1894 – Unique & Original 5-Album Set of 1,500 Stereoview Photos – Neuen Photographischen Gesellschaft


Produced with the Unique Process
Invented by the Firm
Which Revolutionized Printed Photography
A Unique and Complete Presentation Set
Exceedingly Scarce and Voluminous
Possibly a One-Off Work

Five Large Albums as Issued
With Scenes from Around the World
From 1894 to 1921

“Original-Stereoskop-Ansichten” [Original Stereoscopic Views]. 
Steglitz – Berlin: Die Neuen Photographischen Gesellschaft A.G. [The New Photographic Society], published circa 1921-1925.

A complete and unique presentation set of 1500 stereoview bromide print photographs captured over a period of some three decades from 1894 to circa 1921 by a leading German firm in photography, and published at their manufacturing house in Steglitz-Berlin in the early 1920s for use by the firm’s salesman. Photographs produced with the revolutionary bromide roll-print photography printing process invented by the founder. Features striking and memorable views from around the world, with special selections from Egypt, the Balkans, Italy, France, the South Pacific Islands, Russia and the Crimea, and Germany – including places that have become part of present-day Poland. Black and white stereoviews, four of which are hand tinted, each numbered and captioned in German, a select few with the original photograph date to verso, some with the firm’s original logo to bottom left corner, some with the logo incorporated in 1909 and used until 1921, contained in the original five large albums, as issued, each containing 300 photographs mounted to 50 leafs. Five folio albums, red cloth boards, title and original company logo in gilt to front, small manuscript content labels to spine, stereocards mounted into incised corners recto and verso onto sage coloured leafs separated by tissue guards. Stereocards measure approximately 18 x 9 cm. Albums measure approximately 24 x 34 x 6,5 cm. Minor wear to boards, occasional small tears to album leafs, otherwise in Very Good and Original Condition, as issued by the manufacturer, internally sound with crisp beautiful images methodically arranged, an enormous, complete, and most pleasing presentation set, not in OCLC, quite possibly a one-off.

A most estimable photographic portfolio has surfaced after having been safely tucked away for over 90 years – this from the prominent firm of Arthur Schwarz, who invented photographic bromide printing by the roll, who built a photography-based empire with subsidiary companies throughout Europe and as far as New York, and who hired some world-renowned photographers of the period to offer the most striking images to his clients.

OCLC records a similar work produced in 1911, however the present five-volume set published some ten years later is NOT found on OCLC, this one being a separate and unique work encompassing numerous images taken after the first.

Die Neue Photographische Gesellschaft (NPG) was founded on 5 July 1894, by Arthur Schwarz (1862-1944), having its headquarters in Berlin, and becoming one of the world’s largest producers of postcards and stereoview photographs, owing especially to the founder’s revolutionary invention of “kilometer photography.” Very quickly it evolved into a world renowned firm, catapulting its revenue, and gaining notable European and American partnerships. The endeavour of re-creating photographic printing had involved making improvements to bromosilicone papers for photosensitivity, introducing the new photographic paper product into a rolled form for the first time, and also creating the machinery that could automatically handled exposure. Thus the mass production of photographs was considerably simplified. A revolutionary accomplishment, without a doubt, Shwarz and his firm ultimately liberated photography from glass plates.

Not long after the company was formed, in 1896 a large factory was purchased and setup in Steglitz-Berlin (Siemensstraße 27 zwischen Birkbusch- und Luisenstraße heute Nicolaistraße), from where operations began the following year. In 1899 the firm became a public company, with offices in London, Paris, and New York City.

Throughout the 1890s, even before officially founding his company, Arthur Schwarz travelled around the world, touring England, Italy, France, Greece, Russia, Mexico, Canada and the USA. In the latter, he visited 65 cities in 75 days. On his journeys he acquired knowledge and contacts with which he developed and expanded his enterprise. It is also quite conceivable that some of the early images in the present volumes were taken by him in these foreign countries.

In the year 1900, the revolutionary “Kilometer-Photographie” was invented. Patents were obtained and registered in multiple countries, while the company also opened up branches and established partnership companies in London, Paris, New York, Brussels, Vienna, and Milan. The firm is also credited with the development of a special pigment process, during experimentation with colour photography. The NPG and their affiliates became the leading mass producers of postcards on silver bromide photopaper (“Kilometer-Photographie”), which they also used to print stereoviews, as seen here.

