The Hand Colored Images of William James Harris

Interest in early twentieth c. hand-colored images by “Harris” has been increasing in the latest yrs, especially in Harris’s Florida scenes. Yet I am going to wager that most collectors do not even know Harris’s 1st identify, permit on your own something about his background.

We experienced no information and facts on Harris ourselves right up until various yrs back when we described Harris in a earlier short article and questioned visitors to supply us with any identified info. As a result we received an post on Harris postcards, and an article that had been released on Harris by the St. Augustine Historic Modern society in 1991, both of those of which lose appreciable light on the hand-colored photography job of William James Harris.

William James Harris (1868-1940) was born on Oct 12, 1868 in Herefordshire, England. His household emigrated to The usa in 1870, settling in the Wilkes Barre, PA spot. Identified in his youth as equally “Will” and “Willie”, by age twenty he apprenticed beneath a area photographer. Inside a person calendar year he was able to commence his first photography small business though residing with his mother and father and functioning his first studio within just their property.

In 1890, the 22 12 months outdated Harris moved with his family members to W. Pittston, PA wherever, even though he continued working a studio in his mothers and fathers house, he also started his profession as a touring photographer. Through the early 1890’s, he used considerable time photographing coal miners and mining functions in eastern Pennsylvania’s coal areas. Before long thereafter he started employing the railroads to transportation him, and his pictures tools, to the mountains, lakes, towns, and anywhere else he made the decision to acquire his camera. Cabinet pictures marketed by Harris all around this time mentioned his address as West Pittston, PA Tunkhannock, PA Pittston, PA Penn Yan, NY Binghamton, NY and Keuka, NY

In 1893 Harris traveled to the World’s Columbia Exposition in Chicago. Whilst there his commenced the very first of a lot of subsequent advertising feats. One of the focal points of the 1893 Columbia Exposition was the first-ever introduction of George Ferris’s wonderful “Ferris Wheel”. And it was Harris who was the to start with to photograph it. He envisioned that by climbing upon a roof close to the similar height as the Ferris Wheel’s middle shaft, he would be in a position to deliver a see whereby the curves of the wheel ended up not distorted vertically by perspective. This photograph was so amazing that Harris donated 2000 of them to the Ferris Wheel Business, each of which provided his name and handle, which aided to make an early title for the younger photographer.

In 1895 he married Maude Dunn, a marriage that was quick-lived simply because she died all of a sudden and unexpectedly in 1897.

Soon after Maude’s death, Harris and some friends opened a vacationer business in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains, providing pictures of Buck Hill Falls, the Delaware Drinking water Hole, and other area sights to tourists and community inhabitants. Although functioning from the “Harris Gallery” his solutions also integrated cupboard playing cards and tin-type pictures,. This transportable studio after all over again served as an fantastic promotional feat because it enabled him to both equally publicize his business, and method his photographic work, anywhere he went.

All over 1901, Harris married a 2nd time, making Marion E. Briant the 2nd Mrs. Harris. With each other they had two small children, a daughter (Ruth) and a son (Carver). This relationship lasted right until about 1920. Just after the divorce, Marion Harris returned to her Dover, NJ home with Ruth, leaving Carver with his father.

Shortly thereafter, Harris married Ella Anderson, his third and last marriage.

Lake Hopatcong: It was in 1898 that Harris moved to a spot that would play a critical role in his life…Lake Hopatcong, NJ. Located in northern New Jersey, it really is 9 miles of coastline and coves make it New Jersey’s greatest lake and at the flip of the century, Lake Hopatcong experienced turn out to be a summer season mecca for the abundant and well-known. Conveniently positioned to nearby New York metropolis, Lake Hopatcong provided an straightforward summer months getaway from the metropolis heat and many summer time “cottages”, which in numerous scenarios had been much more like mansions, began springing up close to the lake. Harris quickly acknowledged the will need for his photographic providers below all through the summer season months.

Wonderful sunsets grew to become the Harris trademark even though doing the job on Lake Hopatcong and he was farsighted adequate to established himself up on a portion of the lake that was identified as owning the finest sunsets. And becoming the good promoter that he was, Harris began promotion his studio as providing the finest sunset images on the lake. Shortly holidaymakers began flocking to his studio for their individual and family members photographs on Lake Hopatcong.

In another go of community relations genius, Harris created his have individual “Floating Studio” in the summer time of 1899. Changing his land-primarily based moveable studio, this floating studio was essentially a houseboat specifically outfitted as a photographic studio. Called the “Harris Picture Float”, this 16’x50′ floating studio was capable of traveling all over the lake, and even experienced a unique porch for his well-known sunset shots. Although other photographers have been also doing the job all-around the lake, Harris’ floating studio and his reward for promotional result gave him a aggressive edge around the other photographers and he controlled a sizeable part of the lake’s pictures organization. Regrettably, in 1903 Harris’ floating studio sprang a knothole leak and sank, having with it a great deal of Harris’ photographic gear.

But he quickly recovered from this catastrophe and went on to carry on a practically forty-year romance with Lake Hopatcong. Harris continued his summer months visits to the lake until as late as 1939, when he was in his 60’s and his photographic profession started winding down.

St. Augustine, Florida: In 1898 Harris moved to St. Augustine, Florida exactly where he opened the “Acme See Firm”. Harris’s Florida photographic services incorporated the sale of cameras and machines, cost-free photographic guidelines to novice photographers, the use of his darkroom, as effectively as specialist photographic companies to nearby citizens or checking out holidaymakers. He also dropped no time in photographing the attractive sights in St. Augustine and the bordering Florida countryside.

