New York City Souvenir View Book Covers From 1911 – 1919
According to NYC & Company over 58 million people visited New York City in 2015. Many of them possibly bought a keepsake to bring back home; a t-shirt, mug or some other knick-knack.
Souvenirs have remained a constant in the world of tourism. Since about 1880, view books have been one of the souvenirs that appealed to visitors of New York City. With everyone now having a camera to photograph where they were and sights they have seen, view books are pretty much on their way to becoming extinct.
During their heyday from the late 1800s until the 1940s view books were a popular and inexpensive souvenir choice. Most view books generally ranged in price from a quarter to a dollar. They generally contained anywhere from a dozen to 400 photographs of buildings, tourist sights and attractions. Many had plain covers, while others had covers to attract the eye.
Going through my collection, I selected a few view books that date between 1911-1919.
These examples are relatively common for collectors. When they were new I think would have caught the eye of a visitor, because they are still striking today.
Scenes of Modern New York published by L.H Nelson 1911. A nice cover featuring The Williamsburg Bridge (completed 1902), The Fuller Building aka Flatiron (completed 1902) and The Subway (opened 1904).
New York Illustrated published by C. Souhami 1914. A colorful panorama of lower Manhattan taken from the Brooklyn tower. On the left is the tallest building in the world, The Woolworth Building (completed 1913). To the right is the 40 story Municipal Building (completed 1914). On the waterfront, South Street with its docks and shipping activity was still the hub of maritime New York.
New York published by A. Wittemann, The Albertype Company, 1913. Wittemann published high quality view books with crystal clear photographs and some not typical sights. The cover photograph taken from the Hudson River shows lower Manhattan, its active waterfront and burgeoning skyline.
King’s Views of New York published by Moses King, 1915. From 1895 until his death in 1909 Moses King contributed more to capturing contemporary New York than any other publisher. His annually published view books are a window into the architecture and streetscapes of turn-of-the-century New York. This one has a dream like cover depicting an ocean liner, a bi-plane, and the skyline featuring the Singer and Woolworth Buildings. After Moses King’s death his son ran his publishing empire for a few years before outsourcing the King archive and name to other view book publishers.
New York The Wonder City: Illustrating in Color The Amazing Structures and Scenic Views of the World’s Greatest City American Art Publishing Co, 1919. The cover of a beautiful book features two dozen colored illustrations inside.
If you want to start your own collection, depending upon condition, most of the view books shown here will range in price from about $20 – $75 from book and ephemera dealers. Be advised some rare New York view books can command thousands of dollars.