Notes from the Catalogue: Vernacular Photographs of New York

Our upcoming auction Images & Objects: Photographs & Photobooks features a compelling section of vernacular photographs; among them are some fascinating images of New York from bygone eras.


photographs of 1930s New york

Lot 261: A group of 57 photographs of the archive of the Norddeustscher Lloyd Bremen company of New York, silver prints, 1930s. Estimate $2,500 to $3,500.


The Norddeustscher Lloyd Bremen company’s incredible Depression-era collection of New York photographs has a distinct point of view that is both modernist and historical. The photographs are made by a variety of German photographers including Hanns Tschira (1899-1957), Richard Fleischhut (1881-1951), Fritz Marutzky, Heinrich Friedrich, Bernhard Marutzky (1878-1952), Paul Cwojdzinski, Wilh. Wiese, Karl Burger, Dr. Paul Wolff, Leo Hannet, and The Wurts Brothers. With credits related to both the Europa and Columbus ships, the images were likely made over a series of visits to America.


New York, Manhattan Bridge, Eugene de Salignac, ,

Lot 257: Eugene de Salignac, a group of approximately 28 photographs depicting the construction of the Manhattan Bridge, cyanotypes, 1913-22. Estimate $1,800 to $2,200.


This group of approximately twenty-eight photographs by the accomplished Eugene de Salignac depicts the construction of the Manhattan Bridge. The set includes photographs of Brooklyn Plaza, featuring the elaborate pylons, the bridge towers and cables, workers, surrounding roadways, the river itself, subway digging and machinery. Some of the photos also have New York City turn-of-the-century architecture in the background.


New York City, Silver Jubilee, 1923

Lot 271: A group of 61 photographs of the 1923 New York City Silver Jubilee Parade, silver prints. Estimate $300 to $450.


These sixty-one photographs were taken from a building on East 56th Street and Fifth Avenue, depicting various floats, marching bands, city workers and spectators of the Silver Jubilee parade. The parade, which featured 40,000 marchers and a 16-mile route, commemorated the 25th anniversary of the “Greater City of New York.” 


Lot 272: Album of 43 medium-format photographs of the E.R. Durkee & Co. Factory, Elmhurst, Long Island, silver prints, 1930s. Estimate $400 to $500. 


The E.R. Durkee Company manufactured bottles used for salad dressings, which were patented in 1877. They were also a producer of salad dressings and spices which they shipped nationwide via a railroad line that connected directly to the Elmhurst plant. The pictures in the album (above) include architectural views of the Deco-style building, scenes of landscaping and vegetation (including gardeners at work), interior views of executive offices, the bookkeeping department, dining room and laborers in the printing department.



Levittown Long Island

Lot 279: Post-war photograph of a wife and children in front of their Levittown, Long Island home, ferrotype silver print, 1948. Estimate $500 to $750.


This post-war scene shows a housewife and her children in front of their new home in Levittown, Long Island. Levittown, the first mass-produced suburb, is widely regarded as the archetype for postwar suburbs throughout the country. The newspaper clipping included in this lot notes “The Levitts [who were the developers] are tremendously proud of this project, [and] changed the name from Island Trees to Levittown over tenant objections.”


Lot 284: Beecher Ogden, a group of approximately 125 photographs of New York City in the 1940s-50s, silver prints. Estimate $1,800 to $2,200. 

Take a look at our complete catalogue for more vernacular photographs alongside photobooks and works by photography masters.