C.D. ARNOLD - PHOTOGRAPHIC BEGINNINGS BY THOMAS YANUL                                                                                                   copyright 2001
As has been said several times before in this tome, the data to make comments about Arnold's work and life is scant to say the least.  His work as a photographer is generally known by what is extant. The Columbian and Pan-American Expos, the Cotton States Expo (to be discussed later) and books and publications dealing with his trip(s) to England and France. Others include publication(s) on Niagara Falls, some postcards, and his beautiful but scarce 1888 publication of 20 plates that include architectural views in America.  Also, a handful of photos of family, some views of NewYork city and a series of large prints of  Greek monasteries, presumably made during his 1896-97 trip to the Mediterranian.  
The only mention of Arnold actually becoming a photographer is from the text of his obituary in 1927.  This information was supplied by his sister-in-law Mrs. A.K. Davis, a lifelong resident of Buffalo and very close family member to the Arnolds. There is no reason to not believe the information she supplied. She probably knew as much about C.D. Arnold as his wife did.  
 In the Buffalo Courier Newspaper obituary, May 9,1927, it mentions that "about half a century ago he conceived the idea of touring Europe to photograph various styles of architecture".  The term "about" gives us the leeway needed here since its believed Arnold probably became a photographer about 1880-81. In 1882 he is not listed in the Buffalo city directory nor any that can be found. Its quite possible that this was the time he first ventured to Europe, but there is no way to know for certain unless new evidence surfaces. But it stands to reason that between the time he was "given a camera by a fellow travelling salesman"  that he would have had to take some time to learn the trade.
With the introduction of dry plate film in the late 1870's there was a large increase in the numbers of people becoming both amateur and professional photographers (including George Eastman). The science and chemistry of it all had been markedly changed for the better. Britain had been a leader in the development of the dry plate industry, so Arnold's trips to England and France may have taken advantage of this fact and purchased his plates overseas where a ready supply was available. Unfortunately we don't really know.
Despite the fact that Arnold may have been working as a photographer in the early 1880's, evidence to that effect does not become definite until his listing in the1886-87 New York City Directory. Entry to that publication meant he would have to supply information for it in advance, most likely in the Spring of 1886.  And in the fall of 1887 Arnold won the Silver Medal for architectural photography(the highest award given in that category) at the Annual Convention of the Photographers Association of America held in Chicago. Arnold was a non-member exhibitor.  The association changed their rules not too long afterward allowing only members to exhibit for awards.
Its obvious Arnold was not what you would call a "joiner".  There is no record of his having become a member of any professional or amateur group in his life, with the exception of the Postal Photographic Club - but more about that later.
NOTE: In March of 2003 I purchased a cache of original vintage Arnold architectural photographs bearing his New York City Business imprint. Many are identified as to architect and city/location. Among them are McKim, Mead & White; Peabody & Stearns; E.A. Sargent; Green & Wicks; G.E. Harney  Marling & Burdett; S.G. Slocum; Stevens  & Cobb; W.W. Lewis, and Lamb & Rich.

Scans of these photos will be forthcoming.

