Silver Bay Postcards

:: Photographers and Publishers ::

Since the earliest days of the postcard, Lake George has been well documented. The locale was scenic, unspoiled, a close and popular destination for travelers eager to get away from New York City and Albany. What follows is a short list of postcard publishers and photographers (and one artist) who have taken a special interest in Silver Bay.

:: Paul C. Koeber ::

The Paul C. Koeber Company had offices in New York, New York, and Kirchheim, Germany. Known primarily for color, artist’s postcards, the company also produced a line of black & white photograph postcards dating roughly from 1907 to 1914. Koeber postcards are often stamped with a PCK peacock logo, and they are numbered. I have seen four PCK postcards of Silver Bay, nos. 1223, 1225, 1227 and 1228 (shown above), which suggests the existence of 1224 and 1226, at the very least.

:: Detroit Publishing Company ::

Detroit Publishing was launched in the late 1890’s and obtained the rights to a Swiss process for converting black-and-white photos to color prints using lithographic stones. A separate stone was used for each color in the final print, from a minimum of four up to 14 stones.

At its height, the company sold millions of prints each year from outlets in Detroit, New York, Los Angeles, London and Zurich, at popular tourist spots and through the mail. With the declining sale of postcards during World War I, and the introduction of new and cheaper printing methods by competing firms, the Detroit Publishing Company went into receivership in 1924. Individual postcards do not have the photographer’s name, but they are numbered. Of those I own, postmarks date from 1907 to 1917.

:: J. S. (Jesse “Jess” Sumner) Wooley ::

You could collect J.S. Wooley cards until the cows come home. A photographer from Ballston Spa, N.Y., where he maintained his home, shop and headquarters, Wooley first came to Silver Bay in 1905. In 1908, he began spending each July and August in Silver Bay, as the Association’s official photographer. The SBA provided lodging for Wooley and his family, and space for a studio and photography shop. By 1910, his studio was in The Store. This arrangement was agreeable to both parties and Wooley took and sold pictures every summer at Silver Bay for 15 years.

Wooley chronicled every aspect of Silver Bay’s activities, and also rode the steamboats up and down Lake George taking more pictures of scenic beauty and summer homes of the well-to-do. He especially liked group photos because every person in the picture was a potential customer. His son, Carl, enjoyed his father’s panoramic photos because he could be in the picture twice, racing the camera from one end of the photo to the other. In 1923, Jess closed up shop at Silver Bay.

For more on Jess Wooley, I highly recommend Exposing the Wilderness: Early Twentieth Century Adirondack Postcard Photographers by Robert Bogdan (Syracuse University Press, 1999).

:: C.W. Hughes Company ::

In 1923, the C.W. Hughes Company purchased J.S. Wooley’s images and churned out “Wooley” postcards of lesser quality from the mid-1920s to 1930s, bringing the Wooley postcards into the Linen Era. The cards were printed by C.T. American Art of Chicago.

:: William Terzian ::

William Terzian dreamed of building bridges. Born in Armenia on December 12, 1912, he was brought to the United States by his parents in 1923, as they fled the Ottoman Empire’s Armenian genocide. William Terzian grew up in New York City and attended Brooklyn Tech, where he began his engineering studies. But his talent for photography was recognized, and what began as a hobby took his life in a new direction.

Terzian found one of his favorite photographic subjects when he traveled north to the Adirondack mountains and Lake George as a young man. In 1933, he first visited Silver Bay. The main body of his Silver Bay photography was taken in the summers of 1935 and 1936. In 1943, Terzian and his wife Violet moved to Manhasset, Long Island, and began a photography business together. ‘Terzian of Manhasset’ specialized in portraits of children, class pictures for public and private schools, and weddings. As his business thrived over four decades, he found himself taking pictures for second and third generations of his customers.

As you might gather from the neat lettering of his name on a Terzian postcard, he was a perfectionist, a photographer who went to great lengths to get the shot right. His postcards, all in black & white or sepia tone, are beautifully composed and photographed. Many were published by the Collotype Company of Elizabeth, New Jersey, and New York. Terzian also printed real photo postcards himself. Among my prize possessions are a published black & white image of Slim Point and a real photo postcard taken minutes later while the camera was in the same position. My Terzian postcards are postmarked 1941-1947.

