Page 69c2 Great Canadian Heritage Discoveries
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More important Canadian antique memorabilia the Museum has preserved.

Original Prints (Photos) - Originals & Repros 19

1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19
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Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Cabinet Card, Queen Victoria, 1887
Orig. cabinet card - Size - 11 x 17 cm
Found - Archdale, NC

The two cabinet cards of Queen Victoria are taken from the same original negative, but they were made almost 100 years apart. The left one is a "real" photo, taken from the original negative in 1887. The repro on the right was photomechanically reproduced, for use on a postcard, by a publisher rephotographing an original cabinet card like the one above, sometime in the 1980s and then making thousands of copies with a printer. The eyes show the difference in the resulting quality and value...

Real Photo Means Few... so valuable

No matter how close up you magnify the image you see only the emulsion variations in shading of a real photo, like those on valuable cabinet cards, like this one and the one of Sir William MacCormack below.

This was a real photo, made from the negative, handled by a darkroom attendant, who then glued it to the cardboard backing.

No grid, or screen, or uniform pattern of dots are evident here.

Everything pictorial you have in your house falls into one of these three categories. The first two are valuable, the third... oh well...

Remember, 99% of the time when you look at a picture, you are NOT looking at the original, but a copy. How the original is duped, to put it in front of you, greatly affects the value.

Manufacturing Chain - Value

RARE - Very ValuableLESS RARE - ValuableCOMMON

Manufacturing Chain - Photos

Camera Negative REAL Photo - no dotsREPRO Photo - dots

Manufacturing Chain - Original Art

Original Oil ORIG PRINT - no dots PHOTOMECH/REPRO - dots

Great Canadian Heritage Trash Sure...

Repro Cabinet Card, Queen Victoria, c 1970s?
Repro cabinet card - Size - 11 x 17 cm
Found - Jordan, ON
Dots Means Lots... Everyone probably has one, like Robert Bateman so-called "prints" which all show these dots...

When you go in with a magnifying glass, on this photo, you see the telltale, uniform grid made up of rows of dots from the half-tone screen used to make 99% of the mass produced photos, prints, calendar art , art prints, and postcards, etc., in the 20th century.

This photo came off a high speed printing press that printed hundreds of copies in minutes with no personal handling of the card by anyone.

The original photo had been a cabinet card like the one on the left, but was then photomechanically reproduced by photographing the whole thing, photo and print to make a machine copying master.

This is not a "real photo" but a photomechanically reproduced copy of a photo or "repro" for short. So the dots also extend over the print section, which was included - as well as the stain over her right arm - as part of the reproduction photo made of the whole card.

Another magnification from a modern colour picture of a photo reproduction.

Dots can take a variety of shapes and pattern. The key is not the shape of the dots but the uniform rows of them, across the entire surface of the picture.

continues to be the place where you can lose lots of money buying items that are deliberately misrepresented and falsely advertised. Even by someone with 100% positive feedback.

People are just so ignorant of what they are buying and repeat the falsehoods.

And try and get your money back when you've paid, receive the goods and find you've been duped - literally.

This is one of many fake photos you can find on ebay, advertised brazenly as "original photo" when it is nothing of the sort. It's a photomechanical reproduction.

Here is a typical repro cabinet card with a fake photo, or a photomechanical reproduction "photo."

The seller claims falsely that this is a photo on board, like a real cabinet card where the photo is physically pasted on to a card board. Not so.

The "photo" is not pasted on separately from the printing. There is no physical edge to the "photo." The surface sheen of the picture spreads across to include the printing underneath, and runs off over the edge of the card. The entire surface of the card is uniformly smooth, and carries the same surface sheen.

With a loupe you can see the uniform grid of dots characteristic of cheap photomechanical reproductions. You can see them with the naked eye on this card. This is not a photo emulsion you are looking at, but a printer grid.

So it may be nearly as old as the genuine cabinet card with a real photo like that of Queen Victoria above, or William MacCormack below.

But it's just mass produced and cheap like the Queen Victoria repro, done in the 1970s above. So it's an antique machanical reproduction. But absolutely not a real photo, nor an original photo, nor an original photo on board, like the ebay seller claims.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure Another genuine photo on a cabinet card which also carries the real autograph of Sir William MacCormack, on of the world's top surgeons of the late 19th century.

