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Brady salt print portrait of David Valentine, editor and publisher of Valentine’s Manual

(VALENTINE, DAVID T.) Mathew Brady Studio. David T. Valentine

New York and Washington: Brady Studio, c. late 1850s

Salted paper print (18 x 13 ½ in.), unmounted. One inch closed tear at blank upper right corner, else in fine condition.

This is a delightful Brady Imperial salt print portrait of one of the fascinating political and literary characters of mid-nineteenth-century New York, David T. Valentine.

David T. Valentine was clerk of the Common Council of New York (now City Council) and an avid collector of historical materials. His classic annual Manual of the Corporation of the City of New York (1841-1867), better known as Valentine’s Manual, has long been one of the most valuable resources for scholars and aficionados of New York history.

The New York Times review of the Manual for 1863 noted, “Services to posterity of this nature are generally tendered at the sacrifice of the present, and it is a happy coincidence which has placed Mr. VALENTINE in a position of such usefulness both to our own and to succeeding generations. … If any one among us may calculate surely on a sublunary immortality, Mr. VALENTINE is the man. He has linked his name indissolubly with one of the greatest cities in the world in a manner ‘which time shall strengthen not efface.’ As the laborious digger and delver among old Dutch manuscripts in search of the first faint traces of the municipal existence of New Amsterdam, or as the recorder of the rising glories and meridian splendors of the New-York of our own day, his name will meet the future investigator as every step.”

“Early on, Brady set himself the task of photographing the nation’s leading figures: presidents and military men, business leaders and stars of the stage, writers and artists. Each photograph of a man or woman of mark, displayed in the studio’s reception room, attracted new clients and bore witness to the skill, art, and social standing of ‘Brady of Broadway’ as much as it did to the taste and station of the sitter” (Metropolitan Museum of Art).