Tuesday, August 23, 2005

You Learn Something New Every Day

At the Spring photography auction at Sotheby's auction house last April in New York, an early vintage print of Ansel Adams's Thunderstorm, Yosemite Valley came up for bid. In auction parlance, a vintage print is one that was made by the photographer soon after the negative was shot. Subsequently, these prints fetch top dollar.

The auction estimate for Thunderstorm was placed at $25,000 - $35,000. It sold to collector Michael Mattis for $96,000.

Now, a vintage print by Ansel Adams selling for more than twice the auction estimate is not news. In fact, it's generally expected. However, what is news is what Mattis found out about the print prior to the auction.

In addition to it being the only known, dated vintage print of Thunderstorm, the date of the print was revised as well. Generally thought to be from 1944, it turns out the print is actually from 1938.

"How often does this type of redating happen?" Mattis asked in American Photo magazine. "Not bloody often!"

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