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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.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Ledger B: 1902

Ledger B: 1902

1902. "Cashier cage -- Richmond & Backus Co., Detroit." Another peek behind the scenes at this printing and bindery business. 8x10 glass negative. View full size.

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Eyes wide shut?

The gentleman on the right side is interesting looking. I thought at first he is giving an icy stare at the camera, but then when I look again his eyes may be closed. Any ideas?

[Looks like they're open. - tterrace]


The Modern Office

When I started out as a bookkeeper in the early 1970s, we had a Burroughs punch-tape computer for billing, and an IBM Systems III computer for accounts receivable (I was a keypunch operator for that task). We still did accounts payable and general ledger by hand. I was known then for my skill of running a ten-key calculator with my left hand while writing in the books with my right hand. Not much call for that sort of thing these days.

Anyway, when I first looked at this photo, I noticed the woman on the far left and thought, Oh! She's working at the Xerox copier! No, I said, slapping myself on the cheek. But I do wonder two things: did this accounting office have no mechanical calculators (they had been around for many years), and, where are the inkwells? The woman entering stuff into the ledger is using an ink pen but there is no inkwell visible.


The electrical whatzit under the windowsill looks like a two-piece rosette, those were more frequently used for ceiling mounted drop lights but certainly would have made a very secure electric socket.

Google-fu turned up a blog post, including pictures, that explains these and many other early electric mysteries:

Benzoin cucumber

I found a druggist's circular from 1910 that mentioned various cucumber remedies including a cucumber moisturizing lotion with benzoic acid in it.

Those were the days

when ledgers were written up by hand and it didn't matter if the power went down!

Don't drink it

Skin lotion it is. The label says "Benzoin (and?) Cucumber" a traditional mix used in skin lotions with other ingredients according to my sources (or rather, THE Source of all Knowledge which begins with a "W")

Medicine bottle?

I can't quite make out what's in the bottle on the desk, can we get a close up Mr Demille...err..Dave?

[Looks like a type of skin lotion. - tterrace]

Before electrical outlets

Look at the gizmo on the wall below the windowsill. It appears to be a primitive way of connecting the desk lamp to the building's wiring. It sure doesn't look like the standard two-prong electrical outlet that we have been using for the last hundred years.

Are there any really old electricians reading this, who could illuminate the insides of this junction block for us?

Ah, The Smell

of fresh ink in the morning. No sauteing the spreadsheets here.

No Ears But

Really good mustache pulls on the desk too.

Men's Job Application

Ears big enough to hold pencil? Check!
Super fine, really good mustache? Check!


SHORPY OLD 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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