Reality Check - The best cabinet cards have real photos on them.

Cabinet cards are essentially a thick cardboard backing on to which the studio, which takes the photo portrait, then glues the photographic prints. You should be able to feel the edge of the photo separate from the backing.

The close-up of the eye, done with a magnifying glass, proves this is a real photo. There is no grid of dots from mechanical reproduction visible, just the variations in shading found in the emulsion surface of genuine photos.

Go to Sir William MacCormack
Go to Hubert Duchène
Go to Autographs on Photos
Go to Bugler Dunne
Go to Photo Mysteries
Go to Chas Lindbergh Photo

Cabinet Card, Dr. William MacCormack, 1882
Orig. cabinet card - Size - 11 x 17 cm
Found - Toronto, ON
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Fabulous Canadian heritage treasures: the original camera and original photos from photographer Lt. James Cooper Mason DSO, who documented Canada's first ever military expedition overseas.

These are real photos with a photo emulsion surface like that on General MacCormack's cabinet card above.

Go to James Mason's Photos

Just after the camera was invented, in the 1830s, photographers decided to take pictures of men at war for the folks back home. But they were careful not to go where the bullets or shells were falling.

Go to the Great War Photographers

When the Boer War began, in 1899, James Mason decided that to get real photos of men in combat - something no one had done before - a photographer would have to take the same risk as the fighting men, not just keep doing the same old camp shots and fake photos so beloved by Fenton, Gardner, Brady and most of the other Boer War photographers.

James carried this camera into battle and used it to establish a new world class standard in the taking of candid action photos of men in actual combat.

A photo James took with this camera, at the Battle of Paardeberg, Feb. 18, 1900, establishes him, firmly, as the world's first combat photographer, and the first ever to photograph a corpse on an active battlefield.

No one had done it before; no photo that can match the documentation for this one, as the world's first combat photo has ever surfaced.

Go to World's First Combat Photo

The Boer War was the most photographed war in history because Kodak had produced cheap portable folding cameras that anyone could stuff into a pocket or purse.

Candid photos - snapshots of people any time, any place - blossomed all over the place. Thousands of cameras went to South Africa to record the war. Thousands of photos were taken showing every subject possible.

With one exception - combat photos.

Photographers knew they were not getting real combat pictures - no use getting shot while standing up to take a picture while the bullets were flying...

So faking combat photos by photographers became the norm.

Go to Boer War Photo Fakes 1
Go to Boer War Photo Fakes 2

Fake combat photos sold well. It would be decades before real photos of battlefield action, like that photographed by James Mason would surface. Following his lead...

Boer War Kodak #2 Model A Folding Camera & Portrait of Lt. James Cooper Mason DSO, 1899
Orig. camera and photo - Size - original
Found - Cambridge, ON

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

We say fabulous... You say, "Why? What for? I've seen this photo countless times before."

No, not this photo you haven't. For certain.

Here's why.

The original photo was made by Alex J Ross in 1886. Copies of this photo have been used in countless books, magazines, newspapers, movies, and TV shows. Everybody, every museum has a copy. Actually most have a copy, of a copy, of a copy, of a copy, of a...

This picture has been copied endlessly and it deteriorates a little every time it is copied down through the generations.

That's why this photo is special and rare. It is an original silver gelatin print made by Harry Pollard sometime in the 1910s, directly from the original glass negative first exposed by Alex Ross in 1886. It's first generation. They don't get any sharper or clearer. Very few were made.

Its rarity is certified by the "H. Pollard, Calgary" stamp that is punched into the paper, leaving raised letters. Pollard acquired the original Ross negatives and made the prints we show here directly from them.

Go look at the copy you bought from Archives Canada with a loupe. Its eye will not be sharp or free of dots like this one is.

That's why photography collectors would kill to own on original Pollard photo of a famous person like Crowfoot.

