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Shedding Light on New York : Edward F. Caldwell and Company
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Table lamp, inventory number A024894About the Collection

The E. F. Caldwell & Co. Collection at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum Library, Smithsonian Institution Libraries, contains more than 50,000 images consisting of approximately 37,000 black & white photographs and 13,000 original design drawings of lighting fixtures and other fine metal objects that they produced from the late 19th to the mid-20th centuries.

Caldwell & Co. organized their photographs into four main formats – large binders, medium binders, small binders, and large and small presentation boards. Within these formats, they were organized according to lighting type or product type - brackets, chandeliers, table lamps, furniture, andirons, etc. The drawings were also organized by type, but unbound.

Each photograph and drawing is labeled with an account number that was assigned by Caldwell & Co. These account numbers begin with a suffix (A, C, or K), followed by a series of numbers – A12643, C598. These account numbers are critical pieces of information being that they serve as the only link between the visual archive and the account book information.

The Caldwell account books are organized by date, and include information such as, client, architect, location, and a small sketch of the object.  Cooper-Hewitt Museum Library has a microfilm copy of the account books, and the originals are at the New York Public Library, along with additional Caldwell materials - http://www.nypl.org/research/chss/spe/rbk/faids/edwardcaldwellco.pdf

 

About the Project


Grant funding from METRO made it possible to scan all 142 large binders, containing 25,000 photographs, and 10,000 drawings.  This online collection will provide access to over 35,000 images once all scans have been processed.  A little over 30% of the Caldwell collection remains un-scanned, including 13,000 photographs and 3,000 drawings.

METRO funds also supported new research that brought together project information from the account books with their matching images.  Thirty-eight New York City commissions are currently represented with over three hundred related photographs and drawings for these specific projects.  More projects will be added, providing detailed information about the client, building name, architect, and location.

Support the collection:
Additional funds are needed to digitize the remaining 16,000 images and provide access to more Caldwell projects.  If you would like to help support this project, you can donate online and indicate "Caldwell Digital Project" in the purpose of gift section. 
Questions? Call the Cooper-Hewitt Museum Library at 212-849-8330

Digital Specifications:

Digital Images:
Original images captured at 400 dpi and stored as TIFFs. Web images reduced to 96 dpi and rescaled for screen display.

Metadata:
Metadata was taken from the Caldwell account books and from image collection inventories.  Selected metadata was mapped to Dublin Core for embedding in the image via XMP files.  Standards such as the Getty’s Art and Architecture Thesaurus (AAT) and Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) were applied when selecting lighting terminology and architect names.

Credits:

Special thanks go out to all the staff, interns, and volunteers, who have contributed countless hours over the past several years, processing this massive collection.  Without their labeling, inventorying, and re-housing efforts, this online resource would not have been possible.