Madison’s M.L. Richter and Georgia’s jeweler-silversmith-watchmaker-photographers

It doesn’t seem that long ago to me, but I posted Jeweler-Photographers, Photographer-Jewelers and a Dentist or Two in September 2013. This post harkens back to that post, as well as to some of my others, and some things will seem just a bit familiar. Much more information will be new to you.

32 Richter's Picture Gallery Madison c1878

Richter’s Picture Gallery, ca. 1878; image from a negative, courtesy of Clifton Hanes

On March 19, 2017, I spoke in Madison, Georgia, before the Morgan County Landmarks Society and their invited guests, on the topic of Georgia’s jeweler-silversmith-watchmaker-photographers. I placed the work of Madison’s own jeweler-photographer M.L. (Martin Luther) “Mat” Richter (1847-1924) within that context. His was not at all an unusual blending of occupations.

Mat Richter’s father, Charles William Richter (1807-1884), and for a time prior to the Civil War his older brother Charles Jr., worked as watchmaker-silversmiths in Madison. Because Charles Jr., was born in Madison, Georgia in 1838, but his older sister was born in the Danish Virgin Islands (St. Croix) in 1836, C. W. Richter Sr. could have been working in Madison by 1838 – and the first daguerreotypes were made in Georgia in early 1841.

12 Watchmaker handcolored dag. LC copy

Daguerreotype of a Watchmaker by unknown photographer, ca 1850; forms part of the Daguerreotype Collection, Library of Congress; Purchase/exchange; Dr. Gary Vroegindewey; 1981; (DLC/PP-1981:R380.18).

We can’t be sure who taught Mat Richter “the art” — daguerreotypists, including Samuel Broadbent, had been coming to Madison at least since 1843, and before he was born. He may have observed another jeweler-photographer, John J. Day (1828-1868) who was noted in the Madison Family Visitor and the [Madison] Georgia Weekly Visitor as making ambrotypes in that city from about 1856 to 1861, when Mat was still a youngster.

M. L. Richter’s father was cited in the 1870 census as a silversmith (Charles Jr. had left the business) and Mat as a photographer. From late 1866, when he was nineteen, to at least 1910, Mat Richter often advertised himself as a photographer-jeweler. For a few years, 1876 and 1877, he also worked as a photographer in the Georgia cities of Washington and Greensboro and he noted those cities on his photograph back marks.

As of June 1878, the Madison Home Journal newspaper noted him as “permanently located in Madison, in the Picture and Watch repairing business.” In the same issue advertising his watch and clock repair business, he also advertised his photographs, and his jewelry.  It was also in the same June 1878 newspaper that M. L. Richter offered his customers “all kinds of hair work.”

M20975-4 001

Sentimental, or mourning bracelet, with an ambrotype of a bearded man, and a band made of woven hair, ca. 1860; courtesy Swan Galleries – New York.

In the early days of the “art” of photography in this country, silversmith-jeweler-watchmakers and photographers often worked together, either sharing studio space or trading or selling one another supplies and silver. It was not uncommon for a jeweler to apply his skill in one line of work, to another. Even the well-known photographer Jeremiah Gurney, the owner of one of the largest photograph galleries in New York City by the 1850s, was previously a jeweler and jewelry store owner.

With his jeweler-silversmith-watchmaker background, getting into photography was a sensible segue for M. L. Richter. I see him as a link between the first two generations of Georgia’s jeweler-watchmaker photographers. Let’s take a look at those who preceded him in the state.

In early March 1841, a newspaper editor wrote in the Columbus Times that Fogle & Echols “have put into operation in this city, one of these – things – we do not know what else to call it; by which a correct miniature likeness is taken in a few minutes…. one of the most wonderful of the effects of the scientific discoveries of the age.”  This is one of my favorites of the often flowery prose coming from early Georgia newspaper editors. On March 24th, another editor, this time of the Columbus Enquirer, described going into the “studio, not of the artist, but of the machine …” to have his Daguerreotype made “at the Jewelry store of Mr. Fogle.”

