F.S. Lincoln Photography Collection

Title

F.S. Lincoln Photography Collection

Description

The FS Lincoln Collection

Biographical Sketch

Mr. Fay S. Lincoln (known professionally as F.S. Lincoln) operated a photography studio in New York City from the 1930s until the mid 1960s. He was born in Keene, New Hampshire in 1894 and attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Although he received training as an engineer, Mr. Lincoln chose to become a professional photographer in 1929, when he opened the firm of Nyholm & Lincoln in conjunction with another photographer, Peter Nyholm, in New York City. A few years later, he opened his own studio at 114 East 32nd St.1

In 1932, Lincoln began corresponding with Kenneth Chorley, President of the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, about the possibility of contracting with the Foundation to photograph the completed restoration work at Williamsburg. Lincoln had learned that John D. Rockefeller, Jr. was looking for someone to create a master collection of photos of Williamsburg through Arthur S. Vernay, an acquaintance of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller. In his correspondence, Lincoln noted he had completed photographic assignments for many of the top architects and designers in New York, including Arthur S. Vernay, Joseph Urban, James Gamble Rogers, Voorhees, Gmelin & Walker, McKim, Mead, & White, Robert Locher, and Eugene Schoen. He also pointed out that he had sold architectural photos to many prominent magazines, including "Architectural Record," "National Geographic," "Country Life," "Architectural Forum," and "Spur."2

Lincoln's credentials, along with sample photographs and recommendations from magazine editors, enabled him to secure a contract with Colonial Williamsburg on April 22, 1935. According to the terms of the contract, Lincoln was hired to prepare a master collection of photographs and negatives that Colonial Williamsburg could sell to tourists and residents of Williamsburg, as well as use for promotional purposes. Lincoln retained the right to sell copies of his photographs at his New York studio, provided he consulted with the Foundation regarding the proposed use of the photographs. He also retained title to all negatives and copyright for all photos until the termination of his business. Plans for a traveling exhibition of Lincoln's photographs of Williamsburg were also mentioned in the contract.3

During 1935, F.S. Lincoln traveled to Williamsburg at seasonal intervals to photograph views requested by the Foundation. A panel of Colonial Williamsburg employees reviewed each series of photos and selected a group to be added to the master collection. F.S. Lincoln photos illustrated two portfolios about Colonial Williamsburg published in the "Architectural Record" in December 1935 and November 1936. Full-page black and white photos of restored buildings and gardens accompanied articles on the restoration written by Kenneth Chorley, Fiske Kimball, William G. Perry, and Arthur Shurcliff. Thus, Lincoln's photos gave the American public their first introduction to the completed restoration.

Lincoln had also been hired by Colonial Williamsburg to create a group of photographs of Williamsburg that could be exhibited. Correspondence between staff members indicates that John D. Rockefeller, Jr. hoped to mount a traveling exhibit of Williamsburg photographs. An exhibit of a selection of Lincoln's views of Williamsburg, along with photos he took for "Harper's Bazaar," "House and Garden," "House Beautiful," "Vanity Fair," "National Geographic," and "Town and Country," was held at the Rabinovitch Gallery in New York City from October 4-17, 1935.

Although Foundation employees were satisfied with the quality of Lincoln's photographs, they were dismayed by the cost of individual prints and enlargements. Memos exchanged between members of the marketing staff indicate that employees were having a hard time convincing distributors to purchase enlargements of the Lincoln photos for display in shop windows. As a result, the Foundation's agreement with F.S. Lincoln was terminated on April 21, 1936.4

Despite this setback, F.S. Lincoln secured contracts for many other architectural photography projects in the 1930s. He received numerous commissions to photograph buildings in New York City and also traveled abroad on several assignments. In 1934, he completed a portfolio of photos of Mont St. Michel and in 1938 he toured the deep South and photographed examples of antebellum architecture. Lincoln's photos were widely published in the 1930s and 1940s in such magazines as "Architectural Record," "House Beautiful," "National Geographic," "Country Life," and "Architectural Forum." In addition, he published a book of his photographs in 1946 entitled "Charleston: Photographic Studies by F.S. Lincoln."5

