The Hand Coloured Images of William James Harris

Interest in early 20th c. hand-colored pictures by “Harris” has been raising in modern yrs, specifically in Harris’s Florida scenes. Yet I am going to wager that most collectors really don’t even know Harris’s first name, permit by yourself something about his history.

We experienced no details on Harris ourselves until finally several several years in the past when we mentioned Harris in a previous write-up and requested audience to provide us with any regarded data. As a end result we obtained an short article on Harris postcards, and an short article that experienced been published on Harris by the St. Augustine Historic Modern society in 1991, the two of which get rid of sizeable gentle on the hand-coloured images occupation of William James Harris.

William James Harris (1868-1940) was born on Oct 12, 1868 in Herefordshire, England. His relatives emigrated to The united states in 1870, settling in the Wilkes Barre, PA region. Acknowledged in his youth as equally “Will” and “Willie“, by age 20 he apprenticed beneath a nearby photographer. Inside 1 12 months he was ready to get started his 1st pictures business enterprise whilst living with his mother and father and running his first studio in their property.

In 1890, the 22 year outdated Harris moved with his loved ones to W. Pittston, PA wherever, even though he continued operating a studio in his parents house, he also began his job as a traveling photographer. Throughout the early 1890’s, he spent significant time photographing coal miners and mining operations in jap Pennsylvania’s coal areas. Shortly thereafter he began utilizing the railroads to transportation him, and his pictures tools, to the mountains, lakes, cities, and anywhere else he made the decision to acquire his camera. Cupboard pictures bought by Harris around this time listed his handle 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. When there his started the to start with of numerous subsequent advertising feats. Just one of the focal details of the 1893 Columbia Exposition was the 1st-ever introduction of George Ferris’s excellent “Ferris Wheel“. And it was Harris who was the first to photograph it. He envisioned that by climbing on a roof somewhere around the exact height as the Ferris Wheel’s centre shaft, he would be in a position to deliver a perspective whereby the curves of the wheel ended up not distorted vertically by standpoint. This photograph was so outstanding that Harris donated 2000 of them to the Ferris Wheel Corporation, each and every of which bundled his title and handle, which helped to make an early name for the young photographer.

In 1895 he married Maude Dunn, a relationship that was small-lived because she died instantly and unexpectedly in 1897.

Shortly immediately after Maude’s dying, Harris and some close friends opened a vacationer business enterprise in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains, promoting photos of Buck Hill Falls, the Delaware Water Gap, and other community attractions to vacationers and nearby people. Even though operating from the “Harris Gallery” his solutions also incorporated cabinet playing cards and tin-sort images,. This portable studio the moment yet again served as an exceptional advertising feat simply because it enabled him to equally promote his company, and course of action his photographic get the job done, wherever he went.

All-around 1901, Harris married a next time, making Marion E. Briant the next Mrs. Harris. Collectively they experienced two children, a daughter (Ruth) and a son (Carver). This relationship lasted until finally about 1920. Right 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 final relationship.

Lake Hopatcong: It was in 1898 that Harris moved to a site that would engage in a very important job in his lifetime…Lake Hopatcong, NJ. Located in northern New Jersey, it is 9 miles of shoreline and coves make it New Jersey’s largest lake and at the change of the century, Lake Hopatcong experienced turn out to be a summertime mecca for the rich and famous. Conveniently found to close by New York metropolis, Lake Hopatcong supplied an quick summer season getaway from the metropolis heat and quite a few summer months “cottages“, which in quite a few cases were being much more like mansions, started springing up around the lake. Harris immediately recognized the need to have for his photographic services here during the summer months.

Attractive sunsets became the Harris trademark even though doing the job on Lake Hopatcong and he was farsighted ample to set himself up on a part of the lake that was regarded as obtaining the ideal sunsets. And currently being the terrific promoter that he was, Harris commenced advertising his studio as providing the greatest sunset pictures on the lake. Soon vacationers commenced flocking to his studio for their particular and household pictures on Lake Hopatcong.

In a different shift of community relations genius, Harris developed his have own “Floating Studio” in the summertime of 1899. Replacing his land-centered moveable studio, this floating studio was really a houseboat specifically outfitted as a photographic studio. Named the “Harris Photograph Float“, this 16’x50′ floating studio was able of traveling around the lake, and even experienced a particular porch for his popular sunset shots. Whilst other photographers ended up also doing the job all over the lake, Harris’ floating studio and his reward for advertising influence gave him a aggressive edge above the other photographers and he managed a sizeable portion of the lake’s images organization. Regrettably, in 1903 Harris’ floating studio sprang a knothole leak and sank, having with it a lot of Harris’ photographic machines.

