Feb 25, 2016 - Sale 2406

Sale 2406 - Lot 21

Price Realized: $ 52,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 20,000 - $ 30,000
WILSON A. BENTLEY (1865-1931)
An album with 25 photographs of snowflakes.
Gold-chloride toned microphotographs from glass plate negatives, each approximately 4x3 inches (10.2x7.6 cm.), all but one with Bentley's signature and many with his notation ARP or MBN, in ink or in pencil, on verso; 2 also with a date, on recto or verso, and one of these with Bentley's notation "wonderful," also on verso. Oblong 8vo, paper leatherette album with a tied binding, the photographs arranged 2 per page in black photo corners. 1888-1927

Additional Details

This album was apparently compiled by a woman who lived in Jericho, Vermont and knew Bentley. She was gifted these photographs and then, by descent, to the present owner.

Working at the prismatic intersection of art and science, Wilson "Snowflake Man" Bentley became the first person to photograph a single snowcrystal in 1885 by adapting a microscope to a bellows camera. Capturing over 5,000 images of snowcrystals in his lifetime, Bentley perfected the delicate and time-consuming technique needed to capture the ephemeral crystals and created a valuable record (including the now commonly understood fact that each snowflake is unique). He was also the first American to measure raindrops.

Deeply committed to his work, Bentley wrote, "Under the microscope I found that snowflakes were miracles of beauty; and it seemed a shame that this beauty should not be seen and appreciated by others. Each crystal was a masterpiece of design; and no one design was ever repeated [...] I became possessed with a great desire to show people something of this wonderful loveliness, and ambition to become, in some measure, its preserver."

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