Friday, January 29, 2010

Signed Historical Photographs From the Jerome Shochet Collection

Lot 92
YOUNGER, THOMAS COLEMAN (“COLE”). Photograph Signed and Inscribed, “Yours truly / Cole Younger,” in pencil, bust portrait, showing the outlaw partly in shadow. Signed on the mount above and below the image. Approximately 2 1/2x1 3/4 inches (image), approximately 5x3 inches overall; photograph trimmed into an oval shape and mounted to a larger sheet; elaborately matted and framed. Np, nd

Estimate $5,000-7,500

A rare signed photograph showing the middle-aged ex-outlaw after his release from prison in 1901.

Lot 40
HOWE, JULIA WARD. Photograph dated and Signed, bust portrait by J.E. Purdy, showing the abolitionist and poet looking wistful. Inscribed in the margin below the image. Additionally signed by the photographer at lower right, in pencil. Photographer’s blind stamp and imprint, lower left and bottom. Approximately 5 1/2x4 inches (image), approximately 10x8 inches overall; framed. Np, February 1904

Estimate $800-1,200

Howe (1819-1910) composed the “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and was an influential suffragette and peace activist.

Lot 83
WILDE, OSCAR. Photograph Signed, cabinet card half-length portrait by Alfred Ellis, showing the poet in a typical pose, with a flower in his lapel and holding a cigarette. Signed in the image at bottom left with a flourish extending to mount. Photographer’s full imprint on verso. Approximately 5 1/2x4 inches (image), approximately 6 1/2x4 1/4 inches overall; minor fading to image, minor scattered soiling, even toning to mount, bold signature. Np, nd

Estimate $4,000-6,000

Lot 17 (CIVIL WAR.) SCOTT, WINFIELD. Photograph Signed and Inscribed, “This card is respectfully / inscribed to / Miss Van Horn-- / the friend of my family, / by her friend-- Winfield Scott / 1862,” carte-de-visite portrait by Charles D. Fredricks, showing the elderly General seated in uniform and grasping his sword. Inscribed on the verso. Photographer’s full imprint on verso. Approximately 3 1/2x2 1/4 inches (image), approximately 4x2 1/2 inches overall. Np, 1862

Estimate $1,000-1,500

Scott (1786-1866) served in the War of 1812, commanded the Southern theater during the Mexican War, was promoted to Lieutenant General in 1855--the first officer to attain that rank since George Washington--named General-in-Chief of the Union army at the start of the Civil War, and devised the “Anaconda Plan” to defeat Confederate forces.

Lot 60
PICASSO, PABLO. Photograph Postcard dated and Signed, “Picasso,” showing a close up of the master holding a sculpture of a bird by its stone base. Inscribed in the image at bottom left. Approximately 4x5 3/4 inches; 3 pin-holes along top edge, bold signature. Np, 25 [April 19]58

Estimate $2,000-3,000

The image is a still from Visit to Picasso, a film by Paul Haesaerts.

Lot 50
LINCOLN, ABRAHAM. Photograph Signed, “A. Lincoln,” as President, carte-de-visite portrait by Gardner, showing the President seated, legs crossed, his left arm leaning on a book and holding a newspaper, his right hand holding his eyeglasses. Signed on the mount below the image. Photographer’s imprint on verso. Approximately 3x2 1/4 inches (image), approximately 3 1/2x2 1/2 inches; corners and top edge of mount slightly trimmed, discoloration from prior matting, minor scattered soiling. Np, nd

Estimate $40,000-60,000

This image was taken early on August 9, 1863--a Sunday--a time selected so as to avoid the unwanted attention of the curious. It is one of four images taken in the same instant, as Gardner employed a four-lens camera that allowed him to send each of the four parts of the negative to a different assistant in order to maximize production. As quoted in Hamilton-Ostendorf on the same page as a reproduction of the present image, John Hay made a note in his diary about the sitting: “I went down with the President to have his picture taken at Gardner’s. He was in very good spirits.” Charles Hamilton and Lloyd Ostendorf, Lincoln in Photographs, 1963, p. 130, No. O-70.

Lot 48
LAST PORTRAIT OF LEE LEE, ROBERT E. Photograph Signed, “R.E. Lee,” carte-de-visite vignetted bust portrait by Boude & Miley, showing the General in civilian attire. Signed in the image at bottom center. Photographer’s imprint on the mount at bottom. Approximately 3 3/4x2 1/4 inches (image), approximately 4 1/4x2 1/2 inches; slight fading to image. Np, nd

Estimate $4,000-6,000

On January 10, 1870, Lee sent to a woman in Louisiana a signed carte-de-visite with the same slightly faded image as the present one, noting that “[i]t is the last that has been taken & is the only kind I have. I wish I had a better.” Roy Meredith, The Face of Robert E. Lee, 1981, p. 100.

