Boston: Self published, 1902. Collection of 8 original dry plate glass negatives featuring images of Boston and New York area trolleys, circa 1902-1914 but developed shortly after, shot and struck by photographer Paul W. Rowell, with his last name in holograph pencil on a few of the accompanying manila envelopes. Each slide with identifying notations etched prior to development, and housed in original manila envelope, with "No.," "Name," and "Remarks" printed on one side, most of these sections filled with notations and dates in holograph pencil, three with "Trolley Interior" in holograph red ink.
Little is known of Rowell, however he was advertising his services in New York photography publications as late as 1884, moved to Massachusetts a decade later, and aside from his snapshot photography was an accomplished painter; his paintings have seen auction while his photography is mostly unseen. His trolley is presented almost always in glowing natural light, with passengers befitted in boater and bowler hats, and women in bonnets, several faces blurred as a result of snapshot techniques. Interiors of empty cars and exterior profiles, ads for beauty products, food, tobacco, furniture, and magazine companies with New York street addresses lining the cars' interiors, lone railcars empty of cargo, and a line of boarding school children before a "Special Car" with "City Point South Boston" signs along the roof.
Trams, known as streetcars, trolleys or cable cars, carried masses through city streets beginning in the early 19th century in Europe with horse-drawn trams, and operating in city streets first in America due to horses struggling with poor street paving. The Boston Elevated Railway began in 1894, about the time Rowell was a city official in Salem, and his admiration for the then bourgeoning electronic railway system is evident in these few vernacular slides.
Each slide 8 x 10 inches, 1/16 inch thick, one side matte with the developed negative. Plates are in extraordinary condition, with a few tiny chips at the edges of a few slides, all told about Near Fine overall, each slide in its original separate protective envelope.