But he quickly recovered from this disaster and went on to go on a practically 40-year connection with Lake Hopatcong. Harris ongoing his summertime visits to the lake until finally as late as 1939, when he was in his 60’s and his photographic career commenced winding down.

St. Augustine, Florida: In 1898 Harris moved to St. Augustine, Florida where he opened the “Acme Look at Enterprise“. Harris’s Florida photographic providers integrated the sale of cameras and tools, free photographic guidelines to newbie photographers, the use of his darkroom, as nicely as skilled photographic solutions to local residents or going to holidaymakers. He also misplaced no time in photographing the stunning sights in St. Augustine and the surrounding Florida countryside.

Harris speedily fell in like with St. Augustine and to a larger sized extent, practically all of Florida. Between 1898 and 1940 Harris started a photographic career that most of us would aspire to obtain currently…summers together the shorelines of lovely Lake Hopatcong, NJ… and winters in heat and sunny St. Augustine, FL.

St. Augustine presented a assortment of photographic topics that appealed to Florida’s developing vacationer trade such as the Fountain of Youth, the Oldest Residence in America, Ft. Marion, Town Gates, and The Aged Slave Market, amongst other people.

In 1912 Harris started a extensive, and often controversial, connection with the St. Augustine Historical Society. Serving as its business supervisor and head curator, Harris was instrumental each in recruiting new customers to the Historic Society as perfectly as marketing both of those the history and heritage of St. Augustine. Whilst on his check out, selected users started to dispute some of the Historical Society’s unsubstantiated statements…was the “Oldest Dwelling in The usa” really as outdated as claimed?. Was the “Outdated Slave Industry” certainly a “Slave Market” or was it basically a “Community Develop Market place“.. The “…well, they could have been…” responses by specified space business enterprise people satisfied resistance from other historical purists, and some variations in St. Augustine’s historical promises resulted.

Regardless of the controversy, Harris’s association with the St. Augustine Historic Culture lasted right until his death in 1940 and all the even though, Harris continued to advertise his St. Augustine postcard and pictures business enterprise.

Harris Postcards: It was in 1893 though going to the Columbia Exposition that Harris observed a glimpse of the subsequent coming pattern…postcards. By 1898 Congress handed a legislation authorizing the manufacture and use of “Private Mailing Cards” and what commenced as a trickle shortly exploded into a massive small business. And Harris was in a ideal situation to get paid his share of the business. The telephone was not still commonplace and postcards quickly became a main means of casual communication. In 1901 Harris was providing a grouping of 30 Lake Hopatcong sights that have been capable of getting inserted into a letter, so changing them into postcards was a reasonably very simple job. Immediately converting significantly of his existing inventory into postcards and introducing new sights each individual year, Harris quickly had virtually hundreds of Lake Hopatcong postcard views and became regarded all-around Lake Hopatcong as “Harris, the Postcard Gentleman“. Any person wishing to send out a personalized message about their special excursion or family vacation on Lake Hopatcong typically did it employing a Harris postcard. In 1909 alone Harris claims to have marketed about 200,000 Lake Hopatcong postcards and projected even a lot more for 1910.

As his postcard business enterprise grew, he expanded into the memento and novelty area, selling paperweights, cups, fancy holders, and other assorted wood and birch bark novelties, all with the title “Lake Hopatcong” on them. Though such a memento small business was frequent in St. Augustine and other places, Harris was just one of the initially to start off this kind of a business enterprise at Lake Hopatcong.

As the postcard craze started to wind down all-around 1915, Harris experienced been viewing from a length the success of Wallace Nutting in Massachusetts and soon made a decision to enter the discipline of hand-colored photography himself. With his qualifications, it was a normal.

Hand-Coloured Photographs: Harris’s earliest try with hand-coloured images came when he initially hand-tinted his Lake Hopatcong postcards. Immediately after doing the job in black & white for many several years, starting up all around 1905 Harris assumed that the additional color could lead to increased product sales. But he also quickly figured out that the included expense of hand-coloring his postcards led to a greater unit price tag, and ultimately to decrease profits. Finally Harris went the route of so many other postcard photographers of getting his postcards produced in shade on substantial-operate color printing presses.

