By Perry M. Frohne
In the last issue of MI, I uncovered the diabolical practice of remounting Union albumens. I highly recommend you re-read that column before starting this one.
In this column I will discuss a far darker criminality—Confederate remounted albumens. Sadly, my investigations over the years have found CSA remounts in many forms.
Most were made by:
- Removing Confederate soldier or officer albumen prints from carte mounts without backmarks.
- Removing albumens from slightly postwar cartes taken after the soldiers had been paroled as prisoners of war, and while still in uniform.
- Removing the albumens from cartes of generals with Brady/Anthony backmarks.
All were then remounted on war date Southern photographer carte mounts. Doing this dramatically increased the value and the profit for the perpetrators. It still does now.
For example, removing an unknown Confederate soldier from a carte with no backmark and attaching it to a carte with a Texas backmark will have Texas collectors lining up to pay big money. The reward for deception is a dramatic increase in profit.
My Early Education
I first encountered Confederate remounts at the Nashville Show in the early 1990’s, when I was a new full-time image dealer. The reasonably priced CSA generals I just bought for my mail catalog all had Anthony backmarks. While walking around the main building (where the well-known dealers set up), I noticed one dealer had the identical poses in his case, all with Richmond, Va., backmarks. The albumens were very bright and clear, like on my Anthony cartes, but the Richmond mounts were brown and did not seem to match the image of the general.
These images were also far more expensive than the Anthony, N.Y., poses I had bought. I didn’t understand how we both could have the same photos, but his had Southern backmarks.
Thankfully, I had cultivated friendships with experienced photo dealers who took time to explain how the Anthony Confederate generals I had were used to create the Richmond-backmark images that the other dealer was selling.
They explained the process to me and why it was done—money, money, money. I realized then and there that I would have to learn who was an honest dealer and who was not. Discovering bad actors among dealers has been a source of great personal disappointment to me over the years.
I was also told that remounting happened all the time, and not just with Anthony-produced Confederate generals. The weirdest part of all this is that no one complained about those images being sold at the show. The other dealers seemed to accept that it happened and just ignored it.
As a rookie making my way into my new business, the acceptance by other dealers of the existence of this fraud really bothered me. Before leaving the show on Sunday, I walked by the case with the remounted CSA generals and my heart sank: The dealer had sold the majority of them to the unsuspecting collecting public. My eyes had been opened.
What you can do
The next time you see a Confederate carte, use your 10x magnifier and take a hard look at the albumen print and mount to determine if they belong together. Please refer to the examples I used in the last issue showing photographs of remounts to help you spot them in the future. Get familiar with the variations in uniforms between Southern states. Make sure the Confederate soldier you are buying is wearing the correct uniform for the state the carte says he is from!
As for reference books, I recommend Echoes of Glory: Arms and Equipment of the Confederacy (Hardcover, Time Life Education, 1992). The expense involved in buying these images alone would make any and all additional pre-purchase knowledge helpful to keep you from buying a remounted carte. Lastly, ask yourself if the Confederate general you are looking at really would have his photo taken in a small town in Florida. Use your “Fake Radar” and intuition to pause and think before making that expensive error.
Perry Frohne is the owner of Frohne’s Historic Military. He has been investigating fake images for more than 20 years. He is an MI Senior Editor.
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