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Alfred
4-Mar-2016, 16:28
I have a huge antique photo portrait signed by Burger & Reed of Milwaukee, who were in business 1896-1900. The photo is 36" x 22" in very high resolution. I haven't been able to find any other 19th century photo this large with such a high resolution. Does anyone know how such a photo could have been enlarged using equipment available at that time? I am a longtime dealer in antique photos, and this one surprises me by its size & quality. Also, I am brand new to the Forum. Thanks for looking.

Randy Moe
4-Mar-2016, 17:11
Maybe it's a contact print.

Maybe it's not. http://www.mpritchard.com/photohistory/history/enlargers.htm

Jim Jones
4-Mar-2016, 20:14
I don't know when enlargers readily capable of making such prints were first available, but as early as 1915 some Elwood enlargers could have done it. It would be less than a 4x enlargement from a 8x10 negative. As for large contact prints, in 1900 George Laurence made a 4.5x8 FOOT contact print from a negative created in a specially made camera.

Duolab123
4-Mar-2016, 22:08
I would think that most likely it would be a high quality enlargement from a large glass plate negative. You can find all manner of contraptions if you look in an old catalogs for this stuff. Easiest way was to build a small frame to attach a taking camera to an outside window. Put the glass plate in place of the focusing ground glass and project the image horizontally to a easel mounted on a wall or stand. You see in some illustrations where the operator would place a mirror on the outside of the window that could be adjusted to get open skylight, ie no direct sun. By 1900, artificial light could be used. Ansel Adams did most of his work on a horizontal enlarger made from what (correct me if I'm wrong ) a old process camera that he fitted with lights.
I am always taken a back at how wonderful the photos are from this time period, and how resourceful these fellows were at fabricating and adapting equipment to suit the task at hand. Best Regards Mike

IanG
5-Mar-2016, 05:51
Looking in an 1898 BJP Almanac there were a few enlargers available and also companies specialising in "Trade printing and Enlarging" here in the UK, and it's likely there were similar companies in the US.

Elliott & Son, Barnet, England, for instance were trade printers (at that time) as well as manufacturers of Carbon tissue & Bromide papers under their Barnet brand and in 1898 list Bromide paper up to 40"x30" as well as 30" wide 25ft rolls. A 30"x22" print from something like a 10x8 plate is not much of an enlargement so little drop in quality.

Ian

LabRat
5-Mar-2016, 06:51
Remember that during the early 20th century, electricity still wasn't yet widespread, and enlargers were very hi-tech items, and out of reach for many studios… The early wick flame enlargers were hopelessly long with the exposure, due to low (uneven) output/slow materials/red-orange color output was almost a safelight (sometimes candles were used as safelights)…

The main reason for larger and larger LF was that studios needed the different sized LF cameras for contact printing the large sized prints that the customers requested (and to get an edge over the local competition studios, and more $$$$)… And retouching could be done on a large negative and contact printed easily…

Steve K

ic-racer
5-Mar-2016, 08:41
One realistic possibility:
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v670/ic-racer/Daylight%20Enlarger.jpg

Duolab123
5-Mar-2016, 17:36
One realistic possibility:
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v670/ic-racer/Daylight%20Enlarger.jpg

This is what I had in mind. The open sky, with the mirror in shade would make a quite nice diffuse light source. As long as you had clear skies it would be a a very predictable exposure. You could make some pretty big prints with an 8x10 or 11x14 plate.
Best, Mike

Alfred
6-Mar-2016, 14:06
Thank all of you very much for your very helpful information. I can now definitely see how, with effort, a large photo such as mine could have been produced. I am amazed however at how well the enlargement of mine was done, and I'm also surprised that, considering that quality, not more 3' x 2' framed photos from the 19th century are still around.

Wayne
6-Mar-2016, 14:29
One realistic possibility:
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v670/ic-racer/Daylight%20Enlarger.jpg

Very cool. In these times of energy savings I think we should all have one of these. Best make it when the wife is shopping though.

IanG
7-Mar-2016, 12:28
Thank all of you very much for your very helpful information. I can now definitely see how, with effort, a large photo such as mine could have been produced. I am amazed however at how well the enlargement of mine was done, and I'm also surprised that, considering that quality, not more 3' x 2' framed photos from the 19th century are still around.

That's more likely because they had no idea of what we now term archival permanence. Unless framed behind glass they'd be subjected to quite aggressive atmospheric pollutants, smoke from open fires, cigarette smoke etc. There was a lot of atmospheric sulphur as well, even behind glass you've only slightly better protection.

Ian

Randy Moe
7-Mar-2016, 12:57
Nonetheless it could be a print, they did have lenses and Mammoth cameras (http://robroy.dyndns.info/lawrence/mammoth.html) in that era.

Alfred
7-Mar-2016, 15:48
147957 Here's an image of my photo--36" x 22" excluding the frame. It's a bit of a mystery. Signed by photographers apparently active in Milwaukee 1896-1900, but the gilt wood & gesso frame is more 1870 than 1900, and the double-breasted topcoat is a style of the 1870's. One good thing is that the buttoning on the topcoat allows me to know that the photo is not reversed.