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About the images on


Watkins is best known for his mammoth print photographs of Yosemite, however the greatest number of surviving prints are in the stereograph format. Watins also produced photographs in several other sizes.

  • Mammoth Plate

    Typically 18 by 22 inches. Before the development of photographic enlargers images were contact printed from the glass plate negative. Watkins used a specially constructed mammoth plate camera to create large format prints with very fine details.

  • Stereograph or Stereoview

    Two photographic prints mounted side by side on a 3 by 7 inch card. Viewed through a stereoscope they appear as a single 3-D image with the depth of the original scene. Watkins made an estimated four to five thousand stereographs during his career. Stereographs were an extremely popular photography format in America from the 1850's through the 1930's.

  • Boudoir Card
  • Approx 5-3/8 by 8-3/8 inches. These prints were primarily made from Watkins New Series negatives.

  • Other print sizes
  • Watkins produced photographs with a number of intermediate print sizes such as a series of 8 by 10 inch prints of Kern County argicultural subjects taken in 1888.

Mammoth Plate - Tasayac, Half Dome, 4967 ft, YosemiteMammoth Plate
Tasayac, Half Dome, 4967 ft, Yosemite
Stereograph #4019 - Group by the Lake Shore, Lake TahoeStereograph
#4019 - Group by the Lake Shore, Lake Tahoe
New Boudoir Series - B3692 The Baldwin, N. E. Corner Market and Powell, S. F.New Boudoir Series
B3692 - The Baldwin, N. E. Corner Market and Powell, S. F.
#287 - Kern County products, Kern County exhibit#287 - Kern County products, Kern County exhibit

(Examples are not to scale)

Titles and Numbering of Photographs

Watkins typically titled and numbered his photographs. Earlier prints have handwritten titles while later prints were given imprinted titles. Prints are occassionally found without a title or without an assigned number. Stereographs in particular were sometimes sold with the title or number left off. Apparently certain series of images were never assigned numbers, such as the group photographs of the A.B. Clark orchard in Anaheim.

Watkins 'Old Series'

These photographs include Watkins' original series of views.  Stereographs from this period are generally considered to be those numbered between 1 and 2800. No captions have been seen for the 2800 and 2900 series. Watkins "New Series" begins with views numbered 3000 and above and contains those images produced and published after 1875.  Some Old Series negatives were also published with New Series numbers possibly using duplicate negatives.

If a title is not known it is left blank. It is possible, however, that many of the numbers were never used. Watkins may have reserved blocks of numbers and then used only a portion of them.

This list is a work in progress. Titles and images will continue to be added as they are found.

Watkins New Series

(Note: This introduction accompanied Peter Palmquist's compilation of New Series titles, c.1982)
As the result of a financial crisis and the loss of his earlier negatives to a creditor, Carleton Watkins started photographing anew in the mid-1870s. Watkins "New Series" of stereoviews began with view number 3001 and covered more than ten years of Watkins photographic efforts.

by Peter E. Palmquist

Most collectors of Western stereographs are avid admirers of Watkins's early work. Frequently, however, his NEW SERIES output is not always so highly regarded. It has been suggested that his new series work is of late origin and produced after Watkins had reached his prime. In point of fact, Watkins's New Series stereographs are of inestimatable historic value. Some are the earliest known views of Southern California, Washington Territory, and other areas of the Pacific Coast. His views of Nevada and Arizona are also exceptional in this regard. Subject wise, the new series contains invaluable records of all kinds of pioneer industries, the onset of tourist development, and the growth of the rural West generally. Artistically, the new series clearly reflects Watkins's professional maturity and includes many of his finest images. Moreover, with the exception of certain Yosemite images and some of the more popular San Francisco views, new series stereographs are often very scarce. Views numbering above #5000, for example, are exceedingly difficult to locate. Hopefully, the following observations and attached checklist will stimulate collector interest and lead to a better appreciation of WATKINS' NEW SERIES stereographs as an outstanding and rewarding collecting area.


Generally, Watkins's NEW SERIES stereographs should be considered as those images produced and published after 1875. The new series was issued because Watkins lost-through financial difficulties-a large number of his early view negatives to a competitor. The principal body of new series stereographs are numbered between #3000 and #5300. However, views numbering under #3000 exist, and it is probable that they were "Old Series" survivors published after 1875. Some new series stereographs which number between #3000-5300 are known to be reprints of old series negatives which have been reissued. For instance, the Utah views, #4701-4716 taken in 1873-74, had once been issued as "Watkins' Union Pacific Railroad" series. Conversely, a very small number of old series stereographs exist with numberation exceeding #3000. It should be noted that many of Watkins's New Series stereographs were made from the same negative also used to produce boudoir and cabinet size images; titling is not identical, however.

Stereographs bearing the logo "Watkins' New Series, Yosemite and Pacific Coast / 26 Montgomery Street, and Woodward's Gardens, S.F." were published between 1876 and 1879. Views bearing the logo "Watkins' New Series of Pacific Coast Views, 427 Montgomery Street, S.F. / Photographic Views of California, Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, Lower Cal., and the Pacific Coast..." were published by Watkins between 1879 and 1890. All views are on orange mounts with lavender backs.

