I dug more advertisements from Ross, the earliest from 1861 and a fairly detailed one from 1867. Click on thumbnails to enlarge images.
November 2, 2012
The firm of Ross & Co. was well known for its high quality photographic lenses, in addition to high quality microscopes. For some reason, advertisements for Ross lenses are fairly uncommon compared to other well known makers. As such, I thought I would share some ads from 1900 and 1904. Click on any of the thumbnails to enlarge the image.
October 27, 2012
And, the winner is..................
I like this image for it's subject matter, composition, the visible flare, the beautiful B&W tones, and wonderful lighting. Would you be surprised to learn this image was taken with a cell phone ? Congratulations to our winner !
In second place, is the image of a wooden view camera. I like this image because of the subject matter, narrow DOF, bokeh and the sepia tone.
In third place, is the Duaflex camera. I like the composition of this image, the fact it's in B&W and the lighting.
In fourth place, is the photographer image. I like the subject matter, composition and given extra credit because this is a modern day, mercury developed daguerreotype. And, it's even tinted.
In fifth place, the Graflex camera. I like the tones and "roundness" of this image, and appreciate the fact that it's a wet plate image on an aluminum plate.
In sixth place, is the image of the Lerebours landscape lenses. I like this image for it's subject matter, tones, composition and for the fact that it's also a wet plate image.
In seventh place, is the Polaroid camera. I like this image because of the composition, uncommon subject matter and the fact it is matted as if its a polaroid photograph.
In last place, is the Darlot lens. Frankly, I am surprised this image did not get more votes. I like this image for it's simplicity, beautiful tones and lighting, and appreciate the fact that it is a wet plate image on aluminum.
Thanks to everyone who submitted images and took the time to vote !
October 16, 2012
The period for submitting images for the 2nd Annual Antique & Classic Camera Image Contest ended yesterday. Over 60 images were received. Thanks to everyone who participated.
This years entries included many alternative/historical processes including a modern day, mercury developed daguerreotype as well as many wet plate images - some of which are in the finals.
I had trouble narrowing down to 6 final images, so instead we have 8 from which, you, the readers can vote on to win the Grand Prize of $ 100.00 USD and the love and admiration of the followers of this blog
So, below you will find the 8 finalists. Please vote below for your favorite image. Please only vote once (the poll widget will only allow one vote). Thanks for looking and voting.
ALL IMAGES ARE COPYRIGHT PROTECTED AND MAY NOT BE USED FOR ANY PURPOSE
Image # 1 Submitted by firstname.lastname@example.org
Image # 2 Submitted by Chris Morgan
Image # 3 Submitted by Andrew Korlaki
Image # 4 Submitted by Robert Matejcek
Image # 5 Submitted by T. N. Harrington
Image # 6 Submitted by John Fink
Image # 7 Submitted by Erwin Verstappen
Image # 8 Submitted by Michael Schaaf
October 7, 2012
John Wade, author of numerous books on camera and cine collecting, has recently released his latest book, Daguerre to Digital - 150 Years of Classic Cameras. The book is described as, "Lavishly illustrated guide to the history of classic cameras from the earliest days of photography, right up to the dawn of digital
• 304 pages, 12 x 9 inches, hardback • More than 520 pictures and descriptions • All the landmark cameras listed • Cameras that changed photography • Strange designs that never made it • Rarities not seen in other books • Previously unknown prototypes"
John has graciously sent me a few sample pages that are not available elsewhere.
Copyright John Wade
Copyright John Wade
Copyright John Wade
Purchase a copy on amazon.com today by clicking one of the the links below
More books written by John Wade
September 29, 2012
The 2nd Annual Antique & Classic Camera and Lens
Today starts my second annual, Antique & Classic Camera photo contest. Images submitted for this contest must include within the image, an Antique or Classic Camera(s), Lens(es), or any other related photographica. Among all the entries, I will select the top 6 images and then post them on my website for viewers to vote on and select the final winning image. Winning photographer will receive $ 100.00 CASH sent via paypal.
THE IMAGE MUST INCLUDE AN ANTIQUE OR CLASSIC CAMERA, LENS OR OTHER PHOTOGRAPHICA (otherwise crassly known as "Camera Porn"). The image can be of anything as long as a camera, lens or photographica is included within the image.
