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Pach Brothers

Morris Pach (1837-1914), Gustavus W. Pach (1845-1904), and Gotthelf Pach (1852-1925) were born in Berlin, Germany. Their family moved to New York when they were quite young, and it is believed that their shared interest in photography began during their boyhood. By the 1860s, the trio were capturing images of their neighbors. At the age of 17, Gustavus was working as an apprentice at one of New York's most illustrious photographic studios, Turner & Company. He and Morris received individual listings in the New York City directory of 1866-1867, both working at 260 Bowery. At this time, photography was still very much in its infancy, using wet plate collodion processes such as ambrotype and tintype. Gustavus developed a potentially fatal respiratory condition - a common malady of early photographers because of inhaling the harsh processing chemicals - and moved to Toms River, New Jersey, to regain his health.

In 1868, the Pach brothers made a fateful visit to the summer resort town of Long Branch, New Jersey, where they met the wealthy Philadelphia publishing duo, George William Childs and Anthony J. Drexel. The men, close friends of General Ulysses S. Grant, were impressed with the brothers' photographs, and brought them to the attention of soon-to-be President Grant. With financial assistance from Messrs. Childs, Drexel, and Grant, the brothers opened a Long Branch studio on the property of the United States Hotel. The sign over the studio's front door, 'Stereographs,' was a reference to the popular trend at the time of seeing double images in 3-D when wearing glasses with specially designed lenses. Tiring of the photographic trade, Morris Pach retired to become a cigar maker. Meanwhile, Gustavus returned to New York where he opened a studio at 858 Broadway.


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