KANSAS CITY, Mo.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Artifact Brokerage Firm LLC has announced the D. Jay Culver collection is now on the market – that’s a treasure trove including more than 4.5 million photographs, plates, drawings, prints, engravings, movie stills, play bills and other historical ephemera. Last purchased in 2006 by its current owner, it is now being let go in view of said owner’s advancing age for a starting price of $15 million. For the first time in 90 years, the pictures will be discoverable by a patron willing to pay the right price.
The collection was assessed in August by top fine art photography appraiser Lorraine Anne Davis (www.lorrainedavis.com), who placed an intrinsic value on it of $99.2 million. In addition, 640,000 high-resolution digitized images are included in the sale, each professionally estimated to be worth $100, bringing the collection’s total value to $163.2 million.
Separate from the Culver archives but included in the sale are approximately 114,240 photos of 14,000 celebrities by Peter Borsari, who photographed every notable celebrity from 1965 to 1995.
D. Jay Culver began his collection of images in 1926 to provide pictures for well-known magazines and publications. He tracked down photos for assignments through second-hand bookstores, auctions of old libraries and even by inspecting attics. Where he was unable to find existing pictures to match an assignment, he would take original photographs.
As Culver gathered photos, he amassed historical ephemera such as line drawings, sketches, engravings and plates produced from the 1600s to the mid-1900s. He also collected newspaper ephemera and photo archives from the 1800s and 1900s. His collections spanned multiple genres. Subjects included American politics, the development of theater and performing arts history, commerce, advertising, and 20th century American railroads.
He acquired the largest collection of movie stills from the 1900s to the 1930s by White Studios; the files of pioneer news photographers Edwin Levick and George Grantham Bain; opera pictures by the Met's photographer Herman Mishkin; photos from the Flo Ziegfeld collection on the performing arts, and works by Emmons, Weegee, Hamilton Wright and A. Audrey Bodine. In 1948, the Library of Congress purchased 1,600 photographic prints from his collection.
Culver continued collecting until his death in 1968, when he had the largest known assortment of images in the world. Today, it would rival the Getty collection.