In the last part of the 1800s, a new printing technique known as halftone reproduction was invented. It used dots to simulate the continuous tones of black-and-white photographs by varying the size and spacing of the dots. The first commercial use was a crude halftone image of a hotel in the December 2, 1873 issue of the New York Daily Graphic’s newspaper.
By the turn of the 20th century, halftone reproduction had improved in quality and gone down in price. Halftone reproduction made souvenir books of images a common tourist commodity and Fort Collins wasn’t left behind.
Below is the earliest souvenir book of Fort Collins in my collection.
Traveling agents from a publishing company, in this case the Albertype Co., of Brooklyn, N.Y., visited bookstores, stationers, and other merchants in small towns and cities. They were trying to commission a series of 10 to 15 local views. If the agent was successful, the images would be selected, halftone printed, and bound in a simple booklet. This example has three punched holes and was apparently bound with red ribbon, though very little of the ribbon remains on my copy.
The souvenir books were cheaply printed and sold for around ten cents per copy. This book was published by John Latimer, who owned the Killgore Bookstore, 105 South College Avenue. According to the local newspapers, Latimer bought the book store in July 1903 and sold it in 1905. In mid to late 1904, Latimer was advertising “Dainty souvenir books and postal card views of Fort Collins.” He was probably advertising this book.
My book has 15 images in it, though, because they are unbound, it is hard to know if I have a full set. All images are of Fort Collins or the college. The most interesting image is a tri-fold street scene of College Avenue and Linden Street.
Unfolded, the image measures just over 12 inches long, too long for the bed of my scanner. It is 3 1/4 inches wide. The photograph appears to have been taken from the top of the First National Bank, shooting towards the northwest, though I could be wrong.
Below is another image from the book.
This image measures approximately 5 ¼ x 4 inches. Looking at the trees, it seems like the image must have been taken shortly after the high school was built in 1903, on Meldrum Street where the present Lincoln Center stands.
The souvenir book was replaced quickly by the post card folder. Post card sized images were attached accordion fashion to each other and folded into a printed cover. The entire folder was designed so that it could be sealed and mailed as one piece. The postage was very reasonable, one cent or 1 ½ cent stamps were very common.
I have three accordion style postcard folders. Below are scans of the covers and one or two of the images from each of them that I especially liked.
Series No. 58? Can it mean that Jesse R. Wood published 58 different postcard folders of Fort Collins? I think, if true, I would have seen more of them over the years. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any information Wood.
Assuming my set is complete, the folder consists of eight Fort Collins postcards printed only on one side. As you’ll see, many publishers printed images on both sides of the paper. Wood didn’t take the photographs. A number of them, including the YMCA image below, still carry the original photographer’s name – Stephen Seckner, a long time Fort Collins photographer.
I chose this image because I just did a post on the YMCA building and because I love the big dial in front of the car on East Oak Street. The YMCA must have been running a fund raiser and were using this dial to track their progress.
The YMCA opened in 1908 and had electricity service a year or two later. I barely can see the electrical wires on the original image.
Seckner started his photography business around 1880 and was out of the business sometime in 1911. 1910 seems like a close guess for the date the original photograph was taken.
Here is the second accordion style postcard folder. Unfortunately, there isn’t any information on the publisher or printing company. On the other hand, it has 20 great images of Fort Collins, the college, and the Poudre Canyon. They are printed back to back and are a very nice quality. Notice that the whole package only cost one cent to mail.
I’ve chosen two images to share with you.
Ammons Hall at the college has to be one of the schools most photogenic buildings. Someday I’ll do a post on it, using some wonderful interior and exterior images I have in my collection. I’m sure I have nicer images of the building than this but none of them show the in-ground sprinklers.
Originally called the Woman’s Building, it was completed in 1921. It was named Ammons Hall in 1925, so this image (and this set) must have been published after 1925.
I decided to show this image of the Poudre Canyon because I have an original photograph of it. My photograph was used in a newspaper article and is dated August 24, 1913. The image shows how narrow the Poudre Canyon Road was in those early days.
The caption used with the photograph is affixed to my copy but it is incomplete. What I can read says, “The Cache La Poudre Canon on the proposed northern link of the transcontinental highway. [Missing words] character of scenery through which the road passes and the kind of work performed by Colorado convicts.” Of course, the transcontinental highway never passed through the Poudre Canyon.
Here my third accordion folder:
The Sanborn Souvenir Co. opened sometime in the 1920s, giving Harold Sanborn, a commercial photographer from Denver, another outlet for the images he made of Colorado and Wyoming. My copy of this souvenir folder has only 10 images in it, printed back to back accordion style. I think it is too few postcards to be a complete set. Three of the ten postcards have two images on them as shown below:
These two images are really hard to date. I think they could have been taken around 1930.
Below is a strange postcard from the same set.
View of the Business Section, College Avenue, Ft. Collins, Colo. C. 1930. Original photograph by Sanborn.
The image doesn’t look real. The cars almost look like model cars. Then I remembered seeing a printed colored version of this image in my collection. So here it is:
The image in the folder was obviously made from this printed color version of the photograph. Photographs were often simplified when they were made into four-color postcards. You’ll see the simplifications when you look at the original real photo postcard that is shown below.
As you can see, flags, a person, and some signs on the buildings have been removed, probably to make the colorizing process easier. Why Sanborn didn’t use this image as the basis for the image in the souvenir folder is unknown.
Next Sunday, I’ll complete the souvenir folder collection with images from four more folders. I think you’ll enjoy the unusual photographs.