Auction Highlights for Thursday 2/8/2024 (Updated!)

Auction Highlights for Thursday 2/8/2024 (Updated!)

This week's auction, like all of our Thursday auctions, is going to be a fun one. It happens Thursday, February 8th, at 8pm EST right here on and Its not going to be the largest or longest show, but then again I said that about last week's, which ended up being a four and a half hour marathon. Read on for some highlights for the week.

Wednesday Update

I went out picking this morning and turned up even more stuff than was originally listed here for this Thursday's auction. Scroll all the way down to see the original post. I'll put the updates up top here for returning readers!

Edgar Allan Poe "Tales of Mystery and Imagination" (1936)

I am very excited to add to this week's auction an incredible 1936 edition of Edgar Allan Poe's Tales of Mystery and Imagination. This profusely illustrated volume is packed with gruesome images by Harry Clarke and all the favorite classics from this master of the macabre himself. It was published by Tudor Publishing Company out of New York, and printed and bound by J.J. Little & Ives Company, also of New York.

Many of the illustrations are printed in black and white on the page, but this book also features several full color illustrated plates that have been tipped in. A tipped in page is a page that has been added after the initial printing of the book. They all appear to be present and in fine condition in this copy, and are brilliant in color and artistry.

This copy is in incredible condition for its age. Similar editions listed online are just about torn to bits, and though there is some binding wear on the one up on the block this Thursday, its probably the best you'll find.

This book will start at $25 in this week's auction.

The Young Pearl Divers (1896)

Another book I picked up today that I am extremely excited about is this bright red edition of Lieutenant H. Phelps Whitmarsh's "The Young Pearl Divers: A Story of Australian Adventure by Land and Sea." What really attracted to me was this book wasn't so much its content as its merit as an artistic object. The front is emblazoned with a large tentacled octopus which stands boldly against the red back ground. The spine features an old time deep sea diver in sparkling gold leaf.

The book was published in 1896 by Joseph Knight Company out of Boston, and has many full page plate illustrations. It will open at $25 in this week's auction.

Various Animal Plates

I had a couple of framed bat prints a couple weeks ago that I got from a stack of animal prints that had come out of a book, and there was some discussion as to if they were plates or prints. After a bit of a search, I actually can't seem to find a definitive distinction between the two. It seems, roughly, that a plate is a type of print in a book that may be printed on different paper and takes up the whole page, and is a term that seems to be used most often in academic settings - as in the case of the animals prints/plates/whatevers I've got here! There are some cool ones this week, and I hope to have time to frame them up before showtime. At the very least I hope to have them matted and ready for the frame of your choosing.

Several of these are hand colored, and they originate from different sources, though I picked them from the same pile of animal images at the flea market.

Nursing "Murder" Bottle with Box

Everybody knows I am skeptical of the term "murder bottle." I am pretty convinced that its an internet-age moniker used by dubious dealers to sell relatively common bottles to oddities collectors. Indeed, every time I talk about it with people who are experts in antique glassware and bottles, they've never heard of the term. That's not to say that these bottles didn't make babies sick - they absolutely did. But as far as I can tell from the source material, they led to more dirty diapers than they did infant deaths. 

Even still, in this week's show, I have one! A mUrDeR bottle!!! These bottles are cool and collectible, even if I am skeptical of the name, and I buy them when I see them. I really liked this one because it comes in a box with really great graphics. Sadly, though, the bottle inside is not original to the box. Still a cool combination that I am excited to bring to the show for my collectors of these sought after bottles.

The last time I had a bottle like this in a box, it brought north of $100. We'll see what this one brings, and if my persistent skepticism of the spookiness of these bottles hurts the value. Note that the woman I got this from - the same woman I got the last one from - apparently has been collecting them since the 70s and has hundreds to her name. We'll see if I can get some more from the collection in coming months.

We'll start this mismatched bottle and box combo at $25 in this week's auction.

