SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
The Shorpy Archive
6000+ fine-art prints suitable for framing. Desk-size to sofa-size and larger, on archival paper or canvas.
Join and Share

Social Shorpy

Syndicate content
Syndicate content
Syndicate content
Daily e-mail updates:


Member Photos

Photos submitted by Shorpy members.

Colorized Photos

Colorized photos submitted by members.

About the Photos

Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

JUMP TO PAGE   100  >  200  >  300  >  400  >  500  >  600

Addressograph: 1923

Addressograph: 1923

Washington, D.C., circa 1923. "Addressograph, 11th Street." I had written this off as too moldy to post, then saw the horse parked among the cars and baby parked in front of the fur store (is one baby-sitting the other?) and decided they deserved their 15 minutes of fame. National Photo glass negative. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Old job

I am glad this photo was posted. It brings back old memories. I ran an Multigraph/Addressograph machine back in the early seventies in my job as an FBI clerk in the Identification Division. We would print police department addresses on fingerprint cards and mail the cards to them in order to assist them. Technology moves ahead however and it wasn't long before the computer era began.


My first job when I started at a photo studio was "spotting" prints. I would take the previous days prints, which had been dried and pressed, and with a tiny artist's brush, and black/grey dyes, I would "spot out" any dust specks missed during printing. You start with the few larger spots, and once done, you started noticing smaller ones, and you kept going until any and all little white spots were gone. I found it very relaxing, and got pretty good at it. Even today, if a bit stressed, I will grab a print from Shorpy and retouch out any little spots. Wasn't aware of being stressed when I grabbed this one.

[You're hired! - Dave]

Addressograph's military contribution

Addressograph made the machines for stamping US Army dog tags. The now-familiar notched tag was introduced in 1940 and the basic design, minus the notch, is still in use today.

I don't care

what day and age you are in, you don't leave your baby alone outside whilst you wander around the shops! I guess she thought they wouldn't steal the pram if she left the baby in it.

Unattended infants.

I always find it stunning that people used to leave infants unattended on the street and in lobbies, but it is true.

From an antique book on how to operate a silent movie theatre:

Figure 126 is a plan of a typical small moving-picture theater. A spacious lobby is an important adjunct to any such theater and this space is often as valuable as the seating space inside. It affords shelter to those who cannot be seated at the moment. It is especially convenient in localities where race suicide is not yet very noticeable and where it forms a repository for many baby carriages.
-- "Motion Picture Operation. Stage Electrics and Illusions." Horstmann and Tousley. 1914.

A shocking one-sentence glimpse into the fears of the age. The "race suicide" remark almost proves that those unattended baby carriages were occupied. No one would be terrified that an empty baby carriage might be stolen.

[That's not quite what that means. "Race suicide" was a euphemism for "letting black people in." - Dave]

Addressograph machines are still in use

My hospital ID card is embossed with all the pertinent information, name, address, patient number. The relative paper work is imprinted with it every time I visit. I was thinking how reliable and efficient it is, just like when we used it to print envelopes in the bank many years ago.

Just recently I saw a posted memo from the hospital president referring to its use and using the name addressograph as a verb. So not only is the technology still in use, it still has a place in office argot.

Glass Wax

Gold Seal Glass Wax, frequently used as a temporary block from prying eyes back in the day. Looks like the Life and Casualty Insurance Company of Tennessee used some.

Hats by Wm. Paul Brodt

Dave, I'm glad you decided to publish this photo, mold spots and all. The condition of the negative renders Wm. Paul Brodt's storefront into a sketch-like quality.

This image raises so many questions! Why didn't Portch & Vigner display clothing instead of fabrics? Whose baby is waiting in the wicker perambulator? From what animal is "novelty fur" derived?

1923 vs 2011

Today you would not dare leave a baby unattended outside a store. Different times.


For OTY: I remember a big Ozalid machine when I was working a temp job in the Repro Department at IBM in 1969. It was used to copy big engineers' drawings. (Big drawings by engineers, that is.) I vaguely remember its using ammonia and producing water which had to be emptied (or vice versa).