Enormous success necessitated continued expansion to the facility. In 1904 the firm employed some 650 people, which grew to over 1200 by 1906. Also circa 1906, the firm was also involved in establishing the Verein Photographischer Reproduktions-Anstalten GmbH (P.R.A.) (Association of Institutions of Photographic Reproductions) with headquarters at Berlin and directed by Arthur Schwartz. By 1907, the P.R.A. represented thirteen German and four Austrian publishing companies with the aim to have guaranteed minimum prices and fixed terms and conditions, to avoid ruinous competition. Schwarz’s firm left the P.R.A. in early 1908, after which he incorporated its new registration date of 1909 in the logo. Founder Arthur Schwarz officially retired in 1912, though he remained involved in some ways. On 29 April 1921 the firm closed its doors; production at Siemensstrasse in Steglitz-Berlin was terminated.

The present 5 volumes, containing 1500 photographs, commemorates the works of the original firm under the direction of its founder Arthur Schwarz, 1894-1921.

In the same year, 1921, the NPG trademark, and the postcard department, were acquired by their competitors, E. A. Schwerdtfeger & Co, located first in Berlin for a number of years, and then in Dresden. This firm was backed by the major paper manufacturing company called “Mimosa AG” which was based in Dresden, which had already previously purchased shares of NPG in March 1920. Retaining the original company name, Neue Photographische Gesellschaft the new NPG GmbH (Ltd) company continued operating until 1948.

A exhibition was prepared by Wilma Gütgemann-Holtz und Wolfgang Holtz as recent as 2009 to commemorate the founder’s pioneering work and the vast photographic works of his original firm from 1897 to 1921.

“Verlag der Neuen Photographischen Gesellschaft – Aktiengesellschaft in Steglitz-Berlin – Ein vergessenes Weltunternehmen (1897-1921)” Gutshaus Steglitz, 03.10.-22.11.2009 [New Photographic Society Publishing Company – Limited Company in Steglitz-Berlin – A Forgotten World Company (1897-1921)]

Egypt – Damascus – Russia – Constantinople – Himalayas – Croatia – Bosnia – Vatican – South Pacific Islands – Ceylon – Japan – Scandinavia – Italy – Germany – France – Poland – These Regions and More are Represented Herein!

Remarkable for its scope and inclusivity of unique nations around the world, especially European countries, this set forms a lovely portfolio dating largely to the Pre-World-Wars era. Numerous images are taken prior to the introduction of the motorcar, when gas lighting was still used in some European cities, and so on. Some of the photographs feature the original date printed to verso. While many scenes date to the firm’s founding years and the turn of the century, some are from the early 1920’s, and so, this set was issued circa 1920-1921. These rare photographs help to date publication of the work as a whole: photographs captioned with the placenames “Fiume,” the capital of the Free State of Fiume which existed from 1920 to 1924, and “Danzig” which was a semi-autonomous city-state officially the “Free City of Danzig” which existed from 1920 to the dawn of the Second World War.

During this period Arthur Schwarz travelled around the world and hired leading photographers, including T. Enami (1859-1929) from Japan and Benjamin J. Falk (1853-1925) of New York. With 1500 photographs present in this lot, surely some were taken by notable and famous photographers.

In one particularly noteworthy volume we find the early and rare photographs of exotic countries and curious foreign customs – from the South Pacific to Ceylon, Syria, Egypt and the Far East.

Tribal life in the South Pacific is illustrated with indigenous folks donning grass skirts, displaying tall hunting spears, and sheltered by thatched roof stick and straw dwellings. Twelve photographs in all, locations include the islands of Samoa (6 views), Tonga, Palau, Carolina and Mariana.

Egypt is represented with thirty views, featuring locals in traditional dress, busy market streets in Cairo, camel transport, the Sphinx and pyramid of Giza not yet fully unearthed, and the canal Bahr Yussef flowing through the town of Faiyum with clay dwellings flanking both sides. Ruins are photographed at Luknor, Thebes, Karnak, and Memphis. Quite scarce are the early photographs of Assuan [Asswan], including a camp of nomadic Bisharin with their mat-covered huts. Six photographs are taken in Damascus.

Temples and colonial hotels in Colombo and Kandy, exquisite gardens and indigenous people are the views captured in Ceylon, which are followed by 33 photographs from India. Here too, ancient temple structures are illustrated, as are places less travelled in the period, such as Tiruchirappalli and Chidambaram in Tamil Nadu. We also find images of Lucknow and Amber, though the focus is on Sikkim in the Himalayas with seventeen views. In Sikkim, a photographer has captured superb images of the inhabitants and remote rural travel.

