The Kiser Photo Co. photographs include images produced by the Kiser Brothers, the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition Official Photographic Co., the Kiser Photo Co., and the Winter Photo Co. from 1901-circa 1927. Other imprints include Fred H. Kiser Studios, Kiser Studios, and Scenic America Company. The collection contains both vintage black-and-white and hand-colored prints, including stereographs and panoramic photographs, as well as copy prints made from original Kiser negatives. The bulk of the images are examples of Kiser's landscape and mountain photography in Montana, Oregon, and along the Columbia River Gorge and Columbia River Highway, among other places, as well as of various places in Portland, Or. Other subjects include the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis, Mo., 1904; the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition in Portland, Or., 1905; landscape photographs taken for various railroad companies, 1903-1916; photographs of ships and shipbuilding in the Portland, Or. area, taken for the Emergency Fleet Corporation, 1918-1919; and photos of Kiser studio buildings in Portland, 1909-1923.
The collection also contains contemporary photomechanical reproductions of Kiser photographs, dating from 1903-circa 1930. These include postcards, photomechanical prints both loose and in albums, and publications containing reproductions of Kiser work. There are also background materials that contain biographical notes Fred H. Kiser and the history of his work with photography that were gathered during collection processing and date from 1903-1999.
Many images in the collection were made by the Kiser Brothers or Kiser Photo Company and its photographers but were produced for sale to the public over a long period of time, first by the Kiser Photo Company and then the Winter Photo Company. After Kiser sold part of his business to Winter in 1915, it appears that Kiser continued to make prints from earlier images for which Winter held the negatives, possibly by making copy negatives from original prints. Photographer Benjamin Gifford also bought Kiser negatives and produced them for sale; many of the copy prints in this collection were made from Kiser negatives that are housed in the Gifford and Prentiss photograph collection, Org. Lot 982.
Note on dates and photographers’ negative numbers: Kiser and Winter often issued prints of the same images over a long period. Prints sometimes include copyright dates in the photographer’s imprint. The dates provided in this guide include: actual date of photograph if known, copyright date if known, or circa dates derived from photographers’ negative numbers and image content. Kiser Brothers did not use a negative numbering system as far as can be determined. Kiser Photo Co.’s earliest assigned numbers represent the firm’s output but also may be for images made by the Kiser Brothers but marketed later. They are low numbers preceded by an “x”. Kiser seems to have adopted a consecutive numbering system by about 1906. The numbers are handwritten in pencil on the verso of prints. After he purchased part of the business in 1915, Winter appears to have continued the consecutive numbering system from where Kiser Photo Company left off. After 1915, Kiser appears to have adopted a new numbering system, using a “C” prefix.