’s studied and practiced so long in the Art,
I should know at a glance that he knew it by heart,
And if any should happen to doubt what I say,
Drop in there and see when your passing that way.

Drop in there some day when you have nothing to do,
And in less than a minute he’ll counterfeit you;
And he’ll do it so well, whether cloudy or fair,
You would say ‘twas yourself, and no counterfeit there.
Since his counterfeits win the most hearty applause,
Be assured that he stands in no fear of the laws;
But in spite of the law, and Artistical ire,
He’ll be appy to counterfeit all who desire.
St. Johnsbury Counterfeiting Gallery, March, 1853.”]

“Marriages.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (June 11, 1853): 3. [“In this town, June 6, by Rev. W. B. Bond, Mr. F.  B. (Gage and Miss Laurietta Huntly, all of this town. In this town, May 31, by Rev. Wm. D. Malcolm, Mr. Lucius Spencer of Brownington and Miss Susan J. Randall of Lyndon.
In Waterford, June 6, by Rev. F. Warriner, Mr. Dexter Fitts of Hanover, N. H., and Miss Sarah A. M. Hill, of Waterford.
In Derby, May 29, by Rev. H. Tabor, Mr. Herman Bisbee and Miss Mary P. Sias, all of West Derby.
In Danville, May 29, by Rev. A. G. Button, Mr. Austin A. Finley, of Hartland, and Miss Mary M. Pope, of Danville.
In Cabot, May 29, by Rev. Mr. Cooper, Mr. Elijah W. Chamberlin, of this town, and Miss Caroline M. Nevins, of Cabot.”]

“Gage’s Mezzotint Statutypes.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Sept. 23, 1853): 2. [“Our industrious and highly successful Daguerrean Artist, Mr. F. B. Gage, modestly announces in our advertising columns, that he has brought to a good degree of perfection a new process of daguerreotyping likenesses, which promises to surpass all methods previously known. The difference between this method and those before practiced, consists in the preparation of the plate. It is well known that the plate is rendered capable of retaining an image by being exposed in turn to the vapors of Iodine and Bromine. The practitioners of the art have always been conscious that something was wanting in the process, and they have made many attempts to discover what was needed to increase the susceptibility of the plate and render it more sure and reliable. These labors often resulted in some minor advantages, but not in that great and decided improvement which was the object of the research. Many months ago Mr. Gage conceived the idea, and by a long course of experimenting has at length succeeded in discovering a substance, which in addition to those already used, will impart to the plate the power of recovering and retaining a picture, bold and clear as the sharpest mezzotint, and at the same time soft, and delicately chiseled as the most exquisitely cut marble. These pictures are extremely distinct. They can be seen in any light, and always stand out bright and clear as the living countenance. One examination of Mr. Gage’s specimens will convince any one that we have not exaggerated, nor set down aught in extensio.”]

“Caledonia County Fair.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Sept. 30, 1854): 3. [“The annual Cattle Falr of the Caledonia County Agricultural Society was held at Danville on Wednesday and Thursday. The show of cattle, and the various products of the, farm and the shop, was a good one, but we have not time to enter into a particular description.  The following are the Premiums Awarded.
Neat Stock.
1st, Ten yoke oxen from one town,
             Cabot,                         $10.00
2d.       Danville,                          $5.00
(Etc. about a column of listings of every animal and product)
1st, E. Perry, Danville,   .           $1.00
2d   F. B. Gage, St. Johnsbury,    $.50
Monochromatic Painting.
1st, Helen Davis, Danville,          $1.00
2d, Aaron Smith, Hardwick,          $.50
1st, oil painting Miss L. Pearson,
Peacham,                                 $1.00

[Advertisement.] “F. B. Gage, Daguerreotypist and Statutypist.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Apr. 14, 1855): 3. 1 illus. [(Advertisement has a crude woodcut of a sun rising behind a daguerreotype camera, perched on a globe.) “St. Johnsbury Daguerrean Gallery. Gage’s Mezzotint Statutypes.
Something New!
These pictures are different from any ever before offered to the public, and are  considered by the best judges the most desirable style of likeness which the Daguerrean Art is capable of producing. They have all the roundness and apparent solidity of a perfect statue, combined with all the richness of the most brilliant Mezzotint engraving. Pictures taken in this style have more character than if taken in the usual way, as every line, angle and wrinkle of the face is chiseled with the most unerring certainty, and all the peculiarities of expression are retained in the greatest perfection. – Light blue eyes taken by this process retain their expression, and have all the perfection of life.
The method of taking the Statutypes was discovered (after making a great variety of experiments) by F. B. Gage, of St. Johnsbury, and is known and practiced by him only. Specimens of these pictures are on exhibition at his Gallery. Artists are especially requested to call and examine them.
Pictures taken in all kinds of weather, and perfect satisfaction guaranteed or no pay. Instructions given in the Art. Any person wishing to learn the trade will find an excellent opportunity in doing so by applying soon. St. Johnsbury, March 1855.”]

[Advertisement.] “The Old Daggerreen.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Mar. 15, 1856): 4.
[“Since the sleighing
Is so splendid
And may soon be .
Quite suspended,
Come up beaux and
Belles together,
Get your pictures
This fine weather.

Come good father,
And fond mother,
Come with sister
And with brother;
Ere with palsy,
Ye be shaken,
Come to Gage’s
And be taken!

Whether fleshy,
Lean of sharky,
Come-up white folks,
Come up darkey;
Both for ugly
Folks, and clever,
Gage takes pictures
Better’n ever
St. Johnsbury, Jan. 10,’ 1656.”]

[Advertisement.] “Ambrotypes.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (May 10, 1856): 3.
[“To Every Body.
As this advertisement has never before been in print, and may never be again the public are advised to read it, and permission is hereby respectfully given them to do so.
Have you heard what all the rage is?
‘Tis the Ambrotypes at Gage’s.
Pictures that are called by sages
The greatest wonder of the modern ages.
To The Ladies
Having lately enlarged my Gallery, and fitted up a Reception Room in magnificent style, the ladies will now find it pleasant to call and look at the pictures. I would remind them that,
Queer old maids that’s cross and and fretty,
And young girls intensely pretty,
Wearing curls extremely jetty,
Will be very sure to get a
Capital Ambrotype at Gage’s.
About Babies.
Certain days will be mostly devoted
taking pictures of  babies of all styles and qualities, such as
Babies little and babies bigger,
Babies that can squall with vigor,
Babies that cut quite a figure,
and all sorts, from white to nigger.
N. B. –Nigger means them that is sable complexioned.”
To The Gentlemen.
The gentlemen will not be sent away empty, as I am better than ever before prepared
To Extract
Men of wealth, and men of fashion,
Men that sometimes get in passion,
Men that put all sorts of trash on,
And, in fact,
Any one that brings the
Cash on!
F. B> Gage, Artist. St. Johnsbury, May 1, 1856.”]

[Advertisement.] “Gage’s Farewell.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Nov. 15, 1856): 3. [“Gage Is Going To Leave
These ‘ere frosty diggings
And take no more pictures
Over Hall & Higgins;
For he’s bound to flourish
 In some Western city
Where the wintry weather
Aint so cold and gritty.

Therefore all ye people
Take this little warning:
Gage is going early
Some bright and pleasant morning,
And if you want pictures
That beat all the nation,
Shun that little word
Called procrastination.

For a few weeks longer,
ln all kinds of weather,
Gage will take the beaux and
Laughing belles together.
So bring on your faces
And don’t stand a-croaking,
Gage means what is written.
Without any joking!
November 10, 1856.”
This may certify, That Mr. F. B. CAGE of St. Johnsbury, Vt., received the fallowing premiums at the First Annual Fair of the Conn. River ValIey Agricultural & Industrial Association, held at Bradford, Vt. Oct. 14, 15 & 16, 1856:
1st premium on Ambrotvpes,                   $3.00
1st premium on Photographs,                 $2.00
1st  premium on Colorotypes.                  $2.00
George Pritchard. Treasurer. Bradford, Nov. 12, 1856.”]

[Advertisement.] “Gage & Rowell, Ambrotype & Photographic Artists.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Apr. 4, 1857): 3.
[“St. Johnsbury, Vt., & Littleton, N. H.
The Gallery at Littleton will be open only two or three weeks in every twelve. Open April 8, for one or two weeks.
Ambrotypes taken at less prices than formerly. Old daguerreotypes cleaned to look as well as new. Oil Paintings cleaned and Varnished, At the Bradford Fair, Mr. Gage drew
1st Premium on Ambrotypes                   $3.00
1st Premium on Photographs                  $2.00
1st Premium on Colorotypes                   $2.00
At the Caledonia Fair,
1st Premium on Daguerreotypes, &c.      $2 00
(From the People’s Journal.)
“We feel warranted in recommending Mr. Gage as one of the first artists in the country.”
(From the White Mountain Banner.)
“Mr. Gage’s reputation is, not excelled, by any artist in New England.”
(From The Caledonian.)
“Mr. Gage is an adept in the line of his profession.”
(Humphrey’s Daguerrean Journal published in New York City, says:)
“Gage’s Photographs are Gems. We can confidently say that we have never seen so pleasing a collection from one operator. They are an honor to the artist.”]

[Advertisement.] “& So Forth, & Soon.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (May 23, 1857): 3. [“By the Flowing Beard.
How swiftly the moments of life hurry on.
Nor slow forth, nor slow on,
But swift as the tide of a swift rushing river
They flow forth & flow on.
Towards that dark, solemn land, where- the footsteps of man,
Never go forth, nor go on—
& so forth, and so on.

Then O, as you row down the River of Life,
As you row forth, & row on,
Have thy likeness preserved in a case or a frame
To show forth & show on,
When thy form lieth cold in that land where no flowers
Ever grow forth, or grow on—
& so forth, & so on.

Then take my advice. oh ! ye pictureless tribe!
Good advice as I know on:
With some rocks in your pockets, go forth from your homes
Just go forth, and go on,
Not stop ‘till you reach Gage & Rowell’s Saloon
With a good healthy glow on,
& so forth, & so on.

And e’en though the weather be cloudy or fair,
Or snow forth or snow, on:
And e’en tho’ the tempest should rise in its wrath.
& blow forth & blow on.
Will take you a picture, you won’t be ashamed
When you go forth & go on,
To show forth & show on–

Our Ambrotype pictures are greatly improved.
As we get forth, & go on.
Until they surpass everything in the world
That we hear on, or know on;
And our prices of late we have greatly reduced,
As we show forth & show on,
& so forth & so on.”]

[Advertisement.] “Good Wheat.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (July 4, 1857): 4. [“A few bushels of good wheat wanted in exchange for cash. F.B. Gage. St. Johnsbury. June 15, 1857.”]

[Advertisement.] “Pictures for the Times!” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Jan. 9, 1858): 3. [“Ambrotypes  for 25 Cents at Gage & Rowell’s.
Then bring on your sons
(As our cheap machine runs
Only three weeks from date.)
And take out your daughters
And trot out your quarters
Before its too late.
St. Johnsbury, Nov. 12, 1857.”]

[Advertisement.] “Copartnership Expired.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Feb. 13, 1858): 3. [“The term of copartnership between the undersigned having expired, the same is dissolved by mutual consent. All business matters appertaining to the copartnership, will be settled by Mr. Gage only.    
D. F. Rowell
E. B. Gage.
St. Johnsbury, Feb. 6th; 1858.”]

[Advertisement.] “Life Size!!” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (May 15, 1858): 4.
[“Life     Size     Photographs.
That surpass the most delicate Steel Engravings, at Gage’s.
Life      Size      Photographs
Colored in oil colors until they surpass the portraits of the Old Masters, at Gage’s.
Improved      Ambrotypes
From 50 cents to 10 dollars each, at Gage’s
Pictures of ‘Life Size’ are made at no other Gallery in Vermont.
Come And See Them!!!
F. B. Gage.
St. Johnsbury Portrait Gallery, February, 1858.”]

“Caledonia County Fair.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Sept. 25, 1858): 2. [“First Day.—Wednesday. The first day of our Fair was particularly cold and raw. Notwithstanding this, quite a large number of people assembled on the Fair grounds in the morning, and the number gradually increased till the last of the afternoon. The heavy thunder shower of Tuesday afternoon, effectually dispelled the dust, and the roads and grounds were in a good condition. The morning was principally devoted to the necessary preliminaries of entry and arrangement for the exhibition. The grounds presented quite a lively and animated appearance. The Boston Brigade Band, which repaired early to the ground, discoursed from their stand, from time to time, most excellent music. Mechanics’ and Floral Hall were filled with active men & women arranging for an advantageous display of the works of Nature and Art,–of mechanical skill and taste, which had been brought to our Industrial Exhibition…” “…Floral Hall was really beautiful. The busy hands of many ladies and gentlemen had made it look like a gallery of art. Great praise is due those individuals who gave their time and labor so freely, in fitting up the building in such beautiful taste…. Miss O. M. Lawrence of Waterford, presented some hair work that must have been the occasion of a great deal of patient labor…. Among the worsted work we noticed’ a beautifully wrought chair …Some very fine bead baskets were suspended in the room,…  a leather “what-not.” Mr. Gage occupied one corner of the room, mostly with Photographs, both of individuals and rural scenery. They were pictures that do credit to the “man with the long flowing beard,” “and so-forth, and so-on.” Some very good oil paintings were presented…There were pin cushions, and other knick-knacks…”]

[Advertisement.] “Judgment Come at Last.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Jan. 29, 1859): 3. [The validity of James A. Cutting’s Ambrotype and Photographic Patents having been established by Judicial decision. Every Artist in Boston has been compelled to buy a license and place himself under bonds not to sell any pictures for a less sum than 50 cents each. The Artists of Caledonia county will be compelled to enter into the same arrangement. F. B. GAGE, Agent for Patentees. St. Johnsbury, Vt. Jan. 29, 1859.”] 

“A Good Job.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Apr. 30, 1859): 2. [“Gage does not dabble in poetry to the neglect of the chemicals. He is now engaged in engraving Negative Photographic plates for the Stereoscope, from which millions of photographic pictures may be taken. Mr. Gage is employed by a New York house, and we understand that this will not be less than a thousand dollar job for him. He is out now taking views of some of the wildest and most picturesque scenery for which Vermont is so noted. Some of our readers would be surprised at the beauty of such a picture as the Lyndon Falls, or a backwoods sugar camp, as brought out by an artist in a modern stereoscope. The fact that Mr. Gage is employed for this undertaking is only another evidence of his acknowledged superiority abroad as an artist. He is an inventor as well as a practical artist. He has now a book in press treating subjects connected with the art which he has so long-made a study, the copyright of which is already sold. Aside from this, he is a regular paid contributor to a lending New York journal, the articles of which are copied into a London paper, and from that translated into both the French and German. We only mention these facts to show that we have an artist among us whose skill is appreciated and acknowledged by those who “know what’s what.”]

“Rossibus – Gageibus – Gasibus.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (May 7, 1859): 2. [“We have received a very lengthy communication from Barnet in regard to the (illegible.) The parties in this great “fight” are Gage versus Ross, and they employ no counsel, but argue, their own cause. We will state, however, that this poetic war closes with this number; all further communications will be inserted in advertising columns at one dollar a square. We will see how valiant these men are when their pockets are concerned.
As a matter of news we would state (what was broadly hinted in Mr. Game’s article last week) that Maj. Ross left St. Johnsbury Centre without settling his bill for fuel, lights, use of hall, &c. At Barnet he was arrested by Sheriff Stevens, but procured bail and was set at liberty. The trial was last Monday, when the plaintiff recovered his whole bill and the costs of prosecution. We presume that the valiant Major will make this trial the subject of one of his lectures in future, as he did his Brattleboro trial at this place: and he will doubtless draw tears from the eyes of his auditors when he recounts this fresh evidence of his martyrdom to the cause of—soap.”]

De Forest. “Gage-ibus Blowibus.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (May 7, 1859): 3. [“Our photograph friend seems ill at ease
That his tricks are exposed to the public gaze.
Of all the good people of country and town,
That arc met in the weekly “Caledonian’s round,
And replies with a lyric, ground out of his mill,
A decoction ‘t might waken Shakspearian will.

Free-from all intentional guilt,
We acknowledge ourselves “intirely kilt”
Innocence, smothers all feelings of rage
Towards St. Johnsbury’s patron and knight, F. B. Gage,
And if it produce him but one throb of joy.
To try to annihilate a New Hampshire boy—
Here goes—I am ready—and will, if I can,
Stand up and fight bravely this poetry man.

“Rossibus Soapibus” never will shrink
From the truth—he needs must think.
If Mr. Gage sends out his rockets.
Fusing about St; Johns bury pockets,
We humbly suggest that it might be wise
To pluck the beams from his jaundiced eyes,
Before he is blinded by the dross
That he charges upon his neighbor Ross.

He. commenced by blowing the Major’s clothes,
Like those in which liberty conquered its foes,
Which were worn on the brow of old Bunker Hill,
And which are the emblems of liberty still.
He laughs them to scorn with a gracious good will.
And vows that the Major’s whole business he’ll kill,
By introducing a guillotine bill,
And by management, getting it “chucked through the mill.”
Then he blows on his soap, and his jewelry too,
And he says many things which “I” say are true,
In regard to his soap—’tis a hard thing to whip,
In regard to his jewelry—I “give up the ship.

He makes the assertion that Ross is a clown,
And if he descended from Scotch ancestry down,
He’s descended so low that they’ll never be proud
To own him as kin at home or abroad.

I would very much like to ask from what race
Our poet descended.—The hair on his face
Proclaims that he has an affinity strong
To the canine tribe — say, Gage, am I wrong?
I hope that our friend will take no offense
At my method of judging his sense—or nonsense,
For I own my opinion is paltry indeed
Of the man whose brain has but run out to seed.

“Rossibus Soapibus” is not dead.
The guns you fired went over his head.
Don’t fire again ; he will beat a retreat,
Hoping next time you blow you will aim at his feet,
So don’t tear the ground with your powder and ball
To kill out the soap man—watches and all.
Lancaster, N. H.; May 2d. 1859.”]

“Stereoscopic Views.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (July 16, 1859): 2. [“Mr. F. B. Gage succeeded in getting several stereoscopic views of the crowd that were collected here the 4th, among the most interesting of which figure the Fantastics.”]

[Advertisement.] “Sterescopic [sic] Pictures and Sterescopes [sic] for sale at Gage’s.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Aug. 20, 1859): 3. [“The Wreck of the Train of Aug. 9th; a striking picture for the Sterescope, for Gage’s.
White Mountain Views, for the Sterescope, for sale at Gage’s.
Family Groups,made for the Sterescope, at Gage’s.
Ambrotypes greatly improved and Photographs as usual, at Gage’s.” (Includes a crude woodcut illustration of a large pile of stereoscopic cards.)]

“Local and State. ‘Twenty-five Cents a Crack.’” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Dec. 10, 1859): 1. [“Dropping into Gage’s gallery the other day, we found his walls literally lined with pictures of which both the originals and the artist may well be proud. Mr. Gage has spent a large portion of the past season in procuring “negatives” of some of the fine scenery which is so abundant in this part of Vermont, as well as some very fine views of White Mountain scenery, and the picturesque “Wild Ammonoosuc.” These pictures are taken for the stereoscope, and we learn that there is a large and increasing demand for them.”]

[Advertisement.] “St. Johnsbury Business Directory.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Dec. 10, 1859): 1. [“F. B. Gage, Artist,
At St. Johnsbury Portrait Gallery.
Ambrotypes, Melainotypes, and Life Size Photographs.
Better and cheaper than elsewhere.”
(The Caledonian Record published a “Business Directory,” which consisted of a three or four line listing of individual businesses, printed down the page in a column of every weekly issue. The listing was about $2 for a year, and Gage had a similar listing in almost every issue from the 50’s through to the 70’s. He would also run content specific or time-specific advertisements as well.)]

[Advertisement.] “Selling Out at Cost.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Dec. 30, 1859): 3. [“Cheap Ambrotypes.
Twenty-five cents a pop,
Over to Cage’s shop.
Popping ‘em fast as he can,
Woman, baby, and man:
Making a regular rout,
Cleaning the Old Stock out,
For twenty-five cents a crack
At either your face or back.

Short to the day of Grace.
Shave and forward your face,
Deborah, Jake and Nance,
Or you will lose the chance:
The chance of getting a pop
For a Quarter at Gage’s shop.
For when the old stock is through,
Higher the price of the new.
Dec. 1, 1859.”]

[Advertisement.] “I’ll Treat.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Feb. 17, 1860): 3. [“Citizens of St. Johnsbury and elsewhere, with a sight of some of the wonders of the stereoscope, consisting of
4 Instantaneous Views of Niagara,
4 Instantaneous Views of Broadway, N. Y.
Blondin Crossing Niagara on the Tight Rope.
Gage’s White Mountain and other Views, (splendidly colored.)
Open Day and Evening, Terms—Gratis.”]

[Advrtisement.] “Photographic Pictures!” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Mar. 23, 1860): 3.
[“Low Prices! Low Prices!
For only 15 cts. each, and with a good case at 37 ½ cts. Photographs and Melainotypes.
Cheap In Proportion.
Rawson’s Picture Gallery will be closed nearly all the time during the summer, after about the middle of May. Pictures will be sold at these extremely low prices but a
Few Weeks Only
and all persons wishing anything of the kind should avail themselves of this opportunity.
N. B. A good assortment of Stereoscopic pictures and Stereoscopes for sale.
E. E. Rawson. Lyndon, March 22, 1860.”]

[Advertisement.] “Apprentice Wanted.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Mar. 23, 1860): 3. [“At the St. Johnsbury Portrait Gallery. Any ingenious young man who can come with good reference will receive a liberal offer to learn the art, if application be made immediately to F. B. Gage, St. Johnsbury, Vt.” (The “I’ll Treat” ad repeated on the same page.)]

[Advertisement.] “Returned.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (June 8, 1860): 3. [“F. B. Gage having returned to the St. Johnsbury Portrait Gallery, it will be open as heretofore.
A new set of stereoscopic pictures on exhibition. F. B. Gage. June 6, 1860.”]

[Advertisement.] “More Gold!” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (July 20, 1860): 3. [“F. B. GAGE has been seized with a fit of covetousness and is about to start for the Gold Regions, leaving the St. Johnsbury Portrait Gallery closed until further notice. July 18, 1860.”]

Gage, F. B. “Thursday, July 19th, 1860.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (July 20, 1860): 2.

[“Was there ever yet a wetter
Morn than this, or any better?
All men laughing, none complaining.
Of this glorious freak of raining.

All the clouds, the drouth transgressing,
Pouring down this mighty blessing?—
To the farmer, grown serener,
Earth looks gloriously greener.

Grass and grain their heads are raising.
In the very act of praising;
Where’s the man that stands refraining
Blessing God for this great raining?”]

“A True Historie.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (July 20, 1860): 2. [“Of ye greate duplicitie of Dr. La Costie, in ye romantic’ citie of St. Johnsburie; in the, year Anno Domonie eighteen hundred and sixtie.”
The people of old St. Johnsbury Plain
Are much astonished to see no rain;
And they daily protest they can’t see why
The clouds and the rain have left the sky.
Leaving the fields as much in despair.
As Dr. La Coste’s patients are, —
Who have suddenly changed their natural hue,
From magnificent green, to horrible blue.
This Dr. La Coste, as you must know,
Came into the place two weeks ago,
As-great a Christian as any you’ll find,
Of his very peculiar style and kind;
For he cheerfully took poor strangers in,
With his splendid roots and capital gin,—
And squeezed them until he got their “tin;”
And ’twas in this curious style and wise,
He cured their deafness and healed their, eyes!
To the famous St. Johnsbury House he came,
A man of exceeding skill and fame,
From the Hospitals of England and France,
He would offer the people a splendid chance.
His business it was to heal the deaf,
In a space of time exceedingly brief:
The most incredulous he could surprise
In his rapid manner of curing eyes;
Ten days would render the cure complete
Of the toughest cases he could meet
All the people whose sight was dim,
And the deaf, should come at once to him,
Or they might fail of a cure at all,
If they failed to make him an early call.
Well, the people flocked from far and hear,
This wonderful Doctor’s logic to hear;
And they very soon became impressed,
That this Doctor with wonderful skill was blest,
And they felt so very exceeding sure;
The Doctor’s skill the patient would cure,
That, rather than lose so good a chance
Of enlisting this wonderful man of France,
They paid the Doctor his fee in advance.
For the Doctor would
never dispense a pill
Till the anxious patient had paid the bill
Now the sequel is this, and it plainly appears
That the Doctor did sharpen their eyes and ears,
For ’twas found one morning at break of day,
That the Doctor at night had run away,
And of bills contracted—a goodly array —
He left for his father, the Devil, to pay:
And neighbor Watson found in his valse
A peck of the Advocates of Peace,
Rolled up, doubled up, and into it pressed
Twas all the baggage the Doctor possessed.
Now Mr. Watson could well afford
To get rid of the scoundrel, by losing his board.
I never will tell, not even next winter,
What kind of a trick he served the printer.
It must have been something exceedingly funny,
For it was a trick without any money.
He also went into Gage’s saloon
And ordered some pictures delivered at noon;
But long before noon he had taken his leave,
And Gage and the pictures were left to grieve.
It may be he fled because afeared
Of this long flowing bard, with his long flowing beard.
I fancy the tailor could give you his measure.–
But the tailor is deaf when you ask of his treasure.
And he is also so blind that he can’t see the ‘rocks’
He expected to get and invest in the stocks.
But these are the very diseases, I’m sure,
The great Dr. Coste pretended to cure.
Now these parties should feel exceedingly cheap,
To be caught at their regular business asleep;
And whenever a traveling doctor is seen,
If they look in the glass they’ll see something green.
But that’s nothing compared with these new style of greens,
That shell out their fives, their tens and fifteens,
To pay the sham Doctor for sham medical skill.
That will catch the purse, and the patients kill:
Or leave them, until some other knave comes,
To whistle Yankee Doodle, and suck their thumbs.
Who pays for sham pictures, or pays for sham pills,
Pays for pictures that fade, and for physic that kills,
Kills either the patient, or kills his pus.
You can scarcely tell which is better or wus!”]

“Letter from the Vermont Gold Diggings.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Aug. 3, 1860): 2. [“Gold Regions, Plymouth, Vt., July 28; 1860.
To the Editor of The Caledonian.
Here I am in the Glen House at Plymouth Five Corners in the heart of the Vermont Gold Regions. I left your place on Tuesday the 23d, by rail to White River Junction.— Then by cars to Woodstock Station up the Central 5 miles. Here I took the stage to Quechee 3 ½ miles. Quechee it noted for some remarkable gulfs and other fine scenery. Two days were spent in transferring some of the gems to my dark box. The next day a ride of 6 miles brought me to Woodstock, where I found the birth-place of the renowned Powers in its original style of architecture of more than sixty years ago.— Not the Tom Powers of political notoriety, but the veritable Hiram, the sculptor of the Greek Slave—the most distinguished of all American sculptors. The old house has been scarcely altered from the time of Hiram’s birth. It is designed to keep it so as long as possible. By the assistance of the present owner I was enabled to stow the old house and its surroundings into my trunk and bring it away with me for the benefit of your citizens. When I returned to the Woodstock Hotel I found the polite landlord had turned his hotel into an express office, and had sent my trunk with its array of chemicals back to St Johnsbury by express. Between not very  good accommodations and pretty stiff charges, with the carelessness of sending my trunk away, I did not find much to commend in Mr. Henry’s Hotel., As another hotel is going to be opened here it may be possible for the traveler to find a more decent house.
A ride of 6 miles by stage to Bridgewater Village, and a private team to this place, six miles more completed the trip and brought us to the gold regions. This place is reported to be the most profitable digging ground in the state. It is an old place in a deep glen, shut in by high hills of the brightest green imaginable. A more romantic region could not well be conceived of, and it has the peculiarities of a place removed from the great thoroughfares.
A good story is told of a New York exquisite who came up here, and was so struck with the out of the world appearance of everything and the barbarous looks of the miners that he selected the most human looking man of the crowd, took him aside and confidentially asked him if it would be safe for him to stop there over night. I visited several mines to-day, but only two of them are worked on account of a scarcity of water to wash the gold out—the drouth having delayed the mining very much. Some of these mines are working out from five to twenty dollars a day to each man, but there is work in it, as any one may judge from the huge heaps of earth and rock that are moved by the miners. It is not so easy to spend money here as at the White Mountains, but there is more picturesque scenery here, and more diversity than there. It is probable that the miners do not average more than they could at some other business as many lose their time where one gets his “pile.” However the stimulus is such that many rush into it and out of it in a very short time, the claims changing hands very often.
There are diggings all over this town and in some of the neighboring towns. They are all more or less worked, bur the one at Plymouth Five Corners seems to be the headquarters, Out of a small mill pond in sight of the Glen House, Mr. Hankerson, the man who first discovered the gold in these regions is clearing four or five thousand dollars above all expenses this season.
Several of the most picturesque diggings and other views were transferred to my package to-day, and I shall leave for some other diggings on Monday, satisfied that some of the people of this state who rush to the White Mountains, might see more and pleasanter things in their own Green Mountains if they chose to take the trouble. The Covetous Man.”]

