David J. Lamon’s Search For Fame And Fortune

David Lamon was born in April 1864 to Robert Lamon and Anna Early Lamon, the oldest of three children.  The Lamon’s lived in Hebron, New York a farming community near the Vermont border, about 60 miles northeast of Albany.  In the mid 1880s, David left home to seek his fortune in the West.  Along the way, he learned photography.

Champa Street
D. Lamon, photographer. 587 and 589 Champa Street, Denver, 1886.  Albumen silver print on cabinet card mount. Collection of the author.

Lamon likely opened his Denver  studio at 1740 Larimer Street in the spring or summer of 1886, just after the publication of the annual city directory, as he is not listed in that directory.

His photograph of S. A. Doll’s Market at 587 Champa Street provides a good example in dating photographs.  Doll’s Market first appears in the Denver City Directory in 1886. The street number, 587, can be seen painted on the window below the valance.  With the tree fully leafed out, we can narrow the date to late spring through early fall.

Detail of 587 Champa Street.         

Doll formed a partnership with W. G. Smith in 1887, changing the firm’s name to Doll & Smith.  In addition, in 1887 Denver’s streets were renumbered.  587 Champa became 2205 Champa.  The men standing in front of the store may be Sigismunda A. Doll and his clerk, Theodore H. Kuhlenbeck.

Charlie Hong
D. Lamon, photographer. Portrait of Charlie Hong, Feb. 28, 1887. Albumen silver print on cabinet card mount. History Colorado, Denver, accession number: 95.19.1.

In the 19th century, Denver’s religious institutions organized Bible studies, English classes and social events for Chinese immigrants.  In  1887, Lamon photographed Charlie Hong, interpreter for the Chinese Sunday School run by Denver’s Trinity Methodist Church.  Trinity Methodist’s 1899 Christmas program drew 500 attendees.  The Rocky Mountain News wrote: “Charlie Hong added laurels to his wreath of popularity, too, by the masterly manner in which he related a history of the school.”  A few years later, Hong was replaced as interpreter by Y. T. Fong.  In January 1894, in a jealous rage over losing his position, Hong assaulted Fong in the church.

D. Lamon, photographer. Portrait of three unidentified men, 1887. Albumen silver print on cabinet card mount. History Colorado, Denver, accession number: 91.99.5.

In March 1887, Lamon took over J. W. Walker’s Golden studio for 30 days, turning out portraits like the one on the right of  three young men with attitude.  In 1888, Lamon returned to New York state, setting up shop at 67 South Pearl Street in Albany.  He returned to Colorado in 1891.  He accepted a position with Payne & Stockdorf in Leadville, but may have bypassed that opportunity to immediately open a studio in Denver, which he would oversee for the next two years.

In 1894, he opened a jewelry business in Denver, which he would oversee for several years.  But he pursued many other projects that brought him attention.  In 1895, he made national news when he discovered a rich vein of gold near Cripple Creek.  In 1904, Lamon was said to have discovered the lost art of tempering copper to the hardness of steel.  In 1926, Lamon planned to construct an iron and steel plant to produce “Lamon-ite,” a new process of manufacturing iron and steel with a tensile strength of from 25 to 75 per cent greater than steels now in  use.

Lamon died on February 27, 1943 in Denver and is buried at Fairmount Cemetery.

Thank you to Beverly Brannan, former Curator of Photography, Library of Congress, for proof-reading this post.  


Harry J. Gottlieb in Golden and Other Western Cities

Let’s take a look at a little known photographer who worked in Golden in 1904-1905.  Biographical details about Harry J. Gottleib are both limited and confusing.

Gottleib was born in New York City.  Records provide his birthdate variously as April 1874 (1900 census),  1880 (WWI draft records and 1920 census) and 1886 (1930 census).  Some of these dates are certainly unrealistic.  At around twelve years of age, Gottleib began photographing houses for an itinerant photographer.  For more than a decade, he made tintypes under the employ of a female tintypist on Coney Island.  In 1894 he married Daisy Ann Brown.  By 1900 they lived in northern Florida, where he worked as a photographer, first in Monticello and later in San Augustine.  (It is easy to confuse him with  N. I. Gottlieb, a photographer working in Ocala, FL in the 1890s, whom the press called “Artist Gottlieb.”) 

Harry J. Gottlieb, photographer. Unidentified man standing with a child sitting on a donkey, tintype, 1904 or 1905. Collection of the author.

In September 1904 Gottlieb set up a photo tent in Golden, Colorado where he worked for about a year. He specialized in photographs of babies for which he charged $5.00 for 16 stamp photos.  Very few of his Colorado photographs are extant.

After Golden, he lived briefly in Raton, New Mexico (1906), El Paso, Texas (1907-1911) and Tucson, Arizona (1911-1912).  By 1914 he resided in California, where he placed an ad in the San Francisco Examiner on March 26, 1915:  PHOTOGRAPHER: first class, all round man; wants position, or will take odd jobs and piece retouching.  H. J. Gottlieb, 1359 Golden Gate ave. In 1916 Gottlieb was back in Arizona, working in Phoenix (1916), Tempe, (1916-1919) and Williams (1919).

Gottlieb led a colorful personal life.  He married four times. He lost a custody battle over his daughter from his first marriage.  After the divorce of his third wife, Beatrice Montague “ended her own life after taking that of Hamilton W. Mannon, a motion picture executive… whose love for the beautiful girl had grown cold,” stated the Denver Post on August 7, 1927.  She left a young daughter that she had with Harry.

Harry’s Picture Place, Real Photo Postcard, ca, 1927. Hubbard Museum of the American West

Only when Gottlieb settled in Alamogordo, New Mexico in the mid-1920s, did his career flourish. He married his fourth wife, Bessie Graham, in 1924 and she joined him in the business. He continued to make portraits, but he also captured views of southeastern New Mexico’s stunning scenery, coloring them with oil paint. He open a second studio in Ruidoso, NM, where he sold postcards as well as other souvenirs.  Gottlieb’s pictures were also published in tourist brochures.  Harry Gottlieb died on August 2, 1936 of Buerger’s disease, which causes blood vessels to swell.

Special thanks to Beverly W. Brannan, former curator of photography, Library of Congress,  for proof reading this post.