If your image is one of the 6 finalists, it will be showcased on the antiquecameras.net website and/or this Blog. You will be credited for the image and all rights remain with you forever. We do reserve the right to permanently leave or display a copy of your image (with full credits) on antiquecameras.net
The top 6 images will be selected based upon originality, aesthetic appeal and subject interest (keeping in mind the Antique & Classic camera/lens theme of my website.
Limit of 3 images per person and in JPEG format.
I am accepting images now through October 15th. However, I do reserve the right to extend these dates if interest warrants it. On or about October 20th, the 6 finalist images will be put on the site for voting by the viewers of my site. Voting will finish on October 27th. Final image winner to receive prize no later than November 5th, 2012.
Please list your credit information for your image (ie.., Copyright John Doe 2012 ).
The image dimensions must not be wider than 825 pixels nor longer than 825 pixels.
Files should be no larger than 1Mb in filesize.
Your photo MUST be in JPG format. Post-processing and image borders are allowed.
I will reply with a message that your images were received.
September 22, 2012
Thanks to all those who emailed me with some great feedback. I really appreciate it.
I archived the poll and it looks like my readership base is slanted towards the Classic era, with the Daguerreotype era holding its own - see below.
POLL RESULTS LISTED BY READER PREFERENCE (68 Responses)
The Classic Era 1920-1960 The Daguerreotype Era 1839-1860 The Wet Plate Era 1860-1880 The Dry Plate Era 1880-1900 The Roll Film Era 1900-1920
I will continue to try and serve everyone's interests, although as one person emailed me, I need to follow my heart. And right now, I am in love with the earliest periods of photography, basically anything pre Civil War.
If you'd prefer to email me your thoughts or comments, please click this link.
Rose 2A Beau Brownie. Ebay User 1stoneever
* Talk about high prices... how about $ 1,207 USD for a # 2A Rose Beau Brownie !
I can appreciate the beauty and rarity of this item, but it didn't even have the original strap. Seems like a ton of money, but perhaps some Kodak specialist will set me straight.
"Rudolf Kingslake (1903–2003) was an eminent academician, lens designer, and engineer. Rudolf Kingslake was born in London, England in 1903. He studied optical design at the Imperial College of Science and Technology, under eminent optical designer and theoretician Alexander Eugen Conrady, and earned a Masters degree in Optical Design. Kingslake later married Professor Conrady's daughter, Hilda. In 1929, Kingslake was invited to come to the United States to teach at the University of Rochester, where he founded the Institute of Applied Optics, now known as The Institute of Optics. In 1937, Kingslake became the head of Optical Design department of Eastman Kodak while continuing his teaching at the University of Rochester." Source:Wikipedia
Mr. Kingslake is mostly known these days for his book, A History of the Photographic Lens, written in 1989. Previous to this, Mr. Kingslake wrote a scholarly article titled, "The Development of the Photographic Objective," in March, 1934 while at the University of Rochester.
That article can be read in pdf format by clicking below.
I've been writing this blog for about a year and a half now, and it's work. While I want to post entries of high quality and interest it can be difficult finding time with a career and a young family. I've also noticed as my collecting focus has shifted from the Dry Plate era (1880-1900) to earlier times (1839-1870), so to has the focus of this blog. I wanted to get your feedback if this focus shift is of interest to you. Please take a moment to vote below or even send me a private message. I appreciate the feedback.
POLL RESULTS LISTED BY READER PREFERENCE (68 Responses)
The Classic Era 1920-1960 The Daguerreotype Era 1839-1860 The Wet Plate Era 1860-1880 The Dry Plate Era 1880-1900 The Roll Film Era 1900-1920
If you'd prefer to email me your thoughts or comments, please click this link.
CDV of Two sisters and a stereo camera as a footstool. Copyright antiquecameras.net
September 9, 2012
The two most popular American made portrait lenses sold in the 1850's and 1860's were C.C. Harrison and Holmes, Booth & Haydens lenses. Harrison first began selling his lenses about 1849 and was soon winning awards for the quality of his lenses (called "cameras" by most at that time). Holmes, Booth & Haydens ("HBH"), incorporated in 1853, began selling their lenses soon after their formation.
While Harrison and his lenses were almost universally held in high regard, HBH lenses were typically considered inferior. While most Harrison and HBH lenses found today have identical brass tube construction, Harrison is said to have ground his lenses while Charles F. Usener was the optician behind HBH lenses for 13 years, from late 1853 until 1866 when Usener began working for Willard & Co.
I found an interesting article in the July 15, 1858 issue of The American Journal of Photography in which the author describes what he thought of as the differences between the two brands.
