Recently, Lee Grady, Archivist for the McCormick-International Harvester Collection at the Wisconsin Historical Society wrote us with information concerning some glass negatives, or glass plates in the historical society’s collection. From roughly 1900 through 1930, the company produced a series of calendars and posters promoting a wide range of farm implements. He had discovered that two of the negatives were marked “Tonnesen Sisters” and, though the company often shot its own photos for advertising purposes, there were others that were unmarked and unidentified.
The collection contains about 500,000 photo-based images, about 12,000 of which are in the form of glass plate negatives. So it was impossible to look at everything. But Grady selected about a dozen Tonnesen “maybes” and sent them to us. As of now, after examining the clothing and the props, we have identified only one more, for a total of three, but we will keep searching!
The slideshow at right displays the images of Tonnesen’s work found in the McCormick-International Harvester Archive, Wisconsin Historical Society (All rights reserved). Here is what we know about each of these images:
- “Pigs in Clover” by the Tonnesen Sisters. The model, often seen in Tonnesen’s work ca. 1900, wears a dress that seems to have been one of Tonnesen’s favorites. It appears in “The Hay Seed,” shown elsewhere on this blog, probably the most popular of her early photos.
- An original photo from this glass negative is owned by the Oshkosh Public Museum. The Tonnesen Sisters signature appears in the hay at bottom left. On the back is written: “International Harvester Calendar Design $75. Dorothy”. The name “Dorothy” is one of several noted on the backs of various photos during that time. I think it may refer to the person who handled the details of the transaction. It appears that IHC bought the negative for $75!
- This is the finished, colored 1902 poster that started as the photo described above.
- I am virtually certain this image was created by the Tonnesen Sisters, based on the fact that the child is wearing the same shirt and overalls, and probably the same hat, as the child in Image #2. I also think that this child and the child in #2 are one and the same.
These, and thousands of other images, including company and family photos, as well as vintage artwork can be viewed, and in most cases purchased, at Wisconsin Historical Society.
Copyright 2012 Lois Emerson