You are on page 1of 37

A Short History of Photograph Collecting

This is an excellent article on collecting photography by Penelope Dixon (copyrighted 2001 and used with permission). She has over 30 years experience in the field and since 1981, has headed her own photography appraisal firm, Penelope Dixon & Associates. She resides and works from Miami, Martha's Vinyard and New York, and her website can be viewed at www.peneloped.com.

g of photographs was practically simultaneous with the invention of photography. P & D Colnaghi, a well-established art gallery in London, sold photogr representing both the work of Roger Fenton and Julia Margaret Cameron. People became obsessed with capturing their own likenesses. A popular past-ti ntury was the exchange of carte-de-visites. People collected cartes of their friends and family and put them into albums, much like children exchanging sch like our present fascination with Hollywood personalities, they were also avid collectors of celebrity images. A recent exhibition at the National Portrait G Beautiful and the Damned: The Creation of Identity in Nineteenth Century Photography , [accompanied by a fine catalogue] explores the effects of early p

graphs were another early collectible. The very wealthy would set off on long excursions, � the grand tour� , and instead of taking their own photographs and complicated equipment precluded this] they would purchase photographs of each place they visited, later putting them into large albums. An English album of the 1860s might include photographs by William Notman of Canada, Charles Clifford of Spain, Carlo Ponti and Fratelli Alinari of Italy and Fel Middle East.

raphs were published in albums in the 19th Century, presumably to be sold to institutions or wealthy private collectors. Examples include Peter Henry Em dscape on the Norfolk Broads or John Thomson� s Street Life in London. These early albums were precursors to the photographic portfolios produced tod y photographers. Other parallels between 19th and 20th Century collecting can be seen in government or corporation sponsored photography. The Glasgow Trust hired Thomas Annan to record the Glasgow slums and this work was published in 1874 as Old Closes and Streets of Glasgow. Edouard Baldus wa nts Historiques in France to document the architecture of the country on his 1851 mission heliographique. Many similar projects have been done in this ce th Lewis Hine� s work for the National Child Labor Committee.

auctions also had their beginnings in the mid-19th Century. The first auction of photographs took place in London in 1854. The first auction in America w The Marshall Sale, held by Swann Galleries in 1952. The prices from that sale would make you cry.

hotography as art� was still being debated, by the early 20th Century photographs had become firmly established as a collectible. Alfred Stieglitz had var ew York from 1905 until his death in 1946. Like many contemporary galleries today, he exhibited photographs alongside the work of modern artists. Alo an Levy� s gallery in New York, open between 1931 and 1949, introduced many photographers to the collecting publish, including Weston, Sheeler, Stra us in the 1950s was Helen Gee � s� Limelight� and after a dry period in the 1960s, the early 1970s saw the beginning of the photography market as we kn alleries in New York, London and other major cities, we can now find hundreds worldwide.

ory of the Market

know the story of the rise and fall and rise again of the Ansel Adams market. In some ways it is a good example of the market as a whole. Photographs by elling in 1975 for $400 were selling for between $4,000 and $16,000 by 1979, thanks to the astute marketing of Harry Lunn. By the early 1980s Adams p etween about $2,000 and $10,000. Today, they are back up again, but this time coming close to the $100,000 mark for particularly fine vintage prints of hi Moonrise Over Hernandez. What happened? First, the limitation in 1975 of his prints and subsequent creation of rarity, which coincided with a widesprea phs and investors into the market. Then came a bad economy and supply began to exceed the demand.

nge in the market happened in the early 1990s. Prior to this time, there had been less interest in vintage prints, that is, those prints which were made close pher made his/her original negative. Hence, there were extensive reprintings by Ansel Adams, Andre Kertesz, Henri Cartier-Bresson as these photographe ed on the bandwagon.

on the market have been certain � blockbuster� museum shows which have contributed to a larger public awareness of the medium as well as providing g and an increase in value for a certain photographer or period of photography. Also, blockbuster auctions, such as the multi-media Man Ray sale at Sothe e mid-1990s where only 1% of the items offered failed to sell, contributed an energy and stability to the market.

es have changed the structure of the contemporary art market and will continue to do so. More people attend auctions than ever before, the houses serving etween buyers and sellers.

hould You Collect Photographs?

otential is an obvious answer but aesthetic considerations are far more important to my mind. You might have to live with a particular photograph for som an sell it, so you had better like it. I used to collect photographs because I loved the images, because of the accessibility of so many pictures on the market reasonable prices. I stopped collecting and have sold most of my collection, not because any of those reasons changed but because I couldn� t take good [I live in two humid locations], and any works on paper do need a lot of love and attention. Also, going back to the investment potential, many of my phot lue so it was a good time to sell.

ect: What to Look For

mory of photographs was Edward Steichen� s Family of Man exhibition and book. I spent hours as a child pouring over the images. Some 20 years later the bought was an image by Bill Brandt of the girl on Lambeth Walk, parading in her mother � s high-heeled shoes. I think I paid about $150 for it and recent not a bad investment, although I certainly didn� t buy it with this in mind. So, what should you look for when collecting photographs? There are a number ich are the same ones I use in establishing value in my photographic appraisals. artist particular image dating of the print medium signature or identification condition size edition or known extant prints, i.e. rarity provenance place in the market of the artist and the particular image

ho is he or she, where do they fit into the history of art, the history of photography, what is their place in the present market and how does their work relat r work exhibited regularly, is it critically acclaimed?

do you love it? Can you say, as did the well-known collector Arnold Crane in responding to the question, � what do you look for in a photographic work? � t looks for me! It hits me first in the gut and then in the eye! �How does the subject relate to the particular artist� s body of work � Adams made landsca traits of important artists and some of these are very good � Arnold Newman makes portraits but he has also taken landscape photographs, a few of which in my opinion. Is the artist� s identity inherent in the image? How does this particular image relate to the history of art, the history of the medium, is it a m terpiece? Can you predict the future masterpieces in contemporary photography? Why do Edward Weston � s Shells range in value from about $15,000 to

he same image?

hen was the print made, is it vintage or contemporary, is it something in-between? Who made the print? Weston� s photographs come in four varieties: tr made later by himself, in the 1930s from 1920s negatives, in the 1940s from 1930s negatives; � project prints� made under his supervision by his son Br Edward developed Parkinson� s disease and posthumous prints by his son Cole. Is a vintage print necessarily better than a contemporary print? Both Anse have made beautiful, large contemporary prints from their earlier negatives. Is one better than the other? Is it not a matter of taste, and in some cases, budg

hat kind of print is it, what is the process, is it stable? [Platinum always is, early calotypes can continue to fade]. Is the process what this particular photogr s later platinum prints are probably better than his earlier silver prints, which takes us back to the issue of vintage or contemporary. Printing styles in the s ge, depending on the available papers and the age of the photographer [Bill Brandt� s prints became darker after the 1970s, due to deteriorating eyesight o � s choice?] What does the photographer himself think of a print? �a valid, but not necessarily the ultimate opinion and also, occasionally a dangerous p s are known to have torn up older prints brought to them for authentication.

gain, what is the norm in this particular instance? An unsigned contemporary Adams photograph is a problem, an unsigned Walker Evans is not unusual. once said, � Buy a photograph for what� s on the front, not the back� which is good advice; however, what is on the back or the mount helps us date the p ly a guarantee because photographers are known to have sometimes used older stamps on later prints].

very important consideration, but again, only relevant to what is normal for a particular photographer � s work from a particular period. Most contempora with the exception perhaps of the Starn Brothers, are expected to be pristine; photographs by Weegee are expected to be creased or marred [but not in a u y tipped off one dealer to a group of fake prints]. 19th Century prints are often faded, as the richest examples are already in private collections or museum finest example of an image which you can find [and afford].

important when considering what is available, what you like and what you can afford. However, certain smaller editions by photographers, such as Sally M s, will probably never go up in value like her larger, smaller-editoned 20 x 24 prints. Which brings us to the next point �

s: The edition or known extant prints, i.e. rarity, is an important factor. For contemporary works this information is often easily available by the edition of 980s, most photographers did not limit their prints from a particular negative �there was no need. So when artists such as Ansel Adams, Harry Callahan onded to the rapidly evolving market, they produced a lot of images without numbering their prints, as they already made prints of most of their images an ly numbering these new ones. However, by now the market has absorbed most of these images and they are only found on the secondary markets.

