Antique Photographs: 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. Chatelaine's Antiques Collectibles Appraisals

 

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Chatelaine's Antiques & Appraisals Magazine > Fine Art > Feature: Collecting Antique Photos
 


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Half Plate Tintype, circa 1865


This Half Plate Tintype, circa 1865, entitled Woman in Jockey Attire, with Carousel Horse, is valued at $350.

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.

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.


Half Plate Ambrotype, circa 1854


This Half Plate Ambrotype, circa 1854, of a father and two sons in top hats, is valued at $800.

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.

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.

 

 

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