Travels to the Far East rendered five scenes from Pekin, one from Korea, and an extended tour of Japan which boasts 48 views in this collection. Four of the photographs of Japan are hand tinted. Lovely geishas and flower gardens, sacred temples and deity statues, Japanese women in varying traditional dress according to social class, present a beautiful classic impression of Japan. Uncommon and especially captivating photographs, on the other hand, show Japanese people performing their trades, including factory workers, a female cook, rickshaw drivers, women harvesting tea and rice, weavers, and merchants. This tour encompasses Tokyo, Kyoto, Yokohama, Kamakura, Nara, Kobe, and Miyajima [Itsukushima].

Life in Constantinople [now Istanbul] is well illustrated with 18 photographs, including several street scenes showing inhabitants, beautifully carved monuments and important mosques, cemeteries, and the Seraskerat (Ministry of War Building).

Most unusual for works of this period, this album includes 36 photographs from Bosnia and Herzegovina and 33 views from Croatia, for a spectacular visual chronicle of life on the Balkan Peninsula and the Adriatic Sea over one hundred years ago. An somewhat ephemeral view of Rijeka is captioned “Fiume” which was an independent free state existing from 1920 to 1924. From central Europe there are 20 views from Budapest in Hungary, 10 from the Czech Republic, 4 from Poland, and 1 from the Ukraine. Russia and the Crimea are featured in twelve views, mostly showing elaborate architecture in Moscow.

The furthest destination visited and photographed was the Argentina mountains, shown in three views. In North America, three photographs show Niagara Falls.

One and one third volumes are devoted to the German Empire, and since this time, some of these regions have been annexed by Poland and Czechoslovakia. Several images pre-date the First World War.

Historical photographs showing former German possessions that now belongs to Poland include 1 view of Zoppot [Sopot] which was then in East Prussia, 3 views of the Marienburg Castle Church of former West Prussia and situated in present-day Malbork [The Castle of the Teutonic Order in Malbork], 3 views of Stettin [Szczecin], and 3 views of Könisberg in the early 1900s when it was part of the Kingdom of Prussia. We also find Herrnskretschen (now called Hrensko, and belonging to Czech Republic, a small village of approximately 275 inhabitants). Evidently of special interest, we find 21 views of Riesengebirge and its villages, now called Krkonose (Giant Mountains), a mountain range located in the north of the present-day Czech Republic and the south-west of Poland, which once divided the historic regions of Bohemia and Silesia. Lovely Baltic cities are included, with 8 views taken circa 1920-1921 of the “Free City of Danzig” which existed only from 1920 to 1939 as a a semi-autonomous city-state consisting of the Baltic Sea port of Danzig (now Gdansk, Poland) and nearly 200 towns and villages in the surrounding areas.

Numerous other important towns and special regions are represented, with views of one of Germany’s oldest towns – Merseberg on the River Saale, several cities on the Rhine including Köln [Cologne], Bonn, Coblenz, as well as old fortifications and castles on the Rhine, the spa town Bad Pyrmont, Cassel (spelled Kassel since 1928) capital of the former electorate of Hesse-Cassel, 12 views of Berlin, 17 views of Munich, 17 views of Nuremberg including numerous interior views of the royal Herrenchiemsee, 3 photographs of Heligoland, and 9 scenes from Rügen – Germany’s largest island located off the Pomeranian coast in the Baltic Sea.

Remarkable views of the empire’s natural features include the Teutoburg Forest, the Mosel Valley and wine region, Sächsische Schweiz (Saxon Switzerland) – a former district (Kreis) in the south of the Free State of Saxony, with glimpses of the city of Schandau and others, and 29 photographs from the Harz mountain region including natural scenes, towns, and ancient buildings. This volume ends with 6 captivating photographs of Schwarzwald, in the Black Forest region.

Illustrating the diversity of European cities and customs, other volumes contain views from Italy, Greece, Spain, France, Switzerland, Scandinavia, Belgium, Austria and the United Kingdom.

Nostalgic city scenes from Bern, Lucern, Thun, Zurich, Fribourg, Geneva, and more, views of ancient castles and fortresses, are followed by striking nineteenth century alpine photography. Highlights of Switzerland include the Grindelwald Glacier and a frozen ice tunnel, a horse-drawn carriage driving along the Rhône Glacier through the Furka Pass, mountaineering on the Mont-Blanc.

Flowing seamlessly with alpine views leading to Lake Garda, Italy is also beautifully represented, this lot boasting interior views of the Vatican. Life in Genoa, the Riviera di Levante, Rapallo, Portofino, Naples, Palermo, Venice, Milan, and small villages are shown. With hairpin dirt roads bordered by simply stone borders and reaching high elevations, traditional wooden carts pulled by mules for conveying goods, and horse-drawn carriages being the principal mode of transportation, some of these views seem to be from the founding year of the NPG photographic company. Ruins at Syracuse and Taormina, three views of Pompeii, and several in Rome capture Italy’s ancient past. Some 60 photographs are taken in Rome. Also of interest are the numerous images showing the statues held in the various palaces and museums of Florence.

