Gold Rush-era daguerreotypes of a miner and his claim captured the moment at Hindman

One of two 1852 daguerreotypes of miner William J. Jewell and his California Gold Rush claim, which together sold for $48,000 ($62,400 with buyer’s premium) at Hindman.

CHICAGO – Billed as American Historical Ephemera & Photography, Hindman‘s November 30 sale was all about vintage cartes-de-visite, ambrotypes and daguerrotypes, with some amazing performances captured for posterity. Complete results are available at LiveAuctioneers.

As anticipated, buyers surged to the pair of daguerrotypes of miner William J. Jewell (1818-1885) in the California gold fields of Poverty Bar (in Calaveras County, of Mark Twain’s jumping frog fame). Bidding started at $7,500 against a presale estimate of $15,000-$25,000, but kept climbing until leveling off at $48,000, or $62,400 with buyer’s premium.

Walking into a Victorian parlor of the late 19th century, visitors would be greeted by fascinating displays of cartes-de-visite (visiting cards, similar to the American cabinet card) – small, inexpensively produced photographs that were collected and traded. Often, the subject matter was the famous names of the day, but many other examples survive of lesser-known people and things.

Jose Maria Mora (1847-1926) was a well-known New York City cabinet card photographer whose hallmark was using theatrical backdrops to depict exotic locales for his photographic subjects. This collection of 228 Mora CDVs reads like a list of forgotten 19th-century celebrity culture, which clearly caught bidders’ attention. Estimated at only $500-$700, the lot hammered for $6,000 ($7,800 with buyer’s premium), a very surprising result indeed.

A quarter-plate ambrotype of the Randolph & Bridgewater Railroad’s flagship 4-4-0 steam locomotive with single-truck, six-wheel tender sent rail photography enthusiasts into a bidding war, pushing the lot to $6,000 ($7,800 with buyer’s premium), double its high estimate. Captured in the late 1840s at the R&B locomotive shed in South Braintree, Massachusetts, the locomotive type is an extremely early version that would be refined throughout the Civil War period, culminating in examples like that made famous in Buster Keaton’s 1926 silent classic The General.

Civil War and Gold Rush-era ephemera and photography showcased at Hindman Nov. 30

Only known daguerreotype of General James Birdseye McPherson, $4,000-$6,000 at Hindman.

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CINCINNATI, Ohio — A potent collection of 19th-century photographs, documents, correspondence and more come to market Thursday, November 30 in Hindman’s American Historical Ephemera & Photography sale. The catalog is now available for bidding at LiveAuctioneers.

Fresh with gold fever, William J. Jewell (1818-1885) left his wife and children behind in Michigan in 1852 to head to the gold fields in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. Jewell kept a diary and all his correspondence, which helps date these two daguerreotypes he had commissioned of him and his claim at Poverty Bar, California (which since 1962 has been at the bottom of Camanche Reservoir). Captured with remarkable clarity, the two images show Jewell as the central figure, pushing a wheelbarrow to the Long Tom sluice box, and in another view, panning for gold. The daguerreotypes are estimated at $15,000-$25,000.

The second highest-ranking officer to be killed in the American Civil War, General James Birdseye McPherson (1828-1864) fell at the battle of Atlanta on July 22, 1864. His death was a major blow to the Union Army, and he was widely mourned by Generals U. S. Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman. In a touch of pathos, the commanding officer of the Confederate forces at the battle, General John Bell Hood, expressed remorse, remarking on the death of his West Point “classmate and boyhood friend.” This is the only known daguerreotype of McPherson, and it is estimated at $4,000-$6,000.

