British photographic history

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Hills and Saunders' Harrow negative archive being part sold off on eBay...but the majority is retained and preserved

A short post on BPH has drawn attention to the current owners of the Hills and Saunders negative archive selling off negatives individually on eBay. The collection is - or was - owned by Pete Boswell who posted on BPH about his acquisition here in 2103. 

A previous website Harrowphotos.com which offered the opportunity to buy prints was registered in 2014 and is now no longer available. Pete Boswell was a director of Save Photo Ltd which was dissolved in 2016 and in that capacity he reported on saving Churchill negatives from the H&S archive. A number of other associated companies are also now dissolved, suggesting that the original commercialisation of the archive did not live up to expectations.

In an interview with BPH today, Pete Boswell explained that the Hills and Saunders Archive which consists of some 94,000 plates has now been fully digitised and indexed. The current owners have invested a considerable amount money into the archive's rescue and recovery, conservation, indexing, cataloguing and digitisation. It is considered one of the largest collections of of its kind in private ownership.

The majority - some 96 per cent - of the pictures contained within the archive are related to Harrow School pupils and staff from 1860-1965 and these are being retained by the owners and a selection of them are to be published shortly.

A small selection of around 200 plates that are not core to the main Harrow collection are being disposed of and are being offered to collectors and private owners. It is some of these that are currently on eBay

An index of all the Hills and Saunders negatives, by number and name, is available here: http://freepages.rootsweb.com/~victorianphotographs/family/hills/hi... 

Images from current eBay listings (reversed from negative to positive)

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Comment by Bobbie Carnegie yesterday

Well - 'There you go' - Having been 'poignantly arrested' by an Ebay boy soldier image I have presumptuously, spontaneously and, having unwittingly offered £20 for the £30 image I didn't expect would be accepted, I find I'm the owner of a Harrow photographer Hills & Saunders 'boy soldier negative glass plate' that's mine for the taking. What do I do with an Edwardian photographic glass plate imaging a 1916 WW1 boy soldier? Maybe the IWM will have it as a donation. Will they? It's no earthly use to me other than staring at it and 'wondering'.   

Comment by Bobbie Carnegie on Tuesday

Makes you want to weep doesn't it - with the evident profiteering and sell off of these archival gems that should be kept within the archive even if considered 'disposable'. Perhaps digital copies have been processed even if glass plates are being 'chucked'? Named characters on the Ebay plates could be of use to local Harrow family history. Anyone thought of clicking on the Ebay pics to their enlarged state and then pulling them off into a desktop folder by way of capturing them all? Any archival value in that? The Ebay plates appear to be wrapped in transparent film. One plate is poignantly arresting of a boy soldier of 1916 who barely looks 14 or 15 years of age. Or, seeing as collection is noted as essentially of Harrow School is this 'boy soldier plate of 'P. M. B. Martin Esq., 1916' a Harrow School cadet?  

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