Leo J. Beachy: A Birdseye View of Grantsville Maryland

Grantsville, Maryland teacher, writer and photographer Leo J. Beachy (1874-1927) made and sold real photo postcards in his studio at “Mt. Nebo,” his parents’ Garrett County farm.

I can’t be sure, but I am  guessing this view of Grantsville is an early effort. Later postcards have his name and/or  “Mt. Nebo Studio Grantsville  MD” on the postal side.

According to what is known about Beachy’s life and work, he taught himself photography while still an instructor in local schools. A  brief biographical sketch of Beachy by the Maryland Historical Society says that Beachy began taking photographs in 1905 when he received a small Kodak camera and developing chemicals as a prize.

Beachy was frustrated that no professional photographer would come out  to make photographs of his school and environs, and he decided to take up the task himself. He took many photographs of country school classes, and then began turning his camera on the people, pastimes and landscapes of the place he loved.

In 1906, Eastman Kodak began marketing a folding pocket camera that made negatives the same size as post cards. The US Postal Service began allowing divided back postcards in 1907 (McCulloch, Card Photographs, A Guide to Their History and Value, p. 121) .

The Metropolitan Postcard Club of New York City has an excellent collection of postage stamp imprints. This one has a postage stamp imprint used on Cyko bromide postcard papers produced by Ansco on its real photo post cards between 1903 and 1905.

Another source dates the availability of Cyko paper to 1906-1920.

The 3/-1/4″ x 4-1/2″ photograph has been printed on 3-1/2″ x 5-1/2″  paper, suggesting that Beachy used a smaller format camera and did not yet own an  enlarger (Metropolitan Postcard Club of New York City). Eventually he was able to have a fully-equipped studio built on the family farm, and must have acquired a camera made specially for photo postcards.

The Cumberland Road Project has an example of a similar Beachy postcard entitled “The National Pike Eastward Through Grantsville Md” that helps pinpoint this view’s orientation.

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