Thursday, November 15, 2012

What Are They Reading?



I bought the postcard shown above because I wanted to see what they were reading. I thought it might be something romantic or popular. It turned out to be a copy of STUDIO LIGHT magazine with an ad for Artura photographic paper on the back cover. By looking at other information on the web, I determined that the words below STUDIO LIGHT on the cover say "Incorporating The Aristo Eagle and The Artura Bulletin."  Artura was bought by Eastman Kodak in 1909. Similar Artura ads were used on the back cover in 1916 and possibly earlier.


The front of the postcard is stamped C. L. Merryman, Kerkhoven Minn. on the bottom border.


C. L. Merryman was Charles Lincoln Merryman (1865-1956) who had a studio in Kerkhoven plus a couple of  branches. He owned the Kerkhoven studio from 1893 until 1940. The studio was razed shortly after he sold it. The following information is from Placeography:
Charles Lincoln Merryman is originally from Bangor, Maine. He was born in 1865, and he evidently took to photography at an early age: He was running his own photo shop in Bangor when he was still a teenager. In 1884 Merryman went to Boston where he spent the next eight years working for the Blair Camera Company. In 1892 he moved to Kerkhoven, and for several months he operated a photo studio there out of a tent. In 1893 Merryman purchased the building pictured here on 11th street, and he remodeled it to accommodate a photo studio by extending the building and adding skylights to it. Merryman ran this photography business for nearly fifty years, and he eventually had two satellite studios in Sunberg and Spicer Minnesota.
I found some very interesting photos of Merryman's studio on the Minnesota Historical Society website. The first is a postcard advertising the studio.


A photo of the Merryman studio interior below shows the same background (on the right) that was used for my postcard.


Another photo of the studio interior, that I found especially interesting, is one of the Post Card Station promoting photo postcards.


The Minnesota Historical Society also has another Merryman photo of a Man Reading. Though the image isn't very clear, it looks like the man could also be reading Studio Light.



I discovered another "reading" photo by Merryman that was used on the cover of the book In Their Own Words: Letters from Norwegian Immigrants. The woman who is reading may be sitting in the same fancy chair shown in the photo of Merryman's studio interior. (The image of the book cover is from Amazon, and the original image is credited to the Minnesota Historical Society)


To See More Vintage Images


19 comments:

  1. Just amazing! what a treat to see inside an original old postcard shop too.

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  2. This is a fantastic post! I didn't know about Placeography, so thank you so much for that. It looks like quite an interesting website.

    The photos showing the studio interior are fascinating.

    And the Letters from Norwegian Immigrants book is quite intriguing since I have Norwegian ancestry. And they settled in Minnesota!

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  3. great post! love the postcard too :D

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  4. What a fun journey from finished photo to the back-story of the old studio and postcard shop.

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  5. The "In Their Own Words" does sound interesting. More so than the other book.

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  6. Now that's a great bit of detective-work! I wish MY image had been as clear as yours, so I would have a definitive answer!
    Interesting that Merryman was so keen on capturing the act of reading.

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  7. What fun! So I guess the magazine was just a prop and we weren't supposed to zoom in to find out what they were reading? And to find pictures of the studio inside and out... just great!

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  8. Good detection work. It goes to show how careful you must be when reading anything in public - so easy for industrial espionage - although this is not the case here. Thanks for Placeography too.

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  9. I bet not many people will be able to match the background of an old picture and the interior of the studio where the picture was taken. Well done!
    I was also surprised to see the name 'Kerkhoven' which is very Dutch. Translated it means 'Cemeteries'. Any particular reason why the first (Dutch?) settlers came up with that name?

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  10. PS The literal translation of 'Kerkhoven' is 'Church yards'.

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  11. That post card led you in interesting directions.

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  12. I would say that book was a prop for that studio. I love that last card of the two women. Such interesting dresses.
    QMM

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  13. Wow, what history unfolded from the postcard. I knew they promoted photo post cards but have never before seen such a shop. This was very interesting reading and looking, as always with your posts...

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  14. I now want to go through my postcards, maybe cabinet cards to see if they are reading anything. Nice blog.
    Judy

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  15. Just the kind of post I love. Part detective story, part history essay, part just good blogging.

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  16. A perfect post with great details! I have often wondered what these small town photography studios looked like. In the second interior shot, there is a print on the floor with, I believe, the three assassinated presidents: Lincoln, Garfield, and McKinley, so after 1901.

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  17. Such an interesting journey on the theme of reading. You always have a great story to tell and somehow find all the pieces to make it work together. Fascinating!

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  18. Great read about reading! I'm amazed at how much you can get out of examining these photos. I wish the photographer had pulled that gentleman reader's pants down a little to cover up his socks, but perhaps it was the fashion to show a little sock back then.

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  19. You are right, it is the same chair!!
    His business is terrible but probably up to the standards of the time. His photographs are more interesting, thankfully!!
    Thanx 4 sharing!!
    :)~
    HUGZ

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