Signed, inscribed photo of Sigmund Freud sets auction record

NEW YORK—Swann Galleries’ Feb. 11 Autographs auction was devoted to Signed Historical Photographs from the Jerome Shochet Collection. Among 93 diverse examples were signed images of several presidents, world leaders and historical figures, artists, musicians, authors, scientists, inventors and more.

The top lot, a carte-de-visite image of Abraham Lincoln by Alexander Gardner, Signed “A. Lincoln,” as President, brought $48,000. The portrait photograph was taken August 9, 1863, a Sunday, in order to avoid curious onlookers. All prices realized include buyer’s premium.

Two related items were a carte-de-visite signed and inscribed, “Yours affectionately,” by Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth, 1862-65, $7,200; and a Mathew Brady carte-de-visite of Boston Corbett, the man who killed Booth, signed and inscribed on the reverse, $5,760.

Other presidential images included an engraved portrait of John Quincy Adams, one of the earliest signed presidential portraits, circa 1825, $13,200; a large albumen print by Gardner of Andrew Johnson, signed and inscribed on the mount, $6,240; and a group portrait of Theodore Roosevelt and his cabinet, signed by TR, as President, and by nine members of the cabinet, Washington, 1906, $14,400.

Western Americana items of note were a signed carte-de-visite portrait of Kit Carson in civilian attire by Mathew Brady, $33,600; and a remarkable group portrait of George Armstrong Custer and his men with their wives, gathered in front of Custer’s house in Fort Lincoln, North Dakota, inscribed and signed “G.A.C.” twice, and with Custer’s hand-written captions identifying each person, $24,000.

A large portrait photograph of Sigmund Freud, signed and dated 1925, sold for $21,600—an auction record for a signed photograph of Freud. A group shot of six Nobel prize winners in conversation following the 1962 ceremony in Stockholm, signed, or inscribed and signed by DNA pioneers Francis Clark, James D. Watson, and Maurice Wilkins, and biologist Max Ferdinand Perutz, who are shown with biochemist John C. Kendrew and author John Steinbeck, realized $7,800.

The field of aviation was represented by a photograph postcard signed by both Wilbur and Orville Wright, circa 1909, $6,240, and a 2003 NASA lithograph color photographic portrait of the crew of the ill-fated Columbia Space Shuttle mission, signed by all seven, $10,200.

Literary figures included a self-portrait of Lewis Carroll, signed and inscribed to his sister, circa 1875, $6,240; a rare signed and inscribed photograph of Robert Louis Stevenson, $7,800; a photograph of Henry James, signed and dated 14 March 1883, $7,200; a cabinet card portrait of Stephen Crane signed and inscribed to an editor, 27 January 1896, $5,040; and a signed cabinet card of dapper Oscar Wilde posing with a pair of gloves and cigarette in hand, $12,000.

Among artists and musicians, a boldly signed and dated photograph postcard of Pablo Picasso holding a sculpture of a bird, 1958, brought $4,320; a striking photograph of Antonín Dvorák, signed and inscribed in Czech, during a visit to Omaha in the late 1890s, $6,960, and a photo of Giacomo Puccini signed and inscribed in French, Nice, 1906, $2,640.

Rounding out the sale were a group photo signed by Winston Churchill and 43 other attendees of the May 1944 Dominion Prime Ministers’ Conference in London, $13,200; a rare photograph of Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower and Douglas MacArthur in Tokyo, 1946, signed by both, $20,400; and a photograph postcard signed and inscribed by Vietminh leader Ho Chi Min, $5,040.

Complete results are available online at

Photos courtesy Swann Auction Galleries.


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