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Carbon-Based: 1919

Carbon-Based: 1919

Washington, D.C., circa 1919. "U.S. Fuel Administration." What seems to be the Department of Coal. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.


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Zeppo !

Say -- isn't that a young Zeppo Marx seated in the approximate center of the photograph? Right behind the gent in the rimless spectacles. . . .

Also Modern

The hair on the guy, far right. I see lots of guys wearing their hair like this today. Too bad he missed out on our era of hair gels.


The wiring consists of the two conductors separated from each other a code mandated 2 1/2 inches and secured to the ceiling (or wall as the case may be) by porcelain cleats. For installations where concealment wasn't necessary for aesthetic reasons, it was a common method because it was easy and inexpensive. However it was not considered temporary and many such installations remained in use for more than half a century.

Eye problem?

The woman wearing glasses, seated in the back, has something over one of the lenses that I can't figure out. It isn't just covering the lens, it looks like a device of some sort, maybe for close work?

[It's a reflection. - Dave]

Very modern.

Are my eyes deceiving me? I didn't think we had drop ceilings and track lighting until God invented Home Depot.

Small town job

My dad was born in 1919 and one of his first jobs involved coal. When he was about 11 or 12 he was paid by a local doctor to walk down to his office and shovel coal into the furnace. He would then start it and have the office nice and warm before it opened. Dad would then go back home and get ready for school.

Happy, happy, happy

Not exactly ready to stand and sing the company song, it seems. Then again, if you spent your days pushing folks to "Order Coal Now", you might look like this, too. Top performers in the office get a special perk: you're not transferred from the promoting-coal division to the digging-coal division.


Those two guys standing by the doors look like "take no prisoners" kink of bosses.

[They'd just been transferred from the Bureau of Leather. -tterrace]

Class Clowns

Hey. You three in the back. Wipe those grins off your faces. This is serious business!

Order Coal Now

The 'Order Coal Now' poster is by J.C. Leyendecker, whose illustrations frequently appeared on the cover of the The Saturday Evening Post.


Funny I did not see any ashtrays - or other signs of smoking. Noticing this gives me a 'research' project - smoking habits/policies circa 1919. This is why I love this website - sets me off on trails.

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