Top Lots: Vernacular Imagery, Photobooks and Fine Photographs

Swann’s second sale devoted to Vernacular Photography showed the strength of this growing segment of the photo market, with strong results for esoteric material. The top vernacular lot was an archive of more than 600 photographs of Texaco gas and service stations from late 1930s to early 1950s that sold for $25,000. This fascinating typological study included service stations, storage drums and other utilitarian buildings and the Western landscapes surrounding them.


An album containing 70 artful photographs of the Turkish people, including detailed exotic portraits of veiled and unveiled women and occupational studies of tradesmen, military figures and more, 1870s to1910, sold for $23,750.


Also selling for $23,750 was a suite of five real photo postcards of modernist works in a Degenerate Art show, seemingly shot and published by Heinrich Hoffmann, Hitler’s chief photographer, with a broadside promoting the exhibition and five photographs of Julius Lippert, the State Commissioner of Berlin, at the show opening, 1938.


A pair of albums filled with snapshots of a television documenting the aftermath of John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963 brought $21,250.

Generating a lot of pre-sale buzz was an early photobooth portrait of Norma Jeane Mortensen/Baker (aka Marilyn Monroe), as a fresh faced and fashionable teenager. It sold for $18,750.