“Henry’s Hotel, Woodstock.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Aug. 10, 1860): 2.  [“We have received a communication of nearly a column, signed Gilman Henry & son, Woodstock, in which a paragraph of ten lines which appeared in our columns last week in regard to Henrys’ Hotel is explained on replied to. The letter is too long to publish entire, and we will try to give the “gist” of it in a few words. First, the Messrs. Henry say that they asked and received of our correspondent, F. B. Gage, $1.50 for a day and a half’s board, which they consider answer enough to his assertion of “pretty stiff charges.” Second, persons having articles to send by express frequently leave them at the hotel, there being no express office in town, and the stage driver, finding Mr. Gage’s trunks marked, “St. Johnsbury by express,” carried them off without the knowledge of the hotel proprietors. They were returned free of expense. This is all there is in the Messrs. Henry’s communication to explain the strictures of Mr. Gage the remainder of the letter being mostly complimentary (in a horn) of Mr. Gage’s personal appearance. As all our readers know the proprietor of the “long flowing beard” to be a good looking man, we will omit this part of the letter.”]

“Personal — Very.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Aug. 17, 1860): 2. [“Two weeks ago we published short letter from the Vermont Gold Diggings, written by one of the-citizens of this place, in which the following paragraph occurred; “When I returned to the Woodstock Hotel I found the polite landlord had turned his hotel into an express office and had sent my trunk with its’ array of chemicals back to St. Johnsbury by express. Between not very good accommodations and pretty stiff charges, with the carelessness of sending my trunk away, I did not find much to commend in Mr. Henry’s Hotel. (As another hotel is going to be opened here it may be possible for the traveler to find a more decent house.” The next week we received the following;
Woodstock, Vt. Aug. 6.
To the Editor of the Caledonian:
Sir:—A friend called our attention to a letter published in your paper of the 3d inst., in which there were some strictures upon our hotel, and we will thank you to give space to this explanation or reply. On the 26th day of July last a person, of rather rough exterior, after depositing a very unusual quantity of baggage in the lobby or hall of the house, entered his name on our register as ‘F. B. Gage, Photographer for the American Stereoscopic Emporium, N. Y.’— As we did not know what this long tail to the person’s name was intended for, we perhaps were guilty of neglect, in not showing him more attention, we suppose, however, he took his meals like other men, and his. room we know was clean and comfortable. On the morning of the 27th, we furnished him with a man, horse and wagon to take him and a quantity of luggage to the old farm house where Hiram Powers was born, and on the evening of the same day the man and team was sent to bring off his load of traps, which we suppose the ‘Photographer of the American Stereoscopic Emporium, N. Y. used in his art or kept for show, we do not know which. The next morning he left town after breakfast, making his time at the house 1 ½ days. We usually charge one dollar and twenty-five cents a day. As his appearance did not indicate an abundance of money, and as he perhaps was not in at .dinner the 27th, we asked and received of him one dollar and fifty cents for his day and a half at the house and for the man and team to the Powers’ place, fifty cents each trip, and we should pity any hotel keeper whose necessity for business or money would induce him, after seeing the man, to keep him the same length of time for less. So much as to what he says about ‘pretty stiff charges.’
He says we ‘turned our hotel into an express office and sent off his trunk.’ There is not any express office in the village, and persons having parcels to send by express often leave them where he left his trunk, and the proprietor of the stage who carries express bundles, seeing this trunk marked “St. Johnsbury—by Express”; without our knowledge forwarded it to St. Johnsbury, but on learning, that it should not have been sent, he went at once to the telegraph office and directed it to be returned the next morning, and it was returned he say’s without expense to the owner, and forwarded to some place in Bridgewater, as directed by him.
We frequently hear it remarked that persons who travel the least and fare the poorest at home, are the first to find fault when they are abroad. How true that may be in this case we are willing to leave to those better acquainted with the ‘Photographer for the American Stereoscopic Emporium, N. Y.’ than we are, There are however two things which we wish to call the gentleman’s attention to, and that as publicly as he has assailed us and our business. One is, that we wish to have it distinctly understood that when it is not as much of an object for him (or any other man) to avail themselves of such-accommodations as we offer, as it is to us to keep them, we choose to have them go further; and the other is, that as keepers of a public house, we have a public character and when that is assailed and we are injured by such falsehoods as he has published, we have other remedies, which, might be more troublesome to the gentleman than a newspaper article, if we should see fit to employ them. Very respectfully, Gilman Henry & Son.”
Considering the above letter much longer than was necessary to answer the charges of our correspondent, as well as unnecessarily personal, we summed up the answer of the Messrs. Henry in as few words as possible, and gave it in our last. This did not at all satisfy the much injured proprietors of Henry’s Hotel, it seems, as we received another letter from them this week, demanding their first letter entire in our next issue. As we never like to be told what we must publish; (suggestions always thankfully received,) the first impulse was to take no more notice of Gilman Henry and Son; but we finally thought we would grant them the notoriety which they so much sought, and give their letter entire as we have. We doubt if our readers generally will consider personal abuse as any great argument, and Gilman Henry & Son may find that underneath the “rough exterior” of our correspondent there may lie brains—an article that many persons of more polished exterior do not possess.”]

“Henry’s Hotel — Mr. Gage’s Reply.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Aug. 24, 1860): 2. [“To the  Editor of the Caledonian. Gilman Henry & Son of the Woodstock Hotel, in the last number of the Caledonian have charged me with falsehoods, which means pretty much the same thing as saying that I l-i-e-d. This, being a rather serious charge, I would like to tell what I know about the matter, and as I made no specifications in my letter from the Gold Regions, it will be proper to do so now. In regard to H. & Son’s table I have no fault to find. I have had better, and have had worse elsewhere. I could not say the same of the lodging accommodations. On retiring, to rest I found the bed too highly flavored to admit of sleep. After holding my nose a while, to shut out the fragrance emenating from some portion of the bed-clothes, I instituted a search for the objectionable article which I found, and having deposited it on the floor, I spread my coat over me in the place of it and slept a portion of the night.— I considered it the poorest accommodations I ever received at a public hotel. It will be remembered however that their guest was a person of “rough exterior, whose appearance did not indicate an abundance on money.”
In regard to the steep charges, I find no fault with the charge for board and lodging although it was more than I would be willing to pay again for the same accommodations, when better could be obtained for more money. I did consider it however rather “steep” to pay one dollar for ten or fifteen minutes’ ride with H. & Son’s Irishman, notwithstanding I carry “a rough exterior with an appearance that does not indicate an abundance of money.”
H. & Son admit that my trunk was deposited in the “lobby” of their house, and that the express man forwarded it to St. Johnsbury without their knowledge. As all hotel keepers are responsible for their guests’ baggage, it was H. & Son’s business to see that my trunk was not carried off. Knowing that the express called there for bundles, they should have guarded against any possibility of its being taken. It was none of my business what various uses they made of their “lobby,” provided my baggage was forthcoming when demanded ; neither was it their business if my trunk had been all covered with old directions “to go by express”— When I arrived at Rutland,. I found I had been delayed two days on account of my trunks. I was obliged to lie idle during this time, and on expense, and had to return 7 miles to get it, making 14 miles more travel, besides finding sundry bottles smashed and chemicals lost. I judged it to be not less than $10 actual damage to me. H. & Son evidently think the returning of the trunk “without expense” a magnanimous act. Had they been magnanimous enough to have paid the ten dollars loss occasioned by their unwarrantable carelessness, I should have had less reason to complain. Even had they indulged in a handsome apology it might not have hurt them. But their guest was a man of “rough exterior whose appearance did not indicate an abundance of money,” it is scarcely necessary to treat such persons with common civilities!
My stay at Henry & Son’s hotel 1 ½ days cost me in reality twelve dollars and fifty cents, as I have shown. It was under this provocation that I said in my letter from the Gold Regions that I did not see much to commend in Mr. Henry’s Hotel, a statement which I have seen no reason as yet to retract. With this explanation I leave H. & Son’s ragged hotel remarking that when they have become favorites with a moderate share of the citizens of their own town they may find themselves more capable of satisfying travelers of “rough, exterior whose appearance does not indicate an abundance of money,” and who moreover happen to have a “long tail attached to their names,” which Henry & Son admit they are not shrewd enough to comprehend. Very respectfully yours, F. B. Gage.”]

“Annual Fair of the Caledonia County Agricultural Society and Fair Ground Company.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Oct. 5, 1860): 2. [“First Day–Wednesday, Sept. 36.
The first day of our Fair opened rainy and unpromising, and it “held its own” remarkably throughout the day. Notwithstanding the rain and mud and cold, the show of stock was quite good indeed, we noticed this year an improvement in the quality of the stock. There were no poor cattle upon the ground….”
Mechanical Department
“…F. B. Gage occupied the South-east corner of the building with his photographs.”]

[Advertisement.] “The New Stairs!” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Oct. 5, 1860): 3. [“Will admit the patrons to the St. Johnsbury Portrait Gallery in a more comfortable manner than before, where the man of the “Rough Exterior” may be found for a few days.”]

“Local and State News. The Fair.—Addenda.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Oct. 12, 1860): 2. [“There were some mistakes and omissions made in the printed list of premiums last week. On box of edging Margaret F. Stocker, (not Aver,) drew the premium. Mrs. J. S. Parker, (not Barker,) was awarded premium on ottoman, &c. Timothy Coveny (not Canning,) had the best unrefined sugar; and Joseph Lang of Peacham, June butter. The committee on fancy articles we have learned since the-Fair that it was expected they would examine the photographs, &c., in the absence of the committee especially appointed for the purpose. They take pleasure in making honorable mention (which is all they can now do.) of the photographs and stereoscopic views presented by Mr. F. B. Gage of St. Johnsbury. We are pleased to see by a comparison of the photographs of this year, with those presented heretofore, that our artist of the “rough exterior” is not of the old fogy school, but is determined forge ahead. We would especially mention the stereoscopic views presented by him as worthy ‘of notice. We were hardly aware that nature had placed so many gems of beautiful landscapes along the Passumpsic valley, till we saw them so finely reproduced before us in the stereoscope. We have never seen so good an atmospheric effect brought out as is seen in some of these pictures.”]

“New Advertisements.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Oct. 26, 1860): 2. [“Our numerous Lyndon readers will notice that Mr. Lewis R. Brown has received a new stock of jewelry, watches, silver-ware, &c.
Mr. and Miss Hosmer are advertised to give a concert at Union Hall next Thursday evening. The papers say much in praise of these vocalists.
The “man of rough exterior” advertises his new pictures, which are truly marvellous.
H. C. Dickinson—New buckwheat flour.
E. Jewett—Cloaks.
Aldrich & Underwood—Picture frames.
N. M. Johnson & Co.—Worsted goods.
E. B. Magoon & Co.—Weeks Magic Compound.
Anti-Slavery Addresses.
Messrs. Douglas and Remond, two colored gentlemen, spoke to a large audience…”]

[Advertisement.] “Enlargement!” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Oct. 12, 1860): 3. [“E. E. Rawson has recently added Two New Rooms to his Picture Gallery, making it the largest and most commodious gallery in this part of the state
All kinds of photographic pictures made as usual, and not excelled in Vermont. Come and see Rawson’s Stereoscopic views of Memphremagog Lake Scenery. These views are sold at wholesale and retail by E. Anthony, 501 Broadway, N. Y., and by the subscriber at this gallery. E. E. Rawson, Lyndon, Vt., Oct. 1860.”]

“A ‘Good Thing.’” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Oct. 11, 1861): 2. [“It is said that war is not promotive of the fine arts. However true this maybe in a general application we are very sure that it will not hold good in all cases. For instance: notwithstanding- the war, Mr. Gage continues experimenting and inventing and improving in the art of making pictures of various styles till he stands among the best photographic artists of the country. We were led to these remarks by examining some of his new style card pictures, called the Ebonytype, which compare favorably with the best pictures made in New York and London. These card pictures are made-the same size the world over, and are calculated to slip into the. Photographic Album, a book in which one can preserve likenesses of all his friends, however numerous, in a neat, compact and much better way than by the common ambrotype or daguerreotype. We call the photographic album a “good thing.” Call at Gage’s and see it.”]

[Advertisement.] “C. C. Childs.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Oct. 25, 1861): 3.
Watchmaker, Jeweler, and Engraver
Opposite the Post Office. St. Johnsbury, Vt.
In this week opening his
New Stock
of Goods which he has recently purchased in New York and Boston, at the Lowest Cash Prices and he now offers from his large Stock of Watches, Jewelry, Silver and Silver Plated Ware, Fancy Goods,
Books and Stationery, Toys,
Picture and Picture Frames,
Great inducements to all who wish to purchase any articles in his line of goods, as he sells for
Cash At Low Prices.
Also, he has made arrangements with some of the principal Importers and Manufacturers of N. York and Boston to furnish him with the latest styles of Watches, Jewelry; Plated Ware, &c— Also with some of the first publishing houses to supply him with any articles in the Book and Stationery line, weekly, thereby giving him advantages (not possessed by other dealers,) to furnish his Wholesale and Retail
customers at all times with new and desirable goods, such as Watches and Jewelry it all kinds and styles, Books and Stationery, Silver Plated Ware, Fancy Goods, a great variety, 1001 kinds;

German Toys
of laughable styles and amusing to children.
Plain and Colored Lithograph Pictures,
Oval, Gilt and other Picture Frames.
At my store at all business hours may be seen, free of charge, a Picture Gallery, revolving Stereoscope and many fine Stereoscopic Views.
Spectacles and Eye Glasses.
Of Gold, Silver and other kinds of bows. My assortment and experience are such that I can fully supply the wants of those who can be helped, equal to any optician, and at one fourth less price. Mrs. C. C. Childs continues to manufacture
Hair Jewelry
in the latest and most approved styles and. at cheaper rates than in Boston or New York.

N. B. I continue to manufacture my silver Spoons and warrant them coin standard.
Old Gold and Silver taken in exchange for goods. Those wishing to purchase will find it for their interest to give me a call.
All Goods Warranted as Represented.
Watch, Clock And Jewelry
Repairing And Engraving.
Having had over 12 years experience in the business, being a practical Watchmaker and Engraver myself, I shall spare no pains in giving satisfaction in this department of my business and warrant all work.       C. C. Childs. St Johnsbury, Vt.”
(A similar advertisement on p. 2 of the Aug. 23, 1867 edition of the Caledonian, has this additional statement: “…Also, Albums and a fine variety of Stereoscopic views. White Mountains, Battle Field, and other views for the low price of $3.00 per dozen, and another lot of those Decalcomic Paintings…”]

“An Old Rogue.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (June 13, 1862): 3. [“We publish below a .spirited- correspondence between a distinguished literary lady of Boston and Mr. F. B. Gage of this place, The correspondence will sufficiently explain, itself, and will distinctly recall to our readers a distinguished Dr., an old acquaintance of the “circulating order,” and will serve as another warning to our citizens not to trust too much to appearance. It is due to the lady to say that she was only duped by being misinformed that the gallant Dr. had reformed from his intemperate habits and had adopted an honorable course of life.
Boston, May. 30, 1862.
My Dear Cousin:—J. R. Dix, Esq., author, etc., etc., has this moment left the house after one of his calls. Your portrait hung on the wall, your pictures lay on the table, and quite naturally our conversation reverted to you. Under such circumstances, I could not resist the temptation to repeat the story of your night at the Hancock House—the midnight attack of the bloodthirsty compagnons de lits, and your utter defeat, which you so well avenged. Snatching from his pocket a pencil, .the gentleman cried— “Bring me paper;” and in thirty seconds produced the following, which I transcribe, wishing to preserve the original,
Yours, very sincerely,
In his bed lay Gage, in a terrible rage,
In condition which oft we’ men see:
But there he lay, not till break of day—
He rose in poetical frenzy.
The spirit of Poetry came to his aid,
He brushed off the insects with curses,
And lo! Inspiration wiped out his vexation,
And he scratched off some wonderful verses.

St. Johnsbury, June 2, 1862.
Your little note, dear coz., is read;
I trust my answer will be short—
Where scoundrels drag me into rhymes,
I spare them not when I retort.

Some years ago—perhaps ’twas six—
There came a man into our town;
He called himself one John Ross Dix,
An English author of renown.

He came to lecture; and he gave
Two lectures here in Union Hall;
When people thought it wise to save
Their time, for all his talk was small.

He soon got drunk; and got in debt,
For pictures, printing, and his board;
Then run away one certain day,
Before a single bill was scored.

He-left a carpet-bag, I think
The landlord said, with nothing in’t,
Except an empty whiskey flask,
A poem, and a worn-out flint.

He borrowed from a lady, too,
One dollar, which she thinks is sunk:
He failed to pay, but did not fail
To get himself supremely drunk.

There is no honor in that man.
No honesty nor manliness;
I hold him in such vast contempt
That words its vastness can’t express.

He came well recommended here
For doing things both just and good;
Where John Ross Dix got recommends,
I’m very sure the Devil could.

Oh, cousin, if he call again,
His stay I fancy will be short,
If you remind him of his lines,
Then read to him this plain retort.
Truly Yours,      F. B. Gage.”]

[Advertisement.] “Remember The Dead.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Jan. 9, 1863): 3. [“You can have Beautiful Card Pictures of your deceased friends made from Daguerreotypes or Ambrotypes for Christmas & New Years Presents. Also copied to frame and finished in ink or colored. Card Pictures of various styles from $.50 to $3.50 per dozen, at St. Johnsbury Portrait Gallery. F. B. GAGE. Proprietor.”]

“Caledonia County Fair.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Sept. 25, 1863): 2. [“The 18th Annual Fair of the Caledonia County Agricultural society was held on the Fair Ground in St Johnsbury on Tuesday and Wednesday Sept. 22 and 23, 1863.
Tuesday, Sept. 23. The day opened (shall we say, as usual?) with a cold, drizzling rain, which continued at internals throughout the forenoon. This fact doubtless kept some stock and many people away from the first day’s fair….”
Floral Hall.
“ln regard to the articles of household manufacture, embroidery, fancy articles, and a huge mass of property which we should class under the head of “miscellaneous,” we are not competent to judge of and have not much to say. The show was good, as the continuous crowd which filled the building abundantly evidenced. Without drawing comparisons, and at the risk of being considered a reporter of poor taste, we will say that a “love of a bonnet” was exhibited by no less than three manufacturers and dealers: Mrs. Johnson of Railroad street, Miss McDougall and Mrs. Fleetwood of Main street. The establishment made of moss was very unique and a great attraction in Floral Hall. There were two beautifully executed crayons hung up by some one, who, we could not learn. Some pencillings by Amanda L. Brown of Lower Waterford, were very good indeed. Mrs. M. Badger of Danville, exhibited some picture frames that showed great ingenuity and skill in the composition. Gage occupied a prominent place with his photographs, which are hard to beat, as every one knows….”]

[Advertisement.] “Wanted.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Apr. 8, 1864): 3. [“Any honest, industrious, intelligent young man wishing to learn the Photography business, will find good inducements at the St. Johnsbury Portrait Gallery. The best references required. Apply immediately.   F. B. Gage.” (This ad ran for months, apparently without any positive result.)]

[Advertisement.] “Lost in Battle.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (June 17, 1864): 2. [“Large, beautiful, imperishable Portraits of any friend who has been
Lost In Battle
Can be made from Daguerreotypes, Ambrotypes, card pictures or card negatives.
Perfectly Satisfactory

These are the most
Pleasing Mementos
That can be preserved of those who have laid down their lives for the Nation’s welfare. Call at the
St. Johnsbury Portrait Gallery
And examine specimens. F. B. Gage, Proprietor.”]

[Advertisement.] “Living and Dead. Card Pictures.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (July 8, 1864): 3. [“Of Abraham Lincoln; Wendell Philips, Capt. E. B. Frost, Willie Johnson, the Little Drummer Boy, Lieut. Able Morrill, Mrs. Butler, (over 100 years old).
Also card pictures of other distinguished persons for sale at the St. Johnsbury Portrait Gallery.  F. B. Gage.”]

“Local and State Items.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Sept. 16, 1864): 3. [“—Dr. Bullard hat returned from Newbern. We understand that both he and Col. Grout procured about 30 recruits.
—Copper has been discovered in several towns in Essex county. A vein has been opened in Concord that promises rich results.
—Carlos Pierce’s big Sanitary Fair ox, — a five thousand pounder—passed through here in Monday en route for the State fair. An effort is being made to get him to our county fair. He is two sizes larger than Van Amburgh’s elephant, and is growing every day.
—Rev. James P. Stone was in town a day or two the present week, preaching in his old church at the Centre in the afternoon and speaking to the North Church sabbath school in the evening of Sunday. Most of our readers are aware that he has been for the past fifteen months laboring among the Freedmen at Hampton, near Fortress Monroe, Va. He soon returns to his field of labor, and he earnestly begs of Christian men and women here at the North to send him money, women and children’s second-hand clothing, bedding of all descriptions, to save the lives of the thousands of contrabands who are flocking within the Union lines utterly destitute, and many of whom must die of exposure as cold weather approaches unless relieved by the hand of charity. Send letters and packages to “Tyler House, Fortress Monroe, Va.
— Mr. Gage has photographed a striking picture that appeared in Harper’s Weekly a short time since, entitled “Compromise with the South—dedicated to the Chicago Convention.” It represents in the foreground a Union soldier, minus one leg, and on crutches as leaning over a grave and shaking hands with a southerner armed to the teeth, and holding in one hand a cat-o’-nine-tails.— The headstone of the grave is inscribed—”In memory of the Union Heroes who fell in a useless war.” Kneeling over this grave is the goddess of Liberty. In the background on the side of the southerner is a group of slaves manacled, and a white Union man swinging from a gibbet. On the other side there is a representation of the barbarities of the rebels so common of late. It is an excellent picture for the peace men to look at and ponder.”]

“Local and State News.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Nov. 25, 1864): 3. [“ —The “Man of Rough Exterior” modestly announces in our advertising columns to-day that he will read poems of his own production, to our citizens, at the Town Hall, on Saturday evening next, for the benefit of the Christian Commission. It has a worthy object and we conclude it will be a novel entertainment. Mr. Gage proposes to pay all the expenses so that all money taken at the door will go to the aid of our sick and disabled soldiers. Tickets 15 cts., for sale at Howard’s.”]

[Advertisement.] “Novel Patriotic Entertainment!” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Nov. 25, 1864): 3.
Novel Patriotic Entertainment: At the Town Hall. Saturday Eve., Nov. 26
F. B. Gage will read selections from nearly 200 poems of his own productions. Selections, will be made of such only as are suitable for the occasion. The poems will be upon a great variety of subjects and in many different styles from those of an amusing character to the grave, the philosophical and patriotic. The entire amount taken for tickets will go to the Christian Commission for the relief of our sick and disabled soldiers.
Tickets  15 Cents.
For Sale at T. M. Howard’s Bookstore.
Doors open at 7. Entertainment to commence at 7 ½ o’clock.”]

“Brief Locals.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Dec. 30, 1864): 3. [“—The funeral services connected with the death of Harrison W. Varney, who died at Annapolis from cruel treatment by the rebeIs at Andersonville were held at the Methodist church to-day (Thursday.) From letters received from his chaplain, and the nurse during his last days, we learn that s he lived a good life and died a happy death. In his last letter to his wife were these long to be remembered words: “I am on my death bed. I die under the protecting folds of the starry banner of freedom! Take good care of our little one, and prepare to meet me in Heaven.”
—Mrs. E. A. Kingsbury of Philadelphia will lecture in the Town Hall on Tuesday evening next at 7½ o’clock. Subject: Our Country, in Fetters and in Freedom. Admission 15 cents. After the lecture there will be for sale the photographs of the three white slave children Gen. Banks sent North from New Orleans, for the benefit of the free colored people of the South.
—Sparks from the engine caught something in the baggage car on fire near Mclndoes on Tuesday, doing considerable damage before it was discovered.
—There is earnest enquiry all about whether our town will have to raise as many men on the new call as though we had put in one year’s men instead of three years’ men last fall. Our authorities had positive assurance from the War Department, when raising the men last summer, that should there be another call for men the quotas should be evened up and those towns that put in three years’ men should have credit accordingly. It will be a flagrant act of bad faith unless it is done.
—At a meeting of the Ladies Soldiers Aid Society, the following resolution was unanimously adopted: Resolved, That a vote of thanks be tendered to Mr. F. B. Gage, and to Miss Kate Kittredge for gifts of twenty dollars and fourteen dollars and twenty-five cents, respectively. C. M. Chamberlin, Sec.”]

[Advertisement.] “Splendid Imperishable Portraits,” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Oct. 13, 1865): 3.
[“Such As Those
Exhibited At The Late County Fair,
Can Be Made
From Old Imperfect Ambrotypes,
Daguerreotypes and Card Pictures of deceased persons. Call and see specimens.
Colored Card Pictures,
Views of Residences, &c.
Just Received—A new and large supply of
Oval, Black Walnut and Black Polished
At Gage’s Portrait Gallery. St Johnsbury, Sept. 22, 1865.”]

“Good Templars.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Nov. 10, 1865): 3. [“The following officers were elected by Harmony Lodge, No. 17, for the quarter commencing Nov. 1:
J. P. Scarry,                 P. W. C. T.
F. B.Gage,                    W. C. T.
Julia A. Carpenter.        W. V. T.
C. H. Walter,                 W. S.
Julia Martin,                  W. T.
C. C. Bingham,             W. P. S.
A. W. Williams,             W. M.
Mrs. M. B. Flint,             W. I. G.
S. W. Hall,                    W. O. G.
H. P. Hoyt,                    Chaplain.
Mrs. C. H. Walter,         W.A. S.
Jossie Stevens,             W. D. M.
Mrs. L. H. Gage,            W. E. S.
Ottie P. Carpenter,         W. L. S.
L. O. Stevens,               Lodge Deputy.
Meetings Tuesday evenings.”]

[Advertisement.] “The Wonder!” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (June 15, 1866): 3.
[“Far up among the Green Mountains
In the valley of the Passumpsic
In the County of Caledonia
In the village of St. Johnsbury
In the store where Hall & Peck keep
In the room of the Post office
Where a crowd of people gather
Every day just when the mail comes;
In the store where Hall & Peck keep
(And sell goods the very cheapest)
You can see a modern wonder
You can see a tiny tintype
See a little tiny tintype
Never much but now so faded
You would call it a dim picture
You will also see a portrait
See a large and splendid portrait
Copied from that little tintype
Made into a splendid painting
Made and finished up at Gage’s
You will wonder ‘tis so perfect
So much like a living being
You will almost think it breathing.
After you have gazed and wondered
And expressed your admiration
You’ll go home and muse upon it
And you’ll think of some old picture .
And some dear one dead and buried
You will search and find that picture
And you’ll take it up to Gage’s
That you may behold another
Wonder great it was the portrait,
That was made from that small tintype
You will tell your friends about it
They will come and see the picture
So that Gage’s reputation
Will so overshadow others
That all will know where to go to
To get portraits of their dear ones
Of their dear ones dead and buried.
     •     •     •     •     •     •    •     •     
Once a daring, little creature
Once a radiant little cherub
A little fairy full of fondness
Filled a happy home with laughter
But then Autumn cold and cheerless
Clad the hills in crimson raiment
She lay down to sleep for ever
Two days after, from her features
A small photograph was taken
From that photograph a painting
Sprung and grew to wond’rous beauty’
And almost unknown perfection
They who loved the fairy creature
Feel and know that is Like Her
Who once filled their home with gladness
Like that dear one dead and buried
Call at Hall & Peck’s and see it!
F. B. Gage.”

“Another Wonder”
“I have been to the post office.
To the store that Hall & Peck keep,
And sell goods so very cheap;
And I saw that little tintype;
Saw that little faded tintype,
Scarce could see that little tintype,
‘Twas so much worn and so faded.
Time had wrought on it such changes
That the picture never worth much,
Could scarcely now be seen at all.
Longer still I gazed and wondered,
Wondered at the face before me,
Wondered if it really could be.
That that picture large and life like,
That the picture full of beauty.
Could be copied from that worn out
From that faded worn out tintype.
Truly that a wondrous art is,
And Gage is a wondrous artist,
And I hope that all who have a
Little, faded worn out tintype.
Quick will take it unto Gage’s.
He will stand and look upon it,
Stand and look a while upon it;
Then will smile and say he thinks that
He can make a splendid picture,
He can make a life-like picture,
From that little good for nothing;
Very small and faded tintype, But there is another wonder.
Not so great perhaps as Gage’s,
Yet a wonder surely it is;
As those who sleep well will tell you.
All those who are so very wise are,
As to buy a good spring mattress,
A spring mattress of Cassino;
For it is the very best bed,
As all those who use it do say,
(And their number now is many,)
If you will but ask them of it.
Ask about this good spring mattress;
This spring mattress that Cassino
Will .sell to you if you ask him,
If you have the greenbacks with you,
Have the greenbacks to give him
For the mattress he will sell you.
J. T. Cassino. St. Johnsbury, Vt.”]

