Hand-Colored Photographs by Wallace Nutting-Like Photographers
Although Wallace Nutting was widely recognized as the country’s leading producer of hand-colored photographs during the early 20th century, he was by no means the only photographer selling this style of picture. Throughout the country literally hundreds of regional photographers were selling hand-colored photographs from their home regions or travels. The subject matter of these photographers was very comparable to Nutting’s, including Interior, Exterior, Foreign, and Miscellaneous Unusual scenes. The key determinants of value include the collectability of the particular photographer, subject matter, size, and of course condition. Keep in mind that only the rarest pictures, in the best condition, will bring top prices. Discoloration and/or damage to the picture or matting can reduce value significantly.
Major Wallace Nutting-Like Photographers: Several photographers operated large businesses and, although not as large or well-known as Nutting, they sold a substantial volume of pictures which can still be readily found today. The vast majority of their work was photographed in their home regions and sold primarily to local residents or visiting tourists. And it should come as little surprise that 3 of the major Wallace Nutting-Like photographers… David Davidson, Fred Thompson, and Charles Sawyer…each had ties to Nutting.
- David Davidson: Second to Nutting in overall production, Davidson worked primarily in the Rhode Island and Southern Massachusetts area. While a student at Brown University around 1900, Davidson learned the art of hand-colored photography directly from Nutting, who happened to be the Minister at Davidson’s Providence RI church. After Nutting moved to Southbury in 1905, Davidson graduated from Brown and started a successful photography business in Providence which he operated until his death in 1967.
- Charles Sawyer: A father & son team, Charles H. Sawyer and Harold B. Sawyer, operated the very successful Sawyer Art Company from 1903-1970’s. Beginning in Farmington ME, the Sawyer Art Company moved to Concord NH in 1920 to be nearer their primary market of New Hampshire’s White Mountains. Charles Sawyer briefly worked for Nutting in 1902-03 while living in southern Maine. Sawyer’s production volume ranks #3 behind Nutting and Davidson.
- Fred Thompson: Frederick H. Thompson and Frederick M. Thompson were another father and son team that operated the Thompson Art Company (TACO) from 1908-1923, working primarily in the Portland, ME area. We know that Thompson and Nutting had collaborated because Thompson widely marketed an Interior scene he had taken in Nutting’s Southbury home. The production volume of the Thompson Art Company ranks #4 behind Nutting, Davidson, and Sawyer.
- Charles Higgins: Working out of Bath Maine, some of Higgins finest pictures rivaled Nutting’s best. No firm connection has been found between Higgins and Nutting.
Minor Wallace Nutting-Like Photographers: Hundreds of other smaller local and regional photographers attempted to market hand-colored pictures comparable to Wallace Nutting’s during the 1900-1930’s time period. Although quite attractive, most were not as appealing to the general public as Wallace Nutting pictures. However, as the price of Wallace Nutting pictures has escalated, the work of these lesser-known Wallace Nutting-Like photographers have become increasingly collectible.
A partial listing of some of these minor Wallace Nutting-Like Photographers include: Babcock; J.Carleton Bicknell; Blair; Ralph Blood (Portland, ME); Bragg; Brehmer; Brooks; Burrowes; Busch; Royal Carlock; Pedro Cacciola; Croft; Currier; Depue Bros; Derek; Dowly; Eddy; May Farini (hand-colored Colonial lithographs); Geo. Forest; Gandara; H. Marshall Gardner (Nantucket, Bermuda, Florida); Gibson; Gideon; Gunn; Bessie Pease Gutmann (hand-colored Colonial Lithographs); Edward Guy; Harris; C. Hazen; Knoffe; F. Jay Haynes (Yellowstone Park); Margaret Hennesey; Hodges; Homer; Krabel; Kattleman; La Bushe; Lake; Lamson (Portland ME); M. Lightstrum; Machering; Rossiler; Mackinae; Merrill; Meyers; William Moehring; Moran; Murrey; Lyman Nelson; J. Robinson Neville (New England); Patterson; Owen Perry; Phelps; Phinney; Reynolds; F. Robbins; Royce; Fred’k Scheetz (Phila, PA); Shelton; Harry L. Standley (Colorado); Stott; Summers; Esther Svenson; Florence Thompson; Thomas Thompson; M.A. Trott; Sanford Tull; Underhill; Villar; Ward; Wilmot; Edith Wilson; Wright.
The same guidelines that apply to Nutting pictures typically apply to Nutting-Like pictures as well:
- Exterior Scenes are the most common.
- Some photographers sold colonial Interior scenes as well.
- Subject Matter, Condition, and Size are all important determinants of value.
- The Collectors Guide to Early 20th Century Hand-Painted Photography, by Michael Ivankovich, 250 pgs, illustrated with pricing information.
- The Hand-Painted Photographs of Charles Henry Sawyer, by Carol Begley Gray, Michael Ivankovich & John Peters, 60 pgs, illustrated with pricing information.
The Wallace Nutting Collector’s Club: Established in 1973, the Wallace Nutting Collectors Club holds annual conventions, usually in the northeastern portion of the country. Since there are no collectors clubs specifically dedicated to the works of any of the other photographers, collectors generally gravitate to the Wallace Nutting Collectors Club for information on early 20th century hand-colored photography.