British photographic history

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Auction report: Alfred Swaine Taylor archive / 5 October 2018

Yesterday saw the dispersal of the Alfred Swaine Taylor family collection and archive at Lacy Scott & Knight auction house in Bury St Edmunds. BPH reported on the auction back in June and an earlier disposal which highlighted the importance of the material and acted as the catalyst for this final sale.

The auction was split in to three parts: science and medicine; photography, and personal effects. Swaine's importance as a medical man, in medical jurisprudence and, particularly, as a pioneer of forensic science garnered much pre-sale publicity, but he was equally important as an early practitioner of photography applying his scientific expertise to the nascent medium which he remained interested in until the 1870s. Representatives from the Science Museum, Royal College of Physicians and Royal Institution were in the saleroom and there was active participation online and on commission. 

The photography material was lots 2124-2174 and consisted of three copies of his On the Art of Photogenic Drawing (1840), correspondence with Michael Faraday and others about this publication, family carte-de-visite albums and other portraits, and a small selection of photographic manufacturers' trade catalogues. Some of the highlights, with hammer prices, include: 

  • On the Art of Photogenic Drawing (1840), copy with author's notes £3,600; two other copies £3,400 and £2,600. 
  • Letter from Michael Faraday to Taylor complimenting him on his photographic art - £1,900
  • Family carte-de-visite album - £700
  • Manuscript notes on photography - £620
  • Two collodion negatives showing a skull and a skeleton - £620
  • British Journal Photographic Almanac 1862 - £620
  • J H Dallmeyer 1863 catalogue and others - £420
  • Mansell's Catalogue of Frith's Photo Pictures (1869) and others - £600

all prices are plus 20% buyer's premium and VAT. 

The complete online catalogue and sale results can be seen here


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