LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — An 89-year-old man has sold his assemblage of rare, 19th-century photographs to a collections-based educational and research institute.

The Huntington Library, Art Collection, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino acquired Ernest Marquez’s one-of-a-kind collection.

The undisclosed purchase amount for the photos, which span from the 1860s to the 1950s, was made possible with help from the library’s Collectors’ Council.

As CBS2’s Amy Johnson reports, Marquez’s collection began with his desire to collect pictures of his family’s Santa Monica property obtained through a Mexican land grant. From there, he found pictures at antique shops, flee markets, and through other collectors.

Over the course of the next fifty years, Marquez collected thousands of photographs that document the remarkable changes and growth of Santa Monica and Los Angeles.

“It’s really a one of a kind collection,” said Jennifer Watts, a curator of Photographs at The Huntington.

“When you have photographs that have been around for over 100 years, quality can suffer and people have them on their walls. They fade or they haven’t been stored properly. And Ernie had an eye. He has an eye and so he was also looking for not just the subject matter or the historical strength of what was depicted but that it was still a beautiful print,” said Watts.

Said Marquez, “For me, it’ll be an emotional event. It’s like getting rid of one of your children. I’ve had this for so long. It has to go someplace where it’ll be safe and taken care of.”

Johnson says the photos are expected to be scanned with highlights to be made available to researchers online. Ultimately, the library hopes to make many of the photos available to the public in an exhibit.


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