Copy Photograph of Edward Curtis' 1905 "Geronimo," ca.1920s
Appraised Value: $10,000 - $15,000 (2008)
IMAGE: 1 of 0
Appraisal Video: (3:25)
Vice President & Director of Photographs
Swann Auction Galleries
GUEST: This is a photograph that was taken by Edward Curtis, and Edward Curtis was a photographer that headed west to capture the Indian lifestyle because it was rapidly disappearing. He took a whole series of photographs, came back east and, in order to finance his next expedition, he created portfolios and then he offered those to contributors, and the picture that we've got here is of Geronimo.
GUEST: Periodically, my wife and I would go to art galleries, and I saw this one and, of course, right away recognized who it was.
GUEST: And I purchased it.
APPRAISER: Well, Edward Curtis is known for a very ambitious undertaking that he called "The North American Indian." This was a series of portfolios and books devoted to culture that Curtis recognized was disappearing and wanted to chronicle. He did get support from Roosevelt and funding from J.P. Morgan, and this project took him over 30 years to complete. Now, this particular photograph was done in 1905. So it's at the end of Geronimo's life, Geronimo being an Apache warrior. And what's interesting about this picture is that it's actually a copy.
APPRAISER: The border around the photograph tells us that this is a sepia-toned border print. It's a photograph that Curtis made of his own photograph, and in fact, in the lower left corner, we can see an original inventory number that, in the negative, would be very clear, but in this second-generation picture, it becomes a lot fuzzier and somewhat illegible. Now, the good news is that Curtis authorized this photograph. If we look at the lower right, we see that he signed it, and there are the letters "L.A." Curtis was actually working in Los Angeles for a period of time as a cinematographer and Hollywood photographer to raise money. In the 1920s, he was still working...
GUEST: Ah, interesting.
APPRAISER: on completing "The North American Indian." And we also see that it has Curtis's circle-C, his copyright. I see that there's an indication of what you paid for this print.
APPRAISER: And that is $25. How long ago was that?
GUEST: I believe it was 1972.
APPRAISER: Well, pictures of Geronimo are very scarce, and very desirable. In fact, though Curtis made thousands of images for "The North American Indian," this is certainly in the top ten of that group of material.
APPRAISER: And a conservative estimate, at auction today, is $10,000 to $15,000.
APPRAISER: It's a great, great piece. Thank you for bringing it in.
GUEST: Thank you for the information. This is wonderful. I'm going to have to hide it. (both laughing)
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