More Great Photography

I also picked up a load of great photography this morning. Nothing as early as the more sought after daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and tintypes, but some really interesting turn of the century boarded photos and cabinet cards. There are a few occupational ones, including a great shot of a barber shop.

My favorite photo in the lot, though, is a rather inconspicuous interior shot that appears to show a father and his daughter in their parlor. The reason I like it so much is that on the wall behind them, they have a great Pharoah's Horses print on display. I always love to see stuff I love in its period setting.

Original Post

CDV Photograph by Mrs. Stuart

This photograph would have been easy to miss. Its a nicely composed image of a beautiful woman with an incredible dress, but could easily blend in with a stack of like carte de visite photographs. What makes this one extra special is who was behind the camera - one Mrs. Stuart.

Mrs. Stuart is the likely alias of Hannah Greene, the clairvoyant physician, hair jeweler. and later wife of the most famous spirit photographer of the time William H. Mumler. Indeed, the back of the CDV in this week's auction lists Mrs. Stuart's address as 258, Washington Street, Boston, Massachusetts, the location of Mumler's first photography studio and where he began his practice of spirit photography. The back of Mrs. Stuart's CDV also notes, "Hair jewelry made to order." 

An article by The Conversation goes in depth of the true identity of Mrs. Stuart, and even suggests that she may have been the originator of spirit photography. According to the article:

In an 1869 court statement following his investigation and indictment, Mumler claimed he was alone when he produced his first spirit photograph. He said he relied solely on what he had surmised by watching an unnamed male friend, yet there are no other references to this friend.
The “male friend” was likely concocted to conceal that Mumler sought instruction from a woman (Stuart). Perhaps he avoided expressly admitting that Hannah Green had been there, as she was still married to Turner. Or perhaps he wished to protect her and the children from scrutiny as the four relocated to New York. As official records show, Mumler and Green married in 1864, months after her divorce from Turner was finalized.

I am very excited to have this example of a fine CDV photography from Mrs. Stuart in this week's auction. One last note on the photo that adds to its appeal: it features a handwritten note in pencil on the back. That note reads, "Please I've come to stay till you will forgive me." There's a story there, for sure.

This photo will open at $25 in this week's auction.


Rock of Ages Print

I buy pretty much every Rock of Ages and Pharoah's Horses print I see. For those that don't know, these two images have been popular staples of American Traditional Tattooing for the better part of the past 100 years, so they're highly sought after. I don't find them very often,  but have had some luck in 2024 so far. This will be my second Rock of Ages, and we've already had two Pharoah's Horses this year.

I found this week's Rock of Ages at a local antique show and flea market. It was outside leaning up against a van with another religious print. It was dark, but I could just barely make out the iconic image. Sadly, when I brought the two prints up to the dealer, he informed me they had already been sold. Determined to get at least the ROA print, I asked who bought them and he gave me a brief description. I went inside and found him, and fortunately it was someone I buy from all the time. We had a quick back and forth, and I think he expected me to say no when he reluctantly gave me a high price, but I was quick to accept, and the print was mine.

Its a really cool version of the image, the one with the two ladies instead of the one. Perhaps the second lady in the image is an angel helping the lower woman to cling to the cross. Its a little more scarce than the one I had a few weeks back, which I have had a few times over the years. I think this is the first of this version I have had.

This week's Rock of Ages print will open for $25 in Thursday's auction.

Victorian Bird Dome

I found this incredible bird dome at a higher end antiques show in Massachusetts, and am really excited to have it for this week's auction. Regulars will remember that I had a couple similar pieces back in 2023 that brought an incredible $750 each in the auction. This one is considerably less extravagant, having only two small domesticated song birds (I think European canaries or finches), compared to the six or seven each of the previous ones had. But I still think it is absolutely lovely, and the preparation is quite nice. There is some mild wear to the foliage in the dome, and a few missing feathers on the birds, but the piece still displays quite nicely.

This bird dome will open for $25 in Thursday's auction.

