ANTIQUE PHOTOS — COLLECTING MADE EASY
Before photographers and inventors developed negatives, from which
thousands of prints could be made, or wire services created the same
capabilities, photographers worked in small scale (generally, about index
card sized) and created unique images. And despite their age, these images
can be remarkably inexpensive to collect.
This Half Plate Tintype, circa 1865, entitled Woman in Jockey Attire, with Carousel Horse, is
valued at $350.
Daguerrotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes — photographic images on treated
metals — date from around the mid-19th century. 20th-century photography
is fabulous for its innovation and technique — the
older images are appreciated "for the history."
And they're reasonable. While daguerrotypes have sold for the tens of
thousands of dollars, many are available for hundreds of dollars. The same
is true of ambrotypes, and tintypes can go for just $8 to $10.
The values are all over the map largely because of the category they fall
into. "Occupationals" show craftsmen like blacksmiths at their
anvils or cobblers at their workbenches. "Militaries" are people
in uniform. These can sell for the high hundreds, or even more. And
ghoulish post-mortems, which are referred to as "sleeping
beauties," tend to bring $500 to $1,000.
This Half Plate Ambrotype, circa 1854, of a father and two sons in top hats, is valued at $800.
More common portraits go for less, and tintypes of some 19th-century
celebrities — like circus star Tom Thumb — can sell for as little as
$10. Tom Thumb is probably second only to Lincoln as the most
photographed person from that era.
Navigating the market isn't as easy as one might think. They're all
unique. Because of that, there are no price guides.
It's an area where you have to look and use your eye, and that's what
makes it a great field.
The American Tintype
by Floyd Rinhart
Forgotten Marriage: The Painted Tintype & the Decorative Frame, 1860-1910: A Lost Chapter in American Portraiture
by Stanley Burns
Preserving Your Family Photographs: How to Organize, Present, and Restore Your Precious Family Images
by Maureen Taylor
Memory Gifts: Preserving Your Treasured Past in Special Ways
by Marie Browning
Making Scrapbooks: Complete Guide to Preserving Your Treasured Memories
More Than Memories: The Complete Guide for Preserving Your Family History
by Julie Stephani
Collector's Guide to Early Photographs
by Henry Mace