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Thread: Interesting early Gibson factory photo

  1. #1
    Site founder Scott Tichenor's Avatar
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    Default Interesting early Gibson factory photo

    Jim Triggs and I had lunch today and he brought over this photo that Charlie Derrington had given him when Jim was still at Gibson managing the custom shop. Said the photo is from the Gibson factory, but the date and individuals pictured are unknown. This may be a photo some of you have seen before and maybe I'm just not aware. Thought it was interesting and worth sharing, and who knows, maybe some day if enough of these little pieces of the puzzles are stitched together, we'll know the names of more of the creators of these instruments.

    Here's a link to the hi-resolution file at 300 dpi, around 2MB.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Scott Tichenor; Dec-05-2009 at 11:09am. Reason: Decided to link to hi-resolution file.

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Interesting early Gibson factory photo

    Cool pic. Nicely contextualizes the word "factory."

  4. #3

    Default Re: Interesting early Gibson factory photo

    Been awhile since folks wore a tie to work in the factory.

  5. #4
    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting early Gibson factory photo

    Proposed caption: "Where are you hiding that Madagascar rosewood?"
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    Default Re: Interesting early Gibson factory photo

    Quote Originally Posted by MoBob View Post
    Been awhile since folks wore a tie to work in the factory.
    That's what I was thinking too. I work in a factory and a tie would not only look ridicuously out of place but would also be a safety hazard. Based on the clothing, would anyone hazard a guess as to the era?

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    Mike Parks woodwizard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting early Gibson factory photo

    Now that is one cool picture. Sort of get's my imagination going for me. Wouldn't it be nice to time travel back ... pick up a few things and come back!? Boy howdy!
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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting early Gibson factory photo

    Sepia photograph, attached shirt collars, longer neckties...

    Men's fashions don't change as dramatically as women's fashions, so it's harder for all but the most experienced eye to pinpoint the era from the clothes. What I can see of the neckties suggests that they are not the shorter Depression-era ties. Sepia suggests 1920s, but my wife notes that that since they're older guys, they could be wearing out-of-date clothes in the 1930s or '40s.
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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting early Gibson factory photo

    I'm going to hazard a well made guess that it's around 1921 or at least that's when the photograph was developed. I have a few old Kodak developed prints from the 20's and 30's and there's a number that looks suspiciously like the year on them as there is one in the lower right edge of this one, assuming that is a 21.

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    Default Re: Interesting early Gibson factory photo

    Quote Originally Posted by mrmando View Post
    Sepia photograph, attached shirt collars, longer neckties...

    Men's fashions don't change as dramatically as women's fashions, so it's harder for all but the most experienced eye to pinpoint the era from the clothes. What I can see of the neckties suggests that they are not the shorter Depression-era ties. Sepia suggests 1920s, but my wife notes that that since they're older guys, they could be wearing out-of-date clothes in the 1930s or '40s.
    My guess was going to be late teens - early twenties. I wonder if they're looking for some extra special boards for one of Lloyd's projects.

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    Default Re: Interesting early Gibson factory photo

    totally reminds me of my days in rough and finish milling. i can even smell/feel it. didn't wear a tie, though. (vermont)

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    Martin Stillion mrmando's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting early Gibson factory photo

    Nice job spotting that number, Mike.

    It's possible that the two fellers in neckties are front-office boys just posing with a shop worker. Notice the watch chain and nicely creased trousers on the guy at left, compared with the baggy, wrinkled pants the guy at right (no necktie!) is wearing.
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    I may be old but I'm ugly billhay4's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting early Gibson factory photo

    Some darn nice wood in that pile.
    Bill

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    Default Re: Interesting early Gibson factory photo

    WOW!!!
    I'll be staring at this pic for some time to come...
    Just amazing...

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    I'm going to hazard a well made guess that it's around 1921...
    I hope you're right...

    What we're looking at (and it sure looks staged), is the guys measuring wood that would be made into one-piece mando backs, and the 8/4 one-piece necks right under it...

    And a board that looks suspiciously like spruce on the same table...

