I haven't updated this blog in over a year after two brief posts, but its something I would like to try to keep up with (even if nobody reads it).
The auctions in the area have been few and far between since the holidays, and when they've come up, the merchandise hasn't been worth the trip. It's difficult to justify driving an hour and half and spending three to six hours at an auction just to pick up one or two items - I like to buy in bulk. But this past Monday, my favorite auction house, Broadcove Auctions in Hingham, had a promising mix of merchandise, so I made the trek. I had hoped that the MLK holiday would free the highway of traffic, but it was worse than usual. Go figure!
Of the many items at the auction - porcelain signs, antique furniture, vintage jewelry, a very cool 1930s mail box - a small photo album stood out to me. Normally when I buy photo albums, I am buying them to remove the photos and pop them in my "Instant Ancestors" bin for 2 for $1. But every now and then there's an intact album worth keeping together. The album in question was in great condition and completely identified. Here's the first page on the inside of the album, that begins the story:
When collecting antique photography, one thing that makes an item more valuable is identification - who is in the photograph? Where was it taken? When? What was the occasion? When I saw this page I knew that it was something special - a compelling subject matter fully identified with the who what when and where.
The pictures didn't disappoint either. The album was packed with dozens of photos of this early 20th century moose hunting trip, including everything from photos of the old railroad, the campsite the hunters set up, the canoes they traveled in, the game they hunted. The photographs were also so nicely composed it occurred to me that whoever took them likely had some experience behind a camera.
So I thought this item was pretty special, and it came in a tray lot with another photo album that wasn't quite as good. I had heard some buzz about the album during the auction preview, so I knew there would be interest. Ideally, I was hoping to buy the lot for around $30, and sell the hunting album for $100, but I told myself I would pay as much as $50. This was a bit of a risk, because its difficult to know if customers would be willing to pay $100 for an album of photographs of strangers. Regardless, I wanted this, so when the bidding came around, I bid right up to my $50 limit -- and won!
One challenge with selling antique photography is that you don't want to hurt the value of a one-of-a-kind item by spreading the photos all over the internet. Why buy an original photo if you have the digital one for free? So I didn't take many photos of the album within for my online store listing. In retrospect, I wish I had! Because the morning after I listed it (and just two days after buying it), the album sold on my eBay store for my $100 asking price! I pride myself in quick shipping, so as soon as I got the order, the album was boxed up and out the door, and I didn't think to snap more photos beforehand.
So that's the story of this one of a kind photo album that dates back to the beginning of the last century. It's now headed overseas, hopefully to someone that will enjoy it as much as I did!
If you're interested in antique photography, I've got a huge selection in the store in Somerville and on my web store. You can check out some of whats up for grabs here.