Dramatic Color Images of Yellowstone after William Henry Jackson

With All Photos Mounted

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194. [JACKSON, William Henry (photographer)]. SCHMIDT, Carl E[rnest]. A Western Trip By Carl E. Schmidt. For Private Circulation Only. [Detroit: Herold <sic> Press]: For private circulation only, [ca. 1904]. [1-7] 8-91 [1, blank], [2, colophon] pp., title printed in green and black, 30 mounted photographs, including frontispiece (12 full-page photochrome process prints, 18 smaller black and white). 8vo (23.1 x 16.5 cm), original full smooth brown leather, upper cover gilt-lettered and with gilt illustration of cowboy with lasso on rearing horse, t.e.g., fore-edges untrimmed, burgundy silk endpapers. Binding sun faded, fore-edges of text block lightly browned, light offsetting (not affecting photographic images), a few silver prints slightly faded, otherwise excellent, with author's signed presentation ink note on front fly leaf, dated at Christmas 1904 (offset on title from ink inscription).

     First edition, with all photographic images mounted.A second edition had a new setting of type, and the black and white images were printed as half-tones in the text with line borders. Eberstadt 136:667d: “Printed in a few copies ‘for private circulation only.’ An interesting journal of the Yellowstone Country, and because of the circumstances of its printing, extremely difficult to come by.” Harrell, William Henry Jackson: An Annotated Bibliography, 1862-1955, p. 43: “An unusual book documenting Schmidt's trip through the Yellowstone region, with a series of mounted photochroms from the Detroit Photography Company... Despite the title, the book was broadly disseminated, as there are copies dated 1902, 1904, 1906, and 1912.” (Apparently Harrell was unaware of the two issues; OCLC lists editions from 1901-1904, but none of the editions have a date printed on the title; many of the listings cited are the microfilm or ebook formats.) Howes S170. Streeter Sale 4123. Taylor, Traveling thru Wonderland: Explorers, Tourists, & Wanderers in Yellowstone National Park: A Potpourri of Travel Literature from the Larsen Yellowstone Collection, pp. 40-41.

     The book is an idiosyncratic example of bookmaking, not only because of its unusual illustrative matter, but also because of the author’s selection of old English type and the binding created in the author’s own tannery. The black and white photographs are candid shots taken by the party. The color photographs are after the work of William Henry Jackson (1843-1942), who served as official photographer of the Hayden survey from 1870-1878 and took the first photos of what became Yellowstone Park.

     “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” (Goetzmann, Exploration & Empire, pp. 499-500).

     Leaving Chicago on August 31, 1901, in the company of three other people (his daughter Emma, friend Frank Pingree, and the latter’s son Everett), Carl Ernest Schmidt (1856-1934) embarked on a trip inspired by a painting of Yellowstone geysers he saw while waiting in a dining room for his omelet to be served. After describing his train trip West, which included a few humorous detours, Schmidt and his party spent several weeks in Yellowstone enjoying the sites and having various adventures and misadventures, most of which Schmidt describes in a jocular, even-handed manner. Some of the incidents seem to be reflective of the author’s own amused awareness of his greenhorn-tourist status. At one point, a trip from the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel is preceded by Schmidt’s elaborate order to the kitchen for lunch, which included an extra two-dollar bill to ensure service. However, when the lunch was opened the next day, it turned out to be nothing but ruined scraps. He also describes a somewhat successful fishing trip in which several trout were caught. However, upon arriving at the hotel and handing over the fish to the cook with instructions for preparation, the fish were ruined because they were fried in “wagon-grease butter.”

     The journal concludes with a visit and descent into a mine near Butte, Montana. Schmidt remarks: “Here comes our party and with them the mine boss, Capt. Sammie. He looks like a highwayman, but we find out later he is a Baptist deacon and plays the organ up at the big camp tent” (p. 85). The trip to the mine also includes a recounting of a shoot-out that occurred a few months before their arrival. On the return trip to Chicago, the party stopped briefly in Salt Lake City. For more on Detroit entrepreneur Schmidt, see The Book of Detroiters: A Biographical Dictionary.... (Chicago: A. N. Marquis & Company, 1914), p. 198.


Sold. Hammer: $1,800.00; Price Realized: $2,205.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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