Issue #209  11/5/2014
Be-hold Schedules an On-Line Only Auction for Nov. 20th
Daguerreotype of two large horses drawing a sleigh wagon
Daguerreotype of two large horses drawing a sleigh wagon

Be-hold is having an on-line only auction of photographs on November 20th.

There is a strong selection of daguerreotypes and other early material from the U.S, and also historical images from the Civil War as well as modern conflicts. There will also be some interesting offerings of 20th-century art photographs.

Some of the material has important provenance. Five of the early-image lots were purchased at the famous Strober sale in 1970. This sale of the collection of Sidney Strober at the Parke-Bernet Gallery (now Sotheby's) was the auction that "put photography on the map" in the US as a major collectable. There is an important group of photographs by the Pictorialist photographer Wellington Lee that come from his family, and a group of important photographs by Inge Morath that came directly from her.

A highlight of the material from the Strober sale is a group of salt print portraits. This includes an important portrait of Edgar Allan Poe, made from a daguerreotype that is a variant of the "Annie" and "Stella" daguerreotypes. This one shows Poe in a more relaxed, thoughtful mood. Images of Poe are among the rarest portraits of mid-19th-century American cultural figures. A portrait of Harriet Beecher Stowe shows her in an almost girlish pose. A daguerreotype by Root, also from the Strober sale, is of an engraving of Cooper Union in New York. It is accompanied by a portrait of Peter Cooper himself.

A beautiful portfolio of 12 dreamy photographs by George Krause, from 1960-1970, published in 1980, is one of the interesting modern offerings that you don't see in other auctions.

Although the Chinese-American Wellington Lee was perhaps the most successful of the Pictorialists, his work is seldom offered. A group of representative photographs includes a moving self-portrait. The model for one of his photographs with outsized props is Bettie Page. There is a beautiful print of Henri Cartier-Bresson's "On the Banks of the Marne," a nice small print (by Neil Selkirk) of Diane Arbus's "Lady at a Masked Ball", two fine Brett Westons and six photos by Inge Morath printed before 1980 that include some of her most popular images. A series of modestly priced but beautifully printed portraits by Philippe Halsman allow one to study his portraits in the context of the many wonderful daguerreian portraits presented in the sale.

Wellington Lee's "Harmonica Man"
Wellington Lee's "Harmonica Man"

There are lively daguerreian portraits by Plumbe, M.P. Simons, Jeremiah Gurney, Samuel Root, Mathew Brady, Gabriel Harrison, Rufus Anson and others. A rare half-plate stereoscopic daguerreotype in a Mascher viewing case is by Langenheim and Wimer, and there is another Mascher viewing case, ¼ plate size, with a pair of tintypes by George G. Johnson, a partner of Alexander Hesler.

Unusual daguerreotype offerings include a blacksmith, a lecturer with a large enigmatic print on display, and a colorful scene with two large horses drawing a sleigh wagon. Ambrotypes and tintypes include a traveling carpenter, a dog sled in the snow, a nude baby and a street scene. There are a couple of rare California CDVs, and others of Barnum's circus attractions.

Civil War material includes ambrotypes, tintypes, cartes de visite and stereo views. Especially rare are early editions of photographs by Brady: CDV's from Brady's Album Gallery and important Brady stereo views in early editions on Anthony "War Views" mounts.

Be-hold continues its presentation of iconic press prints with attention to date and other matters. Examples are a beautiful early matte print of Rosenthal's flag raising on Iwo Jima, a pre-1963 print of one of Capa's D-Day photographs that has unusual clarity, and a very early print of Eddie Adams' Vietnam assassination photograph.

The auction also offers the kind of unusual items that give these sales their special character. A "Micrograph" is a miniature microscope-like viewer that allows tiny transparencies on a glass strip to be viewed. It is in its original box with instructions and catalog. A series of CDVs of currency, issued after the Civil War, could be used to compare with bills encountered in commerce to see if they were genuine. These are in their original box.

All this and more can be seen on the website at http://www.be-hold.com. Registration and bidding is simple. Those in or traveling to the NYC area are welcome to view the material directly in Yonkers NY. Call Larry Gottheim at 1-914-423-5806 or email behold@be-hold.com. Bids may be left directly with Be-hold and phone bidding during the auction is welcome.