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Circa 1880s Indian Chief Imperial Cabinet Photo by C. M. Bell
Starting Bid - $300, Sold For - $720
Spectacular Imperial cabinet display photograph of an unidentified American Indian Chief taken by noted Washington, D.C., photographer C. M. Bell. This is an extremely large photograph: The image area alone measures 17.5 x 19.75 inches! The subject, who is identified in pencil on the underside of the vintage matting simply as "Indian Chief" is pictured standing in his native dress within a formal studio setting. Exceptional clarity and contrast throughout. Bell's credit stamp appears on the reverse, "From C. M. Bell's Photographic Studio 463 & 465 Penna, Ave. Washington D. C." Charles Milton Bell was the youngest in a family of Washington D.C., photographers and in 1873 he broke away from the family business and opened his own studio on Pennsylvania Avenue. He soon became one of the leading photographers in the city. During the late 1800s, many visiting Native American delegations traveled to his studio to have their portraits taken. Bell also made photographs of Native Americans for the Department of the Interior and the Bureau of American Ethnology. Today, nearly 30,000 of Bell's glass negative are held in the Library of Congress. While we have seen numerous nineteenth-century cabinet cards of Native Americans, we have never seen an Imperial example. Given the cost of such a photographic display piece at the time, the subject was obviously an important chief, who, hopefully, will one day be identified by more research. The photo (17.5 x 19.75 inches) displays a few minor pencil marks along the white border areas, and two very light pencil lines touching upon the main image. Aside from those minor anomalies the photo remains in Near Mint condition. The mount (21.5 x 24 inches) is toned and also displays a number of pencil lines and notations, as well as surface paper loss from where the vintage mount was affixed at the top. This item was included in an estate that is in the process of being settled and which included some exceptional baseball items. Many other antiques and collectible items were included in the estate. A few interesting nonsport items including this extraordinary piece were chosen to send to REA along with the baseball items. This is a fascinating, extremely impressive, and remarkably high quality large-format photographic display that obviously was extremely expensive to produce, suggesting to us, as noted, that perhaps the subject is well known and of great import. Reserve $300. Estimate (open). SOLD FOR $720
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