BENTLEY, WILSON. 1865-1931.
Collection of 98 photomicrographs of snowflakes, 4 x 3 inches, 1890s-1920s, including a few of dew and frost crystals as well as a portrait of the photographer at work, curling at edges, roughly half of the prints faded, housed in enveloped labeled "from Bentley's negatives."
A LARGE COLLECTION OF WILSON'S MAGNIFICENT SNOWFLAKE PHOTOGRAPHS. Working from his family farm in Jericho, Vermont with a bellows camera adapted to a microscope, in 1885 Wilson became the first person to photograph a single snowflake. Over the next four decades, Wilson would produce over 5000 images of snowflakes, publishing his results in Popular Scientific Monthly, Scientific American, National Geographic and other scientific journals of the day. It is to his work that we owe the bit of popular knowledge that no two snowflakes are alike.
Bentley's work was gathered together at the end of his life in Snow Crystals (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1931); W.J. Humphreys writes in the introduction, "[Bentley's] careful search of snow after snow, winter after winter, for nearly half a century among the northernmost of the New England mountains has revealed not just a few crystal varieties, but many hundreds of forms, all based on a common hexagonal pattern ... Not only did he find this great multiplicity of kinds, but also he skillfully obtained beautiful microphotographs of them, and thereby made it possible for others to share at leisure, and by the comfortable fireside, the joys that hour after hour bound him to his microscope and his camera in an ice-cold shed."