QUESTION: In vintage photos, are there
premiums given to certain teams?
I’m assuming there is for the Yankees, but was wondering if there
were other teams too.
ANSWER: In baseball, the Yankees are
number one, with the Brooklyn Dodgers second. In Pre-1970 football, the Green Bay
Packers are by far the most popular, with the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago
Bears second and third.
Presumably, the Boston Celtics are top in Basketball, but that’s a
guess as I don’t sell much NBA stuff.
football, many college teams are popular.
A nice Notre Dame, University of Michigan or Nebraska photo, for examples, can attract
more attention and higher price that many NFL team photos. Of course, most NFL stars also played
in college— meaning a nice photo of Bronco Nagurski
can picture him in his University of Minnesota or Chicago Bears uniform.
QUESTION: Don’t you think that in the future
they will develop printing so good that they can make T206 Honus Wagner reprints that are impossible to tell
from the originals?
ANSWER: No. That’s like asking if they will ever
develop a car so modern that it will be unmistakable for a horse and
printing techniques are nothing like the printing used to make the 1909
T206 Honus Wagner. Laser printers, for
example, doesn’t use ink.
Inkjet Printers don’t have a printing plate. And the more advanced printing gets,
the further away it gets from old printing. That’s the nature of technology.
many home inkjet and laser printers can make a vivid reprint of a T206 Honus Wagner image downloaded from the internet. But, if this reprint is deceptive, it
is only deceptive on the casual, naked-eye view. Under the microscope, identifying the
printing is modern is no more difficult than identifying the Lamborghini
in Amish country.
QUESTION: Can you tell if a family or person
was wealthy from their family photos?
ANSWER: I am assuming you mean by the type
of photographs, rather than if the photo’s image shows a mansion or yacht, The answer is
Yes. Certain types of photographs
were too expensive for people of normal means to afford. For example, in the 1800s large
photographs were expensive to make.
An especially large 1870s photograph of a woman would suggest that
she had money.
once had me look at a pair of old photographs of her great great grandparents.
The images themselves were typical family portraits. I said to the woman that her relatives
must have been wealthy or otherwise prominent. She said, “How did you know?”
QUESTION: When dealing with items that
belonged to famous people or came from estates, are there ever ownership
disputes, like the family wanting stuff back?
ANSWER: Personally, I’ve had two instances
where ownership was an issue, but these were the few and far
between. In most cases an issue
doesn’t come up.
cases, family members have contacted me, but only because they are
interested in what I have, want to chat about it (‘tell the real shory’) and sometimes want to buy some of the
items. In one case, I had an
interesting item that belonged to a Pre-War Hall of Fame baseball player,
and his granddaughter contacted me because she wanted it. She couldn’t afford it, but we ended up
making a trade. Most interactions
are friendly like that.
I can tell
you that many people are going around buying, bidding on or trying trade
for items relating to their famous relatives—including on eBay. Other than they have a personal stake
in the subject, they don’t feel (or at least act) as if they have more
rights than the other collectors bidding in the eBay auction. They are collectors like you or I, they
just happen to be collecting stuff relating to a relative.
that the family of a famous person doesn’t automatically have more right
than you to an item. Say, when
your Uncle was a little kid in the 1940s, he met Joe DiMaggio and Joe, in
a particularly good mood, gave your uncle a gold engraved pocket
watch. Years later, you inherited
this watch from your Uncle because he knew your followed baseball and
would appreciated more than his other nephews
and nieces. You are the rightful
owner of Joe DiMaggio’s watch. It
doesn’t matter what the DiMaggio’s family claims, it was originally a
gift and it is now yours.
if the DiMaggio family donated a bunch of Joe’s personal items to a local
charity for auction and the stuff was sold to the public— the DiMaggio
family no longer has any rights to the stuff. If the DiMaggios
regret selling a particular item, the current owner may grant the consideration,
but she has no responsibility to give it back. Ordinarily, you will have to own
something really special before the DiMaggios
come knocking on your door. They
won’t care if you own Joe’s dirty baseball socks or high school tap
considering buying something truly substantial, like Lou Gehrig’s World Series Trophy or Citizen Kane’s
‘Rosebud’, it is wise to determine it’s provenance (history of ownership
& sales) to make sure it isn’t hot (stolen). This same provenance is necessary
anyway to determine the item’s authenticity-- meaning, if the smart buyer
is going to buy something expensive that supposedly belonged to Orson
Wells, she will require the seller to provide substantial evidence that
it belonged to Orson Wells.
If you can
determine that the current seller of the Lou Gehrig
gold Trophy won it in a Christies auction last year, and the Gehrig family were the direct consignors to
Christies-- this not only helps prove the authenticity but that, if you
buy it, you will be the rightful owner.
interesting case, I once obtained from the estate of a famous sports
writer, a Hall of Fame baseball player’s diamond All-Star Game ring. For those who are unfamiliar, at the
annual All-Star games, fancy precious metal and stone rings are given out
to the players as gifts. For many
years, it was this sportswriter’s job to hand them out before the
game. Some time after I obtained
the ring, I was contacted by the player’s lawyer saying that ring was
stolen from the player and I had to immediately return it to this
minimal research, it was determined that, while he had been voted to the
All-Star team, this baseball player did not actually attend the game or
even go to the city it was played in.
It turned out that, whenever a player didn’t attend (injury,
needed the rest, pouting, other), Major League Baseball let the
sportswriter keep his ring. I’m
sure MLB baseball felt that if they player couldn’t be bothered to
attend, this well liked and elderly sportswriter was more deserving. Over the years, the sportswriter
accumulated a small collection of rings for players who didn’t show
and despite the lawyer’s claim, not only was this ring never stolen, but
the player never even owned it.
QUESTION: I was at a local show and a dealer
was selling Alfred Steiglietz photographs from
‘Camera Works.’ I was interested,
but didn’t buy any as they were pretty expensive. I looked into it later online and now
know that Camera Works was a magazine.
Does this mean the pictures were removed from the magazine? Are they original works or
reproductions? Have they been
reprinted? How can I tell if one
of the photographs is original?
ANSWER: Camera Works was a legendary
photograph magazine produced in the early 1900s by the famous American
photographer Alfred Stieglitz (husband of
painter Georgia O’Keefe). Each
publication had a portion for text only (articles, discussions, etc) and
a portion set for pictures. The
pictures were not just from photographs taken Steiglietz,
but by other famous living and dead photographers.
pictures were reproductions of the original photographs and were printed
in a variety of ways, from the common commercial methods to high end
methods. In a particular magazine,
different pictures were often printed using different methods, which is
unusual and expensive.
Stieglitz and most of the rest of us consider most of the pictures to
be reproductions (though now vintage reproductions), in the same sense as
a picture in Time Magazine or on a 1950s baseball card. However, a number of pictures were
printed in a special way using the original photographic glass negative. Stieglitz considered these to be originals.
pictures you saw were removed from the publications. You can find the complete/intact
magazines for sale, even on eBay from time to time. The publications have been reprinted in modern
times. Luckily for the collector,
the originals pictures and publications are straight foreword to
identify. In particular, Camera
Works has been well catalogued and studied, so there is much information
on each picture— size, date, how made, etc.
recommendation bookwise is Camera Works: a Pictorial Guide by Marianne Margolis (Dover
Publications). This book pictures
(black and white) and describes every picture, with cross references. It also gives an excellent history of
the magazine. There is a more
recent book on the subject, but I haven’t seen it and can’t comment on
The potential buyer should also be familiar
with the various photomechanical printing process
and how to identify/date them.