1914 Photograph of "Kaloma"
Appraised Value: $150
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (2:43)
C. Wesley Cowan
Arms & Militaria, Books & Manuscripts, Decorative Arts, Folk Art, Photographs
Cowan's Auctions, Inc.
GUEST: Bought her at a local auction, and she was advertised as a vampire because...
APPRAISER (laughing): A vampire? Okay.
GUEST: They said when they tried to put her photo on the auction brochure, she kept double-exposing. So they just said, "Okay, we're selling a vampire picture today."
APPRAISER: Well, what did you pay for the "vampire"?
GUEST: Paid $65 for her.
APPRAISER: $65.00. And what did you think about it when you bought it?
GUEST: To me, she just looked like a very demure nude. I just thought she was... she was pretty.
APPRAISER: Well, this is a story of not what it is, but what it is not.
GUEST (laughing): Okay.
APPRAISER: This photograph has a recent history of auction records of almost $3,000.
APPRAISER: But that... auction value of almost $3,000 is based on a misattribution. This photograph, as you can see, is entitled "Kaloma." This much of "Kaloma," from about here up, was illustrated on the dust jacket of a book called “I Married Wyatt Earp” by Josephine Marcus Earp.
APPRAISER: And most people have assumed, for the past 15 years, that this is actually a picture of Josie Earp.
APPRAISER: Wyatt Earp's-- the famous gunfighter's wife.
APPRAISER: The author of the book did nothing to quell that rumor that this is Josephine
Marcus Earp, but in fact, it probably isn't Josie Earp. If you look down here, it says "P.N. Co.," and then there's a copyright date of 1914. That stands for the Pastime Novelty Company of New York City. The Pastime Novelty Company made photographs like this of, you know, suggestive poses of young women, and used them just as sort of inexpensive photographs to sell. There's no evidence we know who this person is, but she almost certainly is not Josie Earp. I've been guilty of selling this photograph in my auctions as Josie Earp, and so have a whole other group of auctioneers. One of the reasons we know it's not Josie is that Josie Earp was born in 1861, and you'll see that there is a copyright date here, again, of 1914. That would make Josie, in this picture, 53 years old. Do you think she's 53?
GUEST: Lucky for her if she is.
APPRAISER (laughing): Yeah, yeah. If she's 53, I want whatever she was eating. Right?
APPRAISER: So... it's a great picture. In my book, it's about a $150 photograph, so you still did all right.
GUEST: Thank you.
APPRAISER: Well, thanks for bringing it in. It's a great story. Hang her right back on the wall.
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