These were an auction lot, which is why I’m showing them together. The first two are 1/9th plates, and the second two, 1/6th plates. Nothing particularly out of the ordinary or earthshaking here, but nonetheless, a very interesting grab-bag of stuff that fills some holes in my collection.
The first image here, of the old lady, is a ruby-glass ambrotype. I apologize for all the dust, but when I removed the packet from the case, I discovered that the paper seals were complete and intact, so I did not want to break them just to remove a little dust. What’s interesting about this is the mat – it appears to be painted paper, rather than stamped brass or gilded copper. It’s the first of this kind I’ve seen.
This little tintype, image-wise, is nothing at all special. I do like her dress though – you can see she had fishnet lace shoulders. What’s interesting about this one (and it’s hard to tell from the scan of the package) is that the mat and preserver are extremely clean, bright and shiny as if they were put on yesterday. I’ve not seen such before. I’m confident that they are not modern reproductions recently applied.
A nice, generic tintype of a middle-aged man.
This was another unusual item. I know it was done, but infrequently – this is not an ambrotype or tintype or daguerreotype, but rather what I believe is a salt print (the reason I don’t think albumen is that the surface is extremely matte, and it is relatively low-resolution – albumens are typically much glossier and have pretty high resolution). If it is indeed a salt print, it is one of the first in my collection. I wonder if this is not a copy of a daguerreotype or ambrotype:
The outfits, especially his necktie, seem to be from the 1840s/50s
I have not seen many paper images in small plate sizes like this – this is a 1/6th plate
The low resolution could also be a symptom of being a third-generation copy (original plate, paper copy negative, paper print)
Also interesting to see is the gilding of her jewelry – the rouging of the cheeks is not at all surprising, but the gilding of a paper image is not something I’ve run across before. This one, also a 1/6 plate
This has to be about the finest daguerreotype I own, quality-wise. It was an estate sale purchase on an online estate auction site. When listed, the picture looked bad, but having seen enough of these, my intuition said, “the cover glass is just dirty”. I bid, and won.
Well, I was right. When it arrived, there was a lot of dust inside the cover glass. The original seals were present, but they were totally shot. I removed them, opened the packet, and BOOM! This is what I found underneath. I have since cleaned the cover glass and will shortly be re-sealing with films-last tape. The dust you see in the scan here is now on the outside. I’m in awe of the gentle hand-coloring you see in his face and hands, and the texture of his waistcoat. You can practically feel the silk just looking at it!
This is a quarter-plate dag in leather case, probably late 1840s or at the latest early 1850s.
The latest arrival in my collection – a new CDV of the Thumb “family” including the rent-a-baby, in a pose I haven’t seen before, combined with an advertising verso. The grand irony of the advertisement is that it violates the prime directive of advertising – let your customers know WHERE to get your products. Where on earth (let alone what street in what town in what state) is B. Green’s Modern Wonder Department??
My latest acquisition- this was quite a surprise to find at an online estate auction: a 5×7 (roughly 1/2 plate) tintype in a gilt 8×10 frame, of an identified Union soldier. This is another case of it pays to do a little research when selling- the subject was misidentified as Thomas Hanks, and the rest of the information present in the label was described as “illegible”. It truly is hard to read, but a few minutes playing around in Photoshop and a few more minutes on the US Park Service Civil War Soldiers database (Search Soldiers) got me the confirmation of what I have. Thomas Adams was killed at the Siege of Petersburg on August 12, 1864. He managed to avoid the Battle of the Crater only to die some two weeks later.
This is another CDV I’ve been looking for for a long time – Che Mah, the Chinese Dwarf. I had previously purchased a copy that was in faded condition, thinking it would be some time before I’d find another in better shape. Then this one rolled around.
Unlike the facsimile signatures on the versos of a bunch of my Tom Thumb CDVs, I do believe the pencil signature in English and Chinese is in the hand of Che Mah directly. It certainly does not appear to be mechanically reproduced, and it looks distinct from the signature on the first one: