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Pavelle Laboratories Inc.

  • Name:
    Pavelle Laboratories Inc.
  • Kind of Organisation:
    Photo LabPhoto Supplier
  • Introduction:

    Pavelle Laboratories was found in 1936 by Leo and Carmen Pavelle and operated on East 42nd Street. It was specialised in the development of miniature camera film and one of the first labs working with colour film.

    Word Count: 36

  • Content:

    Together with Leco, Modernage Photographic Service, JJP Copy-Art, Spiratone and Photo Service Suppliers, Pavelle was part of a network of photofinishing suppliers founded by émigrés in New York that acted as a contact hub for émigré and American photographers, photo agencies (Black Star, PIX, Camera Features, Three Lions, Rapho Guillmette, European Picture Service, ect.) and magazines. Especially from the end of the 1930s many photographers preferred to use a professional photofinisher rather than have their own darkroom. The high demand for images from magazines and newspapers also established the need for these photofinishing laboratories. In the 1940s, Leuben Pavelle, another member of the Pavelle family, married the German émigré Ralph Baum, with whom she founded the Modernage wedding studio, transformed in 1944 into the Modernage Photographic Service, a photographic processing studio and laboratory.

    Leo Pavelle was born in 1907 in Dvinsk (Latvia) and emigrated in 1920 to New York, starting his career as an engineer. After starting to photograph with a Leica camera he had brought with him to New York, he recognised that the photofinishing labs in New York had no experience of developing images taken with this German miniature camera. By studying camera instruction books and photo magazines and through his wife, whose family had a photofinishing laboratory, he gained some experience and conducted darkroom experiments into developing and enlarging processes. In 1933 Zeiss introduced the Contax miniature camera to America and Pavelle was commissioned to take pictures with it to demonstrate the advantages of its small size and fast exposure. He spent several days photographing animals at the Bronx Zoo, as his émigré colleagues Ylla, Lotte Jacobi and Lilo Hess would also do in the 1940s.

    In July 1934 Leo and Carmen Pavelle, together with Leo's brother, opened a store in the U.S. headquarters of Zeiss in New York. In 1936 they moved to 16 East 42nd Street and set up a photofinishing laboratory for black and white film. Responding to the rising demand for images during the 1940s, Pavelle created the first automatic enlargement process. In addition to his offices on 16 West 42nd Street, Pavelle also had, from 1938, a separate location, at 533 West 57th Street, where the machines and big tanks for the photofinishing process were housed. Both office and laboratory feature in a photo series by Wurts Bros, currently in the digital collection of the Museum of the City of New York.

    During the 1940s, the German émigré Marion Palfi's first job was at Pavelle Laboratories. Besides the mechanisation of the photofinishing process, Pavelle was also involved in the creation and evolution of colour film. In March 1944, the firm Ansco introduced Printon, a material on which positive-transparency colour film could be printed. Ansco Printon colour transparency printing machines, along with a colour-processing machine for the subsequent steps in the developing tanks, washers and dryers, were developed. From 1945 the newly founded Pavelle Color Inc. branch became the first independent photofinisher for colour film distributed developer and equipment for developing colour photographs. In 1951 Pavelle had 175 employees and turned out more than 20,000 colour prints a day.
    From the end of the 1960s and into the 1970s, these chemical processes made it possible for the first time to develop and produce colour photographs without the need for huge laboratories, a boon for private individuals, amateur photographers and freelancers. In 1962 the Pavelle Color Printer p-100 was introduced, an automatic daylight colour printer-processor that turned out colour prints in three minutes (The Record, 9 March 1962, p.89). In 1969 Pavelle Corporation opened a production plant in West Caldwell for the manufacture of rapid-access photographic colour-print paper (Anonymous 1969, 26).
    No exact dates are known or whether the cooperation still exists today or if it was bought by another company. However, we do know that Leo Pavelle's grandson runs a homepage under the name Pavelle Photo and is himself a photographer.

    Word Count: 629

  • Known addresses in Metromod cities:

    16 East 42nd Street, Midtown Manhattan, New York City (1936–1960s); 553 West 57th Street, Hell's Kitchen, New York City (1938–1960s).

  • Signature Image:
    Logo of Pavelle Laboratories in Popular Photography, December 1943, p. 88.
  • Media:
    Article on Pavelle Laboratories (White 1951, 131).
    Article on Pavelle Laboratories in White 1951, 132–133).
    Advertisement for Pavelle Laboratories in Popular Photography, December 1943, p. 88.
  • Bibliography (selected):

    Anonymous. "West Caldwell Will Get New Pavelle Plant."The Herald News, 6 March 1969, p. 26

    Berkowitz, George. “Typed memo to Marion Palfi.” (unpublished material, Center for Creative Photography, The University of Arizona, Tucson, 20 April 1949).