In 1884-85 Watkins made a special trip along the Oregon railroad into Idaho and Wyoming as far as Yellowstone. He issued stereographs from this journey on new series mounts, but with a special numbering: Oregon, #E-l through E-53; Idaho E-100+; Yellowstone E-200+.

The following checklist of WATKINS' NEW SERIES stereographs have been drawn from many sources, including two of Watkins's published listings: Watkins' New Series Stereoscopic Views of Southern California and S.P.R.R. of Arizona and Watkins' Stereoscopic Views of Southern California, S.P.R.R., the Old Missions, Etc., Etc. Also consulted was Charles Beebe Turrill's "Catalogue-Watkins' Stereoscopic Views, New Series," compiled in 1918. Turrill, who had befriended Watkins a few years before the photographer's death, made his list according to subject content rather than specifically by title. In addition, I have been helped by many collectors; particularly Wally Beardsley, Marilyn Blaisdell, Louis Smaus, Larry Moskovitz and the staff of the California State Library-Gary Kurutz, Richard Terry, and Teresa Bodine. Titles listed are as complete as possible. It must be remembered, however, that variations in Watkins's titles exist, primarily at times of reprinting. Thus, minor differences between actual cards and this list are inevitable. In some instances, an educated guess has been made for certain titles which have not been verified: i.e. in the case where titles proceeding and following a missing title are known to be the same. In cases where only the subject content is known, the title is not followed by a period. Missing numbers within the new series are presumed not to have been issued. Because this is a listing "in progress" your suggested additions and corrections are solicited.

Related photographs by other photographers or other publishers includes images made by other photographers as well as images published under other names.  It was a common practice at that time for negatives to be purchased by another photographer or publisher and sold under their name without crediting the original photographer.  Where possible we include all variations of an image on the website.  There are sometimes differences in titles or interesting differences in cropping that reveal additional details of an image.  Here are several examples:

Watkins photographs published by I.W. Taber

As a result of the financial panic of 1873 Waktins lost control of his "Old Series" negatives to creditor J.J. Cook.  The negatives passed to San Francisco photographer I.W. Taber who published them under his own name without credit to Watkins.  The Taber prints generally kept the same titles as Watkins.  There are occasional differences in cropping of the images.

1072 - Yosemite Falls, 2630 feetYosemite Falls, 2630 feet
Published by Watkins
1072 - Yosemite Falls, 2630 feetYosemite Falls, 2630 feet
Published by Taber

Louis Heller's photographs of the Modoc War published by Watkins

The Modoc War (northeastern California) was photographed by Heller in 1873.  Although he originally published stereographs under his own name, the images were soon being published by Watkins without credit to Heller.  <include a thumbnail>

2504 - Headquarters on Tule Lake, taken North from BluffHeadquarters on Tule Lake, taken North from Bluff
2506 - Donald McKay, Captain Of the Warm Spring IndiansDonald McKay, Captain Of the Warm Spring Indians

A.A. Hart photographs of transcontinental railroad construction

Hart photographed the Central Pacific Railroad from 1864-1869 during construction of the transcontinental route from Sacramento to Promontory Point, Utah.  Hart published 365 stereographic images during that time however after 1869 the negatives were published by Watkins.  In addition, at various times before being acquired by Watkins some images were  published by the firm of Whitney and Paradise as well as by Durgan.   The website includes examples of each were available.  Many images from the different publishers have variations in cropping.

352 - Salt Lake from Monument Point. 669 miles from SacramentoSalt Lake from Monument Point
Published by Watkins
352 - Salt Lake from Monument Point. 669 miles from SacramentoSalt Lake from Monument Point
Published by Hart

Photographs of northern California geysers published by Watkins, Muybridge and Brayton.

A series of images taken in the geyser region of Sonoma County were published by Watkins, Edweard Muybridge and J.G. Brayton.   The images are identical and were clearly made from a single exposure.

2309 - Foss at the GeysersWatkins #2309 - Foss at the Geysers
1 - Foss at the Geysers with Superintendent Towne's Party.Brayton #1 - Foss at the Geysers with Superintendent Towne's Party.
932 - All aboard for Calistoga, with Clark Foss and his celebrated Geyser teamMuybridge #932 - All aboard for Calistoga, with Clark Foss and his celebrated Geyser team

Browser Setup


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Here are instructions to enable JavaScript in your web browser.

Menu Navigation has a navigation menu at the top of each page allowing you to quickly move throughout the website.  Menu options such as Featured Photographs and the image galleries drop down from a menu bar as you hover over each selection. Clicking on a selection will then take you to that page.

Images are grouped into galleries which are reached from the navigation menus. Image galleries are organized according to the photographers series such as 1861-1874 (Watkins Old Series) and 1875-1890 (Watkins New Series). As illustruated here, you can hover over one of the series selections and then hover over one of the gallery names. A gallery preview will appear with each gallery including a sample image and information about the contents of the gallery.

