Scope and Contents
The collection consists of fifty three photographic postcards of New York City buildings and landmarks, including aerial views. The postcards were collected by Dr. Rudolf Wolff, a pediatrician from Krefeld, Germany during a trip to the United States in the early 1930s and brought back to America when the family immigrated in 1936. The cards are arranged into four series by the company that published or printed the materials.
System of Arrangement: The collection is arranged into four series.
Series 1, Cards published by the Franco-American Novelty Company, New York, consists of three items. The Franco-American Novelty Company was established in 1910 at 1209 Broadway in New York City. The cards published under this company's name have the same set numbering convention as series 4 and one is marked "Printed in England", suggesting they were printed by Rotary Photo. Series 2, Cards published by William Frange, New York, consists of two cards. William Frange was a New York photographer who sold photographs to other publishers and published cards himself. His slogan, printed on the cards, was "Real Photographs, New York's Best Views". The cards in this group were printed in England.
Series 3, Cards printed in Germany published by L. Jonas & Company, Woolworth Building, New York, includes sixteen cards. The L. Jonas Company ran the observatory at the Woolworth Building. Most of the postcards in this series were published by them. No German printer is named but the cards in this set have a numbering convention differing from those printed in England.
Among these materials are eight cards copyrighted by photographer Irving Underhill (1872 -1960) whose studio was located at 17 Park Place in New York City. He became a leading contributor of images for many different postcard publishers. Underhill opened his studio in 1896, specializing in "artistic portraits, city views and panoramas, group photographs, marine, legal and machinery photography." He was so successful that his agency received exclusive commissions to photograph and promote new buildings like the Woolworth Building, which he would capture in timed intervals to track the construction process. One postcard has a copyright date of 1927 on the image, helping to establish the dates of this collection.
Photographs on three other cards in this set are copyrighted by photographer William Frange. Other cards include a photograph from the New York Central Railroad and a theater photograph from the Paramount Famous Lasky Corporation.
Series 4, Cards printed in England by Rotary Photo and published by L. Jonas & Company, Woolworth Building, New York, consists of thirty two cards. These materials were printed by Rotary Photo in England. Rotary Photographic Company, founded in 1899, was located at 23 Moorefields, London, England. It produced a wide variety of greetings and postcards as real photographs. These cards were manufactured in Great Britain and issued under many trade names. They also made photograph cards for other publishers as shown by the example above. In 1921 they became one of seven companies that joined together to form Amalgamated Photograph Manufacturing Ltd., and they are now part of Illford.
This series includes four photographs credited to Brown Brothers. Large publishers became desperate for photographs trying to meet the ever increasing demands of the postcard-collecting public. This generated a new type of business that would warehouse negatives and sell them on request. Brown Brothers was the first such company, founded in 1904 with a staff of twelve photographers. At first they targeted large newspapers, which at this time often did not have their own photographers. They went on to supply postcard publishers with images as well. They were a forerunner to the stock photography industry. There are also four photos taken from an "aeroplane" credited to Fairchild Aerial Surveys.