We have held regular photography sales since 1990 and these have now become a regular fixture in the international photography auction calendar. As with our book sales we have been delighted to handle some of the earliest photographs of Henry Fox Talbot and his circle from the 1840s, to more contemporary photographs from 20th-century greats such as Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Yousuf Karsh, Peter Henry Emerson, Alberto Korda, Herbert Ponting and Cecil Beaton.
A saleroom favourite is the work of the visionary portrait photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, and we have been fortunate to recently auction one of her signed albumen print portraits of photography pioneer Sir John Herschel (£32,000), consigned by direct descent from the Herschel family, plus a portrait of Charles Darwin (£33,000), signed by photographer and sitter, by descent from the family of the Darwins' manservant Joseph Parslow. The highest individual photograph price to date is from another Victorian pioneer, Roger Fenton, an albumen print of 'Turkish musicians and dancing girl' (1858) from his rare Oriental suite. This individual photograph fetched £37,000, which with four others from the same series realised a total of £118,000.
It is an 1848 photograph album of the Edinburgh Calotype Club that holds our saleroom overall price record of £218,000. Founded in 1843, the Edinburgh Calotype Club was the first photographic club in the world and this important album, one of the very first photograph albums ever compiled, contains over 200 salt print photographs taken by its pioneering members. This previously 'lost' heritage album was bought on behalf of the National Library of Scotland. Other heritage photography lots we have been thrilled to handle have been a portfolio of 47 photographs of the Crystal Palace by Philip Henry Delamotte, circa 1860 (£13,000); a group of 90 photographs documenting the construction of the Forth Rail Bridge in Scotland, 1883-1890 (£8,000); and a remarkable series of 76 magic lantern slides of ballooning and aerial photography interest by Cecil Shadbolt, circa 1880s (£8,000).
Victorian photograph albums remain a constant source of delight and successes in recent years have included a Chinese photography album, circa 1860s/1870s, compiled by Herbert Elgar Hobson of the Imperial Maritime Customs (£48,000); an album of 79 albumen prints by the Bristol and West Country photographer Hugh Owen, printed from the original paper negatives, circa 1870s (£28,000); a memorial album of Eton College including what we identified as the earliest known photograph of a school cricket match from circa 1862 (£5,000); and an archive of fifteen early 20th-century photographs of China, Japan and India, by the previously unknown amateur photographer Godfrey Tanner (£16,000). Among the many memorable non-paper photographic highlights has been a group of six rare stereoscopic daguerreotypes of still life subjects, circa 1850s, by the noted Welsh photographer Thomas Richard Williams. These were discovered and removed from a dusty Victorian table top stereoscope consigned for sale and raised a collective £32,000.
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