MUSCATINE, Iowa - River's Edge Gallery and the Musser Public Library have a way to help you pare your Christmas gift list.

The two are teaming up to print - and frame, for those who like - any of four Oscar Grossheim photographs selected by gallery owner Joel Smyers and employee Randy Richmond.

Seventy-five percent of the print sales will go to River's Edge. The remaining 25 percent of the sales will go to the library, which owns the 55,000 or so glass plates that comprise the Grossheim collection. Library staff have digitalized about 7 percent of them.

The four selected print images - the Batterson Building at night, young cherry pickers, a hunting club and a sternwheel chugging up the Mississippi River - are each available unframed for $26-$78, depending on the size.

The prints are high quality and, if taken care of, will last more than a century, Richmond said Tuesday.

An example of each print is framed and on display at the gallery, 216 W. Third St.

The project came about for two reasons, said Bobby Fiedler, 34, the library's head of information services: the public "is interested in the photographs; and for people who aren't aware of Grossheim's work, we wanted to make them available" in print form.

"We do possess this great collection," Fiedler said. "By virtue of that, we're entrusted with the responsibility of making it available to the public."

As Richmond, 47, pointed out, the prints are so detailed that the rest of us can now see what Grossheim saw a century ago.

Inside Batterson's Department Store picture window, for example, is a poster that's clearly visible, even though the room is awash with light.

In another, members of the Eagle Hunting Club proudly display the ducks they've hunted - and the rifles they used to hunt them.

And that sternwheel that made its way to Muscatine the day Grossheim photographed it in 1917 sunk the next year.

Grossheim's work deserves quality, widespread reproduction, said Smyers, 58.

"Number one, he was just a great photographer," he said. "He just saw interesting things that are part of the history of Muscatine.

"He was able to produce extremely high-quality images with the tools available to him at the time. The detail and the clarity are as good as digital photography today."

Richmond, himself a photographer, walked a fine line digitalizing Grossheim's four photographs for the current project.

"We cleaned them up and got rid of blemishes, because a scanner doesn't think like a photographer," he said. "But we left the scratches in because they're historical."

Richmond said he plans to select and reproduce for the public four more Grossheim prints next year. There's no end in sight for getting the Muscatine master's work on people's walls.

"We're on a 15,000-year plan," Richmond said with a laugh.

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