The Hand Colored Photography of William James Harris

Interest in early 20th c. Hand-colored pictures via “Harris” has been growing in current years, mainly in Harris’s Florida scenes. Yet I’ll guess that maximum creditors do not even realize Harris’s first name, not to mention anything about his historical past.

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We had no statistics on Harris ourselves till numerous years in the past when we stated Harris in a preceding article and asked readers to supply us with any regarded statistics. As a result, we received an editorial on Harris postcards, and an editorial that has been posted on Harris by way of the St. Augustine Historical Society in 1991, each of which shed vast light on the hand-colored images career of William James Harris.

William James Harris (1868-1940) turned into born on October 12, 1868, in Herefordshire, England. His own family emigrated to America in 1870, settling in the Wilkes Barre, PA region. Known in his children as both “Will” and “Willie”, by age 20 he apprenticed underneath a nearby photographer. Within three hundred and sixty-five days he became able to begin his first images enterprise while dwelling together with his parents and operating his first studio inside their residence.

In 1890, the 22 yr antique Harris moved with his family to W. Pittston, PA where, despite the fact that he continued operating a studio in his mother and father home, he additionally began his career as a traveling photographer. During the early 1890s, he spent extensive time photographing coal miners and mining operations in jap Pennsylvania’s coal regions. Soon thereafter he started out utilizing the railroads to transport him, and his photography device, to the mountains, lakes, towns, and wherever else he determined to take his camera. Cabinet photos sold via Harris round this time listed his address as West Pittston, PA; Tunkhannock, PA; Pittston, PA; Penn Yan, NY; Binghamton, NY; and Keuka, NY

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In 1893 Harris traveled to the World’s Columbia Exposition in Chicago. While there his started out the primary of many subsequent promotional feats. One of the focal factors of the 1893 Columbia Exposition changed into the first-ever advent of George Ferris’s amazing “Ferris Wheel”. And it becomes Harris who changed into the first to picture it. He expected that by mountain climbing upon a roof approximately the equal height because the Ferris Wheel’s middle shaft, he could be able to produce a view whereby the curves of the wheel were not distorted vertically by using attitude. This photograph became so surprising that Harris donated 2000 of them to the Ferris Wheel Company, each of which included his name and cope with, which helped to make an early name for the young photographer.

Lake Hopatcong: It turned into in 1898 that Harris moved to a place that might play a vital function in his existence…Lake Hopatcong, NJ. Located in northern New Jersey, it is 9 miles of coastline and coves make it New Jersey’s largest lake and on the flip of the century, Lake Hopatcong had ended up a summer season mecca for the wealthy and well-known. Conveniently placed to nearby New York metropolis, Lake Hopatcong presented a smooth summer getaway from the town heat and plenty of summertime “cottages”, which often had been more like mansions, began arising across the lake. Harris quickly recognized the want for his photographic offerings here all through the summer months.

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Beautiful sunsets have become the Harris trademark at the same time as running on Lake Hopatcong and he turned into farsighted enough to set himself up on part of the lake that was recognized as having the quality sunsets. And being the extremely good promoter that he changed into, Harris commenced advertising his studio as imparting the greatest sundown pix at the lake. Soon travelers started flocking to his studio for their private and own family pics on Lake Hopatcong.

In every other flow of public relations genius, Harris created his personal “Floating Studio” within the summer season of 1899. Replacing his land-primarily based transportable studio, this floating studio was truly a houseboat specially outfitted as a photographic studio. Called the “Harris Photo Float”, this sixteen’x50′ floating studio become capable of journeying around the lake or even had a unique porch for his famous sunset pics. Although different photographers had been also working around the lake, Harris’ floating studio and his gift for promotional effect gave him an aggressive part over the opposite photographers and he controlled a tremendous part of the lake’s pictures enterprise. Unfortunately, in 1903 Harris’ floating studio sprang a knothole leak and sank, taking with it tons of Harris’ photographic device.

But he speedy recovered from this catastrophe and went directly to preserve an almost forty-yr courting with Lake Hopatcong. Harris persevered his summer visits to the lake until as past due as 1939, while he became in his 60’s and his photographic profession started winding down.

St. Augustine, Florida: In 1898 Harris moved to St. Augustine, Florida in which he opened the “Acme View Company”“. Harris’s Florida photographic offerings protected the sale of cameras and system, unfastened photographic instructions to amateur photographers, using his darkroom, in addition to professional photographic offerings to local citizens or visiting tourists. He additionally lost no time in photographing the stunning points of interest in St. Augustine and the encompassing Florida geographical region.

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