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Native American "Types" - Including Alaskan and Californian Natives

An unusual photograph print depicting 16 steinpappe busts representing Native Americans from different regions. The present image was part of a series of 12 photograph prints that illustrated the various races of the world. The series was issued under the general title of Types Principaux des Differentes Races Humaines Dans les Cinq Parties du Monde (1862). The heads represented here are rather beautiful and were made under the direction of polymath scientist Prof. Karl Ernst von Baer (1792-1876), a Baltic German biologist and explorer long associated with the Russian Academy of Sciences. Von Baer undertook much field research, including the exploration of the island Novaya Zemlya, an arctic archipelego west of the Barents Sea. In later years von Baer became known as a major critic of Charles Darwin.

Steinpappe or "Stone Paper"

The heads shown here were sculpted in steinpappe, a papier mâché combined with precipitated calcium carbonate which resulted in a much stronger and finer material than plain papier mâché.  The actual sculpture work was by J. M. Heuser under the direction of von Baer. The finished busts were displayed at the London International Exposition of 1862, where they were awarded a medal.

Significantly, the present photograph includes the representations of a native Californian man and woman, as well as Aleut and Eskimo men and women.

Printed labels in Russian and German identify each figure in the photograph. The 16 heads are as follows:

  • Aleuten - Mann
  • Aleuten - Frau
  • Eskimo von Kotzbu-Sund
  • Eskimo - Frau
  • Kolosche (Mann)
  • Kolosche (Frau)
  • Kalifornier
  • Kalifornische - Frau
  • Raaben - Indianer
  • Osagen - Indianer
  • Osagen, Indianer-Frau
  • Konsa - Indianer
  • Guarani
  • Bolocude
  • Araucaner
  • Feurlanderin [Fuegian?]


This fascinating 19th-century photograph is an interesting and very rare early example of the use of photography in human classification systems. Complete sets of the photographs are very rarely met with in the market. 

Condition Description
Original albumen photograph, 6 1/2 x 9 inches, on card mount measuring 12 x 17 inches. Letterpress title and caption on mount. Light dust soiling (mostly in the margins of mount). Photograph clean and nice. Overall condition is very good.