My old book stand is an antique—I inherited
it—but here's something similar.
Our current book sale is ending soon. Sorry, I should set that off for emphasis—
BOOK SALE IS ENDING SOON!
The fire-sale price is only $32.50 for brand new, unread copies of Keith Davis's excellent The Origins of American Photography. It won't be the last opportunity to own the book, but it's probably the last time you'll be able to order a new copy easily, and for so little.
It's not too late. To order, go to this link and then enter the code "12555" at checkout. (Note that the discount doesn't show up until the last screen.)
Get it while you can! (Did I miss my calling as a marketer? My son is just about to graduate from the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh with a degree in marketing, and I'm near to busting with pride that he's accepted a very good job at a very good salary with a major corporation. He's a comer. Raised by hand, he was.)
I think of certain histories as being the foundation of my library. The two-volume set of Keith's An American Century of Photography and the present volume—telling the story of photography in America from its beginnings to approximately the year 2000—is one of those foundation-stones.
Guys with guns
This book covers less time than the other volume, but just as much change. The 19th century in America was tumultuous and fractious. Think about it: this book covers the Civil War, the building of the railroads, waves of immigration, and the exploration of the Wild West.
There's something elemental about the deliberateness of early portraits.
I've noted before that you don't actually have to read books like this to get a lot of out them. This is a large, thick, heavy book, with copious amounts of illustrations, and the repro quality is very good. You can enjoy it just as a picture book, paging slowly through it and savoring its curated collection of hundreds of fine historical images.
I use the word "curated" advisedly—Keith Davis's own origins were as a connoisseur. He was the curator in charge of putting together the Hallmark Collection, one of the major photography collections in America and in the World. (Someday I will get to Kansas City and write up my visit for you.) He has a great eye for photographs, something that can't quite be said for every museum curator out there.
The opening of the West falls within the time period covered
A feature of both books is that the illustrations are not just "the usual suspects." Lots of photography books are put together, let's just say, a little more cynically—the authors are book-aggregators hired by publishers to churn out coffee-table volumes for stocking bookstores. Not so here. Keith deliberately made the decision to mix well-known images with lesser-known ones. As an example, I have a number of volumes in my library about Daguerreotypes (I'm not exactly certain why, except that when you buy books, sometimes you just get started down a particular trail and it becomes self-perpetuating—I have a poet friend who found himself collecting volumes of Dante that way, despite not having a particular interest in Dante. But I digress.) Anyway, I'm familiar with a lot of Daguerreotypes, and this book has a lot of them that I've never seen.
A book for readers as well
I don't mean to short the text! Keith is an excellent writer, and the text is erudite but accessible, meant to be read, and able to be read with pleasure. And this isn't just a picture book with an essay or two at the beginning to underpin the pictures with a little intellectual weight—the text is generous and runs throughout the volume.
A wonderful earlier book is Photography and the American Scene by Robert Taft, reprinted by Dover and available as a free download. These books easily supersede that one, though.
I don't have a very current count, but I believe we've already sold around 300 copies. There should be plenty left, so if you'd like to Tweet this, or mention it on other forums you visit, or put it out there on other photography websites, please do. (For one thing, TOP gets a little cut, and every little cent [the United States doesn't actually have coin called a "penny," did you know that?] will go toward my new computer. I seriously need a new computer...it took fifteen minutes to get this one started this morning, and that handwriting is very much on that wall.)
How to order: go to the book page at the Nelson-Atkins Museum bookstore and then enter the special discount code "12555" at checkout. If you have any problems for any reason, let me know and I'll pass your email along to the bookstore staff, and they can help you.
If you already ordered, shipments begin Monday (November 14th). So if you order now you'll get yours before very long.
I think you'll like this! Hope you do.
Thanks again to Keith and the good folks at the Nelson-Atkins Museum for making this possible.
Original contents copyright 2016 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
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