Most of the photographs pertain to objects in the collections of McIlhenny and his parents, including items passed down from parent to child. (The "Mrs. W." noted on the verso of a few prints may refer to works owned or considered by McIlhenny's sister). A few paintings appear to have been filed for reference purposes only, and it is not certain if all the decorative art objects were purchased or only offered for purchase. Also included are a few postcards, a clipping and an unidentified proof.
Like the series itself, this subseries reflects a dual arrangement as well as a dual purpose. The first group of files, comprising almost one-half of the photographs, documents objects identified by artist. Most are paintings, particularly those acquired by the younger McIlhenny. The remaining half of files is arranged by genre, and many of the objects represented seem to be those acquired by the senior McIlhenny and his wife. The genre arrangement stems from the labeling of several original envelopes. Paintings were further subdivided by their own genre, such as "portraits" and "scenic." Because almost all the paintings were unidentified, artist and title were assigned where possible during processing. Folder titles with genre designations set in quotes pertain to original identifications. The grouping and identification of the remaining photographs were assigned during processing. In both subgroups, folder titles also make reference to objects that were readily identified as gifts to the Philadelphia Museum of Art or as objects offered at the 1987 Christie's auction of the contents of McIlhenny's Rittenhouse Square residence.
In both subgroups, there are multiple prints of many of the paintings, which no doubt was done to accommodate the frequent reproduction requests the McIlhennys received. The "silver" and "rug" files, however, appear to have been made for more specific, albeit unidentified, exhibition or auction catalogs. Not only are there no multiple images of each object, but the items also are identified in greater detail. Furthermore, at least a few of the silverware items photographed are the same listed in the inventory drawn from John D. McIlhenny's original records, which is filed in the "Subject" subseries. The inventory values are no doubt the purchase prices, while the higher dollar amounts noted on the photographs probably reflect insurance values or auction estimates. (Compare, for example, the fifth silverware inventory entry--a pair of candlesticks made in London, 1733--and the related photograph, in which this candlestick is pictured with two other styles.) Several of the photographs of "Chairs, sofas, and benches" appear to be the same images published in the January 1944 bulletin published by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and devoted to the bequests of McIlhenny's parents.
Publications consist of several catalogs devoted to McIlhenny's collection as a special exhibition, as well as the catalog to Christie's 1987 auction pertaining to his estate. There is also one scholarly article published in 1972 regarding a work by Degas that McIlhenny owned at the time. Writings intended for a more general audience regarding his collection and lifestyle are part of the "Articles and interviews" series.