"Harriman Expedition" with Edward Curtis Photos

Value (2015) | $40,000 Auction$50,000 Auction

These are a set of photo albums that were souvenirs given to the members of the Harriman Expedition. My great-grandfather, De Alton Saunders, was one of the scientists on the expedition. But of interest in this case is the photographer for the expedition was Edward Curtis.

Well, you've brought in the two-volume set known as "The Harriman Expedition." Curtis had just started his career as a photographer in the Northwest, in the Seattle area, and was invited to become a member of this important expedition, so it was his first major assignment. The Harriman Expedition was, as you said, a scientific, a naturalist, an environmental expedition. Harriman was interested in mapping the topography of Alaska and having scientists engage in different experiments. Now, Dr. Saunders was a specialist in...

He was a botanist. His nickname on this particular expedition was Seaweed Saunders.

Seaweed Saunders. Well, as we can see in this first photograph, the images are topographic, they’re each captioned, in the lower left corner we can see an inventory number. The images also focused on Native people. The Harriman Expedition was a very well populated expedition.

(chuckling) Yes.

Harriman not only invited scientists, but his entire extended family, to go on this adventure. What's interesting about books like these is that you wouldn't expect them to contain original photographic prints, but these were presentation albums given by Harriman to members of the expedition, your relative being one of them. APPRAIER: So these are actually original silver prints.

You're kidding.

Original silver prints with Curtis's signature down here in the negative. Almost half of the images in the albums are attributed, are credited to Edward Curtis.


An auction estimate for the pair of albums would be $30,000 to $40,000. It's a very desirable, fantastic chronicle of Edward Curtis's first photographic assignment. Thank you so much for bringing them in.

Oh, wow. Thank you. Oh, boy. Carry them gently, gently back to the house. (both laughing)

Appraisal Details

Swann Auction Galleries
New York, NY
Update (2015)
$40,000 Auction$50,000 Auction
Appraised value (2008)
$30,000 Auction$40,000 Auction
Hartford, CT (August 23, 2008)

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