British photographic history

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William Henry Blackmore Collection--looking for original native American indian print 1867

Greetings from Northern California…

 

I came across your blog while researching William Henry Blackmore’s photograph

collection for a photograph taken circa 1867 in Sag Harbor, New York supposedly by photographer

J. Warner.The photograph is of Stephen Pharaoh a well-known Montaukette Indian also known as

Stephen Talkhouse.The British angle to the story involved William Henry Blackmore, the British f

financier who voraciously collected and commissioned native American Indian photographic

images during that period. A painter/photographer named  Antonio Zeno Shindler was hired

by Blackmore to photo copy the extensive Blackmore Collection primarily for the Smithsonian

Institution before being shipped to England for his museum in Salisbury (1867-1870). Blackmore

wanted the images photocopied so that the originals could kept in museums for safe keeping

so that students and scholars could study them. The Smithsonian does not have the original

but has the photocopied print by Shindler copied in 1868. If Shindler copied original it could

be possible the original print is in England. Any leads would be grateful.

 

 

A second reason to submit a post to this blog are the photographs of William Wallace Tooker (1847-

1917) of Sag Harbor, New York.(See who Tooker was at www.tookerphotocollection.com). Although

Tooker was of British ancestry the interesting British component is the collection of windmill

photographs reflecting British millwrighting technology in eastern Long Island, New York dating as

early as 1795. The most famous being the Beebe Windmill built in 1820 which has recently been

preserved.

Images of  Stephen Talkhouse and windmills can be seen on website www.tookerphotocollection.com

Best Regards,

 

Kevin J. McCann

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Dear Kevin

I am the author of a study on William Blackmore published in 2010. Collecting the American West: the Rise and Fall of William Blackmore,  http://www.amazon.com/Collecting-American-West-Anthony-Hamber/dp/19...

Have you looked online at the British Museum website?  All of Blackmore's photographs were transfered there from Salisbury in the 1930s and have been digitised and are online at http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/search.aspx...

Regards

Dr. Anthony Hamber



Anthony Hamber said:

Dear Kevin

I am the author of a study on William Blackmore published in 2010. Collecting the American West: the Rise and Fall of William Blackmore,  http://www.amazon.com/Collecting-American-West-Anthony-Hamber/dp/19...

Have you looked online at the British Museum website?  All of Blackmore's photographs were transfered there from Salisbury in the 1930s and have been digitised and are online at http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/search.aspx...

Regards

Dr. Anthony Hamber

Dr. Hamber....

 

Thank you for your response. I did post a reply on 12/9 but apparently was not posted. My apologies. Yes, I have searched the British Museum but the image was not there. Will be ordering your book from Amazon. Many thanks.

 

Best...Kevin J. McCann
 
Anthony Hamber said:

Dear Kevin

I am the author of a study on William Blackmore published in 2010. Collecting the American West: the Rise and Fall of William Blackmore,  http://www.amazon.com/Collecting-American-West-Anthony-Hamber/dp/19...

Have you looked online at the British Museum website?  All of Blackmore's photographs were transfered there from Salisbury in the 1930s and have been digitised and are online at http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/search.aspx...

Regards

Dr. Anthony Hamber

Hi - I am the (retired) Photo Archivist of the Smithsonian's National Anthropological Archives and

and author of the book, "North American Indian Photographs at the Smithsonian:  The

Shindler Catalogue."  As such I spent years researching Blackmore, tracking original images

that did not remain at the museum, and generally researching photographers of 19th c.

native Americans.  Perhaps your information came from my book?  Regardless, I want

to confirm that I do not have any additional information or leads, but you may very well be

correct that originals may still exist in the UK.  The SI-NAA does have Shindler's vintage prints

of both Pharoahs, which he curiously copyrighted!  I will check other repositories at the SI

for Tooker information and images that may have surfaced after my work.  Good luck with

your research.  Please let me know if you have any questions that I might not have covered

in my various publications.  Best wishes, Paula Richardson Fleming

Hi Kevin

Hope you find the image you are looking for.  I'd be grateful to know if and when you do,

Regards

Anthony


 

