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Daguerreotype of the southeast corner of Front and Sacramento Streets in San Francisco circa 1852-1853, estimated at $30,000-$50,000 at Freeman's Hindman.

Nineteenth-century photographs of San Francisco document the impact of the California Gold Rush at Freeman’s Hindman May 31

CINCINNATI — Two utterly remarkable photographs will be featured lots at Freeman’s Hindman as part of the American Historical Ephemera & Photography sale on Friday, May 31. The complete catalog is now available for review and bidding at LiveAuctioneers.

This whole-plate daguerreotype of San Francisco, California has been dated by the auction house to circa 1852-1853 based on the company names appearing in period business directories. The location is the southeast corner of Front and Sacramento Streets at the height of the Gold Rush. The large number of wooden beams in the foreground are believed to have been salvaged from ships that were abandoned at the San Francisco waterfront as crews came ashore to search for gold in the Sierras. Merchants such as those depicted in the daguerreotype would hire crews to dismantle the abandoned ships and then sell the wood to local builders.

Prior to the Gold Rush, San Francisco was a sleepy town with a population in the hundreds. By the time that this photo is believed to have been taken, its growth had exploded, and demand for building materials had skyrocketed. The image’s exceptional clarity and minute detail make this daguerreotype of San Francisco one of the most important ones to appear at auction in decades. It is estimated at $30,000-$50,000.

Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904) was an Englishman who came to San Francisco after 1850 and became one of the 19th century’s most respected pioneers in the new art form of photography. This series of 11 photographs, captured in June or July of 1877, were taken by Muybridge from the top of an unfinished tower at California Street Hill, which is now known as Nob Hill.  The shadows indicate that the photographs were made during the course of about five hours. Despite the view’s vast scope, it presents minute details of city life such as hanging laundry, ships in the harbor, and shop signs. The 7ft panorama has been described as ‘one of the supreme conceptual and technical achievements in the history of architectural photography.’ It carries an estimate of $22,000-$30,000.