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Anthony Bannon, director of the George Eastman House museum in Rochester, NY, unexpectedly ran across a bonanza last August when he went to pick up a few antique glass plate negatives that the daughter of photographer Charlotte Spaulding planned to donate to the museum.

No small deal considering that Spaulding herself was a leading photographer in her day—back in the historical days of Photo Secession, one of the earliest-known camera clubs founded by Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen—and that the negatives likely dated back at least to 1910, making them rare artifacts from the very beginning of color photography.

Moreover, 96-year-old Charlotte Albright, Spaulding’s daughter, had been keeping them in a cupboard since her mother’s death in 1939, leaving them particularly vivid and well-preserved. (Above Photo: Charlotte Spaulding around 1908 by Edward Steichen from George Eastman House Collection)

Of course, this ended up being a bigger deal when Bannon realized that what Albright was in fact donating, along with one Spaulding plate-glass negative, included two autochrome prints by Steichen himself, one of them even signed. Bannon estimates that if they’d been auctioned, they would have each sold for six figures. Maybe a good time to check through Grandma’s cupboard, just in case. (via the New York Times)
—Lori Fredickson