September 2017 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Beecher Family Photo Collection for Sale

Yes, those Beechers.

Beecher_family-LG.jpgA collection of four photographs depicting the famous Beecher family of nineteenth-century American writers, social reformers, and all around do-gooders has come up for sale at the 19th Century Rare Book & Photography Shop. The group portrait pictured above, c. 1850s, headlines the collection, showing ten members of the family. Harriet Beecher Stowe, celebrated author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, is seated at right; her brother, abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher, stands at far right. The half-plate ambrotype was taken by Mathew Brady Studios, though its case bears the stamp of a Maine "daguerreian" named George M. Howe. "The use of a case from a gallery in Maine may be explained by Harriet's move to Brunswick, Maine in 1850 when her husband Calvin Ellis Stowe secured a teaching position at Bowdoin," according to the online description. Tom Edsall of the 19th Century Rare Book and Photography Shop further told us, "The ambrotype came from a private New England collection."

The collection also includes another Brady print, c. 1856, of family patriarch Lyman Beecher; a signed albumen print of Harriet, c. 1880s; and a hand-colored portrait of the long-suffering Mrs. Henry Ward Beecher, c. 1860s, who wrote books about domestic life, though hers was, as the description has it, "complicated."

The Beecher family photos will be sold en bloc, and the price tag reads $42,000.

Image courtesy of the 19th Century Rare Book and Photography Shop