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Tuesday, 03 April 2012


This is a very big week in the photo auction world. Today was the Sotheby's auction and Thursday is Christies.. Lots of dreck but lots of good stuff, too.

Yeah, well, for what it's worth, in 1976 I sold a very clean black paint Leica M4 for $375, and felt like I'd made a pretty good deal.

Guess I should have spent the money on a Kertesz, instead of beer, or rent, or whatever.

Nice story.

Maybe collecting prints is a bit like collecting wine. By the time you start to appreciate and understand the market - it's too late...

Buying wine to keep for investment (or consumption) is largely a game for the long term. (bit less so now, actually, where 10 years can show you quite a nice profit) Anyway, you probably need to start young. But what young hot blood has any interest in fusty old claret - the sort of stuff his Grandad is always going on about - and like prints, he probably has better things he thinks he should spend his limited funds on.

Robert Parker bucked that trend of course - although the consequences have not been to everyone's taste...

I have often wondered, if the reader print contest sale, was in some way a failure? As we have not heard any feedback from it, or perhaps I just have missed it.

Ah well, I shoulda, woulda, coulda sold my stock and bought bonds when I retired. I could now afford more nice prints. But that's life, I can love it or not, my choice.

I wasn't familiar with George Tice when I ran across his book Seacoast Maine very cheap in an odd place. As we spend three weeks or so in Maine most years, I bought it on a whim. I've come to enjoy it for the quiet beauty of his images.

It's wearing well so far. I find myself taking it down and browsing more often than I would have expected.

I almost mentioned it in the recent post about book print quality. But there were already many replies and I'm no expert. I've yet to see one in an original print, but the quad-tone printing seems to me likely to reproduce the qualities of very subtly toned originals.

I know what the subjects look like, and the images in the book seem to capture that from a particular, gentle B&W perspective.


Hi Mike,

Bad time to offer a print sale! I just blew my budget for a watch this month.
I'll wait for Peter Turnley Print Offer III.. or something like that.
Maybe a month in advance notice next time ? :)

I guess we all have our stories...in the early 1980's I was a newly minted designer working like crazy and had no spare money as I lived in NYC. I was also a rail buff and lover of O. Winston Link's work. I had read he lived in NYC and one day opened the phone book(remember those?) and lo and behold there he was listed. I called him up and he answered. We chatted a bit and he told me some prices for prints, the "famous" ones, like the train going by the drive in movie were a couple hundred and the less known ones about half. I never even went by his studio...

I'm utterly mesmerized by that first Koudelka image - I've never seen it before, and I can hardly believe that perfect composition is even possible!
Everything, from the way the diagonal shadows fall, to the equivocal implement and the slice of the wall, and the trinity of participants in an unknown and unknowable drama (just the expressions that one can barely discern!) - perfectly and enigmatically arranged in the alternating spaces of light and darkness.
It's breathtaking.

Fort Worth?? Maybe Fort Wayne! Indiana not Texas.

Mike, where can you get Tice prints for $1200? If I could pay that for a print of "Petit's Mobil Station", I surely would!


A dollar today is worth much less than a dollar from the '70s.

Remember the days of a gallon of gas costing less than 25 cents per gallon? Is a gallon of gas worth 16 times more now than then? No, a dollar is worth much less now than then.

I would take the picture number one ;-)

Easy for me...I would have gone for the first Koudelka pictured. But, then again, I've had my own missed opportunities, including at AIPAD, which I've commented on before.

And, if one bought the right 70's Buick, it might have sold for six figures at some recent Barrett-Jackson auctions. 20/20 hindsight.

I commiserate with you, Mike. I was offered my choice of signed Robert Frank prints for $1200 each at an Upper East Side gallery in the mid '90s. I deliberated too long; they all got away. A friend collected prints when prices were more agreeable still. He has a house full of Walker Evans, Kertesz and Brassai. He had to quit collecting when he ran out of wall space.

Ah, prices have inflated......I remember in 1986 a print of mine was hanging in the Canon gallery in Amsterdam next to a (beautifull) shot of a moon over a town called Hernandez by some bloke from the US called Adams or something like that, as part of an exhibition of Dutch promissing amateur photographers. I then found out that a print of "Moon over Hernandez" made the news and it was sold for 30.000 dollars if I recall (at that time the most expensive picture in the world). Now Gursky's reach the 4.000.000 mark.....world gone haywire I guess.....maybe Mr. Nelson should read the Signs of the Time again.....

Greetings, Ed

It's obvious to me that you should have bought the first Koudelka. Right? I mean, that's the better one...

FWIW, I had a similar feeling with the most recent sale here, between Glance, Lovers, and News. I managed to power through my indecision though!

Addendum after reading John Camp's comments...

I'm forever grateful that my discussions with curators and dealers in the late 80's and early 90's led to collecting only vintage prints, although with a caution toward investment; rather that I should envision wanting to look at the photo every day of my life. And, fortunately, I got similar advice regarding first edition photo books. The financial rewards, while significant, have paled in comparison to the personal rewards from looking at some good stuff over many years.

Right around that same time, however, I was counseled on 19th century works, which had not appreciated to any significant extent compared to 20th century prints, despite their seeming historical significance, not to mention beauty. If only I had heeded that advice.

Hey there!

This might sound a little silly, but I treasure my FotoTorst book of Koudelka photographs. Sure, they are relatively small, but then, so too was the amount I paid for the book (currently around $US20 / UKPound 16). Also, when I wish to, I can take it almost any / everywhere with me, as I have often done for several weeks on end. Same too for my FotoTorst Kratochvil and Sudek.

Oh, & I appear to be in the minority, as for me definitely the horse photo.

Adding to John Camp's comment about collecting work that you love, rather than purely as a financial instrument. The recent of auction of Eggleston's famous photos digitally reprinted in larger sizes is drawing the ire of the collectors of the original limited edition dye transfer prints. So much drama! I would rather buy the prints of photos I love and hang them on my wall and enjoy them. More on this developing story here:


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