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.

A 228-piece carte-de-visite collection by photographer Jose Maria Mora, which sold for $6,000 ($7,800 with buyer’s premium) at Hindman.
A 228-piece carte-de-visite collection by photographer Jose Maria Mora, which sold for $6,000 ($7,800 with buyer’s premium) at Hindman.

Five gold and silver ingots together total $159K at Holabird

1880 Mathey, Kustel & Riotte silver ingot with documented information, provenance and history, the only known example, with logo punch and weighing 4.97 troy ounces, $42,175
1880 Mathey, Kustel & Riotte silver ingot with documented information, provenance and history, the only known example, with logo punch and weighing 4.97 troy ounces, $42,175
1880 Mathey, Kustel & Riotte silver ingot with documented information, provenance and history, the only known example, with logo punch and weighing 4.97 troy ounces, $42,175

RENO, Nev. – Five 19th-century gold and silver ingots from the Gold Rush and Silver Rush sold for a combined $159,807 at a four-day High-Grade Auction held June 15 through June 18 by Holabird Western Americana Collections, online and live in the Reno gallery. Absentee and Internet live bidding was facilitated through LiveAuctioneers. The sale featured nearly 2,000 lots of mining collectibles, railroadiana, numismatics, Native and general Americana, philatelic, bottles, stocks, bonds, sports and art.

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Rediscovered Gold Rush sketchbook earns $25K at UK auction

Colored drawing from Joseph Goldsborough Bruff’s sketchbook dating to his trip to California from 1849-1851, peak Gold Rush years, $25,000
Colored double-page maritime drawing from Joseph Goldsborough Bruff’s sketchbook dating to his trip to California from 1849-1851, $25,000

LONDON – A previously unknown sketchbook of watercolors and pencil drawings relating to the California Gold Rush and the famous Forty Niners sold at auction on August 4 for $25,000. The 76-page document records the places and characters seen by the amateur artist and adventurer Joseph Goldsborough Bruff (American, 1804-1889) as part of an expedition to California from 1849-1851.

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Clipper ship card to set sail at PBA Galleries May 5 auction

Gold rush-era clipper ship sailing card, est. $10,000-$15,000
Gold rush-era clipper ship sailing card, est. $10,000-$15,000
Gold rush-era clipper ship sailing card, est. $10,000-$15,000

BERKELEY, Calif. – PBA Galleries announces an auction of Americana – Travel – World History – Cartography to take place Thursday, May 5. The sale includes more than 500 lots of interesting and valuable material relating to California, the Americas and the far reaches of the globe. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.

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Potter & Potter presents Photography & Ephemera, Nov. 20

Vivian Maier's album of her 1959 trip to France and Southeast Asia, est. $20,000-$30,000
Vivian Maier’s album of her 1959 trip to France and Southeast Asia, est. $20,000-$30,000

CHICAGO – Potter & Potter Auctions is pleased to announce a 765-lot Photography & Ephemera sale to be held on Saturday, November 20 starting at 10 am Central time. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.

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Gold Rush memorabilia is almost as prized as gold itself

This collection of 1898 Klondike Gold Rush letters, photos and gold nuggets earned $3,250 plus the buyer’s premium in May 2019 at John McInnis Auctioneers. Photo courtesy of John McInnis Auctioneers and LiveAuctioneers.
A collection of 1898 Klondike Gold Rush letters, photos and gold nuggets earned $3,250 plus the buyer’s premium in May 2019 at John McInnis Auctioneers. Image courtesy of John McInnis Auctioneers and LiveAuctioneers.

NEW YORK — The discovery of gold at Rabbit Creek in Canada’s Yukon Territory on August 16, 1896 rocked the continent. American prospector George Carmack filed the formal claim, and thus received much of the credit for the find, though the party included his First Nation companions Jim Mason, Dawson Charlie, and Kate Carmack (who were also, respectively, Carmack’s brother-in-law, nephew, and common-law wife). Rabbit Creek, which fed into the Klondike River, was renamed Bonanza Creek. Hundreds of thousands of men headed for the frigid extremes of the North American west, hoping to turn their dreams of gold into a reality, just like their fathers and grandfathers who flooded the West in 1848 after gold was found in what is now California.

This month and year marks the 125th anniversary of the start of the Klondike Gold Rush, a pivotal part of North American history. Collectors still clamor for objects and artifacts that represent the time and tell its story.

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