I.W. Taber

  • 1830 - 1912
  • Maker, Photographer, Printer
  • American

After working for a photographic studio in San Francisco from 1864 until 1871, Massachusetts-born Isaiah West Taber opened his own business, which quickly became one of the premier studios in the city. He had come to San Francisco in 1850 in search of gold but instead found success with photographic silver. During an 1880 trip to the Sandwich (Hawaiian) Islands, Taber photographed King Kalakaua, who again sat for Taber on a visit to San Francisco.

In addition to his own photographs, Taber printed, published, and distributed the work of other photographers, including Carleton Watkins. Taber acquired Watkins's negatives in 1881 as a result of Watkins's bankruptcy. He also sold photographic supplies and manufactured dry plates. In 1906 the devastating fire following the San Francisco earthquake destroyed nearly his entire stock: "eighty tons of portrait negatives and twenty tons of view negatives."