Washington, DC: A. Gardner, Photographer, 511 Seventh Street, nd [ca.1865-67]. Photographic prints, all mounted on stiff card stock with the imprint of Alexander Gardner's Seventh Street studio in Washington, D.C., including three prints of photographs on three sheets, and eight prints of illustrations on six sheets, each with a caption title, and each labelled and numbered in the upper margin "United States Photograph No. [2-10]." Some toning to backing sheets, scattered foxing, overall very good. These "second generation" images were created by Gardner from the original photos of the British Boundary Commission for a report done by the U.S. government in the late 1860s to make a final settlement of claims regarding the boundary. The photographic images include:
No. 2: "H.B. Co. Fort Colville' [photo labelled "B"; and additionally captioned "United States Photograph No. 2;" the card stock mount also bears the stamp "Published by Philp & Solomons, Washington], 6 1/4 x 8 3/4 in. image, on 11 3/4 x 16 in. sheet
No. 3 1/2: "Camp of B.B. Commission, Fort Vancouver" [photo labelled "D"; and also captioned No. 3 1/2], 6 1/2 x 9 on. image, on 12 x 16 sheet
No. 4: [two images of drawings, on one sheet] "Exterior of Fort Hall," 4 1/2 x 8 1/2 in.; and "Interior of Fort Hall," 4 1/2 x 8 1/2 in., both mounted on a 16 x 12 in. sheet
No. 5: [two images of drawings, on one sheet] "Interior of Fort Boise," 4 3/4 x 8 3/4 in.; and "Exterior of Fort Boise," 4 3/4 x 8 3/4 in., both mounted on a 16 x 12 in. sheet
No. 6: "Birds Eye view of Fort Vancouver" [image of a drawing] 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 in., on a 9 1/2 x 11 3/4 in. sheet
No. 7: "H.B. Co's Fort Walla Walla" [image of a drawing] 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 in., on a 9 1/2 x 11 3/4 in. sheet
No. 8: "H.B. Co's Fort Okanagan" [image of a drawing] 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 in., on a 9 1/2 x 11 3/4 in. sheet
No. 9: "H.B. Co's Mill, near Fort Colvile" [image of a drawing] 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 in., on a 9 1/2 x 11 3/4 in. sheet
No. 10: "View from Fort Colville, looking across the Columbia" [photo labelled "E"; and also captioned No. 10] 7 x 9 in., on a 12 x 16 in. sheet
The sources for the three photos and eight drawings are identified in the Government Printing Office publication of 1868, "British and American Joint Commission for the Final Settlement of the Claims of the Hudson's Bay and Puget's Sound Agricultural Companies," and in the 1931 GPO publication "Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America: Documents 201-240, 1858-1862." The three photographs were part of the original group produced by the British side of the Boundary Commission. The eight illustrations come from the Pacific Railroad Reports, Vol. 12, part 1; and from the report of Major Osborne Cross, U.S. Army to the Quartermaster General, June 30, 1850. Item #66668
According to the catalogue record of a group of Alexander Gardner's five photographs of British Boundary Commission photographs [three of which correspond to this group] held at Washington State University, "the original images were British Boundary Commission photographs (ca. 1860-1861); those images were later photographed by Gardner on behalf of the British and American Joint Commission for the Final Settlement of the Claims of the Hudson's Bay and Puget Sound Agricultural Companies, which was investigating claims submitted in 1865 by those companies for losses suffered in relinquishing their rights below the U.S. British border." Another catalogue entry for the group of British Boundary Commission photographs held at the Oregon Historical Society Research Library notes that the majority of the original photos are thought to have been taken by "sappers" or enlisted men who were assigned to the commission.
The U.S. government report on this investigation, published in 1868 notes: "The United States, in consideration of the highly ornamental descriptions of the witnesses of the Hudson's Bay Company, in speaking of the structures at some of their posts, and in consideration of the exaggerated value attributed to the same, have procured a number of photographs of such structures, including, of course, views more or less extensive of the adjacent country." Using the examples they evidently asked Alexander Gardner to create, the report goes on to present its case, mentioning the "illusory valuations" which many of the structures in the images were given. [see pp.145-149]
In his essay "When Narrative Fails: Context and Physical Evidence as Means of Understanding the Northwest Boundary Survey Photographs of 1857-1862," in the Journal of Contemporary Archival Studies, Vol. 2, Article 2 (2015), James Eason writes about the rarity of the original photographs. No copies of the American team's photos have been found and of the British group of one hundred photos, 81 of which "constitute the official sets produced, presumably, to accompany survey reports" only two sets survive in British institutions, with incomplete subsets in American collections.
Alexander Gardner was well known for his work in early photography, including documentation of the Civil War. He was employed by Mathew Brady in his Washington, D.C. studio for a number of years before leaving to open his own shop with his two brothers. Gardner moved to the studio at 511 Seventh Street in 1863.