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The Birth of a Century

Hughes, Jim

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ISBN 10: 1850436460 / ISBN 13: 9781850436461
Published by Tauris Parke Books, London, 1994
Condition: Very Good Hardcover
From Brigantine Books (Southold, NY, U.S.A.)

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Light edge wear and rubbing to dust jacket, book in very good condition 221 pages, photographs by William Henry Jackson. Bookseller Inventory # 000311

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Birth of a Century

Publisher: Tauris Parke Books, London

Publication Date: 1994

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Very Good

Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good

Edition: First american edtion

About this title


In 1897, the American photographer and adventurer William Henry Jackson, after having spent three decades documenting the development of the North American frontier, sold his archive of photographic negatives, to the Detroit Photographic Company, which he also joined as a partner. The Detroit firm had recently licensed Photochrom, a secret Swiss process for turning black-and-white photographs into colour. Completely distinct from today's four colour halftone-screen reproduction, Photochrom involved the use of a dozen or more asphalt-coated lithographic stones; it was a labour intensive process whose results could be superior to original colour prints using modern materials. W.H. Jackson devoted his next, and last, five years of active photography to Photochrom. He travelled the length and breadth of North America, often in a specially equipped railroad car, in search of images that might tell the story of the end of one epoch and the dawning of another.

From the Back Cover:

The final decades of the nineteenth century and the birth of the twentieth in America are illustrated as never before in this book of unique color images that actually predate the invention of color photography. The secret process which produced them combines the delicacy of watercolors with the look and feel of modern color photographs. The pictures are largely the work of the legendary William Henry Jackson, the pioneer photographer who explored the frontiers of the old American west with huge wet-plate cameras and a portable darktent strapped to the back of his trusty mule. Jackson's name is synonymous with high adventure, and Jim Hughes' richly detailed introduction tells a gripping story. Jackson was born in 1843 in New York, and by the 1860s he was on his first trip west, working as a bullwhacker on a wagon train when the nation's unfinished rail lines would take him no further. Finally, on the edge of the western frontier, he began photographing the wild and often spectacularly beautiful landscape of a wilderness soon to be forced into submission by the advancing railroads. Over the next three decades Jackson became the most celebrated of a small and hardy band of pioneer photographers, creating a striking photographic record of the rapidly changing face of America. When his photographs of Yellowstone were credited with helping to persuade Congress to make the region the first National Park, his place in history was secure. From the Rockies to California, from the Great Lakes to the deep South, from teeming New York City to forested New Hampshire these photographs capture both urban and rural landscapes to provide a unique picture of the social and physical evolution of theUnited States. The book is arranged as a visual tour of the country, and is written with fascinating insights into America's places and politics at the turn of the century. In 1897 Jackson sold the bulk of his enormous archive of photographs to the Detroit Photographic Company, which he joined as a partner. The firm had recently licensed Photochrom, a secret Swiss process for turning black-and-white photographs into color. Completely distinct from today's four-color reproduction, Photochrom is a continuous-tone color rendition of a black-and-white photograph that uses multiple impressions from lithographic stones. The color produced was astonishingly naturalistic, and it was to this process that Jackson devoted his final years of active photography. Gone now was the mule, as he traveled North America in a specially equipped railroad car in search of images to tell the story of the closing of one epoch and the dawning of another. William Henry Jackson died in 1942 after a lifetime that spanned almost the entire history of photography. In recent years, thousands of never distributed Photochrom prints were discovered in a Montana warehouse. This book offers an ample selection of the finest, all published for the first time.

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