The Native Americans

Just a quick recap of the Native American images I have in my collection.

Ambrotype, Penobscot Boy, 1857
Ambrotype, Penobscot Boy, 1857
Anonymous Asian-, Native-, or African-American boy
Anonymous Asian-, Native-, or African-American boy
Native American trio, El Reno, Oklahoma
Native American trio, El Reno, Oklahoma
Navajo Brave, Grand Canyon, attributed to Karl Moon
Navajo Brave, Grand Canyon, attributed to Karl Moon
Black Star, an Osage Brave
Black Star, an Osage Brave

There’s one more I’ll have to scan, but it is NOT an original image, rather a halftone reproduction pasted onto a vintage cabinet card stock. The image is of two southwest Indians of indeterminate tribal origin and quite honestly of indeterminate gender. It MAY be a vintage print, but it most certainly is not an original photograph. It’s a good illustration of the risks and pitfalls of antiques hunting – I found it in a little antiques mall in Delaware. The space was, while not poorly lit, definitely on the dim side. Enough so that I did not recognize the halftone dots. I paid $40 for the image, thinking at the time I was getting a great deal. I discovered the halftoning when I went to scan the image to email it to the National Museum of the American Indian to see if they could identify it better for me. When I zoomed in on the hi-res scan, the halftone dots popped off the screen! I was dismayed to discover this – I probably paid about $35 too much for it, given the fact it was a reproduction, but in the long run, I came out ahead. At the same time I bought it, I also bought another CDV of Lydia Thompson, a Victorian era actress, showing her in costume from a role she played in 1872. That one? I want to say I paid $5, but it was definitely less than $10. In the process of researching who she was I found a similar CDV of the same image on ebay, selling for $100. The object lesson here? Take a loupe with you when you go photo hunting. It could make the difference between paying original art prices for a poster-quality reproduction, or getting a good deal on an original image. It’s a variation on the old carpenters’ adage: Examine twice, pay once.

4 thoughts on “The Native Americans”

    1. Yes, a jewelers loupe would be fine, but just as good would be a photographers loupe, which is lower magnification, but probably brighter. They used to sell them for viewing transparencies or focusing a large format camera. Might be worth taking a look on eBay for a used one. New, they are pricey, but they’re one of those things that people forget the value of and get rid of them for pennies on the dollar.

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