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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.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Show Me the Money: 1917

Show Me the Money: 1917

November 1917. "Rock & White." The vaudeville duo of William Rock and Frances White, who at the peak of her fame around 1920 was making $3,000 a week. 5x7 glass negative, Bain News Service. View full size.

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The first thing that struck me about this photo was her expression. Finally, a real expression in a photo!

I'd love to know what color both of their costumes are, I bet it was a riot of color.

How Did That Get In There?

There's also one of these lying on the table.

The Gold Standard

The second $100 dollar bill in Mr. Rock's right hand appears to be a Series 1882 Gold Certificate. Money was much more interesting in those days.

For three grand

I'd get a haircut like that too!

'C' all that money

In 1917 the $100 bill had only been in circulation for 3 years as a Federal Reserve Note as opposed to any other form of issued currency such as Treasury Notes, this came into effect after the 1913 Federal Reserve Act which created a central banking system which the US hadn't had since the collapse of the Second Bank of the United States in 1836.

Tickets maybe?

What the heck is Rock holding in his left hand!?

[More of what he's holding in his right. - tterrace]

[It does look like a strip of tickets. - Dave]

Backstage Payday

In November 1917, Rock & White were performing as headliners in the popular musical revue "Hitchy-Koo," which had 220 performances before it finally closed on December 15. That would identify the locale of these photos as White's dressing room in the 44th Street Theater. The show was a great popular success but not hugely profitable except for its well-paid stars, who also included Leon Errol, Grace La Rue and Irene Bordoni.

They're making BIG money

The then-famous performers are pretty happy counting their $100 bills, which by the look of things are about 50 percent bigger than today's currency.

[Currency then was 44 percent bigger, to be exact. - Dave]

Plus, Miss White didn't even have to move out of her chair, compared with her recent previous Shorpy photo.


Wow! That's $34,697 a week in today's dollars.

Big Money!

Not just in the amount made, but also in the size of the actual bills back then.

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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