FIVE MEN, DERBIES AND DOGS IN KUTZTOWN, PENNSYLVANIA

The boys gather together at Snyder’s Studio in Kutztown, Pennsylvania for a group portrait. Suits and derby hats seem to be the order of the day. Someone brought their two large hounds to the gathering. The dogs appear to be hunting dogs. Examination of this cabinet card image brings up the question, “How are these men connected to each other?”.  Are they good friends?  Are they co-workers? The answer to these questions are unobtainable and we are left with only hypotheses.What do we know about the photographer? The 1880 U. S. census reveals that Charles Wanner Snyder (1852-1927) was married to Sallie A. Jackson (1858-1900) and the pair had a daughter named Lydia (born 1879). Charles Snyder was born, and later died, in Kutztown. At the time of the census, Snyder was employed as a boot and shoe maker, but he appears to have had a tendency to switch careers over time. After tiring of boots and shoes,  he worked two years as a harness maker. He learned photographic and freehand crayon work and then, became a photographer. Research reveals that he had a reputation for being an excellent scenic artist and sign painter. He also was a very civic minded man. He was credited as saving a grove from woodsmen, and establishing the Kutztown Park with the rescued property. He served six years on the Kutztown council and five years as President of the council. In 1880 he entered the bicycle business. He added a Sphinx automobile dealership to his bicycle shop in 1915. What in the world is a Sphinx automobile? The Sphinx was produced by the Sphinx Motor Car Company which was located in York, Pennsylvania. The company produced cars in 1915 and 1916. The Sphinx was a light touring car. Automobile Industries (1914) reported that the car was expected to  have an initial selling price of six hundred and ninety-five dollars.

Published in: on February 4, 2012 at 12:01 am  Comments (2)  
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  1. Charles Wanner Snyder was my great-grandfather and, as you write, a very well know photographer and artist in the Kutztown area. He was politically active, and an organizer of events in the community. His family line, beginning in the U.S. with Leonhardt Schneider, is among those of the earliest Germans to have left the Palatinate and settle in Berks Co. PA. A photograph stored in the archives of the Reading Art Museum (PA) depicts himself along with Thomas Edison and an unknown tavern owner taken by himself in his Kutztown studio after a morning of fly fishing together.
    His son, W. Earl Snyder, became a well know portrait photographer with a studio in Reading PA, and was known also for his paintings, many of which are in private collections. W. Earl Snyder photographed John Updike for his first book jacket. In fact, Mr. Updike later chose a childhood photograph of himself taken by Snyder as the book cover of his autobiography “Self-Conciousness.
    Snyder used a Kodak Century camera with glass plates throughout his career until his retirement in the early 70’s.

    • Please see Charles Wanner Snyder comment


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