Sunday, February 2, 2014

Investigating That Mystery Picture

There were a couple basic questions about this picture below: 

  1. When was it taken? 
  2. Where was it taken? 
  3. Did this obelisk exhibit have a connection to my great grandfather's steam boiler business? 
  4. And, why was it in the Buschick family album -- one of only two non-family pictures?
Last week I was doing a little more research on this image, writing letters, and sending emails to various businesses I found on this picture. I think I can answer, or at least get real close to answering, the first two and possibly the third question. Quite a week. 

A neighbor came over to help me with my printer's network hook-up. Once we got the printer connected and working, we decided to test the copier and then the scanner. I took out the mystery picture and gave Andy a short narrative on what it was, adding several questions I had. We decided to scan the cabinet card image at 1200 dpi because then we could see more of the picture clearly by enlarging it. That sure worked in my a point!

This image found in the Buschick family album was taken in 1887, a date I found after scanning it at 1200 dpi and looking at small sections. On the back of this cabinet card is printed Copelin, the photography studio. Read about this image in my previous post of January 15. (This is not the 1200 dpi image - it would be too large to use on the web.)
On the lower-resolution original scan, I could only see a few names: Remington Type writer (I sent a letter to the Remington Firearms Co. mentioned in my previous post January 15; I did get a reply). The company had sold off the typewriter division many years ago. The division has since gone through several ownerships, and I was told, currently belongs to SunMicrosystems in California. (I haven't received a reply to my inquiry sent out last week.) I couldn't find anything on MACK INJECTOR found on the box display in front. Up under the windows is John W. Masury & Son a ready-made paint manufacturer. According to the website, Valspar bought the business several years ago and the Masury brand has been lost.

The new high-resolution scan afforded more information not previously seen. A date found on the image suggests the picture was taken either the January before my great grandfather passed away in December of 1883 or almost two years later in 1885. In the background on the right is a wavy ribbon-type sign (enlargement blow), I could make out Verona Nut Locks in Use January 17 - is it 1883 or 85? Can't be 1887 because the 7 in "January 17" is different. This is an old company that dates before 1883, but I can't seem to find if they still exist or if bought out over the years. Currently Suzuki company uses the lock nuts. 

All I can make out clearly is: Verona Tool Works.
Verona Nut Locks In Use January 17 1883 (or 85).

So without knowing for sure if that number is a three or a five, even by squinting at a enlargement of that isolated area in the photo, we can narrow down the date another way. According to "Langdon List of 19th and Early 20th Century Photographers" website, "Copelin" (the photography studio) was located at 237 Dearborn, Chicago, Ill. in 1885. That is the same address printed on the back of the cabinet card (see my previous post). That would put the date of this mystery photo at almost two years after August F. Buschick died. (Copelin studio was at 78 Madison St. in 1880, and at 308 Dearborn in 1887.)

A new name was found that might lead me to a connection with my Buschick family. On the back wall to the left is Delaware Bridge, Co.  "Ed Hemberle ENGR Chicago." He was an iron bridge and iron roof engineer/designer. This could mean there is a Chicago connection to these exhibits location, but none leads me to my great grandfather business of steam boilers.

Delaware Bridge, Co.  "Ed Hemberle ENGR Chicago
In business of iron bridges and iron roofs, etc.
In the lower left corner of the obelisk exhibit, Andy spotted some writing and we enlarged the image again to isolate that black casting of some sort. The "Crosby Steam Gage & Valve Co. Boston" is about all we could make out. Of course, I looked it up on the internet and found out it is now owned by Anderson Greenwood, LP. I have a letter out to this company asking if there is an archive of this picture and if by chance there is anything information on the company having any dealings with my great grandfather or a Buschick. It has only been a few days now, but am anxious to get a reply. 

"A" points to the name CROSBY and "B" to the full name of the company "Crosby Steam Gage & Valve Co. - Boston"

I suspect August F. Buschick may have designed or drawn the designs of these steam fittings and valves, but can't be certain at this point. I don't know which paper this came out of, it was sent to me some time ago. I would speculate it to be the Chicago Tribune and the date was in the late 1860s. This doesn't proved any thing other than he did make drawings for machinery. 

A.F. Buschick, Practical Machinist and Draftsman, will make Drawings for Machinery of all descriptions, and offers his services to those wishing to secure Patent Rights, Specifications, Drawings, and Models made to order. Office at the Marine Boiler Works, Michigan street, between Wells and Franklin street, Chicago, Ill.
I was feeling a little down knowing this picture was taken two years after great grandfather died. We know now it couldn't have been at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876 as once thought. I emailed the Chicago historian/genealogist to give him a short update on what I had found out. He replied about just finishing a new book by Dr. Dennis Cremin -- "Grant Park: The Evolution of Chicago's Front Yard." My genealogist/historian friend wrote, "I was reminded that a major building which might be of interest to you, the 'Interstate Industrial Exposition Hall' once stood where Chicago's Art Institute now stands." This building beginning in 1873 opened every fall until 1891 with the purpose of exhibiting "our skill and industry." He added, it could be worth my while to check it out with the author of the book. So I did. 

I went to the internet again; I looked up that building and found a full image of it on the Art Institute's webpage. I studied the picture and looked for any possibility it could be the same building where this mystery exhibit was. First thing I noticed was the windows, then the roof. It does look promising...

In this comparison picture, on the right is a portion of the Interstate Industrial Exposition Hall building which was a place to exhibit various industrial manufacturing skills. This building I believe is the exterior of the building where the obelisk display was. Here's why: "A" on the left points to the wide partitions; "B" shows three windows between A's partitions. They are the same as in the interior picture on the right. Picture this: from the bottom of the windows to the top of the back wall in the interior image's "C" sure looks like it is structurally the same as the exterior picture's "C" to the left. (A full image and more information on the Interstate Industrial Exposition building can be found at the Art Institute of Chicago's website in the Architecture Photograph Collection.)

It's not easy to compare images of the exterior of the building to the interior shot in my mystery photo. Could they be the same? Can I yell BINGO! yet?

Questions #1 and #2 are pretty much answered i.e. with cautious optimism. With several letters and emails out to the companies I have found on the picture, I still have questions #3 and #4 waiting to be answered. 

I don't know if I will ever know of a connection or why this particular image was in the Buschick family album. Someone knows. It's just finding him and the answer will come when I least expect it. In the mean time, I won't give up. 

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