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As reported in the blog earlier this year, the world's first commercially produced camera, a daguerreotype, dating from 1839 and bearing the rare signature of its French inventor, sold at auction in Vienna today for a record 732,000 euros (898,000 dollars). It broke the previous record of 576,000 euros, fetched during a Westlicht auction in 2007 for a similar daguerreotype camera made by the Paris company Susse Freres.

The wooden sliding box camera was privately owned by a family of opticians from Braunschweig in northern Germany for generations who had kept the camera in their living room as a decorative object. The 170-year-old apparatus was built in Paris in limited numbers from Jacques Daguerre's original plans by his brother-in-law, Alphonse Giroux.

The daguerreotype, one of only a dozen in the world, all in museums, was put up for sale by the WestLicht auction house in Vienna today (29/5/10), and said that was the highest bid ever for a camera. The winning bid for the historic camera was 610,000 euros, to which was added a 20-percent tax levy, bringing the total price to 732,000 euros. The starting price for the apparatus was 200,000 euros.

The new owner, who requested anonymity, is a collector from the Asian mainland who bid by telephone, said Ema Kaiser, a spokeswoman for the auction house that specializes in vintage photographic equipment.

'Wow, that was cheap,' she quoted him as saying after he had trumped another collector and a museum that were also trying to obtain the Paris-made wooden box camera.

"It is the first time in the world that a daguerreotype bearing Daguerre's signature and made in the Giroux workshop has been offered for sale," WestLicht gallery director Peter Coeln told AFP. The owner who gave the daguerreotype up for auction "had received it as a gift in the 1970s
from his father after receiving his diploma as an optician," Coeln said. Every detail of the daguerreotype including the lens, the plaque signed by Daguerre himself, the black velvet interior and the ground-glass screen are in their original state, WestLicht said.

The Giroux-made daguerreotype is known for having a golden plaque on it
stating that "no apparatus is guaranteed unless it has the signature of
M. Daguerre and the stamp of M. Giroux." The pioneering camera also came
with a user's manual, written in German and edited in 1839 by the
publishing house Georg Gropius in Berlin.

Daguerre never had exclusive rights to the process he invented, instead receiving a pension for himself and the heir of his former partner Nicephore Niepce from the French state, which declared
photography a gift to the world. But businessman Daguerre figured out a way to make money from his fame by signing contracts with the two French workshops giving them exclusive rights to make and sell the equipment.
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A unique collection of more than 600 photographic negatives of charabancs and other memorabilia garnered by the late Rhyl collector and historian, John Nickels, was auctioned off by Colwyn Bay auctioneers, Rogers Jones Co, yesterday (Tuesday, May 25).

Mr Nickels, who died aged 80 in 2000, spent a lifetime amassing hundreds of glass negatives, photographs and postcards that were almost thrown out. The entire collection was bought for £2,800 by the Omnibus Society to secure it as an archive, rather than it 'lost' by going in to a private collection. The collection would be available for research and to illustrate articles and books. Private collectors from the UK and Europe were among those who missed out at the auction.

Photos: The collection of photographic negatives was nearly thrown out after Mr Nickels' death.
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Llandudno's Camera Obscura re-opens

Llandudno's Camera Obscura was first built in 1859 by an 18-year-old Leo Williams. It was the first of several octagonal dark rooms to be built on the site, all to the same design, and only just one of seven such instruments remaining in the UK.

Perfectly positioned on the heights above the Happy Valley on the Great Orme, the obscura is blessed with a panoramic view extending from Liverpool Bay over Llandudno Pier across to the Little Orme, taking in Penmaenmawr across to Anglesey.
Further information can be found here.

Photos: An 1890s albumen image of a camera obscura at Happy Valley, Llandudno, Wales by Francis Bedford (1816 – 1894) an English architect and photographer. You can just make out the obscura on the right edge of the photo.
Llandudno from the obscura c 1890.

