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Lawrence and Houseworth photograph collection
PC RM Lawrence Houseworth  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
Lawrence and Houseworth were one of the main publishers of stereoviews on the West coast around the 1860s. They sold views primarily of California and Nevada, and the majority of their photographs are of nature scenes, and the wonders of California's redwoods, geysers, lakes and mountains. The collection contains commercial formats - stereographs and cartes de visites. They were taken by photographer Charles Leander Weed and published by Lawrence and Houseworth, who did a brisk business selling these formats, and were competitive with other merchants of stereoviews.
Background
Like many, Thomas Houseworth (1828-1915), a native New Yorker, travelled West with an interest in mining and arrived San Francisco in 1849. Houseworth met George S. Lawrence (dates unknown) while working a claim in Calaveras County, Calif. The two men were mining partners for the next two years, looking for gold in Trinity County, Calif. Lawrence settled in San Francisco, where he opened a jewelry shop and, later, in 1852, an optical shop - which he asserted was the first of its kind on the Pacific Coast. In 1855, Lawrence and Houseworth formally established a partnership, selling stereoscopic views and equipment. Intended as a form of armchair travel, stereographs made use of the principles of binocular vision ("the mental fusing of slightly dissimilar images seen separately by the viewer's two eyes into one image with three-dimensional characteristics"). As optometrists, Lawrence and Houseworth were uniquely well-positioned to bring this new technology to the masses.
Extent
0.5 box 1 photo box, half of which is Lawrence and Houseworth and half of which is Houseworth and Co.
Restrictions
Materials in this collection are in the public domain in the United States. Permission to publish or reproduce is not required.
Availability
Collection is open for research.