In this case, a box of 65 glass plate negatives found at a garage sale 10 years ago for $45, has now been verified by handwriting and photography experts to be the work of Ansel Adams. Appraisers have valued the treasure trove at around $200 million. It was 10 years of hard work proving that they were authentic. I'm sure the California man who found them invested quite a bit of money toward that end, so I suspect $45 initial price tag may be slightly misleading about the overall net cost.
The reason for their being off-premises is not explained, but that saved them from a fire that claimed 5000 other Adams negs. I have a hunch this was a reject bin Adams used for teaching materials. Granted, Adams' reject bin has amazing stuff in it, but perhaps he never intended some of these to see the light of day. Imagine someone going through your studio's garbage and selling your work after you're dead. Guess we'll never have to worry about that.
Story here on CNNs website.
So... if you see glass plate negs at the Elephant's Trunk flea market one Sunday... look very closely.
By the way, we can print from black-and-white glass negatives and other antique media, both traditionally and digitally. In color, we can reproduce them digitally. We did a job for the Newtown Historical Society a number of years ago and pulled an incredible amount of detail out of some glass plate negs. Gorgeous prints of historical images. Film may be dying, but it is still sending us love letters from bygone eras.
Update: The dispute, story on NPR