Jun 27, 2024 - Sale 2675

Sale 2675 - Lot 214

Price Realized: $ 4,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 2,500 - $ 3,500
(MILITARY.) Photograph album of Operation Greenhouse in the Marshall Islands, which tested the first hydrogen bombs. 90 photographs (each about 8½ x 6½ inches or smaller, 6 of them in color) mounted on 35 album leaves, plus detached printed title page reading "Official Use Only, Photo Album, Operation Greenhouse." 4to, 14 x 12 inches, original cloth ring binder embossed "Operation Greenhouse" with officer's name; intermittent minor foxing, 2 photos partly detached, last photo discolored. Hollywood, CA: United States Air Force Lookout Mt. Laboratory, [1951]

Additional Details

Operation Greenhouse was the first series of tests of thermonuclear weapons, far more powerful than the atomic bombs which preceded them. The four tests were performed in April and May 1951 on uninhabited islets in the Enewetak Atoll of the Marshall Islands (then a United States territory).

The photographs in this album are not captioned, but many are self-explanatory. The first shows the high tower upon which the bomb was mounted to simulate an aerial blast. Several portraits of officers begin with the task force's commander General Elwood Richard Quesada. The construction of the testing facilities is well documented. Two shots show groups of islanders; one shows a performance by an impromptu military jazz band. The last 9 photographs depict the actual blast: 3 in black and white, and the last 6 in color. Two show lightning emanating from the blast cloud. It is unclear which of the four tests is depicted in these blast photos.

Although the printed title page suggests that more than one of these albums was produced, we can find none others in OCLC, at auction, or elsewhere. Provenance: issued to Commander E.N. Pate of the United States Navy, whose name is embossed on the cover. Laid in is a membership certificate in the Grand Council Exclusive Order of Guinea Pigs, issued to Commander Pate on 7 September 1951, acknowledging that he has "through an exaggerated sense of patriotism subjected his body to the rigors attendant to atom bombs, hundred-foot tidal waves, mermaids, vampires, sandfleas, typhoons, mal-de-mer, cannibals, canned beer, etc." Also another certificate issued to Pate by Joint Task Force Three for "Meritorius Service Performed with Operation Greenhouse," signed by General Quesada, 15 July 1951.