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James Garfinkle advises...After 31 years of being the custodian of Mathew Brady's Studio Wet-Plate Camera, I have decided to let another person or institution have the pleasure of owning 'the most iconic piece of photographic Americana.' The camera was used to take portraits of Lincoln and other notables in the Civil War period.

Its provenance is unmatched: Meserve / Kunhardt collection, then at auction at Christie's in 1980, to me.  Two owners in about 100 years.  The serial number on lens matches that in Brady's bankruptcy filing, included with the lot. The camera has a reserve of $25,000. 

It was most recently displayed at the 'Lincoln in New York' exhibition at the New-York Historical Society.

The sale is Wednesday, November 30th in Dallas. James Garfinkel can be reached at: jamesgarfinkel@gmail.com. The sale is part of a Heritage Auctions Americana sale. More details here: http://historical.ha.com/c/item.zx?saleNo=6066&lotNo=38365

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Comment by Alex Novak on December 3, 2011 at 21:18

Comment by Alex Novak on December 3, 2011 at 21:18

Here's the information, Michael:

Henri Le Secq: The Photographer's Camera and Equipment. 9.44 x 11.81 in. (240 x 300 mm), a wooden camera attributed to the photographer Henri Le Secq and coming from his family with an invoice for it made out to Le Secq.  It is 24 x 30 cm and has vertical and horizontal lifts and swings, a black bellows, and a ground glass with handwritten pencil formats from 9 x 12 to 24 x 30 cm.  The camera is missing the lens.  There are two camera backs marked "Gilles Brothers" 24 x 30 cm and numbered in their carrying case.  Also comes with a printing frame 38 x 28.5 cm. The group includes an invoice to M. Le Secq from the "Gilles Brothers" dated July 17, 1871.  Provenance: the photographer's family; Jakobowicz & Associés Auction.

Henri Le Secq was one of the most important early photographer's of the 19th-century.  He was one of only four photographer's chosen by the French government to be a part of the Mission Heliographique project of 1851-52.

Comment by Alex Novak on December 3, 2011 at 21:14

Mai, oui!

Comment by Michael Pritchard on December 3, 2011 at 20:33

very nice... Was the camera maker French?

Comment by Alex Novak on December 3, 2011 at 20:12

Michael, it came from the Le Secq family with a receipt from the camera makers made out to M. Henri Le Secq.  It lacks a lens though, but comes with backs, etc.  It sold recently at a small auction in France.  The Le Secq family sold a number of important images by Le Secq, Le Gray and Negre at the same sale.  I expect that I was the largest buyer in the sale.

Comment by Michael Pritchard on December 3, 2011 at 20:06

The Brady camera sold for $65,725. 

Comment by Michael Pritchard on December 3, 2011 at 20:04

That's exciting - presumably the provenance is good. I'd love to see a photograph of it. 

Comment by Alex Novak on December 3, 2011 at 19:52

Just an FYI, I just bought Henri Le Secq's camera.

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