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  1. #1
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    Antiques Dealers

    Here's an ethics puzzler for the collected wisdom:

    over the weekend, I went to an antiques dealer to poke around. I saw some old photos that were of interest to me - a pair of cased tintypes. They were a little unusual in that both had photos in both sides of the gutta-percha cases. One was more unusual in that both photos were of men, whereas the other was more obviously a husband/wife pair. The photos were in good condition, not museum quality, and both sets were fairly small (1/8th plate or thereabouts). None of the subjects were identified. The dealer had them mis-labeled, one set as daguerreotypes, the other as ambrotypes, when in fact all four images were tintypes. He was asking some OUTRAGEOUS prices for them - ($175 and $195). The ethics question, then, is whether or not to say something to the dealer about mis-labelling the photos. On the one hand, saying nothing means that someone else coming along behind might be taken in and at the very least buy something for the wrong reasons, let alone get ripped off for the price. On the other, saying nothing lets the dealer stew in his own foolishness as any collector with half a brain will know the difference and not take him up on his price, and he'll reap the rewards of his ignorance.
    If you say something, though, the best case would be that the dealer would appreciate the education on the difference, and not make the same mistake in the future, perhaps saving him from overpaying on future photographs. Worst case, you piss off the dealer and he keeps his price high out of spite.

    What would you all do?

  2. #2
    rwyoung's Avatar
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    Ask him why he thinks they are Dags. Then if he gives you some BS answer, nod politely, thank him for the information and say, "well, I'm more interested in tintypes, they are in my price range". Then leave and make sure you let people know that his guy doesn't know much about THIS particular type of antique.

    It isn't really your job to educate him. If he wants to be a professional, then he should know better. If he wants to be a rip-off artist then nothing you can do. But if you feel like being generous and possibly getting into a pissing match, then show him they are tintypes, not DAGs and let him know his price is way out of line. Then you have to decide if you want to dicker for a new price.
    Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things! http://rwyoung.wordpress.com

  3. #3
    Steve Smith's Avatar
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    I see the same thing in this country. Dealers mark something up the same price as the most expensive 'similar' item they can find.


    Steve.

  4. #4
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Saw the same in Izmir (ancient Greek/Roman city of Smyrna) about 3 months ago. There's an antique dealer in the Kemeralti who for 2 years had a beautiful Wet Plate camera it was expensive but superb, and a fair price. That had been sold but they had another that was so clearly fake, obviously home made using the focus track etc from a pre-war press camera, they wanted $2000 for the fake. Next time I'm passing I'll take a snap if it's not been sold.

    Ian

  5. #5
    Jim Noel's Avatar
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    Most antique dealers rely on their pricing books which are usually far from accurate. They have no idea of the difference between dags, ambros and tintypes.The same is true of cameras. I had one try to sell me a 2D claiming it was a daguerotype camera.
    [FONT=Comic Sans MS]Films NOT Dead - Just getting fixed![/FONT]

  6. #6
    Kerik's Avatar
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    Yep, I've seen this a million times in the many antique stores in the town I live in. Any type of cased image is often called a dag. Most often this is ignorance rather than deception.
    Kerik Kouklis
    Platinum/Gum/Collodion
    www.kerik.com
    2014 Workshop Schedule Online

  7. #7
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    For ignorance substitute opportunism.

    Ian

  8. #8
    gandolfi's Avatar
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    hehe - I tried the opposite!
    at an antiwue fair, I bought an emty casing for these images - then I got home, and fitted one of my newly made cyanotypes in it - it looks nice.

    however, I was told, that the next day a lot of experts from auction houses would be at the fair, and they'd evaluate ones antiques..

    I couldn't resist, and brought my "antique" to one of the experts.

    he wasn't impressed by the casing (!) as it was not in real good condition, but "the IMAGE!! - This is a VERY nice erotic image from "the period"... Where did you get it?"

    I almost bit off my tounge.

    and told some dealers about it later.... the "expert" was the laugh of the day

    But to your question.
    I'd proberly tell - but that's me: I can't help it..

    (once went to a bakery and noticed a cake, where the name was misspelled: it said "toscka cake"..
    I went to the young and beautiful girl that worked behinf the counter and told her.. "It is misspelled! it is supposed to be "Tosca cake" - looking quite serious..
    the girl replied: "it is'nt that tosca!"

    :rolleyes:
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails gammel2.jpg  

  9. #9
    c6h6o3's Avatar
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    who is the dealer?

  10. #10
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    I'd say something. Even if it's an honest mistake, dealers need to know that these distinctions are important to collectors, and they can't just guess.

    I know an appraiser who sometimes gives workshops for antique and art appraisers and dealers who want to learn about appraising photographs. Part of it involves identifying the print from a range of 20 prints of the same negative in processes ranging from platinum to Xerox, and most can only get two or three. Since it's a short workshop, the main objective is to convey to the participants that it's harder than they think, and if they really want to get into photography, they need to educate themselves.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

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