2 Fogle & Echols ad March1841

Columbus Times, March 11, 1841, page 2, col. 7

John Jacob Fogle (1803-1874) had apprenticed in North Carolina as a jeweler, watch and clock repairman and silversmith. In Georgia he worked as a jeweler, first in Milledgeville, then in Columbus, Georgia where he was already an “absent partner” to jeweler Whitby Foster since 1833, which ended shortly after Fogle arrived in Columbus in 1837. In addition to his jewelry business, in March 1841, Fogle had briefly tried his hand at daguerreotypy as he began selling off parts of his jewelry business. His partner Mr. Echols is probably Josephes Echols, who became a partner in a Columbus cotton factory by the mid-1840s.

Sometime in 1842, J. J. Fogle began advertising himself as a dentist, a somewhat-related occupation using metals — silver and gold, — which he continued. In December of that same year, a man named Reuben Lovering, a former Plumbe’s Boston daguerreotype operator, advertised his work “at Mr. Fogle’s rooms, East side Broad street,” and we know that Fogle continued to rent to photographers as long as he was in Columbus.

3 Catlin J & W silvermark

J & W Catlin silver mark from American Silversmiths Directory, American Silver Marks Index, maker C pg.2;

Among other early jewelers associated with photography in Georgia are T. T. Wilmot of Savannah, Sidney B. Day, B. L. Burnett, and the brothers W. B. and E. J. Johnston – all of Macon, and the aforementioned Whitby Foster, Samuel B. Purple, T. C. Willard and C. L. Depew all of Columbus, and Willys Catlin, George Rackett and Francis and Horace Clark of Augusta. These men, all jewelers, dabbled in and/or sold supplies to daguerreotype practitioners, some more successfully than others. Many were landlords and rented work space to daguerreotypists.

Most early photographers offered to place their daguerreotypes into rings, lockets, and other items of jewelry, for their customers. That they connected themselves with jewelers is no coincidence.

4 Sidney B Day silver mark

S. B. Day silver mark from American Silversmiths Directory, American Silver Marks Index, maker D pg.1;

The silver mark you see before the above paragraphs is that of brothers Joel and Willys Catlin, of Augusta, working as J & W Catlin from 1823-1832. Jeweler-silversmith Willys Catlin later worked alone, and he advertised “Daguerreotype Miniatures Taken & Instruments Sold,” in 1842.  Above this paragraph is the silver mark of Sidney B. Day, of Macon, a silversmith, jeweler, and watchmaker who sold stock for George S. Cook, in 1848 and 1849; he also advertised his own photo stock sales in 1850.

George S. Cook is one well-known daguerreotypist we know offered to place daguerreotypes in jewelry for his Georgia patrons, and he connected himself to jewelers.

Cook began taking daguerreotypes in Columbus, Georgia on May 31, 1848. He, his wife and daughter boarded at the Oglethorpe House, and he rented rooms in which to work from the jewelers Foster & Purple (Whitby Foster and Samuel Purple). Foster also sold stock for Cook during Cook’s forays to work in other cities.

Cook used Macon, Georgia as a base of operations from September 1848 into 1849. This is when jeweler Sidney B. Day sold Cook’s stock in his absence.

B. L. Burnett was one of many who learned about making daguerreotypes from Cook while Cook was in Macon in late 1848. Burnett  had actually tried making daguerreotypes before — before opening his jewelry store in Milledgeville in 1847.  As a jeweler in Macon, he advertised doing them again in January 1849, after learning more from Cook. On Cook’s account book entry for Burnett’s instruction is the text “Watch and Bracelet $70.00,” so it appears that he may have taught Burnett in exchange for these items (See my article “George S. Cook, Itinerant Daguerreotypist in Georgia, 1848 – 1850,” published April 2015, in the 2014 Daguerreian Annual, for details on Cook and on the Cook-Burnett connection).

9 Ring, man's oval dag - agate cover

Man’s oval ring with an agate cover, with a daguerreotype of a woman inside, made in about 1850. Courtesy of Larry West

On March 27, 1849, an advertisement appeared in the (Macon) Georgia Telegraph stating that partners Burnett & Hart (the same jeweler B. L. Burnett, with the artist J. M. Hart), bought out George S. Cook’s interest in his Macon gallery on Mulberry Street, and they also bought Cook’s recipe for “flesh colored daguerreotypes.”