F.S. Lincoln continued to operate a photography studio in New York City until 1965, when he retired and moved to Center Hall, Pennsylvania to live with his sister. He forwarded all of his negatives of Williamsburg buildings to the Foundation in 1972, along with a letter stating that “the copyright of the photographs has run out, so you are free to use them as desired.”6 Upon his death in 1976, the remainder of Lincoln's archive of prints and negatives, as well as some business papers, were donated to the Pennsylvania State University Archives.

Scope and Contents

The F.S. Lincoln collection consists of black and white negatives and prints taken by Mr. Lincoln in preparation for the publication of "The Restoration of Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia," a series of articles appearing in the December 1935 and November 1936 issues of "The Architectural Record." Both issues featured a portfolio of buildings and gardens in the newly restored historic area of Williamsburg.

In order to produce a large pool of photos for use in these portfolios, Mr. Lincoln created comprehensive visual documentation of the work completed during the initial phases of the restoration (1927-1935.) He photographed the exteriors and interiors of thirty restored buildings, including the exhibition buildings open to the public, such as the Governor's Palace, the Capitol, Raleigh Tavern, Bruton Parish Church, the Wren Building, and the Powder Magazine. In addition, he captured exterior views of some of the shops open on Merchant's Square and restored buildings adapted for public use, such as the Public Library. He also photographed many of the gardens and garden ornaments throughout the restored area.

The collection is organized into series by format. Series included in the collection are negatives; bound matted and signed prints; unbound matted and signed prints; and small albums. Within each format, items are organized according to the numbering system assigned by Mr. Lincoln. The first three digits of numbers assigned to the images correspond to a particular building or subject category. For example, all images of the Capitol have numbers beginning with 325 and all miscellaneous views have numbers beginning with 365. After these first three digits, Lincoln added a P for print and then a successive number for each view. For example, the first view of the Capitol is number 325P1. An “LC” prefix has been added to all image numbers by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation to identify the images as coming from the Lincoln Collection.

Endnotes

1 Champagne, Anne, “Fay S. Lincoln Collection,” History of Photography 17, (Spring 1993): 127-128.

2 F.S. Lincoln to B.W. Norton, October 18, 1933. Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Archives.

3 Agreement dated April 22, 1935 between Colonial Williamsburg, Inc. and F.S. Lincoln, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Archives.

4 Mr. Norton to Mr. Darling, February 22, 1937; Kenneth Chorley to F.S. Lincoln, April 6, 1937, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Archives.

5 Champagne, Anne, “Fay S. Lincoln Collection,” History of Photography 17 (Spring 1993): 128.

6 F.S. Lincoln to James R. Short, May 15, 1972, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation Archives.

Collection Items

LC331P2.jpg

Lincoln, F.S. 1935
LC327P44.jpg

Lincoln, F.S. 1935
LC326P10.jpg

Lincoln, F.S. 1935
LC332P5.jpg

Lincoln, F.S. 1935
LC367P1.jpg

Lincoln, F.S. 1935
LC361P4.jpg

Lincoln, F.S. 1935
LC327P41.jpg

Lincoln, F.S. 1935
LC327P9.jpg

Lincoln, F.S. 1935
LC325P26.jpg

Lincoln, F.S. 1935
LC364P3.jpg

Lincoln, F.S. 1935
LC357P2.jpg

Lincoln, F.S. 1935
LC329P17.jpg

Lincoln, F.S. 1935
LC356P3.jpg

Lincoln, F.S. 1935
LC357P1.jpg

Lincoln, F.S. 1935
LC357P3.jpg

Lincoln, F.S. 1935
LC357P4.jpg

Lincoln, F.S. 1935
LC357P5.jpg

Lincoln, F.S. 1935
LC357P6.jpg

Lincoln, F.S. 1935
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