1910 James H. Hare Aviation Photo
Appraised Value: $3,000 - $4,500
IMAGE: 1 of 4
Appraisal Video: (3:01)
Vice President & Director of Photographs
Swann Auction Galleries
GUEST: I do a lot of collecting, and this was on the Internet. I got this picture probably around two to three years ago. I liked the subject matter and I won the bid.
APPRAISER: This is a silver gelatin print. You can see at the bottom edge of the photograph, it's a little silvered.
GUEST: What's the difference between the silver gelatin and, like, an albumin?
APPRAISER: A silver gelatin print is going to have a grayish-black tonality with white highlights. An albumin print is a sepia-toned or brown-toned photograph on a very, very thin paper. Albumin prints were kind of phased out by the 1890s; the silver gelatin technology is introduced in the late 19th century, and then, of course, carries through into the 20th century. It is signed by James H. Hare. Do you know a little bit about Hare's background?
GUEST: I know he was one of the early photojournalists. He covered the Spanish-American War and a lot of Wright Brothers' activities.
APPRAISER: So, the notion that photographers could cover topical events, especially events in which there was movement, indicates that the technology of the camera had really progressed and improved. And Hare was one of the first photojournalists to work with a small-format camera. But what's interesting about this photograph is that it's really presented as a fine art photograph. And in this case, we see a very formal composition. Aviation was in its infancy. I mean, the Wright Brothers' first flight was in 1903; this is copyrighted 1910. So, the plane rises just above the trees, so the elevation isn't too high, but high enough so that we know it made it into the sky. I love the way you have the picture framed. I assume this is a UV Plexiglas.
APPRAISER: Tell me about the price you paid for this picture.
GUEST: As I recall, it was between $35 and $50.
APPRAISER: Do you have any idea what it might be worth today?
GUEST: I thought it was maybe $500.
APPRAISER: Okay. Well, James Hare's pictures in a smaller format appear infrequently at auction. A photograph in this large format would be especially desirable. We're not sure if it's a Wright Brothers plane; in fact, one would need to do more research about that. But as a fine art photograph, signed and dated by James Hare, an auction value today would be in the $3,000 to $4,500 range.
GUEST: That's very nice. I'll have to give it a place of honor.
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