Anal photo collectors value the signature more than the photo.

Article Dedication

in honor of

Jack Delano & Alvin Langdon Coburn


NOTE: If an image looks fuzzy, try to click on it for high res version.

Years ago I had written to a photo collector that impressed me with an article they had written. I offered them a present of a couple of 11 x 14 prints of any of my photos. They wrote back saying they didn’t want anything since they never heard of me.

If they said they didn’t like my photos, that is fine. But to only go by a name told me the anal photo collector is more interested in collecting names and signatures than in the love of photography and the actual image itself.

Unsigned photos are not worth much. An ‘unsigned’ vintage contact print by Lewis Hine sold for $110.16 in January 2017.


I’ve seen some very shitty work out there priced in the thousands of dollars just because of a name and signature. If your idolized by the art world, even your shit is golden.

Here is one of Winogrand’s beauties with a price tag of $3500.00 in 2017. The signature is worth more than the photo, if it was an unsigned Winogrand it may sell for $25 to $35. If it wasn’t by Winogrand, it would not even be worth $5.

winogrand-women-are-beautful winogrand-signature

Towards the end of Winogrand’s life he had a driver cart him around L.A.’s Miracle Mile while he shot thousands of random photos out of the car window of anyone on the street.

Winogrand didn’t care what he signed his name to, virtually any photo would do. All he cared about was printing $. Once Winogrand learned he could print $ he went on a shooting spree taking over a million photos…of garbage.

Here is one from Robert Frank with an asking price of $9000 in 2017.

signed-robert-frank-photo robert-frank-signature

If the print was not by Frank and signed…it would not even be worth $5.

Here are 2 unsigned vintage 1967 Vietnam era photos by Eddie Adams. They are printed on 1 sheet and sold for $32 (including shipping) in 2017.

Below is a signed, dye transfer print of The Who by Jim Marshall. It is priced at $7000 in 2017.

If it was unsigned it may bring a few hundred dollars. If it was not by Jim Marshall, then probably less.


Wow, we sure were limited with the IQ in the film days. Goddamn that stuff was fuzzy…wasn’t it.



Well, nowadays we got it much easier with digital…


Little Dicky selction from The Americans …60 years after Frank by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

If Marshall had shot Little Dicky it would sell for thousands. Same exact photo but without the Marshall signature and name…it is worthless according to the anal photo collector that collects names over photos.

Now, speaking of dye transfer prints, let me tell you a little about them…generic dye transfer prints are not worth much. You can pick up vintage dye transfer prints like this one below for $5 to $10 each or less. I had bought a group of 25 vintage 1950’s dye transfer prints for my archival collection for $65.


From Dye Transfer Printing from the 1950’s – Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection

Dye Transfer print fade test after 6 months of sun Daniel D. Teoli Jr. mr.

From Dye Stability Testing of Color Imaging Media: Edition II by Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection

If you do collect dye transfer prints, don’t display them. The above 1950’s samples were exposed to 6 months of sunlight. The dye transfer prints started to fade noticeably in 3 months of sun exposure.

But dye transfer prints do have good dark storage fade resistance. So don’t hang your $7,000 Jim Marshall dye transfer print on the wall or it will fade on you. Always hang a facsimile copy of your photo to display. Dye transfer prints are some of the worse color imaging media for dye stability there is when it comes to fade resistance in light…and yes I wrote the proverbial book(s) on it!

Well, lets get back to black and white…

Below is an unsigned 8 x 10 inch inkjet print of Weegee’s Lovers at Palace Theater. It was printed around 2015 and authorized by ICP and Museum Editions. It sold for $26.50 on Amazon including shipping in 2016.

If it was vintage, silver gel and had Weegee’s signature, it would be worth tens of thousands of dollars. Weegee’s signed, vintage work sells for $15,000 to $45,000 per photo on average.

Below is an unsigned photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt of starving cattle in Jaipur, India. It sold in 2017 for $50 including shipping.

Alfred Eisenstaedt - Starving Cattle Jaipur India

Below is an unsigned photo by Tina Modotti entitled Woman of Tehuantepec. The original was shoot in 1929, this print was made in 1996. It sold for $99.75 including shipping.

Tina Modotti - Woman of Tehuantepec $99.75

Below is a photo by Berenice Abbott entitled ‘Tempo of New York.’ Print is of vintage era and unsigned. It sold for $120 including shipping.

Berenece Abbott Changing New York $120

Below is a 1968 photo by Diane Arbus of Cathy Aison. It is vintage and unsigned, but it has been authenticated by the Estate of Diane Arbus. It was sold with related ephemera for $3765.75 including shipping.

