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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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Pharmacy Row: 1905

Pharmacy Row: 1905

Circa 1905. "St. John Street, Quebec." Rue Saint-Jean at Côte du Palais in Quebec City, home to the drugstores of P. Mathie and J.E. Livernois. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Photographic Company. View full size.

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That huge tea pot

Likely a form of advertising. But for what?

Arc Lamps

There are two sets of carbons in this design, each with its own pair of feedwires. Only one set is in operation at a time. When the first set is burned out the second will come into operation.

These early arcs burned up their carbons in about 8 hours, so with the paired sets of rods 16 hours could be had, then the rods changed daily. Later designs with improved air flow didn't consume their carbon as quickly and could be run for about 150 hours.

Swivelling Arc Lamp

The streetlight is an arc lamp, which requires frequent replacement of the carbon electrodes and other adjustments.

To facilitate this, the lamp is on a swiveling horizontal arm with a counterweight. (The iron ball on the pole-end of the arm)

It appears that the lamp maintainer would climb the rungs on the pole to the level of the lamp, then swing the arm 180 degrees to bring the lamp within easy reach. It looks like the lamp swings counterclockwise when viewed from above, i.e. away from the photographer.

Remaining mystery is the four wires to the lamp assembly. This hints at some sort of automatically-adjusting arc mechanism. (Two wires are for the arc carbons, two for the can-like mechanism above the lamp itself.)


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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