Skinner Auctions
Skinner AuctionsBoston MA
November 17, 2013 11:00 AMCalender

Gardner, Alexander (1821-1882) Photographic Sketch Book of the War

Auction: Books & Manuscripts - 2687BLocation: BostonDate / Time: November 17, 2013 11:00AM


Gardner, Alexander (1821-1882) Photographic Sketch Book of the War. Washington, D.C.: Philip & Solomons, [1866].
Two oblong folio volumes, first edition, first issue, with the phrase, "Incidents of the War," printed on every page below the mounted photograph; both volumes with lithographic title pages after drawings by Alfred A. Waud (1828-1891),single page preface in volume one, contents page (present in both volumes),and 100 albumen photographs (fifty in each volume),each photograph covered with a light overleaf printed with the subject and a description of the circumstances of the photograph; the photograph itself mounted on a heavy sheet printed within a tinted frame containing photo credits, title, date, et cetera; bound in uniform publisher's full green morocco, tooled in gold, stamped with the title on the front boards, inner gilt dentelles, a.e.g.; some light marginal water staining to the last ten plates in volume one, and very lightly throughout volume two, affecting the mounting pages in both cases, and those only marginally; some signs of water penetration to the leather cover of the back board of volume one, and the endleaves in volume two; the overleaf for the "Ruins of Arsenal, Richmond, VA" with a closed tear close to the gutter; both bindings with surface rubbing and some loss of surface due to the peeling that often occurs with sheepskin, no repairs to bindings, which are still functional and intact, 12 3/4 x 17 in. (2)
The photographic record of the Civil War created by Alexander Gardner and his collaborators reaches out across time, arresting even the twenty-first century viewer with its profound and disturbing imagery. Although many of his contemporaries may have recognized the potential importance of documenting the great human and material sacrifices of the struggle, Gardner put himself directly into the conflict. He set out with equipment, materials, and a skilled crew, working under crude conditions. With glass plate negatives, all the necessary chemical solutions, and his own traveling darkroom wagon, he was able to bring the war home to Americans. Gardner's images make the battle real, and its consequences plain. This two volume set was expensive when it was new. The cost of production itself was steep. Each volume is essentially constructed like a scrapbook. The albumen photographs, printed on a very thin and flimsy paper, were cut by hand, and then mounted individually onto the pre-printed sheets. Marvelous for many reasons, these books come to us as original artifacts of a painful period in American history.
Estimate $150,000-170,000

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Alexander Gardner, Washington, D.C., Alfred A. Waud, Richmond, chemical solutions