Manuscripts & William S. Soule Photographs, ca. 1872

Value (2009) | $13,000 Auction$15,000 Auction

GUEST:
These photographs and manuscripts and drawings came from my wife's great-great-uncle's estate. And they passed through his son and then my father-in-law.

APPRAISER:
And what was his name?

GUEST:
His name was Henry Sales Kilbourne. And he was a contract surgeon for the United States Army.

APPRAISER:
And what period are we talking about here?

GUEST:
We're talking about shortly after the Civil War. He was at one time stationed in Old Fort Lyons, which is in Southeast Colorado. And then the Rocky Mountain News newspaper clipping said that the cavalry that he was stationed with was moving to Fort Riley, Kansas, to be refit and remounted. And they were going to Oklahoma Territory to form a new fort. It turns out that this fort is Fort Sill, Oklahoma, today.

APPRAISER:
Okay, so he was at Fort Sill. And of course it wasn't Oklahoma. It was Indian Territory. It was Indian Territory. And he was there after the Civil War, right?

GUEST:
Right, in 1869 through about 1872 or something like that.

APPRAISER:
Okay, well, that makes sense, because these photographs are from that time period. And you know who the photographer is, right?

GUEST:
Yes, it's William S. Soule, and he was a photographer for the Union Army during the Civil War and then after the Civil War went west and took photographs in Fort Sill.

APPRAISER:
Yeah, well, Will Soule was at Fort Sill, Indian Territory, from about 1869 to 1874. He had moved out west along with thousands of other people after the war, and he had worked as a photographer with his brother in Boston before the war. And that's where he probably learned the trade. In terms of photography of American Indians on the southern plains in this particular time period, Soule was about the only game in town. What you have here are a group of great photographs that Soule took sometime between 1869 and 1874, when he finally left and went back east. You have pictures of some of the principals here. This guy is Satanta, who was a great Kiowa war chief. Soule did this size photograph and these larger photographs, which were then mounted on cardstock. The photographs themselves are interesting. But I want to also turn to the manuscripts and the drawings that apparently Kilbourne put together as a memoir sometime, it looks to me, around the turn of the century. There's manuscripts, an eyewitness account of a buffalo hunt, eyewitness account of a buffalo stampede. And so what we're seeing here are the Indians killing buffalo, a buffalo herd here, and then a drawing of a buffalo hunt. And there are probably, I don't know, 20 drawings that he included in his typescript manuscript. It's a great group of things relating to Indian Territory. From an auction standpoint, you have 23 Soule photographs. I think conservatively, the Soule photographs are worth about $400 apiece. So you maybe have about $9,000 worth of photographs.

GUEST:
Mm-hmm.

APPRAISER:
The problem with the photographs is this.

GUEST:
Right, the glue.

APPRAISER:
This discoloration is glue from where Kilbourne glued them to those manuscript pages.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
It's probably mucilage glue, which is made from horse hooves. The question I have in my mind is, can the glue be removed through conservation? If the glue could be removed through conservation, you could double the value to get closer to $18,000 to $20,000 for just the photographs.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
Even though the manuscripts are later, they're not eyewitness accounts from the period, I think the manuscripts are probably worth somewhere between $4,000 to $6,000 with all the drawings. So you add it all up, and you've got close to $15,000 worth of things as is. Great group of things from an early period on the southern plains. Thanks for bringing it in.

GUEST:
Thank you, Wes.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Cowan's Auctions, Inc.
Cincinnati, OH
Appraised value (2009)
$13,000 Auction$15,000 Auction
Event
Denver, CO (July 25, 2009)
Period
19th Century
Material
Paper

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