Alexander J Ross Photo 1886, Chief Crowfoot (1830-1890) - (Harry Pollard print)

Orig. silver gelatin print - Image Size - 19 x 24 cm
Found - Calgary, AB

Harry Pollard (1880-1968) was born in Tillsonburg, Ontario, set up a studio in Calgary, Alberta, and became an important Canadian photographer who specialized in photographing First Nations people. He was very active in the 1910s to 1920s.

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Thanks to good original photos we have fine portrait paintings of the Great Indian Chiefs.

The Chiefs did not have paintings made during their life times. But shortly after their deaths artists like John Perry, and Edmund Morris made up for the oversight, early in the 20th century.

They relied on recollections of people who had seen the chiefs when they lived, and photos.

This Alexander Ross photo was used by John Perry to create the most powerful artwork of Crowfoot that we have ever seen.

Go to Chief Crowfoot

Chief Crowfoot - John S Perry c 1920
Orig. pastel on sandpaper - Size - 41 x 61 cm
Found - Calgary, AB
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Edmund Morris had probably seen Chief Poundmaker when he accompanied his father as a boy while he was making treaty across western Canada.

Go to Treaty Making

But clearly, in 1910, Edmund Morris used this photograph to make his stunning portrait of Chief Poundmaker, another original pastel copy of which hangs in the Gallery of Chiefs in the Saskatchewan Legislature.

Go to Edmund Morris' Poundmaker

Go to The Battle of Cut Knife

Petocahhanawawin - Poundmaker, Edmund Morris 1910
Orig. pastel - Size - 39 x 54 cm
Found - Toronto, ON
Pastel on paper, and signed by Edmund Morris
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Jeanette McClelland Brookes, a modern painter, has used a photograph to create a stunning pastel of Chief Joseph, that is every bit as powerful as the work of her esteemed predecessors.

Go to Chief Joseph

Chief Joseph, Jeanette McClelland Brookes, 2005
Orig. pastel - Size - 54 x 71 cm
Found - Calgary, AB

Prov - Nickle Foundation

Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Alexander J Ross Photo, Chief Bull Head - c 1886 - (Harry Pollard print)
Orig. silver gelatin print - Image Size - 19 x 24 cm
Found - Calgary, AB
Another fabulous silver gelatin print of an original Alex Ross photo of Sarcee Chief Bull Head.
Great Canadian Heritage Treasure

Alexander J Ross Photo, Chief Bobtail - c 1886 - (Harry Pollard print)
Orig. silver gelatin print - Image Size - 19 x 24 cm
Found - Calgary, AB
Chief Bobtail was a Plains Cree Chief.

An Original Photo (Print) varies from a Repro Dupe in many ways...

Below the first generation silver gelatin photo from the glass plate and right, from the same photo shoot by Alexander Ross, a very degraded image published by the Glenbow Museum (Calgary, Alberta, Canada) from its archives. How many generations down the line this image was printed from is anyone's guess. It is washed out, lacks definition, sharpness, detail, and depth.

Left is what the original in the museum's vaults looks like; right is what you get when you send in your money for a copy...

Compare the texture on the pants, the beadwork on the pouch on his knee, the hands, the face...



















All because a photo master has been duped and recopied endlessly, carelessly made, and badly stored during its life.

This is a very typical result for copies you order from government museums. They don't much care about the quality of images they sell to the public.

The result is obvious, and explains why photography collectors kill to get first generation original photos, and never buy from government museums who never give you copies from the originals, which they keep permanently locked up in the vaults.

The copies of photos you get, when you order from museum collections, are never original photo prints like those featured on this page.

Theirs are always run off dupe masters or copies of dupe masters, that are several generations removed from the original negative and have been kicked about endlessly in the files so becoming scratched and dirty. And they fade hopelessly before anyone bothers to makes a new decent one.

Note the badly faded bottom of the Glenbow print, near Chief Bull Head's pants, and the horribly overexposed highlights throughout the photo. These were definitely not on the original Ross photo - compare it with his properly exposed work on our museum's copy on the left - but appear only on the poor Glenbow dupe master which is the result of careless work by Glenbow staff.

Worse than that, all museum copies are also photomechanical reproductions, with the grid of dots superimposed over top of the entire repro photo you get.