Contributed by Sharlot Hall Museum, Library and Archives
Arizona Photograph Company Collection - A Centennial Legacy Project
This collection represents the photographs created by members of The Arizona Photograph Company from 1894 - 1909. The photographer who took each of the individual photographs in unknown. This is not a complete collection of the company's photographs. (Other photographs can be found at the Sharlot Hall Museum in Prescott, Arizona http://www.sharlot.org/) All photographs are 8x10 gelatin silver glass plate negatives. The original condition of the plates varied from very poor and broken, to very good with minimal scratches, dirt and dust.
Provenance of the Collection
John Keelersays found nearly 500 glass plate negatives by The Arizona Photograph Company in an old men's store basement next to the Eagle Drug Store on the corner of Gurley and Cortez in Prescott, Arizona. These glass plates were donated to the Sharlot Hall Museum.
Robert Spude, author and historian, was able to save another 600 plates. These came by way of a junk dealer in Humboldt, Arizona who was working at an old bank building in Prescott that was being renovated. All the attic contents had been cleaned out and tossed down a garbage chute. A stack of wooden crates caught the junkman's eye and when he open one of them found several photographic boxes containing historic 8x10 glass plate negatives. Knowing these were something special, he took the crates home rather than throw them down the chute. A few weeks later, Mr. Spude stumbled upon this find and traded for them. This collection of glass plates eventually were donated to the Arizona Historical Foundation.
History of the Arizona Photograph Company
The Arizona Photograph Company was formed by a group of photographers in Prescott during the early 1900s. The group included: confectionary store owner, part time photographer, and mining specialist Percival Armitage; Civil War veteran and gallery owner Erwin Baer; newspaper and portrait photographer Thomas Bate; California commercial photographer W.R. Humphries, who was also the organizer and promoter of the group; and A.E. Suppiger a St. Louis photographer who sent photographs of Arizona to the expositions held in St. Louis and Portland.
The groups' photographs included studio portraits, landscapes, local businesses, ranches, military forts, mills and hoists, pack trains, wagons, railroads, mines and miners. In 1902, W.R. Humphries was hired by the Development Company of America (DCA) to photograph various mines around the state for use in mining prospectuses, company reports, and brochures. Local newspapers, such as the Prescott Courier, also printed the Arizona Photograph Company's images to promote the region, showcase Prescott, and entice mine investors and industries.
After the Bankers' Panic of 1907, the group disbanded. Suppiger and Armitage left the Arizona Territory soon after. Baer stayed in his Prescott gallery with various partners until 1913. Thomas Bates apprenticed under Erwin Baer before opening his own studio which he ran until 1927. Humphries continued photographing the mining boom and operated studios in Bisbee and later El Paso.