Spain would not be properly represented without images of a bullfight, of which we find two. Lush palatial courtyards and regal ancient Spanish architecture are make a dramatic impression with views from Seville. A flamboyant religious procession is captured. Further affluence is illustrated with views of the royal Moorish Alcázar of Seville, the Alhambra palace and fortress complex in Granada, and ornate cathedrals. In contract the album depicts the peasant class with a single photograph of a poorer district where three men stand on a dirt road alongside a pack-mule.

Paris, with its famous monuments, bridges and edifices, dressed-to-the-nines street vendors, and superb museums filled with invaluable treasures – these begin the visual tour of France. The chateau of Versailles, the Chateau de Fontainebleau continue this theme, until tranquil views emerge from Cannes, Villefranche-sur-Mer, La Turbie. At Nice, people in costume celebrate “Le Carnival” which has become one of the world’s major carnival events. Charming and prestigious scenes from Monaco on France’s Mediterranean coastline, followed by Menton on the French Riviera, complete this tour.

Austria‘s stunning mountainous environs, rudimentary roads and tunnels forging through them, ancient castles and churches dotting the landscape, nineteenth century promenades and other pastimes, glacier crevasses and the summit of the High Tauern, the exquisite Salzkammergut region, scenes in Tyrol and Vienna, these are all illustrated in 88 photographs.

Over 100 photographs are taken throughout Scandinavia. Norwegian maritime tradition and industry, as well as the innate outdoors/mountain lifestyle is very well portrayed in early photographs. Colonial buildings and urban development are the theme in Sweden and Denmark, with one image showing a tram on tracks but otherwise foot traffic and horse-drawn transportation are the norm. Old Dutch charm exudes from the views of the Netherlands, here captioned Holland, including a tulip field, canals, windmills, cheese vendors of Alkmaar transporting their product on sleds of sorts, and traditional costumes.

Essentially a tour of architectural interest, are views of Antwerp, Leuven, Lièges, Brussels, Laeken, and Bruges in Belgium. Locals in their leisure are captured in Ostend.

Highlights from England, Wales, and Scotland include photographs of the interior of Buckingham Palace as well as Windsor, scenes from the five-month Franco-British Exhibition of 1908 which was held in London, views of the Isle of Wight and the Happy Valley in Llandudno. A view of the Thames at Henley-on-Thames is most nostalgic and almost unrecognizable compared to today, with a plethora of small private river boats, and lady passengers with their parasols. Also pictured are Bristol, Plymouth, Birmingham, Ramsgate, Dover, Portsmouth, Brighton and Chester. Especially rare of the photographs of the Margate Newgate Gap and Bridge, being the original bridge built in 1861, which would be replaced in 1907. Scottish cities and locales include the busy streets of Glasgow, the quaint town of Oban, Inverness, Stirling, Rothesay on the Isle of Bute, as well as special bridges like “General Wade’s Bridge” [Tay Bridge] in Aberfeldy, an old Roman bridge in Lanark, and various waterfalls.

The following is a tally of photographs by country or region, included in the present 5 albums:

431 photographs of Germany
91 photographs of Austria
12 photographs of South Pacific Islands
30 photographs of Egypt
6 photographs of Damascus
18 photographs of Constantinople in present-day Turkey
178 photographs of Italy
12 photographs of Greece
33 photographs of Spain
101 photographs of France
70 photographs of Switzerland
45 photographs of Norway
15 photographs of Sweden
12 photographs of Denmark
51 photographs of The Netherlands
51 photographs of Belgium
94 photographs of England
8 photographs of Wales
24 photographs of Scotland
20 photographs of Hungary
33 photographs of Croatia
10 photographs of the Czech Republic
4 photographs of Poland
36 photographs of Bosnia and Herzegovina
1 photographs of Ukraine
4 photographs of the Crimea
8 photographs of Russia
5 photographs of Pekin in China
48 photographs of Japan
1 photographs of Korea
9 photographs of Ceylon
33 photographs of India
3 photographs of Argentina
3 photographs of Niagara Falls in America

Total of 1500 photographs

Bromide photograph prints – A printed photograph made on paper containing silver bromide that was sufficiently sensitive to light to be used for enlargements. Bromide papers came into general use around 1880 and became the most popular and widely used paper for black and white photography in the twentieth century, produced in matt, glossy or semi-matt finishes.

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