But one postcard I own tells the story of why Terzian did not remain Silver Bay’s postcard photographer for the length of his career. On the back, a young woman named Anna writes, “Wished had it colors.” William did not shoot color, and in the late 1940’s, he found himself being replaced as Silver Bay’s postcard photographer by Richard K. Dean from Glens Falls, who shot color photography for glossy chrome postcards all over the U.S.

But this was not the end of William and Violet’s relationship with Lake George. Their children spent summers at Silver Bay, and their daughter, Jacqueline, even served as an Emp and an editor of “Baylights,” the Silver Bay Association’s yearbook. William and Violet had a summer home two miles south of Silver Bay, near Tongue Mountain, and they retired there in 1985. William Terzian died in 1987, after a lifetime of building bridges for memories.

:: Artvue ::

The Artvue Postcard Company of New York, New York, occupies an odd spot in postcard history, a producer of black & white postcards in the 1950’s when color postcards were more popular. The company is best known for publishing postcards for the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. I’ve seen Artvue Silver Bay cards with postmarks from 1948 to 1950.

:: Richard K. Dean/Dean Color ::

Richard K. Dean has taken photographs for postcards all over the United States for more than 50 years, publishing approximately 25 million post cards thus far. Mr. Dean began taking photos at Silver Bay in 1949, and his company began producing Silver Bay postcards in the mid-1950’s. Over the years, the company has produced between 40 and 50 different Silver Bay scenes. Dean postcards are for sale in the Gift Shop of the Inn today. Early Dean postcards of Silver Bay had rounded corners; after 1955 or so the cards went to squared corners.

:: Jeff Rarig ::

In 2002, Silver Bay began offering five postcards — Silver Bay, The Auditorium, The Inn, The Store, Paine Hall — with the artwork of Jeff Rarig, with all proceeds benefiting the Silver Bay Association in memory of Ruth and Charlie Lupton. Jeff writes:

“I lived in the Bay Area for a few years right out of college and saw similar prints done for the Golden Gate National Parks Association. I really liked the way they looked and thought I might be able to replicate them for specific buildings/locations on (the Silver Bay) campus. My grandfather passing away was what motivated me to start working on these drawings. Each drawing was done by hand in pencil (based on photos I had taken primarily for the purposes of these prints). The lines were then inked in using a black pen and the color added by using watercolor markers. A friend of the family from Silver Bay, Michael Prewitt, who also happens to be a graphic designer, helped get me in touch with another graphic designer who helped to digitally smooth out the colors to make the prints look like silkscreens…

“I have an architectural/engineering background, so the historical buildings on campus have always interested me. For these first five prints, I picked four buildings – Auditorium, Inn, Store, Paine Hall (I guess five if you consider Brooks Pavilion in the Silver Bay one). The Auditorium and the Inn seemed like natural choices. My Dad managed the Store for a few summers when I was growing up, and my family lived in Paine Hall for a few summers as well. Those also seemed like good choices. For the Silver Bay print, I wanted to have an image that evoked a strong sense of what Silver Bay is for many people (which I knew would be tough to do with just one image). I decided to go with the view from down by the ERC. I really wanted to have Slim Point in there (along with the Bay in a silver color) and I thought the Adirondack chair worked well to convey the sense of relaxing/recharging that so many people experience while vacationing at Silver Bay.

“I have ideas for more prints, but haven’t been able to start working on any new drawings yet. I’m hoping to produce another set of four to five prints at some point though.”

:: Others ::

I have seen individual Silver Bay postcards published by Arthur Livingston, New York, New York (postmarked 1904); Robson & Adee, Saratoga Springs (circa 1905); National R’w’y News Co., (postmarked 1907); The Rotograph Company, New York City, N.Y. (postmarked 1909); Laughton & Valentine, New York; Valentine Souvenir Co., New York; Vandenburg & Caldwell of Mechanicville, New York (postmarked 1914); Santway Photo-Craft Company, Watertown, New York; Mike Roberts Color of Berkeley, California, published by G.F. Blackmer & Sons, Saratoga Springs, New York (1950s).

For hundreds more Silver Bay postcards, do visit my Silver Bay blog.

