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UNIVERSAL PHOTO ART COMPANY
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania - Naperville, Illinois

The Universal Photo Art Company was one of several business titles under which photographer Carlton Harlow Graves sold his photographs late in his career. He was the son of Jesse Albert Graves, an important early worker who was based in the Delaware Water Gap area of Pennsylvania in the 1860-1880 time frame and produced some 500 generally fine scenic views of the western part of the state. Carlton learned the photographic art from his father and moved to Philadelphia to began producing on his own in about 1880. In his early years, he seems to have taken all the views which he published, but he soon began to buy or pirate images from others. Stereoviews issued under his own name are extremely rare.

At its peak, The Universal Photo Art Company seems to have been a rather substantial outfit. In addition to the headquarters offices and production facilities in Philadelphia, there was a western branch in Naperville, Ill., under F. A. Messerschmidt as general manager. There are numbers listed to almost to 5,000, although the number of individual photos actually used is only about 1,300. By the late 1890ís, C. H. Graves company became a major publisher offering "Art Nouveau Stereographs" on light gray curved mounts. His trade list offered excellent views of hunting scenes, Jamaica, Japan, Java, New York City, Palestine and others. To compete with low priced lithographs and copies, Graves offered his "Universal Series" or "Universal Views" on black mounts with no credit to himself. These have the number and the title in the negative and were sold at a reduced price from the regular "Art Nouveau" issues. Graves also offered boxed sets but they were not sold in the quantities of Underwood and Underwood, the Keystone View Company and H. C. White. The company seems to have been active until about 1910 when its stock of negatives were sold to Underwood & Underwood and presumably went from there to the Keystone View Company with the rest of the Underwood photos.

The Yellowstone views can be divided into 3 categories:

The Low Number Series on gray mounts. To date only #10 Ė #12 are known. These views may have been part of one of the rare boxed-sets issued by the company. The views likely were part of a larger non-Yellowstone boxed-set.

The 5000 series on orange mounts with the titles in white lettering over photo in lower right. For this style I have only seen one view. It is 5337 of Jupiter Terrace and it is shown below. I donít think itís part of an official set, but rather just one of a few random Yellowstone views.

The unnumbered series on gray mounts. The titles on these views correspond directly to the numbered 5500 series in the Universal Photo Art Company catalog that was issued during the 1900ís. These views are copyrighted 1902. They are numbered 5562-5568 in the catalog but show no numbers on the actual view.


5337? Yellowstone Nat. Park, Jupiter Terraces.

Orange mounts by the Universal Photo Art Co. are quite rare. The numbers on these mounts are quite hard to read and do not match the numbers from the companyís original catalog.


Gem Terrace, formed from the overflow of the hot mineral springs,
Yellowstone National Park.
Copyright 1902 by C. H. Graves.

This type of gray mount is the more common type of view. It credits the Universal Photo Art Co. on the left and has the city of publication, Philadelphia, on the right.


Natureís handiwork, Pulpit Terrace, Yellowstone National Park.
Copyright 1902 by C. H. Graves.

Another type of gray mounts that are often seen are the "Art Nouveau Stereographs" (credited on the left side). These views are still quite common today..


UNIVERSAL PHOTO ART COMPANY VIEWLIST


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