Cliff House Project

 

Bob Schlesinger Collection

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Photo by Carleton E. Watkins
 

"Only a few photographers recorded images of the original 1863 Cliff House. Carleton E. Watkins, probably the most famous 19th century landscape photographer of the American West, took most of the known photos from that period.

Watkins began his photographic career in San Francisco in 1854 by working for Robert Vance, who produced daguerreotypes. There he learned and then perfected his own techniques. By 1858 he was working on his own. He used a specially made mammoth camera that used 18" x 22" glass plates, and a smaller stereoscopic camera. His mammoth plates made him famous. No one else was producing such large photographs at that time, since all photos were contact prints - there were no "enlargers".

Watkins gained international reknown for his photographs of Yosemite, taken in 1861 and as a result he opened "The Yosemite Art Gallery" in San Francisco to sell copies of his work and to take on commissions.

Although a great photographer, Watkins was evidently a poor businessman and he lost his studio and all of his negatives to a creditor by the name of J.J. Cook during the financial panic of 1875. Cook in partnership with I.W. Taber took over his studio and both began marketing Watkins' work, particularly the stereoviews, along with Taber's photos. Cook at first sold under the "Watkins Pacific Coast" label, and later Taber incorporated the images under his own label. This is why a number of photographs that seem to be attributed to Taber are actually Watkins images.

Watkins continued to create photographs under the "Watkins New Series" label, but the images were not marketed nearly as well as those by the Taber operation.

The large image of the 1863 Cliff House above was taken from a center section of one of Watkins' mammoth plates and was reprinted by Taber. The actual print measures 8" x 12".

All of Watkins negatives including those acquired by Taber were destroyed in the 1906 earthquake."

Bob Schlesinger, 10/15/2010



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Watkins' Pacific Coast, #773
Photo by Carleton E. Watkins
 

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Watkins' Pacific Coast, #777
Photo by Carleton E. Watkins
 

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Watkins' Pacific Coast, #781
Photo by Carleton E. Watkins
 

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Watkins' New Series, #3607
Photo by Carleton E. Watkins
 


Watkins' New Series, #3622
Photo by Carleton E. Watkins
 

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Taber, Pacific Coast Views, #772
Photo by Carleton E. Watkins

 

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Taber, Pacific Coast Views, #778
Photo by Carleton E. Watkins

 

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Photo by Thomas Houseworth

 

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J.M. McDonald

 

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"B 59.   The Cliff House, near San Francisco, Cal.      Taber Photo., San Francisco"

 

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"AJ McDonald    101 BEACH, CLIFF HOUSE & SEAL ROCKS       San Francisco, Cal."

 

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"AJ McDonald      CLIFF HOUSE ROAD AND OCEAN BEACH, SHOWING ENTRANCE TO THE GOLDEN GATE.     SAN FRANCISCO, CA"

 

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"B 1481  Instantaneous View, Beach at Cliff House.    Taber Photo, San Francisco."

 

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Photo by Alfred Perkins

 

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Photo by Thomas Houseworth

 

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Photo by Kilburn Brothers

 

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Photo by Kilburn Brothers
 


Watkins' New Series #3619

 

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PACIFIC COAST VIEWS
Photo by Carleton E. Watkins

 


"404 Cliff House"

 


"1632 - The Cliff House"
Muybridge

 

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copyright 2010 by Bob Schlesinger
all rights reserved