:: A Brief History of the Postcard in the United States ::

Introduced in Germany in the 1870s, picture postcards made their first major American splash in 1893 at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Sold by vendors and handed out by exhibitors, the cards had illustrations of the buildings and views of the Exposition. They allowed travelers to boast; they were a colorful addition to the mail. By 1901, the number of postcards published was doubling every six months and a craze was in full bloom.

Prior to 1901, only the federal government could print a “Postcard.” A privately printed card was referred to as a “Private Mailing Card,” “Souvenir Card”, “Correspondence Card” or “Mail Card,” and had an undivided back, for the address only. Any messages had to be written on the front of the card, either on the picture itself or around its border. The postcards we are familiar with today, with a divided back for a message and the address, became legal in 1907.

In 1908, Americans mailed more than 677 million postcards, at a time when the total population was less than 90 million. During the holiday season of 1909, the Baltimore, Maryland, Post Office alone handled one million postcards.

Most picture postcards were printed in Germany, the leader in lithography. Photographers sent black-and-white prints to Europe to be hand-tinted and printed, and the finished postcards were shipped back. Every town, city and state in the United States sought to have its grandest building or highest peak on a postcard. Publishers could not keep up with the demand. This era from 1907 to 1915 became known as the Golden Age of postcards.

But at the peak of the craze, World War I and the German Navy’s U-Boat cut off the supply of postcards from Germany. In the U.S., publishers lacked the skill and equipment of the Germans, and the lowered quality of the printed postcard, together with influenza epidemics, war shortages and the telephone, put a damper on the hobby. From 1915 to 1930, domestic reprints of Golden Age postcards appeared with a white border around the image, but their quality was inferior.

One type of postcard — the “Real Photo” — was an exception. Around 1906, the popularity of lithographed cards caught the attention of Eastman-Kodak in Rochester, New York. The company produced a camera that allowed photographers to take black & white photographs and print them onto paper with a “postcard” back. Later cameras added a small door that allowed the photographer to write a caption or comment directly on the negative. Individual photographers could print multiple copies of a photo, and publishers used rotary drum negative imprinters for runs of thousands.

The “Linen” postcard — popular from 1930 to 1945 — was printed on stock with a higher rag content that gave the postcards a textured feel and allowed the use of bright dyes for image coloring, but the results lacked the image quality of lithographed or real photo postcards. The photochrome postcard was introduced in 1939. This new type of postcard was easily produced, of high photo quality and most importantly, the photos were in color. Publishers such as Dexter Press, Curt Teich, and Plastichrome were leaders in the field; the “Chrome” postcard remains the standard today.

My thanks to Google for helping me find William and Violet Terzian’s children, and to daughter Jacqueline Paterniti for contacting me and sharing her memories of her father with me. Thanks also to Wendy Dean Chitty of Dean Color for her helpful response to my letter, and to Jeff Rarig and the Rarig family for answering my questions in wonderful detail. And to the Rev. James Bresnahan for sharing his collection and insights, and inspiring my collecting.

For hundreds more Silver Bay postcards, do visit my Silver Bay blog.

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6 comments

  1. I have read that the Artvue company was formed in 1948. However, I have postcards that say Artvue with postmarks as early as 1919 and 1926, as well as several dozen with postmarks in the 1930s and 1940s – before 1947. Do you know how I can find out more about the dates of Artvue postcards?

    1. Wow. This is news to me. I’ll investigate!

      1. The 1919 date was an error in my database. However there are a number of 1930s Artvue postcards; the design of the back is more ornate that the later ones.

  2. I have a date: “Artvue (1936- ) 225 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. A publisher of black & white, and sepia view-cards as collotypes and photochromes. They purchased the Albertype Company in 1952. With this came the right to publish Baseball Hall of Fame cards, which they did until 1963.”

    1. cfgcamphistories · · Reply

      Is there any way to learn more about the Artvue company? They seem to have published lots of postcards of summer camps, starting in the 1930s and possibly into the 70s – I have color 2 Artvue cards postmarked 1973 and 1979, but of course they could have been made earlier. Who started the company? How did it grow? It is hard to search for it on the internet because all the results are just postcards.
      Mary Alice

      1. This is from the Metropolitan Postcard Club’s site:

        “Artvue (1936-) 225 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY A publisher of black & white, and sepia view-cards as collotypes and photochromes. They purchased the Albertype Company in 1952. With this came the right to publish Baseball Hall of Fame cards, which they did until 1963.”

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