Brown & Shaffer



The most prolific team of Great White Fleet photographers that I have found was Brown & Shaffer.  The real photo postcards which were sold throughout the cruise numbered of 1,000 by the end of the cruise.  It appears they had a system of taking the photograph, numbering them, and then posting them in a place where they could receive orders from crew members.  They would then print them and pass along the photos for a small sum.  It has taken me years to collect a group of more than 400 of these number cards.  Some from the cruise of the Ohio, Georgia, Wisconsin, and Oregon completed between 1904 and 1906 and the last cards from the Hudson Fulton Celebration in New York Harbor.  Afterwards they appear to have opened a company with their negatives and produced cards from Newport News as Brown & Shaffer and as Brown Brothers.


The photographs were a chronical of the cruise that documented all aspects of what happened during the cruise.  Some were scenic photographs, some were of shipboard life.  Many are snapshots of the places they visited and how sailors enjoy liberty.  They are a view of the cruise through a  sailor's camera.

Without 100 percent certainty, I believe I have been able to put together who these two photographers were.  Having gone through them at length over the years, the USS Georgia is most likely the ship they were on. Many of the photographs show the Georgia when pier side and none show the Georgia at sea.  Many of the shipboard photos of sailors show this class of ship gun mounts in the background.

The roster of the crew of the Georgia has two Shaffers and four Browns.  Since it is clear that they had been in the Navy for at least 5 years before the cruise began, (because of the photographs from 1904 in China), it can be assumed they had reached the rank of petty officer.  Interestingly enough there was a Musician First Class L. L. Shaffer, and a Musician Second Class H. O. Brown.  (On one of my cards H. O. Brown appears as the photographer.)  There were no other ships with a crewmember named Shaffer except on the Georgia.  It is my belief that these two Musicians were the photographers.  There is a good chance they would have a space onboard the ship that they could use to develop film and print cards.  They would have had few responsibilities aboard or while inport regarding watchstanding, and probably had a create knack as musicians to be photographers.  I would be interested to hear if anyone know more!


My collection is organized in chronological order of port visits and within each port I have put them in numeric order so that I can quickly check if I have a card.  The vertical navigation bar up, and to the left, link to the pages of my collection.  Many of the cards were printed after the cruise without numbers by Brown Brothers.  It appears that the last weeks of the cruise few were purchased or printed and they were completed after returning to Hampton Roads.


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