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Alvin Langdon Coburn Photography Collection

Date range: 1906-1994

Medium: Printed/Photography

Number of items: c.280 items.

This outstanding collection is currently on deposit from a private collector here at the John Rylands Library.

Alvin Langdon Coburn began taking photographs when he received a camera as a gift on his eighth birthday, but it was not until 1899, when he met the photographer Edward Steichen, that he became a serious photographer. In the same year Coburn contributed to two important exhibitions: the New School of American Pictorial Photography exhibition and the Salon of the Linked Ring, a group of English photographers (including, Henry Peach Robinson, Frederick Evans, Frank Sutcliffe and James Craig Annan) who worked to establish photography as an art. Coburn was a photographer who explored virtually every photo-process available at his time and examples of range of processes are embedded in this collection.

Coburn had close ties with North West England and Wales and produced a number of photo-books, included in this collection relating to Manchester’s cotton industry, the Manchester Ship Canal and Liverpool. He published work with Manchester’s Cloister Press under the auspices of Charles, Hobson, Walter Lewis and Stanley Morison. The collection is of interest to researchers across many disciplines, including photography and art history, and also to those interested in visual culture and architecture.

Noteworthy items include:

  • 31 photo-books of Coburn’s most iconic photo-illustrated books in association copies including:Men of Mark(1913); The Door in the Wall(1911),New York (1910) as well as works with a direct Manchester connection (Manchester Reform Club,Manchester and the Sea, and The Story of the Bale);
  • Letters and vortographic prints relating to the prehistory of the publication of Coburn’s Autobiography, which was published by Faber shortly before his death in 1966;
  • A series of 138 glass plate negatives;
  • A number of gravure plates and silver gelatin prints.

See also:

Further information:

Recorded in Library Search.


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