“ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS AND MOST SUCCESSFUL PHOTOGRAPHERS OF HER TIME”: SCARCE FIRST EDITION OF BOURKE-WHITE’S COFFEE, 1936
BOURKE-WHITE, Margaret. Coffee Through the Camera's Lens. New York: American Can, 1936. Original green paper portfolio with pocket, 16 leaves (4 by 6-1/2 inches), one reader reply card (3 by 5 inches), loose as issued. $1250.
First and only edition of Bourke-White’s photo-essay on coffee, published only one year before her groundbreaking photobook You Have Seen Their Faces and the same year Life magazine premiered with her photograph on its cover, with 11 photogravures after Bourke-White.
“Margaret Bourke-White was one of the most famous and most successful photographers of her time. Her combination of intelligence, talent, ambition and flexibility… [were] perhaps the legacy of her apprenticeship in the demanding field of industrial reportage (Szarkowski, Looking at Photographs). That training began in the 1930s when her “success at Fortune magazine helped create the concept of photojournalism… When Luce began Life magazine in 1936, the magazine’s first cover picture, of the Fort Peck Dam in Montana, was by Bourke-White” (Time). That same year “the American Can Company, a producer of vacuum cans used by coffee roasters, hired Bourke-White to travel to Brazil and photograph coffee cultivation and harvesting” (Young, Great Depression, 100). One year later, further exploring her focus on the lives of workers, “she made the hard-hitting social exposé… You Have Seen Their Faces (1937)” (PB II:177). In the fine tradition of company photobooks by Man Ray, Cartier-Bresson, Koudelka and Friedlander, this scarce Depression-era work captures her emergence as a pioneering photojournalist in “a booklet made for children about the growing, harvesting and production of coffee” (Parr & Badger II:184). With 11 photogravures by Bourke-White, map of South America, and leaves titled: “The Coffee Industry in the United States,” “Multiple-Choice Test,” “True-False Test” and “What to Put in Your Coffee Project Book,” together with a reader reply card. See Open Book, 124; Roth, 94.
In fine condition.