Detroit Publishing Company

Detroit, Michigan, USA, 1885–1936 (Publisher)

Edwin H. Husher, a California photographer, created the Detroit Publishing Company in 1885 as a franchise of the Swiss printing company Photoglob Zürich. Photoglob employed the color-print photochrom process which allowed black and white photograph negatives to be realistically colorized through the lithography printing process. In this process, the image was transferred to stones; one stone was used for each color, and a typical postcard employed eleven different colors. Originally a printer of religious books and calendars, the Detroit Photographic Company Ltd. shifted production in 1897 when owners William A. Livingstone and Husher saw the potential in postcards. After negotiations with Orell Gessner Füssli, the parent company of Photoglob Zürich, Detroit became the sole American company to license the Swiss photochrom process. When the well known Western photographer William Henry Jackson (1843–1942) joined the company as a partner, he added his thousands of negatives to Livingstone’s collection of Great Lakes imagery and Husher’s photographs of California. All this provided a strong foundation to start publishing postcards. Jackson traveled around the United States taking many additional pictures until 1903 when he took over the management of Detroit’s factory. By 1904, as postcards sales increased to seven million per year, they changed their name to the Detroit Publishing Company. They produced postcards on a great variety of subjects but they are best known for their view-cards as well as the high quality of their prints. In 1909, the company renamed the colorizing process from “photochrom” to “photostint" and stopped using a painter’s palette logo on the card’s verso. The business went into bankruptcy in 1923 and closed in 1932.

Detroit Publishing Company Credit Line and Trademark

William Henry Jackson William Henry Jackson (1843–1942)

 

References

David Prochaska and Jordana Mendelson, Postcards: Ephemeral Histories of Modernity (University Park, Pa.: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2010), 158.