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Hand-colored photographs by Wallace Nutting-Like Photographers

Although Wallace Nutting was widely recognized as the country’s leading producer of hand-colored photography in the early 20th century, he was by no means the only photographer to sell this style of image. Across the country, literally hundreds of regional photographers were selling hand-colored photos of their home regions or travels. The subject matter of these photographers was very comparable to Nutting’s, including unusual interior, exterior, exterior and miscellaneous scenes. Key determinants of value include the collectability of the particular photographer, subject matter, size, and of course, condition. Please note that only the rarest images, in the best condition, will fetch the best prices. Fading and/or damage to image or matte can significantly reduce value.

Nutting-Like Wallace’s Leading Photographers: A number of photographers operated large businesses, and although not as large or well known as Nutting, they sold a substantial volume of images that can still be easily found today. The vast majority of their work was photographed in their home regions and sold primarily to local residents or visiting tourists. And it should come as no surprise that 3 of Wallace Nutting-Like’s top photographers… David DavidsonFred ThompsonY Charles Sawyer… each had ties to Nutting.

  • david davidson: Second to Nutting in overall production, Davidson worked primarily in the Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts area. While studying at Brown University around 1900, Davidson learned the art of hand-colored photography directly from Nutting, who happened to be the minister of Davidson’s Providence RI church. After Nutting moved to Southbury in 1905, Davidson graduated from Brown and started a successful photography business in Providence that he operated until his death in 1967.
  • Charles Sawyer: To the father and his team, Charles H Sawyer Y Harold B Sawyeroperated the very successful Sawyer Art Company from 1903 to 1970. Beginning in Farmington ME, the Sawyer Art Company moved to Concord NH in 1920 to be closer to its main market of the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Charles Sawyer He briefly worked for Nutting in 1902-03 while living in southern Maine. Sawyer’s production volume ranks third behind Nutting and Davidson.
  • fred thompson: Frederick H. Thompson Y Frederick M.Thompson were another father and his team who operated the Thompson Art Company (TACO) from 1908 to 1923, working primarily in the Portland, ME area. We know that Thompson and Nutting had collaborated because Thompson heavily promoted an interior scene he had shot at Nutting’s home in Southbury. The production volume of the Thompson Art Company He ranks #4 behind Nutting, Davidson and Sawyer.
  • Charles Higgins: Working in Bath Maine, some of Higgins’ best films rivaled Nutting’s best. No firm connection has been found between Higgins and Nutting.

Minor Wallace Nutting-Like Photographers: Hundreds of other smaller local and regional photographers attempted to market hand-colored images comparable to those of Wallace Nutting during the 1900-1930 period. Although quite attractive, most were not as appealing to the general public as the Wallace Nutting images. However, as the price of Wallace Nutting images has risen, the work of these lesser-known Wallace Nutting-Like photographers has become increasingly collectible.

A partial list of some of these minor Wallace Nutting-Like photographers include: Babcock; J.Carleton Bicknell; Blair; Ralph Blood (Portland, ME); brag; Brehmer; streams; burrows; Bush; royal carlock; Pedro Cacciola; small farm; mail; After Bros; Derek; Downly; Eddie; May Farini (colonial hand-colored lithographs); Geo. forest; Gandara; H. Marshall Gardner (Nantucket, Bermuda, Florida); Gibson; Gideon; gunn; Bessie Pease Gutmann (colonial hand-colored lithographs); Edward boy; harris; C. Hazen; knoff; F. Jay Haynes (Yellowstone Park); Margaret Hennessy; Hodges; Homer; krabel; Cattleman; The Bushe; Lake; Lamson (Portland ME); Mr. Lightstrum; machining; roar; Mackinae; Merrill; Mayers; William Moehring; Moran; Murray; Lyman Nelson; J. Robinson Neville (New England); Patterson; Owen Perry; Phelps; phinney; Reynolds; F. Robbins; Royce; Fred’k Scheetz (Row, Pennsylvania); Shelton; Harry L. Standley (Colorado); Stott; summers; Esther Svenson; Florence Thompson; Thomas Thompson; MA Trott; Sanford Tull; Under the hill; villar; Pavilion; Wilmot; EdithWilson; Wright.

The same guidelines that apply to Nutting images typically apply to Nutting-Like images as well:

  • Exterior scenes are the most common.
  • Some photographers also sold colonial interior scenes.
  • Subject, condition, and size are important determinants of value.

reference books:

  • The Collector’s Guide to Early 20th Century Hand-Painted Photographyby Michael Ivankovich, 250 pgs, illustrated with pricing information.
  • The hand-painted photographs of Charles Henry Sawyerby Carol Begley Gray, Michael Ivankovich and John Peters, 60 pages, illustrated with pricing information.

The Wallace Nutting Collectors Club: Founded in 1973, the Wallace Nutting Collectors Club holds annual conventions, usually in the northeastern part of the country. Since there are no collectors’ clubs dedicated specifically to the works of any of the other photographers, collectors generally gravitate towards the Wallace Nutting Collectors Club for information on hand-colored photographs from the early 20th century.

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