Mark's Studio Equipment of 1850's vintage, used by L. W. F. Mark of New Hampshire U.S.A.

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Lot 81*
Mark's Studio Equipment

Sold for £ 13,512 (US$ 19,084) inc. premium

Mark's Studio Equipment of 1850's vintage.

Mark's Studio Equipment
Of 1850's vintage, used by L. W. F. Mark of New Hampshire U.S.A. comprising two rare Daguerreotype cameras, early 1850's by John Roberts, Boston, with rear sliding box focusing controlled by a screw over the lens. Two positions in the body for the slide to accommodate different focusing and lenses, both cameras with focusing screens and brass lens caps, the half plate camera having a Homes, Booth & Hydens New York Lens No. 2553, five plate holders converted for wet plate use (except one, home made, containing a distressed silvered plate) for plates 5 1/2 x 4 1/4 inches (14 x 11cm) to 2 1/2 x 2 inches (6.5 x 5cm), and the quarter plate camera (some refinishing to exterior) having a label inside the rear lid "John Roberts Boston", a Palmer & Longking lens with pinion focusing, three plate holders similar to above with internal reducing frames to 2 1/2 x 2 inches (6.5 x 5cm) and 3 1/4 x 2 3/4 inch (8.3 x 7cm) formats, a mid 19th century American camera stand having affixed label "L. W. F. Mark" with turned wood legs, centre column adjustment using a wood clamp screw and tilting platform with wood tilting screw. The platform of the early type having raised edges to retain the camera instead of the later hole for a tripod screw. Ht. 84 -138.5cm (33-54.5 inch) a sitters head clamp, iron with adjustable height and head clamp angle, cast iron replica base (see notes below), height variable 38- 63 inch (97-160cm). Thirty seven original hand bills with a woodcut representing Mark at work and announcing his visiting studio with space for the venue to be entered, a carte de visite by J. A. French of Keene marked "L. W. Mark" and (later) with his full name, a small salt print apparently Mark, four cased ninth plate ambrotypes, two quarter plate and one 4 x 5 inch, a ninth plate union case "chess players", various cases, Gutta Percha Tray (af) masks, glass and Daguerreotype plates and sundries together with one ninth plate cased Daguerreotype apparently found separately from the studio collection with "L. W. F. Mark" added on the rear of the plate on surgical tape. With a domed, leather covered chest used to store the cameras.

Documents supporting the provenance include: a copy of a letter dated Nov 20 1859 written by Mark when he joined Heywards Daguerreian Rooms at Boston, a letter from Lois Wright, Mark's niece, copies of articles by David Proper of the Historical Society of Cheshire County New Hampshire describing the collection on exhibition at The Colony House Museum and various copied items obtained by Paul Tobias.

Note: Luther William Francis Mark born in Gilsum New Hampshire on Sept 15 1834 was newly arrived at Heywoods Daguerreian Rooms at 22 Washington Street Boston on Nov 20th 1859 when he wrote a letter to an unknown person giving an account of his photographic activities, lodgings and other details.

Later Mark set up as a travelling photographer, but only apparently for about four years before becoming a merchant in Gilsum serving as town clerk for nearly 20 years, sometimes also as postmaster and justice of the peace.

It is not known if Mark practised photography before 1859 and no Daguerreotypes from him are extant so it seems likely that he bought the early 1850's Roberts Daguerreotype cameras second hand, perhaps from Heywards, and used them mainly for making Ambrotypes. Mark died on Sept 15 1897.

The collection was owned by Mark's family till 1988, passing eventually in recent years to the Tobias Collection. The cast tri-footed base to the head clamp was lost in transit to Paul Tobias and has been replaced by an excellent replica.

See illustration - front cover
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