CHINA: THE CAMERA CRAFT ARCHIVE OF IMAGES OF BEIJING AND NORTHERN CHINA 1910-1929

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Lot 12W
CHINA: THE CAMERA CRAFT ARCHIVE OF IMAGES OF BEIJING AND NORTHERN CHINA
AN EXTENSIVE COLLECTION OF PHOTOGRAPHS, POSTIVES AND NEGATIVES, PANORAMAS, SLIDES AND STEREOGRAPHS, BEIJING, 1910-1929

Sold for US$ 215,000 inc. premium
CHINA: THE CAMERA CRAFT ARCHIVE OF IMAGES OF BEIJING AND NORTHERN CHINA
AN EXTENSIVE COLLECTION OF PHOTOGRAPHS, POSTIVES AND NEGATIVES, PANORAMAS, SLIDES AND STEREOGRAPHS, BEIJING, 1910-1929
The remaining archive of John David Zumbrun (1875-1949), and his business Camera Craft, operating from the Legation District in Beijing 1910-1929. The archive comprising c.3200 individual pieces including:
1. Panoramas.
i) A Panoramic photograph of Beijing, titled "Birds Eye view of Peking," taken from a point 200 yards north of the old Legation Quarter, near present day Wangfujing St, with a 360 degree vista, 7.5 x 70in (19 x 178cm), small clean tear at upper left corner.
ii) 104 reduced sized negatives of panoramic views taken throughout Beijing and northern China, and 4 prints taken from the negatives, all 3.5 x 12in (9 x 30cm). Including a four shot balloon panorama negative of the Legation Quarter, taken from a balloon above American Wireless, 4 of the station area of Peking, 8 of the Great Wall; all contained in their original paper wrappers (album 101, wrappers 103, 104, 105, 106).
iii) 40 small sized negatives of panoramic views of China, each 2.25 x 7in (6 x 18cm), and 14 photographs from the negatives, in their original album (album 111).
2. Stereographs and postcards.
A modern album containing 101 black and white stereograph negatives, each 2.25 x 5in (6 x 13cm), and 106 colored postcards, published by Camera Craft and made in the USA, many duplicates (album 13).
3. Lantern slides.
160 hand-colored photographic lantern slides, each on thick plastic, all with numbers, each 3.5 x 4in (9 x 10cm); and a further 200 black and white photographic slides, on a thick plastic, each 3 x4in (8 x 10cm), considerable duplication in both these sets. Mounted in a modern album (album 11).
4. Large format negatives and positives.
2 modern albums comprising 92 larger format photographs, 9.75 x 7.75in (25 x 20cm); and 63 larger format negatives, mostly 6.25 x 8.25in (16 x 21cm) (albums 8 and 10).
5. Small format negatives.
i) A collection of 221 original negatives in 4 period negative albums, variously sized 3.25 x 4.25in to 4.5 x 6.75in, bindings rubbed (albums 112, 116, 119, 152).
ii) A collection of 1196 original negatives in 6 modern binders, various sizes, some duplicates, and with 103 prints of negatives mounted alongside, various sizes (albums 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 9).
6. Small format prints.
A collection of 834 prints in 3 modern binders, mostly of buildings and rural scenes, some duplication, various sizes (albums 4, 7, 12).

An extraordinary archive of Chinese photography, and probably the last lost archive of early 20th century photography of this region. Although many of the archives of earlier 19th century and pre-war era photographers of China have come to the market in the last 4 decades, many of these have either been broken up or have been sold en bloc to institutional clients.

Although in some respects this is a stock of a commercial photographer, with perhaps 20-25% duplication in the prints and maybe 5% duplication in the negatives, it is also the work of a photographer with an eye for a view, or for a local scene, and who was astute enough to seek out photographic opportunities with the both the high born and the lowly of Chinese society. The general photography of the scenes in Beijing and the country life he saw on his travels outside the city bring to the fore the contrasts of Chinese life. The images include all the obvious tourist sites such as, The Altar of the Earth, Nine Dragon Wall, the Forbidden Temple, the Temple of Heaven, Wuman Gate, the Summer Palace at Yiheyuan, the Ming Tombs, the Walls of Beijing, the Great Wall of China, and the Imperial Art in the Forbidden City (opened to the public in 1924), but also cover political events within the walls of the Legation District, the court of PiYu, and the Coronation ceremony of Yuan Shikai. I suspect the images that were Zumbrun's favorites are of the street and village life, the rustic life in the mountains, rather than the tourist haunts of Beijing. In this archive we have the legacy of an unsung photographer, who captured the china of the early 20th century, and who was fortunate enough to have saved his stock when he left China in 1929.

Footnotes

  • Please note that this lot includes one of the original steamer trunks that John Zumbrun shipped his collection back to San Francisco in 1929.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that this lot includes one of the original steamer trunks that John Zumbrun shipped his collection back to San Francisco in 1929.
Contacts
CHINA: THE CAMERA CRAFT ARCHIVE OF IMAGES OF BEIJING AND NORTHERN CHINA 1910-1929
CHINA: THE CAMERA CRAFT ARCHIVE OF IMAGES OF BEIJING AND NORTHERN CHINA 1910-1929
CHINA: THE CAMERA CRAFT ARCHIVE OF IMAGES OF BEIJING AND NORTHERN CHINA 1910-1929
CHINA: THE CAMERA CRAFT ARCHIVE OF IMAGES OF BEIJING AND NORTHERN CHINA 1910-1929
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