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Benjamin Brecknell Turner & Amsterdam

According to the V&A records, Benjamin Brecknell Turner (1815-94) was one of the first, and remains one of the greatest, British photographers. His images were highly praised during his lifetime for their rustic beauty and grandeur.

Born in London in 1815, Turner started work in the family candle and saddle soap business at the age of 16. In 1849 he took out a licence to practice paper negative photography from its inventor, William Henry Fox Talbot, when the new art was barely 10 years old. He mastered the art and exhibited at the world's first public photographic exhibition, held at London's Society of Arts in 1852, where he was singled out as one of the best contributors. In 1855 he won a medal at the Paris Exhibition Universelle and continued exhibiting his photographs until the 1880s.

If you are a fan of his work, you are in luck as there is an exhibition entitled "Amsterdam 1845 – 1875, The First Photographs", well, held in where else, but Amsterdam ! Pride of place is reserved for the sixteen large format paper negatives of Amsterdam landscapes taken by Turner during his visit to Amsterdam in 1857. Details of this exhibition can be found in the 'Events' section.

Photo: Benjamin Brecknell Turner, 'Self Portrait', about 1855. Anonymous loan(V&A)
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The Art of Matrimony

Husbands and Wives is an exhibition of intimate family portraits, tracing the emergence ofphotography in Australia, profiling in the process the work of some of their most significant artists and photographers. Not quite British (!), but with British-influence.

Notonly does it presents a glimpse at the private lives of Australian couples through rare portrait photographs from the 19th century, but it also gives an insight into the lives of the people captured in these slow, painstaking and relatively expensive sittings.

This effect was liberalising. The invention and proliferation of photography during the second half of the nineteenth century created a revolution in representation, particularly in the way that people chose to represent themselves. While painted portraits were the preserve of the well-to-do, photography democratised the art of portraiture, opening it up to anyone wishing to celebrate, document and preserve the likenesses of loved-ones and intimates. Surviving photographic portraits from this era – from the hauntingly intense faces captured in daguerreotypes of the 1840s, and ambrotypes of individuals, couples and family groups - including the coloured ambrotype of Thomas Glaister, ca 1858 - to those popularised by the cartes de visite of later decades including the coloured ambrotypes by Thomas Glaister, ca 1858, to those popularised by the cartes de visite of later decades.They all reveal both of the technical developments in the medium of photography and of the sensibilities and attitudes of the people they depict.

A gem-like exhibition of examples of early portrait photography, the exhibition also includes drawings, paintings, miniatures and silhouettes in an exhibition charting an easily obscured but nevertheless intriguing aspect of Australian history.

Husbands & Wives will be held until 11th July 2010 at the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra. (Yes, the one in Australia, and not in London!). However, with the marvels of the internet, you can watch an ABC news review of this exhibition here. And if that video clip entices you to make that trip half-way round the world, details of the exhibition can be found in the 'Events' section.

Photo: Ambrotype by Thomas Glaister ca 1858

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Haworth-Booth a finale

Mark Haworth-Booth describes on his blog..."An early copy of my book on Camille Silvy arrived from the National Portrait Gallery. We sat on the sofa and looked through every page. It is wonderful! I won't get my other copies until June. This is my finale as a photo-historian and I'm thrilled with it."

The Silvy exhibition will take place at the National Portrait Gallery later this year - it promises to be the exhibition of the year for me and many others...

Mark's blog here: is a joy to read...

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The last photograph taken of Westcountry-born adventurer Captain Robert Scott and his wife before his ill-fated expedition to the South Pole will be auctioned off soon. The black and white picture was taken by Steffano Webb, a New Zealand photographer based in Christchurch, just before the 1910 trip to Antarctica is expected to fetch £4,500. In total nine of Webb's photographs of Scott's Terra Nova expedition, taken at Lyttelton in November 1910 before the departure for the Antarctic, will be under the hammer.

