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COLLIER, William Bell & Page Blackwood.

Unusual personal photograph album of ship- and boat-building projects.

San Francisco, CA, Norfolk, VA & Portsmouth, NH: 1891-1924 Stock Code: 133169
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Highly appealing album showing various craft designed and built by naval architect William B. Collier (1869-1951) working both privately with his brother Page (1871-1913), and for the U.S. Navy. The vessels range in scale from steam launches and motorboats built by the brothers and trialed on Clear Lake, California in the 1890s to the USS Olympia, Admiral Dewey's flagship at Manila Bay, "lines laid down at Union Iron Works by W.B. Collier 1889".

The majority of the images relate to projects that Collier worked on at the Navy Yard in Norfolk, VA at the turn of the twentieth century and seem to be semi-official, taken under trial. A 32-foot motor boat, N. 1113 of 1912, is shown in clear side views in the water "under full speed", at the dock side, on blocks on the quay, and one interior of the "machinery space" with a full view of the motor. Another sequence shows a 50-foot sailing launch - "sheer raised 12 inches at the stern in later boats by Bureau of Construction & Repair" - with some thirty or so yard workers on board during speed testing. Notable vessels include the 30-foot "motor boat No.795 U.S.N., for President Roosevelt's yacht U.S.S. Sylph... 12.5 knots, 25 H.P. standard rated, developed 18 B.H.P. on block test"; a "50 ft. motor boat for U.S.S. Constitution, 9.5 knots, 65 Horsepower Clifton motor Works, Cincinnati, OH motor"; and the submarine V-1, first of the US Navy's "fleet boat" vessels on the slipway and launched at Portsmouth, NH in 1924. Of the same date are the 36-foot Coast Guard Picket Boats Nos. 2225 and 2226 shown on trial in a sequence of nine excellent images. A small fleet of these swift craft - the captioning notes a top speed of 22.37 mph - were built in the Prohibition years to counter the threat of rumrunners. While the great majority of the images relate to Collier's professional life, around 20 are away from the shipyard. An attractive sequence of 10 depicts Collier's travels to the east coast on the Union Pacific from Clear Lake to Norfolk, and include images of San Francisco, the Nevada Desert, the Great Salt Lake Utah, the Rocky Mountains, and the Potomac at Washington. Also probably in and around Washington, an action shot of ?Collier playing tennis, and two photographs of his wife; one seated in a rocking chair, archly regarding the photographer who has interrupted her reading of the Washington Post, and another, rather beautiful, of her serenely contemplative on a beach.

The Colliers' father was Civil War veteran Capt. William B. Collier, their mother Mary, née Blackwood, was "the leader of the exclusive Southern Set of San Francisco" (LA Times 5 October 1913), the family had "extensive holdings at Clear Lake" where the brothers based their early boat-building enterprise. William was educated at Washington University in St. Louis before joining the Union Iron Works in San Francisco where he worked on Olympia. He "later went into the government service for 35 years and served at Mare Island, Norfolk, Va., the Navy Department at Washington, and the Portsmouth naval shipyard, before retiring in 1933" (obituary in The Portsmouth Herald, Portsmouth, NH, 11 August 1951). His brother Page left the shipbuilding business and at the time of his death in 1913 in a gasoline explosion on his motor boat at Sausalito was a superintendent in the United States Indian Service. An attractive record of an early twentieth-century career in shipbuilding.

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Contemporary Japanese fukuro-toji pouch binding (225 x 300 mm), plain buff paper wrappers containing c.100 leaves of thin wove paper, a piece of practical rather than decorative stationery. Housed in a black flat-back cloth box by the Chelsea Bindery.


93 original albumen and silver gelatin photographs, mostly mounted, a few loose, many captioned on the mounting leaves in pencil or in the plate; various dimensions, 2 images c. 152 x 203 mm, 5 c.128 x 178 mm, and 8 c. 203 x 254 mm - one of these with the


wrappers rubbed and a little grubby, grease patch to the lower panel, some edge splitting, leaves lightly browned throughout, particularly at the margins with some splitting, sporadic silvering and occasional fading of the prints, the extracted journal leaves are inevitably a little fragile at the margins, but overall very good.


With the exception of framed items*, Peter Harrington offers free delivery on all UK orders of rare books, maps and prints placed through this website. Delivery to USA and the rest of the world is similarly free for orders over £200.

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Established in 1969, Peter Harrington is one of the leading rare book firms in the world. It is a proud member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association – along with ILAB, the PBFA and Lapada – and from shops in Mayfair and Chelsea, London, sells rare books, prints and ephemera to customers across the world.

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