Pictures of Old Chinatown. Photographs by Arnold Genthe. Text by Will Irwin. Moffat, Yard and Company, New York, 1908. 162 pp. Quarto. First edition, first printing. Clothbound with red embossed title and tipped-in image. 47 black-and-white reproductions.
Arnold Genthe's photographs of San Francisco before and during the earthquake and fire of 1906 made him a living legend in the Bay area. While this book captures an era long past, Genthe was way ahead of his time in his practice of street photography. He said of his technique: "I was determined to show people a new kind of photography: there would be no stilted poses; as a matter of fact, no poses at all. I would try to take my sitters unawares, at a moment when they would not realize that the camera was ready. I would show them prints in which a uniform sharpness would be avoided and emphasis laid on portraying a person's character instead of making a commonplace record of clothes and a photographic mask." Read Genthe's Getty Museum bio.
Near Fine; moderate wear and faint soiling to rear board; a few spots of foxing; spine rubbed; slight abrasion to crown and foot of spine; some wear to edges of cover image.