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At an estimate of £60-100 a stereoscopic daguerreotype of Fox Talbot by Antoine Claudet could be yours. The lot is being offered by Kings Russell Auctioneers in London's Knightsbridge in an auction as lot 172 on 18 August 2020. 

The description is here: 

Antoine Claudet (French, 1797-1867), Portrait of William Fox Talbot, stereoscopic daguerreotype, mounted with photographer blindstamp to mount and label to verso No.4695 Mr.Claudet, Photographer to the Queen, 107 Regent Street, London, H.17cm W.12cm, full frame size H.25.5cm W.21.5cm

Estimate £60-100 /

As most BPH readers will immediately see the lot is NOT a stereoscopic, NOT a daguerreotype and is NOT a portrait of William Henry Fox Talbot, but could be another William Fox Talbot. The auctioneer has been approached for more information about the attribution.

Fortunately, the auctioneer's terms of business state 'Should any Lot be sold other than specifically described in writing in terms of appearance or condition, authenticity or originality, the Buyer has 12 days from the date of sale to apply in writing for a refund of the purchase price'. 

As they say caveat emptor

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Comment by Jason Wright on May 14, 2021 at 23:18

Oh I agree completely Alex - criminal mis-description on the auction houses behalf. Hope all is well with you!

Comment by Alex Novak on May 14, 2021 at 23:15

Jason, I understand your point, but to describe it in this fashion, as the auction house has, can certainly be considered fraudulent. Their terms of business, while better than some, is still no excuse for such a misleading description.  If you stole it for 60 pounds, congratulations.  As you point out, it's still a scarce example of Talbot's process by Claudet.

Comment by Jason Wright on May 14, 2021 at 22:58

This one is not a fake but just badly described. True it is not of Fox Talbot nor a daguerreotype but is a good and genuine example of Claudet's salt print process (used under licence from Fox Talbot).

Comment by Alex Novak on August 4, 2020 at 17:17

Roben, I don't want to frighten people off, but just to have them take just a bit more care before they jump off the cliff. All of these and other such fakes were quickly uncovered and dealt with by the largely honest photo community.  We aren't the painting market where billions of dollars in fakes have gone through auctions and dealers reportedly.  Most of the counterfeits and fakes are at a lower level. Fake tintypes and a few daguerreotypes have come through the market. There are good ways to determine that they are problematic, but often auctioneers aren't as careful as the better photo dealers.  I have also seen cdvs and cabinet cards with the real backs with their common photos removed and replaced by print-outs of Indians and other rarer images. It's pretty easy to see if you know what you are looking for. Just be a bit careful.  The Daguerreian Society is a good group to join. We even had a presentation by its current President Mike Medhurst on this topic. He has a good online version too.

Comment by Roben Antoniewicz on August 4, 2020 at 11:34

Thank you Alex for the link to your fascinating iphotocentral article. I was previously oblivious that the counterfeit world existed to such an extent and was so pervasive.

Comment by Alex Novak on August 3, 2020 at 18:32

Michael, we have already seen fakes  dags by Bisson, Le Gray and Daguerre at Swann ( ) and enough fake photos of Jessie James and his gang to fill the Tate. Look at the Crespy Prince "calotypes" at Artcurial.

That's just to mention some of the actual fakes, not to mention the somewhat misleading information, like on the infamous Leaf.

Comment by michaelg on August 3, 2020 at 17:28

Here in the UK we seem to be somewhat behind the curve, set by the Billy the Kid carpetbaggers. One wonders when he, Billy, found time to shoot anyone - given that he spent so much time posing for dags and ambros: they should be cheap as chips. What's next, Thomas and Nicéphore?

Stultus Caveat Emptor

Comment by Alex Novak on August 3, 2020 at 17:07

I'm amazed that this is news to people that auctions are highly inaccurate with many of their listings. I saw this listing and just laughed.  Most auctions depend on consignors for their listing information, and we know how that goes.

And, yes, there are also actual fakes being offered. I have seen such things even with major auction houses.  As Michael notes, Caveat Emptor.  Most auction houses, including all the big ones, don't even offer such a guarantee as Kings Russell.  I wouldn't buy right now out of auction, since I can't preview in person due to virus restrictions.  I would buy from reputable dealers, who offer full refunds if you don't like an items for ANY reason. We offer that, and most of the people I deal with do the same.

Comment by Roben Antoniewicz on August 3, 2020 at 13:26

Ebay perils also apply - buyers should be aware of counterfeit carte de visites being sold on eBay.

A recent example of a suspected counterfeit CDV (a man with head bowed and showing the ghost of his wife) attributed to T.F. McFarlane photographer in Crieff, was recently offered for sale and sold for £447. This, I suspect, was a copy of an original photograph by the famous American spirit photographer, William H Mumler, who produced double exposures to convey the spirit of deceased persons. While it is not inconceivable that McFarlane could have made a copy of the photograph, it seems highly unlikely. The subject is not identified or referenced on the CDV.  I have reported this to eBay for further investigation.

My suspicions were raised to this possible counterfeit when I discovered another eBay CDV that was fake. This CDV was attributed to J. Robertson, Dundee showing 'young woman in risqué erotic pose'. However, the original photograph is attributed to Leopold Reutlinger and sold at Bonhams Auction house, on 29th July, with prospective price of 2000-3000 GBP.

Another example is a portrait of Robert Louis Stevenson, taken by William Notman of Canada in 1879-80, which was listed as a photograph by James Porter, Perth. James Porter died in Perth in 1878.

As a coincidence, Mumler himself, was taken to court and tried for fraud and larceny in an internationally known prosecution. One of Mumler's most famous photographs apparently showed Mary Todd Lincoln with the 'ghost' of her dead husband Abraham Lincoln.

Buyers beware.

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