Hi Paula…Many appreciations for your reply and information. I am aware of your position at NAA and your book. Thanks for all your great work. Today I was sitting at my computer finalizing notes about the Stephen Talkhouse photo for a proposed article (to be written by others) when your email arrived. Surprisingly, the reference document I was referring to is a photo copy of the Talkouse photo image with handwritten notes on a 4” x 8” piece of paper. The top reads “Photograph of Stephen  “Talkouse” Pharaoh and Sylvester…1867…information from Paula Fleming of National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution as told to (person’s name and phone withheld).” The note continue with  information about Latham commissioning the photo and, that is was submitted to Long Island Historical Society and, the Smithsonian where it was copied by Antonio Zeno Shindler in 1868 and was in his private exhibit. It ends with indicating in 1874 Wm. Henry Jackson went through plates and made copies etching 838 –A for Stephen and 838-B for Sylvester. The Smithsonian has them as Stephen 418 and Sylvester -417. The note is undated and I’ve had this in my file for many years. I know of the unnamed person and that she was very active in historic research on the east end. They say there’s no such thing as a coincidence!!

I do have some questions on the Talkouse image but they are not critical for any research I need on Tooker or other photo research projects involving Montauk. As part of my efforts to respond to 175th anniversary of photography I am “looking back” at some historic images I’ve collected over the years or important images relative to other photo projects. The Talkhouse image is one of them and it would be wonderful if the original was discovered. The proposed article’s working title is The Possible Origins of the Stephen Talkhouse Portrait Photograph of 1867.  I am offering a possible explanation other that the photo was part of a local enterprise or activity but that it was taken as a result of Blackmore’s campaign to gather a vast collection of the Native American Indian. Talkhouse was a prominent and striking figure on the east end and a Civil War veteran so he would be good candidate for Blackmore’s collection.

I live in northern California but was raised and lived in Montauk for 35 years and continue working on projects I started many years ago. I am researching the Talkhouse image because of the research itch that plaques many of us. I grew up with the Talkhouse image and legends of the Montauk Indians. As my interest in photography and life evolved it was only natural to look at history.  To make the story short, in 1976 I was able to purchase the William Wallace Tooker (1847-1917) photo collection (circa 1880-1900). See www.tookerphotocollection.com. Tooker was ingrained with the Montauks from a very early age and we know via his Indian artifacts catalogue from 1903 Talkhouse gave him an arrowhead in 1865 when Tooker would be 18 and Talkhouse 44. Tooker is well known for his 1911 book Indian Place Names of Long Island and to study Tooker one needs to understand the Montauks history.

A few questions or points to ponder:

The photo was taken in Sag Harbor in August 1867 and copied by Shindler in Washington, DC. Did he copy at Addis Gallery where he worked in 1868? or at SI.  When and how many prints did Blackmore and Smithsonian receive? It is also referenced that the photo was submitted to Long Island Historical Society probably in late 1867. The LIHS was established in 1863 under a charter form the New England Historical Society and was located in Brooklyn, NY. In 1985 it became the Brooklyn Historical Society.

How many prints did J. Warner make? Where is the original glass plate? Did Shindler photo copy first generation prints or make contact prints from glass plate? How many prints would Shindler have made? SI-NAA has Shindler’s prints but the glass plate and other prints could be in England but where. It’s not on-line at British Museum. What happened to photo collections when Blackmore’s Museum was divided up? Maybe it’s at Brooklyn HS or up in New England.

I haven’t found it on line at University of Iowa or part of Jackson’s 1877 catalogue but I do not clearance for special collections. It’s not like I don’t anything else to do (ha) but the search will continue.

Again, many thanks.

Best….Kevin


 

Hi Dr. Hamber…

Thanks for the encouragement and I will let you if anything develops. Please see my reply post to Paula Fleming.

I do have a question. Why was Blackmore so fascinated with the Native America Indian and the American West? Did the Lewis and Clark Expedition have influence on him?

Did the fact that the original funding for the Smithsonian was from British  philanthropist  James Smithson? It’s referenced that “The visual documentation of Native American cultures became a focus of the Smithsonian Institution from within a few years of its founding in 1846.” Did that influence him?

Thanks.

Best…

Kevin

Hi Kevin - Nothing like coincidence!  Glad I happened upon this posting when I did.  I wish I knew exactly where Shindler was when he copied the negs. Blackmore loaned the museum.  "His" exhibit at the Smithsonian actually opens in 1869, but he's working in direct connection with them certainly by 1867.  If I had to make an educated guess, I'd say he was then at the Smithsonian because of the show, the exhibit catalog, and B'more's program to gather images for the Smithsonian.  Still the Addis gallery was only about a block away, so he could have been working at both locations. 

