Lot of 4 CDVs featuring compelling Brown Water Navy group portraits, all with character but unidentified.
CDV that appears to have been staged aboard a ship, featuring detailed brass deck howitzer used by naval landing parties in foreground. Behind are two rows of officers, one seated and another standing, with another man not part of the group in the backdrop. McPherson & Oliver: New Orleans, LA, n.d. The seated officer far right gripping sword wears a typical double breasted navy frock coat having four narrow stripes on the cuff (but no star), possibly indicating a variant commander rank (1862 Regulations).
CDV of two officers at right flanked by two men in civilian dress at left. Munn & Smith: Cairo, IL, n.d. Green three-cent revenue stamp on verso. The officer at far right sporting a wispy goatee could be a paymaster of some grade based on the details of his undress cap device (laurel over wreath, 1864 Regulations).
CDV of six men photographed at intermediate distance, four in uniform and two not. David Ford: Cairo, IL, n.d. The officer seated center wears two cuff stripes of identical width indicating the rank of lieutenant commander. The canted anchor over wreath device on his cap had technically been replaced by a soaring eagle on anchor emblem. The junior officers on either side of him hold army forage caps, plausibly Mississippi Marine Brigade men.
CDV depicting a row of five seated men, all except the second from left wearing some semblance of uniform. L.I. Prince: New Orleans, LA, n.d. The officer at center wears the classic double breasted frock with no visible cuff insignia and unreadable shoulder straps. Careful examination reveals that this officer rests his left hand (facing camera) on the knee of the fellow next to his left in a gesture of genuine comradeship. The man at far left sports a loose fatigue jacket with shoulder straps of unknown rank.
The Richard B. Cohen Civil War Collection
Cowan's is pleased to offer the first contingent of an unparalleled assembly of Brown Water Navy images archived over a lifetime of study by consummate collector Richard B. Cohen, a familiar name to many in the field of Civil War photography. To those who knew him best, Richard B. Cohen will be remembered as a "disciplined collector who maintained a relatively narrow focus having built an important, perhaps unsurpassed collection in his area of specialization." Richard was particularly well read and his historical knowledge informed his collecting as reflected by the photography that follows. The array of carte-de-visites and albumen photographs gathered here include a number of identified naval officers - both famous and obscure - along with a handful of enlisted sailors and Mississippi Marine Brigade images, and, significantly, many views of unique Brown Water Navy sidewheel and sternwheel warships - no two vessels looking exactly the same. Subjectively, the most appealing aspect of the Cohen Collection are the photographs of these gunboats, transports, and impressed vessels quickly converted at St. Louis, Cairo, and Cincinnati for duty on the waters of the Mississippi River and its tributaries. The gamut of improvised warships range from the earliest types of steam powered vessels first taken up by the Army to create a small timberclad flotilla, to the several purpose-built War Department Ellet rams, and later, the more numerous classes of tinclads, some converted but all built for and crewed by the Navy. A few captured Confederate vessels impressed into Union service are also present. It is supremely evident that Richard B. Cohen's collecting instincts were always evolving, but uniformly refined. We trust that both advanced and neophyte collectors will find something to pique interest now that the time has come to inevitably recycle these exceptional images to a new cadre of aficionados.
Provenance:The Richard B. Cohen Civil War Collection
First carte with significant dark brown toning entirely around perimeter with rounded and damaged corners (piece of upper right missing). Focus/clarity is soft throughout with left side closest to light nearly washed out. G.
Second CDV with strong tones and good clarity. Mount with dented corners. Overall near VG. Slighted reduced in size (20%).
Third CDV sharp, near EXC.
Fourth carte with good clarity having the left edge of the margin trimmed away, VG.
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