Description: Cyrus Chambers, Jr. (1833-1911) was a self-proclaimed “mechanic,” and a prolific inventor who received numerous patents and revolutionized both the bookbinding and brickmaking industries. Intelligent and industrious, he was a tinkerer from childhood. He worked in his father’s Philadelphia-area woolen mill from the age of seven, and proceeded to build items large and small to solve problems on the mill floor and at school, and to entertain himself.
At the age of 16, Cyrus apprenticed as a dentist with his brother Edwin, but did not stop creating. He was soon distracted by an idea he had, to create a machine that could fold paper for newspapers and books. He patented his page folder for books in 1856, inspired after Horace Greeley told him it couldn’t be done. He then went back to create the newspaper folder. He and Edwin quit dentistry after that, and opened a manufacturing company for Cyrus’s machines – Chambers, Brother & Co. - which came to produce everything from sewing machines to percussion muskets alongside those news and book folding machines. He added a brick making machine to the repertoire in the early 1860s, after again successfully refuting industry experts who said it would be impossible to create.
Cyrus married Mary Pyle (1844-1881), originally of Wilmington, Delaware, in 1868, and they had four daughters together between 1869 and 1875. He turned the business over to his nephews in 1888, but continued to invent and build in a home laboratory until shortly before his 1911 death - despite failing health and eyesight - as it brought him such pleasure. Item #P00118.
We have in this collection:
Two 1850’s sixth-plate daguerreotypes of Cyrus Chambers, Jr. as a young man. Both are superb waist-up images of a seated Chambers and both have the original seals. One brass preserver is stamped by the photographer Samuel Broadbent.
Two ninth-plate ambrotypes of Mary Pyle Chambers, Cyrus’s wife and first cousin of illustrator Howard Pyle.
One 1850’s sixth-plate daguerreotype of a seated middle-aged man [likely from the Chambers or Pyle family, but unknown].
One gem tintype of a young girl [likely Helen Pyle Bunting or Isabella Pyle Bye] housed in a small gold filled oval frame approximately 1.5” tall (note inside says “from her sister” – Helen and Isabella were Mary’s younger half-sisters, and this image resembles a later image of Helen)
Condition: All images are in very good condition. Two of the cases are split at the “hinges”.