18th Century Alchemy Laboratory Engraving

This late 1700s engraving depicts a very busy scientific alchemy laboratory. I got it at the same antique show from which I got the bird dome, and as is typical of these shows, it was a little bit expensive. However, I was willing to take the financial risk on this item because I think that its subject matter is next level, and its exactly the kind of rare and esoteric item I want in my auction. It features many busy scientists at work in the lab, with a strange table of scientific symbols - reminiscent of the later Periodic Table we all know today - on the bottom portion of the print.

The tag it had on it at the antique show identified it as a French 1780 copper engraving by artist Benoît Louis Prévost. The print did indeed appear in the 1770 'Encyclopedia' by Denis Diderot as engraved by Prévost. However, this version of the engraving is signed Fambrini, F., the signature of Italian engraver Ferdinando Fambrini. Other sources online suggest that the original version of this image was earlier, and done anonymously. So it is a bit elusive, but we can be sure that this version is the 18th century version by Fambrini.

It is not currently framed, though it is nicely matted and wrapped in plastic. I may find a frame for it by Thursday, or may sell it as found. Regardless, it is a fabulous image with great subject matter that I think would be a fantastic gift for anyone in the sciences.

This engraving will start at $25 in Thursday's show.

Cased Tintype of Fancy Women Playing Cards

A few weeks back I had an incredible tintype of a group of gentlemen playing cards that was a surprise hit in the auction. It brought over $600, and was the highest grossing item of that night. I am hesitant to ever try to chase the fire, to replicated what I call "auction magic," when something really takes off like that, but I loved this photo of women playing cards. So despite the hefty price tag at the antique show, I picked it up for this week's auction.

I purchased it from the same people that I got the above alchemy print from, and if memory serves, they're actually the same couple that I got the last card-playing tintype from. Let's see if lightening strikes twice! Either way, its a fun Item that I am excited to have for the week.

I have some other images this week too. I am always on the lookout for antique photography to bring to the show, and have a special interest in occupational photos - images of people of the past engaged in their work. This week I have a sixth plate daguerreotype photograph of a woman holding a pair of sewing scissors with a thimble on her middle finger. I know I have many customers interested in sewing, so its something I knew I had to pick up for our auction.

Both of these images will start at $25 in this week's show.

Relic of St. Therese of Lisieux

I am always on the lookout for relics of Catholic saints. This week, I found one for St. Therese of Lisieux. Its housed in a small blue leatherette case with the relic locket hanging from the center. I can't quite make out what the actual material of the relic is, but it looks very similar to first class relics - that is, relics that contain actual remains of the saint. Regardless, it is an incredible devotional item, nicely presented and easy to display.

The relic will open for $25 in Thursday's auction.

Trio of Pastels of Pretty Ladies

This week I have a trio of what I believe are original pastel drawings of pretty ladies. I Each has a beautiful glass-less frame. Though I am pretty sure these are not prints, there is a slim chance that they are. I did look at them closely, including underneath part of the frame, and they look to be originals done on board. Each has some degree of wear and tear, but I think they are very beautiful even still.

These will be sold in this week's auction "on choice" with an opening bid of $25.

Other Auction Highlights This Week

We've got lots of other fun items this week. One grouping I am excited about is a pile of vintage 1940s/1950s mugshots with fingerprints and criminal records. These are facsimiles from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Public Safety and will be sold as one-lot-one-money for the grouping of thirteen.

Other highlights include an incredible pair of Parisian opera glasses with an extendable handle, a German clown toy, a pair of Halloween noisemakers to be sold on choice, and a contemporary Native American folk art painting.

I am also really excited for this Central Queens YMCA gym bag. There is no question that it would make an incredibly stylish hand bag for any New Yorker or New York enthusiast. Personally, I wish it said Boston YMCA, but I know we have a few folks in our auction audience from NYC, so its probably better this way. The zipper works great!

This week's auction will no doubt be a fun one. I hope that you will join us and that you'll wear your bidding pants! Because there's lots to bid on, and I am still adding, still building this show into something special. It happens this Thursday, February 8th, at 8pm EST right here on

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