   As for how many prints - I suspect only one, i.e. the original print Blackmore loaned.  After that the SI had a copy glass neg. and made their own prints. (We continued to print from the orig./copy glass plates until well into the 1980s or even 90s!)  Most of the originals went back to Blackmore (absent, however, the daguerreotypes and a few stray images such as these two, that we haven't yet tracked).  Backing up a bit - other then the delegation negs. made in DC (and apparently never leaving the city although that is hinted at in some of B'more's lists), Blackmore appears to have collected only orig. dags. or prints.  He wanted to collect everything he could, including drawings and even photos of skeletal remains (also still at the museum). It is possible in his quest he may have had to resort to a copy print, but we can only prove or disprove that by seeing what is now in the Br. Mus.  Alas that doesn't help with these. I don't know how many prints Warner made.  The Blackmore Museum had an album of ethnographic photos (I can check to see if these images were there), but other then items that may have gotten lost or dispersed in the 19th c., the museum's collections went to the British Museum.  I think you may be right in checking Brooklyn Hist. Soc. for Warner's negs.    

   As for why Blackmore was fascinated with the American West -- I think he just loved it.  Think of all the people who immigrated during that exciting time of expansion and "exotic" cultures.  He may have been influenced by Smithson, although I don't think he was the driving force.  We do know he was influenced by photographic/cultural publications like Forbes-Watson's "Peoples of India."  People like Hayden of the survey and Baird of the SI provided him with the means and a focus for his philanthropic goals.  He may have addressed his reasons for appreciating the American West in his correspondence.  It's been years since I've read his correspondence with the US govt. and the SI, but I'll see if those letters provide any clues.

  I'll get back to you if I find other traces of original prints of the Pharoahs.  Happy to be in correspondence.

 


 Paula...

Thanks so much for your interest and input. I do have a query into BHS and will follow up New England HS. It could be possible that a print or glass plate has been in a file in some storage area for many years. The Tooker Photo Collection glass plates, other than being opened for making a few prints for an article publication, were in a cardboard box in a closet for 60 years. You'll be glad to know I have them properly conserved. Again, thanks for a wonderful discussion and there’s always more curious questions. I will keep you informed on Tooker project development.

 

Excellent on all counts!  It could well be that the negs. are in storage somewhere and unidentified.  Good luck!  pf

Kevin J. McCann said:


 Paula...

Thanks so much for your interest and input. I do have a query into BHS and will follow up New England HS. It could be possible that a print or glass plate has been in a file in some storage area for many years. The Tooker Photo Collection glass plates, other than being opened for making a few prints for an article publication, were in a cardboard box in a closet for 60 years. You'll be glad to know I have them properly conserved. Again, thanks for a wonderful discussion and there’s always more curious questions. I will keep you informed on Tooker project development.

 

Dear Kevin,

Just wanted to let you know that I found an example of this image in Cyanotype printed on cloth!

It is now at the Archive of Modern Conflict (Toronto branch) and can by accessed through them.

Let me know if any further assistance at rarephotogallery.com

Neil David MacDonald

Toronto

Hi Neil...

 

Many thanks for thinking of the Talkhouse photo. Although I am appreciative of the many photographs of Native Americans my specific interest is relative to the area of Montauk, New York which is the last bit of land on Long Island.  The “Montauks” were and remain a well-known presence in the area with a long respected history. The Talkhouse image of 1867 is one of the, if not the first, photograph representing the transformation from an indigenous culture as is transitioned into a European influenced society know as America. The Talkhouse image and one of his father can be “ Googled” or at www.tookerphotocollection.com and in Paula Flemings book Native American Photography at the Smithsonian, PP.181-182. The photograph from the Smithsonian fulfills my needs however, there’s nothing better to see the original print and glass plate. Tooker also experimented with cyanotypes on cloth in the 1890’s.

 

Again thanks.

 



Rare Photo Gallery N MacDonald said:

Dear Kevin,

Just wanted to let you know that I found an example of this image in Cyanotype printed on cloth!

It is now at the Archive of Modern Conflict (Toronto branch) and can by accessed through them.

Let me know if any further assistance at rarephotogallery.com

Neil David MacDonald

Toronto

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