t be aware of how each image is limited, e.g. prior to her new large-format landscapes, Sally Mann used to print each of her images of children in an editio es and again in 8 x 10 inches while reserving the right to produce yet another 25 in 16 x 20 inch format. So you might never know exactly how many print xist without checking with the artist or her dealers. This is also a good example of the market: Mann � s 20 x 24 inch prints are the ones which frequently s will be the ones to retain their value. Mann � s prints also give us an example of step-pricing: the first five prints sold started at around $1,500, the next five il the final print was sold at around $7,500.

has always been an important factor in the painting and print markets and is fast becoming the same in photography. Besides the possibility of contributin alue because of the reputation of the previous owner, provenance is also important in determining that a photograph is not a forgery.

place in the market of the artist and the particular image has been discussed above, and knowing the sales records for the artist and for the particular imag point to consider before buying a particular photograph.

derations: Eventually, you should decide on the kind of collection you want to pursue � should it be an � investment grade collection� , i.e. well-known ph wn artists, or something more adventurous, such as up and coming artists who can often be found in benefit auctions like those held by Center for Photogra Are you interested in a particular period, or genre of photography; do you want to collect a particular artist in depth? Are you interested in anonymous wo areful of is trends � what is fashionable today could be in the trash heap tomorrow. Buy what you like, the worst thing that can happen is that you will enj o come.

ect: Where to Buy

u know what to look for in a photograph, where do you go to fine it?

s tell new collectors to find one or two dealers or galleries which show the kind of work they like and establish a relationship. Don � t be afraid to go into

With the exce ons. that price should reflect quality but does not necessarily do so. This will give you a point of reference from which to judge. which lists exhibitions around the country and The Photograph Collector newsletter. may not be another� s. Go to as many as you can. of photographic prints. even if you don � t go to all the sales. publications such as Photography in New York. Fotofest is in Houston every other year.photoeye. how realistic are the estimates. Loyalty to a dealer who has spent time helping you with your collection will pay off with offerings of special prints and good prices. who the players are. e the auctions. Germany and England. meet dealers from other parts of the country. which reports on auc market and gives the latest gossip. This year� s auction contains w hael Kenna. overhear interesting comments b hen go to the auctions to observe how the bidding works. then you can go and bid.com out of Santa Fe is a great source for all the latest. William Wegman. James Fee. Almost everything contemporary in my collection is from the annual CPW auction. s with other collectors. buy for fun. make notes in your catalog. AIPAD. is held annually in New York in February. San Francisco. or fun. New York or Los Angeles �they may look forbidding but they� re generally run by nice people who want to sell you something! Most imp hometown dealer. what else do you need to prepare yourself to become a collector of fine. he dealer� s fairs. understanding value. The website www. There is one caveat here: we should be aware that the label of � masterpiece�affects our judgm be afraid to criticize of disagree or find our own masterpieces.an Francisco. that one person � s idea of a masterpiece. There is a plethora of photography auctions today from Sotheby� s and Christies and Swann in New York City to smaller regional houses a efit auctions in Boston. photography? Visit the best examples. RETURN TO CONTENTS PAGE Collecting Antique Photographs . compare prices. museum shows in the field who often help us see work in new contexts. European sales in France. the largest. Woodstock. you can obtain condition reports and p ead more. Also. that it is not solely inherent in the photograph but rather is a result of many market conditions. Joyce Tennyson. photography books. many more reno sts. n Informed Collector u know what to look for in a print and where to buy it. where you can observe the prints close-up. These are great places to see lots of work. When you have more of a grip on prices and ry well. Andrea Modica. particularly in 19th Century. and older. Keith Carter. that the lowest price for a particular im st buy. Chicago and Los Angeles now h aris and other European cities. go to symposiums. among others. Ellen Carey and many. Houston. Los Angeles. n to these rules is benefit auctions. Kenro Izu. with firm top bids so that you won � t be swayed by momentary auction fever. Larry Fink. new collectors should start with the previews. and your support of the not-for-profit organization will usually result in your ac ctures at way below their retail values. Subscribe to all the major auction catalogs.

it was passe. and was introduced in 1854. their family photographs. By 1865. and at times. rudimentary equipment and darkrooms of the past. Ambrotype: this was a negative image produced on a glass plate. The people who collect nineteenth century photographs are as diverse as the images themselves. This allowed the image to be viewed as positive. viewed as positive by the addition of black paint that was applied to the back. It is impo rtant to reme mber that old phot ographs are sold both as antiques and art. and waned in popularity by 1867.It is often difficult to understand why someone would give away. harder yet to understand why someone else would buy old photos of people they never knew. equipment. These photographs are usually encased in a book -style case made of molded materials or carved wood which protect the image from exposure to air and to tarnishing of the silver surface. subject matter. Some look at photographs with the eye of an artist. and famous photographers. from the French word for iron: fer). In this instance. places and events of the past. and antique phot ogra phy is not imm une. Others love the connection they experience with people. You can tell you are seeing a daguerreotype if your own reflection is seen in the mirror like background. Tin Types: (also called ferrotype. The following is a brief introduction to some of the types of images you can expect to come across: Daguerreotypes: An image named after Louis Daguerre (1789-1851) of France who perfected the technique of producing an image on a silver coated copper plate. it is extremely important that the collector understands all they can with regards to technique. some individuals buy with an eye to investing. A thin sheet of iron was given an undercoat of black Japan varnish. tintypes were seen in many different forms as late as 1930! The . and more common images into the former. these are the earliest photographic images. or sell. In reality. other new photographic techniques had taken its place. As in all fields of collecting. marveling at the effects and quality of the images given the bulky. However. Rare pictures almost always fits into the latter category. many collectors are simply drawn to the subject matter – children are especially popular subjects. The field is so broad that many serious collectors specialize in one type of photograph. Knowing which is which requires some research. ―One man‘s junk is another man‘s treasure‖ is an adage that surfaces in all fields of collectibles. Tintypes were introduced in 1856. This period identifies the era that tintypes were popular in cased images. hoping to cash in on a field that has been gaining in popularity over the last thirty years. By 1860. Introduced in 1839. This type was invented by Frederick Archer of England.

the collecting of photographs is anything but limited. they can be reached through their website. Others may collect all accessory forms of photographs such as photos on metal buttons. and research is in order. 2008 Jack and Beverly Wilgus discuss photograph and camera collecting. Based in Baltimore. Due to the increasing popularity and lower cost of the technology of creating photographs. Collectors also collect photographic equipment or photo related advertising. Cartes de visite translated as ―visiting cards‖ in French were very popular in their time. photo albums and frames. Thus ―armed‖. many people could now afford them. material. The three types above were often displayed in small hinged book. Knowledge of early photographers in general. As you can see. They also account for much of the antique photos available today. Henry Mace. . AB T5N 3N3 From Ambrotypes to Stereoviews. A good book for the novice collector is ―The Collector‘s Guide to Early Photographs‖ by O. and they are extremely affordable. A person may choose to collect only early paper photographs. Cartes de visites were the ―poor man‘s portrait‖ and they were exchanged freely with friends and relatives . The style. and the cut of the mat surrounding the subject all give clues to their age. and in your locality is necessary. However this is not expected to continue as more and more collectors learn about this fascinating area of collecting. from daguerrotypes to contemporary photographs to their very own camera obscura. Collection of Collections. Some collectors specialize in these types of photographs only. it is now time for you to seek out photographic treasures of your own. which is a member of our Hall of Fame.style cases thus are known as cased images. 150 Years of Photographs By Maribeth Keane — December 12th.subject matter will often give the viewer a good indication of actual age. Maryland. Antique photographs may be collected by photographer. Written by: Johanne Yakula From Times Past 12403 Stony Plain Road Edmonton.

1/2 plate Ambrotype We both come from families that had collections and we both had collections as children. but we mostly bought Victorian furniture and decorative things – stained glass windows and craftwork and that sort of thing. We went to antique shops and we prowled around in flea markets and the malls. We still have it. we didn‘t get in before the beginning of the modern photography collecting. which was right at the beginning of the surge in photograph collecting. When we married. we hardly ever saw any photographs. but we were early in the process. . and we got real interested in them. we had both studied photography. Jack lost his when his grandmother threw them out at one point. His grandmother collected china and glass. First thing we bought was a daguerreotype in Pennsylvania. That was in ‘68. It wasn‘t until we came to the East Coast and went to Pennsylvania that we began to see things like daguerreotypes and stereo cards. We weren‘t pioneers. My parents had collections. There were some big auctions that year and several catalogs started. In Chicago.

