The images are quick phone photos and don't fully represent the quality of these huge prints. Shadows and unevenness were created in the process of photographing this way in poor lighting conditions.
This is the largest, most important and rarest album of the Franco-Prussia War of 1870-71. The 19 prints (all but one from life) and album are gigantic. All are mammoth-plate (roughly 17 x 20 in.), or double or triple mammoth-plate size. You just can’t imagine the scale without seeing the album itself, which must weigh 40-50 lbs or more and is well over a meter in length and nearly as much in height. They are extraordinary, and some have great presence. Given that there are only two other copies known of this work (both in French institutions—in the BnF and the Archives Départementales du Loiret--and reportedly in poorer shape and with fewer prints—only 13 reported in the BnF album), we are selling it as a unit to keep it together as an historical document. The album itself is actually in remarkably good shape, although it needs its binding tightened, and perhaps a light cleaning. Many of the pieces could easily sell for $25,000-$60,000 on their own (or more), given the size, rarity and beauty, but we feel it really should stay together. Some of the prints are a bit light and yellowed, but others are magical.
The photographer is Gabriel Blaise, who was a French photographer active in the 1860s-80s and based in Tours. He was born in Paris in 1827. He exhibited at the SFP, as well as the 1878 Paris Exposition Universelle Internationale, where his studio name was linked to P. Rochas. He was known to have taken very good views of Touraine. Besides albumen prints from collodion wet plates, he used the carbon process of Poitevin and Fargier. He worked in formats from carte-de-visite size to triple mammoth plate. Of course this album is his master work. But he also participated in the war with the Prussians by sending official dispatches using photomicrographs that were then sent by carrier pigeon. (See: J. D. Hayhurst, The pigeon Post into Paris, 1870-1871, Ashford, Middlesex : the author, 1970.) He gave up his studio in 1889 and died in 1897.
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Medium Mammoth plate albumen prints from wet plate negatives in album format (19 prints, 18 from life)
Mount in original album or book format
Photo Date 1870-1871 Print Date 1872
Dimensions 0 x 0 in. (0 x 0 mm)
Photo Country France
Photographer Country France
Contemporary Works / Vintage Works, Ltd.