A rare signed carte de visite of former President James A. Garfield – taken when he was a Union Brigadier General in the Civil War, prior to his assassination by gunshot at the hand of Charles J. Guiteau on July 2, 1881 – sold for $4,068 at an estate sale that was top-heavy with weapons and militaria, held Nov. 14-15 by Philip Weiss Auctions. Garfield himself signed the CDV.
Cartes de visites are a highly collectible form of early photography. They’re even more desirable when taken of known historical figures and signed. They were a type of small photo — patented in Paris, France in 1854 by photographer Andre Adolphe Eugene Disderi — and usually made of an albumen print (a thin paper photograph, mounted on a thicker paper card measuring 2 1/8 inches by 3 ½ inches).
The Garfield CDV was one of about 1,400 lots that changed hands in a sale that grossed more than $500,000. Around 200 people attended the event in person – at Philip Weiss Auctions’ showroom, located at #1 Neil Court in Oceanside – while phone, Internet and absentee bidding were active both days. “The phones rang almost non-stop, especially on Sunday, and we recorded close to 3,000 absentee bids,” said Philip Weiss. “We also had well over 500 registered online bidders, through Proxibid.com.”
Weiss attributed the success of the auction to the quality of items in the military collections. “This was all fresh-to-the-market merchandise,” he remarked, “and the true, dedicated collectors will come out in full force when they know they’re bidding on original items, not recycled inventory. We had an all right day on Saturday, but Sunday was when these great military collections were offered.”