Assuming there's some validity to what's been written, one could assume that HBH lenses had a smaller aperture (slower) than Harrison's, thereby creating additional depth of field. While I've never made a precise aperture measurement of either lens brand, I can tell you the most recent HBH lens I have come across, serial # 5732, features a removable, truncated cone that threads onto the rear of the front element group thereby stopping down the lens. While I don't know how many HBH lenses came with this cone, another HBH lens with serial # 3517 also had this. Below is HBH lens #5732, in quarter plate size.
Holmes, Booth & Haydens Portrait Lens
Quarter shown for scale
More than likely, the cone was an aperture controlling device that HBH featured during the mid to late 1850's before offering factory cut slots for waterhouse diaphragms which came to market in 1858. The question is if these cones were an optional feature or if most HBH lenses had this feature, yet so few are recorded* because they have been lost over time. Because the cone features a very fine and very thin thread that is easily damaged, I can imagine many of these being tossed over time or just lost once removed from the interior of the lens. If you are the owner of an HBH lens, especially from serial numbers 3000-6000, please check the rear of the front element group to see if there are threads in the brass holding the elements that could accept a cone as shown above. Please email me with your findings !
* Gordon Moat has been recording HBH serial numbers for some years now. Please see his excellent serial number reference page which only states lenses 3514 and 5732 on the list have an internal cone.
The download contains two editions ("2" & "3") of the Lens Collectors Vade Mecum. The "second edition" Vade Mecum is made up of one, large pdf file (file is protected and cant be printed). The "third edition" Vade Mecum is split into 20 separate pdf files and can be printed out as you wish. Total size of download is 300+mb. The download can be broken in two parts for ease of download on slower connections.
September 2, 2012
Being the proud owner of a Lewis Style Daguerreotype camera (two, in fact), I was very excited to see a very fine CDV on eBay featuring a photographer and his 1/4 plate Lewis camera on a period iron center tripod. CDV images of photographers with their Daguerreotype cameras are highly sought after and seem to find there way to market a few times per year.
Matthew Isenburg writes in his 1992 discourse on early photographic equipment, "It is generally thought that the reason so many late 1850's* paper photos of photographers with daguerreian outfits exists is because the new wet plate camera was used to take the photo, and the pose with the "old standby" shows that they have been in business for quite some time, thus not being novices to their trade."
I thought a bid of $ 1,233 was going to make me the new owner, but I was outbid with seconds remaining and the CDV went for a final price of $ 1,258 ! Most of these images sell around the thousand dollar mark, so this wasn't an outrageous amount, but I was disappointed my high bid failed.
The seller of the item gave me permission to reproduce the CDV below.
*The most current research would indicate that in the US, CDV's began being offered in 1859 and it took until 1861 for them to be more commonplace in photographic studios. By 1863, CDV's were all the rage, especially with the demand produced by the Civil War. Soldiers could leave behind or mail multiple, inexpensive images to their family and friends. To read much more about CDV's and other images of 19th century, please see PhotoTree.com - a great website which helps precisely date photographic images.
Another CDV featuring also featuring what appears to be a whole plate, Lewis style Daguerreotype camera, is currently on ebay and is shown below.
Ebay Seller Imajgin
Lewis Style Daguerreotype Camera from the Jordan Patkin Collection. Image by Monica Pedynkowski
August 26, 2012
In my June 20, 2012 post, I mentioned the lack of information on America's best known photographic optician of the 19th century, Charles C. Harrison. Despite numerous, yet brief, mentions and accolades found in references in the 1850's and 1860's, there are but dribs and drabs of great source material. However, I did locate an obituary that gives us a bit of insight into his personality. From the December 1, 1864 issue of The American Journal of Photography:
And, from The Photographic and Fine Art Journal, February 1855, the woodcut engraving of Harrison:
Bryan & Page Ginns have been holding online Antique Photographica auctions for many years, and have one running right now, ending on September 15th. This auction, like most of the Ginns auctions, contain something for everyone - images, cameras, stereoviews and related ephemera.
Lot # 48 Half plate Daguerreotype of Niagara Falls
Lot # 1 Royal Mail Postage Stamp Camera
August 18, 2012
The news of Matthew Isenburg selling his collection to AMC traveled quickly among image and photographica collectors. However, I found an article in The Maine Antiques Digest to be one of the more enlightening articles on the topic.
