Published: May 19, 2020
Review by Greg Smith, Catalog Photos Courtesy Richard Opfer Auctioneering, Inc.
TIMONIUM, MD. – Comprising 542 lots, the photographica collection of Jerome “Pepper” Broad was brought to sale at Richard Opfer Auctioneering, Inc., on May 7 in an online-only/absentee/phone format. Broad’s collection of cameras and images was collected over a lifetime, and his interest ranged from early street cameras to daguerreotypes. Both of those genres would perform well.
“He bought condition,” Opfer said of Broad. “He really enjoyed doing it.”
Opfer said that it was a pleasure to sell the collection to a truly knowledgeable group of buyers.
“We had people that had questions, of course. We had a very good photographer take the pictures so you could look online and know what you were buying. We had what we would call a limited preview, where we would let one person in. Buyers of this type of thing are so knowledgeable they’ll tell you what to look for.”
Opfer said that in all of his years of selling, he doesn’t believe he has sold a street camera, but they were many in Broad’s collection, as well as a number of other rare cameras.
“If you’ve ever seen postcards of people riding bikes or people standing in a park, a lot of them were done on street cameras,” he said. “They would produce an image in a minute or two. The photographers would be in parks or on the street, and you could buy your picture on a postcard or a small tintype for a penny or a nickel. It taught me something; I’ve seen them but I never understood the process. In many cases, they were the early polaroids – a picture while you wait.”
Leading the early cameras was a Simon Wing four-tube in mahogany with intact bellows that sold for $2,091.
“It could take four pictures at one time,” Opfer said. “That was the most popular camera. The thing is, for these wood cameras with the extending bellows, a lot of them used mahogany and brass, and there are some that are very rare. These things – just decoratively – I think they are worth more than they bring. These are old and they’re part of history. They’re a good buy for something that’s nice to look at.”
Another Simon Wing example, an Avax camera with non-original lens, took $1,476. Rising to $1,045 was a Kodak #1 string pull with key, Serial #15211, that had an owners signature in pen on the case.
Tintypes drew much interest, and Broad had a specialty in occupational images. Leading the entire sale was a 5-by-8-inch reduced half plate image of a livery stable yard with a sign above a two-horse-drawn carriage and the employees spread out before the barn. It took $3,751. Bidders also enjoyed a full plate image of a graveyard scene, featuring three men and two women amid a field of headstones, that sold for $1,169.
Two stereoscopic daguerreotypes drew good bidding, including a lady in cape by Whitehurst, which sold for $1,046; and an image of a gentleman in a case that read “Mascher’s Improved Stereoscope/ Philada. / Patent / March 8th 1863.”
A good full plate hardware store tintype featured the “W.J. Allen” store where he sold hardware, stoves and tinware, sold for $677. Seen in the image is a large tin coffee pot trade sign hanging above the doorway.
Rick Opfer is known for a fast-paced auction and he dislikes moving slowly. The sale started with a simulcast, but he nixed it as the sale went on as it started to hold everything up. He proceeded more happily with the online platform and a bank of phone bidders.
“Buyers thought it was a strong sale and it did well,” he said. “People are sitting home and they want to do something. They can’t get out to the markets, so they buy in this fashion.”
Prices quoted include buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house. For more information, www.opferauction.com or 410-252-5035.
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