Apr 18, 2019 - Sale 2506

Sale 2506 - Lot 262

Estimate: $ 2,500 - $ 3,500
Presentation album belonging to Prison Warden William H. Moyer with 51 chilling photographs depicting scenes of the prison grounds, cellblock infrastructure, staff, interior subdivisions, and the inmate workforce clad in striped uniforms.
The photographs document in clean and sharp detail all aspects of the facility, including a focus on its subsectors of prison labor (farming, woodworking, masonry, and textiles). Also with interiors of the penitentiary, from the Warden's office (featuring his portrait boldly displayed with those of his predecessors) and the messhall prepped for meal time; to views of inmates at Sunday school and church, baking in the kitchen, having their hair and beards trimmed, and the ominous prison graveyard. At the back of the album there are formal portraits of Moyer and J. M. Nye, the prison's record clerk, and their wives, alongside a few snapshots of Moyer's personal life. Silver (53), printing-out paper (10), and platinum (2) prints, the images mostly measuring 7 1/2x9 1/2 inches (19.1x24.1 cm.), and some smaller. Oblong 4to, green cloth-covered boards. 1904

Additional Details

This record of Moyer's professional life, which reinforced the facade of a well-run, upstanding prison and hardworking labor force was, apparently, a complete fabrication, intentionally omited his ongoing, cruel treatment of prisoners. Newspaper accounts revealed that, after serving 12 years as warden, he was asked to resign by the Department of Justice, following investigations into his brutal and inhumane treatment of inmates. This inquest was sparked after Julian Hawthorne, a novelist, publicly outed Moyer subsequent to Hawthorne's own tormenting term at the pen for "misusing the mails." However, later that year Moyer found a new position, and was appointed warden of the infamous Sing Sing prison, in upstate New York.