Records & Results: Vernacular Photographs

Last week Swann Galleries held an auction devoted to Vernacular Photography, which was the first sale of its kind.   Two items led the auction–bringing $22,500 each–and they could not have been more different from each other. One was a group of 63 cyanotypes documenting the construction of a vast trestle bridge in the southern French countryside near Carmaux with views of the day-by-day building of the foundations, trestles and spans, through the various seasons, 1899-1902.  

The other was the 1979 maquette for Jimmy De Sana’s book Submission, containing 31 erotic silver prints, many sadomasochistic. De Sana collaborated with William S. Burroughs on the self-published cult classic, and this maquette was from the collection of a gallerist who represented De Sana.   

Also generating interest were a group of 19 photographs–most taken by Orville Wright–of the Wright Bros. No. 2 glider flying at Sims Field with and close-ups of machinery, and with handwritten notations, 1901-1928. It brought $20,000.  

An album containing 250 photographs of the store windows at Buffalo’s Kleinhans Co., a men’s clothing store, 1919-1926. The pictures include sartorial displays devoted to seasonal trouser suits, neckwear, fashion knits, headware, luggage, overcoats, and shoes and slippers. It sold for $15,000.   Swann Galleries holds three auctions of Photographs & Photobooks annually.