Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - November - 2011 Issue

Photography from Antiquariat Banzhaf and Antiquariat Kuhn

Banzhafphoto2011

Photography.

Antiquariat Banzhaf and Antiquariat Michael Kuhn have issued a catalogue of Photography 2011. Well, that's the title. The actual photographs are much older. Most were taken in the 19th century, which automatically places them within the first six decades of the existence of the photographic process. The earliest go back to photography's first decade. Some appear as plates in a book, others were mounted within its pages. Several are photographic albums. One contains photographs of paintings, another of models of natural events as the camera was not yet capable of grasping the image of the real thing. Most are of things close to home, yet one is of a place as far off as Mars. Here are some of the assemblages of photographs available in this catalogue.

Before we settle on Earth, here is the picture of a place as far away as Mars. Indeed, it is of Mars. Item 16 contains 13 plates with 26 photographs of the Red Planet (in black and white, of course) taken by J.O. Lacaille prior to its publication in 1878. The title is Memoire sur Mars, and the author was Luiz Cruls. Cruls was a Belgian astronomer, though he did most of his work in Brazil after accepting the post of Director at the Observatory in Rio de Janeiro. Don't expect images comparable to those from the Hubble or Lunar Lander here, but this is the best look available in the 19th century, grainy enough to allow people's imaginations to run wild about what a close-up might reveal. Priced at €1,400 (euros, or approximately $1,929 U.S. Dollars).

Item 4 is an album of photographs from an exhibition on hunting in the German colonies, primarily in Africa. The exhibition took place in Karlsruhe, a city in the southwest, near the French border, in 1903.There is little if any other documentation of this exhibition. Trophy animals, native weapons, and hunting weapons were on display. The displays came mostly from the collections of German explorers, hunters, scientists and colonial administrators, such as Hermann von Wissmann, a governor in German East Africa noted for brutally putting down an attempted rebellion. Wissmann died two years later, ironically enough, in a hunting accident. However, there was also something on display from master American showman P.T. Barnum. €6,800 (US $9,371).

Item 21 is an album of railroad construction photographs taken from 1864-1868 for the Compagnie du chemin de fer de Paris a Orleans. This company had been formed 30 years earlier to build a railway from Paris to Orleans, but by the 1860s, it had taken over several other railroads and operated extensively through central France. This album displays tracks and bridges being constructed at this time. The Paris-Orleans railroad company would grow to be the second largest private railway company in France, but would be taken over by the state in 1938 when the railroads were nationalized. €14,000 (US $19,281).

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