(Washington: Philip & Solomons, ). 320 x 425 mm. (12 1/2 x 16 3/4"). Two volumes. FIRST EDITION.
Original publisher's black morocco over heavy boards, upper covers with gilt titling, publisher's monogram, and triple-ruled gilt borders, spines with raised bands and gilt compartments. WITH 100 ALBUMEN PRINTS DEPICTING IMAGES OF THE CIVIL WAR, each mounted on larger sheets of card stock within a lithographed frame and captioned, and each preceded by a descriptive letterpress leaf. Front free end paper of first volume with a gift inscription dated 1867. Howes G-64; Sabin 26635. Slight rubbing to corners and covers, lower boards and a small section of the upper board of Volume II with some dampstaining, one photograph with minor water damage (but only slightly wrinkling and lightening the image), blank flyleaves (front and rear), title pages, and two leaves of introductory text with moderate dampstaining to the top third of the leaves (the stains somewhat darker in the second volume), light scattered foxing and dampstaining affecting the head or tail edge of the photo mounts, occasionally touching the printed frames, a little light fading (no more than a half inch) just to the edges of some images, but AN EXCELLENT COPY despite these imperfections, the large bindings very attractive overall, entirely solid, and showing very little wear, and the images generally clean, clear, and with little of their powerful impact diminished.
This is one of the first and greatest American photographic books ever published, and considered by many to be the most important book to come out of the American Civil War. Due to the technological limitations of the time, most of the subject matter here consists of fortifications, encampments, bloodied battlefields, ruins, and important civic buildings, rather than the action of the battlefield. But by turning their lenses to these deceptively static scenes, Garder and his colleagues managed to capture the most memorable photographs of the war, in turns haunting, poignant, and graphic. Some notable examples include "President Lincoln on Battle-Field of Antietam," "A Harvest of Death," and the famously controversial "Home of a Rebel Sharpshooter, Gettysburg." The latter, which depicts a fallen soldier and his rifle entrenched in a rocky setting, is now believed to have been partially staged by the photographer. Most of the original photographs in this work were taken by Alexander Gardner himself, with contributions by some of the most prominent figures in the field, including James Gardner, Timothy O'Sullivan, David Knox, John Reekie, William R. Pywell, D. B. Woodbury, W. Morris Smith, and others. Gardner (1821-82) also worked with the eminent American photographer Matthew Brady until 1862, when he broke away to found his own studio. In addition to his "Sketch Book," Gardner is also remembered for his iconic photographs of President Lincoln, and was the only photographer admitted to the execution of those conspirators involved with that president's assassination. The present work was issued in a very small number (by most accounts no more than 200 copies) and was extremely expensive to produce because of the large number of images involved. Scholars have recently distinguished two slightly different versions of the first edition: the earlier version contains the caption "Incidents of War" on all the mounts. Ours belongs to the second iteration, which omits the above phrase and adds plate numbers, but is in every other way identical. Although our copy contains some dampstaining to the margins, it is mercifully free of damage to all the images but one. The few similar examples at auction in the last 10 years have fetched upwards of $200,000 or more. (CJN1603)
Add to Cart Price: $125,000.00
PJP Catalog: BOS19BF.026