    Coote, Jack H. The Illustrated History of Colour Photography. Fountain Press, 1993.

    Enyeart, Jim. “Marion Palfi – Social Research Photographer.” Exposure. Journal of the Society for Photographic Education, vol. 11, no. 3, August 1973, pp. 4–6. Accessed 19 February 2021.

    Gilbert, George. The Illustrated Worldwide Who’s Who of Jews in Photography. G. Gilbert, 1996.

    Marion Palfi, special issue of The Archive - Research Series, no. 19, September 1983. Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona.Accessed 19 February 2021.

    Rockwell, Peter L.M. and Peter W. Knaack. Out of the Darkroom: A Short History of the Photofinishing Industry. 2 P Press, 2006.

    U.S. Camera, vol. 18, no. 1–6, 1955.

    White, L.B. “He Turned a hobby into a Big Business.” Popular Science, October 1951, pp. 131–133, 246, 250.

    Word Count: 140

  • Author:
    Helene Roth
  • Date of Founding:
  • Date of Disbandment:
  • Participants (selection):

    Leo Pavelle, Carmen Pavelle, Seymour Pavelle, Marion Palfi.

  • Metropolis:
    New York
  • Entry in process:
  • Helene Roth. "Pavelle Laboratories Inc.." METROMOD Archive, 2021,, last modified: 20-08-2021.
  • Marion Palfi

    Marion Palfi was a German émigré photographer who lived in New York from the 1940s to the 1960s. Her photographic engagement in social and political topics made her name for her use of the camera to draw attention to social injustices.

    Word Count: 41

    Selfportrait of Marion Palfi (© Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona: Marion Palfi Archive).
    Advertisement “Ein bischen tätige Liebe” for a cigarette brand with photograph of Marion Palfi and Aribert Mog (1904–1941). Modenschau. Illustrierte Monats-Zeitschrift für Heim und Gesellschaft, no. 202, October 1929, p. 43.Cover of Ebony with photograph by Marion Palfi (Ebony, 1 November 1945).Review of Marion Palfi's Suffer Little Children by Eleanor Roosevelt published in Des Moines Tribune, 10 December 1952, p. 20.Article on Marion Palfi in Aufbau magazin (Craemer 1949).Cover of Suffer Little Children by Marion Palfi (Oceana Publications, 1952).Announcement of Marion Palfi’s course at the New School for Social Research. New School for Bulletin, vol. 17, no. 2, 2 September 1959, p. 46 (© New School course catalog collection, NS-05-01-01. The New School Archives).
    New York
    Black Star Agency
    Photo Agency

    The German émigrés Kurt S(z)afranski, Ern(e)st Mayer and Kurt Kornfeld founded Black Star in 1936. The photo agency established was a well-run networking institution in New York.

    Word Count: 31

    Letterhead of Black Star (Black Star Archive. Ryerson Image Center, Photo: Helene Roth).
    Logo and Stamp of Black Star Photo Agency (Photo: Helene Roth, 2019).Description of Black Star in a photographic guide (Ahlers, Arvel W.. Where & how to sell your pictures. Photography Publishing Corp., 1953, p. 45).Werner Wolff, K.S. Safranski’s Class in Pictorial Journalism, 1950 (New School for Research Archive, Photograph Collection © Steven Wolff).Facade and entrance of the Graybar Building on Lexington Avenue (Photo: Helene Roth, 2018).Cover of Selling Your Pictures by Kurt Safranski (Ziff Davis Publishing Company, 1940).Black Star contract by Fred Stein, April 1, 1944 (© Fred Stein Archive).Announcement of "Pictorial Journalism. Photographs as a Language and their special Problems" course by Kurt Safranski at the New School for Social Research, Spring 1949 (© The New School Archives and Special Collection, The New School, New York).Letterhead with the logo and address of Black Star (© Fred Stein Archive).
    New York
    Oceana Publications
    Publishing House

    Oceana Publications Inc was a publishing house specialising in law and civil rights founded by the British émigré Philip F. Cohen (1911–1998) in 1945.

