[Lot of Leadville, Colorado silver-mining boom cabinet cards.]. G. D. Wakely, photographer.
[Lot of Leadville, Colorado silver-mining boom cabinet cards.]
[Lot of Leadville, Colorado silver-mining boom cabinet cards.]
[Lot of Leadville, Colorado silver-mining boom cabinet cards.]
[Lot of Leadville, Colorado silver-mining boom cabinet cards.]
[Lot of Leadville, Colorado silver-mining boom cabinet cards.]
[Lot of Leadville, Colorado silver-mining boom cabinet cards.]
[Lot of Leadville, Colorado silver-mining boom cabinet cards.]

[Lot of Leadville, Colorado silver-mining boom cabinet cards.]

Leadville, Colorado, 1879–1880. 4 cabinet cards (4.5” x 7”). All photos inscribed in pencil on verso; one inscribed in an early hand “G. D. Wakely, photo.”.

A lot of four cabinet cards capturing the burgeoning town of Leadville, Colorado at the zenith of the silver-mining boom in the area, featuring an image of the Grant Smelter.

Leadville was founded in 1877 by mine-owners Horace Tabor and August Meyer amid the Colorado Silver Boom, which came on the heels of a brief gold rush boom in the district. Silver mining began in 1876—leading to a deluge of miners venturing to the area in the late-1870s. By 1880, the town of Leadville was one of the world's largest and richest silver camps, boasting a population of over 15,000. The town had gas lighting, water mains, twenty-eight miles of streets, churches, hospitals, numerous businesses, banks, and a school for over a thousand students. At its peak in 1882, Leadville was home to over 50,000 residents, making it Colorado’s second most populous city after Denver in the late-nineteenth century. During the 1880s, Leadville became a modern city and a major industrial center, with power plants built to supply electricity. While the silver crash of 1893 ended Leadville's boom years, the city rebounded quickly; by 1895 Leadville's mines were once again operating at full capacity. In 1895 Leadville mines produced the most silver of any year in its history except for 1880—nearly 9.5 million ounces.

Photos included as follows:

“Chestnut [St.] looking east, 1880”

This image—taken on Chestnut St. in downtown Leadville and looking east—shows the town, Leadville’s Grand Hotel, and numerous shop fronts (drug, shoes, meat, pioneer, candy, etc.). Outside of “Marx Bros O.K. Clothing Store” numerous articles of clothing are shown hanging up. Several individuals are pictured outside the Grand Hotel, and various horse-drawn carriages are in the street. Some houses can be seen on a hill looming above the town, which has been clear-cut.

“1880, Harrison Ave”

Captured in this photo—taken in downtown Leadville on Harrison Ave—are hotels, restaurants (advertising 25 ct. meals), and various shops for hardware, clothing, alcohol, real estate, and so on. Numerous telegraph poles run parallel to the street, which is busy with horse-drawn carriages and men.

“1879, West side Harrison Ave from Cap Hill[?] G. D. Wakely photo”

Shown in this image are numerous homes—many of them log cabins—with mountains discernable in the distance. Smoke billows from numerous dwellings, and one horse is visible outside a house. Much of the land not occupied by buildings appears to have been clear-cut.

“Grant’s Smelter, the largest in the world.”

This image pictures the large Grant Smelter building in Leadville, outside of which scores of laborers are standing atop a massive heap of rubble. Smoke billows from one of the smokestacks.

James Benton Grant (1848–1911)—governor of Colorado (1883–85)—ventured to Leadville, Colorado in 1877. Before serving as Colorado’s third govenor, Grant was a mining engineer who worked in the smelting industry. After working in Leadville during its boom, Grant relocated to Denver in 1882 and the present smelter was also moved to Denver. In Denver, Grant Smelting Co. boasted the tallest furnace stack (350 ft.) in America—and the third tallest in the world. It was later purchased by the Guggenheims of New York and simply called the “Grant smelter.”

George D. Wakely was born in England ca. 1823 and is known to have worked as an ambrotypist in Chicago from 1856 to 1857, and by 1859 had settled in Leavenworth, Kansas with his wife and four children, where the entire family became members of the Thorne Star Company, an itinerant acting troupe. Wakely and his family arrived in Denver in September of 1859 having crossed the plains with the troupe. He began operating as an ambrotypist in October and maintained a photography studio in Denver until 1865. Of his Colorado views, the American Journal of Photography noted “Many of the views are illustrative of gold mining, and of special interest to the share-holders in mining companies; but some of them simply as landscapes are the most pleasing photographs we have ever seen.”

Just one of the photographs offered here is identified as taken by Wakely, but all are on similar mounts and appear to be his work.

REFERENCES: Palmquist, Peter and Thomas R. Kailbourn. Pioneer Photographers of the Far West (Stanford, 2000), pp. 575-576; James Benton Grant at colorado.gov; Leadville, Colorado at westernmininghistory.com; Smelters at unco.edu.

CONDITION: Good tonality, light foxing and minor stains, light wear at extremities.

Item #6033

Price: $1,250.00

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