>> [Those are two different buildings. The cornices are different. - Dave]

I'm not so sure. The building the Starbucks is at 555 11th Street, NW and in the picture the building to the left is at 513 11th Street. If you look at a Google view from above, it looks like the building that is there now took the facades from the old buildings.

[The facades are different. The street numbers (which have changed over the years) would seem beside the point. The Addressograph building used to be 511 Eleventh Street; the same building is now 555 Eleventh. - Dave]

Window unit

Old-school refrigeration.

Business was good once upon a time

Business at William Paul Brodt's, 507 Eleventh street, northwest, has been fairly good considering the quiet season that prevails during January, and is now picking up nicely. New spring styles are being shown by Mr. Brodt, who expresses his intention of showing such goods as late into the season as possible, considering, as do others, that the straw season here is long enough without being stretched.

-- American Hatter, Vol. 44, 1915


The Life Insurance building has a section of glass prisms in the sidewalk front of it, there are a few buildings in my area that still have them, all a lovely shade of Purple from exposure to the sun for a century.

Also, there seems to be a four legged ghost menacing the baby.

And now

The Addressograph building can be seen here.

Strangely, the red building next door in the modern picture appears to be the one TWO buildings over in the vintage picture.

[Those are two different buildings. The cornices are different. - Dave]

View Larger Map

Good choice.

A few planks placed here and there atop a new highrise under construction gives an idea of the caliber of men that worked in that field. If you can show some of the many photos of the Empire State under construction, I am sure that Shorpy viewers' skin would crawl. The horse only ever polluted the street yet lost the vote, and the baby must wonder what Mom is doing in Novelty Furs.

A couple more observations

Looks like the left-most truck is in the awning business (striped awning canvas in the back of the truck?) But the, there's a Wet Paint sign on the left-most building, so it could be a painter using old awnings as a drop cloth. Note the cans in the box by the 2nd story window on the left-most (partially visible) building. They look a bit like small milk cans, anyone recognize them? Do you think they are paint cans left to dry out by the painters?

The Life & Casualty Insurance Company office seems to have 'passed on'; looks like its windows are soaped up. The size of the hat shop next door looks like it's from an earlier time, but the style seems to be early 20th century rather than late Victorian. The tailor shop half-visible on the far right is certainly from an earlier time, note the small overhang for the shop window and decorative ironwork that forms a porch for the 2nd story (storefront added/improved after the building was originally constructed?) The same style appears on the Novelty Fur building on the left side. Note the old wood landing in front of Novelty Fur, not present on the other buildings.

There's a tall building under construction behind Novelty Fur. I think this building is poured concrete, you can see the ties to hold the wood forms in place on the left side of that building. (My father, a specialist in concrete construction, would have known for sure.)

The pipes sticking out of the side windows from the tall Life & Casualty/Addressograph building in the center are a bit surprising. My guess is they're to vent fumes from the Addressograph business.

I really enjoy analyzing/deconstructing these period street scenes.

Blast from the past

I am seeing all my old office machines here today on Shorpy. I still have an old solid black iron Addressograph table which the machine itself would sit on. Thin metal or aluminum plates embossed with clients' addresses would be placed in the machine and a quantity of envelopes would be run through to be printed with the proper addresses, not unlike the previous old printers recently shown on Shorpy. Another very old office printing machine I recall was called an Ozalid which copied very oversized accounting sheets and blueprints. Does anyone remember those? For some reason, I feel like a Flintstones character today.

Glad you did!

I hope someone can get a shot of this area today. I'm hoping the addition shown under construction at 513 is still there. It was worth saving to enjoy today. I do feel sorry for the horse, though, his era is almost done. And you can imagine the outcry if a child was left alone like that today. Different time, indeed.

[That's not an addition -- it's a new building on 10th Street. - Dave]

Ah, a mere question of perspective, eh?

SHORPY HISTORICAL PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

Syndicate content RSS | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Photo Use | © 2018 Shorpy Inc.