Product Description

PAM45A: 1850c Important Half Plate Scenic Daguerreotype – California Adobe Building of Alta-California Period Construction (Likely a Ranco Grantee Build) Possibly the Work of Vance or Shew: Singularly rare and important piece of Californian history. According to California historians, this is most definitely of adobe construction and likely Californian-Hispanic origins. The two story adobe building was typical of a Californio homestead from the 1820-40’s period (Spanish term for a descendant of a person of Castilian or other Spanish ancestry who was born in what is now the U.S. state of California). A review of the few remaining Californio adobe buildings remaining has brought up one property in particular. The adobe is associated with Jose Castro, Commandant General of Northern California, who built this house facing the plaza for the residential use of his secretary and for administrative use by himself. In 1848, the house was purchased with California gold by the Breens, a prominent pioneer family known for their survival of a severe winter season that stranded them and the rest of the Donner Party in the California Sierras during the winter months of 1846. Does the daguerreotype picture the Breen-Castro house? It is possible given the building size, two story c construction, the balcony, and the tree location. The arches are one notable exception but the whole façade of this building has since been completely re-rendred with wood cladding (stone/adobe arch pillars removed for safety purposes?). Florida is one other location possibility which had similar Mexican – American settlements in the 1840’s. The tropical (as opposed to dust bowl) fauna and lack of daguerreian’s in the area however limit the possibility of this house being in Florida. With the likely location being northern California, the responsible daguerreian would be someone like Vance or Shew. Condition: The large plate is light when looking straight on but comes alive from the right angles. It has obvious condition issues with lower contrast and light but numerous wisps but if in untouched shape, this image would command massively more. The original case however is in superb condition bare from a repaired leather hinge. The glass was cleaned and the package was archivally resealed with P90 tape.