14 leaves, 2 pages of text, 1 engraving, and 11 original gelatin linen-backed photographs regarding the drilling of the Drake Well by Col. Edwin L. Drake in 1859, the first oil well ever drilled in the United States, scenes and figures depicted in the photographs include a portrait of Edwin Drake, Drake at the well, oil traders, and the surrounding areas of "Oil Creek" including Foster Farm, Funkville, John Wait Farm, and John Benninghoff Run. Spine slightly shaken. Oblong 4to. Black cloth boards. Titusville, Pennsylvania (John A. Mather) 1895. Ink inscription on front endpaper "Miss Margaret Bond from Mrs E. Mather, Christmas 1905"
Edwin Drake was hired by the Seneca Oil Company in 1858 to investigate suspected oil deposits in the Titusville region of Pennsylvania. Prior to this, petroleum oil was known of, but there was not yet a market for it. Drake began drilling, with pipe and steam, but progress was slow and the Seneca Oil Company had pulled their backing. Using his own money and that of friends, Drake perservered and on the morning of August 28th, after months of drilling at the rate of approximately three feet per day, Drake's driller looked into the hole and saw crude oil. The Drake Well prompted the first big investments in the petroleum industry and additional drilling in the area that became known as Oil Creek, ushering in the Pennsylvania oil rush.
John A. Mather was the pioneer photographer of Pennsylvania's Oil Region. Hearing of the exploding activity in the Oil Creek Valley, Mather and his wife moved to Titusville in 1860 where he began working with a series of makeshift traveling darkrooms/studios. He transported his equipment through the oil fields by ox-pulled wagon or flatboat, and sold his photographs to a local audience. During his years photographing the Pennsylvania oil rush, he amassed a collection of over 20,000 glass plate negatives. However, due to damage from floods and fires, only 5,000 have survived to this day, preserved in the collections of the Drake Well Museum. Scarce; as of February 2017, WorldCat locates only three holdings in North America. Book ID: 48619