British photographic history

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Letterhead collection of Edwardian photographers

At the Photographica 2022 event, which took place in London yesterday, 22 May, I noticed on one of the dealers’ tables a collection of around 100 old letters/letterheads from photographic companies and the like. The letters were in transparent plastic sleeves in a loose binder and seemed to date from the Edwardian period (I noticed dates of 1903, 1909, etc.) and some from earlier, I think. The dealer wanted around £800 for the collection.

As I am an early cinema historian, my interest was aroused by a 2-page letter from Calder Cinematograph, which would presumably be the company of Robert Calder, one of the first film showmen in Scotland (see https://earlycinema.gla.ac.uk/person/133/ ). However, many of the other letters would be of great interest to historians of stills photography.

I omitted to get the name of the dealer (who didn’t have a business card), but he would, no doubt, be known to members of the Photographic Collectors Club. I suggest that such a rare letterhead collection should be acquired by a national institution such as the RPS, V&A, or British Library.

Stephen

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