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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]

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Sun-Catcher: 1906

Sun-Catcher: 1906

Detroit circa 1906. "Detroit Publishing Co., northwest view." Note the greenhouse-style glass to the right employing sunlight for printing and perhaps enlargement, as well as the unusual windows to the left. In the early years of the 20th century, the company was one of the world's biggest producers of color postcards. Panorama made from two 8x10 inch glass negatives. View full size.

On Shorpy:
Today's Top 5

Windows and screens

Just a look at the windows and the screens: the windows look like they're using the sun to aid in the drying of some sort of print. The screens look like ventilation screens, the windows just used as a means of controlling the flow of fresh air in and contaminated air out.


If that was two plates stitched together, I can't see the join! For pre-PhotoShop days that's excellent work.

[The plates in these panoramas are joined by me, using Photoshop. - Dave]

Cages on the windows on left

I've seen these before on an old abandoned sanitarium/state hospital building somewhere that also used center pivot sash windows (note the single and double tier types). The mesh was too coarse to be an insect screen, which led me to think it was intended to keep inmates in and/or birds out in that case.

Wires from the sky

It appears DPC had a heavenly power supply emerging from the clouds just to the right of the chimney. I wonder where these wires connect.

[They were retouched out of existence on the glass plate, with some further help from me. - Dave]


I collect vintage and antique postcards (mostly white-border linens). Nice to see where a bunch of them were birthed!

Large glass area on the right

Just a guess; but would think that area is a "natural light" portrait studio. Have seen similar things years ago.

[Detroit Publishing's business was in scenics and landscapes; natural light was used most likely for contact prints and enlargements. -Dave]

Pivot screens

There are two ways to install a screen on a pivoted window. The first is to attach half of the screen on the outside and the other half on the inside, such that when the window is pivoted open, it closes against the two screens and insects are kept outside. This method has the advantage of being flush with the window and wall. The second method is to install a screen cage around the outside of the window(s) - and this is what we seem to have on the left side of the photo. The screened windows facing the photographer have one screen per window, while the windows on the left side of the building have one screen per pair of windows. If they'd just hurry up and invent air conditioning, they wouldn't need these sorts of contraptions.

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.

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