Appraisal Video: (3:39)
Vice President & Director of Photographs
Swann Auction Galleries
GUEST: My mother's grandmother is the sister of Jesse James, the half sister, actually, of Jesse James. And these are the things that my mother has collected over the years. These are original photographs of Jesse and his brother Frank, and their mother Zerelda James. She was on the set, the filming of the movie, the 1936 film, Jesse James, that his granddaughter wrote, Jo Frances James. And she was invited by 20th Century Fox to be on the set. And so she's got pictures that she took as a 16-year-old girl with Lon Chaney, Tyrone Power, Nancy Kelly and Henry Fonda.
APPRAISER: So, this is a young girl's collection, family photo album. There's also pictures of some bank robbers from the Northfield, Minnesota, raid, which are originals, and Quantrill's Guerrillas, some originals just passed down through the families through many, many years. They are very fascinating in terms of your family history, but also American history. For example, this first photograph shows Jesse James as a 14-year-old boy. Jesse James was born in 1847, so the date of this portrait would be around 1861. If we look at the tonality of this photograph and its presentation on a cabinet card, we see that the photograph itself is a silver print, whereas these other photographs have a brownish tone and are known as albumin prints. And from the photographic technique, we can actually date the production of the photograph. So again, the sitting was in 1861, but this photograph is a copy...
GUEST: Oh, is it?
APPRAISER: of that original photograph, as is this very famous portrait of Jesse, who was known for his piercing blue eyes.
APPRAISER: These are later photographs from the originals. However, as you said, there are original carte-de-visite sized photographs from 1876, which was the year in which the Northfield Bank Robbery took place. Do you know about that bank robbery at all?
GUEST: I know that quite a few people were killed, and these are pictures of the dead bank robbers, which was a common custom to photograph them to prove that they were dead.
APPRAISER: And Jesse and Frank actually escaped.
GUEST: Yes, they did. Yes, they did.
APPRAISER: From the Northfield Bank Robbery. But indeed, here we can see the Younger brothers, who were depicted on the top and the bottom, Charlie Pitts, and two of the dead bank robbers.
APPRAISER: And then over here, we see a photograph that's associated with the Quantrill gang.
APPRAISER: And who were they?
GUEST: Jesse James rode with Quantrill's Guerrillas. In fact, my great-grandmother's middle name was Quantrill. She was Fanny Quantrill Samuels, which Dr. Samuels married Jesse's mother.
APPRAISER: So, the family association, the association with some of the most notorious figures of the 19th century, they have a very colorful pictorial history right in front of us. If the album were to come to auction, and again, I haven't looked at every single picture in it, a ballpark figure would be $15,000 to $25,000. Thank you so much for bringing it in.
GUEST: Thank you so much.