“The Farmer’s Festival. Twenty-First Caledonia County Agricultural Fair.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Sept. 21, 1866): 3. [“Seed time and harvest have come and gone once more, and with the ingathering crops the farmers again gather in their accustomed festivals. Very many of our readers recollect the first fairs held on the old grounds north of Paddock’s village; those were called good fairs, but they bear no comparison to the fairs now held by the same society. Fewer people recollect the fair held at Lyndon corner more than twenty-five years ago, and the one held here on the flat northwest of where the Methodist church now stands, some over twenty years ago. Agricultural fairs were then in a primitive state in Vermont; since then great improvements have been made. So much by way of preamble. We now propose to speak somewhat of the exhibition of I866:…
Floral Hall.
Of Floral Hall we do not propose to speak very minutely. This is always a great attraction at these fairs, and the present year was no exception to the general rule. Directly in the center of the exhibition building F. B. Gage the artist had established his portrait gallery. Of his pictures we have no need to say a word—they speak for themselves. Although the artist may pride himself on his “rough exterior,” he is quite as proud of his skillful workmanship….”
Miscellaneous Articles
Patch work ottoman Mrs. H Curtis             $.50.
2d Mrs. Houston, St J.                             $.50.
Sofa pillow L A Chase, St J.                     $.50.
Bead work Jennie Jewell (blind)                $.50.
Picture and frame Mrs. C. H. Walter         $.25.
Oil painting Mrs. H C Newell                      $.50.
Leaf wreath Louisa Bemick, St J               $.25.
Best photographs F B Gage                    $2.00.”]

“Connecticut River Valley Fair.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Oct. 12, 1866): 3. [“At this fair held at Bradford, Mr. F, B. Gage of this place, took a $10 premium on his collection of photograph portraits. This is deserved. Gage stands at the head of all the artists in this section. Mr. Caswell’s three years old colt also took the first premium at this fair. A. Newbury man got the refusal of this splendid animal at $1000. W. J. Henderson of Ryegate took the second-premium on stallions, and E. B. Kenney of Mclndoes Falls, on cheese.”]

“Complimentary to the Artist.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Nov. 2, 1866): 3. [“An old lady having occasion to visit Gage’s new portrait gallery lately, was surprised on entering the door to encounter the familiar face of Dr. Bullard. “Well Doctor,” said she, “I am not feeling well to-day; can you prescribe for me?!’ Not receiving a reply as soon as she expected, she adjusted her spectacles and approached a little nearer. “Law, me!” she exclaimed in astonishment, “this is only a picture —why, I really thought it was the doctor himself!” Gage’s gallery is lighted evenings and is open for the reception of visitors.”]

“Patent Granted.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (July 5, 1867): 3. [“Mr. F. B. Gage of this town, has received a patent from the United States for a process for blending the lights and shades of pictures made in the camera, and which is considered an important invention. London journals of June 7th publish that Mr. Gage has been granted a patent in England for the same invention. Mr. Gage has also applied for a patent in France. He has also applied in the United States for patents on two other inventions in the photographic art.”]

[Advertisement.] “New Patented Pictures.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (July 19, 1867): 3. [“Specimens of the new pictures patented by F. B. Gage July 9, 1867, may be seen at the St. Johnsbury Portrait Galley, Call and See Them!
A trustworthy girl wanted to work in the Gallery. F. B. Gage.”]

[Advertisement.] “Mary.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Aug. 2, 1867): 3. [“An Interesting Poem with a Moral.

Two little tin-types out a walking
One day fell earnestly to talking.

One Tin-type said unto the other,
My grief I really cannot smother:

For I’ve been villainously slighted,
And wronged so that it can’t be righted.

Ah! said the other one, replying,
You do look grieved, there’s no denying.

That you’ve been wronged I’d never doubt it,
So tell me plainly all about it.

I wilI — did you know Brigg’s daughter,
She that dwelt just across the water?

She was the fairest of all the creatures,
And I was taken from her features.

And I will own I felt elated,
From one so fair t be created.

Small as I was, in me were traces,
Of all her beauty and her graces.

Briggs owned a farm and lived by tillage,
And Mary daily to the village

Came faithfully in quest of learning,
That treasure so well worth the earning.

But ere her seventeenth year was ended.
Just when the Autumn had descended,

She drooped and died; ’twas sad entombing
A face so beautiful and blooming.

To leave her in the silent keeping
Of those dark walls forever sleeping.

Wrapped in the dreamless everlasting slumber,
Whose years no dial ere can count or number.

How swift it came! oh how appalling.
The shock upon that household falling!

But after Mary had departed,
And all around seemed broken-hearted:

I, in her mother’s work box lying,
Heard all about poor Mary dying.

Her mother then came very often,
And I could see her hard face soften:

And for a long time without stopping,
Could see and feel her big tears dropping.

Her playmates too, scholars and teachers,
Came frequently to see her features.

They prized me, then, beyond all measure,
And I was then their dearest treasure.

Betwixt her memorandum’s pages,
One day she took me down to Gage’s:

Opened the book and showed me to him.
By his long flowing beard l knew him,

And though I saw that she was weeping,
She turned and left me in his keeping.

Although I knew not all the meaning
Of all his focusing and screening:

He, with strange chemicals and vapor,
Copied me large as life on paper.

Upon the easel then ‘twas painted,
While I looked on and almost fainted:

Knowing if that were once created
I should thence forth be underrated.

Daily I saw the Iikeness growing,
Her bright black eyes, and dark locks flowing:

Her face like purest alabaster,
Until I saw and knew him master,

Of that great, wonderous art of giving
That look which makes the dead seem living.

‘Twas done — ’twas taken home – amazing
It was to see and hear the praising.

Folks flocked to see it by the hundred,
Admired it, praised it too, and wondered,

How Gage acquired the art of giving
That Iook which makes the dead seem living.

How was that household once so saddened
Again by Mary’s bright face gladdened.

Her mother blesses him who brought her
Again her almost living daughter.

Her father hourly gazes on it,
Nor mourns the money paid which done it.

     •     •     •     •     •     •    •     •    

Now when the Tin-types tale was ended,
The tears adown its face descended;

For Gage, in fact, as well as story,
Had magnified and stolen its glory!

A heavy grief had fallen upon it,
For none took comfort gazing on it:

And now neglected, and down-hearted,
lt mourned its glory all departed!


Pause here and heed this little sequel,
Gage made another really equal;

That all may see and feel conviction,
This story’s true and is no fiction.

Come then and see this farmer’s daughter,
She that dwelt just across the water.

Persons who have small pictures which they wish enlarged and painted, should not lose the present opportunity of getting them done at the St. Johnsbury Portrait Gallery as the health of the present proprietor may compel him to leave the business. By the new processes just patented by F. B. Gage, better card and other pictures are made than ever before. They can be obtained at no other place in this vicinity. F. B. Gage. St, Johnsbury, July, 1867.”]

[Advertisement.] “Wanted.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Aug. 30, 1867): 3. [“A lady with some taste for pictures to learn to print and finish card photographs. A permanent, light and pleasant employment. Apply by letter or otherwise to F. B. Gage, St. Johnsbury, Vt.”]

“Caledonia County Fair.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Sept. 27, 1867): 2. [“The twenty-second annual fair of the Caledonia County Agricultural society commenced Tuesday, Sept. 24th — one of the brightest of all the beautiful days of this beautiful month. The people of the County turned out with their best productions, and the exhibition, taken all in all, has never been equalled in this county, and people who attend other fairs, say it has been excelled no where….”
Wax flowers Miss N. S. Graves St J                        $.25.
Pictures Miss Mary Hale Peacham                        $.50.
Water colors Miss Eliza D. Gleason                       $.50.
Wax boquet Miss Lucy Currier Walden               $.25.
Chemise yoke Mrs. D. W. Shaw St J                        dip.
Shell work M. Adams                                                   $.50.
Photographs F. B. Gage St J                                      dip.
Ottoman Miss Lucy Hawkins D’vl                           $.25.

“Wells River.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Nov. 8, 1867): 3. [“Mr. Kilburn the well known Photographer of Littleton, has recently taken several very interesting stereoscopic views in this vicinity. One represents the Montreal R. R. bridge between here and Woodsville. The picture gives us a very beautiful view of the bridge itself, and then quite as fine a view of the island just above it at the bank beyond the bend in the river, Bath mountain, and a portion of the sky above mirrored in the smooth surface of the Connecticut. Another represents the valley of the Connecticut as seen from the Pass. R. R. track, just above the bridge over the Wells River. Either of these pictures will bear a favorable comparison with the productions of any stereoscope manufacturer in the land. They not only illustrate the degree of perfection to which the art has been carried, but, quite as strikingly, they show how much of beauty there is in nature’s landscapes on every hand.”]

“Wind and Rain.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (July 17, 1868): 3. [“…On Wednesday afternoon at five o’clock, there was a heavy thunder shower at this place, accompanied by much wind, which refreshed the earth and purified the air. Probably the wind and rain beat down the growing crops and much made hay was thoroughly wet and our highways are badly washed out for the first time this season, but the chance in the weather is very grateful.
“Struck by Lightning.”– During the shower Wednesday afternoon the lightning struck the north chimney on the store of E. F. Brown, scattering the brick in every direction, and throwing some of them ten rods, though the larger part were hurled down upon the building of S. Higgins, demolishing two windows and a door in the part occupied by O. C. Dow. The fluid passed the entire length of the chimney to the cellars where it is supposed to have passed into the ground, although no trace of it appears there except the bursting open of the small door at the base of the chimneys and the scattering of soot about the floor. In the upper story, used by Gage as a photograph gallery, the floor was torn up about the stove, and some large splinters thrown up with such force as to break through the ceiling and lodge in the lath. The stove pipes and caps, soot and ashes were thrown about the rooms. Mr. Gage was at work at the sink in his back room, but had a moment before stepped into the front room to close a window, and was returning when the bolt came. Had he remained at the sink he would most probably have been killed, as the floor was ripped up by the sink, directly where he was standing. The building is occupied as stores, shops and offices, and a family lives in the second story, but notwithstanding it was full of people, no one was injured, and no one complains of feeling even an electric shock. It was a most Providential escape. Those who stood on the piazzas on the opposite side of the street, and saw the flash, represent it to have appeared like two large balls of fire descending upon the building, and giving it the appearance of being in one mass of flame.”]

“The Holidays and Our Advertisers.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Dec. 18, 1868): 2. [“Photographs.”
“Gage continues to make the pictures for the million. His eccentricities are only equaled by his genius. Not satisfied with making good counterfeits of the form divine, he has lately been taking views about town; and has finished up some very nice stereoscopic views which he is about ready to throw into the market. Gage’s pictures excel in some points those of all the artists.”]

“Familiar Places.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Aug. 20, 1869): 3. [“Next to a local newspaper, the old-time residents of a town like to get pictures of old familiar places. Mr. Gage has been for a year or two taking stereoscopic views all about the village, and in other villages and other towns; Some of these are highly prized by those who remember places as they were. In a year or two a view of Main street at the junction of Eastern avenue, as it was last April, will be prized by many. Mr. Gage’s gallery is full of views, valuable for associations—and any one will find it so who takes the pains to examine it.”]

[Advertisement.]  “Wood! Wood!! Wood!!!” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Jan. 7, 1870): 3
[“If you want some pictures good,
Gage will take his pay in wood;
And if you have no wood to sell,
Cash will answer just as well.
January 1, 1870.”]

“Novel Advertising.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (June 3, 1870): 3  [“While photographing Springfield, Vt., some days ago, Mr. F. B. Gage of this place made a picture of Black River Falls; including in this picture the original manufactory of the United States Piano Co., whose warehouses are now at 645 Broadway, New York. It being a very attractive picture, the Piano Co. saw money in it, and they have ordered 1800 copies which they will use this year to advertise their pianos.”]

Gage, F. B. “Christ and the Cross.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Sept. 30, 1870): 1. [“Whoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven”—Matt, x: 35.
Show me the Christ—
I will cry to him!
Show me the Christ—
I will fly to him!
Show me the Christ—
I will die for him,
And bless him forever and ever!”

Hold up the Cross—
I will sing to it!
Hold up the Cross—
I will cling to it!
Hold up the Cross—
I will bring to it
Hosannahs forever and ever!

Give me the Cross—
I will boast of it!
Give me the Cross—
And the Host of it!
Give me the Cross—
The Holy Ghost of it
Shall bless me forever and ever!
Sept. 1870.”]

“The Caledonia Fair.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Sept. 30, 1870): 2. [“The Fair of 1870 opened auspiciously Tuesday, the 27th inst. At an early hour the people began flocking towards the fair grounds, and there was little cessation in the flow until about the middle of the afternoon, when the tide set outward….”
Portrait F. B. Gage, St J                                                $2.00.
2d T C Haynes, St J                                                        $1.00.
Carte de visite Photographs T. C. Haynes            $2.00.
2d F. B. Gage                                                                     $1.00.
Ambrotypes or Tintypes T. C. Haynes                   $2.00.
2d F. B. Gage                                                                     $1.00.”]

Gage, F. B. “The Last Look.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Oct. 7, 1870): 1. [Thoughts at the funeral of Miss Army Weeks, at the Methodist Church. St. Johnsbury, Sunday; September 25, 1870.
The hymns were sung, the prayers were said,
And, when the coffin lid was raised,
The throng passed round with muffled tread
And on the dead in silence gazed.

Ah would that I could read the thought
Of all who gazed upon her face:
How much repentance was there wrought?
How many thoughts of heavenly grace?

How many passed with vacant stare,
And read no lesson from the sight?
How many gazed whose dark despair,
Grew blacker than the blackest night?

God only knows—his eye can scan
The secrets of the souls of all;
That God who loves and pities man,
And will not let his sparrows fall.

Ah! mourner as I paused to gaze,
Death’s awful mystery to see,
I joyed to think that Christ was raised
A ransom both for you and me.

Ah! will we but stretch out our hand
And let Him lead us to that shore?
That brighter and that better land

Where sin and sorrow are no more.”]

Gage, F. B. “A Prayer.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Oct. 28, 1870): 1.
[“We have sinned long enough;
Make us, God, strong enough
Our great sins to see!
We’ve scorned thy grace enough,
We’ve shunned thy face enough.
We’ve been disgrace enough,
Oh turn us to Thee!

We have done lies enough;
Make us, God, wise enough
Our own faults to see!
Make our faith sure enough.
Make our lives pure enough,
Help us endure enough,
To cleave unto Thee.

We’ve been sin’s slave enough;
Make us, God, brave enough
Good Christians to be!
Fill us with fear enough,
Make us sincere enough,
Till we’ve dwelt here enough,
And go home to Thee.”]

Gage, F. B. “The Captain’s Prayer.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Nov. 18, 1870): 1. [“The circumstances here narrated are no fancy sketch. They occurred on board the brig I. B. Lunt, from New York to Savannah, Nov. 8, 1850. The writer of the following poem was one of the passengers, and still retains a vivid recollection of the effect produced by the Captain’s prayer:
At break of day we put to sea;
(Then I had never sailed before,)
On ocean’s vast immensity,
We soon were swept far from the shore;
And night and tempest wild and dark,
Shut in around our little bark.

And then there fell upon my soul,
A-strange and awful loneliness;
A feeling I could not control.
A fear that words cannot express;
A feeling that no power could save
That doomed ship from a watery grave.

And all that long November eve,
We cowered in mortal dread and fear;
We felt the great waves swell and heave,
They seemed to cry:—Your graves are here—
Your eyes no more shall see the land,
For death and judgment are at hand!

But when a Bible, worn and old,
The Captain look from off a shelf.
And read where Christ’s great love is told.
And prayed for us and for himself,
With voice and faith serenely calm.
Our souls were filled with heavenly balm.

For their the Captain’s soul we knew,
That it was calm and true and brave
That all that human hands could do
His hands would do the ship to save: —
And so we trusted him and slept,
While God his-ship in safety kept.”]

Gage, F. B. “You and Me. A Thanksgiving Day Poem.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Nov. 25, 1870): 1.
[“In Bethlehem one peaceful morn.
The blessed Son of God was born,
That he might suffer death and be
A sacrifice for you and me!

And oh, what agony he bore
To open wide Redemption’s door,
That you and I might leave our sin,
And come to him and enter in.

A crown of thorns, a mocking name
They gave him to complete his shame;
And then they nailed Him to the tree,
And pierced his side for you and me.

Christ walked the sea in mortal guise
To show the power that in him lies :—
Then He in triumph walked the sea
Of Death to ransom you and me!

Lest dread Oblivion in its waves,
Should chain us as in endless graves;
Lest grim annihilation there
Should swallow us and our despair!

By Jewish hands his blood was spilt,
O! awful deed of shame and guilt!
O! Love unfathomed, that set free
The bonds of death for you and me!–

O, soul of scorn! oh heart of pride!
With Iust and vanity allied,
Will ye the bitter cup renew
And crucify the Christ anew?

Oh, meekness in a manger born!
Pity our pride. subdue our scorn,
And lead us to the cross to kneel.
Where Christ his glory will reveal.

Before Jehovah’s holy throne,
Let us our shame and sins atone;
And while in penitence we pray,
Make life one long Thanksgiving Day.”]

“Local News.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Dec. 9, 1870): 3. [“Mr. F. B. Gage, who has a large collection of poems, will give a public reading at the town hall this (Thursday) evening, at half-past 7 o’clock.”]

[Advertisement.] “Look Here! Photograph Gallery For Sale!” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Dec. 30, 1870): 3. [“Owing to increasing ill health I will sell my Photograph Gallery, and go out of the business. This a chance in a thousand for any one who wishes a good, well-established business. Persons wishing to avail themselves of my long experience in making large pictures should attend to it at once, as I shall sell out and leave the business as soon as possible. F. B. Gage. St. Johnsbury, Vt. Dec. 23, 1870.”]

“State and Local News.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Sept. 15, 1871): 3. [“Mr. D. .A Clifford artist over the Caledonian office, has procured a quantity of views for the stereoscope, taken on Mount Washington last winter. Call and see them.”]

“The State Fair.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Sept. 22, 1871): 2. [“The State Fair which was held in this place last week, though successful in some particulars, on the whole was a lamentable failure, and the subject of quite general complaint. This failure was due to its management;…”
Vermont State Fair.
Mechanic’s Hall.
There were many, things worthy of special notice in Mechanic’s Hall. Prominent among the articles here shown, was an elaborate display of Howe’s Scales, from a railroad track scale down to a post office balance. These scales were evidently got up to exhibit,—not for use, —and they made a very handsome show. It may be proper here to say that the Fairbanks had no scales on exhibition, and have had none at state fairs for several years. These fairs come,at a season of the year when they are pressing their force to the utmost to fill orders, and they actually had not on hand an assortment which they could put into the fair…. a display of files… …agricultural and joiners tools…. a section of water-pipe… …little “coasting wagon”‘ from Springfield was a pretty child’s toy,… …double circular saw mills… farming and other implements. …horse-powers… planers and matchers… hoes, forks and rakes… hay tedders and horse-rakes, plows, cultivators and corn planters, and innumerable other implements of husbandry….carriage work and carriage painting, …phaeton,…a top buggy…open buggies and a sleigh… Sanford’s improved sickle grinder, …Colby’s little washer,: one of those inventions calculated to lessen woman’s hard lot… Gale’s sugar evaporator… a portable gas machine with which he proposes to light buildings… stoves, copper and tinware ; and F. B. Gage had a good exhibition of photographs, life-size, and smaller. G. H. Hastings of Lyndonville also exhibited photographs.”]

[Advertisement.] “Dress Making.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Sept. 19, 1873): 3. [“—Mrs. F. B. GAGE will attend to Dress Cutting and Making. Mrs. G. is agent for the Davis Chart, and gives instruction in that system of drafting and cutting any style ladies garments. Rooms in Armington’s new Building, Prospect St., St. Johnsbury.” (Mrs. Gage advertised several times in 1873 and 1874. I wonder if she was working just for interest and pin-money or whether Gage’s apparently increasingly serious illness and the apparent diminished business in his gallery had reduced their income to where she had to do this out of necessity.)]

“The Annual Temperance Meeting.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Jan. 10, 1874): 2. [“The annual meeting of the Caledonia Young Men’s Temperance Society was held at the Town Hall in this place on Saturday, the 24th inst. There was a large attendance present, nearly all parts of the county being well represented….” (Followed by a long and detailed report of the meeting, where reports from various townships in the county were read and committees formed, the Vermont liquor law described and discussed, etc. Organization officers were elected and a resolution to attempt to stop liquor sales and work to elect pro-temperance public officials, who would enforce the liquor laws, were draw up and passed. F. B. Gage was at this meeting and he commented several times throughout, including a statement that “He voted with the Republican party, but hereafter he would vote for temperance men only, without distinction of party…”]

“Death of F. B. Gage.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Aug. 28, 1874): 3. [“The death of Mr. F. B. Gage removes from our place a long-time resident, and an eccentric and in some respects remarkable character. He was eccentric in his dress, looks and manner of life. Always wearing his beard long and flowing years ago when short beards were the style, he became a marked man. During a newspaper controversy some dozen or more years ago, he was designated by his opponent as “the man of rough exterior.” This nom de plume rather pleased than offended Mr. Gage, and he afterwards often assumed it. Mr. Gage’s mind was of quite a literary turn. He formerly wrote a good deal of poetry, but later years he has given more attention to story-writing, and was quite successful, especially in writing childrens’ stories, many of which were published in the Youth’s Companion. Some of his early poems had merit in both sentiment and wit, and many of them found their way into these columns in years past. He battled with disease all his life, and we doubt if he saw a “wee day” in the last twenty years. He leaves a wife and four children.
In one of Mr. Gage’s published poems is the following verse which is appropriate to appear with this notice:
I have a treasure in the blue Beyond!
And since my brow is wrinkled o’er with time,
And all my dearest hopes have passed away
Seeking my treasures in that viewless clime,
I shall lay by my staff some Autumn day,
And pass into the blue Beyond!”]

“Vermont Views.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Feb. 19, 1875): 2. [“We are in receipt of stereoscopic views of some noted places in Vermont, from Mr. J. N. Webster of Barton. They include several views about Willoughby Lake: Newport and Memphremagog: Crystal Lake near Barton; several views on the Connecticut, and the new Congregational church at Barton, Dartmouth College, etc., etc.”]

Gage, Franklin B. “Mrs. Pope and the Bear.” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Oct. 8, 1875): 1. [“You must look out for the sheep, wife. These warm days will bring the bears out of their dens. They will be ravenous, and like as not; they will break into the yard and carry off some of the sheep. l saw bear tracks up the mountain this morning.”
“Well,” said Mrs. Pope, ”they needn’t expert to get any of our sheep. If they come prowling round here, I’ll drive them oft in some way. We need the sheep too much to have them carried off by bears.”
“I wish you understood using the gun, wife. When I am gone, I worry about leaving you and the baby all day alone. The woods are so near, I can’t help thinking some wild animals may come, down from the mountains and attack you.”
“You needn’t fear about that,” answered Mrs. Pope. “To be sure it is lonesome with neither man nor dog about and l presume I should feel safer if I understood handling a gun, but I don’t believe anything will come near in the day-time. So-don’t worry about us, only be sure to get home before dusk.”
“Well, good-bye, then. Don’t expose the baby or yourself to any danger, and I’ll be back before night.”
So saying, Mr. Pope, with a bag of grain on-his horse, started off to the mill, leaving his wife and baby alone in their solitary log cabin in the wilderness.
This conversation occurred in the town of Kirby, Vermont, in the spring of the year 1811, when that region was but little settled, when even women understood they were in constant peril from wild beasts. Jesse Pope’s cabin stood close to the foot of the Kirby mountains, in whose rocky fastnesses bears, catamounts and wolves had their inaccessible dens. Bears, especially, were so thick as to be a sources of constant dread to those who had flocks, or were compelled to leave their homes unprotected, while they went, to the larger settlements on necessary, business.
Mrs. Pope fully understood the peril that surrounded her during her husband’s absence. Her cheerful talk with her husband was not mere bravado. She said what she did, us much to keep her own spirits up as to dispel her husband’s anxiety.. She knew that he must go to the mill, and there was no way for her but to stay at home and be as brave as possible. She was a brave woman. Nature had endowed her with courage, and the surroundings of her early life had all tended to foster and strengthen it. She fully, understood her situation, and when her husband passed out of sight she knew she and her baby were alone in the great wilderness, beyond the reach of help, should anything serious occur. But she had always lived, in the wilderness. The howl of the wolf and the growl of the bear were familiar sounds to her, and she had become accustomed to a lonely life in the woods. So, instead of shutting herself in the house, she went on with her work as usual.
After the breakfast dishes were washed and put away, she brought out her little “linen wheel” and went, to spinning flax. They must have clothes for summer wear, and that was the season to spin and weave, before, the summer fully set in. I can remember my mother and her spinning-wheel, .and I can imagine just how Mrs. Pope looked, sitting with one foot on the treadle. I can hear the buzz of the wheel as it flew round; l can see just how often she dipped her lingers in the little cup of water, as she drew out the fibers of flax, and dexterously shaped the strong symmetrical thread, in a manner that would astonish modern housewives.
All the long forenoon her musical wheel kept humming its pleasant tune, stopping only now and then as its mistress either crowed to the baby in the cradle, or looked out to see that no wild animals were prowling about. Noon came and went, and nothing disturbed them. The baby in the cradle went of to sleep, and she kept on with her work. After a time she rose and looked out again. This time she saw an astounding sight! Coming down the mountain-side from the woods, she beheld a full-grown bear, not a hundred yards distant. He was on his way to the yard where the sheep were in fold, and she knew he was after the sheep. She had a gun, but that would not avail anything, for she had never learned to use it. She had an axe, but she knew an axe to be a poor weapon to fight a bear with. The next thing she thought of was a pitchfork. Their few sheep were a treasure to the family. All their winter clothing was to come from the sheep, and now that they were in peril, she was aroused to instant action. The one absorbing thought of saving the sheep banished all sense of personal danger. Instead of shutting herself up in the house she darted out and closed the door after her lest anything should molest the baby. Then running into the log barn, she snatched up the pitchfork, ran around the barn, and planted herself directly in the bear’s path. Brandishing her pitchfork and screaming at him, she attempted to scare him back to the woods. But the bear was ravenous with hunger, and he came straight down the hill at her, showing his teeth and growling fiercely. As he approached and sprang toward her, Mrs. Pope dodged and dealt him a blow, the iron ring of the fork striking him exactly on the end of the nose. The shock stunned the bear for an instant, and during that one instant, with almost superhuman strength, Mrs. Pope plunged both tines of the fork into the bear’s side, where she supposed the heart to be. Either good fortune, or the hand of Providence, directed the weapon, for one of the tines passed clear through the bear’s heart, and he fell over dead, leaving, her not only victorious, but unharmed. After the excitement of the contest was over, Mrs. Pope went back to the house, shuddering at the extremity of peril she had been in. But after a time her nervousness passed off, and she went on with her work again; and so the afternoon, wore away.
At length, when the sun was about an hour high, she saw her husband emerge from the woods near the house. She left her spinning-wheel, and, with the baby in her arms, met him at the door as if nothing unusual had occurred. As he came up to the door leading the horse with one hand, and holding on the bag of flour with the other, he spoke out:
“Well, wife, I am thankful nothing has happened to you while I was gone. I suppose it was foolish, but I couldn’t help worrying all the time.”
“I don’t know as it was foolish, husband. But hitch the horse, and bring the bag in. I want to talk with you.”
When the bag was deposited in the house, Mrs. Pope said, “So you were nervous about us then?
”Yes. I don’t remember ever being so nervous before in my life.”
“Well, husband, I was nervous, too. I couldn’t help thinking what could I do if a bear should come down from the mountain after the sheep.”
“Why, common sense would tell you what to do; shut the door, take care of yourself and baby, and let the sheep go.”
“Do you think so, husband?” “Of course I do. What else could you have done?”
“You will see if you go out behind the barn and look.” “Behind the barn! What do you mean?”
“I mean what I say. Go and look behind the barn.” Mr. Pope started out in the greatest wonder, while, her wife buried her face in the baby’s apron to smother the womanly tears she could no longer restrain.
To his utter astonishment Mr. Pope found the dead bear behind the barn; with the pitchfork sticking in its side.
When he went in and heard the whole story from his wife; he fully realized that something had happened in his absence, and that he had more reason than ever to be thankful.
I am indebted to the wife of James Harris. Esq., of St. Johnsbury, for this history of Mrs. Pope’s encounter with the bear. Mrs. Harris’s father—Rev. Timothy Locke —lived not far from Mr. Pope’s house at this time; Mrs. Harris stilI distinctly remembers seeing the bear’s skin nailed on the outside of the barn, where it remained all summer, while Mrs. Pope became famous throughout the neighborhood for her heroism.”]