Lot 36
HO CHI MINH. Photograph Postcard Signed and Inscribed, “Au Dr. Adolf Leichtle / HoChiMinh,” bust portrait of him looking into camera. Signed in blank margin at bottom. Approximately 5 1/4x3 1/4 overall. Np, nd

Estimate $700-1,000

Lot 30
GORKI, MAXIM. Photograph Inscribed and Signed, “M. Gorki,” in Russian, bust portrait showing the austere author and activist in heavy coat with short hair. Inscribed on the mount below the image. Approximately 7x5 inches (image), approximately 10x8 inches overall; minor scattered soiling to mount, remnants of prior mounting verso. Np, nd

Estimate $1,500-2,500

“To Viktor Vasilyevich Muizhel, at the beginning of our great collaboration with heartfelt wishes for its well-deserved success.” Muizhel (1880-1924) was a fellow author whose name has not withstood the passage of time as well as Gorki’s.

Lot 15
THE FIRST UNION OFFICER KILLED IN THE LINE OF DUTY (CIVIL WAR.) ELLSWORTH, ELMER EPHRAIM. Photograph Signed, “Elmer E. Ellsworth,” carte-de-visite full-length standing portrait by Brady, showing the Civil War hero in civilian attire. Signed below the image on the album mount into which the photograph has been inserted. Photographer’s imprint in image, lower left. Approximately 3 1/4x2 inches (image), approximately 6 1/4x3 3/4 inches overall; minor scattered soiling to mount; matted and framed with a commemorative envelope and an unsigned carte-de-visite showing a bust portrait of Ellsworth in uniform. Np, nd

Estimate $4,000-6,000

Ellsworth (1837-1861) recruited and led a Zouave regiment for the Civil War drawing upon New York's volunteer firemen (the “Fire Zouaves”). He became the first notable casualty of the War when he was shot and killed after removing the Confederate banner from a building in Alexandria, VA. This image was taken in New York only weeks before his death. Dorothy Meserve Kunhardt and Philip B. Kunhardt, Jr., Mathew Brady and His World, 1977, p. 203.

Lot 24
EARHART, AMELIA. Photograph signed, showing the smiling aviator in short sleeves standing before an airplane engine whose propeller bears a Hamilton Standard logo. Signed in the image at bottom center. Approximately 10x8 inches; mounted to a sheet trimmed to size. Np, nd

Estimate $1,000-2,000

Lot 51A
AMONG MOST REPRODUCED IMAGE (LINCOLN ASSASSINATION.) BOOTH, JOHN WILKES. Photograph Signed and Inscribed, “Yours affectionately / J. Wilkes Boo[th],” carte-de-visite portrait [by Silsbee, Case and Company, or Case and Getchell], showing the actor-assassin seated with a walking stick. Inscribed in the image at top. Photograph mounted on a card mount bearing imprint of S.T. Blessing in New Orleans on verso. Approximately 3 1/4x2 1/4 inches (image), approximately 4x2 1/2 inches overall; inscription truncated at top and right edge affecting the “th” of signature, some scattered soiling. Np, [1862-65]

Estimate $10,000-15,000

The present image is among the most reproduced and pirated of all Booth images. Copies of this and similar images have been found on mounts bearing an imprint of any of a number of studios, including Bradley and Rulofson in San Francisco and Mathew Brady's in Washington, DC. Tintype copies were made from photographs taken in the same session as the present image, and engravings based upon the same poses were issued after the Lincoln assassination by J.H. Bufford of Boston. Gutman and Gutman, John Wilkes Booth Himself, No. 21.

NEXT MONTH, FEBRUARY 11, TO BE EXACT—AT SWANN’S AUCTION HOUSE IN NYC, an interesting auction of signed historical photographs will take place. I have included some selected images for your perusal, images of famous and infamous individuals. While I am not a collector of autographs, you have to admit, there will always be interest in knowing that a famous person’s hand actually touched and signed something. Especially if you have a personal hero, like Abraham Lincoln or Amelia Earhart—what price is too high?

