British photographic history

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Daguerreotype or Ambrotype images on Ebay

Following on from the posting discussion the so-called Dodgson daguerreotype, I would like to discuss a present day problem which exists with internet sales of images. How often have we seen Daguerreotypes mislabeled as Ambrotypes (yet never in my experience the other way around)? This is sometimes the innocent mistake by a general seller who would not easily distinguish between the two, but have heard the name Daguerreotype used on similar items. This kind of seller will be most happy to alter the description when it is pointed out to them. As someone who watches a lot of images on Ebay, I will sometimes contact the seller and help with the description on mislabeled items. Unfortunately, as in the case of the Dodgson Daguerreotype, the seller sometimes appears not to really care about the veracity of the claims, as long as a good sale can be made. I have noticed that this kind of seller often will not include the well meant advice in the "Any Questions" box at the bottom of the item for sale page, thus keeping any prospective buyers unaware of the concerns. I wonder if this is an area that Ebay needs to look at, making all questions sent in about an item, visible to others?

Most sellers I have had dealings with have been fine, but on occasion I have come across dealers who have gone out of their way to make descriptions of the image for sale, shall we say, interesting! I remember one dealer who trades as Camera$ who often appeared to describe images in such a way. When I emailed them to advise that the Dag on offer was not likely to be a member of the British Royal Family, I was given short shrift!

It has happened again this week. Probably stirred on by the Dodgson posting, I contacted a dealer trading as iambwt, on ebay. They are currently listing a Dag of a young woman under the title of "Pretty GOLD MINERS WIFE Gold Nugget Jewellery Empty Vase" Item number: 140525548485. (Please check it out )

Well from the title I think that three words can be shown to be correct. Yes, though subjective, the young lady is pretty, and the vase is indeed empty! Apart from that I have my concerns. It appears to be a standard unattributed Dag with the ladies jewellery picked out in gold. As you all will know, this is not uncommon. As for the broach being a "Gold Nugget",  in my opinion is wishful thinking, and as for the relationship of this young lady with a gold miner, there is no evidence at all. Indeed looking at her fingers there is no sign of a wedding ring, which would normally be picked out. The starting price for this Dag is $299, which is far more than a Dag of this type would normally fetch. The seller, it would appear, is trying to attach the "Gold miner" connection in order to achieve a better price.

I alerted the seller to this, but surprise surprise, they were not interested, they did not alter the listing or show my question at the bottom of the page, for others to judge. My question to the photo community is, should we bother to try to put these misrepresentations right, and where does the legality lie? Should Ebay be more proactive in these maters? I'm usually in two minds whether to contact the seller over a major mislabeling, but I do hate to see people misled, intentionally or not.

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Comment by Pierre Spake on March 24, 2011 at 8:42
It works both ways - are we all going to return the items that were underdescribed and turn out to be much better than we hoped for!

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