Offered at Hindman’s (26% buyer’s premium) summer American Historical Ephemera & Photography auction on June 15-16 was a half plate daguerreotype of gold miners, their somewhat haggard appearance offset by supremely resolute expressions behind their lit cigars.
It sold for $30,000 (£23,400) against a $4000-6000 estimate.
Such reminders of westward expansion and early photography set the pace in the auction. Another highlight came in the form of a quarter plate daguerreotype thought to perhaps be the earliest known photograph of Fort Mackinac, Michigan, taken c.1855 or later. Guided at $8000-10,000, it realised $25,000 (£19,500).
Mackinac Island sits at a strategic choke point on the straits separating Lakes Michigan and Huron and inevitably became the location of French, British, and eventually American forts in the late 1700s and 1800s. The image offered here provided a rare glimpse of the island as an active military outpost before it was declared the second US national park in 1875.
Showing a a better-known sitter, a quarter plate tintype of noted American Civil War and Union Pacific Railroad photographer Andrew Joseph Russell (1830-1902) achieved $22,500 (£17,550) against an estimate of $2500-3500.
Hindman says: “Russell’s evocative images of the vast military transport and logistics system of the Union Army contrasted with the battlefield views of Brady, O’Sullivan and Gardner. They provided an unparalleled record of the Union war effort.
This image, among other Russell photographs sold in this auction, was recently discovered in Illinois and purportedly descended in Russell’s family.”
Meanwhile, Ernest Hemingway’s (1899-1961) Rolleiflex MX camera soared past its $600-800 guide to make $8000 (£6240). It was provenanced to the Estate of Mary and Ernest Hemingway, sold at Tepper Galleries of New York, in May 1987, then at Christie’s New York, May 1998, to the consignor here.
This model was made between June 1951 and March 1954, quickly becoming one of the German firm Franke and Heidecke’s most popular models, particularly in Europe.