Photographic treasure found in Charlotte warehouse

“Then there’s [Little Rock, Ark., entrepreneur John Rogers’] rediscovery and purchase of over 8,000 glass negatives by the famed early sports photographer Charles Conlon, who shot some of the first ‘action’ sports photography between 1909 and 1930, capturing some of the most iconic images in history. Rogers, who calls Conlon ‘the Matthew Brady of baseball, had been a collector of Conlon prints for years, and set out to find the negatives in the late 2000s. They’d been used to create a book on Conlon by The Sporting News in 1993, but after that, they’d disappeared and nobody seemed to know where they were. ‘They thought maybe they were in a warehouse in North Carolina, or maybe in St. Louis,’ Rogers said.

“Through some detective work, Rogers eventually tracked them down to a warehouse in Charlotte, N.C. He remembers an old security guard leading him to a forgotten closet, where they had been unceremoniously buried under piles of junk. ‘They were down on the floor'” he said. ‘The boxes were water-damaged, and on top of them were coats, phone books, coats, phone books. It was like an archeological dig. He said they did a coat drive every year, and it was literally four years worth: coats and phone books, with the negatives at the bottom.’

“Those negatives, Rogers said, have since been appraised at $18 million.”

— From “John Rogers owns more photos than anyone, anywhere” by David Koon in the Arkansas Times (Oct. 10, 2012)

In recent years Rogers has bought and digitized dozens of newspaper photo archives, including those of the Charlotte Observer.