Zephyr Used & Rare Books has created a thick catalogue of Photographs: Revealing Life in the West. That is the American West. Some are in published books, catalogues, or other forms of printed material, but many are the original photographs themselves. There may be a single photograph, two or three, or entire archives containing hundreds of images. If a picture is worth a thousand words, some of those would be long books if presented as text. Certainly there is something riveting about a picture that takes us back in time, and there are lots here that do just that. Here are a few examples.
We begin with a book, a short one consisting of four pages of text and 12 plates. The title is Picturesque Alaska, by Adolph Wittemann. Adolph and his brother were printers in New York, but he would travel the country, drumming up customers and taking photographs for postcards under their Albertype name. That would have taken him to this far off outpost of America for photographs. Zephyr says the book shows Sitka, “the gold mines, the natural wealth of the country, and the native American inhabitants... There are views of Muir Glacier, Juneau, a quartz mill, and the Yukon River.” While it shows gold mines, this would not be from the famous Klondike Gold Rush. It was published in 1888, a decade before the Alaska Gold Rush. Item 6. Priced at $200.
During the Great Depression, unemployment spiked as high as 25% in 1933. People needed work but there were few jobs to be found. President Roosevelt stepped in with various programs to put people back to work, including the Civilian Conservation Corps. The government hired the unemployed to carry out various public works projects. Item 43 is an album of 104 mounted photographs of CCC Company 183 from 1933 and 1934. In 1933, they were stationed at Tripp Canyon near Pima Arizona, in 1934 at Camp Three Forks near Silver City, New Mexico. These were World War I veterans engaged in building roads, fighting fires, soil erosion, logging, and forest improvement. The photos show the rugged landscape, barracks, entrance gate, food line, road equipment, tents, and the men working at the camp. $1,250.
Next we have three photographs that will appeal to bikers, technically, motorcyclists. This manufacturer has been out of business for well over half a century, but they were once the biggest, and many still swear they are the best. These pictures are from the Indian Motorcycle dealer in Tacoma, Washington, circa 1928-1932. The dealer was Max H. Steinhart and these pictures show his staff and the couriers for his Indian Cycle Delivery. Steinhart sold motorcycles to young people who could then work for his delivery service. He later sold that service which still operates today under the name MC Delivery, but naturally the Indian Cycle Co. is long gone. Indian went bankrupt in 1953, and though the name has been revived, the original company closed down almost 70 years ago. Along with pictures of his staff, their families, and couriers, there is one of riders from the Tacoma Motorcycle Club. In one of the pictures, the people are posed in front of the Indian shop. Item 108. $875.
One of the problems with early automobiles was that despite designs so much simpler than today, they broke down a lot anyway. Perhaps even worse were the tires. Roads were rough and tires were narrow and not that strong. You didn't go on a long trip without a few spares. Henry Lambert, a clever inventor called by some the “Edison of the West,” set out to build a better tire. He devised a semi-solid tire that consisted of layered bands and rubber and fabric that created a sturdier tire than those filled with air while still providing a cushioned ride. They were said to be good for 10,000-15,000 miles, which was a long tire life in those days. They began in Portland, Oregon, in the teens of the twentieth century and were at one time spewing out thousands of tires a month. They later expanded to larger quarters in Akron, Ohio. Item 17 is a promotional catalogue for the Lambert Trublpruf, his customers apparently needing phonetic spelling. There are pictures of the factory, the tires, and vehicles sporting their Trublprufs. I don't know what happened to the company. Henry Lambert died in 1928 and as best I can tell, the company soon died with him. $450.
Here is another business that didn't last forever. Item 9 is an album with 21 photos prepared for salesmen of the Continental Radiant Glass Heating Corp., circa 1954. They manufactured tempered glass heating panels which had their circuitry spray painted on the back. Operating on electricity, they generated radiant heat from the glass. This copy belonged to a salesman from the Seattle, Washington, dealer. Along with photos of the units are pictures taken at a county fair display and of the dealer's panel delivery truck. While the glass was durable against breakage, in time it would crack from the heat and the elements stopped working. The product was discontinued. Item 9. $750.
If you are looking for an impressive, large photo to hang on the wall, this is it. Circa 1925, it is a 42” x 16” photograph of the Neely Planing Mills & Lumber Co. of Willamina, Oregon. They weren't doing much color photography then but this one has been hand-colored. Workers are posed outside the mill surrounded by piles of finished lumber. Zephyr says these were created to place in offices, owner's homes, or even public locations. The Neely mills operated until 1954. Owner Rant Yantis Neely served as Mayor of Willamina for 14 years. Item 57. $1,450.
Zephyr Used & Rare Books may be reached at 360-695-7767 or firstname.lastname@example.org.