Of course. It just wasn‘t there. . You don‘t find much mention of it before the late ‘60s. and New York. Now you can find it in Chicago all you want. so we began to collect stereo cards. we‘d find incredible things. When we came here. It wasn‘t something that a lot of people did. especially in Pennsylvania. along that corridor – there was a ton of stuff. It just wasn‘t something that most people were collecting. Somebody would get an interest in it and would just collect a lot of things like daguerreotypes or stereo cards. ‘68. and now we have something like 10. because it was a hotbe d of activity historically as far as the development of photography – Baltimore and Philadelphia and Washington. We would go to the outdoor markets and find things like photographer samplers. in that era. so we began to look for examples. but it‘s primarily from pre -photography through contemporary.C. carbon photographs on glass and china. rolls of photographs on canvas. Collectors Weekly: When did people really start collecting photographs? Beverly: 1967. not as far as taking courses. Daguerreotype from Perkins Artist Galleries in Baltimore. They‘re just really interesting objects that used photography. D.Jack: Our collection spans anything dealing with photography. for example – but not just general photographic collecting. things have changed. We bought them a few at a time over the last 30-something years. We later met and made friends with people who‘d been collecting since the ‘30s and ‘40s. that sort of thing. We have prints by fine arts photographers today as well as from the past. MD Neither one of us really studied the history of photography formally before we got here. I‘m sure. Our collection is generalist. When we started going to antique shops and flea markets here. Collectors Weekly: Why didn’t you find anything until you went to the East Coast? Jack: We did a lot of looking in Chicago at that time. but there wasn‘t a community.000 stereo cards of different subjects. Some photographs have historical value and some people collected for that reason – Civil War or presidential things.

your perspective on it really changes.There were some organizations about that sa me time. intimate kind of thing to hold one. and some people are more into the equipment. although we do have some equipment. It‘s really a wonderful. They started quite a bit earlier. that‘s another interest of ours. whether it be images or objects. There was the New York group. No camera is worth that much money. you could sneak around with one and it wouldn‘t be so obvious that you were taking pictures.‖ and of course now some cameras sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars if they‘re really rare or unique. We just started collecting photographs that interested us and you begin to see relationships. and that got everybody all excited. For example. Collectors Weekly: The different categories on your site. There‘s still some community. There‘s a whole thing about the cultural aspects of photography. A lot of them were photographers involved with photography either professionally or as amateurs. There was one formed in Baltimore in the ‘70s. You need to see one. people can actually see what things look like and how they were. We have things that are related. Some of them are still active. We primarily collect images. but not as active as it was in the ‘70s maybe and ‘80s. so they certainly had some influence. like costume and point of view… did you come up with those? Beverly: Yes. One of the really early collectors sold these things in auctions. Some people were writing books about it – Beaumont Newhall and Helmut Gernsheim. In fact. Collecting is like being a detective. Jack: I think people got involved for different reasons. how photography changed and how people related to it. and a daguerreotype camera sold for a several thousand dollars. turn it in your hand and see the mirror surface to see how it changes when things reflect in it. There‘s an organization of people who collect daguerreotypes – The Daguerreian Society. It‘s not as active anymore because a lot of our contemporaries and people that we knew who were older aren‘t as active now. So some of our photos were collected to be part of a subcategory and some of them we just found that we had enough to be a subcategory. rolls of photographs on canvas. and there‘s one in Rochester that‘s still going. There were several journals put out by the societies. Jack: I‘ve been teaching the history of photography for a long time and I use our collection. you really don‘t know what it‘s like. There‘s one of stereo collectors. In other words. Beverly: They just called it that because it didn‘t look like an ordinary camera on a tripod would look. we collected an area. who is one of the most important spirit photographers. We‘d go to the outdoor markets and find photographer samplers. When you deal with original material. You see things and you understand things very subtly that most people never do because they only read about it or looked at pictures. so when we talk about various areas. There are a couple of people who do sales shows every year. ―That‘s ridiculous. In a few cases. There were mail orders. someone at the time said. . like stereo and detective cameras. writing books about the history of photography. Beverly: It‘s hard to describe a daguerreotype. It just was the right time for it. but then we began to find more and eventually we ended up with a collection. carbon photographs on glass and china. The Kodak was one of the first really major detective cameras in 1888. two years ago we bought the spirit photographs by Mumler. but it didn‘t start out to be that. Collectors Weekly: Why did people start becoming interested in collecting photography all of a sudden? Beverly: There was a fairly important auction. I‘ve been using it for years. If you‘ve seen pictures.

tintypes. Some people collect by process. We have a very large collection. ―Well. exaggerations like photomontages of people with large animals and large fruits and vegetables. ―That‘s interesting.… . We said. Some people collect everything.‖ You look for the clues and you research it a nd you find out who the person was and what they were doing. There were a lot of Civil War collectors even back when we started. daguerreotypes. inexpensive photographs. Then we also have a collection of real photo postcards. Some are photographs and some are drawings.‖ but then we did find a few and we looked into some fairly good-sized collections of images and we ended up with more Civil War images than we expected to have. Jack: That‘s what I meant about learning things. Sometimes it just happens. comic animals with cameras. They‘re real photographs. That‘s one of my favorite things to do now. The Civil War pictures really gave me a feeling for what the Civil War was like in a way that I never had before. For example. Beverly: Now with the Internet. and it really is interesting to trace down relationships and historical information. There are photographic prints – cutout photographs that are collaged and then re-photographed. and I think probably not quite that many ambrotypes. Photographs of men in uniforms were already pretty pricey when we began to collect. but they‘re not real. it‘s made it more real. They‘re very much like this thing you do with Photoshop now where you can put things together. but he has some absolutely extraordinary images. Collectors Weekly: How many photographs do you have in your collection? Beverly: Many thousands. You can find a photograph and say. ambrotypes. etc. We have a large collection of pictures that deal with people taking pictures. Beverly: And some things we said we weren‘t going to collect. we have a friend who has a large collection of tintypes. Some people collect by subject. We have some extraordinary images with tintypes too – photographers and wonderful painted backgrounds. We have salted paper prints. the way you can research things is even better. we‘re not going to collect those. and about 10. With the prints. not so much to acquire more photographs but to learn more about them once we have them. which are photographs made on postcard stock. but seeing those images and looking at things more intensely. photographic postcards. cut them together and retouch them so they look like they‘re something they‘re not. prints. children with cameras. You study it at school. hand-colored photographs. We have about 200 daguerreotypes. and they‘re not al l necessarily of photographers. Some of them are just nice photographs. which are generally considered pretty ordinary. definitely thousands because we have cartesde-visites. like Civil War.000 stereo cards. I wonder what that‘s about.Jack: We have images of photographers. and it could keep you really busy for a long time. We have a large collection of postcards of photographers.

I‘ve done many lectures on the history of color photography.Cabinet card by Lies‘ of Pittsburgh. too.. Aaron Siskind. PA Jack: …Collotype negatives. We know people who only collect cameras and they aren‘t interested in photographs at all. paper negatives. . which is an area that I specialize in. I think we were lucky we started early. Then there are people who are the opposite. Jack: There‘s been a tremendous change in the value. We‘ve been very lucky that we have studied with and known some of t he great photographers.‖ and they won‘t even look at photographs. and we also collect things like autochromes. We have seven of his prints. ―Show me your cameras. platinum prints. stuff like that. Also. carbro prints. Beverly: There are all kinds of collectors. They come into our house and say. There are people who are very specific and there are people who are very general. Because I teach. For example. and I‘m sure we never would have bought seven of his prints or have been given seven of his prints if we hadn‘t actually studied with him. Some things have not gone up – cameras have stayed pretty much the same – but the images themselves have escalated. There are people who just have an accumulation rather than a collection. I have collected things that illustrate the different areas. because we would never have afforded today‘s prices back when we started collecting. who both of us studied with.

