Attleboro Area Industrial Museum
In 2022, Scott and June Martin of the Silver Salon Forum donated almost 400 large-format glass negatives to the Attleboro Area Industrial Museum. These 7 x 11 inch negatives appear to date from the 1870s through 1904. Some match engravings in the 1877 Reed & Barton catalog. Many more match engravings in the 1885 catalog. It is possible that the photographs were created as tools for the in-house artists to use while creating those engraving plates.
Many of the images are unusual because the objects have a notably matte surface, some even seem to have been painted. This might have been useful to produce images without distracting reflections, allowing artists an easier path to faithful representations. Reed & Barton maintained an entire department for photography with in-house processing and printing; whatever the end use for these glass-plate negatives, these effects must have been intentional.
Many of the negatives have paper borders to frame the image. Some have a tissue-paper band with item information and pricing typed on in reverse. These match photographic catalog pages in the Baker Business Library at Harvard. The complexity of this process, from sample to framed glass negative to photographic print to catalog, illustrates how difficult it was to produce useful promotional material before halftone printing allowed the easy reproduction of photographs.
Note: documents included with the glass plates indicate that they were sold to the Martins by Carolyn at Carmen’s Collectables, Levittown, PA in 1998.
In 2023 the RISD Special Collections Library scanned these slides and hosts scanned files in its Jstore collections, found here.
Old Colony History Museum
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