    Word Count: 22

    Logo and imprint of Oceana Publications Inc.
    Cover of Immigration Laws of the United States by Carol McCormick Croswell (Oceana Publications, 1953).Cover of How to become a citizen of the United States by Margaret Esther Hall (Oceana Publications, 1953).Cover of Suffer Little Children by Marion Palfi (Oceana Publications, 1952).Review of Marion Palfi's Suffer Little Children by Eleanor Roosevelt published in Des Moines Tribune, 10 December 1952, p. 20.
    New York
    Rapho Guillumette
    Photo Agency

    Founded in 1940 by the emigrant Charles Rado (1899–1970), Rapho Guillumette was a picture agency.

    Word Count: 13

    Rapho Guillumette agency letter to Fred Stein, 1944 (© Fred Stein Archive).
    New York
    Three Lions Inc.
    Photo Agency

    Little is known about this photo agency, which was founded by two German émigré brothers, Max Georg and Walter Löwenherz in 1937 in New York

    Word Count: 25

    Logo of Three Lions Inc. (© Center for Creative Photography, Marion Palfi Archive, AG 46:1A).
    Mention of Three Lions in a photographic guide (Ahlers, Arvel W.. Where & how to sell your pictures. Photography Publishing Corp., 1953, p. 46).Job advertisement of Three Lions published in Aufbau magazine, 1. September 1939, no. 16, p. 26 (Photo: Helene Roth).Advertisement of Three Lions (Billboard, 11 February 1967, p. 37).
    New York
    Modernage Photographic Services Inc
    Photo Lab

    Modernage Photographic Services was founded in 1944 by the German émigrés Ralph and Leuba Baum and specialised in photofinishing services. In 1954 a second branch, Modernage Custom Darkrooms, was opened.

    Word Count: 29

    Advertisement Modernage Photographic Services in The Norwalk Hour, 3 June 1969, p. 25.
    New York
    Service Photo Suppliers Inc.
    Photo Supplier

    Service Photo Suppliers was a photo supplier distributing a wide variety of photo equipment and opened by the German émigré Hans Salomon (1909–?) in 1945.

    Word Count: 23

    Logo of Service Photo Suppliers, Inc. (Popular Photography, December 1948, p. 231).
    Advertisement of Service Photo Suppliers, Inc. in Popular Photography, December 1948, p. 231.
    New York
    Photo Supplier

    Spiratone was a photo company and photo supplier founded in 1941 by the Austrian émigré family Hans (1888–1944) and Paula Spira (?–?) and their son Fred Spira (1924–2007).

    Word Count: 24

    Logo and address of Spiratone in Popular Photography, June 1947, p. 104.
    Advertisement in Minicam, vol. 5, no. 1, September 1941 p. 73; 84; 100Advertisement for Spiratone in Popular Photography, October 1949, p. 5.
    New York
    PIX Publishing Inc.
    Photo Agency

    PIX Publishing Inc. was a photo agency founded in New York in 1935 by photo agent Leon Daniel and Celia Kutschuk, together with German émigré photographers Alfred Eisenstaedt and George Karger.

    Word Count: 30

    Letterhead of PIX Inc. – Correspondence Daniel Leon with Fred Stein, 1943, cropped detail (© Fred Stein Archive).
    Letterhead of PIX Inc. – Correspondence Daniel Leon with Fred Stein, 1943 (© Fred Stein Archive).Mention of PIX Publishing in a photographic guide (Ahlers 1953, p. 46).
    New York
    Leco Photo Service
    Photo Lab

    Leco Photo Service was a photofinishing lab, highly-frequented and a contact hub for émigré photographers and photo agencies during the 1930s and 1940s, as well as a provider of employment for women in the photo industry.

    Word Count: 36

    Advertisment Leco Photo Service (Photo: Helene Roth).
    Leco Photo Service mentioned in Etna Kelley. “Woman in Photography.”, Popular Photography, June 1945, pp. 23 (Photo: Helene Roth).Article on Leco Photo Service by Etna Kelley. “Photofinishing Plus.” Popular Photography, February 1947, pp. 84–85 (Photo: Helene Roth).
    New York
    Camera Features
    Photo Agency

    Camera Features was a photo agency founded by the photographer Werner Wolff and other colleagues of the photo agency PIX.

    Word Count: 20

    Camera Features stamp (The Family of Werner Wolff © Ryerson Image Center).
    New York
    European Picture Service
    Photo Agency

    The European Picture Service was a photo agency located in Midtown Manhattan founded, probably in 1930, by the émigré photographer Max Peter Haas (1901–1985).

