British photographic history

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Research: Elgin Marbles - Who was the photographer for Mansell & Co.?

Here are 3 albumen prints of what I assume are sections of the Parthenon Frieze in the British Museum. There are tiny oval blind stamps within the images -I can only read 'Mansell & Co.': 

Would anyone know who the photographer was? 

Were these part of a published portfolio or book?

Any information would help.

Thanks! David

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Comment by Ken Jacobson on December 15, 2014 at 11:58

Yes, Stephen Thompson was indeed the photographer, commissioned by Charles Harrison in the 1870s to photograph many items in the British Museum. Thompson was essentially undertaking a similar task as Roger Fenton in the 1850s but more extensively. From looking at electronic British Library catalogues (like COPAC), it appears that there are possibly complete copies of all seven sections of the Mansell publication at Leeds, Oxford, Cambridge and the British Library. Part IV is the Parthenon Series.

I am sure there will be many other loose prints and possibly complete copies elsewhere. I have some catalogues (undated) advertising parts in these series. Strangely, they advertise platinotypes in different sizes at varying prices but most published parts that I have seen consist of albumen prints always in the same size. Mansell also offered the possibility of large bromide enlargements. Therefore, it is a tricky bibliography and I wouldn't be surprised if Thompson printed some images on his own behalf and we have had unmounted prints with a Mansell blindstamp (like yours ?). Therefore, it might be uncertain what you will see if you visit one of the libraries above.

I hope this helps.


Ken Jacobson

Comment by Michael Pritchard on December 14, 2014 at 9:36

Anthony Hamber's A Higher Branch of the Art makes brief mention of W A Mansell as a publisher and Stephen Thompson's role as photographer. Anthony may be able to comment further. 

Comment by David McGreevy on December 13, 2014 at 17:31

Thank you so much Michael.

So I assume the photographer was Stephen Thompson?

Would still like to know if there is a complete set of these anywhere.

Best, David

Comment by Michael Pritchard on December 13, 2014 at 17:09

Larry Schaaf's Talbot letters has a letter to Talbot from:  Department for Publication of Photographs of Objects in the British Museum / W A Mansell & Co / Photographic and Fine Art Publishers / 2, Percy Street, Rathbone Place, W. See:

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