Descended directly in the family of General Nelson Appleton Miles (1839-1925) are U.S. Army Cavalry regimental colors from the Indian Wars period (1870s-1890s). Miles was a Civil War hero, Medal of Honor recipient, and leader of major U.S. Army operations during the Indian Wars. Though he commanded infantry, he had numerous Cavalry (horse-mounted troops) attached to his units. The colors are estimated at $8,000-$10,000.
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Two 1852 daguerreotypes of miner William J. Jewell in California, estimated at $15,000-$25,000 at Hindman.
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Extensive California Gold Rush archive of William J. Jewell, estimated at $15,000-$25,000 at Hindman.
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Only known daguerreotype of General James Birdseye McPherson, estimated at $4,000-$6,000 at Hindman.
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U.S. Cavalry regimental colors descended directly in the family of U.S. Army General Nelson Miles, estimated at $8,000-$10,000 at Hindman.
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1876 38-star American parade flag with floral star pattern, estimated at $8,500-$9,500 at Hindman.
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Henry Louis Gates Jr. co-curates Frederick Douglass show at Wadsworth

George Kendall Warren, ‘Frederick Douglass,’ 1879. Albumen print on Cabinet Card. The Amistad Center for Art & Culture. Courtesy of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
George Kendall Warren, ‘Frederick Douglass,’ 1879. Albumen print on Cabinet Card. The Amistad Center for Art & Culture. Courtesy of the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
George Kendall Warren, ‘Frederick Douglass,’ 1879. Albumen print on Cabinet Card. The Amistad Center for Art & Culture. Courtesy Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

HARTFORD, Conn. — A new exhibition exploring the reflections of Frederick Douglass on image-making, race and citizenship has opened at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art and the Amistad Center for Art & Culture. Co-curated by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Sarah Elizabeth Lewis, the exhibition brings together rare 19th-century daguerreotypes — on public view for the first time — with an immersive film work by contemporary artist Sir Isaac Julien that meditates on Douglass’ life and times. I Am Seen…Therefore, I Am: Isaac Julien and Frederick Douglass is on view through September 24.

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Personal items from legendary sharpshooter Annie Oakley to be auctioned March 18

1926 check handwritten and hand-signed by Annie Oakley Butler, her married name

CLEARWATER, Fla. – On March 18, 2023, Blackwell Auctions will offer several items personally owned by Annie Oakley, including an engraved carriage clock gifted to her for her birthday during her European tour in 1901. Several other items will also be offered, including 16 books that were owned – and, in some cases, signed – by Oakley, including a book inscribed to her husband by the author, bandleader John Philip Sousa. The collection also boasts a personal check, signed by Oakley shortly before her death, made out to her niece.

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Hindman sells early photography archive for $300K

Daguerreotype portrait of Henry Fitz Jr. taken in January 1840. Price realized (for photographic archive): $300,000
Daguerreotype portrait of Henry Fitz Jr. taken in January 1840. Price realized (for photographic archive): $300,000
Daguerreotype portrait of Henry Fitz Jr. taken in January 1840.
Price realized (for photographic archive): $300,000

CINCINNATI – On November 15, Hindman Auctions sold one of the earliest photographic portraits taken in America as part of a collection of photographs that realized $300,000. The archive was purchased by a midwestern museum. Offered in The Henry Fitz Jr. Archive of Photographic History auction, the photographs were recently rediscovered after lying for 87 years in an unheated shed in Peconic, New York. The cache included photographs of Henry Fitz Jr. (1808-1863) and his family taken between 1840 and 1842 as well as early telescopes and other optical devices.

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Smithsonian acquires stellar early American photography collection

Unidentified artist, ‘Untitled (family, painted backdrop),’ undated, tintype. Smithsonian American Art Museum, the L. J. West Collection of Early American Photography, Museum purchase made possible through the Franz H. and Luisita L. Denghausen Endowment
Unidentified artist, ‘Untitled (family, painted backdrop),’ undated, tintype. Smithsonian American Art Museum, the L. J. West Collection of Early American Photography, Museum purchase made possible through the Franz H. and Luisita L. Denghausen Endowment

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) has acquired a collection of objects related to early American photography from the collector Larry J. West that transforms the museum’s photography holdings. The L.J. West Collection includes 286 objects from the 1840s to about 1925 in three groupings: works by early African American daguerreotypists James P. Ball, Glenalvin Goodridge and Augustus Washington; early photographs of diverse portrait subjects and objects related to abolitionists, the Underground Railroad and the role of women entrepreneurs in it; and photographic jewelry that represents the bridge between miniature painting and early cased photography such as daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and tintypes.

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