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William Henry Miner’s 1911 Postcard Series

Introduction to Miner’s Works on Paper 

William Henry Miner produced everything from books to calendars to postcards of Heart’s Delight Farm, Chazy, and the North Country. His postcard collections showcased the farm and the work he was doing in this region. They were likely being sent out to business associates, friends, and family as collectibles or share brief news. 

The Golden Age of Postcards 

Miner’s production of postcards coincided with a Golden Age for the media. 1907 to 1915 saw what is known as the Golden Age of Postcards both in the United States and internationally. This was sparked by advances in photography and printing that made them easier and cheaper to produce. Postcards allowed people access to photographs and imagery that was previously inaccessible. Just like today, it was common for people to collect these postcards rather than send them as correspondence. Even when sent with an accompanying message it was often brief and stated nothing of importance. The production of postcards was also more accessible. Almost anyone could send a photograph to a printer for a mail order postcard contract and receive their very own custom postcards, leading to the production of postcards for nearly every town and site in the country.  

W.H. Miner’s Postcards 

The postcards that Miner produced generally depicted scenes of Heart’s Delight Farm and his other undertakings in the North Country, including a series for the Alice T. Miner Museum, the Physicians Hospital, and Kent Delord House. Luckily, Miner took numerous photos of the farm and his projects. As a result, we can see that most of the images used in postcards come directly from his own photographs. Most of the postcards feature a black and white photograph, but in a few cases, he produced colored images of these photographs. This collection of postcards here—what we will call his 1911 series–show familiar buildings and scenes, glimpses of working on Heart’s Delight Farm, several of the farm’s famous animals, and scenes of nature.  

Production of Postcards  

At the turn of the century photography was becoming more accessible to the upper middle class, with more families owning their own cameras. Lithography, a printing technique, was also gaining popularity as it allowed for printing at larger quantities and was easier and more versatile than other types of printing such as woodcuts and engravings. These two factors, along with some legislation that allowed people to write on the back rather than the image of the postcard, combined to ignite the boom in postcards popularity. 

The lithographic process is based primarily on the principle that water and oil do not mix. Originally discovered by Alios Senefelder, the process originally utilized a block of limestone, but has since been developed to work with aluminum, mylar, and zinc plates. An image is “etched” into the surface through a chemical process which ultimately makes specific areas repel water and others attract water. An oil-based ink is then applied to the areas repelling water and the image is printed. Some common printing techniques during Miner’s time are listed below. 

Collotype 

This is a technique that creates prints from a gelatin surface through the lithographic process. A photographic negative is used to create a continuous tone printing surface on the gelatin. The use of light sensitive materials allows for the transfer of the image, as the gelatin hardens where it was exposed to light through the photo negative. 

Photolithography 

This process is very similar in principle to collotype, in that it is a photomechanical lithographic process. Instead of producing a continuous tone with the gelatin, photolithography uses a halftone screen to reproduce the tones of a photograph. This image is then transferred to the lithographic stone or plate via exposure of a light sensitive material.  

Photo Engravings 

Like the previous two techniques, this printing technique uses a photo negative and light sensitive materials. Unlike the two previous techniques which are both lithographic, this is an etching technique. A copper plate is grained in a process similar to aquatint. Then a light sensitive image is applied to the copper plate and the areas that harden act as a resist to the acid that etches the plate. 

Recognizing Printing Techniques  

It isn’t known how much attention Miner paid to how his postcards were produced, beyond their final aesthetic appeal. We can see examples of these three contemporary printing techniques in his collections. Distinguishing between these printing techniques can often be done visually, usually with the aid of a microscope.  

When identifying collotypes, one is looking for a characteristic reticulated pattern–a series of irregular, crescent-like shapes. In contrast, a photolithograph, when under a microscope, shows a matrix of dots. Photo engravings also show a gravure pattern under magnification.  

In studying the postcards from Miner’s 1911 series under a microscope, we can see the reticulated pattern of the collotype. This series of images was also colored, this could have been accomplished by hand coloring the images with watercolor or pastel, or by utilizing additional plates in the printing process. In some cases, with these we can see embellishment to the original image, combining images and perhaps adding some animals that weren’t there initially. 

In contrast, some of his other series, such as the one done for the Alice T. Miner Museum in 1924 are likely photo engravings. We are lucky enough to have a number of printing plates from several of Miner’s later postcard runs, all of which appear to be photo engravings, as they are copper plates with an etched image. 

There are still other postcards he produced whose printers utilized other techniques. In one image printed in Germany we see the use of photolithography by a dot matrix that is visible under the microscope.  

Identifying Patterns

 

1911 Postcard Collection

Archive Items

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums. Sunshine cottage and Happy Hours cottage are visible […]

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums. Heart’s Delight Cottage, House Tower and the Main […]

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums. To view the reverse side of the postcard […]

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

To view the reverse side of the postcard click here.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums. To view the reverse side of the postcard […]

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums. To view the reverse side of the postcard […]

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums. To view the reverse side of the postcard […]

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums. To view the reverse side of the postcard […]

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums. To view the reverse side of the postcard […]

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums. The House Tower and barns are visible.

