Lot of 2. Sixth plate tintype showing a young officer with stylish mustache, his full array of frock coat insignia indicating the rank of a (rated) master's mate consistent with the 1862-1864 regulations. Housed in case.
Early sixth plate ambrotype of a warrant officer bereft of insignia other than three large horizontal buttons on the cuff, suggesting either a boatswain, gunner, carpenter, or sailmaker in US Navy service. A short horizontal line visible on the left breast suggests a ribbon bar comprising a pair of awards. If so, then the warrant officer is Royal Navy with some combination of Crimean War/Indian Mutiny/China (Opium) War campaign medals.
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
Tintype with strong clarity; a slight vertical bend is evident at an angle but surface is undamaged, no cracks, otherwise EXC. Ambrotype with soft focus with a minor scuff mark in the field at 2 o'clock. Brass buttons and thin gold cuff stripe obscured by gilding. Overall VG. Both images housed composition cases with expected wear. The pebbled oxblood colored ambrotype case is likely English as is the brass daguerreian style mat and retainer in use well into the 1860's.
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