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H. C. WHITE
North Bennington, Vermont

Information on the H. C. White company is remarkably scarce, considering that they were among the top studios of their day, exceeded only by the Keystone View Company and Underwood & Underwood in volume and by nobody in quality. Hawley C. White, who described himself expansively as photographer, publisher, and inventor, started his career with an establishment in New York City for grinding spectacle lenses in 1870. In 1874 he moved to North Bennington, VT. and set up a small factory for producing stereoscopes. Thanks to his experience in optical glass preparation, his instruments soon were recognized as the best on the market and he became the world's leading manufacturer of them.

He didn't get into producing stereoviews until much later, 1899, but applied the some quality control and innovative technology to making them as he had to the viewers. He designed an automated assembly line which moved the photo paper in front of the negative, exposed it, and moved it on to standardized developing, fixing, and washing. Cutting and mounting of the prints was also done by machine. As a result the views which White produced are consistently the highest quality of any ever made, far better than those of his contemporaries Underwood and Keystone. In 1907 he built a large factory incorporating this assembly line which was the finest in the world, with a production capacity of about 15,000 views per day. He also pioneered the use of a lengthy, informative text on the back of the view. About the only flaw in his design was that he used a very dark gray card stock and gilt or black lettering, a combination which is often extremely hard to read.

White himself was a photographer and in the first few years made many of the views himself, but soon turned the work over to staff photographers who produced generally one images. The company developed a line of some 13,000 titles, with good world-wide coverage. They covered about 40 boxed sets, some of 100 views, some of smaller assortments. In addition to their true photographic views they produced an extensive line of lithographed versions for the cheap end of the stereo market. In 1915 White, now in his 70s and faced with the general decline in popularity of stereoviews, decided to close the factory and retire. The stock of negatives was bought by the Keystone View Company and became a major part of their growing file of images. In the Keystone numbering system, views originally made by White can be easily identified since they are prefixed with a "W".

White's Yellowstone views are divided into 2 basic types, the 600 series and the 12,000 series. The 600 series has two color mount variations, while the 12,000 series has half a dozen print styles. Details of these are listed below.


The 600 Series

H. C. White's first Yellowstone set was his 600 series in 1901. It is is interesting because there are three distinct styles. They are rather scarce. The three types are:

Tan Mount – Title and copyright in lower right. (credit to HC White Co. on left side)
Gray Mount - Title and copyright in lower right. (labeled "The ‘Perfec’ Stereograph" on left side)
Gray Mount - Title and copyright in lower right. (no publisher info on sides. Just odd black shape on both sides identical to each other)

612 Lone Star Geyser, Yellowstone Park.
COPYRIGHT 1901 BY H. C. WHITE CO.

The White 600 Series comes in three styles. Here is the gray mount version with "The Perfec Stereograph" written on the left side. This view is of Lone Star Geyser in eruption.


620 Eagle's Nest, Yellowstone Park.
COPYRIGHT 1901 BY H. C. WHITE CO.

This 600 Series view is on a tan mount. It has the simple credits to H. C. White and the city of publication on the view sides. The views shows a distant Eagle Nest Rock between Mammoth and Gardiner.


615 Kepler's Cascade, Yellowstone Park.
COPYRIGHT 1901 BY H. C. WHITE CO.

The least 600 Series viewtype is this one. It has the odd black pattern artwork on the view sides but no credit to H.C. White. Only the small copyright at the view bottom gives any indication that this is a White view.


The 12,000 Series

This is the more common type of H. C. White Yellowstone view. The set was offered in a 100 view boxed-set as well as a 30 view subset. (The views were offered individually as well) The set numbers range from #12001 through #12100 for the boxed-set. What is interesting is that there are actually at least 9 more views. Numbers #12101-12109 have now been identified. These were not part of either boxed set, although they were a part of the overall 12,000 series.

There were several styles of 12,000 series views. Some of these sets had elaborate descriptions on the reverse, while others had blank versos.

1- Gray Mounts, Black Lettering ("The Perfec Stereograph" is written on the left or right side)
2- White Mounts with holes in the upper right and upper left corner. Probably so that they could be in some sort of album. These were known as "self-mounted" views. I’m not sure if the entire 100 view set was available this way but they are some of the most interesting looking views that White ever produced of Yellowstone.
3- Gray Mounts, Gold Lettering ("The Perfec Stereograph" is written on the right side)
4- Gray Mounts with no publisher credit of any kind. These recently discovered views may be White "proofs" that were never offered for sale to the general public. They include the most of the 12,000 series views and nearly three-dozen unnumbered, new photos of the park.

12035 Constant Geyser And "Boiler" And "Black Growler" Steam Vents,
Yellowstone Park, U.S.A.

The 12,000 Series has many variations. This image is a "Perfec" Stereograph with credit to White on the right side of the view. The photo shows geysers at Norris Geyser Basin.


12053-Where the geysers spout and play-
early morning in famous Yellowstone Park, U.S.A.
Copyright 1904 by H.C. White Co.

Another 12,000 Series style has the H.C. White credit on the right side and gives New York as the first publishing city. These views are later White issues. The one shows the Geyser Hill with its morning steam.


12055 Old Faithful In Action (150 ft), The Chief Attraction Of The Upper Geyser Basin,
Yellowstone Park, U.S.A.
Copyright 1904 by H.C. White Co.

A third variation of the 12,000 Series, this stereoview credits White on the left side but has North Bennington, Vermont listed as the first publishing cities. These are among the first 12,000 Series views issued. This photo has a great view of a coach at Old Faithful during an eruption.


H. C. White 1904 Black-letter Verso

A typical 12,000 Series verso. These came in both the 30 view and 100 view boxed sets. They all have the number at the top-center along with a detailed description of the view.


12024 Cleopatra Terraces, the most beautiful in the Park,
Mammoth Hot Springs, Yellowstone Park, U.S.A.
Copyright 1904 by H.C. White Co.

Another common style of 12,000 Series view are the "gold-letter" type. The publisher credits and view title are written in a glossy gold colored lettering. This one shows a terrace at Mammoth.


12004-In The Gardiner River Canyon, Eagle's Nest Rock On Left,
Yellowstone Park, U.S.A.

The rarest of the 12,000 views are the thin white mounted viewtypes. They have notches on their upper edges for “self-mounting.” This photo shows a coach along the Gardner River between Mammoth and Gardiner.


An artistic corner of the Old Faithful Inn – Yellowstone Park.

Recently a group of H.C. White views surfaced that have no credit of any kind outside the hand-written numbers and titles on the versos. It is not known if these were ever offered for sale to the general public or are just White "proofs" that he considered for publication. Needless to say, they are quite rare and valuable.


H. C. WHITE VIEWLIST


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