Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - January - 2008 Issue

Panoramic Photography from Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books

Vintage07

Vintage Photographic Panoramas from Bernard J. Shapero.


By Michael Stillman

Recently received from Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books of London is a most unusual and fascinating new catalogue. When is the last time you received a catalogue that was less than five inches high and almost a foot long? More importantly, why would anyone print a catalogue in such an unusual shape? The answer lies in the type of material offered. The title is Vintage Photographic Panoramas 1850-1950. Offered is a collection of almost 100 panoramic photographs, far longer than they are high, thereby necessitating the unusual catalogue size to display them.

The photographs in this collection come from all over the world, and despite the more expansive date range, the great majority come from the second half of the 19th century. The catalogue is broken down to regional sections, featuring the following: Europe, Middle East, Central Asia, Indian Subcontinent, Far East, Africa, Americas, and Australasia.

Most of the photographs fall into two groups -- city scenes or scenic views (along with a few of ancient ruins). The city scenes depict a world hardly recognizable today, while the scenic views are essentially unchanged. Hong Kong has no skyscrapers, Paris does have its bright new Eiffel Tower, though the surroundings have changed, but Niagara Falls is still Niagara Falls (as long as you ignore the shoreline). Whether the views are different or unchanging, the common feature to these photographs is their beauty. The panoramas offer stunning views not obtainable within the confines of a normal photograph. Whole cities or mountains appear before us in one sweeping view.

As impressive as these pictures are today, they must have been absolutely stunning in their era. In the days before movie cameras and wide-angle lenses, the only way to produce such views was by lining up photographs side by side. Achieving the precise dimensions, equal lighting, and perfect matching to make this work is not easy. Some photographers allowed for a small gap between photos, making it far easier. Others match the edges seamlessly, but the separation between parts is noticeable through the different lighting. Then, some managed this art so perfectly that it is virtually impossible to tell where one photograph ended and the next began. That is the exception, but there are a few where the seam is almost impossible to spot.

The typical panorama runs two or three feet wide, though many far exceed this size. There is a view of Constantinople from 1870 that runs 123 inches long, and one of Shanghai from 1881 that is 132 inches long. Shapero notes that the awkward shape of these panoramas in part explains the rarity of finding them in superior condition. It is hard to store something ten feet long.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <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>
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Caius Julius Hyginus, <i>Poeticon Astronomicon,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1482. $15,000 to $20,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Giovanni Botero, <i>Le Relationi Universali... divise in Sette Parti</i>, Venice, 1618. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> <i>L'Escole des Filles</i>, likely third edition of the first work of pornographic fiction in French, 1676. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Illuminated Book of Hours in Latin on vellum, Flanders, early 16th century. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes Regiomontanus, <i>Calendarium,</i> Venice, 1485. $8,000 to $12,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Pedro de Medina, <i>Libro d[e] gra[n]dezas y cosas memorables de España,</i> Alcalá de Henares, 1566. $3,000 to $5,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:<br>Early Printed, Medical, Scientific & Travel Books</b>
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b><br>Luis de Lucena, <i>Arte de Ajedres,</i> Salamanca, circa 1496-97. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Andrés Serrano, <i>Los Siete Principes de los Ángeles, válidos de Rey del Cielo,</i> Spain, 1707. $800 to $1,200.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Mar 8:</b> Johannes de Sacrobosco, <i>Sphaera mundi,</i> first illustrated edition, Venice, 1478. $15,000 to $20,000.
  • <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> A Rare 3-rotor German Enigma I Enciphering Machine. $70,000 to $90,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Important collection of correspondence between Werner Heisenberg and Bruno Rossi. $40,000 to $60,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Walt Whitman Autograph manuscript containing his thoughts on death. $20,000 to $30,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> David Roberts. <i>Holy Land</i>. Six volumes. 1842-1849. First edition. $15,000 to $25,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Extensive collection of Ray Bradbury's primary works, most signed or inscribed. $15,000 to $20,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Peter Force. Declaration of Independence. $12,000 to $18,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Steinbeck. <i>Grapes of Wrath</i>. A fine copy of the first edition. $10,000 to $15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Lewis & Clark. <i>Travels to the Source of the Missouri River</i>... First English edition, extra-illustrated. 1814. $10,000 to 15,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> Manuscript document signed by Nuno de Guzman relating to Hernan Cortes, 1528. $8,000 to $12,000
    <b>Bonhams, Feb. 11:</b> “Nos los inquisidores..." The first book in English printed West of the Mississippi. [1787]. $5,000 to $8,000.

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