Also on offer at a separate auction is an archive of material thatbelonged to another member of Captain Scott's team. This includes various photographs taken by Herbert Ponting, the mission's photographer, with one photo on the expedition signed by him and given to McKenzie. (McKenzie was a leading stoker on the Terra Nova and kept the detailed log from the ship that left for the ill-fated mission 100 years ago.) The archive of over 30 lots – many unseen – is being sold by McKenzie's granddaughter and is expected to make up to £30,000 at auction next Wednesday (26th May) at Bamfords auction house in Derby.

Photos: Last photograph taken of Westcountry-bornadventurer Captain Robert Scott and his wife before his ill-fated expedition to the South Pole; Crew of the Terra Nova
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Elizabeth Edwards is directing a HERA Funded Project 'Photographs, Colonial Legacy And Museums In Contemporary European Culture' PhotoCLEC, University Of The Arts London

A leading collaborative research project with University of Bergen and VU University Amsterdam, HERA's "Cultural Dynamics: Inheritance and Identity" strand will examine the ways in which museums reflect and respond to varieties of colonial experiences and their specific visual legacies. It will focus especially on their attempts to interpret colonial photograph collections in ways relevant to contemporary post-colonial European societies. You will contribute to the collaborative comparative analysis and to the project's overall analysis and outputs by undertaking research in the 'case study' institutions and be involved with the on-going planning and development of the project and with the organisation of project meetings and events.

All prospective candidates will have a PhD in Anthropology, Modern/Contemporary History, Museology, or related discipline, with demonstrable interest in at least two of the following: visual material, preferably photographs, museums, colonial and/or post-colonial histories, cultural identities. The post holder must be self-motivating and able to work independently within the projects' overall themes and collaborative framework. In addition, the post requires excellent 'people skills', data management experience and an ability to work across disciplines. Fieldwork and/or archival experience would be an advantage.

You will be based at the London College of Communication (SE1) in a unique opportunity to work actively with major collaborative project and with an experienced team from three European universities. The post requires travel and 'away from home work' within UK and to group meetings in Europe.

In return, we offer a competitive employment package including a salary that reflects working in London; annual leave; a final salary pension scheme; and a commitment to your continuing personal and career development in an environment that encourages creativity, diversity and excellence.

Salary: £30,871 pro rata / 0.8 Research Officer / (18 month fixed term appointment)

University of the Arts London is a vibrant world centre for innovation, drawing together six Colleges with international reputations in art, design, fashion, communication and performing arts.

Closing date: 1st June 2010

Interview date: 14th June 2010

If you have any queries about this role that are not covered in the documentation available please contact Professor Elizabeth Edwards, Senior Research Fellow at LCC and Principal Investigator on the project, email:

Please visit to download an application pack or alternatively please contact Eve Waring, Research Office, telephone: 020 7514 8437 E-mail:

University of the Arts London aims to be an equal opportunities employer embracing diversity in all areas of activity.

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No kidding, but we have news of yet another photo archive going online.

The public are now able to search online a catalogue describing more than a million historical photographs and documents relating to England’s historic buildings and archaeological sites held by the National Monuments Record (NMR), English Heritage’s public archive. This includes images, plans, drawings, reports and publications covering England’s archaeology, architecture, social and local history.

All held on a database which can now be accessed and searched online here.

Until now, these searches had to be done in person at the NMR’s public search rooms in Swindon. Using a range of search terms, users can discover whether English Heritage holds any items in its archive relevant to the topic they are interested in, mainly photos, but also including maps, plans or reports.

Whose complaining ? - Not me !

Photo: Deansgate Arcade, Manchester, 1900.
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The Bath Royal Literary & Scientific Institution's (BRLSI) Collection includes an album of photographs of
the home counties and other localities by Hilditch, and albums of photographs from 19th century China and Japan presented by the Vacher family. However, an important part of the Collection are the negatives of 86 photographs of Bath taken by the Rev Francis Lockey between 1849 and 1861, using the Fox Talbot calotype process.

