Amasa Plummer Flaglor was born in New Brunswick, Canada, to American parents on December 24, 1848. Little is known about his childhood or his formal education. At the age of 14, he and his mother reportedly moved to San Francisco, where shortly thereafter the boy became a photographic finishing apprentice at William Shew's studio at 423 Montgomery Street. He gradually became a gallery clerk before being promoted to studio photographer in 1866. Two years' later, Mr. Flaglor joined the staff of Bradley and Rulofson (Henry W. Bradley and William H. Rulofson) before venturing out on his own. He formed two partnerships – Flaglor and Parker's Cosmopolitan Gallery and Flaglor and DuRose – but neither lasted long. After his second gallery closed, Mr. Flaglor went to work at Oscar Foss's gallery.
However, the urge for his own successful gallery proved too strong to be suppressed, and so in 1871, Mr. Flaglor decided to open another one in Eureka, California. His new gallery reflected several popular styles of the time, including heliographs, sun pearls, porcelain figures, and watercolor or India ink retouching. Mr. Flaglor was always interested in the latest photographic technology, and commissioned a new camera fitted with a Voigtlander lens that could take “large cabinet photographs.” By 1872, Mr. Flaglor's gallery also featured enameled photographs that were resilient and waterproof. As a photographer, Mr. Flaglor's artistic talents were particularly notable in his sensitive portraits of young children, capturing their wide-eyed innocence. Mr. Flaglor was also an accomplished field photographer, and was frequently commissioned to photograph landscapes, sawmills, logging camps, and private properties.
After moving his studio to Second Street in Eureka, Mr. Flaglor expanded his business to include a temporary gallery in Petrolia, where he sold his stereographs of the U.S.S. Shubrick, which was anchored in Humboldt Bay. In 1874, Flaglor again entered a partnership - as Flaglor and Gregor - but his association with Alex Gregor was over within a month. During the summer of that year, Mr. Flaglor made his famous photographs of the Camp Gaston military unit in Klamath County, which included 12 impressive stereographs. Within the next few years, Mr. Flaglor married, and he and his wife would expand their family to include three children - Frank, Blanche, and Clara.
By the late 1870s, A. P. Flaglor had established himself as the preeminent photographer of the Humboldt Bay region, due largely to his vast knowledge of the latest technological innovations. Photographers could purchase supplies in his gallery they were unable to find elsewhere. He also believed strongly in an apprenticeship education, and his apprentices would later become outstanding northern California photographers in their own right. However, Mr. Flaglor had overextended himself financially, which forced him to sell his gallery and move his family to San Francisco, where he became a photographer for Isaiah West Taber and Company. Eventually, he saved enough money to open his own studio in San Francisco, which he operated until 1893, when he became an insurance agent and investment broker. A true American rags to riches success story, 69-year-old A. P. Flaglor died in Decoto, California of a stroke on March 2, 1918.
2000 Pioneer Photographers of the Far West: A Biographical Dictionary, 1840-1865 (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press), pp. 237-239.
2009 Humboldt State University Library (URL: http://library.humboldt.edu/humco/holdings/palmquist/Access_Jpg/2003011690.jpg).
1888 San Francisco Blue Book (San Francisco: The Bancroft Company), Part Seven, pg. II.
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