Jack: No. the high-end stuff has. and I think being able to recognize that is an important part of collecting. . but that‘s not always important either. I think it‘s the quality of the image and what‘s going on in the photograph that establishes the value there. I would say that the more ordinary photographs have not gone up very much. not the ordinary ones. Understand the history. It‘s nice to know who made a photograph and when it was made and all those kinds of things. Know what you‘re looking at. Beverly: I agree. but you would for something by one of the major photographers.Beverly: Well. But snapshots and vernacular photography at one point weren‘t valued very much. Collectors Weekly: What is the value based on? Beverly: Definitely the first thing is who made it. but you should be able to recognize a really exciting image and something that‘s really important without necessarily knowing. There are different tiers of value. Jack: If you can find it. That was a good thing in a way. There was a big show for the anniversary of photography and they purposely included a lot of pictures that were anonymous. Understand the process. but I would say that you won‘t pay a hundred thousand dollars for an anonymous photograph.

Almost anything by Edward Weston. and it‘s very expensive.Collectors Weekly: Are there some photographers in particular who are really sought after? Hand tinted real photo postcard Beverly: People come in and out of fashion and get discovered and rediscovered. but the vintage prints and condition will determine it. and I think the thing that‘s the most different today is the way a young photographer who gets picked by the galleries can suddenly be worth an awful lot of money with very little time. They didn‘t make a lot o f money when they were young photographers working. I‘d rather go out and find the things or even have a gallery owner bring them to me. . maybe because we don‘t have that much money to spend. a lot of the major artists working today are working with the medium of photography so you see some wonderful contemporary work being done. and then someone will have a big show for someone. You could buy their prints for $25 or $50 or $100. There are always young photographers coming up. Now there‘s something more corporate about some of the contemporary photographic selling that doesn‘t appeal to me as much. Jack: In the fine art world. for example. It‘s a lot different than it used to be. That didn‘t happen to people like Weston and Wynn Bullock. is going to have some value.

If there‘s a photographer‘s name on it.Beverly: There are also people who buy art and photographs for investment. Once you make the discovery. Irish photographer. 10 or 15 years to run that out. It took me years to run down where it was and I finally discovered it. I put a lot of stuff up on Flickr. thinking about photographs and seeing stocks and bonds and investment. The Collectors Weekly: When you get a photograph. and I have one page on a stereoview of a camera obscura in a park that was unidentified. I began to look for maps of that park and finally was able to buy a sketch that had an aerial drawing of this park. Jack: If we buy something. no name on it. They‘re just things I like to enjoy. too. I have a couple of things on the Internet where I describe how I went about identifying them. Not that we don‘t have things in boxes. I looked at all kinds of park architecture and I found one that was very similar. what. it‘s like ―Eureka!‖ It‘s really a great feeling. That‘s the kind of thing that doesn‘t appeal to me at all. in Glen‘s Falls. I just follow clues. we live with and we enjoy it and it‘s something that‘s part of everyday experience.S. N. Stereo card self portrait by G. Just buy things you like and put them together. We put up a lot of things so we can see them every day. Actually we put a room in our house just for photographs because we didn‘t have enough wall space and proper lighting and everything. Some of my favorite things aren‘t the most expensive or the most valuable things we have. It‘s nice to know if it would go up in value – that‘s great – but most of the images we have. If we do purchase a print. We have to love it and want to live with it. . and I think that that‘s a really good way to start. we can‘t do that casually. I enjoy that. They stay in the gallery safe until they‘re ready to sell them. So it took me. In fact. They buy them and they never even take possession of them. That‘s the best reason to buy. we really care about it. but I think it‘s nice to be able to enjoy what you collect. I Google him. and I was able to exactly pinpoint where the camera obscura was in relation to the other building. You can have a nice display of cameras.Y. Beverly: They can be just like little sculptures. There‘s a certain amount of our collection on our camera obscura site. no identification. how do you go about researching it? Beverly: I put things on the Internet.

He has pretty close to every Kodak camera available and incredible advertising and memorabilia. thaumatropes and zograscopes. all kinds of stuff. it‘s just wonderful – the old 19th-century books are on Google Books – and Google has a site with all the patents now. One of our projects has always been to use some of the cameras. you can plug that in and get drawings and descriptions and information. although you probably could make most of them work. Collectors Weekly: Do you use any the things that you collect? Beverly: We have used some of the cameras. We did an exhibition where we made stereo cards with one of the old view cameras.I used to go to the library and spend hours looking through books. I still occasionally go to the library because everything isn‘t on the internet. The zoetrope and praxinoscope will either use mirrors or slits and you‘ll have a little set of drawings. When we started with Kodak film. and maybe we‘ll do it after my husband retires. It has scans of the old drawings and the patents. We‘ve used the toys for demonstrations because we‘ve done l ectures on optical toys. . If you‘ve got a camera that has a patent number on it. which is striking. Again. praxinoscopes. and Jack takes one of them when he talks about the origins of motion picture. and then you can do things like cut paper or sheet film. We have everything from the Kodak #1 all the way up to some contemporary metal signs. The magic lanterns have been around since the Renaissance. but it‘s just so wonderful to have all the resources. It‘s the same the way cartoons are made today. It‘s like strip animation. Again we know people who have hundreds of them. about Muybridge and movements. which is great. just became something connected with photography. we‘re small -time Kodak collectors. Kodak was just synonymous with photography. which is fine. There‘s always somebody with more than you have. And Google Books now. It‘s just pre-movie movies. but we have I guess five or six. Collectors Weekly: Do you collect Kodak items? Beverly: Just those that appeal to us. It‘s fantastic. We have zoetropes. On our site. There are people who actually spool odd sizes of old film. A lot of our cameras use an obsolete film size. Collectors Weekly: Do you collect other types of photographica? Beverly: Yes. We know someone who has a house full of Kodak things. We don‘t have a big collection of magic lanterns. The yellow and red color combination. We have a section on optical toys on our site. there‘s a life-size Kodak racecar driver standup cardboard. really. but ours are mostly early 20th century. a Kodak flag and all kinds of Kodak banners.

and they‘ve found some pretty good things. Eagleson. They do interesting images. . are there a lot of different age groups that collect it? Trick Photography booklet by Walter F. and we‘re hoping that some of them will start.Collectors Weekly: Since photography is such a broad area. eBay has done a lot to change the face of all kinds of collecting. they‘re always bemoaning the fact that there aren‘t more young collectors. 1902 Jack: I have students who became collectors after they studied the history of photography. I correspond with some people who seem fairly young. not necessarily the really expensive stuff. but I know on Flickr. Young people are getting interested in maybe not the top end of the line. The high-end stuff still goes really high on eBay. and she‘s very thorough going through and picking out photos that are going to have some interesting things in them. 30 photographs for not a lot of money and then finding in it some real gems. including photography. One young woman that I correspond with buys lots of photographs. She‘s gotten some remarkable photographs just by buying a lot of 15. That‘s one way to get started – flea markets or antique shops or retail shops. 20. but you can gather an awful lot of interesting things that are not necessarily really expensive. Beverly: In all of the groups we belong to.

real photo postcard . There‘s one in New York and there‘s still one in Washington. we began to find things there. There aren‘t so many photo collecting clubs anymore. of course. Collectors Weekly: What is the Magic Mirror of Life? Eugen Sandow. All of the clubs used to have shows. and we bought an awful lot of things on eBay over the years. It gets you out and around and it‘s entertaining. more in the old days than we do now. It‘s getting to be less. but usually we look at a lot of stuff and get some exercise. D. but we‘re not buying as much because we‘ve got so much. We actually sold in them for a while. Collectors Weekly: Where do you collect from? Beverly: Initially it was photographic shows. as I said.C. It‘s more the Internet now and there are still a few shows. What we like to do now is get our collection in order and do the research.The hunt becomes almost more important than finding things sometimes. We used to have a show here in Baltimore. with the Internet and eBay. We‘re working on a book on the camera obscura. Ev ery so often we find a real gem. We go to a lot of antique shows now and buy nothing. 19th Century prototype strongman. researching that. Then. There were quite a few mail-order catalogs at one time.

