Information and discussion on all aspects of British photographic history
Rolf S. Schultze was the honorary librarian for the Royal Photographic Society in London and in the '60s he published a few short articles and an exhibition catalogue on photographically illustrated books. At the time he estimated (based on his collection of 400 books) that there were probably 1,000 books printed with original photographs between 1844-1890 in Britain and beyond. I'm curious to know if his number holds up given the interest in collecting photographically illustrated books in recent decades, but firstly, I'd like to know what collection he was talking about (his personal collection? that of the Royal Photographic Society?). [I haven't managed to get my hands on the exhibition catalogue yet.] Does anyone know anything more about Schultze's work?
Secondly, along the same lines, I'm looking for the papers of Alfred W. Bennett. There's a small amount of correspondence at the Linnean Society where he was a member, but nothing particular to his photographic publishing business. Steven Joseph mentioned in an brief article comment in 1982 that there were stock catalogues available to consult but I'm having trouble tracking these down.
Many thanks advance,
PhD Candidate Art History, Queen's University
MA Photographic Preservation and Collections Management, Ryerson University/George Eastman House
In addition to being the RPS honorary librarian Dr Rolf Schultz was Kodak Ltd's research librarian and curator of the Kodak Museum in the 1950s and 1960s until Brian Coe took over. it's quite likely her was referring to both the RPS Library, the Kodak Museum collection and his own bibliographical research. The RPS journal has been digitised up to 2012 and is searchable here: www.rps.org/archive and the exhibition should be given some space there.
The RPS Collection and archive is held by the National Media Museum, Bradford, and if a catalogue of the exhibition was produced there should be a copy there.
Let me know if I can assist further.
Dr Michael Pritchard
The total will be dependent on your criteria. To take two examples: whether you include or exclude Woodburytypes as original photographs; or whether you count serial publications separately from books per se. However, given the databases and online catalogues which now constitute vastly more powerful research tools than previous generations of researchers could ever have imagined, I think we are looking at a multiple of Schultze's figure, for Great Britain alone.
I last heard of Schultze's collection nearly thirty years ago, when it was in the possession of his family and inaccessible. Concerning A.W. Bennett's stock catalogues, these can be found bound into copies of some of his imprints issued in publisher's cloth. For instance Flemish Relics (1866) contains a four-page catalogue of 'A.W. Bennett's Photographic Gift Books'.
Steven F. Joseph,
The obituary for Dr Schultz in the RPS Journal (December 1967) See link here: http://archive.rps.org/archive/volume-107/86803#prettyPhoto/0/ adds some further references to the exhibition that might be followed through.
As Steven Joseph has pointed out in an earlier post, the definition of criteria is key.
At the time Schultze was researching and publishing, the focus was primarily on Albumen prints acting as “book illustration”. Schultze’s estimates on the number of “photographically illustrated books” was based on triangulating between his own collection, which includes items previously unrecorded by photographic historians, the Kodak Collection, the Royal Photographic Society collection and his own research. However, by today’s standards, Schultze and his successors had comparatively few tools to exploit to create a view of the scale and scope of photographic illustration.
I have previously published a proposed view of how to articulate the form of “photographically illustrated publications” and provided a brief overview of the historiography of this sub-discipline of 19th century photographic studies. (see Hamber, “Facsimile, Scholarship and Commerce: Aspects of the photographically Illustrated Art Book (1839-1880)” in Stephen Bann (ed.) “Art and the Early Photographic Album,”(Yale University Press, 2011). This includes an evaluation of how scholars have estimated the number of photographically illustrated “books”.
For a number of years I have been compiling a database, a bibliography of photographically illustrated publications. The period covered is 1839-1880. Taking Frank Heidtmann’s approach (see Heidtmann “Wie Das Photo Ins Buch kam” (1984), I have included all photographic (Albumen and Salt paper), “permanent” photographic (Carbon print) and photomechanical processes.
Together with Steven Joseph, one of my key “co-workers” in designing and building the aforementioned bibliographic database, the current estimates for the number of nineteenth-century published titles with photographic or photomechanical illustrations are reaching around the 20,000 title mark, thereby underlining its actual position as a significant, rich and diverse component of nineteenth-century publishing. As a note, my database has almost 3,000 titles published in the UK before 1880. The figure of 20,000 titles is based on a combination of specialist bibliographies, the estimates of a number of scholars, statistical analysis related to Photographically-Illustrated Publications as a percentage of the annual total of books published by an individual country and the author’s ongoing research.
I have copies of a number of Schultze’s publications and would be happy to share these if you contact me directly.
Thank you everyone, this is excellent information!
I'd like to address Dr. Hamber and Dr. Joseph's comments together about creating clear parameters around what is meant by "photographic illustration" when applied to books. I agree completely that this must be decided upon before counting anything. Schultze's 1,000 book estimate did not include photomechanical illustration, while Naef and Goldschmidt's estimate of 3,000-4,000 books in 1980's The Truthful Lens catalogue did include the likes of woodburtypes and photogravures. Naef and Goldschmidt also carried their estimate around the turn of the 20th century, which could mean that their number agrees with Schultze's. I have seen these two estimates repeated several times in more recent books, but I will have a look at Dr. Hamber's article in Bann's book because I am clearly missing an update!
I would argue that a lack of definition among collecting institutions is precisely what has sent me down this path. I completed a small project for Queen's University last summer to identify photographically illustrated books in the stacks and in doing so, I looked at A LOT of lists from institutions that had made known they collected this type of material. I emailed their reference desks to ask what keywords or search terms would return what they had identified as photographically illustrated. The result of my project was twofold: I discovered that we had more than 100 photographically illustrated books at Queen's, and also that no institution could tell me with any certainty how to retrieve a complete list of those books from their OPACs. Even the British Museum, which has a fabulous database online, returns materials about photography alongside those books that contain photographs in the search results, and they cannot be easily separated with a single keyword or checkbox. To further compound this, collections of "photobooks" (books that exist for the sake of the photographs in them, to borrow a definition from Parr and Badger, but are typically 20th- and 21st- century 'artist's books'), are often collected alongside photographically illustrated books and the two are not necessarily distinguished for the researcher. Dr. Hamber, if you have a database that would make it easier for all libraries to search their own collections and identify this material, you may be able to compound that already-impressive number! Right now, it appears that the best way to find a photographically illustrated book is to already know that it contains photographs.
Many thanks again, I will follow up on this conversation!
Julia Van Haaften faced this question in the 1970s when she worked for the New York Public Library and summarized her quest in From Talbot to Stieglitz: Masterpieces of Early Photography from the New York Public Library. It took a shelf by shelf search to accomplish what she did. Schultze was a very active private collector in addition to his day jobs, and like Gernsheim, his writing was influenced by his own collection. There were many 19th c books with photographic frontispieces (often portraits of the author) that would not normally have drawn the attention of cataloguers. And if you count photomechanical, you get on a slippery slope, for starting in the last quarter of the 19th c right down to the digital age the vast majority of photographs were seen in printers ink, not silver or dyes. Anthony Hamber and Stephen Joseph are your greatest allies in this. Please encourage them! Larry
Thank you for the additional suggestion Dr. Schaaf. I have read Van Haaften's report on "Original Sun Pictures" for the NYPL Bulletin but I will check out her book as well. John Wilson looked at the second-hand market for these books in nineteenth-century London in his PhD thesis and it seems that there weren't many instances of booksellers advertising photographic illustration - so as you say, if cataloguers weren't noting it either in the institutional records or for the buying public, browsing the shelves may have been her best bet!