[Advertisement.] “Photographs!” THE CALEDONIAN (ST. JOHNSBURY, VT) (Oct. 8, 1875): 4. [“Home again and in the old quarters (formerly occupied by F. B. Gage) after a winter’s stay in one of the first galleries in Boston, perfecting my self in the art, and with improved facilities, think we can please all who may favor us with their patronage. AII the New and Different Styles. Gotten up with neatness and dispatch. Stereoscopic Views of the Village and Vicinity. Albums, frames, Bookmarks, etc., etc. For sale at low prices. We would invite all to call and examine specimens of work. Geo. H. Hastings, Brown’s Block, Main Street, St. Johnsbury, Vt. May 12.”]


Gage, F. B. “Photography in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 8:19 (Feb. 1, 1857): 289-292. [Letter from F. B. Gage, plus the editor’s description of seventeen photographs primarily views – of New Hampshire, taken by Gage.]

Gage, F. B. “Collodion Process.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 9:1 (May 1, 1857): 2-4. [Gage from St. Johnsbury, VT.]

Gage, F. B. “More about Saltpetre – Light in the Dark Room, &c.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 9:23 (Apr. 1, 1858): 358-359. [“To the Editor of Humphrey’s Journal: I was somewhat alarmed on reading your correspondent C. G.’s paper, in No. 22 of your Journal, in regard to the combustible nature of the drippings from the silver bath. As the table where I keep my hath had become thoroughly saturated with silver, I chipped off a small piece to try it, as C. G. proposed, placed it at a respectable distance from the dangerous table, and proceeded with a palpitating heart to try a match. I beg C. G.’s pardon, but it was no go—not the match, but the chip. I then supplied myself with a pail of water and proceeded to touch off the table, fully expecting that it would blow up notwithstanding the chip did not. Here, however, I was as sadly disappointed as in the other case, for it would not go off “no-how.” Astonished at this, I sat down and reflected that, perhaps, my table had none of that “double elective affinity” that C. G. tells about, and that that was the reason it would not explode. Perhaps some of my brethren may be more fortunate, and not find so much difficulty in blowing up when they try the experiment. C. G., however, had better keep an eye to his gun-cotton and collodion.   I will wager that he can blow them up, at any time, without much extra trouble   I will guarantee, also, that pine tables are not one-half as dangerously explosive. I speak from experience, as I was blown up by the vapor of collodion not long since, whereby my favorite beard (only 12 ½ inches long), eye-brows, and hair were most woefully singed. I advise every one not to fulfill that passage of Scripture which says: “Go thou and do likewise,” as it might be a little dangerous if over-done. C. G. speaks of dark-rooms. For my part, I have no taste for dark-rooms, and have nothing of the kind about my establishment. I silver and develop my pictures under a skylight, where it is so light that you may see to read the finest print, or even a watchmaker could clean and put up watches without the least difficulty. One thickness of lemon yellow paper (about the thickness of that upon which Humphrey’s Journal is printed) is all that I use to change the light. This sheet is placed over the window so as to exclude all the white light. The light coming through this sheet tinges everything yellow, but still leaves it so light that you can see the picture grow up under the developer with as much certainty as one can desire. The paper should be of a lemon yellow color; orange yellow would not do as well. We have used yellow light for nearly two years past for developing, silvering, toning, and all such purposes, and would not go back to the lamp for “heaps of money.” I have a photographic tent, for field-work, made of yellow cloth, which works well, of which I may say more hereafter. O, ye sons of light, that toil in darkness! throw your gas and fluid lamps to the dogs—take the daylight into your dark-room, through a yellow curtain, and you never will repent the day you removed such a “stumbling-block” from your establishments. F. B. Gage.”]



Gage, F. B. “Remedy for Foggy Nitrate Baths.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 10:1 (May 1, 1858): 3-5.


Gage, F. B. “Theory of the Negative Process.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 10:4 (June 15, 1858): 49-51.

Gage, F. B. “Quick versus Slow Processes; their comparative Merits.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 10:5 (July 1, 1858): 65-66.


Gage, F. B. “Cleaning Glass.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 10:5 (July 1, 1858): 68-69.

Gage, F. B. “Washing Prints.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 10:6 (July 15, 1858): 83-84. [To the Editor of Humphrey’s Journal: There is a great deal written in foreign journals, and by foreign writers, about long soaking of prints after they come from the toning-bath.  One recommends passing them through three or four dishes of water, changing the water and dishes continually for five or six hours, and then let them soak for twenty-four hours longer. Another is strongly in favor of sponging, which is sure to perform the cure and leave them freed of chemicals.  One soaks (them in a running stream for one or two days; another soaks them twenty-four hours and then finishes with boiling water.   Thus any amount of ignorance and folly is displayed by these writers, who seem more anxious to see their names in print, attached to some “darling conceit of their own,” than to suggest anything really beneficial to the art. The farther they get from what common sense would dictate, the better they seem pleased and the more glory they take to themselves therefore. There is so much wrangling among them about who was the inventor of the honey process, who used (sulphate of irons first, and a hundred other equally useless points, that it is almost impossible for them to find time to do anything else but wrap their neighbors’ knuckles and call hard names. It seems an easy thing to determine what is the best manner of cleansing prints of the excess of chemicals. A running stream is certainly not to be excelled by any other process, if the stream is large enough to change the water rapidly. The stream should be large enough to free the print from soda in one hour, and never, under any consideration, more than three hours. This soaking the prints until the soda is all out, and then soaking them till the sizing is all gone, and still longer, until the organic matter in the water penetrates the pores of the paper and commences a decomposition of its tissues, is “all bosh.” How would our ambrotypes look if soaked two or three days in dead, dirty water? Would it be likely to improve the whites? Half of the smutty prints in vogue are owing to the half-rotten state they are in from long soaking. The beauty of a print, after one or two hours’ washing, begins rapidly to diminish, caused by the decomposition and softening of the sizing. The amount of chemicals that are left in the print after two hours good cleansing, in a running stream of water, is not half as likely to fade the print as the organic matter, deposited from the water, and the sizing are. This not only seems reasonable, but it is corroborated by experience and observation. I have noticed that prints soaked in a strong running stream for not more than three hours, have invariably proved brighter and more durable than those that have soaked twenty-four hours. Those that have remained in two days have lost all their beauty, and in three days were entirely ruined. Prints should be soaked in small lots and not piled in and allowed to mat together. If the water is very cold, or the paper uncommonly thick, it may need a longer time. Every one must use his own judgment in these matters. Therefore I say, “Photos,” don’t try to do your work so the roughly as to overdo and spoil it. Overdone beef-steak is horrible, and an over-soaked print is in exactly the same category. If it seems that one or two hours’ soaking is better than twenty-four, try it and note the result. Don’t take my word, nor any one’s, for your own standard, but use your own common sense, and you will arrive at some definite time for the cleaning. This is a progressive world, and old customs and opinions are of no value only so far as they are founded on truth. The plow-share of experiment must break through them, while observation stands by to note the result—to retain the good and reject the bad. The man that has a monstrous veneration for old customs or opinions, or anything that smacks of antiquity will never succeed in this new art. His ever-busy competitor, Experiment, is enthusiastically going ahead and will leave him so far in the rear, that ruin is sure to follow from which there is no escape. F. B. Gage.”]

Gage, F. B. “Keeping Collodion Plates Sensitive.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 10:6 (July 15, 1858): 84-86. [“To the Editor of Humphrey’s Journal: In your notices to correspondents, in a late No. of your Journal, you call upon me to give my views of the best method to keep plates sensitive for field use, and also my opinion as to what is the best way to build a tent for the same purpose. In regard to keeping plates sensitive for field-work, I think it is entirely useless to try any dry process unless you are willing to be satisfied with inferior results. It is chemically impossible to get as good results on a dry film as on a wet one; for the freshly silvered plate, when just removed from the nitrate bath and exposed to light, is in the best possible condition to receive the developing and produce the desired results. The dry processes are all, except, perhaps the albumen) in my opinion, sheer humbugs, and are just fit for English amateurs, who have nothing else to do, to quarrel over. Having tried them the roughly, I am convinced of their demerits. All the preservative mixtures are also mere vexation; they are an element not needed and not to be admitted if you are determined to seek the greatest degree of artistic perfection. But if you are fond of streaks, stains, fogs, and scums, you can daub your plate with honey, oxymel, gelatine, or any other kind of adstickitiveness (I did not get that word from Webster) that happens to suit your individual fancy, and I will warrant that you will produce these effects with but little trouble. It is very singular that Taupenot never produced anything but the most perfect results with Taupeuot’s process. Barnes always gets splendid impressions with Barnes’ process. Shadbolt never made a poor impression with Shadbolt’s process. Maxwell Lyte never fails with Lyte’s process; and so it goes through almost the whole catalogue of foreign writers, each one claiming his own darling process as infallible, and condemning all others as not giving as good results as his own. It is equally singular also, that none but the originators of these respective processes can work them and get good results. The publication of every new process brings out a whole army of amateurs who besiege the journals for months with their troubles and inquiries. Thus it is almost impossible to put any reliance upon these crazy-headed enthusiasts, who are by far too near perfection (in their own opinion) to improve. The only process for keeping plates sensitive that I have found worthy of adoption is, to sensitize and use them as soon as possible while wet, and the sooner they are used the better; every minute they are allowed to remain out of the bath, before developing, deteriorates and destroys more or less of the good qualities of the resulting negative.
Tent for Field Use.
My tent for field use is made of two thicknesses of black cambric and two of yellow calico, stretched over three hoops, made of white oak, 5 feet in diameter. These hoops are placed two feet apart, and the tent when raised is about five and a half feet high, with a cone roof of two feet above that. A strong cord is attached to the top of the cone for the purpose of suspending the tent from the limb of a tree or any other convenient object. When we wish to operate inside we lift one edge of the bottom and stoop down so as to go under it, and when done we return in the same way. This plan operates quite well, but I shall build another soon which I can recommend as being far better for that purpose. Make a light frame about three feet wide by four and a half or five feet long, and high enough to stand up in. This should have as light a floor as can be made and be of the required strength to sustain the operator. Cover the whole with the cloth as described for the other tent. This tent should be mounted on two light wheels—”horsecart-fashion”—so that the artist can pack in apparatus and materials and go where and when he chooses. A door in the end will admit the operator and a yellow oil-cloth window will let in as much light as is needed to operate. When you arrive at a place where you wish to take an impression, it is but an instant’s work to take the wheels off your cart; your house then stands on the ground, and you can proceed with all the coolness of a May morning to take your picture. When done, the wheels are returned and you are in a rolling condition again. In this way you need no assistant and are your own “boss and hired hands,” which is not only the cheapest but most certain plan. Such a tent as this, with good chemicals, will “give fits” to any dry process. I will guarantee your correspondents that they will get ten gems with this arrangement where they would get none from any dry process ever yet originated. In a trip of one week to the White Mountains last year we had excellent success, although very high winds prevailed at the time, so as to injure all foliage in the foreground. The tent system is the only one, therefore, that I can recommend to others as worthy of their time and attention.
It is not to be understood by my remarks on foreign writers, that I condemn them as a class or on all points. But on the subject of dry collodion they seem entirely to have thrown common sense aside, and to have run crazy after something that will produce the best results with but little labor. I prefer, however, to lay out more labor if the results are anything better, as they are never too good at the best. Ours is a noble and difficult art, and only patience, perseverance, and toil can conquer it. F. B. Gage.”]

Gage, F. B. “Backgrounds, &c.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 10:7 (Aug. 1, 1858): 102-104. [“To the Editor of Humphrey’s Journal: The question is often asked—if it requires much study, skill and experience to make a good daguerreotypist or photographist. The opinion seems to prevail, that any man that is capable enough to focus the image of the camera, or coat a plate, is competent to do the business; because it is merely mechanical, composed of a certain amount of manipulations that will necessarily produce artistic results. This idea leads men into the business that are more of a disgrace to the community, to the art, and to themselves, than they are aware of. Men who are so gifted as to aspire to take a copy of the “human face divine,” for the sum of twenty-live cents, are likely to astonish the public with flaming circulars and wonderfully new processes that were discovered somewhere in the regions, of their own brains. Such men will flourish until the community takes them by the windpipe and forcibly stops the incoming and outgoing of their photographic breath. The community will do this only as it becomes educated by the works of the true artist, and learns to distinguish the difference between a picture that is a mere inexpressive images and one where every lineament seems to possess the breathing life and spirit of the friend from whom it was taken, and who now, perhaps,
Lies sleeping in that dreamless sleep
That knows no waking;
in which case the work of the real artist becomes a precious jewel that no price can purchase, while the other is only a source of regret that a better one had not been obtained while living. An incident in my experience will illustrate this point: — Not long ago a lady in deep mourning entered my reception-room. I saw at a glance that she was in deep trouble. Handing me a one-ninth ambrotype, she asked: “Can you do anything to make that look better?” Glancing at it I saw that it was an ambrotype on a single glass, that the black varnish had cracked, and had cracked the image at the same time. More than this, the whole picture had that peculiar yellow cast of an over-toned photograph, caused by the fixing not being well washed out before being finished. I replied, that I feared that it was beyond remedy. I saw the tears start into her eyes instantly, and she said: “That is a picture of my only daughter; we were in Boston last year, and I got that taken at one of the cheap establishments. It never looked much like her, and I have thought every day that I would get a better one taken; but I neglected it, and now she is gone, and that is all there is left of her. I would give anything if I could get as good a likeness of her as some you have here (pointing to some specimens), but it is too late now.” While she was speaking I was looking at the ambrotype, and I fancied it bore a certain resemblance to a person I had seen before. Not being certain, however, I carelessly remarked: “You will find a likeness of a beautiful lady in the gilt frame at the other end of the room; will you step there and look at it?” The picture referred to was a favorite daguerreotype specimen, made some four or five years before, and was a perfect embodiment of soul. Stepping forward she looked at it, and the instant her eyes took in the image she exclaimed: “Oh, dear!” and dropped into a chair, too much overcome to move or speak for several minutes. It was a likeness of her daughter, and one of uncommon beauty and perfection. I had taken it for a specimen, having kept it four years or more. The mother had never known or had forgotten it, and it was only through a good Providence that its existence was thus brought to her knowledge. The mother purchased the picture, was so well pleased with it that ten copies were taken and distributed among her friends, and I received the assurance that that family would never again patronize a cheap establishment on account of cheapness. But I have wandered from my subject; let me return. The study of backgrounds for sun-pictures is a seven years’ study, and a lifetime is not too long to master it. But how many there are that have no backgrounds to their pictures, and consequently no relief to the image. One operator uses a piece of blue cotton cloth hung as a curtain behind the sitter, so near as to be in focus of the instrument.   His pictures are taken “beautifully white all over,” and are wedged in between the folds of the aforesaid blue cambric, that being the only thing about them that is not flat; he would be angry enough to astonish you if you were to suggest a different one. Who is going to tell him anything?   Hasn’t he been in the business three months, and don’t he know what he is about? This is only one of a thousand who are in just the same category. My friend Veteran, however, is a different man. Veteran has been in the business ten years. Veteran has a taste for pictures—an eye for the beautiful. Veteran beautifies all he touches if he can have his way. But Veteran cannot always have his taste exercised, and Veteran is sometimes sorely puzzled to know what background to use to produce the most, artistic effect. Let us illustrate. Let us give you a pen-photograph of a scene in Veteran’s gallery. A fashionably-dressed young lady walks into Veteran’s reception-room. Veteran is there, and is as polite and attentive as ever. Young lady wants a picture, and wants it made very beautiful; takes off her bonnet and shawl, and proceeds to “prim.” Veteran ventures one look at her person from head to foot, and then runs his eye over his numerous backgrounds and talks to himself in this wise: Background No. 1 will give the best effect to that lady’s head, but it will not harmonize with her dress. No. 2 is too light. No. 3 is too dark. No. 4 is not just the thing. No. 5 is too gaudy. No. 6 is too gloomy for such a cheerful face;” and so he goes through the whole list of backgrounds, and then turns away disappointed, and asks young lady if she will not have a crayon head on No. 1. Lady says no decidedly. Veteran then suggests that perhaps she may have a shawl, or some other outer garment, to throw around her, that will “harmonize with the rest of the figure.” Lady has just got a new dress—made the latest fashion by Madam So-and-So. Lady is indignant—Iooks daggers at Veteran and says: “She don’t care anything about the harmony; all she wants is a good picture” (likeness). Veteran proceeds to despatch one; gets the impression about half taken, and lady says: “I want to look right straight forward, so that both of my ear-jewels will show.” Veteran don’t swear, but he thinks swear, which is just as profane, though not so noisy. Veteran jerks the plate-holder out of the camera, puts in another plate, and has, the picture in a twinkling; it is soon completed. Lady looks at it: “Oh, my! how handsome it is; how plain my dress shows, and only just see how fine the jewelry looks and how red my cheeks are!” Veteran shrugs his shoulders and says: “Beautiful, beautiful!” but ventures only one more look of disgust while pocketing the change. Lady whips on her shawl and bonnet, and is off in a twinkling to show her friends “Oh, such a love of a picture!” but which, in reality, is as far as possible removed from anything like beauty and harmony. Veteran is an enthusiastic admirer of a good picture and equally detests a poor one. Veteran, therefore, sits down in a fit of the blues after the lady has gone; he wishes he was anything but a “picture-taker,” Half an hour passes and he is no better. Suddenly the door opens and a stranger enters. He glances at the pictures for an instant, and then mutters: “Very good, very good!” half to himself and half to Veteran; then takes his hat off abruptly, turns to Veteran and says: “I will sit.” Veteran ventures one glance at his physiognomy and sees he is a splendid subject—chief among ten thousand. “What kind of picture will you have?” inquires Veteran. “As perfect a picture as the Art will produce, and just such a one as you would make if I were your best friend and you intended to keep the picture.” Veteran is in his glory now; how his eyes brighten! That man will leave Veteran’s gallery with a gem; everything will harmonize—background, figure, attitude, expression, and tone, will all blend so as to produce a harmonious whole. Veteran would rather spend an entire day than have one blemish, and he will do it. The beauty of a background is that it shall be distinctly indistinct, or rather that it shall represent nothing and represent fit distinctly. Anything that attracts the eye away from the subject is not in the best of taste. The background should be such that we shall not be conscious, while looking at the picture, that it possesses any background, unless our attention is particularly called to the fact.  Such an effect is what the true artist will strive to attain, and which will be belter appreciated alter the frenzy of the cheap picture fever has subsided. F. B. Gage.”]

Gage, F. B. “The Saltpetre Subject again.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 10:8 (Aug. 15, 1858): 117-118.

Gage, F. B. “Positive Collodion Process.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 10:10 (Sept. 15, 1858): 145-146.

Gage, F. B. “The Saltpetre subject again.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 10:10 (Sept. 15, 1858): 150.

Gage, F. B. “Photographic Trip to Memphremagog Lake.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 10:12-14 (Oct. 15 -Nov. 15, 1858): 179-181, 192-195, 211-213. [“To the Editor of Humphrey’s Journal. While you have been rusticating in the regions of game, we have been having a different experience. We were seated in our reception-room, watching the progress of business and events, and feeling the luxury of being able to sit up after illness, when a boy entered and handed us a note addressed to Messrs. Gage & Rowell. We opened it without any expectation of finding more than a quack photographic circular, when out dropped a neat card upon which was printed and written as follows:
Pass Messrs. Gage and Rowell, photographers, to Owl’s Head and back. Geo. A. Merrill, Supt. C. & P. R. R.
Here was a mystery indeed! We had made no application for a pass to Owl’s Head. We had seen owls of all descriptions, and had no desire to renew our acquaintance with that kind of ”quadruped.” What could it mean? Thus we cogitated for perhaps half an hour, and had arrived at no solution of the matter, when another boy entered and deposited another note, which was in this wise:
Owl’s Head Mountain House, Aug. 20, 1858. Messrs. Gage & Rowell. The Supt. C. & P. R. R. will pass you to this place and back. The best accommodations of my house are at your service (without charge) as long as you choose to stay, provided you bring your photographing Implements with you and that you will photograph some of our beautiful scenery. Come, by all means, as soon as portable. Truly yours, A. O. Jennings, Proprietor of the Mountain House.
Here was a solution of the mystery, then. “As long as you choose to stay without charge;” how that sounded in our ears, and how tempting to a poor worn-out photographer to rest and rusticate. But, how were we to go? We were but two days up from a dangerous illness; exposure might bring on a relapse, and we were not yet strong enough to think of photographing. Our partner here came to our aid by saying: “I can do the work while you rusticate and enjoy yourself.” Here, then, was a temptation; “rusticate and enjoy yourself” sounded like the music of a dream; and before we were well aware of it, we stood in the presence of that awe-inspiring personage, the family physician, and proceeded to ask his advice. “Well,” said the doctor, after we had explained the case, “we’ll see about that;” whereupon he folded his hands, turned round facing ourself, and looked us steadily in the eye for a whole minute without moving a muscle. Then he burst out with a hearty laugh and said: “Yes, go; only be prudent. Do not expose yourself, and the ride will do you good.”
Our next business was to make a sample of collodion as follows:
Ether (concentrated)                                7½ ounces
Alcohol                                                   6 ounces
Iodide of potassium* [*After many experiments I find that I prefer iodide of potassium for views, as it gives more strength and is sufficiently fine for that purpose. The above formula is only a modification of the formula published in the first edition of Humphrey’s Collodion Manual, and is the best formula I have ever used for views.]
                                                            53 grains.
Bromide of ammonium                           27 grains.
Gun cotton (French)                              90 grains.
Saturated solution of iodine in alcohol        3 drops.
Hydrobromic acid (Humphrey’s)               2 drops
Our bath was made in the usual way, 35 grains of silver to the ounce, slightly acidified with glacial acetic acid.
Water                                                   1 ounce.
Sulphate of iron (pure)                           45 grains.
Acetic acid, No. 8                                  2 drachms.
Our next business was to collect our apparatus, which consisted of the conical tent described in Humphrey’s Journal, vol. X, page 85, and other necessary articles. Besides the collodion prepared for the occasion, we took a half pound made after the same formula, but which had stood about eight weeks and had become insensitive and useless. Our time was thus fully occupied until the arrival of the train, when we took the cars for Barton, 24 miles, where we arrived at 7 o’clock, p. m. Here we took the stage to Newport, distant 14 miles, and rode that distance through a heavy thunder-storm and almost total darkness, not a very pleasant trip for an invalid, nor an available subject for a photographer. We remained over night, and next morning took the steamer Mountain Maid down the lake, to the Owl’s Head Mountain House. The heavy masses of clouds trailed down the mountains and across the lake as the south wind swept them slowly along, and we had but a limited glimpse of the lake and scenery until we arrived at the Mountain House, when a sudden current of north wind swept the clouds away, and we beheld one of the most enchanting views that the world possesses. We spent the day at the Mountain House; Mr. Rowell, in the meantime, by invitation of Capt. Fogg, continued down the lake to look out more points of interest for pictures. The next day we took out our camera and took two or three near views, using the old collodion, to each ounce of which was added one drop of concentrated ammonia.* [*Since writing the above I see that Mr. Mathiot recommends the use of caustic potash in collodion which has become insensitive. The effect is the same in both cases, but it will not remedy collodion that is too old.] which restored it to working order. The negatives appeared good, but when we printed some, to try their qualities, we were not very well pleased with them, and concluded the collodion was too far gone to admit of producing good results. We accordingly threw it away as the readiest way to dispose of it. The next day we took two negatives of the Mountain House, the new collodion working to our satisfaction. The house being elevated from the wharf, we were obliged to raise the camera nearly 20 feet to get the right angle. If the camera had stood on the ground, the building, in the picture, would have the appearance of leaning back; therefore we built a platform, and the resulting pictures appear upright and not canted in any direction. We find it necessary to elevate the camera nearly one half the height of the building to produce the best effect. Our next attempt was a picture of Sherman’s Bay. The bay and boats are in the foreground, and the mountain behind shooting 3,000 feet into the air, its inaccessible sides covered with rocks and trees nearly to its summit. We secured two negatives of this location, by which time the Mountain Maid appeared in sight, on her way up the lake, and we prepared to take a negative of her on her arrival at the wharf. The camera was set so as to take in the end of the wharf and boat. The moment the boat touched the landing a plate was immersed in the bath. There was a strong breeze blowing and we had no hope of getting a good impression; .but as the captain of the boat was confident that he could lash her up so tight that she would not rock, we took one to show him he had miscalculated his abilities in that respect, and that he was not only out of his latitude, but in a Fogg indeed. As we expected, the impression proved an entire failure, the boat having lurched just in time to give two distinct images. On her trip up the next day, however, she was lashed more tightly to the wharf than before. Mr. Howell and the proprietor of the Mountain House exercised their Yankee ingenuity by placing a plank over the edge of the wharf and under the guard of the boat, so as to pry her off and steady her as much as possible, while I proceeded to expose the plate. The wind was blowing harder than the day previous and we were fearful of a failure. The exposure was 15 seconds with a four-fourth Holmes, Booth & Haydens’ camera, the back lens being removed and a one-third inch diaphragm inserted. The plate was removed to the house and developed; it proved an entire success. The boat was crowded with passengers fore and aft and the wharf lined with spectators, as you will see by the print before you.* [*At the close of these papers the editor of Humphrey’s Journal will examine a print from each of these negatives, with the privilege of criticizing them for the benefit of his readers.”] Capt. Fogg stands upon one of the paddle-boxes pointing to the summit of the mountain. A large share of the figures are recognizable, and your readers can form some idea of the sharpness of this picture from the fact that the captain’s watch-guard and seal, when magnified three diameters, are plainly discernible. (To be continued.)
[HJ 10:13 (Nov. 1, 1858): 193-195.] [“To the Editor of Humphrey’s Journal: The next day we crossed the lake to Skinner’s Island and took a view of Owl’s Head from that point, a mile and a half off. Pictures taken at that distance lack sharpness on account of the atmospheric effect. We took a picture of Sugar Loaf Mountain from this point, and then rowed to Long Island to get a picture of Balance Rock. This rock lies upon a point of ledge that runs out into the lake in such a way that it seems as if a child might topple it off. A pine tree leans over it in a manner which gives a picturesque effect. How this massive granite boulder was placed in this position is a matter of great conjecture. We found it impossible to get a good view from the land side. We look an impression, however, and from that point resolved to make another attempt. Your humble servant was taken sick with an attack of pleurisy on his return to the Mountain House, and had it not been for the prompt attention of the people of the House, this paper would never have been written. The next morning Mr. Rowell and an attendant crossed the lake again, prepared to make another trial. They took soundings, and found the water 23 feet deep where they had wished to place the camera. Their next operation was to cut three poles of the required length .and nail boards on to form a stand; this stand or chair was then floated out to the spot, and after a great deal of trouble they succeeded in sinking it, and piled stones on to keep it down. The weather was very rough, and rather than “run the risk of losing the camera, they attached a strong cord to it and fastened it to the shore. The camera being placed on the stand, a new difficulty arose on trying to focus. The sun shone into the camera tube and rendered it impossible to operate; and it would be three hours or more before they would get a good light. Not disheartened at this they rowed to Skinner’s Island and took two fine impressions of the Palisades, after which they returned and look two of the rock which were very satisfactory. The next day was devoted to taking a picture of the Smuggler’s Cave, on Skinner’s Island. The cave is in a ledge and on a level with the lake, so that the water flows in and out at times. They endeavored to get far enough away to take in the massive ledge above the entrance of the cave, but found it impossible. Thirty-five feet from the entrance the water is from five to ten feet deep. Ten feet farther out the ledge shoots down fifty or sixty feet. To place the camera on the edge of this submarine precipice, and take a picture, required some nerve and not a little discretion. A chair was made as the day previous, but it was found impossible to locate it from the boat, on account of the shelving rock and the constant motion of the boat. The word fail was not to be found in their dictionary; and a council of war was held accordingly, after which they stripped off their garments and went at it with a will. One plunged into the water up to his chin and located the chair, placed the camera on it, focussed it, and kept it there while the other sensitized a plate, waded out and exposed it, and then returned in the same way to develop it. Two fine impressions were taken in this way. The only thing to be regretted is that they did not take another picture to be entitled “Photographing under Difficulties,” as it might have been interesting to the fraternity, as showing the amount of pluck sometimes necessary to secure a good negative. If any of your readers have got the idea that there is no work in photographing, let them try it and see. Let them make a few trials of climbing mountains, carrying their apparatus; let them row across the lakes in all kinds of weather; and, finally, let them try photographing, a la nude, under water, and they will not be long getting over their false notions. Having recovered so as to be able to ride I returned home, leaving Mr. Rowell to finish the work. Three good negatives were made of the Mountain Maid, two of Capt, Fogg’s residence at Georgeville, two of Round Island from the Mountain House, which I think is one of the most beautiful natural combinations for a picture that I have ever seen; two distant views of the lake were taken, and some other interesting nooks. These were printed on Canson’s paper as follows:
Common salt                             120 grains.
Water                                         60 ounces.
The sheets were immersed in this and then dried.
Nitrate of silver                          240 grains.
Water                                           5 ounces.
This is made into ammonio-nitrate in the usual way.  No acid is added, as it destroys the life of the shadows.
Hyposulphite of soda                      8 ounces.
Water                                         16 ounces.
Nitrate of silver                            32 grains.
Chloride of gold solution* [*Dissolve one gold dollar, or its equivalent. In nitre muriatic acid; after the gold is dissolved, add an ounce and a-half of pulverized chloride of sodium (common salt); evaporate the acid in a sand-bath. Now dissolve the dry chloride of gold in 5 ounces of water; test it with litmus-paper; if it turns the paper red, add aqua ammonia, a drop at a time, and shake well; continue to do so until it is neutral, and then use as directed in the formula. The sand-bath is made by placing a small quantity of sand in a sheet iron dish; a porcelain saucer is placed on the sand, in which the gold is dissolved by the aid of a spirit lamp placed underneath. It should be done only in the open air, as the fumes are very destructive to life.]
                                                         1 fluid oz.
They were toned only until the chloride of silver was removed.  This is the only secret of obtaining a good toning. The artist should study to keep the gold and soda in such proportions that the print will arrive at the proper color at the same moment that the chloride of silver is all removed. If not enough chloride of gold is used, the print will have a ghastly red when the chloride of silver is all removed from the paper, and will dry out a dead cold tone. If, on the contrary, there is too much gold, the shades will assume too deep a black before the chloride of silver is all removed, and the print will be equally as dead and smutty as in the former case. Thus, if the photographer will only remember that the soda is simply the cleaning element, and that the gold is the agent to give the color, he will soon arrive, by experiment at a point where he can get the right color at the moment the cleaning is completed, and thus ensure permanent prints. If the toning of the print is thus properly done, and the washing quickly performed in a strong running stream of water, I have no-doubts but the print will be as permanent as any sun picture, if not as lasting as an engraving. I am now at Springfield, Vt., having come 100 miles to take a negative of the Falls in this village; you will hear with what success in my next. (To be continued)”]
[HJ 10:14 (Nov. 15, 1858): 211-213.] [“To the Editor of Humphrey’s Journal: My last letter was mailed to you from Springfield, Vt., where I went for the purpose of taking negatives of the Falls of Black River, at that place. This is a village of about 1,500 inhabitants, the river dividing the village in the center. The river is broad and still above the village, but as it approaches it grows more turbulent until it reaches the center of the village, where it takes its final plunge of one hundred feet, nearly perpendicular, making a fall of about two hundred and fifty feet in a quarter of a mile. The cliffs on each side, just below the main fall, are about one hundred and fifty feet high. The bridge that connects the two portions of the village (about sixty feet long) rests upon the cliffs directly over the main fall. Standing upon the bridge, you may look at the rushing waters above, and the roaring cataract below, while the cloud of spray that rushes up from the narrow gorge ascends even to the tops of the tall poplars that line its banks. This is undoubtedly one of the wildest and most romantic falls in this country, combined with one of the neatest of New England villages. Mr. Powers, the ambrotypist at this place, gave me permission to use his laboratory, and I was soon fitted up and in working order. The first impression was a view of the upper falls, as seen from the bridge; it proved to be satisfactory. Two more negatives were taken of points below; but it was found impossible to get at the main fall and bridge without building a temporary bridge across the stream, as the camera could only be placed in the middle of the narrow chasm, where the waters rushed down with the speed of a mill-race. With some difficulty I found a man who was willing to undertake the job. The fire-wardens kindly volunteered the use of their fire-ladders, and by noon the next day, with the help of two assistants, he had bridged a narrow point of rocks in the bed of the stream, so that I could place my camera there and get the desired point of view. While this was doing I had not been idle. I had climbed to the roof of a barn that was built on the very edge of the cliff, several rods below the bridge. Here I contrived to fasten the camera so as to take in the bridge, a portion of the main fall under it, and all the fall above, with the buildings lining its banks. I think this makes the wildest natural view that I have ever seen. The Devil’s Fall, in this picture, is as great a curiosity as the Old Man of the Mountain at Franconia. This is formed by the water pouring over the rocks, and it certainly looks more human than many cheap ambrotypes that I have seen. This negative being taken, I climbed down the cliff and placed my camera on the bridge of ladders, and took a negative of the main fall and bridge. By climbing along the ledges I succeeded in finding two other points of interest, of which I took negatives that were satisfactory. The next day was spent in taking a view of the village and a view of Black River Hotel, with some other good scenes, making ten good negatives in all. I was sorry that other matters compelled so short a stay, as there were many other points of interest, perhaps enough in this place to keep a photographer busy for a month. My friend. Mr. Powers, had his patience put to the test by the crowded visitors who thronged his gallery, as much perhaps to see the man with the long beard, as to examine the prints which I had printed out and hung up as specimens. However, as the orders for prints flowed in abundantly, I was willing to be considered the “day’s talk and wonder.” I presume there was not a child four years old in the village but knew who I was, where I came from, what I was there for, and when I was going away. There is nothing that will create a crowd in a country village like a photographer with his “yellow tent and “camera.” Mr. Powers has long been a veteran daguerreotypist (He takes Humphrey’s Journal), and is a good artist; and it is only to be regretted that he has been taken down with the cheap picture fever; but as he is recovering, and has resolved to be wiser and not expose himself to that terrible disease again, it is to be hoped that his fraternal shadow will never be less. Leaving Springfield, I took a trip to the little village of New York, to see if any improvements could be picked up in that quiet little place, an account of which may perhaps be found in a future No. of the Journal. Here I procured an orthoscopic view camera, with folding bellows-box for plates 15 by 15 inches. As these cameras are reputed to give better perspective and render distances better, I resolved to try one and note the result. The tube is fixed with an ingenious diaphragm that opens and shuts like the human eye; all the operator has to do is to move a small knob on the outside of the tube to get any size of opening that he chooses at an instant’s notice. A scale, with figures, is placed alongside the knob, that gives the different sizes of opening from one-fourth to one inch. The tube was manufactured by C. C. Harrison; the box by the Scoville Manufacturing Co. On my return I took several views of the scenery at Westminster, Vt., and Walpole, N. H., and then visited Lebanon, N. H., where my former partner, Mr. F. Rowell, has located his business. Several views were taken here, after which I returned well rewarded for the trouble and hard labor necessary to secure the negatives which I brought home with me. While operating at Westminster I found nearly one-fourth of my bath precipitated by the use of impure glacial acetic acid. This acid I find the most difficult of any to procure in a pure state. There is not one dealer in twenty who sells an article that is fit to use. Most of it is put up in bottles with cork stoppers, and is nothing more than a poor sample of No. 8, having a dull, putrid, sickening smell. The pure article has a sharp sour smell, with none of the “putrid flavor.” The French is the only reliable article that I know of (Wittmann & Poulenc), which comes in glass stoppered bottles. I have had more trouble in procuring this article than in all the other chemicals I use. Many a good sample of silver has been condemned, when made into a bath, on account of the acid which has been added to it.
Erratum.—In the note at the foot of page 194, in the recipe for making chloride of gold, it should read—one half ounce of pulverized chloride of sodium, Instead of “an ounce and a-half,” as rendered by the printer.—F. B. G.”]