Harris rapidly fell in appreciate with St. Augustine and to a bigger extent, nearly all of Florida. Concerning 1898 and 1940 Harris began a photographic occupation that most of us would aspire to achieve now…summers together the shorelines of lovely Lake Hopatcong, NJ… and winters in heat and sunny St. Augustine, FL.

St. Augustine made available a assortment of photographic topics that appealed to Florida’s expanding vacationer trade together with the Fountain of Youth, the Oldest House in The usa, Ft. Marion, City Gates, and The Outdated Slave Sector, amongst some others.

In 1912 Harris began a long, and from time to time controversial, romance with the St. Augustine Historical Society. Serving as its business manager and head curator, Harris was instrumental equally in recruiting new customers to the Historic Society as well as marketing both equally the historical past and heritage of St. Augustine. While on his watch, specific associates began to dispute some of the Historic Society’s unsubstantiated statements…was the “Oldest Household in The usa” truly as outdated as claimed?. Was the “Old Slave Market” definitely a “Slave Market place” or was it merely a “General public Deliver Industry”.. The “…effectively, they could have been…” responses by selected area business people today fulfilled resistance from other historic purists, and some improvements in St. Augustine’s historic claims resulted.

No matter of the controversy, Harris’s association with the St. Augustine Historical Culture lasted until his dying in 1940 and all the whilst, Harris ongoing to promote his St. Augustine postcard and photography business enterprise.

Harris Postcards: It was in 1893 when checking out the Columbia Exposition that Harris saw a glimpse of the up coming coming craze…postcards. By 1898 Congress handed a legislation authorizing the manufacture and use of “Private Mailing Playing cards” and what commenced as a trickle soon exploded into a massive enterprise. And Harris was in a fantastic posture to gain his share of the business enterprise. The telephone was not yet commonplace and postcards shortly turned a most important usually means of casual communication. In 1901 Harris was selling a grouping of thirty Lake Hopatcong sights that ended up able of being inserted into a letter, so converting them into postcards was a somewhat easy activity. Rapidly changing much of his current stock into postcards and incorporating new views every yr, Harris before long had practically hundreds of Lake Hopatcong postcard sights and turned identified all around Lake Hopatcong as “Harris, the Postcard Guy”. Everyone wishing to ship a own concept about their particular excursion or holiday vacation on Lake Hopatcong generally did it applying a Harris postcard. In 1909 on your own Harris promises to have sold about 200,000 Lake Hopatcong postcards and projected even additional for 1910.

As his postcard company grew, he expanded into the memento and novelty industry, advertising paperweights, cups, extravagant holders, and other assorted wooden and birch bark novelties, all with the title “Lake Hopatcong” on them. While this sort of a memento small business was frequent in St. Augustine and other sites, Harris was one particular of the initial to start out these types of a business enterprise at Lake Hopatcong.

As the postcard fad commenced to wind down all around 1915, Harris experienced been seeing from a distance the accomplishment of Wallace Nutting in Massachusetts and shortly resolved to enter the field of hand-coloured pictures himself. With his qualifications, it was a purely natural.

Hand-Colored Photographs: Harris’s earliest endeavor with hand-colored photos came when he very first hand-tinted his Lake Hopatcong postcards. Right after functioning in black & white for many many years, commencing around 1905 Harris assumed that the added coloration could guide to amplified profits. But he also before long uncovered that the included expense of hand-coloring his postcards led to a greater unit value, and sooner or later to reduce gross sales. Ultimately Harris went the route of so a lot of other postcard photographers of obtaining his postcards created in shade on big-operate colour printing presses.
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As part of his New Jersey summertime-Florida winter season cycles, Harris commenced taken new photos with the intention of hand-coloring them for re-sale. His best marketing photographs quickly arrived to be from the New York Adirondack Region (in particular Ausable Chasm) and Florida (particularly The Singing Tower), despite the fact that his northeastern pictures arrived from through a 4-state location and his Florida photos arrived from in the course of the complete Miami-St. Augustine stretch.

Prior to extended, “Harris Shots” commenced to change “Harris the Postcard Man” as his principal supply of money. In accordance to his son Carver…”what dollars he had, he created from coloured pics”. And evidently he designed ample money to obtain residences in Florida and New Jersey, an imposing automobile, a dwelling-motor vehicle, and numerous launches and speedboats (which enabled him to get all around Lake Hopatcong faster than at any time).

Like Wallace Nutting photos, Harris photos were being generally hand-colored photographs, tipped onto a linen-sort matboard, and signed with the “Harris” name decreased ideal, and title decreased still left, usually signed in pencil. Most Harris images ended up matted, whilst a truthful quantity had been “shut-framed” and signed straight on the image with out any matting. And really usually you will however obtain an authentic “Harris” label either on the matboard back or on the backing paper.

But Harris images carry many delicate dissimilarities concerning Nutting and some of the main Nutting-Like photographers:
• Most Harris pictures were being rectangular sights, with the length normally getting much more than 2 times the width (or vice versa).
• Harris only offered Exterior (outdoor) sights. He by no means bought Colonial Interior scenes.
• You will only see the title “Harris” signed on the image, never ever “W.J.’ or any other variation of his initial or center names. There is also hardly ever any mention of Harris’s 1st or center name on any of his picture labels.
• Although the “Harris” title is commonly published parallel less than the photo, often you will see the “Harris” identify prepared at a forty five degree angle.
• Whilst much more abnormal, it is not uncommon for the Harris name to be reduced remaining and the title to be reduce proper.
• Most Harris signatures are signed in pencil

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