As element of his New Jersey summer season-Florida winter cycles, Harris began taken new pictures with the intention of hand-coloring them for re-sale. His best marketing photographs shortly arrived to be from the New York Adirondack Location (in particular Ausable Chasm) and Florida (specifically The Singing Tower), though his northeastern photos came from in the course of a four-state area and his Florida photographs arrived from all through the entire Miami-St. Augustine stretch.

Right before very long, “Harris Pics” started to substitute “Harris the Postcard Gentleman” as his key source of income. According to his son Carver…”what revenue he had, he produced from colored shots“. And evidently he made sufficient income to obtain residences in Florida and New Jersey, an imposing vehicle, a residence-automobile, and many launches and speedboats (which enabled him to get all-around Lake Hopatcong more quickly than ever).

Like Wallace Nutting photos, Harris photographs ended up ordinarily hand-colored pictures, tipped onto a linen-type matboard, and signed with the “Harris” name decreased ideal, and title lower still left, generally signed in pencil. Most Harris pics had been matted, though a reasonable variety had been “close-framed” and signed instantly on the image without the need of any matting. And fairly generally you will still come across an initial “Harris” label either on the matboard again or on the backing paper.

Nonetheless Harris shots have several delicate variances between Nutting and some of the significant Nutting-Like photographers:
• Most Harris images had been oblong sights, with the size commonly getting much more than twice the width (or vice versa).
• Harris only sold Exterior (outdoor) sights. He in no way bought Colonial Inside scenes.
• You will only see the identify “Harris” signed on the photo, in no way “W.J.‘ or any other variation of his initial or middle names. There is also hardly ever any point out of Harris’s initially or middle title on any of his photo labels.
• Even though the “Harris” name is usually composed parallel less than the picture, once in a while you will see the “Harris” title published at a 45 diploma angle.
• Even though additional abnormal, it is not unheard of for the Harris title to be decrease left and the title to be decreased suitable.
• Most Harris signatures are signed in pencil

And most likely most various from Nutting, a lot of Harris photographs are hand-coloured “photogravures” relatively than hand-colored photos. Although his earliest scenes were manufactured on photographic paper, some of his afterwards and most effective-providing views have been reproduced in greater black & white quantities applying the photogravure printing process, and then independently hand-coloured. Whilst Nutting experienced practically 100 colorists at his peak, Harris in no way had additional than 5 folks coloring his photographs at any presented time.

A single fascinating story about Harris pics relates to many of his photos that element a egret standing in the Florida drinking water. Apparently for the sake of simplicity, Harris carried a “stuffed” egret as aspect of his photographic tools, presumably simply because it was simpler to shoot a continue to chook for outcome relatively than a reside, uncontrollable bird. He was also known to carry a stuffed alligator for influence as nicely.

Not incredibly, Harris was generally his very own ideal salesman and his photographic expeditions also turned revenue excursions as properly. Every time he went into the countryside to shoot new shots, he typically stopped at many art and gift outlets alongside the way to acquire new wholesale and retail orders for his photo business enterprise. It was estimated that additional than 70 shops on the two coasts of Florida alone carried Harris’s hand-colored pictures. A lot of accommodations made use of Harris shots on their partitions to promote the beauties of early 20th c. Florida, and it is approximated that Harris would commonly need extra than 25,000 photos for every time just to satisfy the demand from customers of his Florida profits outlets.

And as the Florida time would stop Harris would pack car or truck, head back again north, and commence the cycle all in excess of once more at New Jersey’s Lake Hopatcong.

The Remaining Many years: William James Harris died on August 2, 1940 after struggling as a result of a long sickness and was buried in his adopted metropolis of St. Augustine. Although not as properly regarded as Wallace Nutting or some of Nutting’s other contemporaries, Harris did realize a sizeable stage of fame. He relished a affordable money achievements in his picked photographic industry, he liked the vacation and perform involving the northeast in the summer months months and Florida in the winter season months, he experienced a numerous loved ones lifestyle, he made a powerful bond with his adopted city of St. Augustine, FL, and his photographic operates surely assisted to popularize Florida far more than any other photographer of his time.

And now far more than ever, collectors of hand-coloured photography are actively trying to find the beautiful hand-coloured photographs of William James Harris.