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Lot 7

The Phoenix of Spokane arising from the ashes

7. [BIRD’S-EYE VIEW: SPOKANE, WASHINGTON]. KOCH, Augustus. Panoramic View of Spokane Falls, Spokane County, Washington, 1890 Eleven Months after the Great Fire. [lower left below image]: Inter-State Publishing Co., Printers and Lithographers, Kansas City, Mo. [lower right below image]: Drawn by Augustus Koch. Lithographic bird’s-eye view with original teal wash. 68.5 x 100 cm; 27 x 39-3/8 inches (image); 73.7 x 100 cm; 29 x 39-3/8 inches (image with text below). A few tears into image area (no losses), light staining at upper borders (affecting only blank margins) and one small stain at lower left, slight overall browning, but all in all, very good—a rare survival in any condition.

     This large and finely detailed bird’s-eye view is not recorded by Reps; the earliest Spokane view recorded by Reps is Wellge’s 1884 view (View and Viewmakers of Urban America 4181; and Panoramas of Promise 106). Wellge’s 1884 view is not at all like the present one.

     On August 4, 1899, Spokane suffered a huge fire that destroyed most of the central business district. While operating out of a tent city, most businesses, which were insured, quickly rebuilt using brick or stone, resulting in the fine assemblage of buildings shown here between Front and First Streets. Many of the buildings were designed by distinguished architect Kirtland K. Cutter and other noteworthy architects. Shown on the view as No. 54 is the Washington Water Power Company, which was set up to provide power for the Northwest Industrial Exposition, held at Spokane in 1890, which was Washington’s first industrial fair. The new Industrial Exposition Building is shown in the lower right of the view. All in all, this view executed specifically for real estate agent H. L. Moody reflects a prosperous, bountiful city, definitely on the rebound.

     German-born Augustus Koch (1840-?), the creator of this rare view, was one of the most important viewmakers. "No American viewmaker traveled more widely in search of subjects than August Koch.... Koch drew his cities with considerable care, consistently depicting his subjects as if seen from very high viewpoints.... He seems to have drawn with substantial accuracy.... His recorded output of 110 views was exceeded by only a few other viewmakers" (Reps, Views, pp. 184-185). ($3,000-6,000)

Image (click to enlarge)

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