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Peter Palmquist Cased Photographs Collection

Call Number: WA Photos 402

Scope and Contents

The Peter Palmquist Cased Photographs Collection consists of daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, and wet collodion processes mounted primarily in contemporary decorative cases, collected by Peter Palmquist of Arcata, California, during the last quarter of the twentieth century. Items in the collection document photographic processes and presentation techniques in the United States, especially in California, and in Great Britain, circa 1844-1873.

The finding aid contains 410 entries for individual items or small collections of related material. It is housed in boxes and organized into six series: Images by Identified Photographers, Identified Subjects by Unidentified Photographers, Identified Places by Unidentified Photographers, Unidentified Subjects by Unidentified Photographers, Cased Photograph Components, and Associated Printed Material. The detailed notes associated with individual items derive from documentation collected or attributed by Palmquist and verified whenever possible by the processing archivist. [An arbitrary numbering scheme assigned to the items by Palmquist is reflected in a concordance in the appendix.] References to specific decorative motifs on cases correspond to reference numbers in Floyd Rinhart and Marion Rinhart, American Miniature Case Art (New York: A.S. Barnes, 1969) and Clifford Krainik, Michelle Krainik, and Carl Walvoord, Union Cases, A Collector's Guide to the Art of America's First Plastics (Grantsburg, Wisconsin: Centennial Photo Service, 1988).

Series I. Images by Identified Photographers , contains 161 items spanning the dates 1844-1873, and is organized geographically into twelve subseries, including California photographers (for which there are 112 items), other states, Great Britain, and a final subseries for photographers whose location remains unidentified. Within each subseries the entries are arranged alphabetically according to the surname or corporate name of the photographer. This series also contains several examples of cased photograph components which document the work of a specific photographer.

Represented California photographers include several from San Francisco: Frederick C. Coombs, George Robinson Fardon, James May Ford, Charles F. Hamilton, Silas Wright Selleck, Shaw & Johnson (Seth Louis Shaw and George Howard Johnson), William Shew, and Robert H. Vance. Photographers representing other localities in California include James Atkins Clayton of San Jose; William H. Cook of Marysville; Thomas J. Higgins of Sacramento; George Howard Johnson of Sacramento; Oliver H. P. Norcross of Weaverville; J. Ruth of Marysville; Jacob Shew of Sacramento; O. B. Silver of Dutch Flat; and John Pitcher Spooner of Stockton.

Other localities in the United States for which there are significant numbers of images include Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, and Pennsylvania. Photographers in Massachusetts include Boston photographers Charles V. Allen, Luther Holman Hale, George D. Hamilton, and William Shew; Worcester photographers Austin F. Daniels and Benjamin D. Maxham; New Bedford photographers William Hathaway and Charles E. Hawes; and the Spooner Brothers of Springfield.

Photographers in St. Louis, Missouri, include John H. Fitzgibbon, Enoch Long, and John J. Outley. Photographers in New York include Albert J. Beals, Charles H. Cary, and Sterling C. McIntyre in New York City, J. A. Phillips of Fredonia, and Pine & Bells (George W. Pine) of Troy. Photographers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, include Samuel Broadbent, Frederick Gutekunst, Isaac Rehn, and Myron Shew.

Identified photographers representing other states include Badgley of Centre, Alabama; Harvey G. Fetter of Peru, Iowa; Swan of Birmingham, Iowa; Theodore Harris of Louisville, Kentucky; Culver & Fellows of Newport, New Hampshire; and James O. Merrill of Brandon, Vermont.

Photographers from Great Britain include English photographers J. Hickling of either Ramsgate or Margate, and Isaac Shaw Lenox of Bristol, in addition to Scottish photographer Ritchie of Edinburgh.

Identified photographers with unidentified locations include S. J. Atkinson, B. C. Beardsley, Hamilton, John Plumbe, Jr., and Jesse Harrison Whitehurst.

Series II, Identified Subjects by Unidentified Photographers , contains 26 items that span the dates 1850-1860, and is arranged alphabetically according to the surname or corporate name of the subject. Identified individuals include members of the Alviso, Perlata, and Vallejo families of Oakland, California; George Amy; C. A. Anderson; C. D. Brown; Eugene Cammerer; Edward Carl; Etta Corning; Jane Drummond; F. M. Failing; Albert Hartwell; A. S. Lid; Jennie Merriam; Selah Merrill; Jack Miller; Fred Nancki; Daniel Showalter; Ben Smith; Francis Uslar; Francis Otto Wagener; and Gertrude Wightman.