A sort of landmark comes for Arnold via the elegant 1888 self-published book of 20   architectural views entitled "Studies in Architecture  -  At Home And Abroad". A most curious and interesting fact here is the printer - "The Photo-Gravure Company" of New York.  These plates were made by a company whose founder and president, Ernest Edwards, was already a legend in the photographic and printing trades.  Edwards had excelled as a portrait photographer in London, 1860's. He was also the inventor of the heliograph process, a seminal printing method for the reproduction of photographs.  Edwards was brought to Boston in 1872 as manager of the Heliotype Corp. of Mass.(part of James R. Osgood Co.) who had bought the rights to his invention. Edwards left Heliotype Co. in 1885 and set up shop in New York City as the Photo-Gravure Co.[NOTE:Osgood & Co. abruptly went bankrupt in May,1885, which is probably why Edwards left Boston.]  Its primary work was high class printing, plate making and lithography.  Two years later Edwards introduces a monthly subscription series titled "Sun & Shade" a large (11x14") publication of fine art and photography in the form of very high quality gelatin and gravure plates. And also noteworthy, Edwards locates his company in the same office building(853 Broadway) as Edward L. Wilson, the publisher of the Philadelphia Photographer magazine (and later Wilson's Photographics). The two worked often in concert, Edwards making gravures of images to be included in Wilson's magazine, and Wilson editorializing about Edwards' work and company. There does not seem to have been an actual business connection - ownership wise, between them, just mutually interested in each others work and occasionally giving work to each other.  
As regards Arnold, the choice of Ernest Edwards is interesting.  Edwards was certainly not the cheapest, but was generally considered one of the finest art printers around. The cost I'm sure was high. In several printing and photo magazines from 1888 many references are made to the new process by Edwards of making tinted plates-gravures and gelatin based.
Not surprisingly, many of Arnold's plates are just that - tinted a rose or green, and I suspect at a higher price. Arnold certainly had high-class goods in mind when these were produced. It appears also that the plates were made as individual pieces that could be sold, each bearing a title, notations and the title of the book on each plate.  It would seem the "book" might have been a small run of bound plates. They are very difficult to find as a book. The author's was found through a book search some 20 years ago and I have never found another on the market.
One of the plates in the book was most helpful in dating at least one time when Arnold was in England.  It is a view of the 14th century St. Margarets Church, Edgware, Middlesex.  Fortunately for me the view had a small cemetery in the foreground and a name and uncertain date can be seen on a fresh-looking stone.
I wrote the pastor and received a reply identifying the gravestone as bearing a date of June 3rd, 1885. So we know he was there after that date. And that time would coincide with a trip to Europe and returning with a cache of fine architectural views to sell to architects, have prints for his exhibit in Chicago in 1887, and for the inclusion in the 1888 publication.  It all fits very nicely. But of his other trips, earlier, there is nothing located yet to indicate any time period. If in fact Arnold was having contact with large architectural firms there is actually no direct evidence that those connections led to his work at the Columbian Exposition. Its likely, but not verified. Arnold's life as a photographer is without record for the period in New York to his appearance in Chicago in March 1891. From that point on Arnold's career is well documented as construction photographer under Daniel Burnham, Chief of Construction.  This aspect of Arnold's work will be discussed next.
[Since this was written evidence of Arnold's New York City work has surfaced and is discussed in other pages]
NOTES ON ERNEST EDWARDS: When Edwards arrived in New York in 1885 the company was organized with Edwards as president. Obviously others were involved as financial backers/owners but the exact business arrangement is not known. The operation consisted of offices at 853 Broadway (Domestic Sewing Machine bldg.) and a printing plant in Brooklyn. In the Nov. 5,1886 issue of the Photographic Times & American Photographer it was reported, "We recently visited the works of the Photo-Gravure Co. in Brooklyn at the invitation of the President Ernest Edwards.
Part of the building was a private dwelling , other parts formed the winter quarters for a circus-a place now a court between the buildings." These buildings originally belonged to the American Photo-Lithographic Co.and were now the photographic, platemaking and printing operations for the Photo-Gravure co. They were located at Third Ave. & Tenth St., Brooklyn.(or 3rd Av. & 10th St.)  The company was originally formed to do high grade printing, lithography, gelatin and gravure plate making.
A little over two years later the company introduced a superbly printed monthly called "Sun & Shade - A Photographic Record of Events.Published monthly with an Art Supplement in Photo-Gravure".
The first issue was scheduled to appear in mid-summer but production delays slowed the initial issue to be distributed in September. Arnold's work was carried in both the first issue, Edgeware church, (where gravestone date was found) and third (Nov 1888), Tower of Catherine de Medici, Blois, France. Which again reinforces the fact that Arnold was obviously acquainted with the company and/or Edwards himself, prior to its first issue being released. To be included in the first issue of what was meant to be a very high class periodical was, I think, significant in that Arnold may not have been as obscure a photographer as some individuals stated later at the Columbian Exposition. At least within the community of New York some photo professionals must have felt his work was of a high enough artistic standard to have been published in this widely publicized magazine.  
NOTE: Special thanks to Helena E. Wright, Curator, Division Graphic Arts National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, who for many years has been most helpful in supplying information on the history of printing and the work of Ernest Edwards.


Part of the Photo-Gravure Co.
printing plant - former Osborne plant, Third & Tenth Sts.,Brooklyn,NY
(also listed as 3rd Av. & 10th St.)

Below,  glass-roofed printing shed
Osborne Collection Courtesy
Div. of Graphic Arts, NMAH
 Smithsonian Institution

Below - 4 plates from

Studies in Architecture
1888 - C.D. Arnold

No.1 Broadway New York

Portion of
House of The Countess of Chatel
Tours, France

Edgeware church
Middlesex, England

Zenus Crane Jr.
 "Willowbrook" house

Dalton, Mass. Fuller & Wheeler, Architects
published in F&W "Artistic Homes" - 1891

Studies in Architecture
At Home & Abroad
Self-Published by C.D. Arnold