56,000 Photographs (Black and white photographs in albums)
This collection spans the years 1894-circa 1944 and contains approximately 56,000 black and white photographs. The photographs are mounted in 148 large (22"x18") and 93 small (12"x14") albums. About 5,000 are mounted individually. The images depict the full repertoire of Caldwell products. Since all of Caldwell's designs were custom made for each project, these photographs were used to illustrate all of the many designs for lighting they produced.
Edward F. Caldwell and Victor F. von Lossberg founded Edward F. Caldwell & Company in 1894 in New York City. They became the most prominent manufacturers of custom lighting fixtures and metalwork in the late 19th to early 20th centuries. Their success was due to their ability to incorporate popular and eclectic styles from French Neoclassical to Art Deco into their designs for electric lighting fixtures.
Since they worked with the leading architects of the day, Caldwell lighting fixtures and decorative metalwork appeared in many major building projects, including the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Andrew Carnegie's mansion (now home to Cooper Hewitt), and the 1902 renovation of the White House. For these projects, architectural plans would be brought in and drawings and occasionally models would be created. By the 1920s, Caldwell & Company had one of the largest foundries in New York City. They were one of the few American firms that mastered the techniques for applying enamel decorations to metalwork and were renowned for their casting and gilding of bronze. They produced fine metalwork objects such as tables, lamps, clocks, desk sets, fire screens, and statues.
All items were custom made with few exceptions. Due to the Depression, the firm was forced to scale down their operation. The company was liquidated by the Internal Revenue Service in 1956, but reorganized and reemerged that same year as E.T. Caldwell Lighting Company. The Plastic Illuminating Company was a subsidiary of the Caldwell Lighting Company. The company eventually went out of business entirely in 1959.
Location of Other Archival Materials Note:
Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum, Drawings and Prints Department. Approximately 5,000 presentation drawings in pencil and watercolor of proposed and realized designs for custom made lamps, chandeliers, and wall brackets for installation in the 1902 White House, the Frick Collection Library Building, and the Cleveland Public Library, among other buildings. Again, since all of the company's projects were done to the specifications of the individual client, these drawings were an essential part of the communication between lighting designer and architect.
The New York Public Library, Manuscripts and Archive Section. The business records of E.T. Caldwell Lighting Company of New York City, and its predecessor Edward F. Caldwell & Co., including leters, draughtman's sketches, group schedule of designs, design records, invoice books, ledgers, and records of the firm's subsidiary, the Plastic Illuminating Company. Covers the period, 1909-1959.
Unprocessed; access in limited. Permission of Library Director required for use.