Alexander Gardner's Photographic Sketchbook of the War makes $120,000

A rare copy of Alexander Gardner's Photographic Sketchbook of the War has sold for $120,000 at Cowan's in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The lot led a sale of American historical artefacts and documents on November 21.

Alexander Gardner
Alexander Gardner was the official photographer of the Union army

Gardner (1821-1822) is credited with developing photojournalism as an art form. His stark and unrelenting eye provided some of the first images of the horrors of war, abounding with skulls and dead bodies.

Allan Pinkerton, founder of the Secret Service, was responsible for hiring him to the newly created position of Union army photographer.   

He travelled alongside the troops, utilising a mobile darkroom that allowed him to edit and print on the fly.

The book contains close to 100 photographs and was published on subscription between 1865 and 1866.

It was prohibitively expensive, with the result that few were ever issued and even fewer have survived to the present day.

A manuscript document signed by legendary Scottish naval officer JP Jones, who fought alongside the Americans in the revolutionary war, made $43,000.

It relates to the court martial of a Captain Whipple, who was accused of cowardice during an engagement with the British in the Bahamas on May 4, 1776.

We have an extraordinary collection of books and manuscripts available, click here to take a look.

Please sign up to our free newsletter to receive exciting news about books and manuscripts auctions.

Featured products

Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Elvis Presley Authentic Strand of Hair
Sale price£399
In stock
Fidel Castro signed certificateFidel Castro Signed Certificate
Fidel Castro signed certificate
Sale price£2,995
In stock
King Henry VIII Autographed DocumentKing Henry VIII Autographed Document
King Henry VIII Autographed Document
Sale price£55,000
In stock