Local publisher releases photo history book

Michael Young

Nevada City Advocate

Nevada City publisher Carl Mautz has released his latest book, “Biographies of Western Photographers,” a 772-page tome filled with photos, essays and listings of 20,000 photographers.

He researched the book, which focuses on photographers who worked in the American West and western Canada from about 1860 to 1880, by buying thousands of historical photographs. 

“My game is visual history,” said Mautz. He sold a trove of pictures to the Huntington Library in San Marino for $60,000 to help finance the book, which retails for $175. He printed 800 copies and immediately sold about 10 percent.

Mautz, who is a lawyer, retired to Nevada County in 1995 from Oregon. “I like to say I’m a recovered lawyer who changed from vocation to avocation,” he said.

His interest in photography history is a culmination of many years of collecting. He bought a large collection of early Western photographs in 1975 that started his interest. 

He has published 25 books under the imprint of Carl Mautz Publishing. Most of them related to the history of photography but several were local California histories, two were poetry books, and two were memoirs by friends who had passed on.

“This book is an accumulation of more knowledge, plus research,” he said.

Mautz still has a collection of small vintage photographs affixed to business cards called carte-de-visite. They were popular in the mid-19th century as calling cards for both business and social purposes.

He said the Internet has changed the book-publishing business and now, instead of mail order, he has to sell on the web, give library talks and attend trade shows around the country.

“I gave a slideshow and talk at the North Columbia School House and (poet) Gary Snyder was there,” he said.

The book is available on his website: carlmautz.com.

About the photo: 

Carl Mautz