Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - May - 2006 Issue

19th Century Photography from Charles Wood

Wood126

Nineteenth Century Photography from Charles Wood.


by Michael Stillman

If a picture is worth a thousand words, it will be impossible to do Charles Wood Bookseller's latest catalogue justice. Catalogue 126 is titled Nineteenth Century Photography. Photography was not developed until the 1830s, and it was around mid-century that the first books to use photographic images began to appear. By the time of the American Civil War, the process had become so common and developed that its images could be used to save and record even ordinary events for history. Whereas none of America's founding fathers could have their photographic images preserved for future generations to see, the commonest of Civil War foot soldiers could. Even then, technology was marching forward at a rapid pace.

Of course, these advances were in no way limited to America. The earliest developments were taking place in France, starting with Joseph Nicephore Niepce's first photograph of 1826, followed after his death by partner Louis Daguerre's Daguerreotype process patented in 1839. Wood's collection of photographs and photographic books is international in scope, though he is an American bookseller. Here are a few of the items he offers.

So, if this is a catalogue of nineteenth century photography, and photography wasn't even invented until the 1800s, what is a 1799 book doing in here? The answer is that Deportation et Naufrage... by Frenchman J.J. Ayme created its images using a process called "physionotrace," a precursor to photography. This process allowed for an exact tracing of a person's profile, wherefrom an artist could fill and color the details. Item 9. Priced at $550.

As long as we find ourselves focused on France, here's one more: Les Travaux Publics de la France, from Leonce Reynaud. This is a five-volume set containing photographs of France's various public works from the 1850s to the 1870s, published by Baron James Rothschild from 1876-1883. Each volume contains 50 collotype images (a process which created printed images which look much like photographs). Wood notes that the books not only provided a history of French public works, but that the photographs reflected the vision and settings of an artist as much as a photographer. Item 181. $25,000.

Leander Cook was an itinerant photographer, probably based in the Boston area. Item 36 is a circa 1860s broadside headed "Pictures! Pictures!" Cook posted to announce he would be in an area. Anyone wishing their picture taken, or to purchase frames and albums, were invited to visit his "traveling saloon." He encourages parents to "Bring the little ones as near noon as possible, and in a clear day, on account of the light." Evidently "saloon" had a different meaning then if you were supposed to bring the children. $550.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> first edition of the earliest extant manual on modern chess, Salamanca, circa 1496-97. Sold for $68,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Carte-de-visite album with 83 images of prominent African Americans & abolitionists, circa 1860s. Sold for $47,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Gustav Klimt, <i>Das Werk,</i> Vienna & Leipzig, 1918. Sold for $106,250.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Man Ray, <i>[London Transport] – Keeps London Going,</i> 1938. Sold for $149,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Thomas Jefferson, Letter Signed, to Major-General Nathanael Greene, promising reinforcements against Cornwallis, 1781. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Nicolas de Fer, <i>L’Amerique Divisee Selon Letendue de ses Principales Parties,</i> Paris, 1713. Sold for $30,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Russell H. Tandy, <i>The Secret in the Old Attic,</i> watercolor, pencil & ink, 1944. Sold for $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Hemingway, <i>Three Stories & Ten Poems,</i> first edition of the author's first book, Paris, 1923. Sold for $23,750.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Walker Evans, <i>River Rouge Plant,</i> silver print, 1947. Sold for $57,500.
  • <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Ernst, Max. <i>Mr. Knife and Miss Fork</i>. Paris, 1932. DELUXE EDITION. Sold for $15,625
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Cage, John. Autograph musical leaf from his Concert for Piano and Orchestra, NY, 1958. Sold for $18,750
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Einstein, Albert. Signed Passport Photo for his US citizenship application. Bermuda, 1935. Sold for $17,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Verard, Antoine. Illuminated printed Book of Hours. Paris, 1507. Sold for $7,500
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Wetterkurzschlussel. German Weather Report Codebook - for Enigma use. Berlin, 1942. Sold for $225,000
    <b>Bonhams: September 25, New York</b>
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Morelos y Pavon, Jose Maria. Autograph letter signed to El Virrey Venegas, February 5, 1812. Sold for $6,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Milne, A.A. Complete set of <i>Winnie-the-Pooh</i> books. 4 volumes. All first issue points. London, 1924-1928. Sold for $5,250
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> A 48-star American Flag, battle worn flown at Guadalcanal and Peleliu, 1942-1944. Sold for $35,000
    <b>Bonhams, June 12 results:</b> Locke, John. Autograph Letter Signed mourning the death of his friend, William Molyneaux, 2 pp, October 27, 1698. Sold for $20,000
  • <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Charles Darwin on sexuality and the transmission of hereditary characteristics: Autograph Letter Signed to Lawson Tait. Down, 17 January [1877].
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> MILTON, JOHN. <i>Paradise Lost. A Poem written in ten books.</i> London: 1667. A very rare example with the contemporary binding untouched and with a 1667 title page.
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> Hamilton secures the ratification of the Constitution: <i>The Debates and Proceedings of the Convention of the State of New-York, assembled at Poughkeespsie, on the 17th June, 1788.</i>
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> The social contract “Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains”: ROUSSEAU, JEAN-JACQUES. <i>Principes du Droit Politique [Du Contract Social]</i>. Amsterdam: Michel Rey, 1762
    <b>19th Century Shop:</b> “The first English textbook on geometrical land-measurement and surveying”: BENESE, RICHARD. <i>This Boke Sheweth the Maner of Measurynge All Maner of Lande…</i>

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