Series III, Identified Places by Unidentified Photographers , contains 16 items that span the dates 1852-1860, arranged geographically by state, and where possible by city within each state. Locations include California, Iowa, New York, and the New England region. Specific identified localities include Eureka or Trinidad, California; San Francisco, California; La Moille, Iowa; and Niagara Falls, New York. Most locations have been assigned based on attributions by Peter Palmquist.

Series IV, Unidentified Subjects by Unidentified Photographers , contains 132 items that span the dates 1840-1869, and is organized into four subseries: Single Individuals, Couples, Groups, and Objects. Items depicting Single Individuals are arranged under headings for Infants, Girls, Boys, Women, and Men. Items depicting Couples are arranged under headings for Infant and Adult, Children, Child and Adult, Women, Men, and Woman and Man. Under each heading items are arranged chronologically.

Series V. Cased Photograph Components , contains 22 items and spans the dates 1844-1869. It consists of items used in the construction of cased photographs, and is comprised primarily of cases and mats. It is organized into four subseries. The first subseries consists of cases by identified manufacturers, arranged alphabetically. The second subseries consists of cases by unidentified manufacturers, and is arranged chronologically. The third subseries includes case covers by unidentified manufacturers, and is arranged chonologically. The fourth subseries consists of mats, and is arranged according to manufacturer, and chronologically under each manufacturer heading.

Series VI. Associated Printed Material , contains 52 items and spans the dates 1843-1899. It consists of Trade Cards for photographers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island; Advertising Materials, which includes a flier, a broadside, and a sign, each advertising different photographers; and Newspaper Advertisements, which include issues of The Boston Daily Bee and clippings of newspaper advertisements for daguerreotypists. Other printed material includes engravings based on daguerreotypes.

Appendix. Concordance of Numbers, consists of a listing of numbering schemes applied to the material by Peter Palmquist, and the corresponding number assigned by the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.


  • circa 1844-1899


Conditions Governing Access

The materials are open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Peter Palmquist Cased Photographs Collection is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Peter E. Palmquist on the Frederick W. and Carrie S. Beinecke Fund for Western Americana, 1999.


25.5 Linear Feet (54 boxes)

Language of Materials


Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL


This collection consists of daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, and collodion processes primarily mounted in contemporary decorative cases, collected by Peter Palmquist to document photographers, photographic processes and presentation techniques in the United States, especially in California, and in Great Britain, circa 1844-1899.

PETER E. PALMQUIST (1936-2003)

A photographer, collector, and historian of photography, Peter Eric Palmquist was born on September 23, 1936, in Oakland, California. In 1944, he moved with his family to Ferndale, California, and spent the majority of his life in Humboldt County. Palmquist trained himself in photography as an adolescent, and served as a photographer in the United States Army, 1955-1959, attached to the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Paris. He worked briefly as a photographer for the state government of California from 1959-1961. From 1961 until his retirement in 1989, Palmquist worked as a staff photographer for Humboldt State University, Arcata, California, where he also graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Art in 1965.

From 1971 until his death, Palmquist collected historical and contemporary photographs and information about photographers. He collected hundreds of thousands of photographic items documenting the practice and occupation of photography from its inception through the turn of the twenty-first century, with particular emphasis on early California photographers, photographers of the American West, and women photographers from around the world.

A self-trained researcher and historian of photography, Palmquist organized over a hundred exhibitions and wrote over three hundred articles and more than sixty monographs. He was a founding editor of The Daguerreian Annual; president of the National Stereoscopic Association; and founder and curator of the Women in Photography International Archive.

Palmquist died January 13, 2003, in Oakland, from a severe head injury caused by a speeding car that struck him while he was in a crosswalk with his dog.

Processing Information

Detailed notes about items in the finding aid derive from documentation in electronic word processing files created by Peter Palmquist and verified by the processing archivist.

Guide to the Peter Palmquist Cased Photographs Collection
by Matthew D. Mason
January 2007
Description rules
Beinecke Manuscript Unit Archival Processing Manual
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository

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Opening Hours

Access Information

The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.