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Buyers Respond to Eclectic Offerings at Swann Photo Sale

Swann Galleries’ sale of photographs in New York on Feb. 19 realized $641,520 with premium, on an estimate of $556,600/816,400. On a hammer basis, the sale took in $534,600.

NEW YORK—Swann Galleries’ sale of photographs in New York on Feb. 19 realized $641,520 with premium, on an estimate of $556,600/816,400. On a hammer basis, the sale took in $534,600.

The top lot was a suite of three albums with a total of 172 photographs by Francis Bedford (1816–94), “Photographic Pictures Made by Mr. Francis Bedford During the Tour in the East in which, by command, he accompanied His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.” Estimated at $40,000/60,000, the albums sold for $132,000. According to the Swann catalogue, after Queen Victoria appointed him the official photographer to her son, the Prince of Wales, Bedford accompanied him on a tour of the Middle East in 1862.

Another album with 47 albumen photos of Mexico and two panoramas of Paris, 1862, by French expedition photographer Claude-Joseph Désiré Charnay (1828–1915), sold for $60,000 on an unpublished estimate of $90,000/120,000, indicating the reserve had been lowered before the sale.

A silver print by Dave Heath (b. 1931), Vengeful Sister, Chicago, 1956, sold well above expectations for $19,200 (estimate: $6,000/9,000), and Grand Canon of the Colorado, a mammoth albumen print, circa 1883, by William Henry Jackson (1843–1942), sold for $16,800 (estimate: $5,500/7,500). Also among the top lots was a 1964 print by Minor White (1908–76), Moon & Wall Encrustations, Pultneyville, New York (estimate: $10,000/15,000), which sold for $15,600.

Daile Kaplan, Swann’s vice president and director of the photographs department, noted the sale’s “range of diverse materials, several of which set auction records in this transitional economic climate.” In addition to the record prices achieved for the Bedford albums and the Heath photograph, the $10,800 paid (with premium) for Mike Disfarmer’s Portrait of Mary Jo Seymore, circa 1944, was an artist record, just above the $7,000/10,000 estimate.

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