Item #21536 Original Photo Album Documenting the Remains of the USS Maine and Its Environs. Spanish-American War, Photography.
Original Photo Album Documenting the Remains of the USS Maine and Its Environs
Original Photo Album Documenting the Remains of the USS Maine and Its Environs
Original Photo Album Documenting the Remains of the USS Maine and Its Environs

Original Photo Album Documenting the Remains of the USS Maine and Its Environs

Havana, Cuba: 1898. Very Good. Item #21536

Small quarto (27.5cm.); original black gilt-ruled cloth photo album lettered in gilt; [24]ll. of stiff grey card stock die-cut with windows to fit forty-eight (48) photographs (ca. 7.5x10.5cm.), filled to completion. Light soil to binding, textblock cleanly separated from boards; still, Very Good, contents clean and sound.

Collection of unattributed photographs taken in Havana Bay in the wake of the explosion and sinking of the USS Maine in February, 1898. The Maine was docked in Havana harbor in order to protect American interests during the Cuban War of Independence when it mysteriously exploded on the evening of February 15. Of the 355 members of the crew aboard the ship at the time of the explosion, 261 perished, and the journalistic frenzy whipped up in the aftermath placed blame firmly (and almost certainly erroneously) on the Spanish. Though war was not instantly declared, the damage was done. A little over two months later, on April 25, the United States declared war on Spain.

The present album consists of original snapshot photographs, the earliest batch taken from the prow of an unidentified ship, occasionally showing lone members of the crew at work, but chiefly focused on views from the vessel, of passing ships and the approaching skyline of Havana. Five images depict the approaching remains of the Maine peering out from the water at the approaching photographer, the final shot taken nearly atop of the mutilated wreckage. From there the photographs turn to views of Morro Castle, a 17th century fortress equipped with lighthouse, shown here flying the Stars and Stripes. At some point the photographer must have landed, as the following photographs depict the canons displayed at the fortress, as well as views from the city itself, including houses, state buildings, public squares, and a covered market. From the city the photographer ventured further into rural Cuba, with photographs of a farming family posing outside their wood-framed, grass-roofed home, a horse-drawn carriage and chickens spotted in the courtyard. Below this photograph is that of a naked child standing in front of a crumbling stone wall. Later photographs show palm-tree lines boulevards and stretches of rural fields before returning back to the harbor with one last shot of the Maine as the photographer recedes from the port.

Price: $1,500.00