Once upon a time, Jim bought a book called “Club Men of Rochester in Caricature.” It was produced in 1914 by Jack Sears and associated cartoonists and printed at the Roycrofters shop in East Aurora NY.
The suede-bound volume contains elaborate and affectionate caricatures of 340 Rochester “club men” — businessmen, doctors, lawyers, architects, and elected officials. It is definitely the old boys’ club. The congenial likeness of each man is presented with the symbols of his business — buildings, tools, machinery, vehicles. He is surrounded by vignettes of his leisure time activities — sailboats, fishing boats, golfing.
In a town that takes pride in its abolitionist and suffragist history, this gathering of Rochester movers and shakers contains no women, no African-Americans. Strangely, there aren’t even references to the men’s wives or families. Just the guys — making money and having fun.
Celebrations of old cronies are not popular these days. However, the book is full of historical information about Rochester buildings and businesses back in the heyday of local manufacturing. And how many great-grandchildren might be hunting for portraits of their venerable ancestors?
Now that I discovered the book, I hate the idea of it disappearing into a rare book archive, although that’s its final destination, I’m sure. So I took the time to photograph each page and label it with the subject and book title. Now it is searchable on Flickr (click on image below).