Gage, F. B. “Cleaning Glass.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 10:15 (Dec. 1, 1858): 225. [“To the Editor of Humphrey’s Journal: It has been found very difficult to clean glass for negatives so the roughly as to leave no organic matter on the surface to cause fogginess and streaks. I have tried nearly all the various methods I have seen proposed, and have never been quite satisfied until I adopted the method I am now using. New glasses should first be immersed in nitric acid and water (1 part acid to 20 of water), and rubbed the roughly and then rinsed in clean water, after which it is to be wiped dry on a clean linen towel.* [*The towels should be Washed in a solution of sal soda, and rinsed in several clean waters to remove all greasiness. Soap is not fit for that purpose.] Now lay the glass on a clean sheet of paper or in a clean vice, and drop on a few drops of burning fluid which is to be briskly rubbed off with a clean tuft of cotton flannel until the surface is dry and smooth. I believe this ensures a chemically clean surface, or as near as is attainable. This would not at first be thought a cleaning element; but, on second thought, there appears a plausible theory “thereunto belonging,” as the lawyers say. The turpentine in the fluid has a certain amount of adhesiveness. When placed on a glass it adheres to the organic matter on the glass. The cotton absorbs the fluid and gathers up the organic matter at the same time. Try it, photographers, and see if you are not pleased with its effect. F. B. Gage.”]

Gage, F. B. “To Transfer Ambrotypes.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 10:15 (Dec. 1, 1858): 225. [“To the Editor of Humphrey’s Journal: The picture should be taken on a heavy film, and a trifle lighter than for the ambrotype. Dry it in the usual way, after which pour on a solution composed of 30 or 40 drops of nitric acid in 2 oz. of alcohol; let it remain on the plate while you clean the paper or other black surface, which can be done by rubbing it with pulverized starch or fine flour until it is perfectly clean. Then apply the cleaned surface to the picture immediately, and remove all air-bubbles by gently rubbing the back of the paper or other material, after which a weight is applied to keep the surfaces together until the alcohol has evaporated, when the picture will peel off the glass without any trouble. The time required to perform the operation is from 10 minutes to half an hour, according to the temperature of the room at the time. Care should be taken to have no powdery silver on the surface, as that would prevent a perfect adhesion of the surfaces. F. B. Gage.”]

Gage, F. B. “Poisonous Effects of Cyanide of Potassium.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 10:16 (Dec. 15, 1858): 241-242. [“To the Editor of Humphrey’s Journal:, At various times it has been asserted in Humphrey’s Journal, and other publications devoted to the photographic art, that cyanide of potassium is a dangerous poison, and that it should never be used. On the other hand, it has been equally as strongly urged that this is only a whim, and that the fumes of the potassium are harmless. Still others have qualified the statement by saying that it is poisonous to some, and not to others. Having had my attention called to this matter by sudden and unaccountable inflammation of the throat and mouth, accompanied with dizziness and “great difficulty of breathing, I instituted a series of experiments and inquiries to ascertain if the sickness was caused by this chemical. After my recovery I laid the potassium aside for four weeks, using hyposulphite of soda instead. Having occasion to make a picture extremely white, l tried the cyanide of potassium for fixing the impression. Although not exposed more than one minute of time to the weak fumes, I felt an immediate return to the symptoms of the dizziness and inflamination. One subsequent trial,-Three weeks after, produced the same effect; and I have since fully resolved not to use it at all in future. I then commenced making inquiries of other operators; and, out of twenty, I found five who had been extremely sick with the same description of disease. Ten more, of the twenty, had felt the symptoms I describe; the other five did not know whether they had experienced any bad effects from its use, as they had not been long in the business, and never had thought about it. On one occasion a lady accidentally got a silver stain on her finger, and I gave her a lump of the potassium to remove it with. The fumes produced such instantaneous and extreme prostration that she had to be carried from the room. I have been accustomed to fix my pictures where my customers could watch the operation as a matter of curiosity, and I recollect many instances where they’ spoke of feeling queer from the effect of the fumes. Considering all these facts, in connection with what has been previously published, I think there need be no doubt that it is poisonous to all, and that its use is to be avoided in all cases.  The appearance of the symptoms of poison from its fumes is only a matter of time, and not of certainty. The symptoms may appear instantaneously, as in the case of the lady referred to ‘above; or they maybe delayed months, as in my own case; or even for years, as in another case which I have seen. The length of time that it takes to make its appearance is governed by the susceptibility of the individual; but the result will be just as certain and just as destructive in one case as the other. Even if it be delayed until the eleventh hour, it will come. I am better pleased with the results which I obtain, both positive and negative, by the hypo than by the cyanide. With the collodion, the recipe for which I shall give in a future communication, the most unsurpassable whites are obtained in ambrotypes, thereby rendering the use of the cyanide entirely unnecessary.”]

Gage, F. B. “Albumen Printing.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 10:16 (Dec. 15, 1858): 242. [“To the Editor of Humphrey’s Journal: It is amusing to see how little reliance can be placed in a large share of what is published in foreign journals relating to improvements in the photographic art. I have been very much surprised at this, and, after making all due allowances for climate and different manipulations, I am compelled to think that much is published for the sake of publishing, and not for the benefit of the art. In a late No. of Humphrey’s Journal, in an extract from a French publication, it is stated that albumenized sheets are readily coagulated by floating them, back down, on the surface of boiling water; and that sheets so treated will not discolor the nitrate bath in sensitizing. Now I had long been in search of some such process whereby the stability of the bath might be preserved. I have laid awake nights and dreamed, with my eyes open, of some means to accomplish this desirable end; but have never been able to attain it. When, therefore, this process appeared I was eager to try its virtue; but, not being in a condition to do so for several days, I built air-castles during that time of beautiful albumen prints and never-failing baths of colorless nitrate of silver. When the time arrived I floated the sheets as directed, and then proceeded to printing: for two days the bath worked beautifully, and I was in ecstasies. At the end of three days, however, the creeping death began to show itself, and at the end of a week the bath was as black as the visage of a real African, and the prints were spoiled. The discoloring of the bath was not remedied in the least—only delayed. Thus my air-castles and beautiful process were demolished at once, and the latter pronounced not half as good as it purported to be?. Who is the lucky man that will tell us of some process to render the albumen bath permanent? F. B. Gage.”]

Gage, F. B. “Photolithographs.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 10:19 (Feb. 1, 1859): 290-291. [“To the Editor of Humphrey’s Journal. I was very much surprised to receive from you several prints of this new style of picture from a negative by my late partner, Mr. RowelI. Judging from these specimens, the process is being very much improved and will, no doubt, claim the attention of our operators. For many purposes they are already supplanting the photograph, and I think are yet destined to rank high, I know nothing of the details of the process—whether it will be generally practicable, or whether it will be confined to a few; but I am very much pleased with the results already produced, and hope to hear and see more…”]

Gage, F. B. “Enlarging Photographs.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 10:19 (Feb. 1, 1859): 292-294.

Gage, F. B. “Improved Negative and Positive Process.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 10:20 (Feb. 15, 1859): 306-307. [“To make Absolute Photographic Alcohol. To 1 gallon of Atwood’s or other alcohol, in a tall open-mouthed bottle, add 3 lbs. of unslaked lime in lumps; shake it occasionally for ten or twelve days, or as long as the lime continues to slack, keeping it well corked. At the end of that time it may be filtered through filtering paper, from the superabundance of lime, into another tall bottle, where it should be allowed to settle until it is free from all appearance of lime, when it is ready for use.
Ambrotype Collodion.
Absolute alcohol (as above)                    4 ounces.
Ether (concentrated)                              1 ounces.
Iodide of cadmium                                 25 grains.
Bromide of cadmium                              17 grains. 
Gun-cotton enough to give a heavy film. It will probably take double the amount generally used. Before using, add film-condensing solution according to directions.* [*If the film-condensing solution is not procurable, one drop of hydrobromic acid may be used in each oz. of collodion to prevent fogging. Or, better still; add one part of glacial acetic acid to 7 parts of absolute alcohol. From 4 to 8 drops of this to each oz. of collodion will keep back the high lights and insure a better-toned negative. If there is any water present in this collodion, it will produce a reticulated film; if free from water; it will flow like oil and produce a beautiful glossy film free from ridges and any imperfections.]
Negative Collodion.
Formula.—Absolute alcohol (as above)                4 ounces.
Ether (concentrated)                                          1 ounce.
Iodide of cadmium                                             20 grams.
Bromide of cadmium                                          10 grams.
Enough cotton to give a heavy film. Film-condensing solution according to directions.
Nitrate Bath, 45 grains to the ounce of water.
Formula.–Sulphate of iron                                  3 ounces.
Water                                                               1 quart
Acetic acid, No. 8                                              6 ounces.
Adaptation of the Developing. The strength of the bath is all the time changing, and the developing that will work well to-day may not work at all to-morrow. If you cannot procure satisfactory delineations, weaken the developer with water until they suit you. I adapt my developing every day or two, and can tell in an instant what change need be made. Make your collodion and bath by the formulae, and then don’t tamper with them, as any desired result may be produced by changing the strength of the developing. Too strong developing destroys the delineations, too weak gives smutty lights. After being in use some weeks there will be an accumulation of alcohol in the bath when this collodion is used, so that the developing will not flow over it and develop the negative evenly. This “crawling” of the developing can only be remedied by evaporating the alcohol from the bath; it can be done by placing the solution in a strong open-mouthed bottle: place the bottle in an iron or earthen vessel containing water, and heat it gradually until the alcohol is evaporated. This operation is attended with some little trouble, but after becoming accustomed to it I find this process has many advantages which repay more than ten times over this one drawback on its practicability. The alcohol can be evaporated after the day’s work, and the bath will be ready to use in the morning after filtering. Alcohol should never be used in developing, as it precipitates the iron out of the solution, and is the cause of many of the holes in the skies so generally complained of.”]

Gage, F. B. “Enlarging Photographs.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 10:21 (Mar. 1, 1859): 323-325. [(Includes a letter from A. A. Thayer (Jefferson, OH) and a letter from D. A. Woodward, inventor of the solar camera.) “To the Editor of Humphrey’s Journal: Since the publication of my process for enlarging photographs I have received sundry letters on that subject, which I can best answer through your pages, as they contain or require information important to many of your subscribers. I quote the following from a letter from D. A. Woodward, inventor of the solar camera: — “The great length of time you require cannot be accounted for, in my mind, unless you are making use of a small camera. If this is the case, it would have been proper for you to have stated it. You must be aware that the time required for a small-sized solar camera to do its work is much greater than that required by a large one, not only on account of the quantity of sunlight passed through the large condensers of the large size being so much greater, but also on account of the operator being able to use negatives much larger, say two-thirds instead of one-fourth. Now the time of printing is diminished just in proportion to the decrease of the magnifying. Consequently, a one-half or two-thirds image will print quicker than a one-fourth. Another cause would be the use of negatives over-developed, or of too dense a structure. I have been astonished sometimes at the result of a negative with no intensity whatever. I use a largo-sized camera and negatives on one-half or four-fourth plates; in the latter case the image must be reduced to about a two third. Or a better rule, is to make the image on the glass plate as large as possible, at the same time not too large for the condensing lent to cover. In taking the negative, to ensure sharpness, I diaphragm the tube and focus with a strong magnifying eye-glass. The time for printing a life-size, say 18 x 22, never exceeds one hour, oftener not over 40 minutes. My paper is prepared as follows: Float it or immerse it in a bath of muriate of ammonia, 10 grs. to the oz., 1 ½ gr. of pure gelatine, ammonio-nitrate brushed carefully on, 100 grs. to the oz. I hope you will excuse me for trespassing on your time; but I fear your letter might deter many from adopting the process merely on account of the apparent time consumed. Where time is an object, it would certainly be economical to use one of the large size.”
I should judge from Mr. Woodward’s letter that he is not aware that the process published by me was given in answer to letters inquiring how certain pictures, now on exhibition in New York, were produced. I confined myself entirely to giving that process, intending to resume the subject again and give other processes by which different results and different time is obtained. I use the small-size camera, and have made albumen prints in one hour; ammonio-nitrate in one hour and a-half with some negatives. The best results are not obtainable, however, with negatives of this class. In the printing-frame a negative should be opaque enough in the shadows, so that, when it is placed over the sheet, nothing, or scarcely anything, while can be seen through the negative. The lights of the negative should possess just enough more opacity to render the highest lights perfectly white when the shadows are sufficiently printed with suitable gradations between the highest lights and deepest shades. The same principles hold good in making a negative for the solar camera, only the whole structure need not be so dense. The deepest shadows should be dense enough to possess delineations, and the highest lights should be just enough more dense to leave the print perfectly white. Any departure from this will produce inferior results; and if the time be shortened, it is at the loss of some good quality which the picture should possess. Mr. Woodward remarks:
“I have been astonished sometimes at the result of a negative with no intensity whatever.” Mr. Woodward scarcely meant to convey the meaning which his words do here convey, because an ambrotype or positive picture possesses more or less intensity, and a negative with no intensity whatever would give no contrast of light and shade in a print. I rather understand him to mean, that some negatives which appear exceedingly transparent will produce much better results than could be expected of them. I have noticed the same thing. This results from the color of the negative in connection with the fineness of the particles of silver which compose it. Such negatives do not apparently possess as much density, but if the contrasts in the prints are produced, it is apparent that they do possess the intensity of others apparently more intense. In regard to the comparative time of printing in the different sizes of instruments I am not prepared to judge, as I have only used the small size. The less the print is magnified, the more rapid the printing, consequently the large size will print quicker than the other—how much quicker I am not able to state. I am inclined to believe that the smaller instruments will produce the best results as far as delicacy is concerned, though I may be in error on this point.
A. A. Thayer, of Jefferson, Ohio, writes:—
“I, being one among the many readers and subscribers of Humphrey’s Journal who look eagerly for articles from the pen of F. B. Gage, and having waited (it seemed) a long while for the promised article on enlarging photographs, to ascertain the kind of instrument used, I now take the liberty to address you, though a stranger, asking your opinion of the megascopic camera, if it will do all it is said to do. The solar camera costs so much that, if the megascopic camera will do the work as well, I will buy that.” In reply to Mr. Thayer I can only tell him how I managed to procure my solar camera. It is an old motto that “A singed cat dreads the fire,” and having been singed in small matters in former years, I have learned to trust nobody’s eyes but my own in matters of this description. When the solar camera was first advertised I placed the price of a camera in the hands of the Express Co. in this place, receiving their receipt for the same. This receipt I forwarded to the agent who advertised the camera, telling him that he might send on an instrument, and if it proved what it purported to be, I would keep it and the Express Co. would send him the money. If it was not what it purported to be, the Express Co. would return his instrument and deliver the money to me. The instrument was sent and proved satisfactory, and continues so to this day. Let Mr. Thayer procure both instruments by this means, and try them side by side, and he will soon see the difference between a real invention and a pretended one. There are several megascopic cameras about here, but I have neither seen or heard of an ammonio-nitrate print being made with them.”]

Gage, F. B. “Apparatus for freezing Alcohol from Water.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 10:24 (Apr. 15, 1859): 371-372.

Gage, F. B. “Iodizing and Bromizing Solution.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 11:1 (May 1, 1859): 4-5.

Gage, F. B. “Improved Toning Bath for the Ammonio-Nitrate Process.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 11:4 (June 15, 1859): 49-50.

Gage, F. B. “Apparatus for Distilling Water.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 11:4 (June15, 1859): 53-54. [“To the Editor of Humphrey’s Journal: Some time ago a correspondent in your Journal gave a description of an apparatus for distilling water. Having improved the construction so as to render it more efficient, I give a description of it here that all may cheaply avail themselves of this necessary article in the photographic laboratory. A tin band is made to fit tightly to the top of a tea-kettle, or any other convenient kettle for the purpose. To the top of this band is soldered a disk or base 15 inches in diameter, with a hole 1½ inch in diameter in the middle, for the steam to rise up through. The upper side of this base or disk is made slightly convex, so that the liquid may run towards the outer edge. A rim, 1 inch high, is soldered to the outer edge of the base, and a tin cone, 18 inches high, is fitted tightly to the inside of this band or rim. A pipe at the outer edge of the base conveys the condensed water off into an earthen or glass vessel. The steam, rising through the hole in the center of the base, condenses on the under surface of the cone, runs down until it reaches the base, and is then conducted off through the pipe. The cone would soon become too warm to condense all the steam. To remedy this, a rim of tin, 8 inches or more high, is soldered to the lower edge of the cone, thus forming a vessel outside the cone, which is filled with cold water. The cone, being surrounded by this body of cold water, will condense for several hours. When the water outside the cone becomes too hot, it is draws off through the faucet…”]

