View Full Version : Glass plates for one dollar

02-08-2012, 12:31 PM
Last week at the last PHSNE auction dollar table, I found a box of Hauff Trockenplatten (dry plates) that show a number of locations, some in the United States, but some in what I assume is South America before automobiles were common. I cannot yet place them more accurately in time or location, but I'd love to try. Anybody have any idea where this city is?

There are 12 plates of varying quality and interest, but i think the entire set could be a wonderful set of short stories. These are scans of the plates.

02-08-2012, 01:29 PM
Can you see any kind of signage with a high powered loupe? Maybe street signs, train destinations, shop windows, etc?

This kind of photographic investigation is a lot of fun..

02-16-2012, 12:38 PM
First photo looks like it might be of an opera house. Fascinating! Good luck with your investigation.

Peter Gomena

02-16-2012, 12:53 PM
I believe that the pictures were either made in Brazil or in Portugal, colonial architecture, the tramway and the horse cart look portugese or brazilian.

Good Luck

02-16-2012, 12:56 PM
I'd guess Chile vs. Brazil, but without examining the street car shot at very high magnification, identification is just a best guess scenario.

02-16-2012, 05:42 PM
I finally had some time to get a bit larger scans. Here are some details with writing on the building. The one of the long sgn on the river is a third image, the others are details of the ones I posted before.

02-16-2012, 05:52 PM
What a great find. I wonder if finding someone's hard drive in a box a hundred years from now will convey the same sense of adventure and romance. (not starting an analog/digital debate... that horse has been beaten to death; just wondering about my great-grandchildren and the heritage they will inherit.)

02-16-2012, 07:04 PM
The signs are in portuguese. You have a drugstore and I think a bookstore in pic 1. Lots of black people in pic 3, so probably Brasil. An ad for baby soap in pic 4.

BINGO!!! Pic 3 is riverfront of Avenida Martins de Barros in Recife, Brasil! There are modern day pics of that landing in google maps.

02-16-2012, 10:04 PM
Thanks for the links to a real place! The only problem I have with your excellent logic is the fact that all of the images I've been able to find of Recife make the city appear to be on much flatter land than is shown in the old images. Having never been on the continent, let alone in the city, I am completely ignorant, however. Is Recife backed by substantial hills? Are these pictures perhaps of more than one city... a steamer voyage along the coast? There are other images that show the same buildings that are in the back of the parade shot, and the building that pgomena called an opera house is high on the right in one of the others, but that city is definitely very steeply situated on a hill. There are also some that have no relation to that place.

02-17-2012, 01:26 PM
Whiteymorange - I meant only that the 3rd pic from your 2nd group is in Recife. The first and 4th of that group are almost certainly somewhere in Brazil.

I suspect that the parade is in Rio de Janeiro, near the water in the Saude or Centro area, looking south, with Sugarloaf out of the picture behind the buildings. That could be classified as a wild-ass guess

Boy, your guy sure did get around. All that American bunting, flags and building style doesn't fit with the rest at all.

02-17-2012, 02:18 PM
There are two that have snow and a train! I don't know if this box was a 'greatest hits' collection or if it was one trip– no way of researching it either. By the time this box got to the dollar table, it had been around the block a few times. The Rio guess echoes my own, but my understanding of that city is right up there with my understanding of Recife!

I printed a couple of them today on 11 x 14 paper. They were obviously taken with a pretty good lens. There isn't any noticeable distortion and some look to have been hand-held shots. More research is certainly necessary... maybe I can get a grant. :D

02-18-2012, 01:26 AM
I don't know. That American building looks to have been taken with a much better camera, lens, film and even photographer than the others. The exposure is perfect, the grain non-existent, contrast perfect. none of the huge mess-ups of the others.

04-09-2012, 11:52 AM
I think I have found the other Brazilian city that is pictured on these plates. I did it by Googling "Nazareth Trolley line, Brazil". I got hits for Savador, Bahia, the first capital and one of the oldest cities in the country. The images I found have much to recommend them as the place shown on my plates. Add to that the fact that Salvador is just down the coast from Recife and I think we have a winner.

Now to figure out the date and the other cities pictured in this box!

eh... perhaps I should do something productive?