Rare Historical Photography Collection
“…The collection would certainly be viewed as a major artistic and cultural rediscovery for Western historians, native peoples of Montana and South Dakota, and art photography experts alike.”
Julia E. Tuell’s early day Montana photographic record of both the Northern Cheyenne people and the Sioux of the Pine Ridge Reservation has only been cursorily revealed to historians, academics, museums and collectors through the book, Women and Warriors of the Plains – The Pioneer Photography of Julia E. Tuell, written by Dan Aadland and published in 1996.
Other than this single volume and the small number of extremely rare photographic prints produced during her lifetime, the majority of Tuell’s work has yet to be revealed to the world. This archive of her work containing approximately 1750-2000 items is owned by her descendants, who have carefully preserved her legacy for the nearly 90 years since her death in 1928. Over half of the items in this collection are unique, and are probably the only copies remaining in the world. The bulk of the photographer’s work remains unknown and unseen by the world.
Were this complete personal collection – Julia Tuell’s personal record of photographic prints and negatives, brought to the public forum – the collection would certainly be viewed as a major artistic and cultural rediscovery for Western historians, native peoples of Montana and South Dakota, and art photography experts alike.
It is extremely rare for any of Tuell’s images to have surfaced within the marketplace within sales of similar historic material. When they do emerge, collector interest is extremely active. In 2009, a group of nineteen of Tuell’s smaller (3 ¼” x 5 ½”) photo prints were sold at Cowan’s Auctions of Cleveland for $21,150.
With this rarity in mind, I have valued this collection by comparing recorded sales of her works, as well as sales records for works by her Montana photographer contemporaries, (which are more readily found within the marketplace). Some of these artists include Laton A. Huffman, Evelyn Cameron, Richard Throssel, R.H. McKay, Roland Reed and T.J. Hileman. Most of her contemporaries were active during the same time period, i.e. from 1900-1928, yet for the most part they were not given the unique cultural access by the tribes that Julia Tuell enjoyed. Her role as school matron for the Indian children and her strong advocacy for their needs, allowed her to gain trust, respect and thereby access to photograph private moments, personal relationships and secret ceremonies.
Tuell was one of only three or four intrepid female photographers of the early 20th c. West who worked with native subjects in their daily environment.
Appraisal by Timothy Gordon Appraisals, AOA. 2717 Highland Drive, Missoula, MT 59802. 4-19-16
To Inquire about Purchasing or Donating this Unique Collection, please contact Don Kuntz at 406-855-1746 or email@example.com.
This entire private collection of 1750 to 2000 pieces has never been open to the public. Julia E. Tuell’s wishes, as passed down through her children, were that her entire collection remain together. If genuine interest is expressed, a review of the entire collection as well as contact with the Tuell family will be arranged.