Let me begin
by saying that I do not consider myself a major colllector
of Gettysburg views. What I can say, though, is that in
the course of collecting the hundred or so views in my collection
I have picked up some great tips from the major collectors
it has been my pleasure to meet.
One thing everyone agrees on is that you have to do some
research before you start spending huge sums for those choice
views. When I first started collecting, a rare Gettysburg
view came up for sale on Amazon.com. They seller wanted
$750 to start the bidding and I was ready to grab it because
I had always heard that it is best to buy the most expensive
items that you can afford. One item for $750 will appreciate
faster than 15 items at $50 each.
Another seller was liquidating a collection at the same
time and I ended up purchasing ten less rare items for a
few thousand dollars. When I met the seller to transact
the purchase I related the disappointment I felt over having
passed on the rare Brady view. He told me that he was familiar
with the photograph and was present when the seller originally
bought it for $250.
I felt I had learned a great lesson. Patience is key. When
you know that you have found a great view at a great price,
you have to be ready to make the purchase. But you would
be well advised to think twice before you buy something
that, after seeing it for sale, causes your temperature to go up twenty degrees
A great place to look for Gettysburg photoviews is in Gettysburg
itself. Many shops in town have good selections and the
dealers are very reputable. Other good sources are the
many book shows and auctions that occur in Gettysburg yearly.
Be aware, though, that Gettysburg views sold in town will
often go for a premium. Bidding wars at Gettysburg auctions
can be fun to watch, but buyers can easily spend more than
twice market value for a desirable view.
Another thing to look for is fakes. This is especially
important when buying stereoviews. Often times mono views
were simply duplicated and put on stereo cards. When viewed
in a stereo viewer they will appear flat. Some contemporary
views were sold like this and are still collectable, but
be aware - if the two stereo halves are actually one piece
of paper with two photos printed on it, it is probably not
a true stereo.
As long as we are talking about viewing stereos I should
mention that a good stereo viewer will quadruple the enjoyment
of owning and viewing stereo battle scenes. A friend of
mine has an antique light box that he uses to display his
vast collection of Gettysburg stereoviews. It is not unlike
the old nickelodeon machines that you stoop down and look
into, spinning a carousel of views in front of a light source.
I can truly say that looking through that viewer was as
close as I have ever come to actually standing on the battlefield,
circa 1863. I get chills just thinking about it.
Photographs taken right after the battle, most notably
the death studies, will sell for, at least, a few hundred
dollars. Monument studies, most commonly taken by Tipton
in the eighteen-eighties, are easily had for a fraction of that price.
They make excellent started purchases. Be sure to look for
monument views that show a lot of the field in the background.
It can be exciting and educational to see how the ground
used to look behind the monuments. When I was collecting individual photographs
monuments to include in Virtual Gettysburg, I tried
to get as many contemporary views as I could for that very
Collecting the views one at a time can get very expensive.
There were many collections of monument photos published by the individual
books put out by Pennsylvania and New York are pretty easy
to find as first editions. Books by Michigan, Ohio, Indiana,
Maryland and others are available as reprints.