Pack Secrets

© Cycleback, 2003, all rights reserved

Q & A


** QUESTION:What is a chromolithograph?


** ANSWER: While it sounds technical, chromolithograph is a nickname for particularly brightly colored lithography.It was originally used in 19th century fine arts, but is also used in the early collectable arts.If you find a turn of the 20th century lithographic trade card or advertising sign with brilliant colors, you can call it a chromolithograph if you want.


With collectables, the term is generally applied to antique items only, and not to something like a 1955 Topps baseball card or 2000 advertising poster.



** QUESTION: Whatís a tintype CDV?How is it different than a normal CDV?


** ANSWER:A carte de visite, popularly nicknamed CDV, is a miniature version of the cabinet card photograph.It consists of a paper photographic print pasted to a larger card.On back or front, the card will often have the stamp or other mark of the photographic studio where they were made.These were popular in the mid to late 19th century.


A tintype CDV has the appearance of a regular CDV, but has a tintype photograph (image on an iron plate) instead of a paper photograph.†† Instead of being pasted to the front of the card, the tintype is held inside.A little hole in the center of the card allows the photographic image to be seen from the outside.†† The visiable image area on the tintype CDV is usually much smaller than with the regular CDV.The tintype can be removed from its pouch.Tintype CDVs were most popular around the 1860s.



QUESTION: Were the Harperís Woodcuts originally hand colored?I see versions that are in color?


ANSWER:The 1800s Harperís Woodcuts were not published/sold in color.Any color would have been added by its subsequent owner.Most of the colored prints one finds were colored many years ago.


It is up to the potential buyer to decide whether the coloring adds or subtracts from the value.Some collectors automatically consider any alterations not authorized by the publisher or issuer to be bad.Some collectors pay a premium for Harperís Woodcuts that has vintage and attractive hand painted colors.


Some modern reprints are in color.These reprints are easily identified in person as there is no printing on the back of the sheet (Harperís were printed as part of a newspaper, so will have text and/or pictures on back), and the image is made up of the fine half-tone dots.They are also usually of different size than the originals.



QUESTION: I have heard that some of the Ray O Prints Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig are reprints.Are you aware of this?


ANSWER:I advise care, though not paranoia, when purchasing one of these items.


The circa 1930 Ray O Prints were sold as little photographic kit that allowed a kid to make his or her own photograph of a famous American.The kid would receive a photographic negative and a snapshot sized piece of photographic paper.The resulting photo would be of a famous American.Subjects included Ruth and Gehrig, boxer Jack Dempsy, Herbert Hoover and Charles Lindbergh.The photos, which resemble blank backed trading cards, are check listed in the Standard Catalog of Baseball cards.


The problem is that in modern times someone can take the original negative and make modern versions of the photos.All it takes is more photographic paper.It has long been rumored that many of the Ray of Prints on the market are modern versions.I have not seen a Ray O Print in person in several years, so am offering here nothing more than my impressions.I have seen an inordinate number of high grade Ray O Prints for saleó which, at least, raises an eyebrow.As someone who specializes in 20th century photographs, I can tell you that Mint Pre-WWII photographs are as common as henís teeth.I own thousands of photographs and not a single one is in Mint condition.


The collector or dealer experienced with vintage photographs should not have difficulty distinguishing between vintage and modern versions.In particular, the vintage versions will often have distinct signs of aging (possibly including silvering to the image) that wonít appear on a modern version.A quick shine of a black light will identify many modern versions.


The beginning collectorís best bet is to buy a Ray O Print when the original kit, including negative, comes with it.From a straight collecting standpoint, it would be neat to have the entire kit anyway.††