E. J. Bellocq Storyville Photographs
Appraised Value: $600 - $4,000
IMAGE: 1 of 4
Appraisal Video: (2:29)
Vice President & Director of Photographs
Swann Auction Galleries
GUEST: Well, these pictures were at an old home. The lady had a collection of many different things, and I was looking through the pictures, and then I saw a book on Storyville that she had.
APPRAISER: All right.
GUEST: Well, I made the connection of E.J. Bellocq, who was a photographer. I started matching the pictures with the photographs that were in the book.
GUEST: And I bought a number of the pictures.
APPRAISER: Well, indeed, what you have are a group of images that are by a photographer who practiced in the Storyville district of New Orleans. And that area, which was known for its red light district, has a kind of interesting history to it. Apparently, at the turn of the century, Alderman Stanley Story hoped to clean up the waterfront and remove prostitution. Instead, this area, Storyville, was named after him, and it became a community where prostitution was legalized. Here, for example, is the entryway to the house of prostitution, and it's really quite marvelous in terms of the range of female beauty that introduces the gentlemen to the trade. Lee Friedlander was the photographer who discovered the glass plate negatives in the 1960s, 1970s. Friedlander realized the inherent beauty and craft of these images, and began to make photographic prints from the plates himself, because there were so few vintage prints available. In terms of value, do you have any idea what they might bring?
APPRAISER: Well, frankly, I'm a little uncertain too, because tests would need to be done to determine whether or not these photographic images are in fact from the period that Bellocq worked, which was 1900 to 1920. Individually, these photographs would be in the $2,000 to $4,000 range, if each photograph was made at the time that the negative was generated. If they turn out to be photographic prints made by Lee Friedlander, the value is going to be more in the $600 to $900 range.
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