All Things Maine
All Things Maine

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Maine Historic Images Online Soon

"Within the week," a major repository of early photographic images of Maine will be available to the public. The Glass Plate Image Archive will feature the approximately 30,000 negatives collected by the Eastern Illustrating and Publishing Company in Belfast, and acquired by the Rockport Institute of Photographic Education—part of the Maine Photographic Workshops.
The Eastern Illustrating and Publishing Co. was founded in 1909 by Rockland native R. Herman Cassens. The original factory was in the Waldo County Herald building on Bridge Street in Belfast. It later moved to a residential building on High Street and, in 1931, moved to its final location on Waldo Avenue. The factory's postcard printing activities took place primarily during the summer. Until 1947, when Cassens sold the business, most of its employees were his family members.

By the time Cassens died, a year after he sold the business, the American postcard craze had faded. The use of glass plate negatives has ended some years earlier; by 1930, most photographers had switched to celluloid film. The RIPE collection, then, captures life in rural America in the late 1800s, as some of the images predated the company, through about 1940. [Link]
"Wet" and digital prints will be available for purchase via the website, with the proceeds going to support upkeep of the collection. About 13,000 plates feature Maine scenes, while others capture Cape Cod, the White Mountains, and the Lake Champlain islands. An exhibition of images will be mounted at the Belfast Free Library next May.

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