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Trading on Image

Area's first photographic collectibles fair and auction will be held in Burbank.


Anthony Davis became a collector of antique photos while being a collector of antique robes--19th century Chinese robes, to be precise.

It all started about six years ago.

"I was constantly looking for photos of people wearing the robes because it makes good display material," said Davis who lives in Studio City. "I finally found a great collection of Chinese and Japanese people wearing robes, but there were 4,000 photos in the collection and I had to buy them all."

So Davis began selling some of the photos and buying others as they became available.

Now he owns hundreds of valuable antique prints and daguerreotypes, images on metal plates that were the precursors of paper photographic prints in the U.S.

This weekend, Davis will display about 500 prints and daguerreotypes at the first photographic collectibles symposium, auction and trade fair at the Burbank Airport Hilton.

Davis and fellow collectors Stephen White and Michael Dawson created the show because there are no others like it in the area.

White is a historian and collector of thematic photography, and once owned a prominent gallery in L.A. Dawson owns a well-known photo bookstore in L.A.

For Davis, who travels all over the world to participate in about 20 events similar to this one, it will be a treat to stay home.

"In the course of a year, I drive 30,000 to 40,000 miles to attend shows and I fly about 100,000 miles," said Davis, a native of England. "We needed something like this here. It will be great for everyone--the new collector or the sophisticated buyer."

The symposium will feature expert speakers, an auction Saturday and a trade show and sale Sunday. Davis will speak about his specialty: daguerreotypes and 19th century photography.

"People are always amazed they did this 150 years ago," Davis said while pointing to his vast collection of daguerreotypes. "It took about 15 minutes to get the exposure, which is why you don't see anyone smiling in the images. How could you possibly hold a smile for that long?"

Most of the daguerreotypes are in neat little cases, many of them lined with fancy velour on the inside. Some cost as much as $15,000.

Those more interested in paper prints should listen to White, who will talk about creating collections based on themes--such as the American West, aviation and industry--to create a concept he calls the "American Dream."

"We want to educate people on photography," said White, who sold his gallery to a Japanese museum in 1990. "We don't just want this to be a sell and trade fair. This is a very well-balanced concept."

Dawson's lecture will be about the photographic book. Also scheduled to appear is Sandra Phillips, curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Keith Davis, fine art program director of the Hallmark collection.

The show and sale will feature approximately 25 exhibits and about 75 display tables.

"There will be every conceivable kind of photography," Davis said. "They will include 19th century images to well-known 20th century names, and will range in price from $100 to $15,000."

Davis plans to make the Burbank show a yearly event with different experts and collectors participating each time.

"I think it will be a great success because this format is good for the early collector and the advanced collector alike," he said.



Photographic collectibles symposium, auction and trade fair at the Burbank Airport Hilton, 2500 Hollywood Way, Burbank. Hours: Sat., 10 a.m.-7:30 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Admission is $40 for the entire event, including a Fri. night reception. Admission for just the Sun. sale is $5. Information: 762-3540.

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