Neighbors perceived their business acumen, though. Agnes Whiting Wynne wrote to Frances Benjamin Johnston, “They are doing splendidly in a business way and are making what is for living in Deerfield a large income. Isn’t it nice?” Mary wrote to Johnston regarding their reproduction fees: “We get, regularly, $5.00 for a second use and $10 for first use- Four of the prints had been used once…. ‘,’ was fresh- You know better than I whether your terms with the paper were such as to allow these rates- I am quite willing to leave it to you.” Charging these rates, Frances and Mary received $30.00 from Johnston for reproducing their five photographs in the July 1901 article. Johnston’s terms with The Ladies’ Home Journal most certainly allowed her to pay the Allens their fee; the magazine paid Johnston $150 per article. Compared with the average weekly wage of about $5.50 earned by unskilled laborers and $8.37 by manufacturing workers, these fees suggest the lucrative nature of the field. Mary complimented Frances Benjamin Johnston’s professional work: “You do that sort of thing superlatively well, but what a bore it must be! When I am tired with ‘jobs’ I find a generous check an efficient soother of discomfort. You command that panacea in larger doses than most of the craft are able to.” Enterprising Frances Benjamin Johnston was energetic in all her endeavors.
Photographs courtesy of Memorial Hall Museum, Deerfield, MA.