Cartes de Visite of Abraham Lincoln and Son Tad Among Historic Photos to be Auctioned March 20

243 Tad and Abraham Lincoln.jpg

FALLS CHURCH, Va.—A pair of cartes de visite (or photographic “visiting cards”) showing Abraham Lincoln and his son Tad, other Civil War-era cartes de visite of soldiers (including Ulysses S. Grant), and stereoview cards from prominent early photographers will be auctioned on Thursday, March 20, by Waverly Rare Books at the firm’s gallery in northern Virginia. Internet live bidding for the auction will be available through LiveAuctioneers.com.

Waverly’s 312-lot Catalog Auction #260 is packed with rare and historical items. Headlining the event are photographs from the collection of the late Walter Stolwein, a local amateur photographer, avid collector of photographs and photography equipment; and a member of both the Silver Spring Camera Club and the Chesapeake Antiquarian Photographic Society.

“In addition to the cartes de visite and stereoviews from Mr. Stolwein’s collection, the auction will also feature some wonderful non-photo lots, such as a signed autograph verse of S.F. Smith’s ‘My Country ‘Tis of Thee,’ a signed, slip-cased copy of Ayn Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged,’ and a 1680 Renaissance-era book on cryptography,” said Monika Schiavo, director of Waverly Rare Books. 

Lot 243, the cartes de visite of Lincoln and his son Tad, were taken a year apart, in 1864 and 1865. One, taken by Alexander Gardner on April 10, 1865, shows Lincoln reading to Tad. It measures 3¾ inches by 2½ inches. The second of the two images was taken by Anthony Berger on February 9, 1964, at Matthew Brady’s Washington studio. The lot carries a presale estimate of $800-$1,000.

Lot 244, comprising two cartes de visite portrait photos of just Lincoln, taken by Gardner and published by J. H. Buford (Boston), is expected to realize $400-$600. One, showing Lincoln with a slight smile, was taken on Feb. 5, 1865, prior to his assassination and just a few weeks before his second inauguration. Both are 3¾ inches by 2¼ inches, with a double border.

Albumen and stereoscopic photos taken by some of the premier early photographers of the time, including Frances Firth, Eadweard Muybridge, William Henry Jackson and Timothy O’Sullivan, will be of interest to serious collectors. In June of last year, Waverly’s sold an Author’s Edition folio version of Muybridge’s 11-volume set, Animal Locomotion (1887), for more than $14,000.

Muybridge offerings in the March 20 auction include a set of five stereoscopic views of the Valley of the Yosemite, a set of five railroad-themed stereoscopic cards titled Photographic Illustrations of the Pacific Coast, and a set of five stereoscopic views of San Francisco titled Views of the Pacific Coast. Each of the three lots is estimated at $300-$500.

Two lots, each comprising a dozen albumen photographs and stereoscopic views by William Henry Jackson, Timothy O’Sullivan and Luke & Wheeler, are expected to bring between $400 and $700 each. All of the images were taken in the 1870s and depict Western U.S. landmarks, such as the Rocky Mountains and Pike’s Peak. Albumen prints, invented in 1850, allowed photos to be produced off negatives.

A set of 17 stereoviews of Egypt and Italy by Frances Firth, an English photographer and founding member of the Liverpool Photographic Society in the mid-19th century, should reach $300-$500. The images, all 6¾ inches by 3¼ inches, will include views of the Great Hall of Columns and the Palace of Ramses III in Egypt; and the Baptistry and Monte Cavallo in Italy.

With a presale estimate of $2,000-$3,000, the tenth anniversary edition of the book Atlas Shrugged, published in 1967 by Random House (N.Y.) and signed by the author, Ayn Rand, could well end up being the auction’s top lot. The book, numbered 1514 of 2000, was signed on the inside leaf. Atlas Shrugged is an iconic political book considered to be Rand’s tour de force.

An autograph verse consisting of the first seven lines of the patriotic melody My Country ’Tis of Thee, signed by the poem’s author Samuel Francis Smith (1808-1895), is expected to hammer $400-$700. The original verse was penned by Smith in 1832. The one being sold was written in 1892 and measures 2½ inches by 3½ inches (in matting). It is possibly mounted to backing.

Gaspar Schott (1608-1666), a Renaissance priest and professor of mathematics and physics with an interest in magic, wrote a scientific book on cryptography titled Schola Steganographica. A copy of the compendium is in the auction with a presale estimate of $800-$1,200. It features 12 plates, engraved diagrams in the text, alphanumeric printed tables and a musical score.

Returning to cartes de visite, a lot of four items relating to the Civil War general and former U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant—three cartes de visite and an oval print of Grant with a child (or an angel) on his lap—should sell for $80-$120. The cartes de visite show Grant seated in uniform (circa 1863), standing in uniform, and with Grant and family (circa 1866), respectively.

Three mid-1860s cartes de visite of the diminutive celebrity General Tom Thumb (born Charles Sherwood Stratton), pertaining to his “Fairy Wedding” to Lavinia Warren, as conceived and promoted by circus owner P.T. Barnum, are entered as Lot 255, with a presale estimate of $80-$140. One CDV is of Tom Thumb alone; another is a group shot of the wedding party, and a third shows the bride and groom together.

Lot 237, a circa-1901 ambrotype (a photograph in a hinged case, with a photographic emulsion that has been coated onto glass), depicts three well-dressed women—two of them in elaborate hats—out for a drive in an open roadster with visible side lanterns and white rubber tires. It is expected to sell for $100-$150.

The March 20 auction will take place at Waverly’s gallery at 360 S. Washington St., Falls Church, VA 22046, starting at 6 p.m., Eastern Time. Previews will be held daily beginning Friday, March 14 (except Sunday, March 16, when the gallery is closed) and continuing through and including auction day. See the website for hours. In addition to live and Internet bidding, phone and absentee bids are welcome.

Waverly Rare Books is a division of Quinn’s Auction Galleries. The firm is always accepting quality consignments for future auctions. For additional information on any lot in the March 20 auction or to consign a single item, an estate or a collection, call 703-532-5632 or email info@quinnsauction.com. To view the fully illustrated catalog and register to bid in the March 20 auction, log on to www.LiveAuctioneers.com.

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