Rare Book Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - September - 2007 Issue

19th Century Travel Photography from Shapero Rare Books

Vintage

Vintage Photography from Bernard J. Shapero.

by Michael Stillman

The latest catalogue from Bernard J. Shapero Rare Books is not one of books at all. It is a catalogue of photographs, specifically, Vintage Travel Photography 1850-1900. While there are a few exceptions, most of these photographs were taken on travels to Asia, notably India and China, but also Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and others (to use their current names). These parts of the world may still appear mysterious to westerners, but in the 19th century, they were downright baffling, being so different from European lands. These vintage photographs, some offered singly, others parts of albums or collections, provide a window to distant lands in distant times, places that no longer exist in the form in which they were pictured. This catalogue, and the photographs offered, grant us a rare trip back in time. Here are some samples.

Item 1, shown on the cover (click the thumbnail image to the left to enlarge) is the exception -- a book of photos not related to travel. It is a spectacular work. The title is Animal Locomotion. An Electro-Photographic Investigation of Consecutive Phases of Animal Movements. 1872-1885. This book by Eadweard Muybridge was published in 1887 by the University of Pennsylvania, which provided funding for his studies. Muybridge took over 20,000 photographs of animals in movement to create these series of images of their movement. He was able to use these sequential photographs to create early "motion pictures." Among the animals Muybridge liked to photograph were nude women, which certainly couldn't have hurt sales. It was his work that first answered the old question of whether all four of a horse's hooves are ever off the ground at one time when it is running (the answer is "yes"). Priced at £15,000 (US equivalent of approximately $30,793).

Item 2 is one of the earlier photographs you will find, a circa 1845 salt print of two Newhaven fishwives by David Hill and Robert Adamson. Fishwives, for the record, are women who sell fish, not those who are married to them. Hill and Adamson's work is highly collectible as it is both of high quality for the time and because Adamson died in 1848 while the art was still very new. £2,000 ($4,105).

Item 15 is a collection of 29 of what may be the earliest photographs from Madagascar. Very few westerners were allowed into the country during the early days of photography. Rev. William Ellis managed to gain entry for missionary work and was able to take these photographs around 1855. A rival Jesuit missionary may also have taken pictures at this time, but if so, they have not been found. £27,000 ($55,421).

One feature that has changed the least in the years since these photographs were taken is the Great Wall of China. Item 79 is a circa 1875 shot attributed to William Saunders. £175 ($359). Not so common today, however, is the rickshaw, pictured in Saunders' 1870 photograph. It depicts two women in a double-seater, their driver pushing from behind (it looks similar to a wheelbarrow). £ 175 ($359).

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Gonnelli Auction House<br>Books and Graphics<br>19th, 20th and 21st April 2021</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 19-21<br>Books from XVI to XX Century</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 20<br>Atlases and Maps</b
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br> Veneto and Venice, a Selection of Books from the XVI to XX century</b>
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 20<br></b>Rossini Gioachino, Baguette de chef d'orchestre appartenuta a Gioachino Rossini, dono del Comune di Passy. 1500 €
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br></b>Manetti Saverio, Storia naturale degli uccelli trattata con metodo. Cinque volumi. 1767. 18.000 €
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 21<br></b>Poe Edgar Allan, Double assassinat dans la rue morgue. Illustrations de Cura. 1946.
    <b><center>Gonnelli: Apr. 19-21<br>Books from XVI to XX Century</b>
  • <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Collection of a Connoisseur:<br>History in Manuscript, Part 2<br>27 April 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Ronald Reagan. Series of 37 letters to Senator George Murphy, and related material, 1968-90. £50,000 to £70,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Chaim Weizmann. Autograph letter signed, to General Sir Gilbert Clayton, 6 September 1918. £20,000 to £30,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Sir Winston Churchill. Autograph letter signed, to Pamela, Lady Lytton, 1942. £20,000 to $30,000.
    <center><b>Sotheby’s<br>Collection of a Connoisseur:<br>History in Manuscript, Part 2<br>27 April 2021</b>
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Oscar Wilde. Five autograph letters signed, to Alsager Vian, 1887. £15,000 to £20,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Napoleon I. Letter signed to Admiral Ganteaume, ordering the invasion of England, 22 August 1805. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Sotheby’s, through Apr. 27:</b><br>Horatio, Viscount Nelson, and Emma Hamilton. Two autograph letter signed, to Catherine and George Matcham, 1805. £6,000 to £8,000.
  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Frances Palmer, <i>Battle of Buena Vista,</i> chromolithograph, New York, 1847. $4,000 to $6,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma, the earliest publication concerned solely with chocolate, first edition, Madrid, 1631. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Romans Bernard, <i>An Exact View of the Late Battle at Charlestown, June 17th, 1775,</i> engraving, 1776. $40,000 to $60,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> <i>A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre in Boston,</i> English edition, London, 1770. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> William Soule, <i>Lodge of the Plains Indians,</i> albumen print, 1872. $1,500 to $2,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Manuscript document to enforce New York’s “Agreement of Non-Importation” during the heyday of the Sons of Liberty, New York, 1769. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Clarence Mackenzie, <i>Drummer Boy of the 13th Regiment of Brooklyn,</i> salt print with applied color, 1861. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b> Moses Lopez, <i>A Lunar Calendar,</i> first Jewish calendar published in America, Newport, RI, 1806. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries Apr 15:</b><br>The Book of Mormon, first edition, Palmyra, 1830. $30,000 to $40,000.

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