Collectors Weekly: Do people ever try to sell fake photographs? Beverly: Yes. It‘s just a totally different quality. and it‘s magic. it shows the sign from the Philadelphia Park from the Fairmount Park camera obscura and then there was one we made to go with it. some don‘t. Collectors Weekly: What are some good resources for people to look at? Beverly: For cameras. It was just the idea. There are a lot of people doing collodion now. I‘ve learned a lot. We were doing the main speech lecture on the history of the camera obscura. This is not to say that we couldn‘t be fooled. Visiting them over the years and collecting them. you‘ll see a section that has pictures of it where we‘ve set it up at conferences. It‘s really hard to fake some things. and it was two years of my life. You can dress people in old costumes. there‘s a sort of a bible. Jack: It‘s by McKeown. I see something and I‘m a little suspicious. It‘s fun. but you develop a feeling for it. Beverly: If you look at the first page on the Magic Mirror of Life site. There are some pictures showing it being put up. You‘ll see several pages that show it. which is what you use for ambrotypes and tintypes and modern daguerreotypes. Jack: Photos do age. even a little animation on the one at the Merrill Institute that shows it being put up. Every so often. and they keep changing all the time. you could tell the difference. but it‘s on the website. The first time we showed it. When I was a graduate student in the mid ‘60s. fat book. Some of them use modern subjects. so a vintage print will easily stand out if you compare it to something that was done more recently. and easy to fake others. just because you have a feeling for it. There‘s also a little history. it was fun. It‘s a big. Even if they were using the original negative. It‘s a portable tent camera obscura which you can set up on location. It was challenging. In the middle of that page. the photographic printing papers that were available were quite different than what people use today for black and white printing. a lot of engineering. A camera collector would enjoy looking at that because you can actually look up all the cameras that you‘re collecting. Find out what appeals to you. The older prints have a lot more silver in them. It was interesting. so that‘s what we call our tent that we built. They‘ll give you all kinds of information about the designer. If you look at the site. We‘ve got every edition of it so far. during the summer. There are different kinds of materials. Collectors Weekly: What kind of advice would you have for someone who is new to photography collecting? Beverly: I would say look at a lot of things. you‘ll see a picture of a camera obscura at the Fairmount Park in Philadelphia and the sign on the side said The Magic Mirror of Life. it was at the George Eastman House for our photo history conference. People reprinted famous negatives and sold them to friends. . I got more than I expected. but actually taking on building a room-size one. So that‘s where it debuted. Some mark their work. We just did it at the Magic Lantern Society in Washington.C.Beverly: The term itself is from a sign. D. Jack: It took me a couple of years to do it. You pick something up and it just doesn‘t feel right. and I made smaller ones. You can have about 10 people inside of it. and not just prices. so it seemed appro priate. but they just don‘t look the same. There have definitely been some fairly major scandals. you‘re seeing real life on the table inside the camera obscura. Jack: And learn something about the history of photography.

read about the history of photography. is founder and owner of Cowan’s Auctions. but if you love everything. one of Louisville‘s old traditional neighborhoods. then just start buying what you like and maybe you can narrow it down or specialize. Half-Plate Daguerreotype of 49ers Mining Scene . Cowan. Indian artifacts and antiques. and you do learn new things from collecting. so there was a high concentration of them. and my mother had a lot of Victorian antiques. It was a natural place for antique dealers because the rent was cheap. CDVs and stereoviews. rocks. 2008 Wes Cowan talks about collecting 19th Century photographs. As a kid. I collected a variety of stuff – fossils. I grew up in Louisville. including daguerreotypes.Beverly: If you can specialize. in Cincinnati. We lived in an old Victorian neighborhood. In the 1910s and ‘20s it had been very vibrant. you‘re probably better off. natural history stuff. It also makes it more interesting. Look at what you can. It‘s like being in touch with the past. who appears as an appraiser on Antiques Roadshow and is a regular cast member on the PBS show History Detectives. Kentucky. As Jack said. Jack: A lot of it is knowing what you‘re looking at. but started to go downhill after World War II when people moved to the suburbs. minerals. Inc. I‘ve always been interested in antiques. from Daguerreotypes to Cartes de Visites By Dave Margulius — November 26th. (All images in this article courtesy Jack and Beverly Wilgus of Collection of Collections) 19th-Century Photographs.

and I just felt like I didn‘t want to participate in it. and then what the photographs represent within those particular periods. what was I thinking? My interest in what I was buying evolved as I became better educated. There was too much competition. money. looks like a mirror when you hold it one way. small but very nice. things that were done primarily before 1840. when you first started collecting? Cowan: I didn‘t. then you‘re going to collect daguerreotypes [see image at top]. and if you tilt it another way. . I still have a pretty fine collection of them.and early 20thcentury photographs. because that‘s the first commercially viable photograph that was produced in the United States. I was well on my way to being a collector and part-time dealer of 19th-century photography. it went through a cycle. I became disillusioned with collecting photography. Then as your interest and knowledge matures. I started going back to antique shops. The daguerreotype is a copper plate that is covered with a thin layer of polished silver. By the time my dissertation was completed. I was drawn to them because of the visual impact. but I became fascinated with early photography and I could buy photographs reasonably because the antique dealers in the early 1970s didn‘t really know what the stuff was. I‘ve always taken a historical taxonomy to what photographs were available during what particular period of time. spend literally a few dollars. Then there‘s a run -up in prices. you can see the image itself. I found lots of other kinds of things that I really liked. money. I became interested in archaeology. and I‘d never presume to dic tate to a collector what their individual taxonomy should be. and buy 19th. but also because they told a story about a person or some historical event that might not have been a big historical event but was certainly peripheral to some event in American history. I‘m very interested in Midwestern decorative arts and folk art and paintings. they sit in a drawer and you can take them out and look at them. The image. I didn‘t really have any money. a Gold Rush mentality. which generally comes in a little leather case. I became very disenchanted with the idea that what started off for me as a pleasing hobby evolved into money. I was very interested in 3D card photographs and collected those very heavily for a number of years. but I don‘t really collect them anymore. or trade. probably as an excuse not to wri te my dissertation. as most collecting categories do. Like all collectors. If you‘re interested in the earliest history of American photography. A lot of people at the time called the daguerreotype the mirror with a memory. When I was in graduate school at the University of Michigan writing my doctoral dissertation. Collectors Weekly: How did you know which photographs to buy. First is the rediscovery by some group of people. but it‘s not like having a nice piece of furniture or a painting or a piece of folk art that you can walk by and touch and have it be a part of your life. my interest in antiques was waning. as I became exposed to different kinds of antiques. It was whatever I thought was interesting and appealing. because.By the time I got into high school. for example. But also. It wasn‘t long before I met other people in the southeast who were photograph collectors and found that these people would actually pay me for the photographs I was buying from antique dealers. There‘s a huge world of 19th century photographs. Then the social context and historical context of that particular process. I could always walk into an antique shop. I went through a period of just buying all kinds of stuff. you look back at your early purchases and say. So that‘s what I‘m collecting now. My collecting interest gradually evolved into stereoviews (also known as stereographs). and then the market matures. When you collect stereoview cards.

taken in America. The most common daguerreotype is a studio portrait – somebody went to a photographer‘s studio and had their picture taken. The initial daguerreotypes were very expensive and not very many were taken because not many people knew how to do it. and there were literally hundreds of thousands of daguerreotypes. People tend to think that the daguerreotype is a fairly rare type of photograph. you have a lot of options. The ambrotype process is basically a photograph on glass to negative made positive by putting a . men wearing hats. Their success exploded in the early 1840s. But by the mid 1840s prices had been dropped to the point where the average person could have their picture taken. the daguerreotype was replaced by another photographic process called the ambrotype process. Do you want to collect daguerreotypes of children with their toys or pets? Daguerreotypes of whole families? Daguerreotypes of female sitters. And they‘re still around. but it‘s n ot. But if you want to collect daguerreotypes that were taken outdoors and show scenes of buildings or streets. So if you collect daguerreotype portraits. men smoking cigars? There‘s a huge range of avenues to pursue. if not millions. by Gurney & Son Daguerreotypes were introduced in the United States in 1839 and were the dominant form of photograph taken until the mid-1850s. In the mid-1850s. they‘re far fewer by a factor of probably a hundred or more. male sitters.Wild Bill Hickok CDV.

