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William B. Coxe Glass Plate Negatives Collection, 1915-1933

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Historical Note

A glass plate negative is a photographic image that uses glass as a base and in which the image polarity is reversed from the original. There are two types of glass plate negatives: collodion wet plate negatives and silver gelatin dry plate negatives. From 1851 through the 1870s, glass plate negatives generally used collodion as the binder to hold light-sensitive salts to the glass base. Frederick Scoff Archer, an English sculptor, invented this wet plate type. After that, silver gelatin was used as the binder. Richard Leach Maddox, a British physician and photographer, first produced these dry plate negatives in 1871. Because they were more sensitive than collodion plates, they were easier to work with and they were widely used until the 1920s. Both types of glass plate negatives are very fragile and require careful handling.

Biographical Sketch

William B. Coxe came to Greenville after WWI and as a photographer, began compiling a photographic history of Greenville. Coxe purchased negatives and prints of earlier Greenville history from individuals and other photographers, such as William Preston Dowling (1872-1936) and James Huntington (1881-1958). Coxe photographed downtown Greenville buildings, churches, private homes, textile mills, weddings, sports events, employee groups, church groups, and mill organizations.

Coxe died on October 26, 1973 in Greenville, S.C. .

Source: Remembering Greenville : photographs from the Coxe collection, by Jeffrey R. Willis