New 1906 Earthquake Photos Ring In Anniversary

In lieu of the San Francisco earthquake’s 113th anniversary, an auction house has unearthed a quaking collection of amazing post-quake photographs.

Image: Swann Galleries

If you’re not willing to wake up for the 5:12 a.m. Earthquake Anniversary Ceremony Thursday morning at Lotta’s Fountain on Market Street, an auction house has something else to really rock your world. A collection of genuine photographs taken in the wake of the quake is on the block at New York auction house Swann Galleries, and we’ve captured a few of the best ones below.

Image: Swann Galleries

Via Atlas Obscura, we learn that a few dozen of these remarkable photos remain available at auction. (The images in this article are merely scans of the original gelatin silver print photos being sold.) “The photographs document dramatic destruction throughout the city, with images of partially collapsed and toppled buildings; streets strewn with debris and gaping sinkholes; historic landmarks reduced to rubble,” Swann Galleries says in a release.

Image: Swann Galleries

We have no idea who took these century-old photos, only the one seen above is signed by it’s photographer W.E. Worden. But many do have their street intersections scrawled upon them to give perspective amidst the destruction and rubble.

Image: Swann Galleries

In a parallel to the often racist and classist charges of “looting” we see in the natural disasters of today, one of the unattributed photos bears the phrase “Relic Seekers After the Fire 1906.”

Image: Swann Galleries

It’s unlikely you are going to shlep 3,000 miles to New York City before Thursday’s final day the physical photographs will be on exhibition. But you can reach out to listing director Daile Kaplan, an appraiser from Antiques Roadshow, if you’re interested in buying one. Experts estimate these will sell for between $2,000 to $3,000.

 

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