There are important things still to be found. It was based upon a calling card that had been in common usage in the mid-19th century – something you‘d drop in somebody‘s bowl when you came to visit them that had your name and how to contact you. how they were taken care of by the photographer. I would guess the average Civil War soldier had his picture taken three or four times during the course of his service. The Civil War gave a kick in the pants to American photography in a huge way. New troves of 19th Century photographs are being discovered every day. but the French were initially more successful than American photographers were with it. important discoveries. That was the carte de visite. just in time for the Civil War.‖ Paper photography was being experimented with on both sides of the Atlantic. A Civil War soldier might go into a photographic studio in 1860 and have a dozen photographs made for a couple dollars. Ther e were literally millions of carte de visite photographs taken between 1860 and probably 1875. In general. ―Many Civil War photographs credited to Mathew Brady were taken by people who worked for him. People think a sepia toned photograph is an old photograph. Collectors Weekly: Is the survival rate of paper photographs better than the other types? Cowan: I don‘t know. Many photographs that were taken in the 1860s are still around and look just like they looked in the 1860s. or the CDV as you‘d say. because every Civil War soldier wanted to have his picture taken. including hundreds of thousands taken of Civil War soldiers. Photographers were very clever in that they found a way to develop a camera that would take multiple exposures at one time. Then the tintype started to become popular in the late 1850s. But if the photographer didn‘t take care to wash or to fix his prints. By 1859. but there were more paper photographs taken because it was a cheap way to make a picture. These dozen photographs might be taken with a camera that had six or eight lenses. so they‘re taking an identical six or eight photographs at the same time. it‘s not the process. . Paper photography was introduced to the United States in a big way in the late 1850s. I‘m not sure that the supply will ever be depleted.black backing on it. but sepia toning is a product of a photographer not using good chemicals and not fixing the prints to keep them from fading. The photographic carte de visite has its roots in that calling card. a new style of photograph had been developed in France was introduced in the United States. There are plenty of photographs still out there. Condition can be a big issue if the photographer was sloppy. then they deteriorate.

He was a photographer for the Army. worked for Brady.S. and then after the war published a monumental book about the Civil War. military railroad to take photographs. A lot of those guys went on to very important careers. He‘s a guy people don‘t know very much about. Alexander Gardner and Timothy O‘Sullivan. George Barnard was another great Civil War photographer who began his career in western New York and went on to make a name for himself. an iconic photographic book.Collectors Weekly: How significant are big-name photographers to 19th-century photograph collectors? Fine Cabinet Photograph of Calamity Jane Cowan: Big names are often associated with some of the most iconic images of the 19th century. There were many great 19th-century photographers. Gardner was hired to work for some of the railroad companies that were building the Transcontinental Railroad. but many photographs that are credited to him were taken by people that worked for him. lots of these guys went on to have careers in the American West. so they hired . After the war. A. They didn‘t like working for him because he took all the credit and didn‘t give them any. but he made unbelievably great photographs. Russell was another great Civil War-era photographer who was actually employed by the U. for example. They were looking for routes. Mathew Brady was the entrepreneur in the Civil War. O‘Sullivan moved west and accompanied several government expeditions.J.

There was no television.200-card sets that would take you literally on a tour of the world through the stereoscope. 300-card. They came in 100-card. so you‘d open the box and there‘d be 50 or 100 stereoviews inside you could look at. He marketed those stereoviews to make a living. that market started to fade. Stereoviews started being made in the late 1850s. Pennsylvania ultimately bought out all their competitors. and all their negatives now are at the California Museum of Photography in Riverside. and newspapers didn‘t have any photographs. for example. no radio. when any medium size town had a photographer taking them.‖ and they had regional offices all over the United States that marketed very aggressively to schools and libraries. They had salesmen going out and trying to sell them to homes and schools. if there was a stationery store in the town. 200-card. Russell went along the northern route of the Transcontinental Railroad and took photographs. People were getting news in different ways. a number of companies decided that they were going to mass market stereoviews and opened offices regionally in various parts of the United States. Newspapers started to have more photographs. primarily stereoviews. but he also took larger format pictures and some important early photographs. so this was a way for people to look at the world. 600-card and 1. The sets they sold often came in a box that looked like a book. Keystone sold stereoscopic libraries to schools which would have a tour of the world. you could go down there and buy stereoviews that were being marketed by other photographers from other parts of the country. By the 1920s. Starting in the late 1880s. You‘d pass a stereoview around. They were sold locally. and you were immediately thrust into the scene. There were half a dozen companies by the mid-1890s doing this. There was radio. Collectors Weekly: Why were stereoviews so popular? Cowan: They were a great form of parlor entertainment. They would basically put together a set of stereoviews of China or Greece or Germany or some foreign country and put them in a box. The Keystone View Company finally closed its doors in the mid-1960s. but their heyday was in the 1870s. . Keystone‘s motto was ―a stereoscope in every home. The Keystone View Company of Meadville.Gardner to go out and take pictures of the scenes along the way.

That‘s not true at the top of the market. I think this is a reflection of the antiques business in general. not just photography. the value of this stuff has gone down. and not necessarily people that are just interested in . eBay has depressed the market. There are European collectors that would collect an iconic 19th-century American image. If you‘re a daguerreotype collector. That‘s when you hit your stride in terms of disposable income. today that stereoview is worth $3 or $4 because there were so many produced. not a mundane portrait that‘s a snapshot of somebody in the 1850s. you want to collect large daguerreotypes of unusual subject matter. Scarcity and condition are the driving factors. one of six known to exist. So it‘s been great for collectors. the Abolitionist. by the African American Daguerreotype Artist. August Washington Cowan: eBay has been a great leveler of the marketplace for 19th-century photography as well as American antiques in general. I wish I could tell you I know of a lot of photograph collectors in their 20s and 30s. You name it. If you‘re a daguerreotype collector. Collectors Weekly: Is the market for 19th century photographs primarily American collectors.000. or is there a global interest? Cowan: Primarily. S.Collectors Weekly: Have you noticed any recent trends in collecting 19th-century photographs? Important Long-Lost Quarter Plate Daguerreotype of John Brown. those are the ones you‘re looking for. Prussia and Fiesta ware and carnival glass. but I don‘t. but if you were a person who was collecting Keystone View Company stereographs in the 1970s and paying $10 or $15 for a Spanish American war stereoview. but certainly for the vast majority of collectible 19th-century and early 20th-century photography. We sold a daguerreotype of John Brown last year. for $96.000. but primarily it‘s an American market. Most people that are collecting seriously are in their 40s and up. we sold a daguerreotype taken during the vigilance period in San Francisco in 1852 that sold for $129. just like it‘s depressed the market for R. Some images that are incredibly rare and important have still held value. A few years ago. if it was produced in a factory.

John has been a photographic dealer for 40 or 50 years. There are some people who have cataloged photographers‘ imprints. and want to know where it is. the online database of a guy named John Craig from Connecticut. and they recognize a great photograph of Dodge City. he put them online at his own expense.daguerreotype. There‘s no advertising on there. A lot of 19th-century photographs were mounted on card stock or a board that the photographer imprinted his logo or address on. too. I wish I knew where that was or who this is or what this scene is. many anonymous images that you find and say. Kansas in 1870 that will go well with their Kansas collection. It‘s absolutely free. He published two massive volumes on daguerreotypes.com. and they‘re great sources. But there are many. There are many people collecting the story behind the image and the history behind the image. He‘s received awards from the Daguerreian Society. gosh. you definitely must go to www. If you‘re a daguerreotype collector and you find a signed daguerreotype. but there‘s no indication. Collectors Weekly: What about markings or signatures on photographs – is that a major issue? Scarce CDV of Lincoln's Dog Fido Cowan: It can be very frustrating at first if you see a great image. and then once the Internet came around.photography. Somebody may be interested in the history of the American West. .

