Carleton Watkins Yosemite Album, ca. 1870
We inherited this album through my mother-in-law's mother's estate, and we found it in the attic of the house that we inherited.
Well, what we have here is a period Morocco binding from the 1860s that is simply spectacular and that sets the stage for the contents of the album. This is the title page of the album, basically indicating that the photographs were taken by America's premier landscape photographer of the 19th century, Carleton Watkins. And if we look at some of these photographs, we can see why Watkins was considered a master of the photographic medium. There's a kind of clarity, an inherent beauty to the pictures that transcends photography as a documentary form, and that in fact shows photography as a fine art, aesthetic form. Watkins would take a camera into the landscape that used glass plate negatives, coat these glass plate negatives on-site, take his picture, remove them, take them to a processing tent. Photography was a little different back then in terms of the hands-on labor, the craft and technique. In terms of the quality of the photographs, these are basically, on a scale of one to ten, a ten. They're as good as it gets. These are albumen prints. They have a nice rich, brown, kind of eggplant tone. And what I love about the album is that the selection of photographs is unique to this album. I counted 50 and it's fairly certain that this is the only album of its kind with this particular selection and number of images. Based on the fact that this is a presentation album, with 50 original photographs, I would say that an auction estimate for the album would be in the $70,000 to $100,000 price range.
Wow. My goodness. That's wonderful!
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