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Sotheby’s start their series on September 28 with 94 lots of post-war and contemporary photographs, following on October 5 with two separately catalogued sessions that add up to 200-plus lots spanning the earliest days of photography to major names from across the 20th century.

Early daguerreotypes are a strong feature, starting with a collection formed over a 40-year period by Dr Stanley Burns, a name now synonymous with this early form of photography. Burns’ 53 lots include a rich variety of mostly American scenes from everyday life, professional portraits and special occasions.

One lot offered is a quarter-plate daguerreotype trimmed to an oval taken c.1848 by an anonymous French photographer. The scene is the planting of a Liberty Tree in Martinique marking the abolition of slavery in the French Empire. It has an estimate of $50,000-70,000.

From a different source is Philip Haas’ half plate portrait of John Quincy Adams. It is thought to be the earliest known photograph of an American president to appear at auction.

It is signed J Q Adams and inscribed Hon Horace Everett Windsor Vermont in the President’s own hand as well as featuring an additional ink annotation reading Presented by J.Q.A. to his Kinsman H.E. 1843. By descent from Horace Everett, it carries an estimate of $150,000-250,000.


Swann Galleries

Swann Galleries is staging its 400-plus lot sale of Photographs and Photobooks on October 19. Among the featured works is an album of 67 albumen prints by the pioneering Scottish photographer John Thomson (1837-1921).

Thompson travelled from Edinburgh to Singapore and subsequently explored the Far East, taking in Hong Kong, Cambodia and Siam during a decade of travel. With cumbersome equipment, and experiencing difficult conditions, he captured buildings, landscapes and intimate ethnographic portraits of figures including Prince Gong/Kung (1833-98) with his camera.

Swann’s prints date from 1862-72 and formed part of the 1873-74 travelogue Illustrations of China and its People. There are approximately 34 views from China, including Hong Kong’s harbour and streets and Canton with others from Singapore and Borneo. The album carries an estimate of $40,000-60,000.



Christie’s hold three live sessions on October 10 plus two online auctions on October 5-11 and 5-12, adding up to a total of over 300 photographs.

The first of the live sales on October 10 includes two of Man Ray’s famous Rayographs offered by MoMA to benefit the museum’s acquisition fund. Among the works offered is his 1923 Rayograph which is guided at $200,000-300,000.

The other two sessions are both single-owner properties: 40 lots from the Emily and Jerry Spiegel collection and photos from the collection of Donald and Alice Lappé. Both these properties include works by some of the biggest names in classic American photography: Edward Weston, Dorothea Lange, Paul Strand and Ansel Adams.



Phillips have two photograph sales in New York on October 3. They start with another slice of masters of the medium from the Joy of Giving Something Foundation assembled by its founder Howard Stein.

Following in the afternoon will be a 130-lot offering of 20th century and contemporary photographers from Alfred Stieglitz, Man Ray, Ansel Adams and William Eggleston to a unique print from 2008 by Christian Marclay.