you can collect a photograph for the historical value of it. 2009 Daile Kaplan talks about collecting 19th and 20th century photographs and photobooks. not an accumulator. His photographs were distributed to Congress and directly led to the creation of Yellowstone National Park. Photography and the American Scene. Collectors Weekly: It seems like a lot of these photographs are ripe to put on the Web. 1839 to 1889.Carl Mautz. there‘s one great book you want to have in your library: The World of Stereographs by William C. and it gives you a great history of stereo photography.popphotographica. Inc. Daile can be contacted at dkaplan@swanngalleries.000 photographs on our website right now that people can look at from our prior auction catalogs. . you might not care as much about its artistic merits. Collectors Weekly: Any other advice for people thinking about collecting 19th-century photography? Cowan: The same advice that I give to everybody. If you‘re collecting for artistic merits. Learn everything you can possibly learn.com. He was one of the first photographers to publish photographs of the Yellowstone Country. who cares? (All images in this article courtesy Cowan’s Auctions. He published a book called Biographies of Western Photographers. in the last 13 years. Collectors Weekly Staff — January 14th. but easy to find. Arguably.) Daile Kaplan of Swann Auction Galleries on Collecting 20th Century Photographs By Maribeth Keane.000 or 20. www. and collecting it for historical value. I use it all the time. but it‘s a classic book on the history of American photography and I recommend it for anybody. is also a great book.com or via her website. and is also featured in a series of short videos on fine photographs for Swann Galleries. and it‘s mainly 19th-century photographers. and it‘s the same for any kind of antiques: collect what you like. a book publisher who lives in Nevada. It was published in the 1940s. outside of eBay. but if you‘re collecting for historic merit. One is by Robert Taft. which features items from her personal collection of pop photographica. Photography and the American Scene: A Social History. It doesn‘t mean it won‘t be done. Darrah. we‘ve probably sold more 19th-century photographs than any other auction house in the country. It‘s out of print. publishes Western photo history books. you need to learn to be a connoisseur. Daile is Vice President and Director of Photographs at Swann Auction Galleries in New York. It‘s a 600 -page labor of love. It‘s a wonderful reference. William Henry Jackson was a great photographer who began his career in the east and ended up in Colorado. With photography in particular. She appears regularly as a photograph appraiser on the Antiques Roadshow. There are great overviews of the history of American photography. Buy the very best that you can possibly afford and be a collector. We are going to open our photographic archive up beginning in 2009. Is anybody doing that? Cowan: I don‘t think anybody is yet. We probably have 15. If you‘re a stereoview collector.

this didn‘t stop artists from exploring photography as a form of self-expression. Gerry Badger. Even though photography is incredibly popular today. important photographers like Robert Frank and William Klein were very . As artists transition to new digital technologies and examples of those prints appear in galleries. In addition. as popular interest in photography became more widespread. Swann is considered a pioneer of the photographic literature market. auctions dedicated to photography and photo literature were unheard of. (1976) Swann. Until that time. the specialist at that time realized that Swann should have sales that featured documentary and fine art photography as well as albums and photobooks. Swann focuses on vintage and modern 19th. and Andrew Roth. In the past few years. Needless to say. In addition to photographic literature. there have been a number of excellent coffee table books about the genre by Martin Parr. they are offered at auction. books illustrated with photographs are garnering a lot of attention. which is New York City‘s oldest specialty auction house. An underappreciated area of collecting for many years.William Eggleston – William Eggleston‘s Guide. we are not yet selling many digital prints. We specialize in what are referred to as wet darkroom prints. in the 19th century and even into the 1960s it was ridiculed as an art form. First edition.and 20th-century photographic prints. was founded in the late 1940s as an antiquarian book house. In the 1950s. there are some very serious celebrity photobook collectors who have brought attention to the field. However. In the mid-1970s. Therefore. Today. New York: The Museum of Modern Art. it‘s now firmly on the map.

focused on working with the book as a creative art form. say 50 to 75 copies. Illustrated with reproductions of Frank‘s stunning photographs. Robert Frank – The Americans. and two of those feature photographic books. Japanese photographers in the 1960s and 1970s – Hosoe.. offer an international roster of photographers. Moriyama. Lee Friedlander. who were influenced by Robert Frank – recognized the importance of the photobook and made remarkable contributions to the form. Photographers like William Klein and Robert Frank were very actively engaged in not only making the pictures for their books but sequencing the pictures and designing the final object. Inc. which are accessible on our website just before each auction. and Ishimoto. so we‘re looking at a field where creative figures interested in making photographs were using the book or album to promote their work. At Swann. Books are more affordable than vintage or modern prints. (1959) Swann‘s catalogues. If a photographer is successful and has a strong gallery representation. Books may also be produced in a deluxe edition (that is. All the masters of 20th-century photography are associated with particular monographs and books. including Robert Frank. a trade monograph. First American edition. Collectors Weekly: Are there certain photobooks and artists that collectors look for? Kaplan: Photobooks by master photographers are always very desirable. which is published in thousands of copies. we conduct four sales a year. Man Ray. there were no commercial galleries or museums with regular photography programs. Such examples tend to be more expensive and the edition size is smaller. for example. and Walker Evans. New York: Grove Press. issued with an original signed photograph). Introduction by Jack Kerouac. can sell out very quickly. For example. making them very beautiful objects. . After all. and they‘re often designed with artistic integrity. Photobooks are a great way for someone who‘s interested in photography to begin collecting. and those books are considered works of art in their own right.

We‘re seeing less and less separation between what were once thought of as commercial photography. whose pictures regularly appeared in glamour magazines. There are many photography collectors who are looking to purchase beautiful photographic prints to hang on their wall but who may not have any interest in illustrated books. the collector community is global and. one of the top lots in that sale was an album of Brazilian photographs from the 1880s. A noted fashion photographer like Richard Avedon. what they may have seen in a gallery or a museum. for example. Today. daguerrotypes or ambrotypes. They‘re usually not yet familiar with the literature in the field and they acquire what‘s familiar to them. As they become more sophisticated. If we‘d look at our October 2008 sale. fairly sophisticated. art. The Internet has changed the auction business completely. Collectors Weekly: Do you notice any trends among the collectors of 20th-century photography? Kaplan: Today the marketplace reflects a representation of more diverse styles and idioms. instead of attending the auctions. Maybe they start buying older material. social record – are falling away. is accepted as a fine art photographer. Regardless of the area of interest.000. for the most part. Our sale also featured an Edward Weston photograph from the 1920s that sold for about $45. documentary photography. sees his work is offered in fine art galleries and at auction. or maybe they move from painting to photography. many of our buyers are bidding via the Internet. A collector first starting generally buys what they like. An artist like Paul Graham. such as salted paper prints. a British photographer who is noted for his pioneering color documentary-style photography in the early ‘80s. there are always different levels of collectors. the market for photobooks is distinct from that of fine art photographs. scientific documentation. press photography. They contact us for condition reports to obtain information about lots in a sale. photojournalism. their tastes become more discerning. and fine art photography. documentary. Categories that used to segregate the different areas of photography – fashion. and we sell works that would fall into any of those categories. Today they‘re all considered equally important.Interestingly. .000 and a Danny Lyon civil rights portfolio that sold for $30. Today.

a major fashion and glamour photographer in the 1930s. Dorothea Lange. and Ernest Withers were active in the Civil Rights movement. or black and white.Collectors Weekly: Who were some of the major photographers who dealt with social issues and civil rights? Kaplan: I‘ve written two books about Lewis Hine. began to explore color as a medium for their photographs. Collectors are interested in celebrity photographs. architecture. really made people aware of the fragility and beauty of America‘s parks. which have a very distinctive patina to them. In terms of other 20th Century subjects. have also been widely collected. Jr. photographing conditions during the Depression so that all Americans could be aware of the devastation in the heartland. In the 1960s and ‘70s. Charles Moore. a pioneer of social documentary photography in the early 20th century who photographed child labor. a very stable color format. . you have photographers like W. female nudes. Walker Evans – are other major talents. male nudes. ―I collect pop photographica. They worked for the federal government. Bob Adelman.. which are three-dimensional decorative and functional objects highlighted with photographs. Photographers associated with the Farm Security Administration (FSA) in the 1930s – Ben Shahn. Works by Paul Outerbridge. utilizing the gelatin silver. The first photographs are daguerreotypes. or salted paper prints. who went to Haiti to photograph asylum patients and traveled to Japan to photograph environmental conditions in Minamata. and the Western landscape. Danny Lyon.‖ 20th-century photographs were for the most part monochromatic. Photographers like Ansel Adams. In the 1960s. print. Other examples of cased images are ambrotypes and tintypes. Most 19th-century photographers worked with cumbersome large-format cameras that utilized glass negatives and produced albumen. He employed the color carbro technique. James Kerales. a new generation of photographers. immigrants. Joel Sternfeld. and the First World War. Collectors Weekly: How do 20th-century photographs differ from 19th-century photographs? Kaplan: Technique. and Stephen Shore. which are unique or one-of-a-kind photographs and are often referred to as hand or cased images. Eugene Smith. including William Eggleston. who was an early environmentalist.

and in terms of content. estimate the property. However. those are very obvious clues. Collectors Weekly: Where do you typically acquire photographs from? Bill Brandt (1904-1983) Pablo Picasso. Today the provenance of history of ownership as well as the condition of the photograph are extremely important. I think most people start with 20th-century because they start with what‘s familiar to them.In terms of appearance. if it‘s torn or creased. there are very few photographers for which that would apply. On the other hand. Collectors are very discerning about how the photograph has been handled over time. there was no awareness of the economic value or importance of these prints. We select and catalog the works. photographs by Weegee. . and promote each of the auctions. In the 1930s and ‘40s. were used in newspapers and magazines and frequently manhandled by editors and engravers. the great New York photojournalist. condition is paramount. Therefore. I don‘t think anyone could mistake a 20th-century street photograph for a 19th-century street photograph. Silver print 1957. Normally. printed 1960s-1970s Kaplan: Swann doesn‘t acquire photographs or photobooks but acts an as an agent for consignors who may be private or institutional clients. that may not be perceived as a condition issue. when a Weegee print comes to market.