This postcard can be found in one of William H. Miner’s albums. To view the reverse side of the postcard […]

Bridge near McGregor power house and LaSell Dam, Altona

LaSell power house and pool, July 1927. From: Book 49 – Farm Scenes-Delord House-Hospital-Dams-Cattle (1925-28)

LaSell Power House, July 1927. From: Book 49 – Farm Scenes-Delord House-Hospital-Dams-Cattle (1925-28)

LaSell Dam Reservoir, July 1927. From: Book 49 – Farm Scenes-Delord House-Hospital-Dams-Cattle (1925-28)

LaSell Dam, July 1927. From: Book 49 – Farm Scenes-Delord House-Hospital-Dams-Cattle (1925-28)

McGregor Dam Reservoir, July 1927. From: Book 49 – Farm Scenes-Delord House-Hospital-Dams-Cattle (1925-28)

McGregor Dam, July 1927. From: Book 49 – Farm Scenes-Delord House-Hospital-Dams-Cattle (1925-28)

Flat Rock Dam, July 1927. From: Book 49 – Farm Scenes-Delord House-Hospital-Dams-Cattle (1925-28)

Reservoir at Flat Rock Dam, July 1927. From: Book 49 – Farm Scenes-Delord House-Hospital-Dams-Cattle (1925-28)

LaSell Power House and pool with surge tank in background. Photo by Mr. W.H.W. Strafford. From: Book 46 – Farm […]

LaSell Power House and pool with surge tank in background. Photo by Mr. W.H.W. Strafford. From: Book 46 – Farm […]

Front view of Village Power House, 1901. Also known as Hillbrook Cottage. From: Book 15- Dams and Power / Water […]

Village Dam, 1909. From: Book 15- Dams and Power / Water Supply

Chazy village dam pond, 1909. From: Book 15- Dams and Power / Water Supply

A full reservoir at the Chazy village dam, 1909. From: Book 15- Dams and Power / Water Supply

Lower Dam, 1909. From: Book 15- Dams and Power / Water Supply

McGregor Dam. From: Book 15- Dams and Power / Water Supply

Middle Dam and empty fore bay, 1908. Book 15- Dams and Power / Water Supply

Lake Alice with boat house in distance. From: Book 15- Dams and Power / Water Supply

Workers upload lumber from a cart on the crest of the Altona Dam. September 1911. From: Book 14- Altona Dam […]

Construction activity around dam wall, cribbing around structure, September 1911. From: Book 14- Altona Dam Vol. 2

Frank Hart at Altona Dam, April 1911. From: Book 14- Altona Dam Vol. 2

Altona Dam Basin/Reservoir, September 1914. From: Book 14- Altona Dam Vol. 2

Cement Road and Reservoir from north embankment/Cobblestone Hill, September 1913. From: Book 14- Altona Dam Vol. 2

Workers in trend to extend the cut off wall at Altona Dam, September 1913. From: (Book 14- Altona Dam Vol. […]

Workers pour cement on east bank of reservoir, September 1913. From: Book 14- Altona Dam Vol. 2

Low angle photo from the top of the Altona Dam wall looking east before the wall turns north. From: Book […]

Laying rock for the edge of the Cement Road on Cobblestone Hill, September 1913. From: Book 14- Altona Dam Vol. […]

Steam Shovel Trench. Steam Shovel Trench adjacent to dam wall. From: Book 14 – Altona Dam Vol. 2

Workers add mix into cement mixer with a cart on tracks. From: Book 14- Altona Dam Vol. 2

Spillway. From: Book 14- Altona Dam Vol. 2

Workers standing at a cross-section of the dam buttress, July 10, 1911. From: Book 14- Altona Dam Vol. 2

Dam buttresses. From: Book 13- Altona Dam Vol. 1

Workers man the concrete mixer. From: Book 13- Altona Dam Vol. 1

Workers at Cement Mixer and man with fur coat walking down ramp. March 1911. From: Book 13- Altona Dam Vol. […]

Pipe on wood frame through construction area, June 1911. From: Book 13- Altona Dam Vol. 1

Close up of construction at the Altona Flat Rock dam wall near the spillway outlet. 1911. From: Book 13- Altona […]

Pile of rocks, likely from Cobblestone Hill. From: Book 13- Altona Dam Vol. 1

Work operating steam shovel and others on the ground. From: Book 13- Altona Dam Vol. 1

Side view of steam shovel at Flat Rock. From: Book 13- Altona Dam Vol. 1

Man pushing wheel barrow with other workers on rock pile in background, Altona Flat Rock Dam, March 1911. From: Book […]

Side profile of buttress form Altona Dam. From: Book 13- Altona Dam Vol. 1

Crane system at the Altona Flat Rock Dam construction site. From: Book 13- Altona Dam Vol. 1

Worker camp at Altona Flat Rock Dam construction site, January 1911. From: Book 13- Altona Dam Vol. 1.

Camp at Altona Flat Rock dam, looking south, January 1911. From: Book 13- Altona Dam Vol. 1

Altona Flat Rock Dam, April 1911. From: Book 13- Altona Dam Vol. 1

Workings digging the trench for the Cutoff Wall at the Altona Flat Rock Dam, May 1911. From: Book 13- Altona […]

Close-up of the cribbing foundation for the cutoff wall at the Altona Flat Rock Dam, April 1911. From: Book 13- […]

Looking north from Cobblestone Hill at the Altona Flat Rock Dam construction, May 1911. From: Book 13- Altona Dam Vol. […]

Looking west at the Altona Flat Rock Dam construction site, April 1911. From: Book 13- Altona Dam Vol. 1

Visitors inspect the Altona Flat Rock Dam, August 1911. (Book 13- Altona Dam Vol. 1), Well-dressed ladies back right

Looking northeast during rebar installation at the Altona Dam, April 1911. From: “Book 13- Altona Dam Vol. 1”

Surveying at Tracy Brook for the Lake Alice hydroelectric project, 1907. From: “Book 10 Panoramic Views Vol. 1”

Men surveying at Tracy Brook for the Lake Alice hydroelectric project, 1907

Penstock for the McGregor hydroelectric power project with power house construction in background