Gage, F. B. “Photography on Wheels.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 11:7 (Aug. 1, 1859): 97-99. [(F. B. Gage made stereo views which, presumably, E. & T. H. Anthony distributed.) “No. 1.” “Ours is a progressive art. Photography, like all kindred arts, must pass through its infancy before it can arrive at a riper age. The first stage of its existence is already past. What at first seemed only designed for amusement, has grown into utilitarian proportions. The demand for its aid in many branches of business has led to the adoption of various improvements for carrying it on, and one of these will be here described under the guise of Photography on Wheels. The first stage of photography was essentially a stage of photography on foot—a slow and uncertain method of progression. Photography on foot, with dry plates and dry results, was the peculiarity of the first stage. But photography on foot was often disappointed at the end of its journey to find that the exposed plates had not been properly exposed, or that they would not develop at all, or, if properly exposed, streaks and stains were found to be the only recompense of many a hard day’s labor. Then again, after the plate had been properly exposed and developed into a good negative, photography on foot often saw it slip entirely from the plate in the operation of fixing, thus at the last moment eluding the baffled amateur, and blasting in an instant his fondest anticipations.
Then there was photography on foot with wet plates and its tent and other consequent inconveniences. Photography in this guise was laborious photography, with immense satisfaction and but little pay. Then there is photography with its dark camera-box and calico sleeves, through which the harnessed operator can manipulate about as comfortably and conveniently as a diver could swim in a shirt of mail. But these things have had their beginning, and, although it is hoped their end is far distant, yet their novelty is past, and they must yield the palm to their new competitor, photography on wheels.
Having been applied to, by a firm in New York, to furnish them with a set of stereoscope negatives, and having formed a contract to that end, I conceived the idea of placing photography on wheels, for its more rapid and convenient transportation from place to place. For this purpose I applied to a carriage-maker and gave him a plan of a chemical room on wheels. This plan was pronounced available, and the construction of the carriage was immediately commenced; in a short time it stood at my door complete and ready to receive its supplies. The following is a description of this carriage complete:
The running part is nothing more than what is usually found is a common one-horse buggy, made light but strong. On this running part rests the body supported by steel elliptic springs. The body part is 5½ feet long inside, 2 feet 10 inches wide inside, boarded tightly all around to the height of 16 inches. At the height of 16 inches from the floor the body it made to project 7 inches on each side. From the outer edge of this projection is raised a light elastic framework of wood which is coveted with black enameled cloth. The height inside, from the floor to the roof, is 6 feet 4 inches. A door at the rear end affords ingress and egress. An adjustable stairs is attached by hooks, so that it can be removed and placed inside at a moment’s notice. At the forward end is the seat of the driver, which, like Goldsmith’s drawers, is so contrived ” a double debt to pay,” that when we are about to take a view it suddenly expands: and is as suddenly transformed from a seat outside into a sink and shelf inside, making a convenient table for our bottles and to work on.
A row of cases, inside at the bottom of the carriage, is contrived to hold a share of the necessary bottles; and all those which we are using daily are suspended in leather sockets at the side of the carriage, all duly labeled so that any one can be found in a moment, used, and returned to its proper place. 29X11 yellow glass windows supply the inside with light. These windows are so buttoned in that they can be removed in a moment and a free ventilation effected.
Thus we have a room, when closed up for travelling, which measures only 4 feet 2 inches long by 4 feet wide, but when operating it expands to 6 feet 4 inches long by 4 feet wide, and 6 feet 4 inches high. The sink is 16 inches wide by 2 feet in inches long, with table of the same dimensions.
This forms a laboratory of sufficient size to enable us to work with certainty and despatch, and we find it very convenient. The inside is painted yellow, so that if any light should happen to get through the enameled cloth it is colored and loses actinic force before it reaches the sensitive plate. Thus armed and equipped with the necessary chemicals and apparatus, we attach the faithful horse, mount the box, and drive where our views are to be made. The horse is taken from the carriage, a pail of water is procured, the camera taken out, and in a few minutes the plate is sensitized and the view taken and developed. If the negative is not just what is wanted it is known at once, and another taken to supply its place.
If the sun shines very hot we usually contrive to get in the shade of some tree or building, which we can generally do. But if the day be cool, the sun shining on the black surface of the carriage helps to keep up a good temperature inside. When the view is secured, the horse is attached, and we are off for another point of interest. If perchance the view lies beyond the reach of our carriage, we take out the tent which we carry inside and descend from photography on wheels to photography on foot. We drive as near the spot as we can, and then proceed to our task with the tent. Or, if we choose, we can immediately prepare a dry plate, take only our camera, and climb the crags or wade the swamps as we like.
In our excursions we carry a stereoscopic camera, of C. C. Harrison’s make, for instantaneous views; also an orthoscopic lens, same maker, for plates 15 x by 15 inches. We have three baths, one for instantaneous views—the composition of the solution being unknown to us as it was furnished by the firm for whom we travel: these baths all have water-tight covers. The solution in the large bath is made with 30 grains of silver to the ounce, neutralized with caustic potash, and then rendered sufficiently acid, with chemically pure nitric acid, to ensure results free from fogginess. The third bath is made in the same manner and with the same proportions, and is kept in the best possible condition for stereoscopic views. We have different collodions always present. One sample is made as follows:
Ether                                        10 ounces.
Alcohol, 95 per cent                   12 ounces.
Iodide of potassium                      5 and a-half grs. to each oz
Gun cotton                                  6 and a-half grs. to each oz
Another sample is made in the same manner, only that 2 oz. of absolute alcohol are used to each oz. of ether. Another sample is made like the last, with the addition of one grain of bromide of ammonium to each oz. For developing agents we carry both the iron and pyrogallic acid, and use each as occasion seems to require. Before starting on a trip our glass is thoroughly cleaned and packed away in grooved boxes, ready to be drawn out and coated at any time; nevertheless we carry the cleaning materials with us, as we may exhaust our stock before we return. The glass is first immersed in nitric acid, 1 part to 10 of water, and wiped dry with a clean towel, after which it is polished with burning fluid and Canton flannel. The commercial fluids are frequently contaminated with gummy matter; therefore it is better to make it, which is easily done:
Rectified spirits of turpentine      1 ounce.
Atwood’s alcohol                        4 ounces.
Half an ounce of ether may be added if preferred, but it is not important. I have the assurance of many experienced artists who have used it, that this method is the best ever devised for removing all impurities from the surface which are not inherent in the glass. We are about starting on a trip, and the readers of this Journal may hear from Photography on Wheels in a future number.”]
[HJ (Nov. 15, 1859): 209-210.] [(*Note.—Mr. Gage writes us that he was unable to send the above account sooner, in consequence of a severe illness caused by being thrown from his carriage by the viciousness of his horse.”)
“No. 2.” “Tip-Top House, Mount Washington, Sept., 1859. To the Editor of Humphrey’s Journal: Having made several trips in my photographic carriage, and found it very convenient and satisfactory, I propose to give you an account of the .present excursion to this elevated and stormy region. We left St. Johnsbury on the 10th of August. A ride of thirty miles brought us to the famous Franconia Notch of the mountains. This is a narrow pass, through which we ride for eight or ten miles, with rugged cliffs rising on each side to the height of three or four thousand feet from the road. At the entrance to this pass is the Profile House, now filled with its hundreds of fashionable boarders. It derives its name from a profile on one of the cliffs about a quarter of a mile from the House. This cliff rises to the height of more than two thousand from the road, and almost at its summit are several sharp projections of rock that form a fine profile. As we stand on the road and focus our stereoscopic camera on this profile, the image on the ground glass appears about one-eighth of an inch long; the profile is, however, eighty feet long from the top of the forehead to the chin. From this some idea can be formed of the rock.
On two previous occasions we made an attempt to take a good negative of this profile, our chemicals being each time in fine working order; strange to say, however, we made an entire failure, the impressions being unaccountably foggy. After a great deal of conjecture as to the cause, we at last concluded that it could only be produced by the water of the lake which we used to reduce the strength of our developing. The water appeared to be very clear and pure, and we had no thought of its being the cause of the fogging until it was found to smell putrid of fish, and, night being near, the attempt had to be abandoned.
On the present occasion, however, we expected to succeed to our liking. We arrived on the ground in the morning, but the smoky atmosphere obliged us to give up at once all hope of getting a good negative on that day. We, therefore, continued our journey down to the Flume House. From here we drove half a mile into the woods, taking our tent and other necessary apparatus; after a walk of another half mile we were in the celebrated “Flume.” This is a narrow and deep passage, formed by a small stream in the rocks, varying from ten to thirty feet in width and from thirty to one hundred and fifty feet in depth. These perpendicular walls of wild broken rock, dripping with water, are overhung with trees, so that in the deepest part it is at least two hundred feet from the bottom of the rocks to the tops of the trees. The weather being cloudy, we found it impossible to get light enough to work; to after stowing our traps under a shelving rock, we adjourned to the Flume House to wait a change of weather.
A two-days’ storm came on, not wild and dreary, but warm and drizzling, which kept us from our photographic labors. On the rooming of the third day we were favored with a bright sun and clear sky, and at once repaired to the spot to take the “flume;” as it is half a mile long, we could only take detached views, and our first trial was of the “hanging rock.” This is a large granite boulder weighing several tons, which had rolled from the top and lodged about half way down, the cliffs being too narrow to admit of its falling further. Here it hangs, about forty feet above our heads as we walk up the flume, and as we pass directly under it we instinctively quicken our steps, dreading lest the enormous mass should come thundering down and crush us beneath it.
In a short time our tent was raised, and we prepared and exposed a plate with the full aperture; we exposed it three minutes, and on development it proved much under-exposed. Another trial of six minutes proved it to be the right exposure and developed a fine negative. This exposure of six minutes was 120 times longer than we would have exposed in the open country, from which you can imagine the depth and gloom of the place. Securing three other negatives of the flume and cascade above it, we returned to the Profile House. The next morning we rode to Echo Lake, half a mile distant, a sheet of water about half a mile in diameter, famous for its wonderful echo. Here in the deep woods, at its edge, we found an Indian and his squaw who had migrated from Oregon. We took a negative of them in their Indian costume, as they stood before their wigwam. There being nothing more of interest to take, we went up to the summit of Mount Cannon, a trifling climb of 3,500 feel from the Profile House. We were above vegetation when we arrived at the top, the wind sweeping over the desolate rocks. Mount Lafayette seemed not more than a mile oft, but in reality its summit was nearly three miles distant, it being 1,200 foot higher than Mount Cannon. This mountain is named from two massive rocks, so thrown together as to resemble a mounted cannon when seen from the road at its feet. The resemblance is perfect enough to terrify a hostile army who might attempt to pass through the notch below, unless previously aware of its true character. We descended the mountain, remained over night in the Profile House, and in the morning started for the Crawford or White Mountain Notch. A three days’ rain convinced us that between the wind and the weather there is not much comfort or profit for photographers in this changeable region.
The wind was very high on the fourth day, but nevertheless we took our tent out and climbed the ravine west of the house for half a mile, where we found four successive cascades of the wildest and most picturesque nature imaginable. They have only been discovered within this year, and the deep gloom which the overhanging forest throws down upon them adds to the cool pleasantness of the place. Here in this deep forest of trees hundreds of years old there was not a breath of wind to stir the branches, although we could hear it roar on the mountain above and through the open country below. We erected the tent, and succeeded during the day in making negatives of four of these cascades, the best day’s work of the season. The exposure in the stereoscopic camera, with half-inch aperture, would average one and a-half minute, which was thirty or forty times longer than it would require to take the interior of many buildings. The negatives proved to possess the most gratifying qualities, and are considered by ourselves the best things we have yet done. That night we slept at the Crawford House to dream of our proposed ascension to Mount Washington. F. B. Gage. (To be continued.)”]
[HJ (Dec. 15, 1859): 241-243.] [“No. 2.—Concluded.” “Tip-Top House, Mount Washington, Sept, 1959.” “To the Editor of Humphrey’s Journal. We were up early and proceeded to pack our chemicals, camera, and fixtures in two compact bundles, to be taken along with us. At nine o’clock we were mounted on Canadian ponies, each having a bundle weighing about twenty-five pounds before us in the saddle, where we held it during the journey up the mountain. Then, with a company of thirty-four others, we struck off into the bridle path. Nine miles of such horseback riding as that was no very pleasurable job while encumbered with glass ware, as we were. Up, up, through woods and clouds, winding around and climbing the rocks, on the verge of chasms and ravines, we held our way for four hours, until we arrived at the summit.
The day was beautifully warm, the mountain was enveloped in clouds as we ascended, and occasionally we got glimpses of the glorious valleys below, as the clouds for a few moments opened and closed again. There was no vegetation for the last four miles; the only thing to be seen was the granite rock in fragments of all sizes, from the pebble stone up to those weighing thousands of tons!
How is it possible for horses to climb over these rocks, hurled together in the wildest disorder, is more than I can comprehend; yet they do it, and seldom injure themselves or their riders.
Arrived at the Tip-Top House, we proceeded to occupy apartments previously engaged there. After dinner we took out the camera to take a view of the rude stone-house and its granite surroundings. A plate was sensitized and exposed with an unsatisfactory result; another, and then another followed with the same result. We were thunderstruck and completely puzzled, that our bath and collodion — the same which worked so splendidly only the day before – should now refuse to produce even an indifferent negative. But even the skies would not develop, by any device, and there was a want of intensity that betokened trouble ahead.
Mr. Anderson, an amateur, from Pennsylvania, who travels with and assists me for his own amusement, began to get discouraged at the prospect and thought there was not much use in attempting anything further. Although ignorant of the cause, I differed with him in opinion. I knew that nothing had got into the bath to do the mischief. What, then, was the cause? I went out on the edge of the mountain, seated myself on the edge of a massive rock, and began to cogitate, as it is better to study out the trouble before tampering with anything.
I was not long in arriving at a conclusion, after which I returned to the house, coated two stereoscopic plates, and introduced them into the bath, where I let them remain for two hours.  On withdrawing them from the bath, at the end of that time, they had a honey-comb appearance, the iodide being entirely eaten away in spots. Other plates were immediately coated to replace those taken out, so that the bath might become saturated with iodide of silver. On the next morning our bath was again in working order, but a terrific storm had set in, so that we could not use it. During the latter part of the night we had been enveloped in a thunder-cloud, the lightning playing beneath us and the thunder rumbling at our feet. The cloud continued to envelop us all day, the atmosphere hourly growing colder.
The next morning the moisture in the cloud had congealed on the rocks of the summit until they were white with ice. The instrument—furnished and kept for the Smithsonian Institute—gave the velocity of the wind at 40 miles per hour. Any one but an experienced mountaineer would be instantly prostrated by such a gale as this, so we wisely did not venture out. Thus for three days the storm raged unabated. On the evening of the third day, just at sunset, the cloud disappeared, and our eyes beheld the great panorama of mountain, lake, and river. The ice on the summit, in many places, was fully eighteen inches thick, glaring white and desolate-looking in the sun, while the valleys below were smiling in their summer greenness. The next morning the sun rose clear, and the air was calm and still. Ninety miles away we saw the ocean with the naked eye. Myriads of vessels could be seen with the glass dotting its surface. Mountains upon mountains extended upon the other hand, villages, lakes, and rivers, the whole range of the Green Mountains, making a circumference of more than six hundred miles. There was just enough cloud and just enough sunlight to make it one of the most glorious visions that eyes ever beheld. Our host of the Tip-Top House assured us that it was the finest view of the season, and we felt well repaid for our imprisonment. We were early at work, but found it too icy to take views with comfort until nearly noon, when the party of travellers from the Glen House had arrived. We secured a capital negative of that party around the Tip-Top House. The party from the Crawford House arriving soon after, we secured two other negatives equally good. The ice had melted just enough to produce a fine effect in the pictures, and we thought it a fortunate addition. The bath and chemicals worked as finely as we could wish for. We discovered that the trouble with the bath was a lack of iodizing—a trouble that causes more poor results than a majority of artists would dream of.
A bath should never be fully saturated with iodide of silver if a collodion containing only iodide is used. The skies will surely be full of holes. If, on the contrary, bromides are used in connection with iodide, the bath should be kept thoroughly saturated. In making negatives or positives, coat a plate, put it in the bath, and let it remain over night after each day’s work, that the iodide consumed during the day may be replaced for the next day’s work.
Having secured all the negatives that we could, we packed up our apparatus and descended the mountain. When we reached the Crawford House—where we now are—we found ourselves very tired. We shall take our carriage and ride to the White Mountain House, five miles off, where we will remain over night.
We append the bill of our expenses for the benefit of all who may be inclined to try photographing in this expensive region:
Two ponies to ascend the Mountain.                                                        $6.
Ditto    to return.                                                                                                $6.
Board at the Tip-Top House for two, at $4 each per day, five days.            $40.
Envelopes, guides’ fees, etc.                                                                    $3.
Total.                                                                                                    $55.
Only fifty-five dollars for five days at Mount Washington; but, as this is the regular charge, we are not disposed to complain.
From the White Mountain House we return home tomorrow to St. Johnsbury. F. B. Gage.”]

Gage, F. B. “Temperature of Toning Bath.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 11:10 (Sept. 15, 1859): 146-147. [“In toning all kinds of prints the temperature of the toning-bath should be carefully attended to. It should always be as high as 60 degrees, and will generally work quicker and better as high as 150 degrees. This fact will be sure to manifest itself to all who make a trial of it, and is of great importance to those who desire uniform results. With a cold bath it will be found very difficult to obtain good blacks, when the bath is below 60°, in a reasonable time, and if the print lies for a long time in the bath, in a nearly inactive stale, the print will be sure to suffer in its keeping qualities….”]

Gage, F. B. “Ammonio-Nitrate Toning Baths.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 11:11 (Oct. 1, 1859): 163-164. [“To the Editor of Humphrey’s Journal: The toning bath for ammonio-nitrate prints, given by me at page 49, current volume, of this Journal, being constructed to act in a different manner from those in general use, I have thought fit to make some further remarks on its peculiarities. Let it be promised, therefore, in the beginning, that there is no toning bath free from objectionable points, and none but what there will be some objectionable results produced in sometimes. The process during the winter gave, in my hands, very fine results; but on the approach of warm weather there seemed, in several instances, a tendency to yellowness in the high lights. They did not seem to be evenly distributed all over the print, but were in the form of large yellow stains. The beauty of the pictures produced by the bath led me to continue its use and to seek a remedy for the yellow stains. It was readily found, but not without impairing, to a certain extent, the beauty of the prints. The remedy is, to add a few grains of hyposulphite of soda to the gold, just enough to dissolve the precipitate that forms in the bath. Thus, if the fixing be going on in the slightest degree, the precipitate will not form and the yellow stains will not appear….” “… Sometimes with such negatives it is necessary to double and even treble the quantity of salt required for negatives of equal density made with collodion containing bromine. Very frequently different lots of paper from the same maker, of apparently the same quality, will require different treatment. The only true way to arrive at the quantity of salt best suited to any lot of paper, is to try different quantities until the first point is reached. Actual experiment is the only true test. F. B. Gage.”]

Gage, F. B. “New Toning Agent.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 11:15 (Dec. 1, 1859): 228-229.

Coale, Geo. B. “Le Gray’s Toning Process – A New Formula.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 11:16 (Dec. 15, 1859): 243. [“To the Editor of Humphrey’s Journal: This is, perhaps, the “New Toning Agent” sought by Mr. Gage in his communication in the last No. of Humphrey’s Journal. It is extremely simple and beautiful in its results. I give it as received from my friend C. G. of Philadelphia: (C. G. would be the amateur Constance Guillou.)
 — Put about half a drachm of chloride of lime in a pint bottle and fill it up with water; shake it well and filter about 8 or 10 ounces of the solution; add to this from 2 to 5 grains of chloride of gold. Exactness in quantity is not material. Print very deeply; more so than for the ordinary gold toning bath. As the prints come from the negative throw them into a vessel of clean water, of course protected from the light, and allow them to remain until all free nitrate of silver is dissolved from the paper. This is the one important point in the management of this process. The removal of the nitrate of silver may perhaps be more surely effected by laying the prints, face downwards, in water in which you have thrown a handful of salt—and the silver saved thereby. When properly washed, immerse the prints, one at a time, in the toning bath. The dingy red of an albumen print changes, in from 5 to 10 seconds, to a delicious dark purple. Prints on plain paper, with ammonio-nitrate, change in 1 or 2 seconds to a rich velvety black. Fix in a fresh solution of hypo, strong enough to do its work in 5 minutes, say 4 oz. in 10 oz. of water. Not only is the tone of prints made by this process a very beautiful one, but they have none of the flatness which is so often caused by the prolonged immersion in old hypo. The process was given to me for albumen paper only, but I find it answers equally well with plain paper. The bath still retains its quality at the end of a week. There is every reason to believe that a more permanent picture results from it than from the ordinary toning bath. Geo. B. Coale. Baltimore, Dec. 8, 1859.”]

Gage, F. B. “The New Toning Process.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 11:16 (Dec. 15, 1859): 243-244. [“St. Johnsbury, Vt, Dec. 10, 1859. To the Editor of Humphrey’s Journal: Enclosed pleased find two prints toned by the new process. I think they are very fine. They are said to be toned instantaneously. How do you like them? F. B. Gage.
We like them very much indeed; they equal anything we ever saw. There is a richness of tone about them that is hard to beat. These specimens are on albumenised paper, which accounts in a measure for their exquisite fineness and delicacy. Our friend Gage will notice that in this No. of the Journal we publish a communication, from that sterling friend of the art, George B. Coale, Esq., of Baltimore, containing “Le Gray’s New Toning Process,” which Mr. Coale presumes to be the same as that alluded to by Mr. Gage in our last No. Is this so? We think not. In No. 9, Vol. XI., of Humphrey’s Journal we published, under the head of “Photography in Paris,” Le Gray’s new process for toning and fixing positives, which is altogether different from the formula sent to us by Mr. Coale and published in this No. Since the publication of Le Gray’s process, above-referred to, he has probably made new discoveries, which our friend Guillou, of Philadelphia, has got hold of and communicates to Mr. Coale. Mr. Gage says distinctly, in his last article, that he is almost daily in receipt of prints from two able photographers who claim to have discovered a new process. We think it cannot be the same as Le Gray’s.”]

Gage, F. B. “The New Toning Agent.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 11:17 (Jan. 1, 1860): 259-260.

Gage, F. B. “More about the New Toning Agent.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 11:18 (Jan. 15, 1860): 275-276.

Gage, F. B. “Old Processes Analyzed, Criticized, and Systemized. The Positive Collodion Process. – No. 1.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 11:19 – 21 (Feb. 1 – Mar. 1, 1860): 289-290, 307-309, 321-323.

Gage, F. B. “Cleaning Glass with Burning Fluid.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 12:1 (May 1, 1860): 3. [“To the Editor of Humphrey’s Journal: During one of my photographic trips last summer I fell in with an amateur photographer, who told me that he had tried my plan of cleaning glass, as recommended in your Journal some months since, and failed. Since then I have met with others who have failed to make it work uniformly well, and therefore I would add a few words for the benefit of all who have tried it. If they have all failed it is not from any defect in the process, but from not rightly using it, and from not comprehending the theory of its action.
In the first place let it be premised that it is not possible to rightly clean a glass in a cold damp atmosphere, as the moisture condenses on the surface faster than it can be removed. When, therefore, I wish to clean a glass I first immerse it in dilute nitric acid, then wash it in clean water, and dry it off by wiping on a clean linen towel; or it may be hung up on nails and allowed to drain and dry, if the operator chooses. It is then warmed over a stove or spirit lamp until it is considerably warmer than the temperature of the room. If it be a glass of the stereoscope size, 3½ by 6 it is placed in a clean vice, and one drop of burning fluid is dropped on the middle. This one drop is instantly and smartly polished off with, a small ball of cotton, or, what is still better, clean tissue paper. It requires but a few moments’ rubbing to collect all the organic matter on the surface, after which it is of no avail to rub longer. One half-minute will clean a glass in this way, and do it thoroughly.
The points of importance are, that the glass be warmed (if the room be not well warmed) not so as to be what is called hot, but a few degrees above ordinary summer temperature. It is necessary also that there be not an excess of fluid used, not more than one or two drops for a stereoscope glass, or more than two or three for a four-fourth size. I have practiced this process through the summer; and wish for nothing better. In a private letter, received from Mr. George B. Coale some time since, he says: “since the publication of your method I find that it is not such a horrid bore to clean glass as it used to be.” From this I infer that he has found its operation satisfactory, which all will do if they will use it rightly. F. B. Gage.”]

Gage, F. B. “Vegetable and Mineral Photography.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 12:2 (May 15, 1860): 23-24.

“More from the Opposition.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 12:6 (July 15, 1860): 81-82. [“We publish in this number what purports to be a reply to Mr. Fitzgibbon, but which is, in reality, a full endorsement of the position taken by that gentleman. Mr. Gage, as is generally known, belongs to the class of A 1 operators, and is down on cheap map-takers. He is decidedly bitter and pungent in his irony, and we trust feels relieved by the discharge. We are sorry that the cheap picture mania has reached to the utmost recesses of the Green Mountains, and hope, with our friend “Mr. Assistance,” that Mr. Gage will endeavor to elevate the art he so truly adorns.”]

Gage, F. B. “The Patent Case. – Reply to Mr. Fitzgibbon.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 12:6 (July 15, 1860): 84-85. [“To the Editor of Humphrey’s Journal: I noticed an article in a late number of your Journal, from the pen of Mr. Fitzgibbon, on the subject of the Cutting Patents, which seems to be very much at variance with the Fund movement in your city. Now, although I have an abundance of respect for Mr. Fitzgibbon, I cannot endorse his article on account of its not being sufficiently philanthropic. In fact, Mr. Editor, there is a great want of philanthropy in the photographic ranks. There is an exclusiveness among the first operators which, to the undiscriminating, seems very remarkable. As you remark in the Journal of June 15: “The better class of operators, such as Brady, Gurney, Fredricks, etc., think they know as much about taking pictures as anybody, in this country at least, can teach them. They also are men who are doing a lucrative business, and who have no time or inclination to devote to going to school. They are posted; they have learned the ropes, and are not going to impart their information to greenhorns either for money or love of their profession.” It is noticeable that almost every good operator has his mouth eternally sealed as far as the art is concerned, and he has also conceived the idea that he never learned to use the pen. Now, you see, if there was a proper degree of public spirit and interest in the welfare of the art, these first-class operators would put all their dodges in the Journal and reveal them to the Photographical Society; they would also generously go across the street and detail the particulars to the rival artist, who is taking pictures superior to any in town at one-fourth the charge in other galleries. It has not cost these first-class operators anything to obtain this ascendency. No! they were born lucky. No toil, no money, no hard study. Nature showered success upon them in such abundance that they have only to float; never to wade. But, on account of this great want of philanthropy, they are not disposed to help the less favored.
Now, if these operators of the first class would only consent to reveal to the second class, then the latter would be very grateful, and forthwith sink the price of pictures from five cents, down to two and a-half cents; and, if they thought this was not compensation enough, they would make up the balance in slandering and lying about class 1.
I would like to know what right this Mr. Fitzgibbon has to wish to obtain an honest, honorable livelihood? Does he not know that he might do a vast amount of good by divulging his knowledge of the art and assisting the five cent class, who never take a journal, and never will, provided they have to pay for it? Even if Mr. Fitzgibbon has children to feed and clothe, he should show his philanthropy though he lets them starve. More than ten cents, for a photograph as large as a barn door is rank extortion. No matter whether they are good or bad, all pictures should be the same price per square yard! I have no doubt that Mr. Fitzgibbon could give any honorable competitors fits, or, at least, he could Fitz-gib-um. But then he should be philanthropic; he should look to the good of the art!
There is another set of extortioners; these are the stock dealers. Some of them are actually making enough to pay their way, which should be looked to at once. They should be made to work for something less than their board. The old Bible standard, “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” is changed to “Love thy neighbor and hate thyself.” This is designed to apply only to the best class of operators and journalists. Now, why not publish the Journal for one dollar a-year? This would enable the five-cent class to make pictures about half a cent cheaper per square yard, as one dollar a year would be saved from their actual expenses, provided they were to take the Journal.
I can cite an individual case of this exclusiveness. There is a Mr. Gage, living somewhere up in Vermont, who has written more or less for this Journal. There is also another operator, born very near where this Mr. Gage originated, who is at present taking pictures in the same State. Although friends in boyhood and at the present time separated by more than a hundred miles, and having no interests that clash, this artist has grown very unfriendly to Mr. Gage. He acknowledges that Mr. Gage is a good operator, but says that he “publishes all he knows, and more too.”
The probable reason of his unfriendliness is, that his own reputation has not extended beyond his native State, while Mr. Gage’s having become somewhat more extended, he evidently feels envious; he looks upon every one more successful than himself as his enemy, and treats him accordingly. Mr. Gage, however, could inform this same operator that, although he has published some things, he has not yet published all he knows, neither has he published the best he knows. There is one process that Mr. Gage possesses, which he has worked out within the last three months, the secret of which neither this operator, nor any other cheap operator, could purchase for five hundred dollars, unless they would give satisfactory bonds not to degrade the price of pictures made by this process.
Here you find, Mr. Editor, a case of want of philanthropy and the good of the art. Mr. Gage, however, says that he “would be pleased to publish the process in full in your Journal, but as long as the assassin stands at his door he chooses not to lend him his choicest weapons.
“If there was only an honorable competition at uniform prices, every operator of credit in the land would be willing to publish his best process in the Journal at once. If that were the case, you would see the art progress. Until then you will see it developing only under the exclusive order. The man who sincerely thinks the art is going to advance in the least under the cheap operators is more than a fool.”
Well, Mr. Editor, you see by the above what Gage thinks about the matter, and, as he unblushingly asserts that he has none of the philanthropic spirit, and does not publish the best he knows, I advise you not to print any more of his productions. I also advise all cheap operators, and several in particular, not to steal certain copies of Humphrey’s Journal and read its articles in secret, being too stingy and miserably mean to pay for them.
If Mr. Fitzgibbon should happen to see this communication, I hope he will feel pretty nearly used up. Let him study the new translation of scripture: “Love thy neighbor; hate thyself.” Truly yours, F. B. Gage.
P. S.—The Editor of H. J. may have a chance ere long to see some of the pictures taken by the process mentioned above.”]

“The Fredricks’ Fund. Reply to Mr. Gage. – Mr. Fitzgibbon looked after.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTSAND SCIENCES 12:8 (Aug. 15, 1860): 113-114.

Gage, F. B. “The Cutting Patents. – Another Item from Mr. Gage.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 12:8 (Aug. 15, 1860): 115-116. [“To the Editor of Humphrey’s Journal: In your issue of July 15, in your editorial article, you comment, on page 90, as follows:-—”Mr. Fitzgibbon and Mr. Gage are both entirely wrong. Their course is utterly indefensible and can never be carried out. … Mr. Gage and Mr. Fitzgibbon must take pictures that, by their superior expedience shall command their prices, and not endeavor to put up prices by supporting unjust patents.”
Your language places Mr. Fitzgibbon and myself in an entirely wrong light, which I propose to correct, after which I shall probably leave the subject and also the “map-makers.” I do not admit that the patent is unjust, or that I am supporting an unjust patent. All patents are supposed to be just until proved otherwise. Cutting’s patent has not been proved so. Assertion is not admissible in a court of justice, and the photographic fraternity have, as a body, never have had any better proof than assertion. When the Supreme Court of the United States declares it to be unjust, it will then be soon enough for them to talk of unjust patents. Even then the patent may be just, and the decision unjust. Many innocent persons have been proved guilty and hung. Cutting’s patent may suffer the same kind of martyrdom. Because Mr. Fitzgibbon and myself are not willing to give a liberal sum to pay for trumping up proof to overthrow what we consider a just patent, we are accused of supporting on unjust one. The plea, that the discovery of the use of bromine in combination with collodion was made in Europe, is certainly a dubious one. Even at this time the great body of European photographers are almost entirely ignorant of the benefit resulting from using bromine in collodion, so much so, that F. Hardwich and T. Sutton, two of the most accomplished photographers in Europe, neither use or recommend it. Almost all the European views that come to this country bear positive proof that no bromine is used in making them. If some European photographer did publish the suggestion, that perhaps bromine might be used in collodion, it did not result in anything until it was factually made available and patented by Mr. Cutting. The instant it was patented there were hundreds ready to suck the blood of the patent, and declare that it had been done before. As no such results were shown before as were shown when the patent was issued, it is evident that Mr. Cutting made the thing generally available and generally valuable, and he deserved the patent for this, if for no other reason.
On account of these facts I infer that the patent is just, and that all just men would sooner pay money to sustain that justice than, to overthrow it.
When, therefore, you find me paying money to overthrow this patent, merely to gratify a grasping class of operators, you may reasonably conclude that I am insane.
“It will be a burning shame” if Mr. Fredricks does not get his fingers singed to his regret, after which he can talk of unjust patents with propriety. The very fact, that so little money is subscribed outside of New York proves conclusively that the fund movement is unpopular among the better class of country operators. F. B. Gage.”]

