[washington, D. C. ]: N. P., . Item #1608
Full brown calf measuring 17¾” x 12” x 4” (457x327x104mm) with brass clasps, a. E. G, front board titled in gilt. 22 thick card leaves, each page with an albumen portrait mounted on card, which in turn is mounted inside a windowed sleeve (44 total photographs). Photographs measure 13 11/16” x 7 7/8” (346x201mm). Photographs generally very good, a few with dust soiling, all with from 3 to 12 neat wormholes; 2 photos good: heavily tanned. Album very good plus: professionally rebacked with some restoration to board corners and edges; lacking one clasp. A massive, 21 pound monument to the series of meetings that ultimately created the Organization of American States and likely the last major work by Mathew Brady. The first International American Conference came about, initially, because of James Blaine's desire to bring all the countries of the Western Hemisphere together to prevent war. In 1881, when Blaine was Secretary of State for Garfield, invitations to the countries were sent. After Garfield's assassination and Blaine's removal by Chester Arthur, the invitations were withdrawn. Out of public office, Blaine continued to promote the idea of a conference adding that it could also bring about trade benefits. His efforts succeeded with Congress, in 1888, adopting a resolution encouraging President Cleveland to hold the conference, “for the purpose of discussing and recommending for adoption to their respective governments some plan of arbitration for the settlement of disagreements and disputes that may hereafter arise between them and for considering questions relating to the improvement of business intercourse. ” Cleveland agreed, plans were made, Blaine became secretary of state again under Harrison and the conference was held. 27 delegates from 13 countries got together, but before the formal sessions were held they went on a 6 week rail tour of major industrial centers. The United States pulled out all the stops, hoping to foment friendships among the delegates through familiarity and shared experiences. The delegates met 70 times in the five months after their train trip. The most important result of the conference was the commitment to regular future meetings and the creation of the International Bureau of American Republics. It later became the Pan American Union and is now the Organization of American States. April 14, 1890, the Bureau's founding date, is now celebrated as Pan American Day, or Day of the Americas. By the time Brady was contracted to create this album, his wife had died and his health was failing. His finances were a shambles and he often depended on the kindness of friends. Two years earlier, Brady and his nephew created an album depicting all the members of the 50th Congress, including the President and cabinet, but it was likely not published. He was still taking portraits in 1890, and he was hired to photograph the delegates to the Patent Centennial Celebration in April 1891, but we can find no record of that album's production. As such, this is likely Brady's last significant work prior to his death in 1896. Despite the album's title, only 27 of the 43 men photographed were actually delegates with ten of them from the United States. Designation as a delegate was a point of contention when Blaine (who is seen as the first photo in the album) was nominated to be chairman of the conference. The Argentines successfully opposed Blaine's nomination on the grounds that he was not a delegate. In addition to Blaine, there is a photo of Andrew Carnegie as well as two men who each went on to become president of Argentina: Manuel Quintana and Roque Sáenz Peña. Other notables include John B. Henderson, co-author and co-sponsor of the 13th amendment and Charles Ranlett Flint, founder of the company which later became IBM. The final image shows the Wallach Mansion on Massachusetts Avenue, where the conference was held. This is the ninth copy of the album we've been able to locate. The album is shrouded in mystery, with just a few lines mentioning it in three of the four Brady biographies we consulted. One believed that an album was created for each foreign delegate, in which case 17 were made; another hypothesizes they were given to each foreign delegation, or 12. OCLC locates a few individual images at the Library of Congress and a copy held by the Columbus Library of the Organization of American States. The National Archives states that OAS owns four total copies (two at Columbus, one with the National Archives, another in the cornerstone of the Pan American Building). A google search shows the Library of Congress has an album with 40 photos (and a longer title on the front board) and the Harvard Art Museums hold a copy (similar cover title as the copy held at LOC, and with 41 photos). A 1906 catalog of the Honduran National Library listed another and one with 43 photos sold at Swann's in 1997. This album was given to Nicanor Bolet Peraza, a delegate from Venezuela, and comes from one of his descendants. Its having spent the last 125 years in that climate would account for the wormholes and we surmise it had been opened to the 30th and 31st photographs which would account for the two photos in lesser condition. An important cultural artifact joining one of the most illustrious photographers of the 19th century with the diplomats who founded what is now the Organization of American States. This item is offered by Langdon Manor Books, LLC, antiquarian booksellers. Please do not hesitate to contact us for additional information and/or photos and we will respond promptly. We package our items carefully, ship daily, and have a no hassle returns policy--your satisfaction is guaranteed. 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