Image Galleries

Image galleries contain photographs grouped by subject or by the photographers series.

When you go to one of the galleries or perform a search there are several options for viewing the images.

  • Use the Page Selector to browse the gallery pages or search results.
  • The number of items displayed on a page can be changed using the Items-per-Page pulldown
  • Images can be displayed as a list view or a grid view. The grid view allows images to be quickly reviewed while the list view provides more information about each item

Searching for Images

The upper right corner of each page contains a search box that can be used to find images on

Enter one or more words or numbers and click "Search".

Your search results will show matches from:

  • Number As assigned by the photographer
  • Title The original title of the photograph
  • Descriptive Title Often used to describe an untitled photograph
  • Notes Other notation or background information
  • Tags A group of images which have something in common

Searches may contain letters, numbers, underscore, dash and spaces.

Searches are not case sensitive. Searching for san francisco is the same as San Francisco.


  • Searching for Cliff House finds all images with the words Cliff or House. Images with both words are listed first in the results.
  • Searching for 1003 finds images with the number 1003. Several numbers can be searched at the same time, for example 1003 1045 3723 will find all images with those numbers.
  • The Options drop-down lets you narrow your search

  • By default your search includes results with any of the search words. A search for Yosemite Valley includes all results with either the words Yosemite or Valley. Alternately you may choose to only show results containing all the search words. The seach will then only include results with both the words Yosemite and Valley.
  • You can also exclude results with specific words. Searching for Valley and excluding Yosemite will show results containing Shasta Valley, Spring Valley, etc. but not Yosemite Valley.

Filtering search results

The search results will display all formats, photographers and publishers found in the search. Each one will be shown with a checkbox.

Filtering by Format, Photographer or Publisher

Use the check boxes to narrow the selection by checking or unchecking as desired. Click on the "Filter Results" button to filter the results.

  • As an example, your search results might include images in both Mammoth print and Stereograph formats. To see only Mammoth prints uncheck Stereograph and leave Mammoth print checked. Clicking the "Filter Results" button will update the results to show only Mammoth prints.

    Note: Entering new search words and clicking "Search" will reset the filters.

Working with search results

Search results can be sorted and displayed in either a list or grid format by choosing from the options shown above the search results.


Sorting the search results
Selecting the number of results per page
Displaying results as a list or grid

Using Quick View

quick view Use Quick View to see detailed information about an image without leaving the page.   When you hover over a thumbnail image with your cursor a Quick View button appears.   Click on the button to display the Quick View pane. 

thumbnail image When you click on the thumbnail without clicking on the Quick View button a larger 'full size' image will be displayed in a new page.  See Displaying larger images and detailed information

Displaying Larger Images and Detailed Image Information

Clicking on an image thumbnail opens a new page with a larger image and more detailed information about the image.  Any available details are listed below the image.

example of large image and details

Image information

  • Photographers image number
    • Typically the number assigned by the photographer or publisher
  • Title as it appears on the photograph or mount
  • Descriptive title
    • Typically added to untitled photographs
  • Photographers Name
  • Publisher
  • Image format such as Stereograph or Mammoth print
  • Notes
    • Any additional information about the image or subject
  • Date or year photographed if known

Contributor Information

  • Contributor
    • The institution or individual contributor of the image to
  • Accession Number from the contributing institution if applicable

Reference information

  • Source URL
    • A link to the source image if contributed from an online collection
  • View this image in gallery
    • Clickable link to the image galleries displaying this photograph.
  • ID
    • Unique ID number of the image on the website.
  • Tags
    • Clickable links to other similarly tagged images.
  • Related images

Related Images

Any related images are displayed below the list of image details. Clicking the thumbnail of the related image will open a new page with that image. The reason the images are related is listed next to the thumbnail.

  • In this example, Watkins printed the same negative in both stereograoh and 5" circular formats. According to Watkins biographer and associate Charles Turrell, Watkins used a stereoscopic camera with an oversized negative that allowed him to create more than one composition from the same negative.

Related Images
Watkins stereograph #4818 - "Sir Guy", "Sunny Slope"
Related Images5" circular print - Sunny Slope, San Gabriel Album

Image Tags

Tags are like keywords or labels added to images having something in common. Tags may refer to subjects, locations, regions, people, styles or other concepts. Clicking on a tag will display all images with that tag. Each image may have other tags as well. This allows an alternate navigation by moving from one group of tagged images to another. Most images on have one or more tags.

Some typical tags are:

  • Specific states, counties or cities
  • Other locations or sites
  • Photographs of people such as Portrait or Group
  • Subject descriptions such as School, Residence or Men at Work.
  • Significant image features or content such as Tree or Snow.

In this example images with the tag "Mill" are shown. Each image has all its tags listed below the title. Clicking on one of the tags will display all images with that tag. Click here to browse tags.

Image Tags on Mobile Devices

On mobile devices you can search for images and browse image galleries as well as viewing details and information about an image.

Moble Home Page
moble gallery list
mobile details

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