Ca. 1900. Forty-seven large gelatin silver photos ca. 19x23 cm (7 ½ x 9 in), mounted on original studio cards ca. 25,5x32,5 cm (10 x 12 ¾ in). Ca. 31 photos numbered in negative; all but three photos with period pencil captions on verso (some captions faded, some repeated in later ink). Mounts mildly soiled and foxed, many with minor chipping or losses on extremities or corners, a few images mildly faded or with mild silvering, one photo with a minor tear on mount slightly affecting the image, two photos with stains on the images, but overall a very good collection of these rare photos.
Historically significant collection of rare early large photographs of Costa Rica taken by a prominent local studio of Paynter Brothers, initially partnered with another important Costa Rican photographer Harrison Nathaniel Rudd. In 1889 or 1890, the eldest of the brothers, William Paynter McBird (or McBurt), together with Rudd, opened up an elegant two-storey “Galeria de Artes” in the Parque Central of Costa Rica’s capital San Jose. The Galeria became known for its high-quality portraits and well-executed views of San Jose and Costa Rican countryside, including the first ever photos of the craters of the Poás and Turrialba volcanoes (see more: Brenes-Tencio, G. “A fin de que la ilusión sea completa”: fotógrafos y fotografías en la ciudad de San José al finalizar el siglo XIX. Una contribución documental// Revista Herencia. Vol. 21 (2), 37-55, 2008, pp. 37-55). In 1895, Rudd and Paynter dissolved their partnership, and William opened the “Paynter Bros.” studio with his brothers Luke and Richard. The studio continued the initial line of work, also publishing postcards and actively contributing to a popular Costa Rican weekly magazine “Paginas Ilustradas” (San Jose, 1904-1912). The original photographs by the Rudd-Paynter partnership and “Paynter Bros.” are rare with only a couple of institutional holdings. Our collection includes six views of the craters of the Poás and Turrialba volcanoes, detailing on their internal land formations. Nine photos show Costa Rican railways, including the Birris River bridge (completed in 1890), Rio Grande bridge under construction (completed in 1902), a landslide with a partly destroyed railway line, “Jamaican workers on the Northern railway,” etc. There are also over a dozen photos of San Jose, including a general view featuring the Metropolitan Cathedral, views of the Parque Central, city market, a bull ring, the interior of the Metropolitan Cathedral, a street procession, seven views of the exterior and lavish interior of the newly-built Teatro Nacional (completed in 1897), etc. The other photos show Costa Rican countryside (valleys, villages, streams and waterfalls), ruins of the church in Ujarras (captioned as “ruin of the oldest church in Central America”), an “Indian teepee,” portraits of farmers, families, pickers of coffee berries, a group portrait of schoolgirls, etc. Overall a historically significant rare collection of original early photos of Costa Rica, A list of captions: Crater of [Poas] volcano from the highest point of which both oceans may be seen, only place in the world where this may be done; Down in the crater of Poas, vapor[?] coming up from sulphuric lake below; Down into Diable Inferno – Crater; Crater of Turrialba; Crater of Turrialba, another view; Another crater of an extinct volcano – soil farm; The Rio Grande; Cantilever bridge over the Rio Grande (Grand River), Costa Rica, 400 ft high of the highest of its kind in the world; Another view of the bridge, Rio Grande [2 different views with the same caption]; Working car on the bridge; Costa Rica ferro carril (railroad); A landslide; Scene along the Costa Rican Railway - tree with hanging moss; Jamaican workman – on the Northern Railway; A sight along the Northern Railway, C.R.; National Theatre, one of the most beautiful and most expensive theatres in the world; Right enters the hallway near which <…> the door <…> enters the large Promanating room which occupies the whole upper front of the building; Promanating room in Theatre; Café in Theatre Nacional; Curtain – hand painted, National Theatre; Scene of Port Limon, hand-painted 5[?] ft. size by famous Italian artist; Painting in dome of building (Theatre); Catholic church in San Jose where President was inaugerated [sic!] in the month of May 1902; View of San Jose C.R.; Park in San Jose; A park scene; Ruin of the oldest church in Central America, age not known; Market Plaza where the country people come to sell their produce; A bull fight; Indian Teepee; A native’s farm house; A country road; Model scene from the mountain side; Costa Rican farmhouse; Getting ready to milk; The coffee plantation in flower; Many miles of valley; The chocolate tree; Plucking coffee berries; Shoeing an ox.