All of the 90+ photographs in this February 11 auction can be viewed (and bid on) online

For more information contact:
Marco Tomaschette at:

All images © Swann Auction Galleries

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Make Mine a Double

HERE’S A SWINGIN’ 1940s MARTINI TRADE SIGN FROM A COCKTAIL LOUNGE IN DENVER. As you can see, this is way cool when illuminated and would be great displayed up high or on the floor as a cocktail table. With a wonderful original blue paint surface, this baby stands 36 inches high and is 31 inches across the top. Made of sheet metal by an anonymous maker.

This item is located in the Urban Country Shop of 1st Dibs.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Touchless Automatic Wonder

(Above) Cover of the book “Touchless Automatic Wonder” by photographer Lewis Koch.

Click any image for larger view.

Click any image for larger view.

Click any image for larger view.

TEXT AND IMAGE, MIXED WITH WONDER AND SURPRISE are the stars of this new book by photographer Lewis Koch. Described as “found text photographs from the real world” Koch is a photographer whose works are in some awesome collections: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art-Chicago, and numerous major European collections.

Lewis Koch is a master at his craft and a master of his art. I get the sense that his is “an eye” that never rests—something all artists of any substance have. Koch has traveled the world to find these images, from Uttar Pradesh, India, to Hoodoo, Tennessee—and many countries, states and small villages in between. The printed, painted or scrawled word—these bits and pieces of visual language communication that tell us yes or no, follow this, turn here, buy that and so many things—Koch seeks the intersection of the two where wonder and mystery appear. Only through the lens of Lewis Koch will you (the reader) easily find these metaphors. You’ll find them easily because it has taken Koch much of a lifetime to bring them to you. He has captured them in his camera, developed them and presented them for you in this beautifully printed hard cover book published by Borderland Books, Madison, WI.

Koch will be doing a book signing in St. Louis next Thursday, February 4 at 7 pm at the famous Left Bank Books, an independent bookstore in St. Louis founded in 1969.

You can order the book here, or on Amazon here.

And one more thing. A big round of applause to Richard Quinney, editor of Borderland Books. Where would publishing be today without the small, independent press? Huzzah!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Natural Brillance

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Click any image for larger view.

Click any image for larger view.

ISN’T IT WONDERFUL TO SEE creativity emerge from nothing more than a pair of scissors and ordinary leaves from trees? This goes to show that the best creativity doesn’t have to be complicated or elaborate—just original. These brilliant manipulations of leaves is by illustrator Christoph Niemann. Extremely diverse in styles, more of Niemann’s portfolio can be seen here.

Niemann’s illustrations have appeared on the covers of The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine and American Illustration. His work has won numerous awards from the American Institute of Graphic Arts, the Art Directors Club and American Illustration. He is the author of two children’s books, “The Pet Dragon”
which teaches Chinese characters to young readers, and “The Police Cloud.” After 11 years in New York, he and his family moved to Berlin.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Steampunk Insects

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Click any image for larger view.

Click any image for larger view.

STEAMPUNK—THE ARTISTIC REVOLUTION THAT LOOKS BACKWARDS FOR TECHNOLOGICAL INSPIRATION, is the inspiration for these robot-like insects by artist Mike Libby. Mike buys actual real (but non-endangered) insects from Africa, China, New Guinea, Brazil and other parts of the world, then fits them with mechanical “engines” from harvested antique pocket watches, parts from old sewing machines and typewriters, sprockets and other mechanical paraphernalia. What he ends up with are wonderful, science-fiction like robotic insects ready for any James Cameron movie, beautifully encased in shadowboxes or glass domes.

Libby says about his work “Robot-like insects and insect-like robots are the stuff of science fiction and science fact.

“In science fiction, insects are frequently featured as robotic critters. Either scurrying across the galaxy as invading aliens or as robo-bug counterparts to a futuristic human race. There are countless examples in TV, movies, video games, comic books, even on rock and roll album covers, (see Journey’s “Escape” circa 1981,). From Cronos to The Golden Compass, the insect/robot archetype has been used, re-used and re-imagined countless times.

“In reality, engineers look to insect movement, wing design and other characteristics for inspiration of new technology. Some of the most advanced "aircraft" is no bigger, or heavier, than a dragonfly, and NASA scientists are making big steps in walking rovers and “swarm theory” probes for planetary exploration. Man-made technology is finding that the most maneuverable and efficient design features really does come from nature.
Ironically and often, this technology closely resembles the musings of science fiction.

“This hybridization of insects and technology from both fields, is where Insect Lab borrows from. Insect Lab celebrates these correspondences and contradictions. The work does not intend to function, but playfully and slyly insists that it possibly could.”

Learn more here.

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