Paul Frecker
Fine Photographs

H.L. Thomas with his Graphophone, c. 1897
Saunders Art Gallery of Woodward, Oklahoma


A gelatin silver print portrait of a young man with a Graphophone. This appears to be the Columbia Eagle model, which first appeared in 1897, when it cost $12 with a lid or $10 without. Its oak lid, painted with the company’s name, can be seen on the floor near the lower right-hand corner of the image, besides the box of wax cylinders.

The sitter and the photographer are both named verso in pencil in a modern hand. Presumably these are transcriptions by a collector or dealer of information that once appeared on an album page.

The young man is identified as ‘Mr H. L. Thomas.' This is probably Herbert Lee Thomas, who was born in Missouri on 16 November 1874. When the US census was taken in 1900, he was living in Woodward, Oklahoma, and working as a clerk in his father Jacob’s drugstore. He died, aged 43, in Arkansas on 30 September 1918. According to his obituary in a local paper: ‘A few weeks ago, Lee, as he was known by his friends, volunteered for industrial work and was sent to Little Rock to work in a plant having large government war contracts. Shortly after his arrival he contracted pneumonia and succumbed to the disease in a few days.’ His body was returned to Woodward and buried in Elmwood Cemetery. He was survived by his wife and only son, William McKinley Thomas.

Photographed by the Saunders Art Gallery of Woodward, Oklahoma.

Condition; the print presents a couple of very small abrasions near its upper edge but is otherwise in excellent condition with good tonal range. It has been neatly skimmed off a secondary support, presumably an album page.

Dimensions: the print measures 6.5” by 4.7” (16.4 cm by 11.9 cm).

price:  SOLD
code: cat018
Graphophone, Phonograph, Herbert Lee Thomas, William McKinley Thomas, Woodward Oklahoma, Woodward OK, Woodward, Oklahoma, music