It's a Small World

In an earlier post I related a story about a collector friend of mine who asked me to ID a relic of his. In our discussions I mentioned a piece that I had bought from a fellow who, some believe, had slightly misrepresented what the piece was. Ironically, he actually made it less desirable with his not-so-fact-based description. But the fact was that I was aware of something about the piece that made it very valuable, although the seller was unaware of this fact. My friend and I decided that the best case scenario is when you actually know more than the seller about a piece and get yourself a great deal.

I think I have changed my mind. I think the best thing is when the dealer does not know something about an item, you buy it a a great price, and find out when it arrives that you did not know something cool about it and it is so much better than you had imagined. This just happened to me.

I recently won at auction a group of Antietam stereoviews. Four of them are Phreaner views of the battlefield and two are later printings of the Gardner death studies. I really wanted the Phreaners and figured I could sell the Gardners to pay for the lot. I got them at a low enough price that I could still resell a few images at fair prices and make my money back. But when the images came I had a very happy surprise. The back of the images contain the writing of none-other-than Solomon McFarland, the Antietam veteran/photographer whose photographs are the heart of my upcoming book. He even signed and dated one. I could not believe it when I saw it. The only down side is that now I can't split this set.

The death studies mean a lot more to me now than before. You see, when W.H. Tipton was up in Gettysburg in the 1880s-90s, wanting to publish a set of the Antietam Gardner studies on his own mounts, he was having trouble getting his hands on a set. So, Solomon McFarland loaned him his for Tipton to copy. I have one of these Tipton Antetam stereoview 'copies'. It will be interesting to compare these with that one to see if I can verify having just bought one of Tipton's copy photos.