Issue #112  10/10/2006
Bonhams & Butterfields Book Dept. Sets Oct. Auction For Watkins Material

Bonhams & Butterfields will hold its Fine Books & Manuscripts sale October, 17, 2006, in San Francisco and simulcast in Los Angeles, 10 am and 1 pm. Previews are San Francisco, October 6-8, 10 am-5 pm, and Los Angeles Oct. 13-15, 10 am-5 pm.

The sale features a small but important single-owner collection of fine 19th-century photographs. The highlight of the sale is an album of approximately 280 albumen prints from the negatives of Carleton E. Watkins and Alfred A. Hart, circa 1880, likely composed for Watkins' new bride, Frances Sneed. The album contains many of Watkins most dramatic views of the Sierras and California, in addition to several images that may be unrecorded examples of his work, in addition to large format prints of Alfred Hart's documentary record of the building of the California Pacific Railroad.

Likely prepared for Watkins' wife, the album also includes 4 dramatic portraits of what may be Watkins himself, circa 1865/1880. No known images of Watkins from this period are recorded, except for a portrait miniature on ivory. The only two photographs of him date form the late 1890s and after the 1906 earthquake, and do not offer clear views of his features. In addition, these striking and dramatic images include a portrait of the sitter in a full albumen print suit and camera-hat, making this apparently unrecorded image of this important pioneer of 19th century photography that much more unusual.

Other highlights include an extremely rare pannotype, or collodian print exposed on patent leather in camera, circa 1860, possibly by George Robinson Fardon. Only a handful of these rare early pannotypes have survived, this one apparently featuring a pair of early California pioneers. Other items include a fine daguerreotype of a Forty-Niner with pistol, as well as whole plate daguerreotypes and ambrotypes by R. H. Vance and James Cutting, and a large album of over 500 cyanotypes of the Stanford campus shortly after its foundation. There is also a fine collection of paper items, including photographs, relating to Spiritualism.

Bonhams & Butterfields is located at 220 San Bruno Ave., San Francisco, CA, phone: 1-415-503-3207, and 7601 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA, phone: 1-323-436-5442. For further information email: martin.gammon@bonhams.com . You can view the entire sale online here at: http://www.bonhams.com/cgi-bin/public.sh/pubweb/publicSite.r?sContinent=USA&screen=catalogue&iSaleNo=14243 .