Matthew R. Isenburg Photography Collection Sells Privately for $15 Million
by Jeanne Schinto
Matthew R. Isenburg of Hadlyme, Connecticut, has sold what is widely considered to be the world's finest private 19th-century American photography collection to the Archive of Modern Conflict (AMC) for $15 million.
The 85-year-old Isenburg said he is not allowed to name publicly the principal of AMC, and I've promised not to print it here, but it's an easy process to discover it by Googling AMC and "owner." Eventually, with only a little diligence, the name is revealed. Much more important than whose money bought this world-class collection, however, is the story of what it consists of, why it's so important, and how Isenburg was able to keep it together—every collector's dream—when the time came for it to be sold.
One summer day a few years ago, I was invited by Isenburg to see the collection. He's a dynamo of a man, a brilliant raconteur with a crystalline memory for details and the tendency to break into song at the drop of a phrase that belongs to a famous lyric. My energy flagged at about midnight, long before his did.
Much of the collection was on display in a private museum in the third-floor finished attic of his 1780
residence. More of it was in two libraries, one inside the house, the other attached to a six-car garage. Prior to my visit, I was aware that my host had one of the most important daguerreotype collections in the world, because I had seen some of it on display in major museums through the years. I had also read a 2005 issue of Worth magazine in which Grant B. Romer, then curator at George Eastman House (www.geh.org) in Rochester, New York, declared that Isenburg had "the premier collection, far better than ours."
There was, for example, a half-plate (4¼" x 5½") daguerreotype by John Plumbe Jr. showing the eastern elevation of the U.S. Capitol in the winter of 1846. Daguerreotypes of outdoor scenes, no matter what they show, are rare enough. It's estimated that 90% of the approximately 15 million daguerreotypes made in the United States between 1840 and 1860 were portraits. This is one of only three of the earliest-known photographs of the structure. The others are at the U.S. Library of Congress and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
He also had one of the four best Southworth & Hawes collections in the world. Albert Sands Southworth and Josiah Johnson Hawes, who formed the firm Southworth & Hawes in Boston in 1843, are universally regarded as among the finest daguerreotype artists the medium has ever known. The other three best collections of their work are in public collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and George Eastman House.
Yet the depth of Isenburg's collection still astounded me, not only because of the richness of the images but because of the related objects and ephemera he amassed along with them. "Most elite collectors want just heavy hitters," said collector/dealer Greg French of Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts. A longtime friend of Isenburg, French brokered the deal with AMC. "Matthew had the heavy hitters, then filled in all the details."
The fill-in-the-details items relating to Southworth & Hawes alone will give you an idea of Isenburg's comprehensive approach. The collection includes the only known posing chair from the partners' studio; albums of albumen silver prints, tintypes, and cartes de visite from both men's families, covering a period of about 50 years; an oil on canvas portrait of Hawes's wife, Nancy, who was Southworth's sister and the colorist in the Southworth & Hawes studio; Southworth & Hawes stationery; an invoice form with advertising for their studio; multiple pieces of correspondence, including a series of letters written over a two-year period by Southworth to Nancy from California when he decided to join the Gold Rush. Isenburg even managed to find the 1849 partnership agreement drawn up by the men when Southworth decided to go West, in which each agreed to an equal share of the other's profits, Southworth's from mining and Hawes's from photography back home in the Boston studio.
The Gold Rush itself is well represented in the collection with well over 50 images, making it arguably the best of its kind anywhere. One of the most amazing pieces is a whole-plate (6½" x 8½") daguerreotype by George H. Johnson showing more than two dozen miners on the American River near Sacramento in about 1852. We tend to think of the Gold Rush period as frenzied, but these men have stopped work to pose at length for Johnson's camera. Looking closely, I noticed a little girl, six or seven years old, standing with them. What could her life have been like? It didn't occur to me until I saw her that children had been part of the scene.
Such an image is the reason why, according to Isenburg, the AMC curators told him, "This collection will be enough material for six hundred Ph.D. theses." And if some scholar were to choose a topic related to the Gold Rush, he or she would be well served with, among other supplementary materials, mail-order catalogs that Isenburg used to figure out where the miners bought their clothes.
Because of the collection's depth, some of it crosses over into outright Americana. There is, for example, a carved and painted American eagle with a more than 8' wingspan. It is possibly by Laban S. Beecher, and its design includes a cannon, drum, flag, and sword. It's a nice circa 1865 example, but what makes it noteworthy is that it's actually just a big elaborate frame for an 1855 whole-plate daguerreotype set inside a central medallion held by the eagle's talons.