FITZGIBBON, JOHN H. (ca. 1817-1882) (USA)
Fitzgibbon, J. H. “A Reply from Mr. Fitzgibbon to `Assistance.'” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 12:8 (Aug. 15, 1860): 116-117. [“To the Editor of Humphrey’s Journal: ”Assistance” forces me to reply to his communication in your issue of July 15. “For the sake of the cause in which Mr. Fredricks is (not) so deeply engaged,” I had hoped that, after “Assistance” had been advised of the fact, which I wished him distinctly to understand, namely, that I am decidedly opposed to either money or subscriptions flowing into the treasury of the Fredricks’ Fund, he would have rested easy. I do not profess to write any literary, or enter into any scientific controversy on any subject appertaining to our profession; but I can assure him that these labored articles he speaks of come quite natural to me, and I should never tire when I felt I had really the good of the art at Heart. “Assistance” doesn’t know me if he thinks that I would relinquish this controversy in the manner he mentions; no, sir! I will Gib-bum-Fitz as long as I have a hand to wield a pen or a tongue with which to talk.
As there are no points whatever in “Assistance’s” letter requiring an answer, permit me to walk slightly into your affections, Mr. Editor:— In your editorial of July 1st, after giving me a very flattering notice (you know we are all susceptible of flattery), you say: “As to Mr. F., he reasons altogether from wrong premises; he takes the ground that Mr. Cutting has a moral as well as a legal title to the bromide patents, which is the reverse of what is true.” Strong words these, Mr. Editor. In the English language, both Webster and Walker define “the reverse of what is true.” to be a l-i-e. Now, I cannot think you intended to be interpreted that way, although you said it. At all events, let us hear from you on that subject again.
In your editorial of the 15th ult. you say: “Mr. Fitzgibbon and Mr. Gage are both wrong entirely, and their course is utterly indefensible, and their plans can never be carried out.” Now, Sir, I contend that you, as Editor of a Journal devoted to the whole art, ought not to use such definite language when a subject is being discussed. If you cannot remain neutral, why be as neutral as you can; at least do not be so definite as to say we are “entirely wrong and utterly indefensible.” You ought to have added, “in your opinion.”
I will en-Gage with such pens as the one that has just proved itself not a very green-Gage to do that, Mr. Editor, which you seem to think it impossible to do, viz., “to purify and elevate our art,”‘ so that all who  wished might be honorably engaged in following a profession which is now so much abused and ill-used. J. H. Fitzgibbon.”]

“Portrait of Mr. F. B. Gage.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 12:8 (Aug. 15, 1860): 117-118. [“Some great men display a certain peculiarity of dress or personal appearance. A distinguished politician of Iowa is described as wearing a checked shirt, an old slouched hat, seedy cotton pants, an old shoe down at the heel on one foot, and an antiquated boot with a two-inch slit in the instep on the other; no coat or vest: this is his warm weather rig. A well known physician of this city, who makes a certain disease his specialty, is seen going down Broadway any fine day dressed in the style of the English gentleman of a century ago. Breeches made very tight, silk stockings, round-toed shoes with massive silver buckles, a long waistcoat with big flaps, an enormous coat with expansive skirts, a white choker unaccompanied by a collar, a low-crowned and wide-brimmed beaver hat, cocked up on three sides, and a gold-headed cane completes his attire. Of course every one looks after him as he walks along, and inquires: “Who in the world is that chap?” then we have Howe, of sewing machine notoriety, wearing his brown hair in long flowing curls like a young girl of sixteen summers; said hair surmounted with a peculiarly shaped Quaker-like hat having a brim a foot in width. Every one says: “That’s Howe, the famous sewing-machine man!” Then we have Greely, whose comical white coat reaching down to his heels, an old white hat caved in on one side, with his pantaloons ten or twelve inches too short, and one leg of them resting on the top of his boot, is familiar to many. Then there is Walt. Whitman, the eccentric poet, with a black Kossuth hat a foot or so in hight, with the crown rounded off to a semi-globular shape, and his shirt collar turned over on the collar of his coat, his shirt open in front exposing the greater part of his ample chest and an ample grizzled beard; if once seen he is not soon forgotten. We might mention several more similar geniuses, but the above must suffice.
As other arts and sciences have their eccentric-looking characters, so Photography has hers. As we reached our sanctum the other morning, we noticed a stranger sitting and occupied in reading the news. He came forward as we entered, and introduced himself as F. B. Gage, of Vermont; of course we were glad to see him. Mr. Gage has written several articles for Humphrey’s Journal, and has also edited a work on Photography. We had heard much of him, and had some correspondence with him, but had never before seen the gentleman, and must say that we were struck with his appearance. Imagine a man of about thirty-five years of age or thereabouts, dressed in a suit of coarse New England black cloth, with a low-crowned black felt hat, light complexion, blue eyes, a whitey-brown beard like that formerly worn by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, reaching down to his waist, a rather closely trimmed mustache, long hair, hands stained all over with nitrate of silver solution and black as the ace of spades, Heavy cow-hide boots with soles an inch thick, and you have some idea of the personel of Mr. Gage.
In his manner he is quite reserved, talks very little, and that in the genuine dialect of a Vermont Yankee, occupying himself at the same time with combing his flowing beard with his fingers, in the same manner as you have seen a man running his digits through the mane of a horse.
Mr. Gage has taken very good pictures, and we have seen some of them which do credit to his native State. His work on Photography has sold, we believe, very well, and his writings in the Journal have been generally acceptable. We trust he will live long enough to obtain eminence in his profession, and “publish the best he knows.”]

Galloway, T. K. “Ammonio-Nitrate.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 12:9 (Sept. 1, 1860): 131-132. [“To the Editor of Humphrey’s Journal: I am much pleased with your Journal; I think it equal to any published in America or Europe. I am thoroughly hungry for each number to come. I read each article and try most of the processes and experiments proposed. I presume a better corps of correspondents than you have cannot be found under the wings of the spread eagle; but there is more truth than poetry in that article of one of them where he says: “We do not publish the best we know,” or to that effect [see F. B. Gage’s article in the July 15th number of the Journal], their books are no better.
For instance, they all say: ” to prepare ammonio-nitrate, pour off one quarter of the silver solution, and add ammonia, drop by drop, to the three-quarters until a precipitate is formed and redissolved; then return the other quarter, and filter.” But if the first part of these directions is followed, others will have to be more successful than I have been if the remaining one-fourth ever can be added; for I have poured in the ammonia equal in amount to the silver solution without dissolving the sediment, or any prospect of it.
No doubt many of your correspondents have, like myself, found the above a failure, and would be pleased to have the pen of some one, through the medium of your Journal, to help them out of the fog.
If you can tell me how to make a fixing solution that will not bleach out and destroy the beauty which prints have when they leave the toning bath, I will store up a thousand thanks for you.
But send on the Journal anyhow; we cannot do without it. We must know how our brother operators get along, and what they say. Enclosed please find $3, which I believe pays up to the end of the present volume. Yours respectfully, T. K. Galloway.
[Ans.— 1., As to your first trouble, it is with your ammonia, which is good for nothing, that’s sure; if it was, you would have no such difficulty as you speak of. You need not look for success as an operator unless you have first-rate chemicals.
2. You must overprint and overtone a little, and when the prints come from the fixing solution they will have the proper degree of intensity. You can tell by experimenting what degree of overtoning is necessary. The prints will lose some of their beauty in the fixing solution, and fade more or less.—Ed.)”]

Gage, F. B. “Tent for Field Use.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 12:11 (Oct. 1, 1860): 166. [“In volume X., page 65, of Humphrey’s Journal, we published a description of a tent suitable for field use. Recently we have had so many calls for that number by subscribers and others who are in want of such a tent, that we have determined to publish the article, which is over the signature of Mr. F. B. Gage:—
“My tent for field use is made of two thicknesses of black cambric and two of yellow calico, stretched over three hoops, made of white oak, 6 feet in diameter. These hoops are placed two feet apart, and the tent when raised is about five and a haft feet high, with a cone roof of two feet above that. A strong cord is attached to the top of the cone for the purpose of suspending the tent from the limb of a tree or any other convenient object. When we wish to operate inside we lift one edge of the bottom and stoop down so as to go under it, and when done we return in the same way. This plan operates quite well, but I shall build another soon which I can recommend as being far better for that purpose. Make a light frame about three feet wide by four and a half or five feet long, and high enough to stand up in. This should have as light a floor as can be made and be of the required strength to sustain the operator. Cover the whole with the cloth as described for the other tent. This tent should be mounted on two light wheels—‘Horse-cart fashion’—so that the artist can pack in apparatus and materials, and go where and when he chooses. A door in the end will admit the operator, and a yellow oil-cloth window will let in as much light as is needed to operate. When you arrive at a place where you wish to take an impression, it is but an instant’s work to take the wheels off your cart; your house then stands on the ground, and you can proceed with all the coolness of a May morning to take your picture. When done, the wheels are returned and you are in a rolling condition again. In this way you need no assistant and are your own ‘boss and hired hands,’ which is not only the cheapest but most certain plan. Such a tent as this, with good chemicals, will ‘give fits’ to any dry process. I will guarantee your correspondents that they will get ten gems with this arrangement where they would get none from any dry process ever yet originated.”]

Kent, William. “Hints to Authors.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 12:20 (Feb. 15, 1861): 306-307. [(Actually, sort of a review of F. B. Gage’s and Ch. Waldack’s books. The editor’s snide remark is curious, as it was Humphrey’s press that published Gage’s book in 1859. But they may have fallen out over the Cutting patent issue, but, in any case, I’m not certain that Gage published any more articles in Humphrey’s Journal after this.)] “It seems to me that much more value would attach to photographic productions if each author would confine himself exclusively to his own process in the production of pictures, and give the details in full, so that a beginner with ordinary study could readily understand it. The formation of the bath, its working qualities, and its peculiarities, if any, under given circumstances should be accurately described; the developer should be given with the same particularity. If a writer is not a careful, observing, rigid experimenter, he has no right to impose his productions on the public; and if he is such an experimenter, we want to know what process he has found the best in his own practice. We do not care a fig what others think, but we wish to know what he has found by demonstration to be the best within the range of his own experience. If some master-artist would do for Positives what Gage has done for Negatives, he would confer no small favor on the artistic fraternity. Out of more than fifty processes, Gage has selected what he has found by rigid experiment to be the best.* [*Mr. Kent forgets that Mr. Gage, in No. 6 of the present volume of Humphrey’s Journal, declared that he did not publish “the best he knows!— Ed.] We thank him for this, but it does appear, in the publication of his work; that his thoughts were concentrated most unrighteously upon his pocket, or he would have given us a full index, which he could have done, and then have been abundantly well paid for his skill. There can be but one best positive process; and if the many processes claiming this character were subject to the rigid ordeal of experiment, by some]

“Photographic Section of the American Institute, Reported for Humphrey’s Journal.” HUMPHREY’S JOURNAL OF PHOTOGRAPHY, AND THE ALLIED ARTS AND SCIENCES 19:16 (Dec. 15, 1867): 247-248. [Hull showed his own prints and photographs by B. F. Gage (St. Johnsbury, Vt.) Books illustrated by the American Photo-Lithographic Co. were displayed by Mr. Mason. Anthony, Hull, Chapman, Newton, Prof. Tillman discussed issues.]


“Acknowledgment.” THE KANSAS HERALD OF FREEDOM. (WAKARUSA, KAN. TERRITORY) (Nov. 22, 1856): 3. [“Of Receipts for subscriptions to the Herald of Freedom, from Aug. 25th, to Nov. 5th, 1856.” (This is followed by a list of more than fifty subscribers from around the country, the majority from New England, including “…F. B. Gage, St. Johnsbury, Vt.; $2.00.” Kansas was an often violent battleground arena between slavery and anti-slavery advocates before the Civil War.)]


Gage, Franklin B. “Some Adventures with Catamounts.” THE MILAN EXCHANGE. (MILAN, GIBSON COUNTY, TN.) (Sept. 17, 1874): 1. [“It is doubtful if any specimens of the catamount, or panther, once the terror of our forests, now survive in the State of Vermont; but as late as in 1857 two of these animals were killed in different parts of the State. In the autumn of that year a fox-hunter, near the foot of Ascuntney, Mountain, in Weathersfield, Vt., had a valuable hound mysteriously killed. All his efforts were vain to trace the cause of the animal’s death. The mangled remains found showed that the dog had received terribly rough usage, but what sort of antagonist had done the deed, the hunter could not even guess; for it was not supposed that there was any wild animal in the vicinity capable of killing a fox-hound. Some time afterwards, several children on their way to school one day, met a strange animal in the road. It did not seem inclined to turn out for them. On the contrary, it faced them with so ferocious an appearance that they turned and fled. Most fortunately the animal did not pursue them. When they reached home and told what they had seen, their parents could not believe the story. The description given by the children answered to that of a catamount, but as no such creature had been seen in that thickly settled region for nearly forty years, it was decided that the young people must have been frightened by a dog. On the 30th of January, however, a hunter by the name of Venight struck the track of some strange animal, and feeling curious to learn what had made it, followed the footprints to the top of Pine Hill about one mile south of Downer’s Hotel. There he found the tracks led into a den. Night was approaching and he could not stay to investigate. He could hear a low growling in the den, and this convinced him that some dangerous animal was hidden there. Finding materials near at hand, he stopped up the hole as near as he could, and went home. The next morning, in company with several other men who were armed with guns and had shovels also with them, he re paired to the spot again. He found that his prisoner had not escaped. The only way of reaching him in safely seemed to be to dig down to the den from above. After two hours of labor they cleared the earth from the rocks over the cave, and found a small hole through the roof. Then procuring a rail, they thrust it down through this aperture, and immediately a fierce snarl came up from the darkness below. The next moment the end of the rail was spitefully seized, and held so firmly, that the man who stood at the opening could not pull it away. Several other men took hold with him, and drew the rail up by main strength, bringing the animal along with it. As soon as the creature’s head appeared above the rocks, a ball was fired into it. The catamount (for the men were certain now it was a catamount) relinquished his hold, and dropped to the bottom of the cave again. This operation had to be twice repeated before the fierce animal was killed. When he was dragged from the cave he measured, from the tip of the nose to the end of the tail, seven feet and nine inches. He was thirty-two inches high and weighed one hundred and twenty-one and one-half pounds. The skin was stuffed by Prof. Hagan, formerly State Geologist, and is now on exhibition at Downer’s Hotel, Weathersfield, near the foot of Ascutney Mountain. The same year, on the 18th of December, a man by the name of Gomen, living in the town of Johnson, on the Lamoille River, was going through a piece of woods to the house of a distant neighbor. On his way he saw in the snow the tracks of a large animal with which he was not acquainted. He followed the footprints, and, after some time, the creature itself started up from a clump of bushes, and confronted him. It was a full-sized catamount. One glance at his long, lithe body, his fiery eyes and merciless teeth was sufficient to remind Mr. Gomen that discretion is the better part of valor at least to a person unarmed and he incontinently took to his heels. Going home, he soon collected thirteen men with guns and three good dogs, and with this force he returned to the woods. Dividing here, one party went around and stationed themselves where they could head off the catamount should he attempt to escape. The other party with the dogs followed up the track. They had not gone halt a mile before the catamount showed himself on the other side of the woods, where the first party lay in wait for him. One of the hunters fired, and wounded him in the hip. At this, the dogs being close upon him, the animal turned, and with an enormous leap plunged into the undergrowth. The ground was level here, and it is asserted that this single leap of the huge cat measured from twenty-five to thirty feet. After tearing his way through the thickets for ten or eleven rods, hotly pursued by the dogs, he sprang into a tree, and commenced jumping from one tree to another. Finally, reaching a large spruce, he curled himself upon a limb, nearly forty feet from the ground, and faced his enemies. The hunters were close upon him. Several shots were fired, most of them taking effect, and one ball brought him to the ground. The dogs rushed upon him, but wounded as he was. they soon found that they were no match for the fierce animal in a close fight. They would have paid dearly for their rashness had not a rifle-ball put a speedy end to his struggles. This catamount was eight feet and a half-inch long, and two feet seven inches high. His weight was one hundred and two pounds. He was very lean, and when his skin was stripped off, the cause of his leanness was discovered. His head and shoulders were filled with porcupine’s quills. One or more of them had passed entirely through his head, and many others were half way through, showing that at some time he had made rather sorry work of trying to devour this small but formidable kind of prev. Had he been in good flesh he would have weighed much more, and in that case, too, it is likely he would have sold his life much more dearly than he did. Franklin B. Gage, in Youth’s Companion.”]


“Correspondence.” PHILADELPHIA PHOTOGRAPHER 2:17 (May 1865): 80-81. [(Letter from F. B. Gage of St. Johnsbury, VT, including stereos of eighteen landscapes taken five years earlier.) “Allow me to present for criticism in the Philadelphia Photographer, a package of stereograms, the negatives of which were made five years since, at which time the rebellion drove me out of viewmaking into portraiture. It was my endeavor to reproduce these wild nooks among our mountain streams in such a manner as to convince you, while you were looking at them in the stereoscope, that the water in our highlands is really water, — such water as you would not relish falling into, if you were not able to swim….”]

GAGE, FRANKLIN BENJAMIN. (1824-1874) (USA) “Correspondence.” PHILADELPHIA PHOTOCRAPHER 2, no. 19 (July 1865): 111-112. [Long letter with technical discussion about proper lenses for landscape work.]

FITZGIBBON, JOHN H. (ca. 1817-1882) (USA)
[Fitzgibbon, John H.] Justice. “Failures and their Causes.” PHILADELPHIA PHOTOGRAPHER 3:27 (Mar. 1866): 87-88. [“To the Editor Phila. Photographer. A few thoughts have suggested themselves to my mind after reading your Prospectus for 1866. In olden times most of the articles for the journals were written by the practical operators of the day, and were more to the point and easier understood. The various processes and styles of manipulation that the journals are now filled with, I must say, are generally very indefinite and unsatisfactory. Now, Mr. Editor, by your kindness, and through your Journal, the fraternity at large get the benefit of the practical knowledge of the professor or amateur…. …I recollect the first photographs exhibited at the Crystal Palace by Whipple & Black, under the name of the Talbotype; nothing like the difficulty that is experienced at the present day was experienced by those gentlemen then, or by the fraternity for I might say ten years afterwards, for it is only a few years since new formulas have been given in the journals, and fresh inquiries by different artists of the causes of the many failures which they are constantly troubled with. Now, I ask what is the cause of those failures? …is it, Mr. Editor, caused by the innumerable processes, formulae, or important improvements, that we see crowding the journals of the present day, chiefly from the pens and brains of amateurs and professors, arid not the sayings and doings of the real practical photographers of the present time? Let the operator of the present period look back into Humphrey’s Journal, Snelling’s, Dr. Burges’s, and Waldack’s books, and they will find processes there that will not give them half the trouble that those published at the present day do. I do not attempt to deny that there are many good and valuable articles written by professors and amateurs, but theoretical practice should not be palmed off on the profession as practical experience. Let us hear, as of old, from such men as Whipple, Black, Gurney, Fredericks, Bogardus, Davie, Williamson, O’Neal, Turner, Fitzgibbon, Gage, Webster, Germon, Faris, Root, mostly old contributors to the Journals, and hundreds of others that could give some good beneficial articles to the fraternity at large, and in such plain language that it would neither break your jaw to pronounce the big words of many writers, or need an interpreter to understand, or the last resort, a Webster’s dictionary, to explain what they are talking about.”]

“Paper Turning Yellow.” PHILADELPHIA PHOTOGRAPHER 3:34 (Oct. 1866): 296-297. [“Editor Philadelphia Photographer: In the August number of The Photographer, page 253, you give, under the head of “Paper Turning Yellow,” some hints, and various precautions, to be observed to prevent the same. As the article does not state or explain the cause of the “turning,” the remedy is only partial, and many times of no avail. Having prepared my own albumen-paper ever since it was first used in the art, I was for a long time troubled with it turning yellow, measles striking through to the back of the paper, and all the category of calamities incident thereto. Various and numberless were the expedients resorted to dislodge this enemy from his position; but all my endeavors were of only partial avail. At last, however, I became convinced that the yellow stains were caused by fermented acid in the albumen used; but I found Mr. Acid so strongly entrenched in his stronghold that I was unsuccessful in my attempts to rout him by any direct attack. As a last resort, I concluded to flank him, “ate Grant,” and take him in the rear. For that purpose, I prepared a solution, as follows: Water, 20 ounces. Sal soda (washing soda), 60 grains. Chloride of ammonium, 120. I floated the paper, back down, on this solution five minutes, or until the paper laid flat, and the albumen surface became moist and soft. I then hung it up to dry, after which it was silvered, fumed, printed, and toned as usual. In that way, the sal soda neutralized the acid, and the paper would keep some days very white, unless it was very hot. There is some work in this, but a good return is made in the quality of the prints and the paper saved. Of course, it is necessary to use some care, and not to allow the neutralizing solution to come in contact with the albumen, as it immediately washes it off. If the paper is already heavily salted, the ammonium can be omitted from the neutralizing solution. All albumen-paper before silvering should be smartly rubbed on the albumen face with a clean piece of cotton flannel. The flannel will absorb and convey away a thin film of animal oil, which deters the silver from taking readily. Any of your subscribers who are troubled with the yellows, by adopting this “dodge,” will very soon discover the fact that their old enemy is really dead and buried.
After fourteen years’ successful practice in my old gallery, I have just moved into a new one. I occupy one entire floor, forty-two by seventy-two feet. My skylight-room is twenty-eight feet square. I can operate on three sides of the light, east, south, and west, and I get a fine light at all hours, rain or shine. Several “well-posted” photographers, who have seen it, have expressed the conviction that I have made a strike, not exactly in oil, but in light. My own opinion is, that it is not excelled. I can give you a description, and perhaps a drawing of it, if desirable. The cause of the paper turning yellow is fermented acid. Lest any one should fall into error in regard to the soda, I would say that the amount given in my formula is not to be taken as the amount that is best at all times, and with all papers. The amount of fermented acid is very different in different samples of paper. Sometimes one grain of soda to the ounce of water is enough to prevent the yellowing; sometimes five or eight is none too much. Enough to neutralize the acid is necessary. I have been using, for a long time, a sample of paper that required only three grains of soda to each ounce of water. To-day I am getting some choice results with another sample, using a twelve-grain solution….” “…Nearly all plain papers are sized with sizing containing more or less fermented acid. The same treatment will prove beneficial in keeping the lights pure while printing. A knowledge of the course and remedy for paper turning yellow, is of great importance to the practical photographer, as it gives him control of his printing, and is a means of getting very much better effects. You may hear from me again, now I am getting settled. F. B. Gage. St. Johnsbury, Vt.
Mr. Gage is well known to many of our readers, and his papers are always fresh, valuable, and welcome to our pages. — Ed.”]

“Coagulating Albumen Paper.” PHILADELPHIA PHOTOGRAPHER 3:35 (Nov. 1866): 341-343. [“Editor Philadelphia Photographer: In a late number of The Photographer, I saw a few words in regard to the coagulating of albumen-paper by the use of alcohol. It occurred to me that, at the present price of alcohol, it must be rather an expensive business; and as I have had some experience in the matter, I send an account of it for the edification of your subscribers. For some years I have practised coagulating my paper previous to silvering….” “There is a great field of undiscovered possible uses to which albumen may be put when its treatment has become better understood. I fancy that it may yet attain to an importance, and play a part, not yet dreamed of at this time by our fraternity. Truly yours, F. B. Gage. St. Johnsbury, Vt., Oct. 8, 1866.”]

“Editor’s Table: The New Size.” PHILADELPHIA PHOTOGRAPHER 4:39 (Mar. 1867): 95-96. [“The New Size, we are convinced, is going to become popular. Elegant specimens are coming to us from all directions. Each enterprising man seems to be trying how good he can make them. It has so awakened and revived some of the callous ones, that they have already expended hundreds of dollars in preparing to make these new pictures. Some of the most excellent examples we have received, …Mr. George H. Fennemore, with Mr. F. S. Keeler, …Messrs. Wenderoth, Taylor & Brown have also sent us some…. In New York, Messrs. Bendann Brothers, ….Messrs. J. Gurney & Son, ….Mr. H. Benedict, of Seville, Ohio,…. Mr. F. B. Gage, St. Johnsbury, Vermont, has sent us some specimens which are not only new in size, but entirely new in style. They are bust pictures from what he calls “vignetted negatives.” The “vignetting” process gives a very pretty clouded effect around the whole or parts of the figure, as the taste may require, and by proper care, very good results may be secured. Some of the specimens are certainly very pretty, while in others the vignetting is too decided; but this, Mr. Gage says, is owing to the haste with which the backgrounds were made. This we can readily see is easy to manage. Mr. Gage has applied for a patent for his process. His improvement may be applied to any size. Let the style be varied, and the entire get-up of the new size be as distinct as possible from the old styles. Be careful not to begin at too low a price. As we seek to improve the business and the art in one direction, do not let us degrade it by low prices and inferior productions.”]

“Editor’s Table.” PHILADELPHIA PHOTOGRAPHER 4:42 (June 1867): 194. [“In our last issue we announced that a subscriber had informed us that he had discovered a plan by which the admission of light upon the negative or positive picture would cause astonishing developments. Since then we have had an interview with the discoverer, who is Mr. Franklin B. Gage, St. Johnsbury, Vermont. He described his process to us, which is so simple and so easy as to seem almost ridiculous, but we were privileged to see some specimens which evinced the most soft and beautiful blending of light and shade, and yet wonderful vigor and strength. Only the severe illness of Mr. Gage, prevents the publication of his specifications and claim for patent in this issue. That the process is simple, practicable and certain, we are convinced. American and Foreign Patents have been applied for, and in our next we hope to give fuller information concerning Mr. Gage’s method. While we would not say too much, we feel that it is going to work somewhat of a revolution in Photography.”]

“Editor’s Table.” PHILADELPHIA PHOTOGRAPHER 4:43 (July 1867): 233. [“Mr. Gage’s Discovery. — As promised in our last we hoped to have received Mr. Gage’s specifications in time to publish in this issue, but have not yet done so. However, as we heard them read before he applied for his patent, and, as a patent has been granted him both here and in England, we will briefly describe his method now, and have more to say hereafter. He calls it “partial development by light in the camera,” by which he submits the sensitized plate to a certain amount of diffused light while in the camera, claiming thus to illuminate the shadows and harmonize the lights and shades of the photographic impression. He proceeds as follows: having exposed the plate, the lens is turned towards any dark surface for a short time, so that the plate is subjected to the weak radiations reflected from the dark dead surface. Mr. Gage accomplishes this by using a screen about eighteen inches square, covered with black cloth or velvet, and provided with a handle. This he keeps in motion before the lens for a longer or shorter time, and this is his plan. We shall describe it more minutely in our next, but would add here that we have received a number of prints from negatives thus “illuminated,” from Mr. Gage, and, while they possess great vigor, there is an entire absence of hardness and strong contrast of light and shade. More anon.”]

“Gage’s Process for Making Negatives and Positives in the Camera.” PHILADELPHIA PHOTOGRAPHER 4:44 (Aug. 1867): 260-261. [“Below we give further details of Mr. F. B. Gage’s process, briefly described and commented upon in our last. In his specifications, he says: “I proceed to take a photographic impression in the manner usually employed. Then I place some plain, dark, dead surface in front of the camera, the sensitive surface still remaining in the camera. I then remove the covering from the lens-tube and expose the sensitive surface, on which the impression has been formed, to the light reflected from the dark surface, while the dark surface is kept in gentle motion, so as to prevent the sensitive surface from taking an impression of any wrinkles or other variations on the surface from which the light is reflected. The time of this exposure must be varied according to the amount of light reflected, and the effect it is desirable to produce. The usual amount of time occupied in this exposure will be from one-fourth to double the time employed in taking the invisible impression. But in some cases it can be extended much beyond this time. for a dark, dead surface I usually use a piece of thick, black woollen cloth, about eighteen inches square, attached by one edge to a stick about two feet long, which I hold horizontally, and gently move in front of the camera with the left hand, while I uncover the lens-tube with the right hand. It is not absolutely essential that this dark surface be kept in motion, but it is safer. This exposure of the sensitive surface to light reflected from a dark dead surface apparently leaves the lightest portions of the impression but little changed, while it effects a much greater change in the darkest portions of the same, and thus harmonizes and properly blends the two, giving to the whole an atmospheric effect never before realized in photographic impressions. It also renders it less difficult to obtain the necessary intensity in negatives. It will be understood that my invention applies equally well and is operated in the same manner in taking positives or negatives in the camera. I believe that the best results are produced when the dead surface is as strongly lighted as possible without sunlight, using a diaphragm to reduce the aperture of the lens to prevent the development being so rapid as to become unmanageable. I have produced excellent results with a silver bath of twenty grains of nitrate of silver to the ounce of water, being about one-half the usual strength in use, the sensitizing of the collodion being proportionally reduced. I believe it will effect a great saving of expense for this reason. I believe my invention also removes the most important obstacle to the production of dry-plate impressions by harmonizing the lights and shades, which have heretofore usually been hard and inartistic. Exposing the sensitive surface in the manner described, before the impression has been formed, has less tendency to blend the lights and shades than when done afterwards, but I believe it gives a different and peculiar tone to the impression, which, in some cases, is very desirable, especially in negatives. When the object to be impressed is strongly lighted, accompanied with deep, heavy shadows, it is found advisable to illuminate, in the manner described, the sensitive surface, both before and after the impression is formed. This is effected by moving the black cloth before the camera a short time, before as well as after, and operating otherwise in the same manner as before described. Light dead surfaces may be used to produce a similar result, but their use is attended with greater hazard; and I believe the result obtained from dark surfaces is always to be preferred. I believe, also, that some glossy surfaces even may be used for this purpose, but require greater care to insure desirable effects. I believe that some good effect may be produced by admitting transmitted light upon the sensitive surface, or again, light reflected from yellow, and even red, and other colored surfaces, either before or after, or both before and after the photographic impression has been formed, but I believe that the reflection from a dark dead surface is much to be preferred, and have described a method of operating which I have found perfectly convenient and practical for use. The dead surface may be placed in the exact focus of the lens if the surface be kept in motion, so as to produce no distinct impression of its porous structure and inequalities, but it is neither as safe nor convenient as when the surface is out of focus. Having now fully described my invention, what I claim as new, and desire to secure by Letters-Patent, is as follows: I claim in photography the employment of diffused light, under the conditions herein specified, so as to render visible slight gradations of shade, both in the light and dark parts of the pictures, and to unite softness with strength, as herein explained and set forth.”]

