Mar 28, 2019 - Sale 2503

Sale 2503 - Lot 354

Price Realized: $ 8,750
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 1,000 - $ 1,500
(PHOTOGRAPHY.) Large collection of Philadelphia-area portraits, including the notable Dorsey family. 44 photographs, mostly cartes-de-visites but also including 11 cabinet cards and 11 tintypes; generally minor wear. Vp, circa 1860-1900

Additional Details

Thomas J. Dorsey (circa 1812-1875) was born into slavery, secured his freedom and came to Philadelphia by 1836, and by the 1860s became one of the central figures in the city's catering industry. One of the city's wealthiest African Americans, he is discussed at length in "The Philadelphia Negro" by W.E.B. Du Bois. This lot includes captioned carte-de-visite portraits of Dorsey, his wife Louise Tobias Dorsey (born 1817) and their son William Henry Dorsey (1837-1923)--best known for creating hundreds of scrapbooks on the city's history, and the subject of the recent book "William Dorsey's Philadelphia and Ours: On the Past and Future of the Black City in America."
Also included in this lot are an 1871 carte-de-visite of Alexander Rubin Coots (1835-1902, listed as a mulatto restaurateur in the 1870 census) and another of noted African-American caterer James Prosser. Of the remaining 39 photographs, 8 others bear inscriptions. Most of the sitters appear to be African-American or mixed race, and most are on the mounts of Pennsylvania photographers, but it is unclear whether they represent an extended family group, or how they may be connected to the Dorseys--the most notable subjects we have identified here.