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The Collectors

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First gold discovery camp

Site of first gold discovery in the Black Hills and Custer Expedition camp, 1874. Photographer: William H. Illingworth. Image courtesy: Paul Horsted.

​Photographs have a way of accumulating whether they are prints or digital files. Every photograph is an historical record, essentially, but some pictures are more important than others. People collect historical pictures for all kinds of reasons. Some simply enjoy the fun of looking back and learning about the stories behind the pictures, others enjoy the occupation of buying, selling and trading rare historical artifacts.

The SDPB TV documentary "The Collectors," features four South Dakotans who have done remarkable things with their photo collections.

These are the South Dakotans featured in "The Collectors:"

Paul Horsted is a professional photographer perhaps best known for a series of books featuring old photographs matched with new photographs made at the same location. Horstad has acquired most of the images shot by William H. Illingworth, the official photographer of George Armstrong Custer's 1874 expedition to the Black Hills. In "The Collectors," Horsted describes his process and the importance of gathering both published and unpublished photographs.

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Paul Horsted and Camille Riner, Paul's spouse and book designer.

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Photo, left: Paul Horsted. Photo, right: William H. Illingworth, 1874.

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Mike Wiese, Aberdeen

Mike Wiese has an extensive collection of post cards from the 1880s through the first few years of the 20th century. Essentially the social media of the day, these postcards were everywhere. Shots of small towns and scenes of the past might have been widely reproduced, but a lot of postcard pictures were one-of-a-kind.

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Postcard image courtesy: Mike Wiese

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Robert Kolbe, Sioux Falls

Robert Kolbe has a very large collection of selected photographs from the Dakotas and the surrounding area. Kolbe, an antique dealer, horologist, and former Minnehaha County commissioner, sees his collection of unique pictures as an investment, but also as an asset to be preserved and protected.

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Federal Courthouse under construction, ca. 1894, Sioux Falls. Courtesy: Robert Kolbe

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David Fransen, Aberdeen

David Fransen's interest in history began when he was a teenager but he really started getting into it after he inherited a large collection of photographs from an uncle's estate. His main interest, at first, was in the many family pictures in the collection. After a time, he realized that he had a lot of photos that would be of interest to a lot of people, especially those living in and around Gettysburg, his home town. Fransen started a Facebook group dedicated to images of South Dakota history. The group started with a few hundred members but recently surpassed 19,000.

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Gettysburg, South Dakota, ca. 1920. Courtesy: David Fransen