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Books: Expanding on Hallmark's photographic collection

This second edition includes even more of the collection, providing a fine survey of the medium in America

The photographic collection of a major American corporation, Hallmark, whose greeting cards are a household name, started in 1964, has grown over the last twenty years from 650 works to over 4,000, and has become one of the most important in scope and variety, holding, as it does, many of the greatest American photographs in private hands. To celebrate what to many eyes is the American century, during which photography mirrored technical, social and intellectual advances and shifts, Hallmark have issued this second edition (containing twice as many images as that published in 1995) with a revised and expanded, informative, well researched and presented text by Keith F. Davis, curator of the collection. In extent and detail, this is probably the best and most up-to-date account of American photography available in one volume. Tackling a period of over a hundred years, from the advent of the “dry” plate (which, unlike earlier “wet” collodion plates, did not have to be coated immediately prior to exposure in order to be effective) and more versatile hand-held cameras, to the present, equally fundamental, advances made with digital technology, the text is divided into four chronological parts, each chapter followed by a body of plates. Printed to the highest specifications, the book includes key photographs sited at the appropriate point in the text for easy reference, with the bulk of the illustrations printed full-page, and reproduced in colour, where appropriate. Some are reproduced using the tritone process to give the full tonal range of monochrome prints. Much more than a guide, this is an authoritative and detailed work of reference that covers a signal period in the development of photography in America, with a roll-call of photographers that does not fail to include the lesser known among the all-time greats.

o Keith F. Davis, An American century of photography from dry plate to digital: the Hallmark Photographic Collection (Harry N. Abrams, New York, 1999), 590 pp, 499 b/w ills, 48 col. ills, £60, $95 (hb) ISBN 0810963787

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Keith F. Davis, An American century of photography from dry plate to digital: the Hallmark Photographic Collection (Harry N. Abrams, New York, 1999), 590 pp, 499 b/w ills, 48 col. ills, £60, $95 (hb) ISBN 0810963787'

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 96 October 1999