1906 T. Roosevelt Portrait by Curtis
Appraised Value: $10,000 - $15,000 (2012)
IMAGE: 1 of 1
Appraisal Video: (2:34)
Vice President & Director of Photographs
Swann Auction Galleries
GUEST: Well, I picked this up about 20 years ago at a sale for $40.
APPRAISER: And what kind of sale was it? Estate sale, antique?
GUEST: Yes, it was.
APPRAISER: And did you do some research into the type of photograph?
GUEST: Yes, actually, my son did research on it and found out that it's an orotone picture. They did it, I think, from 1904 to 1910 or something. He thought it was a Curtis, but it's not really signed Curtis, so...
APPRAISER: Well, what we have, as you said, is an orotone, measuring about 14 by 11 inches. It is a portrait of Teddy Roosevelt. It is by Edward Curtis. Curtis and Roosevelt were friends. Curtis had actually photographed Roosevelt and his children in New York in 1904. And it was around that time that Curtis had the idea of photographing Native American people west of the Mississippi. Roosevelt had a background as a cowboy and actually lived in North Dakota, had an interest in the West. And when he learned about Curtis's project of the North American Indian, he wrote a letter, which Curtis then brought to J.P. Morgan. And Morgan wound up sponsoring the project.
GUEST: That's interesting.
APPRAISER: The man who envisioned Mount Rushmore, Borglum, was also a friend of Roosevelt's. Borglum actually sculpted Roosevelt's face from memory.
GUEST: Oh my.
APPRAISER: This portrait really conveys the charisma and the energy and the kind of spirit.
GUEST: The kind of guy he was.
APPRAISER: The Rough Rider spirit that people associate with Teddy Roosevelt. And that's the artistry of Curtis. So do you have any idea of what it might be worth today?
GUEST: I would think maybe $1,000. I'm not sure.
APPRAISER: Well, an orotone, in the original Curtis frame, even though it does have a little chip in the upper left corner there, an auction estimate would be in the $10,000 to $15,000 price range.
GUEST: Oh my. No, I didn't have any clue. Wow, that's terrific.
APPRAISER: The last time this came to auction, it was actually signed and brought almost $18,000.
GUEST: Oh my.
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