a German perspective on Photography’s history

Toronto. Most of the books I have on the History of Photography are English or American. For a German view point, I look at a ┬átranslation of Eder’s History of Photography. Austrian Josef Maria Eder wrote the 3rd edition of his book “Geshichte der Photographie” in 1905. He wrote this history because he felt the German and Austrian inventors in the development of photography were largely unknown or ignored by the British and French historians.

He was encouraged to write an expanded and updated version but it was delayed by the great war and the events before and after the war. As a result, his 4th edition was not published until 1932 although his preface was dated a few months earlier in November, 1931. His 4th edition was finally translated into English on January 2, 1945 by an American, Edward Epstean. The copyright on his translation was held by the Columbia University Press in 1945 and renewed by them in 1972. A Dover reprint was first published in 1978. I eventually picked up a marked down copy for $6.75 but neglected to note where or when this exchange was made (likely in 1980 at Coles or The World’s Biggest Bookstore, which they owned).

Epstean said in a preface to his translation of the 4th edition, “The illustrations appearing in the German work are omitted since most of them have only an ornamental value and are of little practical use to the student.” So you have an 800+ page text divided into some 97 chapters plus the copious notes and the index with only a single photograph – a portrait of Josef Maria Eder (1855 – 1944), ┬áthe author and chemist, likely taken in the 1930s for his 4th editon.


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