When you’re picking through antique/second hand stores for antique photos to add to your collection, and you see a small 3 x 5 photo that has a price of $5…what do you do? Don’t pay that price. There are a lot of people who put a huge price tag on old photos because – they’re old. Just because something is old, doesn’t mean it’s worth a few extra coins. The last place I went into was almost insulted when I said I don’t pay more than $2 for old photos.
Don’t pay more than $1 for any old photograph. If the photograph is larger than 5 x 7, be nice and pay a little more but not much. Here’s why – the older photographs were printed on thick stock paper so both will win in the end. These photos are of random everyday people, during the Civil War AND World Wars, people were taking photos to send to soldiers. Death was an obsession, so dead family members and even pets were photographed. Old photos are like jelly beans, everywhere.
Tintypes & daguerreotypes be VERY careful. The condition of the tintype; don’t just buy one because it’s a tintype. If you can barely see the image, then walk away and don’t bother. Over time, if not properly cared for it can end up with mold spots, so look for that too. With a Daguerreotype, check the case it comes in; the lining can show wear, but if it’s frayed and coming off the casing, or the hinges are popping out? Again walk away. Sometimes people fix the hinges and they aren’t the original, or polish the case and that will ruin the value so look for that before purchasing. The picture might look like its in good condition but remember, it’s set in this case so if that isn’t cared for properly then the image could be deteriorating behind the casing.
Now, if the image has someone famous? And the price is reasonable? Pay it. I found a folder in an antique store of 5 images of famous celebs during the classic Hollywood era – asking price was $50. It was worth it because of the actors in the images and the size of the images, I would have paid that if I had the money. If, for example, you find a photograph of a very young John Barrymore, but the price is $500,000? That price tag fits on a rare photograph of Abe Lincoln
Hope this helps!