British photographic history

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Auction: Cottingley Fairies image realises £15,000+BP

An image of Alice and the Fairies taken in 1917 by Elsie Wright, and one of the hoax photographs known as the Cottingley Fairies sold for £15,000 (plus 20% buyer's premium) at Dominic Winter auctions on 4 October. 

First in the series of five Cottingley Fairies photographs, a hoax that deceived a number of eminent figures, most notably Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The story of the Cottingley Fairies began as a practical joke in Cottingley, near Bradford, West Yorkshire in 1917 and the fairies were actually drawings by Elsie, secured in the ground with hat pins. It was a secret the girls decided to keep until the 1980s to protect the public reputations of those who believed in the 'truth' of the images. Alice was probably the name given to Frances by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) in an attempt to conceal the girls' identities when he published the photographs.

A second image Iris and the Gnome sold for £5400 (plus 20% buyer's premium).

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