Premier Fine Art & Antiques Auction
August 29, 2023
Below is just a small portion of the massive selection of high quality art & antiques to be featured in our upcoming August 29th 2023 auction! This auction will span multiple genres of collectibles, including Fine Paintings & Art, Jewelry & Silver, Orientalia, Rare Glass & Lamps, Early & Victorian Furniture, Decoys, Carvings, Coin-Op, & MORE!
EXTRAORDINARY COLLECTION OF ALASKAN PHOTOS OF THE YUKON GOLD RUSH OF 1896 AND 1897, MOST BY CHARLES H. METCALF
In 1896 Charles Horton Metcalf and his friend William Richmond Booth left Michigan to go to the Klondyke for work. On August 16th of that same year, a man by the name of George Carnack and a couple of his friends discovered gold on Rabbit Creek which was a tributary of the Klondyke River, it was later to become known as Bonanza Creek. Word spread rapidly and all of the miners in the area descended on this region to stake their claim. In the spring of 1897, the first ships coming out of the Yukon region and arriving in Seattle carried virtually millions of dollars’ worth of gold and with it began the most amazing stampede in history. Over 100,000 people from all over the world rushed as quickly as they could and tried to get to the Yukon region certain that they would become wealthy overnight. Postal employees walked off their job, salespeople working for the merchants in Seattle quit on the spot and rushed to get a ticket on the returning ship. Policemen discarded their badges and uniform and did the same. It was amazing. During this most extraordinary time, Metcalf elected to capture what was going on via photographs.
This lot contains approximately 44 photographic images taken during the very height of this incredible happening.
The collection originally came from a Maine/Texas estate and in this group of images are four photos of members of the Wilson family; Floyd Wilson, his first wife and Pearly Wilson. It is believed that these individuals are ancestors of the Maine family that acquired these images.
The photographic images include an 8″ x 10″ image of a gold mining scene with sluices and depicts 27 miners with spades working the sluices in the area that is surrounding it. In the background there is an incredible tent city, probably Dawson. Another group of 21 wonderful images mounted on cardboard 5 1/4″ x 4 1/4″ marked “Chas. H. Metcalf, Detroit, Michigan”. Most of them are marked in pen by hand “copyright 1897″ and the reverse of almost every single image has a notation explaining what it is, where it is or who it is. In the lower left corner of many of the images is a number which probably matches up to the original glass plate/slide from which the photo was probably made back in the period. Another group of eighteen similar images, also 5 1/4″ x 4 1/4”, also marked on the reverse with captions of what they represent were probably done by Metcalf, but his name is not noted on the front or the back. A group of four similar snapshot photos which were never mounted on cardboard. This entire lot consisting of 44 pieces is an overview of the happenings in the Yukon including a photograph of the original discover George Carnark, images of the building of Dawson City, Indians, stores, mining scenes, miners, Lake Bennett where miners built boats to begin their perilous journey down the Yukon River, images of Juneau, an image of the infamous Chilcoot Pass, boats running the Yukon River, scenes of the steamers entering and leaving the Yukon, and much, much more. For those interested in this extraordinary event in history, this is a wonderful time capsule of information and imagery of the goings on at the time.
In 1960, Woodbridge Metcalf; son of Charles Horton Metcalf donated 150 glass lantern slides to the Alaskan State Museum, which are currently available to view (but not to be copied). It is believed that possibly some of those glass plates depicted the images in these photos. Metcalf’s partner William Richmond Booth’s family donated several manuscripts and a photo album in 1978 also to the Alaskan Museum. This is a truly outstanding lot.