Their advertisement appeared only until April 3rd. That business did not last long, and Burnett went back to being a jeweler only.

A July 17, 1849 newspaper advertisement announced Cook’s second visit to Columbus, and it mentioned Foster & Purple’s sale of plates, cases and chemicals for daguerreotypists. The ad was placed by the jewelers and it ran through October 9, 1849.  Cook began taking photographs in Charleston, South Carolina on Oct. 10, 1849.

10A Gold14K woman's bracelet w:gent tintype

A gold woman’s bracelet with a hand-tinted tintype of a gentleman, made about 1855; courtesy Swan Galleries -New York

I have only mentioned some of them, but you probably gathered that there were many jewelers, watch makers and silversmiths, as well as some dentists, who are linked to the art of photography in the state of Georgia. This professional association continued into photography’s second generation, which I suggest begins about 1862, and continues for the next twenty years. For an easy to remember cutoff date I use 1885.

One jeweler-photographer who is a link from the first to the second generation is John M. Lunquest (1812-1896). Lunquest worked in Macon and Griffin, as well as in several other Georgia cities,  He was at times a jeweler and watch maker, quite often a photographer, and at times he practiced dentistry. He had two sons, Magnus, who began as a photographer and became a dentist, and Benjamin, who became a jeweler.

As early as 1847, John M. Lunquest advertised as a daguerreotypist in Milledgeville, working first with a partner named B. J. Lester, then working on his own. In January 1848 he advertised his daguerreotypes in Milledgeville where he was located in the State House, or “at Mr. Burnett’s Jewelry Store,” — yes, the very same jeweler B. L. Burnett mentioned above.

By July 1850, Lunquest was working with C. W. Parker in Macon, making Daguerreotypes put into jewelry “in any style desired – in Medallions, Bracelets, neat or very fancy cases…”.

He traveled to Atlanta in October 1858, and he advertised there into March 1859, as a “Surgeon and Mechanical Dentist,” located on Whitehall St. He worked in Atlanta again in 1876 and 1877, but strictly as a photographer, while his son Magnus worked in that city as a dentist.

9A ElectoplatedGold dangle earrings

Pair of oval electroplated-gold dangle earrings containing daguerreotypes of two young women; courtesy of Swan Galleries – New York

Lunquest was living in Griffin before the end of 1850, and by 1854 he was working there as a daguerreotypist, and apparently also as “Watch-maker, Jeweler and Mechanical Dentist” as he is listed in the 1854 Southern Business Directory. By 1859 city directories noted him as a “doctor” (ie. dentist).

In 1863 Lunquest was back in Macon, advertising his New Dentistry Office, and he noted to the public that he also made “Ambrotypes taken in the best style of the art, when unengaged.

He was working in Cuthbert in 1867 to early 1870, and in the September 30, 1869 Cuthbert Appeal (p. 2 c.5) he advertised his photography, but noted that he could have “Watches, clocks and jewelry repaired in the best manner. All work warranted.”

13 Lunquest, J.M. Macon1863

Advertisement for John M. Lunquest, Macon Tri-Weekly Telegraph, May 7, 1863 p.1 c.6 (in as of May 5).


I know that Lunquest was working in Thomaston as a photographer in the 1880s, but apparently he had been there before, in 1872, as a dentist. That is the same year he was put on the state Dental Society’s Committee for Mechanical Dentistry (Atlanta Daily Sun, 6 April 1872, page 4). By 1880 he was in Barnesville, and is noted on the census working as a jeweler. “Shole’s Georgia Business Directory” of 1881-1882 listed him as a Photographer. We can assume Mr. Lunquest continued working in the two, or three, professions as was needed, or as it suited him.

