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Before and After: Tonnesen’s Black and White Photos Became Colorful Calendar Prints

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The print of this photo has been found copyrighted 1914 by Brown and Bigelow on a 1916 calendar and again on a 1923 calendar, again by Brown and Bigelow. Lois owns two copies of the print (not the photo).

Collectors treasure the beautiful color prints found on advertising calendars of  the early twentieth century, known as “The Golden Age of Illustration.”  But, as we know, many of those beautiful illustrations started as equally beautiful black and white photos by Beatrice Tonnesen and others.  Unfortunately, because the calendar companies that published the color prints usually discarded the original photos, we rarely see the two together.  Now, thanks largely to the recent discovery of an archive of Tonnesen’s original photos in her hometown of Winneconne, WI, we can match many of them with the color prints found in my collection and the collections of others. Sumner Nelson has scanned the original photos and restored them for display in the Beatrice Tonnesen Catalog.   Here, for your enjoyment, is a true “before and after” presentation of vintage calendar art .  See the accompanying slideshow, and match each photo with its resultant color print.

Copyright (c) 2010 Lois Emerson

13 thoughts on “Before and After: Tonnesen’s Black and White Photos Became Colorful Calendar Prints

  1. I have a original photograph of a woman laying on the side of a pond picking a flower from the water. It is black and white and she is dressed in a white veil type draping. It is in what appears to be the original frame and dated 1900 by Tonnesen sisters. Are you familiar with this photo?

  2. Hello,\nThanks for writing. Yes. I have seen that print. But do you believe you have an original photograph or an original print made from a photograph?\n-Lois

  3. I have a print with the Tonnesen sisters, Copywrite 1901 Osgood Co.

    The picture is a little girl feeding her dog. It is just darling. The back looks like a photograph. Are you familiar with this photo?

  4. Hi,\nThe only print that comes to mind is the one shown in Album 10 – Image #7 in Album 10. Is that it?\nLois

  5. Have “Safely Guarded” with the number 2652 – do you know what the number indicates? print is very old and appears to be in it’s original frame

  6. Hi Betty,\nThanks for writing. As far as I know, the numbers we see on the prints were assigned by the publishers, each of whom appeared to have their own system.\nLois

  7. Hello I too have a black and white photo that my grandmother gave to me it has the words Tonnesen sisters, Copywrite 1901 Osgood Co. In the right hand corner. It is a photo of the top profile of a dog wearing a collar w/ round id tag. The dog is looking up with tongue hanging out. It is a very special print as it was passed down to me. I was wondering if you knew anything about it? Thanks, Erin.

  8. Hi Erin,\nThanks for writing. I think the dog’s name was “Julius Caesar,” based on a Chicago Tribune article titled “The Commercial Models of Chicago” that appeared about that time. It is posted on this blog. If you want to take a look at it, simply use the search feature on the left side of the homepage. If this is the same dog, he also appeared with a Tonnesen child model named Edna Clifford. \n-Lois

  9. I think its an original, Im not posative. Its mounted on a very thin peice of wood and mounted in a old lace type black frame. It has the signatures and copywrite at the bottom. I know its very old thats for sure.

  10. Hi Christie,\n\nIt’s a beautiful image – one of my favorites among Tonnesen’s early works. If it’s easy to get it out of its frame, you might want to look at it to determine whether it is an original print or an original photo. Otherwise, an art or antiques dealer may be able to tell you. Good Luck!\nLois

  11. I have a print of a woman laying down picking a flower. In the bottom right it says: “Copyright 1900 by Tonnesen Sisters”, and in the bottom left it says, “Chicago Inter Ocean May 26, 1901.

    I’m looking for the name of the print or to verify what it is, or why it has a newspaper name on it. It was not in a frame when I found it, but it was matted. I have since framed it, it’s about the same size as an 8×10, but I don’t have the exact measurements with me.

    An information at all would be helpful.

  12. I have a photo in a really nice old wooden 3-D frame of a basket of puppies and a girl holding a puppy. It says Copyright 1900 Tonnesen Sisters Chicago in one corner, and A. L. Swift & Co. 1901 in the other corner. I would like to take a photo of it and send it to you, if you’d care to look at it and tell me what you can about it. Is there a site for me to be able to do this?

  13. Hi Susan,\nYou can submit it to be included in the “Beatrice Tonnesen Catalog” which is the slideshow on the website. To do so, click on BT catalog in the top right corner of the homepage. Then click on “Read This”, which explains about how to submit your photo. I will gladly tell you what I know about it, if anything. Thanks. It sounds lovely.\nLois