William H. RAU

William H. Rau, 1855-1920 worked in Philadelphia. He is primarily known for the photographs commissioned by the Pennsylvania Railroad for its promotional activities, but his work includes architectual and interior photography, ships, and expositions including the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876, the St. Louis Exposition in 1904, and the Lewis and Clark Exposition in 1905. He also traveled to Egypt and the South Seas to make photos, and in the 1870s he worked in the Southwest as an assistant to William Henry Jackson.


Rau, William H. U. S. NAVY WARSHIPS EIGHT PHOTOGRAPHS WHITE FLEET, SPANISH AMERICAN WAR. Original albumen photographs, circa 1895-1898, each on old mounts and in original frames. Seven c. 10 x 13 inches (mat openings), framed to c. 17 x 20 inches; one c. 10 x 20 inches (mat opening), framed to c. 17 x 27 inches.

Although the condition of the photographs is generally very good (any variation from this general statement is described below with respect to the specific piece), the mats, mounts and frames show significant age discoloration, staining, etc.; the images are glued to the mounts around the edges, thus obscuring 3/4 inch to one inch of the image all around.

We have not undertaken conservation of these works, and a buyer should expect that professional conservation work will include removal from the mounts, creation of new mounts or mats, and some cosmetic work to the frames, and will greatly enhance the appearance of this unusual and historic group of naval photographs. We have not located sales records for other example of these works, or seen them offered for sale, so we believe that they are uncommon in the market.

The ships in the photographs are as follows. Information about the ships is from the DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER.


This is the large format photo noted above. Stamped lower right "Copyrighted 1895 by/William H. Rau." The photo in very good condition except for an area of spotting in the sky area, center about 4 inches long, with slight deterioration of the emulsion.

USS Indiana, a 10,288-ton battleship, was built at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and commissioned in November 1895. She spent her entire career in the Atlantic area. During the Spanish-American War, Indiana operated in the Caribbean, and participated in the 3 July 1898 naval battle off Santiago, Cuba.

In the years following that conflict, the battleship operated with the fleet and with the Naval Academy Practice Squadron. Indiana served as a training ship during the First World War. Decommissioned for the last time in January 1919, her name was changed to Coast Battleship # 1 a few months later. She was subsequently used as a target in ordnance tests, being sunk in November 1920.

USS IOWA (Two Photographs).

1. Seen almost directly broadside.

2. Seen at greater distance, and in about 3/4 view.

Both stamped "Copyright 1897 William H. Rau," lower right. Both in Very Good condition, except "2" has a few small spots on the emulsion in the sky area at right.

USS Iowa, a 11,410-ton battleship built at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was commissioned in June 1897. She operated along the Atlantic seaboard for the rest of that year and into 1898. During the Spanish-American War Iowa served off Cuba and on 3 July 1898 played an important role in the Battle of Santiago, an action that destroyed Spain's naval power in the Western Hemisphere. In October of that year, a few months after the conflict's end, the battleship was sent around South America to join the Pacific Squadron. She served along the West Coast until February 1902, when she began a year with the South Atlantic Squadron.

Iowa's return to the U.S. Atlantic Coast in early 1903 was followed by an overhaul and, from late 1903 until mid-1907, active service with the North Atlantic Fleet. She was then placed in reserve, recommissioning in May 1910 after a modernization that gave her a new "cage" mainmast. The next four years were spent on training service, including taking Naval Academy Midshipmen to European waters . Again out of commission from May 1914 until April 1917, Iowa was employed during the First World War as Receiving Ship at the Philadelphia Navy Yard and as a training and guard ship in the Chesapeake Bay region.

Decommissioned at the end of March 1919, the now thoroughly-obsolete Iowa was renamed Coast Battleship No. 4 a month later in order to free her name for use on the new South Dakota class battleship BB-53. In 1920 the old warrior was converted to the Navy's pioneer radio-controlled target ship. While serving in this role, she was sunk by the guns of USS Mississippi in March 1923.


Stamped lower right "Copyright 1898 William H. Rau." In Very Good condition.

USS New York (Armored Cruiser # 2, CA-2), 1893-1941, later renamed Saratoga and Rochester.

USS New York, a 8150-ton armored cruiser built at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was commissioned in August 1893. She initially served as flagship of the South Atlantic Squadron, then went to the West Indies before joining the European Squadron in 1895. She was in the North Atlantic Squadron when the Spanish-American War began, and was flagship during the Caribbean campaign that led to the Battle of Santiago on 3 July 1898.

