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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I'm glad they were able to help!  That's great news even though there are still some mysteries.  As to how Shindler got the images, I can offer two reasonably good suggestions.  When DeLancey Gill rehoused the glass plate negatives in the early 1900s, he noted on the neg. jackets when something came from Blackmore.  In this case he noted Blackmore but questioned.  He may have done this because either there was no original jacket or else it no longer existed, but he suspected Blackmore had collected the image.  As the original is not in the Blackmore collection in the British Museum, he may have been correct to question the attribution.  The second possibility, more a probability, is that somehow the image came to the Smithsonian because it was known images of Native Americans was of interest.  Perhaps somewhere in all of the early correspondence there might be a letter donating it.  If I find time I will search under some obvious names, but don't have a lot of hope as susect they either came through a curator or someone in the survey, or else was donated in person.  In any case, there doesn't have to be a trail, so the mystery still stands.  

 

Apologies for the tardy response.

There are a number of possibilities as to what sparked William Blackmore's interest in North American Natives.  I think the most likely is to be found in George Catlin's ventures in London and around the UK.  Another influence could have been some contemporary novels.  The North American connections with Liverpool where Blackmore was based from the late 1840s could be another factor.

The quest continues.

Regards

Anthony



Kevin J. McCann said:


 

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

Thanks for reply.

The search for the Talkhouse image has continued with some interesting results which I would hope to post at later date. I am hoping to clear some time next week to read your book. I doubt there are any answers but when you realize and,  as it seems mostly by happenstance, what Smithson and Blackmore contributed to the world it is quite amazing...the Smithsonian Institution and the Shindler Catalogue!

More to come.

Kevin



Anthony Hamber said:

Apologies for the tardy response.

There are a number of possibilities as to what sparked William Blackmore's interest in North American Natives.  I think the most likely is to be found in George Catlin's ventures in London and around the UK.  Another influence could have been some contemporary novels.  The North American connections with Liverpool where Blackmore was based from the late 1840s could be another factor.

The quest continues.

Regards

Anthony



Kevin J. McCann said:


 

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 Anthony….

I want to thank you for writing Collecting the American West and bringing Blackmore’s legacy to the public. It would be pages of speculation to imagine “what if” his financial world was more successful. For me, the simple curiosity of who really took the Talkhouse photo and how it got into the Shindler catalogue has been educational and enlightening. Your book is a wonderful follow up on Paula Flemings book making me realize how interesting the Talkhouse image is because it appears it was the only east coast Indian leader in the collection.

I have been doing some email trying to locate an original print and/or glass plate. There is more to do but there is a possibility of an original print in New York.

I very much relate to your opening paragraph in the Preface. In the early 1970’s I started a number of historical photo research projects and through life’s fortunate and unfortunate happenstances I continue with them to this day and they only become more interesting.  However, the Tooker project is on the “finish” list.

I appreciate the inclusion of the many photographs which clearly help to tell the story. Such as the photos of the Blackmore Museum and most memorable is the one of Blackmore dressed as Sioux Chief (p.187). I like the story on P.66 of Blackmore cooking the fish in the boiling water without taking fish off the hook! One can see his personality and understand why he later on led a “bohemian “life.

One of my other projects started in the 1970’s is man’s relationship with the Broadbill Swordfish back to antiquity. The story starts in Greece and a key aspect of the story is harpooning swordfish by the coastal indigenous cultures. The photo on P.197 creates much interest and will follow up at the Salisbury.

A book that you may enjoy about the development of the American West is Fur, Fortune and Empire by Dr. Eric Jay Dolin.

Best…

 

Kevin



Kevin J. McCann said:

Thanks for reply.

The search for the Talkhouse image has continued with some interesting results which I would hope to post at later date. I am hoping to clear some time next week to read your book. I doubt there are any answers but when you realize and,  as it seems mostly by happenstance, what Smithson and Blackmore contributed to the world it is quite amazing...the Smithsonian Institution and the Shindler Catalogue!

More to come.

Kevin



Anthony Hamber said:

Apologies for the tardy response.

There are a number of possibilities as to what sparked William Blackmore's interest in North American Natives.  I think the most likely is to be found in George Catlin's ventures in London and around the UK.  Another influence could have been some contemporary novels.  The North American connections with Liverpool where Blackmore was based from the late 1840s could be another factor.

The quest continues.

Regards

Anthony



Kevin J. McCann said:


 

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 - Sorry I haven't been able to get to the Smithsonian as quickly as I had hoped.  MANY snow storms plus travel

to UK to lecture have gotten in the way.  After one more bit of travel I shall be able to go and do the research we

discussed.  Thanks for your patience.  Best wishes, paula

 

Hi Paula….

 

Good to hear from. Everyone I am in contact with from back east has had it with the horrible weather. I remember it well. When we left NYC in 1980 on April 10th headed to California it was during a freezing snow storm.

I have been in touch with Cornell for a few years as they have some of the Tooker Collection Papers. As you may know much of the Native American collection that was in the Huntington Library was sold in 2004. I have requested an interlibrary loan to look at (microfilm) dairies, memos, manuscripts, and letters and will check for any Talkhouse photo reference. I’ve checked some of the larger libraries with no success and am also checking some resources back in Sag Harbor that I should hear from next week.

Good luck at SI. I’ll keep in touch.

Best…

Kevin

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