by [Mexico Photographica]: [Self, Edward Danforth]
[San Jose, Tamaulipas, Mexico, 1902. Three volumes. ; ; pp., containing 189 gelatin silver prints mounted in die-cut windows, ninety- two 3.25 x 3.25 inches, ninety-seven 4.25 x 3.25 inches. Oblong quarto. Volume I: Antique-style calf, original gilt front cover label laid down. Volume II: contemporary black cloth, blind-stamped. Volume III: contemporary crimson pebbled cloth. Minor shelf wear, light bumping. Very good. Photographs in generally excellent condition. A captivating visual record of early 20th-century Mexico. The images were captured by Edward Danforth Self, noted mechanical and mining engineer who worked as the general manager of the San Carlos Mine in Mexico. The San Carlos mines encompassed six square miles with a copper and gold smelter at San Jose, Tamaulipas, Mexico, and 6,400 acres of timber. By 1901, the company included the Begonia, Santa Elena, and Bretana mines, with fifty shafts spread over seven miles of tunnels, and total underground openings of ten miles. In 1904, they were reported to have mined and refined over 88,000 pounds of copper and an indeterminate amount of gold. Self continued to work for the San Carlos Copper Co. until 1907, when the company was sold to the Saddle Mountain Mining Co. of Arizona, after which Self moved to Phoenix to work in mines there. After early retirement, Self moved himself and his family to Florence, Italy, before World War I, so that his children could benefit from an education in art and music. The Nichols family, who owned and operated San Carlos and many other mining companies, eventually built a giant chemical company, Allied Chemical & Dye Corporation, which would grow into the special materials business of Honeywell. The images are filled with scenes of Mexican natives, mining equipment, smelters, cities, trains, coaches, ox carts, and more. The first album begins with photos of Self, along with colleagues George Finlay and Professor James Furman Kemp, and families leaving on the Mexican Central Railroad from Eagle Pass, Texas to study copper ores at the San Carlos Copper Company mines. Unfortunately for the travelers, the branch railroad spur between Linares and the mines was unfinished, so they were forced to go by carriage, horseback, and oxcarts for the thirty-eight mile journey to the mines. The images show the wagons, women preparing food, Mexican drovers, cowboys, Self's house in San Jose, mining buildings, Mexicans in Tampico waiting for the railroad, two images showing a Boettcher Bros. Co. hardware store in the background, and more. Many photos show street scenes featuring indigenous people in Mexico City, Guadalupe, San Angel, Montemorelos, Zacatecas, and Monterey, with an interesting image of a small Ferris wheel operating in Guadalupe, along with a street market, jewelry store, train stations, the countryside, and the smelter. The second and third albums show a variety of subjects, including a steam engine, a hoist, the San Carlos Copper Co. office, Self's house, Mexican buildings, homes, and offices of the assorted mines, steam pouring from the engines driving the mining equipment, several trains of the Mexican Central Railroad, along with several shots of what appear to be Mexican troops on maneuvers, sporting events and races, Mexicans in native dress, and Self's wife and young children. Interestingly, in the second album, there are several shots of the family on vacation in Saratoga Springs, New York, showing the boardwalk, tourist hotels, golfing, two sharp images of African-American caddies, and ladies playing croquet in Victorian dress. A wonderful artifact documenting the rural and urban life of Mexicans before the Revolution. (Inventory #: WRCAM51034)
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