From 1898 to 1916, New York served off Latin America, in Asiatic waters, the eastern Pacific, the Atlantic and off Europe. She was renamed Saratoga in 1911. During the First World War, the cruiser was active in both the Pacific and the Atlantic, and was renamed again in 1917, becoming USS Rochester. She remained in the Atlantic after the war, and operating in the Caribbean area until 1932. Rochester was flagship of the Asiatic Fleet in 1932-33, mainly serving in Chinese waters. Decommissioned for the last time in April 1933, she was laid up at Olongapo, Philippines, until scuttled in December 1941 to avoid the risk of capture by the Japanese.


Photograph of the Kearsarge prior to its commissioning in 1900; the Kentucky of the same class but not yet built. With label on mount reading "Kentucky and Kearsarge "as they will be when."" Light spots on image, but still Very Good. Stamped "Copyright 1898 William H. Rau," lower right.

USS Kearsarge (Battleship # 5), 1900-1955.
Later Crane Ship # 1 (AB-1).

USS Kearsarge, first of a two-ship class of 11,525-ton battleships built at Newport News, Virginia, was commissioned in February 1900. She spent much of her first eight years operating along the U.S. East Coast and in the Caribbean area, much of the time as flagship of the North Atlantic Squadron. In addition, she steamed across the Atlantic for brief service as European Squadron flagship in June and July 1903 and for a Mediterranean cruise in mid-1904. On 13 April 1906 Kearsarge suffered a turret fire during target practice. One of a series of such tragedies that gave the Navy some difficult lessons in ammunition supply design and gunnery safety practices, this incident took the lives of ten officers and men.

In December 1907 Kearsarge began a long voyage around South America, the first leg of a cruise around the World in company with most of the Navy's battleships. This "Great White Fleet" arrived at California in the spring of 1908 and, after refitting, crossed the Pacific to visit Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and Japan. Kearsarge returned to the U.S. in February 1909, at the conclusion of a homeward-bound voyage that took her through the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean. She decommissioned in September 1909 for modernization, work that included fitting new "cage" masts and other improvements. The battleship was only occasionally active during the next several years, largely on training duties, but also serving off Mexico in 1915-1916. After the U.S. entered World War I she operated as an armed guard and engineering training ship along the East Coast. On 18 August 1918 she rescued survivors of a sailing ship that had been sunk by a German submarine.
In 1919, Kearsarge carried Naval Academy midshipmen on a summer cruise to the West Indies. She was decommissioned at the Philadelphia Navy Yard in May 1920 and soon began conversion to a heavy-lift crane ship. Redesignated AB-1 in 1939 and renamed Crane Ship No. 1 in 1941, the old ship spent more than thirty years handling some of the Navy's heaviest loads before being sold for scrapping in August 1955.

USS Kentucky (Battleship # 6, BB-6), 1900-1924, Selected Views

USS Kentucky, a 11,520-ton Kearsarge class battleship, was built at Newport News, Virginia, and commissioned in May 1900. Her first active service was on the Asiatic Station between October 1900 and May 1904, transiting between the United States and the Far East via the Suez Canal at both ends of that deployment. Kentucky operated along the U.S. east coast and in the Caribbean area from 1905 to late 1907. She then participated in the "Great White Fleet" cruise around the World, visiting South America, the U.S. west coast, Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, the Philippines, Japan, China, Ceylon and the Mediterranean before returning to Hampton Roads, Virginia, in February 1909.

Kentucky was out of commission between August 1909 and June 1912, during which time she was modernized, receiving two of the new "cage" masts. She was again inactive in 1913-15, then operated in the western Atlantic and Caribbean areas until the U.S. entered the First World War. During that conflict, Kentucky served as a training ship in the Chesapeake Bay and along the Atlantic coast. With the return of peace, she briefly remained in service, making a Naval Academy Midshipmen's cruise to Panama in mid-1919. USS Kentucky decommissioned in May 1920 and was sold for scrapping in January 1924.


Stamped lower right "Copyright 1898 William H. Rau." Spotting to the sky areas, else Very Good.

