December 2014 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Images of Extinct NYC at Auction

If you're looking for a trip down Memory Lane--or Clinton Avenue or E. 32nd Street--here it is. Paging through the sale catalogue for tomorrow's auction of vernacular imagery, photo books & fine photographs at Swann Galleries brought to mind Jeremiah's Vanishing New York, a "bitterly nostalgic" blog that charts the city's ever-changing urban landscape. About a dozen lots recall New Yorkers and their city in incredibly evocative historic images.

696269.jpgThe first one that caught my eye is this image of Brooklyn apartment from an album of 7 architectural photographs depicting the home of W.H. Nichols at 353 Clinton Avenue circa 1876. I love the heavy Victorian nature of the image. And a quick search turns up the fact that Nichols was interesting too. Born in 1852, he was a chemist and businessman whose chemical supply company has lived on through various mergers, eventually becoming part of the present-day Honeywell corporation. Nichols was also one of the original founders of the American Chemical Society. The estimate is $500-750.

692676.jpgNext is one of a group of 60 images documenting the businesses along 6th Avenue in midtown in 1937, each with caption information detailing the location of the barber shops, hardware stores, and shoe shines available at the time. The estimate is $1,400-1,800.

698316.jpgThen there's a group of 10 images of Ellis Island immigrants, taken by Augustus Sherman circa 1905. Sherman, an amateur photographer, was chief registry clerk at Ellis Island, and it is assumed that his elaborately costumed subjects were detainees awaiting processing. His pictures were published in magazines and given to visitors as keepsakes. They were finally published in book form in 2005. The estimate is $5,000-7,000.

697780.jpgBernice Abbott's photography pops up a few times in this sale, and my favorite is this silver print, "Newsstand, East 32nd Street and Third Avenue, Manhattan" shot in 1935. It reminds me of the old "Book Row" imagery. The estimate is $2,500-3,500.

In addition, there is a first edition of Jacob Riis' How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York (illustrated) on offer, a photo archive of 145 images of downtown bohemian life taken by Lawrence Shustak in the 1970s, and two Lou Stoumen prints, both of Times Square in 1940.

Images via Swann Galleries.