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UD Special Collections > Exhibitions > In Focus > Photographic Culture

Photographic Culture

In Focus : Photography from Daguerreotype to Digital presents several themes in the main gallery for the contemporary study of the history of photography, but it also features many technical manuals and trade catalogs such as those shown in the introductory “teaser” cases outside of the main Special Collections exhibition gallery.

Many of the items related to the commercial trade and exhibition history of photography shown in the introductory cases—and many items throughout the main gallery—are gifts from the late William I. Homer, H. Rodney Sharp professor emeritus of art history at the University of Delaware.  Dr. Homer was a renowned scholar of the Photo-Secessionists, Pictorialism, and the early history of photography.

A substantial number of the technical texts on photographic processes are from the library of the late Gavin Bridson (1936-2008), a librarian, bibliographer, and scholar of graphic art printing and natural history illustration.  Bridson published A Guide to Nineteenth-century Colour Printers (1975) with Geoffrey Wakeman, and he generously contributed an introductory essay on “Art and Technology” to a 1996 exhibition on Color Printing at the University of Delaware Library.

Photography:  Techniques and the Trade

The substantial availability of technical manuals, handbooks, catalogs, and reference books for photography thoroughly document the advances in processes and the professional trades associated with the expansive growth of photography culture.  Books and pamphlets relay an enormous amount of information about the chemical processes of developing photography and are extremely useful to scholars seeking historic context for photography and its practitioners.

Photography:  Journals and available Literature

Photography thrived on experimentation.  The proliferation of journals dedicated to photography written by and for circles of practitioners and amateurs played a significant role in the development of photographic culture beginning as early as the 1850s.

The literature provided advice, critical perspectives and information on new techniques, and an outlet for publishing images, especially for amateurs.  Journals also offered reviews of products, and notices of club and society meetings and competitions. 

Selected checklist of items exhibited in introductory cases:

Roger Child Bayley (b. 1869)

Photography in colours. London : Iliffe, 1904.
from the library of Gavin Bridson

Frédéric Dillaye.

Issued as Nouveautés photographiques, 1908.

H.C. White Co.

Perfecscopes. North Bennington, Vt. : The Company, c1905.



Franticham's impossible Polaroid Madness. Achill Island : Redfox Press, 2011.

"Printed in inkjet in 169 copies in August 2011 in Achill Island for Redfoxpress. The Polaroid photographs were taken by Francis van Maele and Antic-Ham using various Polaroid camera models from the 1970s and the early 1980s and films from the impossible project. [no.] 11"--Colophon. Signed by both photographers. Col. photo mounted on front cover.


Undated catalog
gift of William I. Homer

Douglass Thompson & Company

Dry plate photography instructions : how anyone may take photographs and descriptive price list of requisites for sale by Douglass, Thompson & Co. Chicago : The Company, [1884?]

"Merchants in all requisites pertaining to the art-science of photography; photographers’ bookseller, stationers, publishers and newsdealers."

Photographic times and American photographer. New York : Scovill Manufacturing Co., 1881-1894.

Blair Camera Company

Catalogue of photographic apparatus. Boston : The Company, 1892.

A. E. Smith

Colour photography : a practical treatise for amateurs. London : Hazell, Watson & Viney, ld., 1900.
from the library of Gavin Bridson

Charles W. (Charles William) Gamble (b. 1867)

An introduction to the practice of wet collodion photography. 2d edition. London : Hazell, Watson and Viney, 1902.
from the library of Gavin Bridson

Thomas Manly.

Ozotype : the new carbon printing process without transfer, actinometer or safe edge. London : Hazell, Watson, & Viney, 1901.
from the library of Gavin Bridson

Graflex & Graphic cameras. Rochester : Folmer & Schwing Division, Eastman Kodak Company, undated.
from the William I. Homer papers, gift of William I. Homer

Load your camera with Anso film. Undated.
from the William I. Homer papers, gift of William I. Homer

Picture taking with the Nos. 2-C and 3-A folding cartridge premo camera.
from the William I. Homer papers, gift of William I. Homer


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