Carte de Visite Album, ca. 1865
Well, I brought in an album that's been in my family for some time. There are a total of 200 cards in it. My older brother purchased it some time ago as far as I know in an antique place.
How much did he pay for it, do you remember?
Papers say $50, which I think's amazing.
$50? But this was how many years ago, do you think?
Probably in the late '50s or very early '60s.
This is called a carte de visite album. And this carte de visite was a type of photograph that was invented first in France, and then about 1859, 1860 it was introduced here to the United States. And then the Civil War begins, and there are hundreds of thousands of soldiers on both sides going off to war. And here is this photograph that's introduced from France that is a unique kind of photograph because the photographer is using a camera that has four or eight lenses. So they can stand in the studio and have four or eight, or sometimes maybe even 12 photographs taken at one time. At once. And they were made of personalities and generals. And what you have here is a great collection put together during the Civil War of Civil War personalities. I think I counted there are like 40 generals here, there are many actors and actresses. Today these are very valuable. And there are three that I pulled out of here that I wanted to show you that are really, I think, pretty special. The first guy we have here is a guy named John Menard. He was the first black congressman elected after Reconstruction.
Very rare photograph of him. Sojourner Truth, I'm sure you heard of her. She was a great Abolitionist, born a slave, tremendous, tremendous photograph. This photograph on the edge is probably my favorite of all the 300 photographs that are in the album. I've never seen this photograph before. It was taken by a photographer in Washington, D.C., named Alexander Gardner. If you flip it over and look on the back you'll see his imprint. This guy's a cane carver. He's sitting there in the studio with all of the canes that he's making. It's a great occupational photograph. Just to give you an example of what I think that these three photographs are worth, this photograph is probably worth around $1,000. This one's worth around $1,500. This one I think could bring $2,000 at auction. You add up everything else in the album, and I think you probably have somewhere between $8,000 and $10,000 worth of photographs.
Oh my. Oh my.
Are you surprised?
(chuckling) Yes, I'm stunned.
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