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Thread: TASOPE - The Aurora School of Photoengraving

  1. #1

    TASOPE - The Aurora School of Photoengraving

    TASOPE, a small company located in Aurora, MO, got its startóand nameóby building small photo engraving plants for small newspapers throughout the nation during the 1930s. Much like the fictional character Howard Hill of "The Music Man" who had to create a "boys band" before he could sell instruments to the parents of River City, Iowa, TASOPE realized that they had to teach their newspaper customers how to take professional pictures so they would have images to engrave on TASOPE equipment. Clifton C. Edom was the man who built their School of Photography and edited their monthly magazine. Edom went on to found the Missouri University photojournalism sequence in Columbia and has been widely recognized as one of the fathers of American Photojournalism. The MU School of Journalism is celebrating its 100th birthday this year, and I will be speaking briefly about Mr. Edom, his contribution to photojournalism, and his roots in rural newspapering at a celebration in Columbia in Mid-October. One LFPF member has written about a TASOPE process camera that he has. I would love to hear from him or anyone reading this who has TASOPE equipment, photos, literature and/or any knowledge of the company. Many thanks!

  2. #2
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    Re: TASOPE - The Aurora School of Photoengraving

    Bill,

    I found a brochure for the TASOPE school at a Springfield. Mo. flea market three years ago and tracked down Cliff Edom's daughter, Vme, through Google. (I had met Cliff and Vi Edom at the Mo U journalism school in the sixties when I went to a week long high school seminar for yearbook people. The photography section was taught by their then son-in-law, Tom Smith who was later the illustrations editor for National Geographic.)

    Anyway, I found Vme (pronounced Veemee) at the college she taught at in Virginia and sent the brochure to her.

    The latest info I have found on her is for the "Truth with a Camera/Edam Foundation".

    Dr. Vme Edom Smith, Director
    2958 Drum Point Crescent
    Chesapeake, Va. 23321-6135
    757-483-2557
    vme@macs.net

    That brochure had considerable information about the school, faculty, goals, etc. and I talked with Vme fairly extensively about the school itself. Hopefully she can be of some help in fleshing out the info you need. You might also try the Aurora Missouri Chamber of Commerce to see if they have a town or county historian who may have local information from that era (1940's).

    McRae's Blue Book still lists the company (selling photoengraving equipment s well as other products) at an Aurora phone number 417-678-4193, so perhaps there is someone still there who was ancient marketing info from those days and who might help. (1051 East Church Street Aurora, Mo. 65605-2316)

    Good luck.

    Tim
    "One of the greatest necessities in America is to discover creative solitude." Carl Sandburg

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    Re: TASOPE - The Aurora School of Photoengraving

    Bill, I have a lovely Wollensak TASOPE lens. It is a 10" of Rapid Rectilinear design. Unusual for a process lens yet Wollensak realized that an RR in it's center sweet area had remarkable clarity and contrast and was much less expensive to produce than many of the era's process lenses. I can send photos if you desire. I believe it was connected to the concern you speak of. Likely an inexpensive way to get the small town folk on board.
    He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep..to gain that which he cannot lose. Jim Elliot, 1949

  4. #4

    Re: TASOPE - The Aurora School of Photoengraving

    Thanks, Tim and Jim, for the prompt and detailed response. I know Vme and her former husband Tom Smith and look forward to seeing her at a luncheon in Cliff's and Vi's honor in Columbia next Thursday. I visited Aurora with Cliff and Vi shortly before Cliff's death. They took me to the old TASOPE building, which then was being operated as offices and a restaurant, I believe. Apparently, it now has been converted to a sort of community music center according to one mention I came across online. I also stopped at the TASOPE office when I visited there, but no one at the office seemed to have any knowledge of the old photo school, and they thought that no records were available from that time. The CofC does not even list TASOPE as a member, and TASOPE seems not to have a website. Approaching the local historical society is a good suggestion. I'll see what I can turn up there.

    Again, many thanks!

    Bill

  5. #5

    Re: TASOPE - The Aurora School of Photoengraving

    Jim: I would love to have a photo of your old Tasope lens, especially if the image shows writing that identifies the school. Thank you!

    Bill

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    Re: TASOPE - The Aurora School of Photoengraving

    Bill,

    I don't know where you are, but I'm not too far from Aurora (Nixa).

    If there is anything I can do to try to help in this area, let me know.

    Another resource might be to call the local paper there and see if they have any records of retirees that are still in the area. Maybe an old production staffer would have some memories.
    "One of the greatest necessities in America is to discover creative solitude." Carl Sandburg

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    Re: TASOPE - The Aurora School of Photoengraving

    Here y'go Bill. Sort of quick and dirty snaps. It was in a "barrel" which I still have but I put it in the shutter for use. I've made some nice 5X7's with this lens.



    He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep..to gain that which he cannot lose. Jim Elliot, 1949

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    Re: TASOPE - The Aurora School of Photoengraving

    Thanks for posting this. I had been very curious as to a Wollensak lens labelled TASOPE.

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    Re: TASOPE - The Aurora School of Photoengraving

    That's not all. Wollensak produced a lens called the Tasopean. I believe it was an f8 process lens, but of anastigmatic, not rr construction.

  10. #10

    Re: TASOPE - The Aurora School of Photoengraving

    Thanks even more Tim and Jim for the suggestions and pictures of the Tasope lens. I'm guessing Wollensak engraved the Tasope name on one of their standard production lenses. I'd love to know what all Tasope sold under their name. Even more interesting would be a list of their customers who bought engraving equipment and a list of those individuals who attended their workshops. Ever since Cliff told me about Tasope and his work there years ago, I've had a theory that many of the papers that were early adopters of this gear and that sent staff to Tasope workshops were the same papers that began innovating with news and feature photography in small towns. I think that this would be a terrific masters thesis for a student from Missouri or Kansas if he or she could track down Tasope records from the 30s and 40s and find former Tasope employees, as you suggest. Only problem is that Cliff was running Tasope workshops prior to WWII, and there probably aren't many of that generation who are still around or have clear memories of those times.

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