Edward Curtis Orotone
Appraised Value: $5,000 - $7,000
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (2:27)
Photographs, Prints & Posters
Director, Fine Prints and Photographs
Bonhams & Butterfields, SF
GUEST: It's a Curtis photograph. I don't know when it was made. And I believe it's an image that's printed on the back of glass-- it's called an orotone-- and then they coat it with some kind of gold. And I think the frame was made in the shop.
APPRAISER: Okay, and tell me how you acquired it.
GUEST: A friend and I were wandering around Nebraska City and went into a shop, and it was hanging on the wall and it was, like, $45. And I couldn't decide if I liked it or not, because at that time I didn't know much about it. And I made the decision to buy it, so...
APPRAISER: And then what happened?
GUEST: On my way out of the shop, a guy came in and offered me $250 on the spot, and at that point I kind of laughed and went, "This might be good." And then I talked to some friends and they said, "Yes, it's good."
APPRAISER: Okay, and did you get another value after that?
GUEST: Yes, a collector of these in Lincoln, Nebraska, came down and he said about $2,500, and that was about seven years ago.
APPRAISER: Edward Curtis was a well known Seattle photographer, primarily known for his thousands of photograph of the North American Indians. He also was the major practitioner of orotone photographs-- which are sometimes called "gold tone"-- and... and it is exactly how you described it. It's a photograph with gold on the back.
GUEST: Oh, it is gold.
APPRAISER: And here you have, in the lower right-hand corner, Curtis's signature in the negative. And this is an original Edward Curtis frame. He often made these custom-made frames to go with his orotones. Orotones did come in various sizes; some were a bit smaller than this, and some are a bit larger. In today's market, I would say since it's in really beautiful condition, you probably would find it coming up at auction somewhere in the neighborhood of $5,000 to $7,000.
APPRAISER: So aren't you happy you kept it?
GUEST: Yeah! Yes, very happy.
APPRAISER: So it's a very nice find.
GUEST: When was it made?
APPRAISER: In researching, I've come across two dates, 1904 and 1909, so I'd have to research a little bit further to find out exactly which is the date. But we're in the ballpark.
APPRAISER: Thanks so much for coming in.
GUEST: Oh, thank you very much.
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