21 Cordes, Henry backmark, c1870

Carte-de-visite backmark of Henry A. Cordes, Washington, Georgia; from the author’s files

Henry A. Cordes (1835-1893) was a German immigrant to this country in about 1850. He was on the 1860 census in Augusta, Georgia twice, on two different dates 40 days apart — on one as a silversmith, and on the other as a watchmaker. Apparently a census taker came to his home and another came to his business. He appeared on both the 1870 and 1880 census in Washington Georgia as a watchmaker. On his Washington carte-de-visite backmark, ca. 1870, seen at the left, Cordes was very careful to note for customers that he was a Practical Watchmaker, as well as a Photographer.

There were some photographers who wanted to make a point to clearly connect their jewelry and their photography business for their customers.

John Jarvis (1858-1906), a Canton photographer from 1880 to about 1900, is described in an advertisement (disguised as an editor’s note), in the Cherokee Advance on March 3, 1880, as “Jarvis, the wide-awake Jeweler and Photographer, keeps up with the times. Now he has just had his gallery repainted…..and on the door is J.W. Jarvis, watchmaker and photographer, in beautiful letters, [and] besides [the door] he has a sign of a big watch hanging out in front of his establishment. — [so look for the] Sign of the big watch.”


M. L. Richter carte-de-visite back mark, ca. 1878; courtesy of Clifton Hanes


M. L. Richter, carte-de-visite of an unidentified young woman, ca. 1878; courtesy of Clifton Hanes

Which brings us again to the work of  M.L. Richter. Both his death certificate and obituary note only his work as a jeweler. We have evidence of the many ferrotypes, or tintypes, and carte-de-visite he took that bear his mark, and state directories, as well as the 1870 and 1880 census cite him as a photographer. He did continue his jewelry business until about 1920, but he apparently was either making very few or no photographs after 1900.


A series of images made by M. L. Richter exist as negatives from which prints have been made. These may have originally been card photographs, or possibly tintypes. I have never seen the originals. I love the painted backdrop, and the ground-cover Richter used in many of his studio portraits.

18 Richter - unknown women, studio portrait, Madison

M. L. Richter studio portrait of two unidentified girls, ca. 1885; courtesy of Morgan County [GA]

19 Richter unknown Madison gent outdoors

M. L. Richter. Unknown man on horseback, ca. 1900; courtesy Morgan County [GA]

20 Richter - unid Madison family c1880 tin

M. L. Richter, portrait of an unidentified family, ca. 1880; courtesy Morgan County [GA]


Richter also made portraits outside the studio. Here are two, both unidentified – a man on horseback (left), and a family group (right), ca. 1880, which was possibly made outside. It looks to me as if Richter used a cloth or sheet as a backdrop.

In addition to his work as a photographer and jeweler Mat Richter found time to be active in the Madison community, and through the years he held various political offices, including that of mayor for several terms.

In the next “generation” of photographers — let’s say from 1886 to 1925 — the involvement of photographers with jewelry is still evident, but it began to change.

Here is a detail of a cabinet card in my collection. Notice the brooch Nurse Dot is wearing? Or is it a photo “button”? I assume it is her deceased husband, who appears to me to have worn glasses. This item is certainly more in keeping with the type of photo jewelry that preceded it.

24 Clifton, A.V., Athens, detail nurse Dot 1894 large cab

Nurse Dot, detail of cabinet card by A. V. Clifton, Athens Georgia, 1894; Collection of E. Lee Eltzroth

Although they were popular earlier, it seems photo buttons, made to adorn the customer, were very popular in the early 20th century and certainly in 1903 Georgia.  C.Y. Woodall (ca.1836-1934), who worked briefly in Washington, Georgia, worked in Macon from about 1895 to 1930. He stated in the advertisement he placed in the 1903 Central of Georgia Railroad Guide, that he was a “Button Manufacturer & Dealer in Photo Jewelry.”

23 Tintype portait pins copy

Tintype portait pins of unidentified persons, courtesy of collectors Jack and Beverly Wilgus

Another, but later German immigrant photographer than Mr. Cordes, is August Zahner (b.1881). He worked in Washington County in both Sandersville and Tenille. Zahner advertised his relatively inexpensive photo buttons using his self-portrait, and he also put his ad in the 1903 Central of GA Railroad Guide.

Zahner lived in Sandersville for at least a few years, and before that, just after he immigrated to this country in 1898, he worked in Savannah as a photographer.

