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war for the union Matthew Brady lantern slide.

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    Posted 11 years ago

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    I was wondering if someone could tell me....where I could find some information on this Brady lantern slide???

    I have been told, this is from the failed slides he made... and that literally only a handful of these were ever made... and this could be the only Custer slide on the planet...Has anyone ever heard this....also has anyone ever seen one of these...


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    1. AC_Dwyer AC_Dwyer, 11 years ago
      Here's some of what I know about Mathew Brady and the "War of the Union" stereograph series. Maybe it will help you to authenticate your slide.

      The original photo that your slide was made from was a photo that showed a full-length of General Custer all the way down to his boots. He is standing on carpeting in front of a blank wall with a small round table off to the left. I did a search in Google images and quickly found a full length copy of your portrait. Use the search terms:"general george armstrong custer" portrait.

      The slides created for the "Photographic History—War for the Union series" were copy negatives used by the E. & H. T. Anthony & Co to publish over a thousand stereo views for the series. Each copy negative was cropped to 3x3 inches from the larger originals. This bodes well for your slide as it appears to be a 3x3 size. A different size would appear to rule it out as authentic.

      In the 1870's, Brady had to store thousands of his plates and turned over others to pay debts. The U.S. government was the successful bidder at one auction for thousands of his wartime photos when he couldn't pay a storage bill of $2,840.

      In 1875, Congress appropriated $25,000 to buy the rest of Brady's photos but unfortunately they were too slow to act and the Anthony supply company took the collection as payment for some of his debts. Maybe your slide was part of this group that escaped the government.

      In 1981, 5,419 glass negatives from the Matthew Brady Studio were acquired by the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery as a group from the Frederick Hill Meserve Collection. I saw somewhere that said that they are also all copy negatives that were cropped to 3x3 inches from the originals.

      One thing to be careful about is that apparently many Mathew Brady lantern slides were produced in the first half of the 2oth century by commercial firms such as Underwood & Underwood, Keystone View Co., McIntosh Stereopticon Co. in Chicago, and the Pilgrim Photoplay Exchange. These reproductions included portraits of Civil War leaders. So it is possible you have an early 20th century reproduction.

      It seems to me that the labeling on your slide is the key to finding out the truth. Do other authentic 3x3 slides from Mathew Brady's studio have similar labels?

      I would send the image of your slide to some of the museums that have Mathew Brady collections to see what they say.
    2. AC_Dwyer AC_Dwyer, 11 years ago
      Just another thought.

      David Sundman, President of the Littleton Coin Company in New Hampshire, is a huge collector of historical stereographs. I once went to a lecture he gave on stereographs and he might be a good person to ask. I would find it very hard to believe that he would not be familiar with the "War for the Union" series. Heck, if it's authentic, he might even offer to buy it from you.

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