This collection consists of a group of 20 photographs and prints that were used to research and illustrate the definitive reference work on the history of the mid 19th century plastic photographic case (sometimes called gutta-percha) industry and the picture sources for the case designs: Union Cases: A Collector’s Guide to the Art of America’s First Plastics. [Clifford and Michele Krainik, 1988]. Many of these images were the actual antique graphics used to illustrate the book and are from the authors’ collection.
Plastic photographic cases, often referred to as Union Cases, were manufactured in the United States from the early 1850s through the late 1860s. Krainik states that there are 773 recorded case designs, and the designs reflect popular public sentiment of the time – religious devotion, patriotism, as evidenced by historic scenes and monuments, and Victorian sentiment. Union cases provided art for the masses and many of the designs were based on previous works of art, including paintings, prints and sculpture. This collection provides an excellent sample of the type of imagery that was used as inspiration for the Union Case designers of the 19th century.
Two examples of original art that were used to create Union Case designs are provided here. Further examples are available upon request.
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Photographer Country United States (USA)
Charles Schwartz Ltd.