That daguerreotype shows the Warren Light Guard, mustered in Lawrence, Massachusetts. It was named after American Revolutionary War hero General Joseph Warren. Behind the men, who are wearing full-dress uniforms with high feathered hats, are the textile mill city's factories and perhaps a boarding house for the mill girls. Daguerreotypes of military companies are particularly rare. This one was among the first units to be mustered after Fort Sumter. Sent to Baltimore in April 1861, the company lost four men there on April 19, making theirs part of the first blood spilled during the Civil War.
Besides daguerreotypes, Isenburg also sought superior examples from the whole history of photography—paper prints, stereoviews, tintypes, ambrotypes. Nothing he bought was ordinary. His superior carte de visite collection, for example, boasts named photographers posed with their cameras and outside their studios.
The collection includes one of the best collections of early American cameras too. "The Eastman House has fewer than a dozen Daguerreian-era American-made cameras. I have about two dozen," said Isenburg. He has another three dozen early wet-plate cameras. He also collected photographers' equipment—for example, a circa 1854 plate-sensitizing box; three circa 1848 coloring outfits for tinting daguerreotypes; and two canvas backdrops from the studio of a known ambrotypist. These items are even rarer than the cameras.
The hardware is particularly important to this collection's story because camera collecting is where Isenburg began. The owner of car dealerships since 1956, he began his interest as an amateur photographer in his 30's. In 1967, when he was 40, he shot a wedding. He didn't want payment, but as a token of appreciation the family gave him a 1926 Leica, the first production model.
"So I put it up on the mantel, and every time I went past it, I took a look at it," Isenburg recalled. As it serendipitously happened, within the month a young man walked into his office at the car dealership wanting to trade a Jaguar for a Ford Thunderbird. The deal was almost done when the buyer said he liked the flashy hubcaps he saw on another model and offered in trade a 1956 M2 Leica. Isenburg said OK.
"I put them side by side on the mantel, and suddenly I was a collector. That's how I started. But since they were professional cameras, I wanted to know: Who used these cameras? What pictures did they take? When did the company start? Then I found out there was a Leica collectors' society." The man with the endlessly inquiring mind went to a meeting in New Jersey, "and I was a Leica collector."
Isenburg said, "I instantly set up a network. I told camera stores that any Leica that comes in I'd pay full retail for." But Leicas weren't enough for long. "I started to wonder when amateur cameras began. Then wanted to go all the way back to the beginning, where photography really started. So within a year or eighteen months I was already collecting early stuff."
By 1970, he estimated, he was collecting "seriously." He never did buy much at auctions or shows. "I used to advertise that I would pay more than anybody," he said. "If people were good, I would teach them how to recognize the stuff. They'd bring it to me, and I would buy it." By the time Greg French started collecting in 1981, he said, "Matthew was already a legend."
In 1988 Isenburg cofounded the scholarly Daguerreian Society (www.daguerre.org) with John Wood. Along the way, he did such things as buy and read an entire year (1851-52) of the New York Daily Times, reading a page a day to immerse himself in the period. In 1989 American Daguerreotypes: From the Matthew R. Isenburg Collection, a 178-piece exhibition, went on view at the Yale University Art Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut, to celebrate the sesquicentennial of the announcement of Daguerre's invention in 1839.
Multiple loans to major exhibitions followed, most recently in 2005-06, when some of Isenburg's best Southworth & Hawes images toured with Young America: The Daguerreotypes of Southworth & Hawes. Curated by Grant B. Romer and Brian Wallis, it was a tour de force, exhibiting nearly 2000 examples at the George Eastman House, at the International Center of Photography, New York City, and at the Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, Massachusetts. The catalog includes a sophisticated research essay by Isenburg on the photographers' genealogies, based on the family albums.
After I visited Isenburg in 2008, I ran into him at the Ephemera Society of America shows in Old Greenwich, Connecticut, at Papermania in Hartford, Connecticut, and elsewhere. He seemed as robust as ever, regaling me with stories of a trip he and his wife took to Egypt. A couple of years ago, his health started failing him. In early 2012 he had a life-threatening condition leading to surgery that, in Greg French's words, began giving him "bouts of mortality."
