Greenpoint, NY: Ca. 1869. Scarce large albumen prints of the beginning of the construction of the iconic Brooklyn Bridge, the most daring engineering feat of its time. The images are held by the Museum of the City of New York, but not by the Brooklyn Museum or Brooklyn Public Library.
Showing construction of the bridge, an object of fascination for the public, although newspaper editorials scoffed at the enormous undertaking. The Talfor view is taken from the Brooklyn side looking toward Manhattan across the East River, with a massive pile of rocks in the forming the base of the pier. In the foreground wooden hoists frame the foundation, and temporary construction shacks surround it. In the middle ground lies the East River, and tall -masted ships can be seen at anchor on the Manhattan side.
Robert B. Talfor is known for the very rare 'Photographic Views of Red River Raft' of 1873. The 113 hand colored photographs measuring 9 x 7" document the landscape and the lives of the crews working on this massive project to remove the thousand year old log jam which blocked the Red River in Louisiana. The lot sold for $93,750, in February 2018.
During the Civil War Talfor was a topographic engineer who mapped out battlefields. (The maps are listed on OCLC.) After the war he founded a photography studio in Greenpoint (Brooklyn). Curtain's Greenpoint Directory of 1868/9 records him in Brooklyn as follows: Talfor, Robert B. photographs, Washington c Greenpoint Ave, h. Eagle.
By the early 1870s Talfor was in Louisiana taking the striking images of the Red River Raft project.
The Talfor albumen photograph: 16 x 10 1/2" laid down on board 19 x 14 1/4". Title printed below the image with "East River Bridge" in an elaborate type font. Edges of board rubbed, corners slightly chipped. Photograph with a few small marks at lower edge, outside image. Period note on verso, "Which do you put first, [ditto] faces glass". Possibly a window display note?
[with] 3 additional large albumen photographs of the terminal buildings under construction at each end of the Brooklyn Bridge. These massive multistory shed-like structures were also called terminal sheds; here commuters embarked and disembarked to take other mass transit.
Two of the images appear to be the Manhattan terminal building (at Park Row) under construction, because tall buildings surround the cast iron structure, and tram lines are visible in the road. These two images depict the terminal at the very beginning of construction (a close up of the steel outer shell, with workers in the foreground and standing on the roof ridge), and the finished building, with city dwellers passing on the sidewalk below. One is "N.Y. Station, East River Bridge.", ca. 1875 according to the Museum of the City of New York website.
The third albumen likely shows the Brooklyn terminal building under construction, as the surrounding area is not as developed as the Manhattan side. Two men stand in the foreground of the half completed steel structure.
The three terminal building photographs: 8 1/2 x 6 1/4" mounted on board, 14 x 11". Board dusty, one scratch at lower edge of print. Second image, 16 1/2 x 13" on board 20 1/4 x 16 1/4", board extensively chipped at edges, one corner repaired on verso with archival tape; damp stains top edge of image. Third image 10 3/4 x 8 1/2", borders extensively scuffed & marked. Images are mounted in archival mounts.
Scarce photographs of the very beginnings of the construction of the iconic Brooklyn Bridge. Item #24453