A Card with Class: A. L. Rogers

At 4″ by 2-1/2″, this trade card suggests a move toward the modern business card.

With its touches of gilt and delicate script address, Rogers’ card strives for elegance. Richard Walzl (see previous post), by contrast, chose a brightly colored card in a larger format, designed to catch the eye.

It’s a refined version of an old visual trope: trompe loeil, deceive the eye. The card’s simple white surface folds back to reveal not just another level underneath, but also a spray of flowers that by  appearing to penetrate  the white “layer “of the card, escapes the two dimensional picture plane. The visual trickery fascinates the viewer’s gaze.

Albert Long Rogers (1853-1934) was born in Beallsville, Washington County, Pennsylvania in October 1853. According to a biographical sketch, Rogers learned photography with his brother, Samuel G. Rogers. He mastered the new art of retouching photographs, and was in the employ of Kuhn & Cummins and of Richard Walzl before opening his own studio.

His establishment was located at 68 Lexington Street in Baltimore ca. 1882-1885. In 1891, he bought Norval Busey’s studio at at 112 North Charles Street.

By 1900, he and his wife, fellow photographer Elizabeth Eugenia Jonas Rogers, had relocated to Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. I have a ca. 1890s cabinet photograph by Rogers marked Carlisle and Chambersburg, and an 1889 cabinet card from Westminster, Maryland, so Rogers appears to have had studios at several locations.

Albert and Samuel weren’t the only family members to go into the photography business. In all,  I have found evidence that three other siblings did the same: John H.Rogers (Waynesburg, Green Co., Pa.),  Thomas Wilson Rogers (Carmichaels, Green Co., Pa.), and Jessie Addison Rogers (Greensburg, Decatur Co., Indiana).

Elizabeth Rogers died in 1917, and Albert remarried a woman several decades younger, Louise McCann Rogers. They had two daughters, Marie and Helen.

Rogers gave up the photography business to cultivate fruit trees between 1910 and 1920.  He and his young family still lived in Chambersburg in 1930.

Rogers and his two wives are buried in Norland Cemetery, Chambersburg, Franklin County, Pa. (Thanks go to Jim Houpt of the Franklin County Genweb for information about the deaths and burials of the Rogers.)

The Greene County Historical Society has a large collection of digitized photographs, many bearing the Rogers name.

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