Unboxing ToP’s Four Photobook Book Sale

Back in early June, The Online Photographer, in conjunction with the Nelson Atkins Museum, ran another book sale. If you recall, a couple of months ago, I picked up a bit omnibus history-of-photography style book from a similar sale, so when this one went down, I jumped on it…

Forewarned is forearmed, the video is long…

The Four Photobooks included in the deal:

  • Clarence John Laughlin: Visionary Photographer (1990)
  • Todd Webb: Photographs of New York and Paris 1945–1960 (1986)
  • George N. Barnard: Photographer of the Sherman Campaign (1990)
  • The Photographs of Dorothea Lange (1995)

And for early birds like me, an additional book:

  • The Passionate Observer: Photographs by Carl Van Vechten (1993)

For $48 plus shipping ($63.95 total), that’s a steal, I think, even if a couple of the books don’t much interest me.

I haven’t had much time to look at them all, so there might be proper reviews coming, but here are my early thoughts. Take them with as many grains of salt as you wish.

Clarence John Laughlin: Visionary Photographer (1990) – surrealist photography, very accomplished, looks interesting, and I might have some reasons to look at this again in the future. Used copies run ~$25-100.

Todd Webb: Photographs of New York and Paris 1945–1960 (1986) – early and mid-20th century street photography, more or less. It’s nice to see how the City has changed, and how it’s remained the same. Used copies run $10-25.

George N. Barnard: Photographer of the Sherman Campaign (1990) – Barnard’s Civil War era photographs: destroyed plantation homes, battered fields, and the like. Historically of interest/curiosity, but not really my speed. Used copies run ~$20 online, though used book stores are much higher.

The Photographs of Dorothea Lange (1995) – Every photography enthusiast needs a Dorothea Lange book, I guess, and this is a good-enough one. Used copies run ~$20.

The Passionate Observer: Photographs by Carl Van Vechten (1993) – portraits of socialites of the 1940s and 1950s. Good stuff, mostly. Used copies are very cheap.

Sadly, the sale is over. Apologies if you got all excited, but you can find the books on that jungle website, and at reputable booksellers through Abe Books and others. I haven’t looked thorough them much at all, and definitely haven’t read them, so my brief comments above are probably better ignored. Keith Davis’s essays are generally excellent and well researched, so he might change my mind on some of it: he definitely brought me around with Dave Heath.

Together, I probably got a deal, but given that my interest in any of these is really rather low at present, they’re likely to gather dust for awhile and then go off to the Half Price Books at a loss instead of getting randomly perused for inspiration. like some of the other books I’ve bought over the past couple of years. I worked roughly 2.25 hours or so to earn the money to buy those books: was it worth it? Eh. I suppose, but that money would’ve been better spent elsewhere, for me anyway: ymmv, of course, and as always.

Ya Allah, guide me to better use of Your sustenance, to think more about what I spend money, time, energy, and emotion on. Your sustenance is limited, this life is limited, and I need to be better at remembering You and giving thanks to You and worshiping You in all that I do. Ya Allah, guide me to better! Ameen.

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