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Prairie School Pickers

by LiveModern Webmaster last modified Jan 04, 2012 02:47 AM
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by Eric last modified Jan 02, 2011

If you love the History Channel show, American Pickers, then you'll appreciate this story. Over the holiday weekend, My wife and I went on an antiquing excursion and came across a box of turn-of-the-last-century photographic glass plate negatives. I had no idea that I would find something extra-ordinary. Read more after the jump... The odd box of glass negatives piqued my curiosity, so I flipped through the various plates to see if I recognized anything....




 

 

Picture 1 If you love the History Channel show, American Pickers, then you'll appreciate this story. Over the holiday weekend, My wife and I went on an antiquing excursion and came across a box of turn-of-the-last-century photographic glass plate negatives. I had no idea that I would find something extra-ordinary. Read more after the jump...

The odd box of glass negatives piqued my curiosity, so I flipped through the various plates to see if I recognized anything. Most of them were local landscapes and portraits, however, one glass negative appeared to have an odd looking horizontal house on it. Upon holding it up to the light I instantly recognized the distinctive tile pattern on the exterior of the home in the image: It was an early photo of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Prairie School icon, the Avery Coonely house in Riverside, IL. That definitely got my heart racing. I looked at the next glass negative in the pile and it turned out to be another view of the Coonley house!

After making sure there were no others, I purchased both negatives (making sure to haggle the price down a little—just like American Pickers, Mike and Frank) and went home to scan the plates on my transparency scanner. Carefully taking them both out of their paper sleeves, I was able to get a decent scan from each fragile plate.

Coonley House_1

Coonley House_2

As you can see from the images above, the plates show a little of their age with a few spots and scratches, but are still remarkable in great shape (considering they are over 100-years old). I was amazed to see these rare images clearly for the first time. They both appear to be shots of the Coonely house during winter and prior to final landscaping being put in. There are also signs of construction around the house which might mean they were taken in late 1907, maybe early 1908. The hi-resolution scans reveal nice detail of the windows and that special exterior tile mural.

I'm not sure who the photographer was for these photos, it might be an area amateur photographer or it could be someone like C.R. Childs or Henry Fuermann. If anyone knows and would like to shed some light on this mystery, please let me know.

It is treasures like this that make antiquing—and sharing with PrairieMod readers—fun. You never know what you are going to find!

All Image credits: PrairieMod


 

 

 
 
 

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