Only in York County

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This is the art framed by Kauffman's Art Shop that is owned by Paulette Egler, who was trying to use info about the store to find a date for the piece.

Ask Joan: Following up on Kauffman’s Art Shop and more

Some recent columns have led to a large amount of feedback, so I wanted to devote today to following up on some topics of interest about which I now have more information!

What’s inside

1. Following up on art shop, painting
2. One York County Isetta story
3. Details on mystery family photo

1. Following up on art shop, painting

A couple of weeks ago, I shared a letter from Paulette Egler, who wondered about the painting seen with today’s column. It had a sticker on the back noting it was framed at Kauffman’s Art Shop, 14 N. Beaver St., York, and Paulette wanted to try to find some information about when Kauffman’s was at that location in order to help her get a date for the painting, which she loves and wants to have reframed.

I was pleased to receive some information not only on the possible date range but also on the painting itself, which I am glad to share today.

Paulette’s best guess based on previous columns was that the painting might predate 1947. Reader Bob Wolf of Shiloh was able to corroborate that guess with a family story. He wrote, “My grandmother worked at Kauffman’s. She was an artist, but she would also ‘color’ black-and-white photos for clients. Her name was C. Lee Bahn. She passed away back in 1968 at the age of 83, while I was in training at Fort Polk, Louisiana. I was 19 at the time of her death, and I know she had retired from her work at Kauffman’s before I was born in 1948. This should give your writer an idea of how old her paintings are.”

So to start, we can pretty well say that 1947 or before is certainly possible.

Then, however, more information came to light about the painting itself. Reader Carol Robbins wrote in response to Paulette’s request, “I can’t be sure, but the art work looks like that of York artist Ernst Zimmerman, who lived from 1870 to 1944… I believe there are many people in York who would be knowledgeable about Zimmerman’s work.”

Well, it turns out there are, because I heard from one, a reader named Keith A. Oberdick.

Keith originally wrote to me to say, “I can contribute some information. The painting is in watercolor and was done by listed York, Pa., artist Ernst Zimmerman (1870 to 1944). I have a massive collection of his work; he did not sign all his paintings, but I would recognize the artist’s work a mile away. The 14 N. Beaver St. was Kauffman’s second location. The painting is circa 1920.”

Well, that was an amazing answer to Paulette’s question, and it prompted me to ask Keith how he came to know so much about Zimmerman’s work.

He replied, “Well, in 1988 a good friend and writer/York historian Dave Gulden and myself were at the World’s Greatest Yard Sale at the York Fairgrounds and he spotted a Zimmerman watercolor of pears for $25; it was funny, the guy was selling it for the walnut frame, not the contents; it was the first Zimmerman I had ever seen… I loved it and was hooked; his work has a soft attractive look to it.”

He continued, “I later learned from a relative of his he used a very early example of something similar to an air brush to create that look, then would use a brush to do highlights. As the years went by I bought them privately and at auctions and the collection mounted. It turned out an old friend of mine, the late Andy Leader (who I knew from working at the York Mall in maintenance in the 1980s; Andy, who was a Shriner’s clown, played Santa Claus at the mall), was a student of Zimmerman as a boy. He would give lessons mostly to locals on Saturday mornings for 5 cents a lesson.”

I thought that was just an amazing story and I was so happy we could put together that extra information for Paulette! I had fun looking around online for more of Zimmerman’s works; about a year ago, Burning Bridge Antiques Market in Columbia, Lancaster County, said they had taken in a whole collection of Zimmerman’s work and shared photos on their Facebook page. I’m not sure if any of them are still available, but it may be worth checking out!

(Aside: Going to the World’s Greatest Yard Sale was one of my family’s biggest summer events, and the topic of my first post on Only in York County, so I was thrilled to see Keith mention it!)

2. One York County Isetta story

Today’s second follow-up is just a fun, quick story. Last week, I’d mentioned a tiny little car called the Isetta, made in the 1950s and 1960s. I had been wondering if there were any Isettas around York County, and it was neat to get a note from reader Dick Kann.

Dick wrote, “When I was young, in the late ’50s, Dr Lewis Harold made house calls with his Isetta from his office in Dover. It was amazing to see the door open in the front, and then he climbed out with his bag.”

I was so glad to hear we had an Isetta here – and in my hometown of Dover nonetheless! Any further Isetta stories are still welcomed. (And I’d love to hear more about Dr. Harold, too!)

3. Details on mystery family photo

Donna Kober shared this photo, which her mother-in-law found behind a picture she bought at a yard sale. They think the photo may have been taken in Gettysburg, and some editing instructions were found on the back.
The instructions on the back of the photo found by Donna Kober’s mother-in-law seem to say “Trim the old lady and put her over the one in the door and if you can remove the baby at the door post wherever suitable.”

Last fall, I shared a note from Donna Kober, who had written to share some images from her mother-in-law’s collection. One of the items was the family photo you see today, complete with some editing notes on the back about the photo superimposed upon it.

Donna’s mother-in-law found this photo at a yard sale. They think the photo was from the early 1900s and believe it was taken by a photographer in Gettysburg. She was curious if anyone knew anything about the family.

Well, I did hear from someone – Rosa Bergen. Rosa wrote that the photo is from her mother’s family. “It is a picture of Sarah Foulk Eichelberger and Benjamin Franklin Eichelberger family from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. They married in 1889. In the picture is Sarah’s siblings and the children of Sarah and Benjamin.”

Rosa noted that her mother, who is now 96, would love to be able to purchase or get a copy of the photo. They wrote to me asking to be put in touch with Donna, but I do not save contact information for letter-writers (because I can’t give it out without permission anyway) so I was not able to do so. But Rose wrote again to see if I was able to help, so I thought it might be worth a try to see if Donna is reading this and might be willing to get in touch! Donna, if you are, please contact me via the information at the end of this column and I will get Rosa’s contact information to you.

Rosa said her mother lives in Lewisberry and “recognized her relatives immediately.” I’d love to be able to reunite her with that photo in some way! (So if you know Donna, nudge her and make sure she takes a look!)

Have questions or memories to share? Email me at or write to Ask Joan, York Daily Record/Sunday News, 1891 Loucks Road, York PA 17408. We cannot accept any phone calls with questions or information.

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