If it was unsigned and not authenticated or have supporting ephemera, then it may only be worth a few hundred or so. If it was not by Arbus, it may sell for $10-$15…just for the topless / pregnant interest.

Cathy Aison by Diane Arbus 1968

Here is the sales description for the Arbus photo…

Diane Arbus VTG c.1968 Estate STAMPED Pregnant Nude RARE 11×14 Photo w/Magazine

Photographer: Diane Arbus
Title: “Cathy Aison Waiting for Ezra Pound”
Size/Media: Approx. 14″ x 11″ Glossy double weight fiber silver gelatin
Dates: (Shot c.1968, Printed c.1968) w/ Estate stamps and notations/signature by Arbus’ daughter Doon, as well as light pencil. Notations in an unknown hand on verso.

Vintage portrait of graphic designer and animator Cathy Aison, nude & pregnant c.1968 by Diane Arbus. This image was published in the literary magazine Unmuzzled Ox in 1986 (a copy of the magazine is included in this auction) and was described as “Cathy Aison waiting for Ezra Pound”.

This is a vintage print which was gifted to Aison c.1968, and was authenticated by Arbus’ Estate in 2005.

Cathy Aison by Diane Arbus 1968 2

Cathy Aison by Diane Arbus 1968 3

Diane Arbus ephemera 2

Diane Arbus ephemera

Below is a signed 1967 photo of Diane Arbus taken by Fred McDarrah.  As of yet it did not sell and has an asking price of $2300.00


Jesus, those female photogs went out of their way to carry round monster street setups…didn’t they.

Well, it wasn’t only Arbus…

Mary Ellen Mark with street camera setup

Mary Ellen Mark  (Internet Photo)

Cristina García Rodero

Cristina García Rodero (Internet Photo)

Usually women don’t make good street photogs. It is not because women don’t have the talent, it is because:

  1. Most women usually don’t make good assholes.
  2. Women’s ball size.
  3. Women follow the rules.

Women’s niche is in street portraits and embedding themselves into people’s lives to document them with permission and in detail. That was a specialty of Mary Ellen Mark. Well, we can’t knock Cristina when it comes to street work. Her street work is spectacular! She has balls bigger than 98% of the men.

Below, verso of photo of Diane Arbus by Fred McDarrah


If collectors have a hard-on for you they will even buy your magazine articles. Below is one by Diane Arbus for a fashion mag. It has not sold as yet, but is priced at $33 including shipping for 2 pages from the magazine.

Diane Arbus magazine article 2 pages $33

Estate stamping is a big money maker for some archives. While it does not bring the potential in price up to signed prints, a rubber stamp will still do wonders for a photo that should sell for next to nothing.

Magnum sells contemporary, unsigned, estate stamped photos for a few thousand dollars each.

Here is one example out of many prints they have on sale:

A Llama in Times Square NY 1957 - Igne Morath
A Llama in Times Square NYC 1957 by Igne Morath
An open edition, estate stamped, unsigned 11 x 14 contemporary silver print for $2000.00 each.
The NY Times is also selling the same print in the larger 16 x 20 size for $2500.00


With my work as the curator for The Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection, most of the photos I acquire are unsigned and the photog is unknown. I don’t care who shot the photo – all I care about is the image…


Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection

The Flappers artists' book 2016 by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection


Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection


Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection


Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection

Girl Peeing in Pisspots Collage 1910 Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection

Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection


Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection

If the diver was shot by Winogrand and signed it would be worth many thousand $. But in 2016, being unknown and unsigned, it was $1 at a swapmeet .

The Flappers -Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection (9)m

Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection


Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection

1960 RNC Temple of Dreams - Daniel D. Teoli Jr Archival Collection (125)m

Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection

Girls of the Beat Generation Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection

Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection

The Flappers -Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection (4)m

Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection

1948 DNC Temple of Dreams Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection (60) m

Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection

If the political convention was shot by Robert Frank, was signed and was part of his Americans project it would be worth hundreds of thousands of $. One of Frank’s vintage photos from the Americans sold for near 3/4 of a million $. And that was a while back, prices have gone up since then. Same photo, being what it is, without the Frank signature and pedigree, sells for $3 in 2017.

Backup link:


Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection


Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Archival Collection

While it is nice, there is no need to know the author of a photo unless your an anal photo collector…iconic images always stand on their own.

The other benefit to building a collection of unknown, found photography is that it can be done on a very meager budget. Many of the photos I acquire cost just a few dollars each or less.



From Girls of the Beat Generation

A forthcoming 6 volume artist’s book series by social documentary photographer Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

A complete list of artist’s books by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

De Wallen Graffiti 2014 Daniel D. Teoli Jr.