26 Zahner adv.1903

Advertisement for photographer G. August Zahner in the 1903 Central of Georgia Railroad Guide, p.249

This interesting item, below right, made by an 1890s photographer  — is a mirror, and this is its back showing a portrait of a man. This mirror is not exactly in the “jewelry” line, and it is doubtful an actual jeweler had anything to do with the making of it. It may well have been made by an out of town, maybe New York or Chicago, company. You send them the image, and they produce the mirror.

In contrast, the grooming set on the left, which dates a bit later, looks more like something an actual jeweler could have had a hand in. You can see the portraits of the fellow with the interesting hairdo on each of the brushes. A Mother’s Day gift perhaps?

25B grooming set c1910

Men’s grooming set with comb, brush and mirror, ca. 1905-10; courtesy Swan Galleries – New York.

25A Man's portrait 1890s Mirror back copy

Mirror with portrait of man on back, 1890s; collection of Alan Griffiths,















By 1918 the art of photo jewelry had become a bigger business, with whole companies devoted to it. The H. M. Hauer Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania specialized in providing jewelry to photographers and photo suppliers, saying of themselves that they were “The Only House Making a Specialty of the Photo Jewelry Line in its Minute Details.” This business came about because of what they called “the rapidly increased demand for photo jewelry.”

29 Hauer Co Photo Jewelry Cat 1918

One page of the 1918 H. M. Hauer Company, Pittsburgh, PA catalog.

Their 1918 catalog — this page showing photo buttons — included non-photographic jewelry that could be “handled in connection with the photo line.”

They also did hand-painting of photographs, and would take “certain persons” out of a group if the photographer sending the photo would “mark that person with an X,”  photoshopping someone right out of the picture.

And, the cycle continues — I have a Pinterest board devoted to other uses for photographs, called New Life for Old (or new) Photographs, and it is amazing how many of those uses involve creating jewelry!


22 Four stick pins

Four stick pins of unidentified persons, left to right: a tintype, next two are (probably) on paper, and at right is an ambrotype; courtesy Paul K. Berg, Nineteenth Century Photographic Cases and Wall Frames.

Online is a document I created called Connections: Jeweler-Watchmaker-Silversmith-Photographers Working in Georgia, 1840 – 1921  now available to you. It includes biographical information on over thirty of these silversmith-jeweler-watchmaker-photographer men (where are the women? I know they are there!), showing you how connected these people were, forming partnerships with each other, dissolving those partnerships, working alone or taking on other partners.

I hope this has been interesting to you. If you want to read further, see: The Silversmiths of Georgia by George Barton Cutten (The Oglethorpe Press, reprint 1998), and also the Catalog from an exhibit held from November 19, 2005 – March 26, 2006, at Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia, co-curated by Ashley Callahan and Dale L. Couch, called “From Sideboard to Pulpit – Silver in Georgia,” published in 2005.

If  you have knowledge of the women who worked in these fields as related to photography, I want to hear from you. I have documented many women in, or associated with photography in Georgia, but have no record of those directly involved in these occupations.

© E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from this blog’s author is prohibited. The piece can be re-blogged, and excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to E. Lee Eltzroth and Hunting & Gathering, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.



  1. Frances Osborn Robb · · Reply

    What a terrific collection of images and data. I am staggered that so much survives from Georgia. Very very impressive. And that you have tracked all this down is even more impressive. Thanks. I learned a huge amount and enjoyed myself thoroughly while doing so. Now I have another project for you to tackle, and that is the amenities provided by photographers either as part of the photograph (painted backdrops, posing furniture, etc., and furnishings of waiting rooms, etc. that either set the stage for a portrait photograph or gave those waiting to pose something to do (a Mobile, AL notice describes a piano for the use of those waiting). I hope that your extensive resources would conjure up some interesting notices and images. Do think about it. And meantime, thanks again.

    Frances Osborn Robb

  2. And thank you for your kind words, Frances! Yes, I have seen similar advertisements for those “amenities” particularly in relation to the women customers. We do have a GA photographer who designed and patented backdrops. As I can get to it, I will certainly keep it in mind – perhaps we can conjure up a joint article!

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