    Word Count: 22

    Letterhead of European Picture Service, November 1938 (© Center for Creative Photography, Josef Breitenbach Archive, AG 90:4).
    Norman C. Lipton. “20 exciting years with a miniature.” Popular Photography, September 1949, pp. 46–47 (Photo: Helene Roth).Images by Max Peter Haas for European Picture Service on gunfight near 5th Avenue (Daily News, 15 January 1914, p. 123).Second article of Max Peter Haas for European Picture Service on gunfight near 5th Avenue (Daily News, 15 January 1914, p. 562).
    New York
    JJK Copy-Art
    Photo LabPhoto StudioPhoto Supplier

    JJK Copy-Art was a photo studio and photofinishing service founded in 1929 by the Jewish Austrian émigré James J. Kriegsmann (1909–1994) and was located at 165 West 46th Street.

    Word Count: 26

    Logo of JJK Copy-Art (Billboard, 26 January 1963, p. 50).
    Advertisement for JJK Copy-Art in Billboard, 26 January 1963, p. 50.Advertisement for JJK Copy-Art with slogan “We Deliver What We Advertise” (Billboard, 3 June 1950, p. 27).Advertisement for JJK Copy-Art with slogan “There Is No Business Than Show Business” (Billboard, 11 April 1953, p. 5)Apology announcement by James J. Kriegsmann in Billboard, 17 April 1943, p. 5Page from a magazine about the Cotton Club with a portrait of Bill Robertson by James J. Kriegsmann (Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, 1936) 2013.46.25.270a-e.
    New York
    Lotte Jacobi

    In October 1935 the German émigré photographer Lotte Jacobi, together with her sister Ruth Jacobi, opened a photo studio on 57th Street. The two sisters had to leave their parents' photo studio in Berlin in the 1930s and emigrated to New York.

    Word Count: 41

    Lotte Jacobi, Self-portrait, New York, 1937 (© 2020. University of New Hampshire).
    Lotte Jacobi, Central Park, New York, 1936 (© 2020. University of New Hampshire).Lotte Jacobi, New York Stock Exchange, New York, 1938 (© 2020. University of New Hampshire).Lotte Jacobi, Ernst Fuhrmann, New York, 1942 (© 2021. University of New Hampshire).Lotte Jacobi, Hanya Holm dancing with troup, 1937 (© 2020. University of New Hampshire).Flyer for Lotte Jacobi’s exhibition at the Norlyst Gallery, 1948 (© 2020. University of New Hampshire).Willi Wolfradt. "Lichtbild-Schöpfungen." Aufbau, 15 October 1948, p. 19.Lotte Jacobi, Werner Wolff, 1943, New York (© 2021. University of New Hampshire).Lotte Jacobi, Ruth Bernhard, 1945, New York (© 2021. University of New Hampshire).
    New York
    Lilo Hess

    The German émigré Lilo Hess was an animal photographer working for the Museum for Natural History and the Bronx Zoo, as well being a freelance photographer and publisher of children's books.

    Word Count: 31

    Portrait of Lilo Hess (Commire 1973, p. 112).
    Portrait of Lilo Hess – Life, 6 September 1943, p. 21 (Photo: Helene Roth).Photography by Lilo Hess – Fotografische Rundschau, vol. 72, 1935, p. 323 (Photo: Helene Roth).Book cover Odd Pets (Crowell, 1951).Front of the book Odd Pets (Crowell, 1951).Inside of the book Odd Pets (Crowell, 1951).Photo of drinking gibbons at the Bronx Zoo, photographed by Lilo Hess (Life, 13 December 1948, p. 126).
    New York

    Ylla was an Austrian-born photographer who emigrated to New York in 1941. Specialising in animal photography, she produced not only studio photographs, but also shot outside on urban locations in the metropolis.

    Word Count: 31

    "Speaking of Pictures … this is the work of the Bachrach of Dog Photography.”, images by Ylla and published in Life, 17 November 1947, pp. 18–19. (Photo: Helene Roth).“Babytime at the Zoo”, images by Ylla, Life,14 May 1944, p. 43. (Photo: Helene Roth).“Ylla’s cameras tells. A tale of two kittens ... .” Popular Photography, Dezember 1951, pp. 50–51 (Photo: Helene Roth).Profile photo of terrier by Ylla (Camilla Koffler), ca. 1938, published on the cover of U.S. Camera, October 1940 ( © Waverley123 (Pryor Dodge) at the English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons).Advertisement in The New Yorker (November 14, 1953, p. 184) for Ylla’s book Animal’s in Africa (Photo: Helene Roth).Published photograph by Ylla Back to Methusala, Regent's Park London for U.S. Camera. Annual 1943, edited by Tom Malloney, Radom House, 1943, p. 90.Fritz Neugass. “The saga of the S.S. Winnipeg.” Modern Photography, July 1951, pp. 72–73 (Photo: Helene Roth).
    New York