. that doesn‘t have the fragility associated with some of the color techniques. Since there wasn‘t an international marketplace for photography until the 1970s. using color. Obviously. vintage prints were gifted by artists to friends and family members. Artists Stephen Shore.Collectors Weekly: What about signatures or markings on the photographs? Kaplan: As a collector. but we know the sorts of paper as well as the style and format of their pictures. but Edward Weston almost always signed his pictures. If a gelatin silver print is well maintained – that is. and curators about what to look for with regard to a photographer‘s body of work. and he would note the negative date. Of course. you need to do your homework. Collectors Weekly: Can you talk more about 20th century photo processes? Kaplan: The most popular is what was called the gelatin silver print. family members enjoyed taking snapshots (vernacular photographs) of their daily lives. Paul Outerbridge is probably the most famous photographer from the 1930s who worked in color. if a photographer was known to have signed his or her prints. not the date that the photographic print was actually made. By the 1980s and ‘90s. William Eggleston. not displayed by a window where artificial light is going to damage it or in an att ic or bathroom where there‘s too much moisture or changes in temperature – it will have a good. long lifespan. André Kertesz would sign the back of his pictures. It‘s certainly expanded. you want to find those examples. it‘s very uncommon to see a signed Alfred Stieglitz photograph. Som e photographers never signed their photographs. Talk with auction house specialists. So there are a lot of considerations. In the 1970s. believed to last at least 100 years. not the front. This was a very stable process. and it can be complex. gallerists. like Andreas Gursky and Thomas Ruff. you begin to see photographers from the German school. your black and white photograph. For example. market conditions dictated that photographers be less casual. and Joel Sternfeld photographed modern American life in transition. and then of course in the 1960s and ‗70s you see photographers like Richard Avedon and Irving Penn exploring color as an idiom.

. It‘s been interesting to see how many contemporary photographers are working in this mode. African American art. I just fell in love with these wonderful objects a long time ago. I have a very large collection – over a thousand objects – and I have an educational website devoted to this material.Collectors Weekly: Do collectors tend to display the images in their collections? Kaplan: Sure. college students. and graduate students come to see this material. Instead of emphasizing the framed photograph on the wall. Vik Muniz. an area I‘ve pioneered consisting of three -dimensional decorative and functional objects highlighted with photographs. It demonstrates how photography converges with popular culture. and I have collector groups. The important point is to frame your photographs archivally. and decorative objects from an artisanal perspective. Collectors Weekly: Do you collect photographs personally? Kaplan: I collect what I call pop photographica. furniture. mattes. It‘s material that relates to popular culture. and Damien Hirst have all made multiples featuring photographic images. I‘ve curated shows about it and have been collecting for about 20 years. which represents a different history of photography. Work with a professional framer who will use the appropriate materials. Artists like Robert Mapplethorpe. It casts a very wide net. Nielsen Bainbridge is a company that has developed state-of-the-art mounts. and decorative arts. making scarves. Example of Pop Photographica: Presidential clock from the mid-1960s Many of the works are on display in my studio. folk art. They‘re using their own pictures and working with craftspeople to make elegant jewelry and beautiful apparel highlighted with photographic images. pop photographica focuses on freestanding threedimensional objects that you live with – a tintype photograph on a chair or a family portrait on your bracelet or earrings. Cindy Sherman. and wooden frames. It‘s best to use Plexiglass and make sure the f rame is taped on the back to ensure that no dirt or pollutants migrate into the picture frame.

Hine – the first with Abbeville Press and the second with the Smithsonian. or outdoor scenes. Swann sells albums of Egyptian and North African photographs. What is the image like? Is it in the right format? Is it the right paper stock for the period? Photography was invented in 1839 and took the Western world by storm. as well. Daguerreotypes are a very specialized area of collecting in which buyers are looking for occupational images. My colleagues in the poster and works on papers departments and I appear on Antiques Roadshow. My most recent book is about pop photographica and was published by the Art Gallery of Ontario. Kaplan: Yes. what’s the first thing you look at? Kaplan: I look at the condition of a photograph to see how well it‘s been cared for. but due to technological and cultural constraints. I became a curator and wrote about photography. signature. My third book. was published by Twin Palms. and I have published two books about Lewis W. portraits of notable figures. There‘s a sophisticated market for hand-tinted Japanese photographs from the 1880s and 1890s. Like many individuals in the field. Pictures of Australia and New Zealand are also desirable. interest in a particular photograph may be based on the beauty of the photographic prints in addition to its history: Was the photograph published in a book? Did it appear in a museum show? Was it previously in a prominent collection? .Collectors Weekly: You’ve done some appraisals on Antiques Roadshow. Russian and Chinese material is very rare. my background is as a photographer. Europe. Albert Arthur Allen. and Asia. With regard to 20th-century images. We appraise photos from around the world – America. and paper stock. I‘m the photograph specialist. it didn‘t appear in Asia and Africa until the 1860s to 1880s. entitled Premiere Nudes. as well as those from subcontinental India. then content. Collectors Weekly: When someone brings you a photograph to appraise. but they‘re largely from the 1870s through the 1890s.

or Robert Jackson‘s photograph of Jack Ruby assassinating Lee Har vey Oswald. There have been numerous records for important 19th-century photographs at auction. Collectors Weekly: Tell us about some popular landscapes. Kaplan: ―Moonrise Over Hernandez‖ by Ansel Adams is one of the most popular photographs that we see at auction. William Henry Jackson photographed Yellowstone and Carleton Watkins photographed Yosemite. These collectors usually focus on the iconic hardhitting images. Usually. buy pictures of flowers. Be sensitive to what you‘re drawn to emotionally. This print is available in different formats or sizes that were printed during different periods in Adams‘ career. If you like flowers. that way you can begin to understand what you like. We have collectors that just really love this material. Go to museu ms and galleries. Find an original photograph and then look at it in magazines and books. With regard to buyers of 19th century American landscape photographs. However. The French photographer Gustav Le Gray. who created gorgeous marine landscapes in the south of France. a census indicates Adams made almost 2. whenever the image appears at auction. It‘s always a good idea to start collecting as an experiment in learning. Very few collectors today are focused on a particular theme. have sold for more than $700. people tend to be more diverse in subject matter. Lately. though there are collectors who love nudes or the American landscape or fashion. Photographs by Carleton Watkins have realized $500.000 copies of this photograph. In fact.000. such as Nick Ut‘s heart-wrenching image of the child running from a Napalm attack in the Vietnam War. there are serious collectors of photojournalism.000. It‘s very important to educate yourself.Collectors Weekly: What advice would you have for somebody who is new to collecting photographs? Kaplan: It‘s important to see as many exhibitions as you possibly can. Daguerrotypes have . While there is a private collector with an impressive collection of Edward Weston‘s vintage prints. Educate your eye to the nuances of photography. there‘s competiti ve bidding on the lot. he also collects other imagery.

000. but ultimately they do recognize the beauty of it. Today. Commercial galleries sell both traditional and digital work. just about any contemporary artist is using digital technologies to make prints. Until the digital age.sold for $975. Collectors Weekly: Where do you see photography collecting going in the future with the introduction of digital images? Kaplan: I think with the digital age there will be more of an appreciation of analog techniques and an understanding of the creative imagination and effort involved in making a photograph. After all. but there aren‘t any galleries that specialize in digital work. Most collectors don‘t start by buying 19th -century photography. Working in the dark room is different from working on your computer. (All images in this article courtesy Daile Kaplan and Swann Auction Galleries) or email this article to a friend . photography was a hands-on medium. it wasn‘t a point-and-shoot kind of thing.