Isenburg, for his part, recalled, "I was hitting a time in my life when I was starting to divest, so my wife and kids won't have to think about 'What do I do with this? What do I do with that?' I don't want to leave any unfinished situations, and the biggest unfinished situation in my life was the collection."
Years ago, French was engaged to sell the collection when the proverbial time came. It seemed the time had arrived. "So I decided to approach a certain institution," he said. That was AMC. "I had just completed a rather large deal with them, and after that, I advanced the notion to them that this collection could be had."
Described on its Web site (www.amcbooks.com) as "an independent publisher based in London," the curiously named entity, which does not publish books only about warfare, has another base in Toronto, where this collection was trucked after the sale was consummated in May. On the 21st floor of a building in that city, the more than 30,000 pieces in what will be known as the Matthew R. Isenburg Collection are currently being photographed and cataloged at an expense of millions more.
AMC has a second Web site (www.amc2.org) devoted to the first and apparently only issue so far of a journal, "published at irregular intervals," that "brings together different groups of work that illuminate lost corners of our cultural life." Promised links to extracts of the articles do not deliver them, however, except for a couple of pictures. Only a little more illuminating is this Web site's statement about AMC's collecting interests, expressed in the broadest possible terms as "material dating from prehistory to the present day." Thankfully, it goes on to say, "Photography is, as ever, the keystone of the collection." So at least that much is clear.
Although AMC had long bought photographs actively, it had never before bought something of this magnitude, according to French. And at first, it "didn't want the whole thing, only a portion," he recounted. "So there were negotiations about that. I explained the wisdom of keeping the collection together, and after some thought, they went for it."
The Isenburg collection wasn't cataloged, and that was a stopper for other potential buyers. "Many institutions would rather get a lesser collection that's cataloged than one like this that's better but uncataloged," he said. "That's what's so impressive about this buyer-that they had the faith to look at the collection and say, 'You know what? This is too important to pass up.'"
In the end though, said French, "what sold them wasn't just the collection but Matthew's stories." In fact, the AMC entourage, which descended on Hadlyme for more than a month, included a videographer, who taped Isenburg talking about the collection for a couple of hundred hours.
"We did the videotaping for two reasons," French said, crediting AMC's agent, Neil MacDonald, with the "stroke-of-genius" idea. "One was to create a documentary. The other was to help the catalogers, so that when they're looking at something down the road, the video will give them the details. They're going to refer to these videos to learn. Matthew will say, 'The patent on that was 1851,' or 'You'll see the same lithograph on page thirty-two of such-and-such.' And you go look it up, and inevitably he's right."
MacDonald, who is AMC's photographic curator, said, "If you've ever had the privilege of visiting Matthew, and you're interested in photographic history, you know it's a magical experience. First, it's a fantastic and amazingly well-put-together collection, and second, there's Matthew. If you see the collection, yes, it's the best you could possibly imagine, but with Matthew telling his stories about it, it becomes animated."
More often than not, said MacDonald, his buying for AMC is conducted at estates or at auctions. "And by then, it's too late. It's like a postscript. The collector's gone. So I saw this as a unique opportunity. The information Matthew has, which he uses to connect the dots, wasn't data based. I had asked him, 'Do you have these notes in any way, shape, or form that's downloadable?' No, it was all in his head. So the videotaping was what I saw could be done and what should be done. I mean, half of the collection is the collector."
Now, he said, AMC "has the collection, which is very deep and layered, and we also have the story of it, recorded. Narrations, connections, information about where things came from, how he bought something, or the experience it took to capture a particular prize, after years or even after decades, because some of the stories span forty years."
Asked how the $15 million figure for the collection was arrived at, French said, "I set the price. I showed the buyer that we could get easily halfway there with just thirty images. In the end, I think it's a bargain, because I don't think a collection like this can be created again."
I asked Isenburg if anything was held back. He said unequivocally no. "Every single thing in this house that's photographic, except my digital cameras, has left. I wanted them to walk out of this house with everything photographic."
Not even French was given the opportunity to buy a piece he has coveted for nearly a decade. The owner of a premier collection of photographs of African-American portraits, he wanted a carte de visite of a slave who became a Massachusetts resident. "Matthew bought it on eBay for twelve hundred dollars. I told him I would pay him three thousand or trade him something worth even more. He thought about it all night, called me the next day, and said no, because he wanted everything kept together. That's the integrity of the collection."
I asked Isenburg if he would miss the collection. He replied, "As Dickens would probably have said, 'It's gone to a far, far better place.'"