“Voices from the Craft. Gage’s Patent.” PHILADELPHIA PHOTOGRAPHER 4:45 (Sept. 1867): 300-301. [“— In 1854 I was making Daguerreotypes in Raymond, Mississippi. An individual, whose name I can give, called upon me, and offered to instruct me how to detect counterfeit notes and how to take children quickly, for $5. I “bit,” and the following was his process for the latter accomplishment: Expose the plate in the camera a few seconds to a black velvet background. As mine was a swinging one, I used it that way, and before exposing the plate to the sitter. If this is not the same thing that Mr. Gage has a patent for, I am much mistaken. E. V. Seutted.

“Voices from the Craft. Gage’s Patent.” PHILADELPHIA PHOTOGRAPHER 4:45 (Sept. 1867): 301. [“I see by your last number of the Photographer, that Mr. F. B. Gage’s great intention of development by diffused light, is nothing more than an old dodge that I have made use of for seven years, and have abandoned for a much better plan, to effect the same thing, and upon which there is no patent now, but there is no certainty but that some inventive genius may reinvent it and obtain a patent. I proceed as follows:…”]

Vogel, Dr. H. “German Correspondence.” PHILADELPHIA PHOTOGRAPHER 4:46 (Oct. 1867): 327-329. [“American Photographs — Osborne’s Process — Zentmayer’ s Lens — The German Photographic Society — Photographs in Colors — Consumption of Silver and Collodion in the Negative Process — Prevention of the Reflection of the Sun in the Atelier — Collodion Experiments — Action of Bromide. “Bathing-place, Misdroy, September 1st, 1867. My dear Mr. Wilson: Rarely have I experienced so much pleasure as was given me by the receipt of your parcel containing American photographs. The collection proved all the more interesting to me, as I obtained by it a more thorough, perfect, and favorable impression of the capabilities of American photographers, than I had formed at the Paris Exposition, where the few American pictures exhibited seemed lost among the thousand and one other things, and part of them were hung very unfavorably…. I have mentioned already in my report on the Exposition. I had read in your Journal, the interesting processes of Meinerth and Gage for obtaining good half-tones. Meinerth had sent me specimens before yours came, which I laid before the Berlin Photographic Society, whose members admired them greatly. His method is best adapted to ladies’ heads; for gentlemen it is barely marked enough. Gage’s method I shall try as soon as I return to Berlin….” For years I have been occupied with the study of the negative process….” Truly yours. Dr. H. Vogel.”]

“Voices from the Craft.” PHILADELPHIA PHOTOGRAPHER 4:46 (Oct. 1867): 335-336. [“Mr. Editor: In your last number of the Photographer, your correspondent, J. M. Letts, after asserting that he had used the process which I have patented, for seven years, then goes on to say that he has abandoned it for another that there ” is no patent on.” If Mr. Letts had carefully read my specifications he would have discovered that his new dodge is patented. In those specifications he will find these words: “Good effect may be produced by admitting transmitted light upon the sensitive surface.” Now it makes no difference what Mr. Letts transmits his light through, whether ground, red, or yellow glass, or cloth, or other medium, it is just as much an infringement of the patent as the use of the cloth for reflecting the light. Mr. Letts also tells us that Professor Towler claims to have published something concerning this process “some years ago.” If the Professor had, indeed, published what he says he has, he would probably be able to give a more definite date. However well, Mr. Editor, “some years ago” may look in print, it is very much too indefinite to allow any interested parties to refer to it. Truly yours, F. B. Gage.

Hull, C. Wager. “New York Correspondence.” PHILADELPHIA PHOTOGRAPHER 4:48 (Dec. 1867): 388-389. [“The stated monthly meeting of the Photographic Section of the American Institute, was held on Monday, November 11, 1867, Mr. H. J. Newton in the chair. I regret exceedingly to note the absence of Mr. Rutherfurd and Professor Rood, both having been seriously ill, but now removed from danger, and improving … Mr. Hull exhibited a series of pictures made by F. B. Gage, which were made by his patented process, described in a recent issue of your Journal. A committee was appointed to make experiments as directed by Mr. Gage, and, until their report and specimens are handed to the Society, it is not worth while to argue upon the merits of his discovery….”

Editor’s Table.” PHILADELPHIA PHOTOGRAPHER 6:63 (Mar. 1869): 94-96. [“Mr. F. B. Gage, St. Johnsbury, Vermont, has sent us a number of stereos of snow scenes, from dry plates, which are exceedingly fine. Although such subjects are a very hard test for that process, there is not a harsh spot in any one of these. They are admirable in every way. “The Model Snow-storm” is very peculiar looking, as if a blinding storm was going on, hiding almost every object, and yet, in the stereoscope, the effect is fine and beautiful.” p. 96.]

“Editor’s Table. Photographs Received.” PHILADELPHIA PHOTOGRAPHER 6:64 (Apr. 1869): 136. [“…Mr. F. B. Gage, St. Johnsbury, Vermont, has favored us with some more of his beautiful winter views from dry plates. Nothing could be much more perfect than they are. Mr. Gage advertises them for sale in Specialties.” (This copy bound without advertising supplement.)]

“Editor’s Table.” PHILADELPHIA PHOTOGRAPHER 6:69 (Sept. 1869): 323-324. [“From Mr. F. B. Gage, St. Johnsbury. Vt., some stereos from dry-plates, possessing a great deal of merit. Mr. Gage is continually working upon a process which he has not yet made known, but which he thinks must be fully equal to the wet process in every way.” p. 324.]

Obituary – A Veteran Gone.” PHILADELPHIA PHOTOGRAPHER 11:130 (Oct. 1874): 318. [“We regret to be called upon to announce the death of one of the veterans of photography, Mr. F. B. Gage, of St. Johnsbury, Vt., which occurred on the 23d of August, 1874. From Mr. Gage’s family we learn that he was born July 29th, 1824. He learned daguerreotyping when about twenty-two years of age, and in 1850 started the photograph business in St. Johnsbury, where he continued to conduct it for a period of twenty-four years, or up to the time of his death. Mr. Gage enjoyed a good reputation as an artist, and was one of the most industrious experimentalists in the business. To him the fraternity owes much of the progress that has been made in the various photographic processes. In July, 1869, he patented in the United States, Great Britain, and France, a process for using diffused light in the camera for the purpose of giving detail “so as to render visible slight gradations of shade, both in the light and dark parts of the picture, and to unite softness and strength.” We well remember meeting Mr. Gage in New York, by his request, to examine the merits of this invention, and how we were almost sworn to secrecy before he ventured to reveal the principle on which his claim was based. Previous to this he also patented an improvement in photographic cameras. He was a man of more than ordinary genius, and somewhat eccentric withal, was always inventing and trying new processes. It is said he “hardly ever finished two sets of pictures by the same process.” Mr. Gage possessed a good deal of literary talent, was a frequent contributor to local publications of current literature, as well as to this journal on the various processes of photography, in which he always manifested a deep interest. It is sad to see the pioneers of our art passing away from us, and when such men as Mr. Gage go, they leave a vacancy that is not easily filled, and their memory is cherished by those who are benefited by the results of their lifelong efforts.”]

Waldack, Charles. “Belgian Correspondence.” PHILADELPHIA PHOTOGRAPHER 11:132 (Dec. 1874): 375-378. [“Ghent, November 2d, 1874. Editor Philadelphia Photographer. According to promise, I will endeavor to give you occasionally a brief account of whatever observations I may make here, which can be profitable or of interest to your readers. The first question that a photographer coming back from Europe would be likely to be asked by one of his brethren would certainly be: What do you think of our art in Europe? This question I will also try to answer briefly. …” “….I must not conclude without giving a few lines to a subject which is of great importance to photographers. I refer to the reduction of exposure obtained by the use of colored glasses to admit light in the camera or by other similar means. The colored light is supposed to continue the action of the white light. It is contended, however, and with very good reason, that this action is due to the imperfect opacity to the actinic rays possessed by the glass which is used. In daguerreotype times, Blanquart Evrard proposed to paste white paper inside the camera, seven or eight years ago. Mr. Gage proposed to reflect the light from his focussing cloth in the camera, by keeping it for some seconds in front of the object-glass. It has been contended that the only effect of all such means was to fog the plate slightly, thus giving a picture which was less hard than one which was under-exposed, but still devoid of details in the shadows….” p. 377.]


Gage & Rowell. “How Is It?” PHOTOGRAPHIC AND FINE ART JOURNAL 10:9 (Sept. 1857): 281.

Gage & Rowell. “Humbugs vs. Anti-Humbugs.” PHOTOGRAPHIC AND FINE ART JOURNAL 10:9 (Sept. 1857): 287.

“The Solar Camera – Printing Process – Glass Cleaning.” PHOTOGRAPHIC AND FINE ART JOURNAL 11:4 (Apr. 1858): 105. [“Mr. Snelling,—I use the Solar Camera which some of your contemporaries stigmatise as a “poor concern.” I beg leave to say that I differ from these august sentiments. After using it six months, I grow more astonished daily to see the results which I produce. I have printed by the Calotype, the Albumen, the Ammonio-nitrate, and the Wenderoth Processes. The ammonia-nitrate and albumen process please me the best, as I have the time to print the limited number that I make. With the right kind of negative, from two to three hours will print a half-length portrait.
I use in salting—
Chloride of ammonium               2 grains.
Water                                       1 oz.
I have tried every amount from one grain to ten, and prefer the two grain solution as giving the best results.
Nitrate of silver                          30 grains.
Water                                       1 oz.
Made into common nitrate in the usual way, and one drop c.p. nitric acid added to each four ounces of solution. Toning bath as laid down in the Moulton process. The Wenderoth process works rapidly, and produces fine results in my hands, but is more expensive and requires much more care, when only a small number of prints are made. In large establishments where hundreds are made a week, its value is not to be told.
For all our silver solutions, I melt clean snow in an earthen ware vessel, and use it in place of distilled water, as it produces better results than Croton, bottled (labelled distilled water), and sold for fifty cents per gallon. Those who have never tried it can easily save their fifty cents per gallon, and have a better solution in the bargain.
The most pleasing pictures that I have printed in the printing frame, were made by a process for calotypes, by Mr. Sutton, but which I modified as follows:
Water                                       1 oz.
Pure white gelatine                    6 grains.
Common salt                             4 grains.
Put the ingredients into the water while cold, and warm it gently until they are all dissolved (care being taken not to get it boiling hot); filter it through a sponge while warm, and it is ready for use. This should be kept in a warm place, and the paper floated on it two or three minutes and then dried.
For silvering I use—
Water                                       1 oz.
Nitrate of silver                          35 grs.
Lemon juice                              1 or two drops.
Float the paper five or six minutes, as the thick body of the gelatine will require that time to soften, so as to absorb a sufficient amount of silver.
Print a very little darker than you want, and tone in the Moulton toning bath; or the bath used for toning your illustrations, which is nearly the same.
The superiority of this process lies in the fact, that the gelatine keeps the picture on the surface of the paper, and the lemon juice gives the print a very warm violet tint when properly toned. Mr. Sutton says,— “No one that has not tried it, can have any idea of the wonderful brilliancy imparted to a print by the mucelage contained in lemon juice.”
These remarks were made in reference to prints developed by gallic acid: but I find they are equally applicable to those printed without development. In the prints that I have made by this method, the details are equal to the very best albumen prints. The gelatine having a very fine grain, the surface of the print has not a certain half-glassy, haIf-scaly appearance, which all albumen prints have on close examination. Moreover, the lights, when properly printed and toned, are absolutely pure; which, combined with the other superior quality, make them the most deservable prints I have made. It is like all good things, more work to print a given number of copies by this process, than by the ammonia-nitrate, when the solution is spread with cotton, but the better quality will repay the extra trouble. In spreading the ammonio-nitrate over the paper, I use cotton flannel, after having washed it thoroughly in a weak solution of sal-soda, rinsed and dried. Cut a patch to the desired shape and place it on the paper, nap side down; then lay a small ball of cotton wool on the middle of the patch, gather up the corners so as to enclose the cotton, and proceed to spread the solution, and you will seldom be troubled with greasy streaks which often occur when using the prepared cotton wool.
I have tried many ways to clean glass when negatives were varnished with any of the spirit varnishes, and have never succeeded to my liking until of late. I now make a saturated solution of sal-soda in water, lay the glass in this, and in a few hours the varnish will contract so as to detach the film from the glass. I then rub them over carefully with rotten stone or Norton’s cleaning powder; wash it off and the glass is ready for another picture.
I use the soda for cleaning all my glass now, and succeed in getting better results than ever before. Respectfully yours, F. B. Gage.”]

“Personal & Art Intelligence.” PHOTOGRAPHIC AND FINE ART JOURNAL 11:4 (Apr. 1858): 126-127. [“Having had a great number of inquiries, lately, respecting the “Solar Camera.” The paper on that instrument by Mr. Gage, will prove highly advantageous to those who use, or contemplate using it. Whatever may be said as to the merits or demerits of Mr. Woodward’s patent, one thing is certain ; there is no better instrument, for the purpose, made. It accomplishes all that is claimed for it, and it does its work well. There is no necessity for purchasing the large size, as the small one will answer the same purpose and is more portable, although for large galleries the 4-4 size may be found more stable. We have seen life-size pictures that were printed by a new process, discovered by Mr. Woodward, in four and five minutes without development. This is certainly quick enough, and if Mr. Woodward consults his own interests as well as those of his brother artists, he will give it to the public immediately. In the formula for printing by Mr. Gage, on page 105, we are desired by him to make a correction. The salting solution should be as follows:
Water                           1 ounce.
Pure gelatine                 4 grains.
Common salt                 8 grains.
The solution as previously given will not flow well when cold.”]

“Personal & Art Intelligence.” PHOTOGRAPHIC AND FINE ART JOURNAL 11:6 (June 1858): 190-192. [“Mr. Gage, of St. Johnsbury, Vt., has sent us a charming little lot of portraits and views, some of which are exquisite. The portrait of the Rev. B. F. Hall is unsurpassable either by the camera of the photographer or the pencil of the painter. It almost speaks; every portion of the picture within the focal reach of the camera is delightfully round, exquisitely shaded, and minute in detail. That of Dr. Newton is of different style of finish, but equally good, except in position, and in the evident desire of the Doctor to give prominence to a fine pair of bright eyes and large overhanging eyebrows. A little drooping of the eye-lids would have produced a more pleasing result. The views are fair, but a little overtoned. This is a branch of photography in which our American artists have yet much to learn. The manipulations and details of these views are good, but they want perspective and an atmosphere. The best solar camera prints we have yet seen have been executed by Mr. Gage They are not now before us, and we therefore cannot point out their good qualities.
This reminds us of the article we copied last month from Mr. Sutton’s Photographic Notes, on enlarging collodion negatives by Woodward’s Solar Camera. The position therein assumed by Mr. Sutton is not tennable, and had he seen its operations would never have been put forth by him. His objections, suggestions, and speculations are all chimerical, and we can have no better proof — nor would he require better — against his arguments than the portraits sent to Mr. Anthony by Mr. Gage.” p. 192.]


“Applications for Provisional Protection for Inventions under the Patent Law Amendment Act.” PRACTICAL MECHANIC’S JOURNAL 20:233 (July 1867): 125-128.
[“22nd May, 1867. 1526. W. E. Newton, Chancery Lane — Portable photographic apparatus. — A com.” p. 127.
“25th May, 1867. 1553. James Simpson. Hulme— Producing photographic pictures.” p. 128.
“29th May, 1867. 1593. F. B. Gage, St. Johnsbury, U. S. — Harmonizing the lights and shades in photographic impressions.” p. 128.
“30th May, 1867. 1603. C. E. Brooman, Fleet Street— Photographic albums — A com.” p. 128.
“7th June, 1867. 1676. J. Petrzwalski, John Street— Photo –megascope.” p. 128.”]


 Dexter, Lorraine. “Gage of St. Johnsbury – Hills and Dales, 1859.” VERMONTER 4, no. 8 (Sept. 1966): 23-29. illus. [This article includes a listing of Edward Anthony’s stereoview series “Hills and Dales of New England,” taken by F. B. Gage. (Nos. 451-480, and c. 580-600.), with a checklist listing the holdings of these cards in several public and private collections. (The earlier Anthony series of views by Gage  “The White Hills,” seems to be different from the later “Hills and Dales of New England” series, although some of those images may have been recycled by Anthony in the latter issues.]


Gage, F B. “A Sad Story.” YOUTH’S COMPANION 47:8 (Feb. 19, 1874): 59. [“Our readers will rightly pronounce this story a romance, but it is a romance of reality–not only sad, but sadly true. The characters in its brief but bitter tragedy are an aged woman, her daughter Mary, and her grandson Charley, ten years old. The family had once been in comfortable circumstances, but death had taken away their providers and protecters…”]

Gage, Franklin B. “The Great Wolf Hunt at Seymour Lake.” YOUTH’S COMPANION 47:26 (June 25, 1874): 205. [“Seymour Lake is in the town of Morgan, Vt. Encircled by green hills, there is not a more beautiful body of water in New England. It is some ten miles from Island Pond, a station on the Grand Trunk Railroad. Forty years ago an unbroken wilderness extended from this lake hundreds of miles to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. On the south and west sides of the lake were several farms, which had been under cultivation ten or fifteen years…”]

Gage, Franklin B. “What Happened at the Swamp.” YOUTH’S COMPANION 47:34 (Aug. 20, 1874): 271.
[“Farmer Stanton was a man of few words. Eating his supper one spring day, he spoke out abruptly,—
“I’ve hired my help for the season.”
“You have?” said his wife. “Who have you hired?”
“David Locke and Jim Thompson.”
“Have you? Well, David Locke is smart enough, but I guess Jim Thompson aint much.”
Fanner Stanton was a shrewd, observing man. Rising from the table he remarked.—
“I’ll wager Jim Thompson is the smartest of the two,” and went out.
Mary Stanton, the farmer’s daughter, sat at the table, and heard the conversation. Mary was a rosy-cheeked girl of sweet sixteen, full of life and animation, and much admired by the young swains of the neighborhood. David Locke and Jim Thompson were both well known to her.
David was a dashing, showy fellow with plenty of conceit. Jim was just the reverse of that. He was very retiring, bashful to a fault, and never disposed to assume any thing. In the presence of young ladies, particularly, Jim always had his “worst foot forward,” and appeared to great disadvantage. Naturally enough, the lively Mary voted him a downright “stupid,” and her mother agreed with her.
A week later found the two boys installed in Farmer Stanton’s family. David and Mary were at once on the best of terms, for Mary was fascinated with his brilliancy and wit. But Jim, although he admired Mary more than any other girl he knew, had not enough assurance to assert himself, and he received but little attention from Mary.
One evening Farmer Stanton and his wife went off to the Green on business, The weather was chilly, and Mary and the two young men sat round the fire. David Locke, as usual, led this conversation, and presently he commenced telling bear adventures, taking care to figure himself in them as the chief actor, and a hero of the first mark.
Jim and Mary listened to his boasts, little thinking how soon the opportunity would come to test him. Still less did David dream of being put to the proof of his courage, even while he was boasting about it. But before he had finished telling his gallant adventures, a great uproar was heard at the barn.
Mary thought very likely some wild animal was about, for the night was dark, and favorable for prowlers. Turning to David, she exclaimed,—
“Take the lantern, David, and go to the barn and see what the matter is.”
To her surprise, instead of hastening to do her bidding, as he always had done, David turned pale, sat still, and forcing a light laugh, said,—
“There’s nothing the matter at the barn, Mary.”
“But I tell yon there is, and you know it,” persisted the young lady, with a meaning look. She was beginning already to see how thin David’s pretentions to courage were.
Turning to Jim, she said,—
“You’ll go, wont you?”
Jim colored to the very roots of his hair, but he replied, firmly,—
“No, David is the man to go, of course. He may have another heroic adventure.”
“Ho, ho; you needn’t ask Jim,” cried David, hastily. “He’s afraid there’s something out there”
“I know that’s the reason why you wont start. ‘Tisn’t my reason by a long shot.”
“Well, why don’t you go, then?”
“If Miss Stanton had asked me first, as she did you, I would have gone.”
“O fol-de-rol for you!  You’re a coward, Jim.”
“With flashing eyes, Mary Stanton sprang up and reached for the lantern.
“You are both cowards,” she exclaimed. “I’ll go myself.”
The resolute girt actually lit the lantern, and got herself ready before the young men could so far forget their own quarrel as to notice what she was doing; but just as she opened the door her father drove up.
Taking the lantern from Mary’s hand, he went to the bam, where he found that one of his oxen had broken loose, so it proved the disturbance had not been caused by a wild beast at all.
That little evening episode lowered the two boys greatly in Mary Stanton’s esteem. She had never expected much of Jim, but for David to fall from her good opinion was certainly a disappointment.
Thus matters stood for a long time—a long time to Jim Thompson’s thinking, at least. Both the boys saw by Mary’s changed manner what she thought of them. David didn’t seem to care for her good opinion, but Jim worried considerably in secret, and he more than once regretted his refusal to go to the barn. The foolish pique of a moment had lost him a fine chance to prove his courage— and courage enough Jim certainly had.
One day, after dinner, Farmer Stanton said,—
“Boys, I am going to the Green. While I am gone David will chop at the wood-pile in the door-yard. You, Jim, may hitch the horse into the wagon. After I get off, go down to Neighbor Chamberlain’s, and ask the loan of his inch auger, long enough to mend the harrow. Then come back and work with David till I get home,”
Farmer Stanton and his wife rode away, and Jim started across lots to do the errand, leaving David chopping. Some twenty rods below the house there was a swampy piece of woods to pass through. Jim had scarcely entered the woods when he suddenly came upon a bear; digging dragon root. The bear was backed up to a small tree, with his head down, grubbing away so intently that he did not hear Jim’s approach.
Jim was clear-headed, and knew what to do in a real emergency better than many a more brilliant young man. Besides, he possessed remarkable strength of limb.
Quick as thought, he sprang forward and caught the bear by his hind legs. Jerking his feet from under him, he pulled them backwards, and, in a second, twisted them round the body of the tree, where he held them with the grip of a vice. The astonished bear found himself standing on his fore-paws, with his nose to the ground.
Roaring with rage, he tried to turn round and bite, but as fast as he turned, Jim walked round the trunk, keeping out of the way of his teeth; and thus the two circumnavigated the tree, like a pair of boys balanced on a whirligig.
Mary Stanton had paused a minute in her in-door work, and was just noticing David Locke’s lazy motions at the wood-pile, when the noise of the raving bear in the swamp reached her ear through the open window, and in a moment after Jim’s voice, calling,—
“David, David, come here with your axe. Quick!”
“Run, run, David, run with the axe,” cried Mary. “Perhaps the bear is killing Jim!”
Alas, then, for David’s boasted courage! He heard the outcries in the swamp plainly enough, and a brave man would have needed no second command. Instead of rushing to Jim’s aid, he looked wildly about him, dropped his axe, and went into the house, looking cowed and pale.
Mary did not waste any more time over him. Darting out bareheaded, she seized the axe herself, and was over the door-yard fence in a moment. Rushing into the woods, she followed the sounds to the swamp, where she found Jim and the enraged bear walking round and round the tree.
“Where’s David?” exclaimed Jim, amazed at seeing Mary with the axe.
“In the house, the coward! But I’ll kill the bear if you’ll hold him tight, Jim.”
Jim and Mary were both self-possessed. Jim told her when and how to strike, and a single blow severed the bear’s spine, and laid him dead.
The next day, David Locke left Farmer Stanton’s service. The contempt and taunts of the family made his place too hot for him. “Jim Thompson is worth a dozen such braggadocios,” the farmer said.
And certainly Jim never needed an advocate with the fanner’s daughter after the affair in the swamp. And when Mary, one day, informed him and her mother that she had elected Jim for their son-In law, neither of them offered a single objection. Fortunately, Jim had other good qualities besides courage, and so she made a good choice.”]

Gage, Franklin B. “Two Catamount Stories.” YOUTH’S COMPANION 47:36 (Sept. 3, 1874): 287. [“It is doubtful if any specimens of the catamount, or panther, once the terror of our forests, now survive in the State of Vermont; but as late as 1867 two of these animals were killed in different parts of the State. In the autumn of that year a fox hunter, near the foot of the Ascutney Mountain, in Weathersford, had a valuable hound mysteriously killed…”]

Gage, Franklin B. “Edgar Kibby and His New Gun.” YOUTH’S COMPANION 47:47 (Nov. 19, 1874): 387. [“Edgar Kibby lived in the town of Charleston, Vt., many years ago. At the time of which we write, he was about ten years old, a strong, healthy boy, quite small, but full of life and spirit. He was keen of observation, quick to understand, and handy at any thing he attempted to do. More than this, he possessed wonderful coolness and courage as the sequel will show….”]

Gage, F B. “Mrs. Piper’s Bear Story.” YOUTH’S COMPANION 48:1 (Jan. 7, 1875): 3. [“The year we lived on the Bebee Place, said Mrs. Piper, the bears was master thick. The Bebee Place is East Charleston, little more’n a mile out of the village, and six miles from Island Pond. One day, twenty-one year ago come August, I and John (that’s my husband) went to the village to ‘tend the funeral of old Mis’ Snell…”]

Gage, F B. “Almost a Hug.” YOUTH’S COMPANION 48:16 (Apr 22, 1875): 125. [“The following story of the old “up-country” times, was told me by one of the oldest inhabitants of St. Johnsbury, Vt. About two miles north-east from what is now the “village” of St. Johnsbury, a man named Houghton purchased a piece of land, and established himself in the wilderness. He made a clearing, built him a log house, and settled down to pioneer farming….”]

Gage, Franklin B. “A Scare and a Laugh.” YOUTH’S COMPANION 48:47 (Nov. 25, 1875): 391. [“Mr. Harrington lived in the town of St. Johnsbury, Vt., and his neighbor, Zebina Goss, just over the line, in the town of Waterford. Harrington was a tall, loose-jointed, clownish fellow, a great boaster, and an equally great coward. Mr. Goss was, however, quite a small man, and very unpretending, but endowed with more than ordinary courage….”]

Gage, Franklin B. “A Desperate Encounter.” YOUTH’S COMPANION 49:6 (Feb. 10, 1876): 45. [“For many years there lived in the town of Brighton, Vt., a man by the name of Seneca Foster. Although a man of no more than medium size, he possessed the most wonderful physical vigor and endurance. No exertion or exposure seemed to impair his health. Mr. Foster’s son Jack inherited much of his father’s strong constitution and elastic frame….”]

Gage, Franklin B. “Old Brindle’s Fate.” YOUTH’S COMPANION 50:13 (Mar. 29, 1877): 98. [“Mr. Young entered his log-cabin with an unmistakable glow of satisfaction on his face. Seating himself before the fire, he said, — “Wife, you can’t possibly guess what John Martin just told me.”…”]

Gage, Franklin B. “Foolish George Hogden.” YOUTH’S COMPANION 52:18 (May 1, 1879): 146. [“Foolish George Hogden is not an imaginary character. I believe he is a native of the town of Newport, Vt. People call him “Foolish” George because he is rather weak of intellect.–a little daft, as the Scotch say….”]