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    Description

    Magnificent Half Plate Daguerreotype California Gold Mining Scene. Previously unknown, unpublished , the piece has been resealed but shows no signs of cleaning. Photographer's logo on the velvet on the inside case lid, "George H. Johnson/ 83 J Street/ Sacramento, Calif." The image is of absolutely superb quality and pristine condition. Seven men converge around the sluice boxes, with two of the men actually working the boxes with shovels. Various hoses on ground with hook up and valve in the foreground. The man at the rear holds a small pick in one hand and a large metal pan tinted with numerous gold nuggets. The image is expertly tinted throughout, with not only the clothing highlighted but a clear and expertly executed effort to impart flesh tones as well. Several small cabins visible in the left background. A stunning image with the added interest and rarity of an identified photographer. A truly exceptional image.

    Please Note: We have received additional background information regarding this daguerreotype. It was held in the collection of noted collector Dale Walden, of Boise, Idaho, from 1933 until his passing in 1996. Walden recounted its acquisition to a fellow collector: "During 1933, while I was attending some college summer classes in Oregon, I came across an antique shop in downtown Portland. In the window was displayed a wonderful half-plate daguerreotype. It had only been a short time since I had acquired my first image, yet what I saw in the window 'had to be had.' Although I was a student with very limited funds (these were the years of the Great Depression as well,) I was ready to make whatever monetary adjustments necessary to justify the $25.00 expenditure. I never regretted my decision that day which resulted in my walking home with a half-plate California gold-mining scene by George H. Johnson." It was Walden's strong belief that this image is by Johnson even though the marked case is not original to the piece, an attribution concurred in by leading expert on early California mining daguerreotypes John McWilliams. According to McWilliams, Johnson is considered perhaps the best of the daguerreotype photographers who did these gold mining images. He was active around 1850-1853, and the scene depicted is most probably along the American River, where he did much of his shooting.

    This daguerreotype has been reproduced in print. It was the lead image in an article, "The Gold Country: California Recalls its Pioneer Days 100 Years after the Great Discovery," published in Life Magazine (February 2, 1948 issue). It was also reproduced in an article about Walden that appeared in the January/February 1995 Daguerreian Society Newsletter.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    Nov-Dec, 2011
    30th-1st Wednesday-Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,223

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