Q: My grandfather was a photographer for Esquire magazine back in the 1940s and ’50s. We have a couple dozen black and white photographs of celebrities and are trying to determine their value. They include photos of the Andrews sisters, Irving Berlin, Bing Crosby rehearsing in a studio, Emmett Kelly performing, Clark Gable smoking as he’s walking down a New York City street, Jimmy Stewart sitting in a lounge chair and David Niven in his dressing room after a Broadway performance. We also have the negatives of most of these, but none of the photos are autographed.
A: Your photos have value even without autographs. Plenty of collectors want original vintage photos of movie stars and other famous people. You should contact an auction house that specializes in photographs to ask about selling the photos. The auction will probably want to discuss the history of the photographs with your family and its own legal counsel just to be sure the photos are clearly owned by your family and not Esquire.