- Attributed to Robert H. Vance
- Street Scene in Benicia, Solano County, California
- 1/4 plate daguerreotype
quarter-plate daguerreotype, cased, the photographer's 'R. H. Vance's Premium Daguerrean Galleries, San Francisco, Sacramento, Marysville' credit stamped on the velvet lining, 1850s
Acquired from Joseph Buberger, New Haven, 1976
Oakland Museum of California, Silver & Gold: Cased Images of the California Gold Rush
, January - July 1998, and traveling thereafter to:
Washington, D. C., National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, October 1998 - March 1999
Sacramento, Crocker Art Gallery, August - October 1999
Stanley B. Burns, Mirror Mirror: The Burns Collection Daguerreotypes
(New York: The Burns Archive Press, 2012), pl. 12
The Encyclopedia of Collectibles: Photographs to Quilts (Alexandria, 1979), pp. 16-7
Drew Heath Johnson and Marcia Eymann, eds., Silver & Gold: Cased Images of the California Gold Rush (University of Iowa Press for the Oakland Museum of California, 1998), pl. 116
This luminous street scene daguerreotype, ever-so-slightly toned in the mid-tones, delivers a world of fascinating detail throughout, from the clapboard siding of the buildings to legible storefront signage to individual stoves and crates.
A very minor border of tarnish is visible intermittently following the contours of the mat. Some of the fogginess one sees when this plate is examined at an extreme angle is likely due to residue on the underside of the cover glass and not buildup on the plate. Upon very close inspection, the following are visible: 2 faint pen-point-sized rust-colored spots in the lower portion of the image and 1 in the upper sky area; 2 pin-point-sized black spots along the upper edge of the image adjacent to the mat; and a small, linear scratch along the right edge of the mat.
The old, possibly original, seal remains intact. The case, with gilt detailing and single clasp, is in generally very good condition. The leather is rubbed on the covers. There is a thin loss of leather along the upper edge on the reverse, where the case is also splitting at the joints. he case is stamped on the reverse "H. A Eickmeyer Patent Feb. 27.1855."
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.
Benicia, California, was founded on 26 December 1846 and was a major thoroughfare for eastbound vessels along the route to the goldfields. Because of Benicia’s strategic location halfway between Sacramento and San Francisco, many early Californians thought that the town would surpass San Francisco in both population and importance. During the Gold Rush, commerce thrived and, from 1853 to 1854, Benicia served as the second capital of the young state of California.
The present quarter-plate daguerreotype offers a fascinating view of lower First Street in Benicia, with several storefront signs clearly legible. The Gazette Printing Office pictured at far left was likely the home of the California Gazette, which was in existence from 1851 to 1852. Signs for neighboring sundry stores advertise C. E. Wetmore, purveyor of clothing and dry goods, and a certain Samuel C. Gray. The Gold Rush lured Gray from Baltimore to Benicia quite early, in 1849. By 1855, Gray was noted as an established merchant offering among other items clothing, crockery, hardware, and stoves, several of which appear to be on display on the store’s porch.