Dorothy Sloan -- Books


Very Rare Colorado Album with Photographs By William Henry Jackson including a Panorama of Denver

139.     PHOTOGRAPHY]. [COLORADO]. JACKSON, William Henry (photographer). [Cover title] Centennial State 1776 [gilt-stamped state seal] 1882. A Memorial Offering of the Business Men and Pioneers of Denver, Colorado. Published by Rebanks, Wilson & Co. Copyrighted. [Denver: Rebanks, Wilson & Co., 1882]. [2 (letterpress text)], 26 leaves of heavy card stock containing 149 gold-toned albumen photographs: 46 mounted albumen photographs of Denver and surrounding area, most credited to “W.H. Jackson & Co. Phot.” (city views, mining, architecture, railroads, landscape of Rocky Mountains, etc.; 4 of the views are reproduced from printed sources; view of Daniel’s & Fisher’s at 16th and Lawrence is shown on both leaves 14 and 18), 103 portraits with Rinehart’s blind stamp (including portrait of Jackson on p. [41]), each page within red ruled border, each leaf numbered in ink on recto and verso, images mounted on recto and verso of each leaf (Jackson views alternate with portraits of businessmen, politicians, officials, and pioneers), most images and portraits identified either in letterpress below image, or in the image itself, original pink tissue guards present. Dimensions of images vary, from approximately 15 x 10 cm (portraits and scenes) to 23 x 31 cm (city views, landscapes, and a few architectural images, such as Tabor Grand Opera House, Denver Union Pacific Station, and Windsor Hotel). Folio (36.3 x 31.5 cm), original full straight-grain maroon morocco, gilt lettered and decorated with gilt seal of Colorado, spine gilt lettered (“Memorial Offering”), beveled edges, edges stained red (professionally re-backed, preserving part of original spine and marbled endpapers). Other than minor outer wear, a very fine copy, the photographs pristine. Contemporary pencil note on front fly leaf (“J.T. Cornforth, 2820 Champa St., Denver Cola.”-his photo is on leaf 27), verso of text leaf with small red ink stamp of Denver Public Library with its ink accession number and date, and partially effaced control and call numbers (call number 315548 repeated on p. 19). Very rare.

     First edition. Harrell, William Henry Jackson: An Annotated Bibliography, p. 34: “A quite rare book…only two documented copies [Denver Public Library and SMU-DeGolyer]; although there are thought to be a few copies in private collections. This work is also unusual in that it is one of the very few published books in which actual Jackson photographs were used.” Harrell notes that the bindings of the Denver Public Library and SMU copies vary (black leather and red morocco respectively). Harrell reports 149 photographs in the Denver Public Library and SMU copies, like the present copy. Yale reports a copy of the album, to which apparently someone has added an extraneous photograph of Thomas Moran’s famous painting Mountain of the Holy Cross. Wynar 2078.

     The accompanying letterpress text provides an enthusiastic history of “the youngest as well as the loveliest City of the Plains”—concluding: “So the Great American Desert has now bloomed and blossomed into this wonderful rose, which, by the aid and through the power of the photograph, we to-day present to the people of these United States.” Three of the large-format photographs form a panoramic view of Denver, together measuring 22.8 x 91.5 cm. Other town scenes portray Georgetown and Leadville. Landscapes include the Garden of the Gods, Pike’s Peak, Green Lake near Georgetown, and a train coursing its way through majestic Rockies scenery (a wonderful image). Among the portraits are Governor Pitkin, H.A.W. Tabor, Henry M. Teller, William Gilpin, W.A.H. Loveland, D.C. Dodge, D.H. Moffatt, Jr., William Henry Jackson, the publishers of the album, and a few men whose names are followed only by the designation “Pioneer, 1860” (craggy old James Baker is the best of these). As noted in first paragraph, several of the portraits bear the blind stamp of Albert Rinehart, with whom Jackson formed a partnership in 1881.

     William Henry Jackson (1843-1942) began his photographic career in his home state of New York, but then established himself as a photographer in various other places before joining the Hayden Survey in 1877-1878 as official photographer, in which capacity he became the first person to photograph the Yellowstone region. He opened a photographic studio in Denver which he operated for twenty years between trips to various other locales before moving back to the East. In 1942, Jackson was honored by the Explorer’s Club for his 80,000 photographs of the American West. When he died at the age of 99, he was recognized as one of the last surviving Civil War veterans, and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Considered one of the most prominent pioneer photographers of the Old West at the time of his death, he has continued to hold a preeminent place in photographic history ever since.

     Jackson’s skill and artistry are universally recognized. William H. Goetzmann states: “William Henry Jackson, the greatest of all Western photographers [with the] ability to capture the many scenes of sublime beauty in the West on his photographic plates and stereopticon slides, did more than anyone else to publicize the tourist’s West. Jackson, like the avant-garde writers, the scientists, and even the local colorists of his time, was helping to usher in a new era of realism that would in part replace, and at the same time, as far as subject matter was concerned, parallel the romanticism of an earlier day” (Exploration & Empire, pp. 499-500).