Jump to Content

Collection Guide
Collection Title:
Collection Number:
Get Items:
Stark (Zan) collection
View entire collection guide What's This?
Search this collection
Collection Overview
Table of contents What's This?
The collection comprises over 3,000 real photo postcards and photographic negatives, a large portion of the output of Alexander J. Stark, a Mill Valley-based photographer who published under the name "Zan." Postcards and photographs focus on Northern California, circa 1935-1955, and depict scenes of nature, travel destinations including vacation & historical attractions, architecture, bridges, and various street & cityscapes. All images are in black and white, and most are captioned. Many of the postcards appear to have been removed from Zan's scrapbooks, and for the most part his ordering has been retained. However, most numbered series contain gaps or numbers used more than once, and images are also re-used with new numbers in some cases. Postcard numberings also may not relate to their respective negative, if present. More detailed descriptions of the postcards can be found below.
Alexander J. "Zan" Stark (1889-1967) was a Michigan-born photographer who moved to San Francisco, California around 1914, where he established a photography and lantern slide business under the name Xan Stark, Alta Studios. In the early 1920s Stark produced at least three volumes of photographs of female nudes in an "Alta Art Studies" series. Stark moved to Mill Valley in the mid-20s and operated a studio at 324 Miller Avenue. He produced thousands of photographic postcards under the name "Zan of Tamalpais" through early 1950s. Zan photographed extensively throughout Northern California, as well as in Oregon, Nevada, Arizona, and elsewhere. He was the official photographer of the Redwood Empire Association beginning in 1936, and many of the postcards bear the Association's name. Much of his work appears to have been on a promotional basis, capturing roadside attractions, hotels, resorts & restaurants, and natural wonders such as Yosemite and the redwoods. Along with his son, Stark was also involved with local politics and journalism. Around 1953 Stark moved to Boyes Hot Springs where he remained until his death in 1967.
11.25 Linear Feet (15 boxes, 2 cartons)
While Special Collections is the owner of the physical and digital items, permission to examine collection materials is not an authorization to publish. These materials are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. Any transmission or reproduction beyond that allowed by fair use requires permission from the owners of rights, heir(s) or assigns.
Open for research. Note that material must be requested at least 36 hours in advance of intended use.