The Working Waterfront

Maine on glass: New book collects stunning early 20th century images

Glass-plate negatives were the high-definition of their day

Staff Writer
Posted 2016-09-19
Last Modified 2016-09-19

Maine on Glass: The Early Twentieth Century in Glass Plate Photography is the joint effort of Kevin Johnson, Penobscot Marine Museum’s Photo Archivist; W.H. Bunting, Maine’s foremost interpreter of historic images; and Earl G. Shettleworth Jr., Maine State Historian. This book uses images from the Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Company to focus on early 20th century Maine life, from people at work to people at play.

The Eastern Illustrating & Publishing Company was a Belfast-based “real photo postcard” company operated by R. Herman Cassens from 1909 to 1947. He dreamed of “Photographing the Transcontinental Trail–Maine to California,” focusing on small rural towns and villages. Although his dream was never fully realized, the company did manage to produce more than 40,000 glass plate negatives.

The Eastern Illustrating collection is now housed at Penobscot Marine Museum, where photo archivist Kevin Johnson oversees the preservation and digitization of that collection, along with several other photographic collections.

Johnson puts his experience and knowledge of the Eastern Illustrating collection into this book, along with 200 photographs from the museum’s extensive collection of negatives.

Book talks and signings will be held all over the state, including one with all three authors at the Penobscot Marine Museum on Route 1 in Searsport on Thursday, Sept. 22 at 7 p.m.

For more information, please visit or call 207-548-0334.

Maine on Glass can be purchased at Archipelago, the Island Institute’s store: Buy the book.

Steamboat landing, Southport.

Yacht landing, South Brooksville.

Steamboat landing, Popham Beach.