Wednesday, January 15, 2014

A Mystery Photo: Calling For Those Exposition experts

My great grandfather August F. Buschick was a steam boiler maker and machinist 1850s to 1880s. He died in 1882. As I was looking through a family album, I came across this cabinet card pictured below. I've seen it before in this album, but never really paid attention to it until I started researching about August and his life in Chicago, Illinois.

Clearly it is a display of gauges and pipe nozzles and fittings. Probably they are his handy work. This surely looks like an exposition of some sort because there are several other businesses' displays close to this tower.

The business sign on the far wall (left) could be "Delaware Bridge Co.," and the box in front is "Mack Injector," "Remington Type-writer" is on the right. Up under the windows is "John W Masury & Son." That is about all I can make out.

This picture must have been of some importance to my Buschick family. Why would it be in with the family pictures? This picture has been in this album since the late 1800s for sure. I only took it out to see what, if anything, was written on the back. "Copelin, 237 Dearborn St., Chicago" was printed on the back along with what types of photographs they did.

I went to the internet to find out more about the photography studio and what years it was in business. I searched at "Langdon List of 19th and Early 20th Century Photographers" and can be found on <>.

Copelin, A. J. W., photographer, 54. 75 Madison, Chicago, IL (1880); photographer, 237 Dearborn, Chicago, IL (1885); A. J. W. Copelin, photographer, 308 Dearborn, Chicago, IL (1887) A. N. Marquis Business Directory; A. J. W. Copelin, commercial photographer, 308 Dearborn St., Chicago, IL (1892) City Directories
Copelin, Alexander J. W., photographer, 8th fl. 308-316 Dearborn St., Chicago, IL (1900) photographs for advertising purposes, Tel. Harrison-319 Chicago, IL (1900) City Directory

One suggestion from a Chicago history researcher, was it is a display at the Centennial Exposition of 1876 in Philadelphia. That seems plausible because August was still in business and was still alive at that time. The only problem -- his business of that time was the Chicago Steam Boiler Works, which is not listed in the Expo's directory. 

The display next to the tower, one can make out it is Remington "S" / TYPE- which Remington Typewriter company isn't listed. At that time it was part of the Remington Firearms company which is listed. I have a letter out to Remington for a search of their archives for a picture of their 1876 display. I haven't heard anything. If they did have a picture, maybe the obelisk/tower will be in it also!

I found a book on Google Search about the Expo, and contacted one of the authors; nothing conclusive from her research. The display would have been in Machinery Hall. She gave me a couple websites where there may be more images. I was hoping one of those images would have the obelisk/tower in it. Nothing found in the several pictures of Machinery Hall displays.

I have studied those pictures of the interior of Machinery Hall; I noticed the windows seem to be of the same type, but the walls leading up to the windows are different -- at least in the pictures shown on those websites. They may have been taken in another part of the Hall, too.

The photographer was in business from 1880 to 1900. This doesn't match up with the 1876 year for the Expo. Was the picture taken before Copelin was in business and then he developed this from a negative of some sort and mounted it on his cabinet card?

Was the image taken before or after August Buschick died (1882)? Or was it possibly his brother-in-law's business on display? They were both in the same type of business around that time. 

Then again, maybe it was just a picture taken of interest for future reference? We do that all the time on a trip where we take a picture of a building or landscape and then years later can't remember why we took it.

I wish we could see a name on the display. That would tell us for sure whose it was. I have no conclusive evidence when or where this picture was taken or why it was important enough to be in the family album. 

So far I haven't been able to turn up any documents or information to bring this mystery to a close. I am hoping someone in the family has an idea and would come forth. 

Any experts on World's Fairs or Expositions out there to help solve this mystery photo?

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