GARDNER, ALEXANDER. 1821-1882. Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War.  Washington: Philip & Solomons, [1865-1866].
Lot 18
GARDNER, ALEXANDER. 1821-1882.
Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War. Washington: Philip & Solomons, [1865-1866].
US$ 120,000 - 180,000
£ 94,000 - 140,000

Lot Details
GARDNER, ALEXANDER. 1821-1882. Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War.  Washington: Philip & Solomons, [1865-1866]. GARDNER, ALEXANDER. 1821-1882. Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War.  Washington: Philip & Solomons, [1865-1866]. GARDNER, ALEXANDER. 1821-1882. Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War.  Washington: Philip & Solomons, [1865-1866]. GARDNER, ALEXANDER. 1821-1882. Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War.  Washington: Philip & Solomons, [1865-1866]. GARDNER, ALEXANDER. 1821-1882. Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War.  Washington: Philip & Solomons, [1865-1866]. GARDNER, ALEXANDER. 1821-1882. Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War.  Washington: Philip & Solomons, [1865-1866]. GARDNER, ALEXANDER. 1821-1882. Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War.  Washington: Philip & Solomons, [1865-1866].
GARDNER, ALEXANDER. 1821-1882.
Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War. Washington: Philip & Solomons, [1865-1866].
2 volumes. Oblong folio (302 x 400 mm). Lithographic pictorial title-pages designed by Alfred R. Waud, preface leaves, contents leaves + 100 albumen photographs (approximately 7 x 9 inches each) on captioned mounts and each preceded by a leaf of letterpress description. Publisher's brown morocco gilt-ruled and -titled, spines in compartments with raised bands, all edges gilt. Some mild discoloration to photograph edges (from adhesive?) and a few very occasional nicks to edges, toning to card mounts apparently from previously laid in tissue guards, occasional dampstaining, particularly to the end of volume one, affecting plates 45-50, and 99-100, but generally isolated to margins, scattered foxing throughoutbinding corners just showing and a little light rubbing to edges, with dampstain to rear cover volume one, and partially to front cover of volume two; a very good copy overall.
Provenance: presentation inscription, "To our dear sister Mary, from Sam and Kate, January 1, 1867."

THE MOST IMPORTANT PHOTOGRAPHIC RECORD OF THE CIVIL WAR AND AMERICA'S FIRST BOOK OF PHOTOGRAPHS. In Gardner's own words: "In presenting the Photographic Sketch Book of the War to the attention of the public, it is designed that it shall speak for itself. The omission, therefore, of any remarks by way of preface might well be justified; and yet, perhaps, a few introductory words may not be amiss. / As mementoes of the fearful struggle through which the country has just passed, it is confidently hoped that the following pages will possess an enduring interest. Localities that would scarcely have been known, and probably never remembered, save in the immediate vicinity, have become celebrated, and will ever be held sacred as memorable fields, where thousands of brave men yielded up their lives a willing sacrifice for the cause they had espoused. / Verbal representations of such places, or scenes, may or may not have the merit of accuracy; but photographic presentments of them will be accepted by posterity with an undoubting faith. During the four years of war, almost every point of importance has been photographed, and the collection from which these views have been selected amounts to nearly three thousand" (preface).

Alexander Gardner was a Scottish immigrant and photographer who immigrated to the USA in 1856. During the Civil War, he was initially hired by Allan Pinkerton, the Head of the Union Intelligence Service, to produce photographic reproductions of secret documents. Gardner soon shifted to battlefield photography, and began the photographic project that would become the Sketch Book. Through their work, Gardner and his collaborators captured the violence of the battles with images of their chilling aftermaths, producing perhaps the most gripping and dynamic collection of photographic images of the nineteenth century and a landmark work of photojournalism. These photographs capture scenes from many of the most important battles of the war—Gettysburg, Manassas, Petersburg, Cold Harbor, Appomattox, Fredericksburg, Harper's Ferry, and Antietam—as well as famed individual photographs, including "Home of a Rebel Sharpshooter" and "A Harvest of Death." There has been some controversy on the extent to which Gardner and his assistants staged their photographs (so much for the undoubting posterity), but such treatment of photographic scenes was a common practice during the time.

The Sketch Book was printed in two editions and was originally sold as a set of two volumes for $150. This is the issue with plates numbered and without "Incidents of the War" in the captions. The exorbitant price of the books, which was a result of the project's massive scope and laborious printing process, also doomed Gardner's project to financial failure. It is estimated that somewhat less than 200 copies were ever issued, and currently there exists 51 institutional copies, plus another 23 in private hands; many having been broken up into individual photographs. Howes G64; Mellby, "Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the War," in Princeton University Library Chronicle, Winter 2006, pp 435-4; Rosenheim, Photography and the American Civil War 2013, ch 7; Sabin 26635; Truthful Lens 68.

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