    So-ooo, 4 one-piece backs, a gob of one-piece necks, 6-7 two-piece tops, and a bazillion mandos right behind them in the pile...
    That pile looks like mixed species, which is odd...

    But I'd bet the farm we're looking at mando wood here, folks, and if it is indeed 1921...well...

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    Cambridge Mandolinist Daniel Nestlerode's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting early Gibson factory photo

    Attached collars: nice catch. Partial 21: Nice catch. You guys have great eyes.

    Attached collars puts it put of the teens and into the 20's at least. The vests look 30s to me, but the sepia tone of the print is bugging me. Could it have been old film?

    The diameter of the saw is readily apparent. Can that be a way to date the shot? How about the wrench on the shelf under the table?

    We could get a ballpark estimate if we could get the ID's of the on or more of the guys in the shot. Did Gibson get headshots of folks? Is the factory in Kalamazoo? We could triangulate with local newspapers, trade mags, yearbooks, etc. But we'd need volunteers to do the legwork.

    Daniel

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    Site founder Scott Tichenor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting early Gibson factory photo

    Here's a screen shot of the bottom right part of the photo increased to 200%, below in case this means anything to our camera buffs. Interestingly, after scanning this we noticed the photo had been flipped horizontally as printed, so we corrected that, but otherwise did no editing to the image. Also, someone commented about factory workers wearing ties and that being a hazard. My theory here is that two of these people were likely supervisors or buyers and didn't get their hands very dirty during the day. The guy in the middle has a very nice looking pen in his pocket if you zoom in on the hi-res version. I suspect the gentleman on the left is possibly the supplier of the wood, but we'll likely never know.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Site founder Scott Tichenor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting early Gibson factory photo

    Couple of close ups on the two with ties. One looks like possibly a watch and chain.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  19. #17
    Site founder Scott Tichenor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting early Gibson factory photo

    Wasn't originally going to do this but here's the original scan at 300 dpi. This is about 2MB download.

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    Registered User Woody Turner's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting early Gibson factory photo

    Although the guys with neckties probably are managers, it's not so far fetched to imagine skilled tradesmen in ties during that period (and even much later). I've seen photos of violin shops where everyone was in necktie and apron. Over the holidays, while looking at old photos, I was reminded again how working class folk dressed much more formally than they do today. Even foundry workers often sported vests and watch chains in their off hours.
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    Default Re: Interesting early Gibson factory photo

    caption:
    Well Merle, this maple'll burn longer 'n hotter than the spruce behind ya.


    Daniel

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    Registered User evanreilly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting early Gibson factory photo

    Looks like matching caps also?
    Was Kalamazoo a Union shop?

  23. #21
    Cambridge Mandolinist Daniel Nestlerode's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting early Gibson factory photo

    Just a guess from the small amount of visual evidence...
    Left to right: Shop supervisor (pencil in the pocket, tie), factory bigwig (fountain pen, pressed shirt, well-fitted vest, no shop hat --probably left his fedora in the office), shift foreman or some other laborer just above bench worker (no tie, looser less well-fit clothes, actually using a tool).

    Daniel

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    Default Re: Interesting early Gibson factory photo

    The hands are a good clue.
    It looks to me like the man with no hat has an office workers hands.
    The other two have the hands of men who handle wood.
    My guess left to right would be something like; foreman of the wood receiving area; manager; and worker/wood grader.
    I stand to be corrected!

  25. #23
    Registered User man dough nollij's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting early Gibson factory photo

    According to Wikipedia (which is never wrong, right?...), there was a 121 film format between 1902 and 1941. I'm guessing that what the Kodak label meant.

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    Default Re: Interesting early Gibson factory photo

    The guy on the right is John and the guy on the left is Jim from Old Standard. But I'm not sure who the guy in the middle is? Great photo! Thanks for sharing Scott.

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    Registered User chasray's Avatar
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    Default Re: Interesting early Gibson factory photo

    Quote Originally Posted by man dough nollij View Post
    According to Wikipedia (which is never wrong, right?...), there was a 121 film format between 1902 and 1941. I'm guessing that what the Kodak label meant.
    Yes, the 121 was embedded on the film before it was developed marking the format (1 5/8 x 2 1/2")

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