USS Topeka (1898-1930, later PG-35)

>USS Topeka, a 2755-ton gunboat, was built for Peru at Kiel, Germany, in 1881. However, she did not enter service and, after nearly two decades of inactivity, was purchased by the U.S. Navy in April 1898 as part of its preparations for an increasingly likely war with Spain. Following modification at the New York Navy Yard, Topeka served on blockade duties along the Cuban coast during July and August 1898, as the Spanish-American War approached its conclusion.
Late in 1898 and early in 1899 Topeka made a peacetime cruise in the Caribbean and was then placed in reserve at the Boston Navy Yard. In August 1900 the gunboat recommissioned as a training ship, with a sailing rig to give new seamen experience with traditional as well as modern naval technology. She cruised in the Mediterranean Sea from November 1900 until early January 1901, then visited the Azores and the West Indies. Topeka operated regularly in the Caribbean area during the next five years, performing training duties, protecting American interests in a frequently volatile region and conducting hydrographic surveys. Among her other activities, in mid-1904 she took part in radio trials off New England.

Topeka decommissioned at the Portsmouth Navy Yard, Kittery, Maine, in September 1905 and served there as station ship and prison ship for more than a decade. She was briefly used as a receiving ship at the New York Navy Yard in mid-1916, then returned to Portsmouth, where she had recruit training duty during World War I. Recommissioned in March 1919, Topeka spent much of that year patrolling along the coast of Mexico. She was laid up at Charleston, South Carolina, in November 1919. In June 1920 she received the hull number PG-35 and a year later was placed in the "unclassified" category. Topeka's final assignment was as a Naval Reserve training ship at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, between July 1923 and December 1929. Now nearly fifty years old, she was stricken from the Navy List in January 1930 and sold for scrapping in May of that year.

USS Minneapolis

Annotated verso "USS Minneapolis at Sunset on the Delaware River. No photographer's stamp, but likely William H. Rau. Some spotting to the surface, but still Very Good.

USS Minneapolis (Cruiser # 13, later CA-17), 1894-1921
USS Minneapolis, a 7375-ton protected cruiser built at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was commissioned in December 1894. Her first year's service was off the U.S. east coast and in the West Indies. Assigned to the European Squadron in late November 1895, she operated in the Mediterranean until May 1896 and then spent a month in Russia's Baltic waters representing the U.S. Navy during the coronation of Czar Nicholas II. Thereafter, Minneapolis visited other ports from northern Europe to Turkey. The cruiser was placed in reserve immediately after her return to the United states in July 1897 but returned to active service shortly before the beginning of the Spanish-American War. During April and May 1898 Minneapolis cruised in the West Indies, searching for the squadron dispatched from Spain as part of that nation's attempts to defend Cuba. Upon the conclusion of the war in August 1898, she was again placed in reserve at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

Minneapolis, whose powerful engines made her an expensive ship to run, was mainly in reserve from 1898 to 1917. However, she was commissioned as receiving ship at Philadelphia in 1902-1903 and began three years' of seagoing work in September 1903. Following operations in the West Indies and Gulf of Mexico, from July to December 1905 Minneapolis cruised in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean. Among her assignments was participation in an expedition to gather scientific information during a solar eclipse. In April and May 1906 she was at Annapolis, Maryland, to welcome the squadron bringing the body of John Paul Jones back to the United States. Employed on training duty for much of the rest of the year, Minneapolis decommissioned in November 1906 and was laid up at Philadelphia for more than a decade.

Recommissioned for World War I service early in July 1917, Minneapolis operated between the Panama Canal Zone and Nova Scotia until February 1918, when she began escorting convoys in the North Atlantic. In February 1919, nearly three months after the Armistice ended First World War combat, she arrived in San Diego, California, for a tour as a flagship on the Pacific Station. Redesignated CA-17 in July 1920, USS Minneapolis was decommissioned at Mare Island Navy Yard, California, in March 1921 and sold for scrapping in August of that year.

USS Brooklyn

Blindstamped "Copyright William H. Rau Phila," lower right. Light spotting, but still Very Good.

Armored Cruisers--USS Brooklyn

USS Brooklyn (Armored Cruiser # 3) was built between 1893 and 1896. During the Spanish-American War, she was flagship of Commodore Winfield Scott Schley's "Flying Squadron" and participated in the 3 July 1898 naval battle off Santiago de Cuba. Her active service ended in 1921, when she was sold for scrap.

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