WATKINS, Carleton (1829-1916). "Arizona & California Illustrated." [San Francisco], ca 1870s.
Oblong 2o (365 x 548 mm). Two calligraphic title leaves in gold for each section (Arizona and California), 529 mounted albumen photographs on 25 mounts, comprising: ARIZONA: 4 large-format (each approximately 200 x 250 mm), 9 medium-format (each approximately 200 x 122 mm) and 300 small-format (each approximately 85 x 80 mm); CALIFORNIA: 216 small-format (each approximately 85 x 80 mm). (Some oxidation and fading, some spotting.) Manuscript identifications in pencil of subjects on 19 sheets laid in (11 for Arizona and 8 for California, comprising nearly all of the included subjects except those on the first 6 mounts and the final mount). Contemporary half morocco, gilt-lettered morocco lettering-piece on front cover (dampstained and buckled). Provenance: Col. Augustus G. Tassin (d. 1893), appointed Colonel of the 35th Indiana in February 1865 and Captain of the 12th Infantry in July 1866 (gilt-lettered moroco label on front cover).
AN INCREDIBLY RICH AND DETAILED COLLECTION OF WATKINS'S CELEBRATED PHOTOGRAPHS OF ARIZONA AND CALIFORNIA, including ethnographic portraits, topographic and city views, botanical subjects, settler's homesteads, military posts and forts, railroads. Among the subjects (identified on the manuscripts slips laid in) are:
ARIZONA (in order of appearance): the Colorado River; the water works at Fort Mohave; steamboats and ferryboats; a settler on the Gila; the San Carlos Indian Reservation; a prospector's group ready to embark; the Black River; Chief Chiquito and his family, a squaw making bread; a mask of the Yagui Indians; Camp Thomas; Major Arnold and his family; Cashete (Apache scout); butchering beef on a reservation; views in TUCSON (18, including the Cosmopolitan Hotel); PHOENIX (called "Phenise", including the mill); saw mills near Prescott; Silver King city, mill and mine; Montezuma's Well; Fort Apache; Fort Whipple; Bradshaw's Basin; Aztec ruins; railroads; Apache scouts.
CALIFORNIA (in order of appearance): "Wheeler's part of U.S. Engineer's exploring the U.S. Domain West of the 100th Meridian"; YOSEMITE (58 images), including lower Yosemite Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Vernal Falls, Sentinel Rock, Half Dome, North Dome, El Capitan, Agassiz Rock, Glacier Point; San Diego Mission; San Antonio Mission; LOS ANGELES AND ENVIRONS (approximately 30 images), including the Public School, surf in Santa Monica, palm trees in southern California, an orange grove near San Gabriel, Sierra Madre Hotel; the St. Charles Hotel, the horse racing track, the "wine house" in San Gabriel, the Santa Monica Depot in Los Angeles, the hotel at Santa Monica; San Luis Obispo; SANTA BARBARA, including the mission; Donner Pass; freight Depot at Reno, Nevada; the American River; Emigrant Gap; American Peak; Palace and Grand Hotel; SAN FRANCISCO AND ENVIRONS, including the Cliff House restaurant; residence of Mark Hopkins of the California Rail Road, Palace Hotel, view from Gov. Stanford's residence, Southern Pacific Rail Road, the Safe Deposit Building, Selby Smelting Works, Market and Port Streets, view from Russian Hill, interior of a Chinese restaurant, residence of Ralston Belmont, view of Montgomery Street from Sutter Street, residence of Charles Crocker, a Victoria regia at Golden Gate Park, the U.S. Mint; NEVADA, with views of Virginia City, Silver City, "First Construction train passing the Palisades"; the Redwood Forest and environs, and a view near the end of six people at the Big Grape Vine, near Santa Barbara.
The photographs of Yosemite are among the earliest recorded (J.M. Hutchings, in the December 1859 issue of his California Magazine, recorded the first, taken by C.L. Wee in 1857) and are the first substantial record of the area. Of considerable importance is the series of 30 images of Los Angeles and its environs at the beginning of its urban development. Following the breakup of the large ranchos in the 1860s, what we now know as metropolitan Los Angeles began to develop. In the 1870s and 80s construction of the transcontinental railroads placed Los Angeles within the reach of settlers. The boom in agriculture, railroads and urban development is seen in Watkins's photographs, with street scenes viewed beside ocean views and images of the developing landscape.
Watkins was born in Oneonta, New York in 1829 and was lured to the West in 1851 to follow the opportunities of the California Gold Rush. He met fellow Oneontan Collis Huntington, later to be one of the "Big Four" owners of the Central Pacific Railroad. For a time, Watkins was employed by Huntington in Sacramento, but by 1854 he had moved to work in George Murray's bookshop in San Francisco. That same year he met the photographer Robert Vance and began working for him and learning basic photographic techniques. In 1861 he traveled to Yosemite with a mammoth plate camera and took the first of his important series of images of the area. The prints helped influence Congress's decision to protect the valley. He began selling stereoviews on glass mounts and on card mounts, and by the 1870s had a well-established studio selling his prints. During the financial crisis of 1875, he lost his negatives to creditor J.J. Cook, after which Watkins was forced to rebuild his inventory of negatives, traveling extensively throughout the West and adding to the locales represented in his body of work. Deteriorating eyesight in the 1890s affected his ability to work and the earthquake of 1906 destroyed both Watkins's studio and negatives.
This album was prepared by or for Col. Augustus G. Tassin, who was born in Leopold, Indiana and served in the Civil War. After the War, he traveled West. He died in 1893 while serving as acting Indian Agent at the Colorado River Agency, Arizona. See Peter Palmquist, Carleton E. Watkins, Photographer of the American West (Albuquerque, 1983), Mead Kibbley, The Railroad Photographs of Alfred A. Hart, Artist (Sacramento: The California State Library Foundation, 1996) and Carleton Watkins: The Art of Perception (New York: Harry Abrams, 1999).