May 16, 2024 - Sale 2669

Sale 2669 - Lot 30

Price Realized: $ 4,250
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 3,000 - $ 4,500
A vast archive of 14 albums documenting this Great Lake dry dock company, with more than 1200 photographs.
This extraordinary collection comprises 14 albums of approximately 1,250 photographs describing every aspect of the dry dock/yard operations of the Buffalo Dry Dock Co. from approximately 1915-20. This may be the most complete photographic collection of early 20th-century shipbuilding on the Great Lakes. Included are ships under construction, ships being extended (cut in half, pulled apart, and expanded), ships in repair, and aerial shots. The albums also feature crowds and speakers at ship launchings, executives in the office, and yard workers in all seasons, some with identification. The ships are showcased in ice, under construction, launching, and in detail while undergoing work. Silver prints, the images measuring approximately 6½x8½ inches (16.5x21.6 cm.), and slightly smaller, and the reverse, the sheets slightly larger, nearly all mounted recto/verso, each with a caption and date in the negative. Oblong 4tos (14), most black cloth with tie bindings (one green cloth and one brown) and 12 with sequential numbers on the front cover, some of the pages are detached, but the exteriors are only lightly worn. 1915-20

Provenance: John Smith, owner of the American Ship Building Company, which acquired the dockyards in 1899, renaming the yard the Buffalo Dry Dock Co.; by descent, to the Present Owner

A booming port for the Great Lake region, Buffalo served the expanding shipping and transport needs throughout the 19th century. By the end of the 1900s, the Buffalo Dry Dock Co. continued new vessel construction at the site primarily during the summer months when lake freighters were busy plying their trade during the limited season. During the winter months, the company focused almost exclusively on the repair and maintenance of the lake freighter fleet which would layover at Buffalo. Eventually the yard's small barge docks were removed in favor of a pair of large drydocks and a outfitting berth to reflect the closure of the Erie Canal and the ever-increasing size of the lake freighters.

The dry dock had the largest slip lengths (for building and repairs) on the Great Lakes at that time. Their heyday was during World War I when they made many liberty ships under a United States Government contract (seen in this series of albums). The Buffalo famous Canadiana and Americana excursion vessels were built there as well.

This astonishing group of images were owned by an executive at the company, and are still owned by the family, being virtually unseen until now.