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Auction: Jessie Bertram - Hill and Adamson / 24 June 2021

Bonhams auction of Fine Books, Manuscripts and Photographs on 24 June includes one lot of Jessie Bertram carbon prints from the negatives of Hill and Adamson.  The collection of 51 prints is estimated at £8000-12,000. 

The lot description reads: 

HILL (DAVID OCTAVIUS) AND ROBERT ADAMSON. Collection of 49 portraits, groups and landscapes (2) by Hill and Adamson printed by Jessie Bertram, carbon prints, mounted on card (recto only), within border ruled in brown ink, many titled and numbered in pencil below, several with pencil annotations in a later hand on verso, a few with light spotting to mounts (one mount toned), housed in a contemporary wooden box with hinged opening front panel and lid, printed paper label pasted inside lid "J. Bertram, Platinotype and Carbon printer, 148 Rose Street, Edinburgh", the images approximately 205 x 160mm.), the card mounts approximately 995 x 265mm., [1840s, but printed later]


  • A fine group of carbon prints from the original negatives of David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson's celebrated portraits of Scottish women (including Newhaven groups), men and children, mostly taken between 1843 and 1847.

    These photographic carbon prints were printed by Edinburgh photographer Jessie Bertram (1881–1954) from Hill and Adamson's original negatives. Selections of her works were issued by Andrew Elliot in 1916. They are held in a wooden box, with Bertram's printed label attached. Found with the box is a passport photograph of a middle-aged woman, signed "Jessie Bertram" on the verso and assumed to be her.

Details here:

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Comment by Michael Pritchard on June 28, 2021 at 13:26

These sold for Sold for £8,925 inc. premium

Comment by Dr. Joe Rock on June 28, 2021 at 10:18

At £187 each including commission, I think the person who bought them did very well!

Comment by Dr. Joe Rock on June 28, 2021 at 10:10

I was fortunate enough to be custodian of four prints for 23 years. I found them, mounted on cream coloured card and wrapped up in a bit of brown paper. They were in a cupboard below the stairs in the Fine Art dept. at Edinburgh University, just outside my studio in the basement of No.19 George Sq. I realised later that it had been the store room of Prof. Baldwin-Brown, a late 19thC prof of Fine Art and they had probably not seen the light of day since his retirement in 1930. I had them properly mounted by James Berry in the National Gallery of Scotland and they hung in my studio. They are now part of the University collection. The prints were: Mrs. Rigby, Lady Ruthven, John Henning and the art historian, Mrs. Anna Jamison. This last image is the one for which we were unable to trace another exact match either in print or negative - which may be of interest to someone working on the negatives used by Jessie Bertram....

Comment by David McGreevy on June 21, 2021 at 20:14

I am most lucky and grateful to own one of Jessie Bertram's carbon prints. She was truly a master printer.

I want to know the history of how she got the original negatives.

Willie Liston, Redding the Line:

Comment by Dr. Joe Rock on May 31, 2021 at 10:03

For anyone who has not seen prints by Jessie Bertram, I would say they are the finest prints ever made from the Hill & Adamson negatives. On occasion they are also printed from negatives, for which no other print survives.

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