In a recent newsletter, theChair of Collections, Rob Randall recently wrote that Michael Gray, former curator of the Fox Talbot Museum at Lacock, offered to sell BRLSI 39 framed prints developed from those negatives. These prints were exhibited at the Royal Photographic Society's gallery when it was in Milsom Street, Bath, and were so successful that they were also exhibited at Alkmaar and Braunschweig.

At £25 per print andwith a stock of Gray's book on Lockey thrown in for free, it was an offer they couldn’t refuse. The prints were made using traditional methods on vintage photographic paper manufactured in the 1930s.

TheBRLSI will be exhibiting them shortly, with a series of related lectures. There is just one snag. Their budget did not allow for a chance acquisition like this to secure these items for the collections. To raise the sufficient funds, a scheme to sponsor a Lockey print has been set up. Further information can be found here or you can contact the BRLSI office direct on 01225 312084.

Meanwhile Shadows and Light - Bath in Camera 1849-1861, by Michael Gray and David McLaughlin, lavishly illustrated and with biographical and historical notes, is for sale at only £5 a copy.

Photos: Weirs south of Argle Bridge, Bath c1853-61; Boathouse, Riverside, Nr Claverton Street, Bath c1853-61; Somerset Wharf, Bath c1853-61.
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On 28 May 2010 the Museum of London unveils its spectacular £20 million Galleries of Modern London.

Three years in the making, five new galleries tell the story ofLondon and its people from 1666 to the present day. 7,000 objects, show-stopping interactives, specially designed family areas, film and changing displays, transport you through the capital’s tumultuous history, rich with drama, triumph and near disaster.

Themed exhibition areas address the development of the capital fromRestoration London up to the modern day (already an improvement; the former galleries stopped before the Second World War).
Highlights include a walk-in Charles Booth poverty map, a graffiti-etched prison cell, golden lifts from Selfridges, a mock-up of a Georgian pleasure garden and fondly remembered objects from the 20th Century that you just don't see any more (Mary Quant dresses, calculators, decent copies of Time Out...).

The museum has teamed up with creative agency Brothers and Sisters to create an iPhone application, streetmuseum,which allows users to overlay historic images of London over the present-day view on their handset. streetmuseum is free to download via the iPhone app store.

Butof interest to BPH bloggers is their Historic Photographs Collection which contains well over
250,000 images from the 1840s to the present day. It includes work by photographers such as Roger Fenton, Humphrey Spender, George Rodger and Nigel Henderson as well as Brandt and Callaghan. These images will form the basis of a street photography exhibition (including pioneering documentary images by Victorian photographer John Thomson) on show from February next year, which will trace the development of the genre and its current status.

The Museum of London is situated at London Wall, London EC2Y 5HN, and entrance is free !
For more information, check here.

Photo: "The Crawlers' - pioneering documentary photography on the mean streetsof Victorian London by John Thomsom, 1877. Image © Museum of London
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An exhibition of early British photographs from the Royal Collection opens at Aberdeen Art Gallery on 12 June, running until 21 August 2010.

There is a catalogue to accompany the exhibition, which will also be online at the time of the exhibition.

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Sotheby's London May 20 sale of Photographs will offer 126 lots covering the history of photography from the beginnings through to the present with offerings of Contemporary works. Among the sale highlights are two superb examples of the work of Eugène Atget, which have come from a private French collection: La Villette, Rue Asselin, Fille publique faisant le quart devant sa porte is a signature image from an artist who has been called the first Modernist photographer (lot 7, est. £20,000-30,000). One of only a few prints
executed from this negative, this work is in superb condition and has never appeared on the market before.

One of Robert Mapplethorpe’s most recognisable images, Calla Lily,1984, comes to the market with an estimate of £40,000-60,000 (lot 60) - see photo above. The sale catalogue can be found here.

So, get your wallets out before the tax raises start ........
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V&A Photography Gallery opens ......

To celebrate the annual re-display of V&A's permanent photography collection gallery, which also includes many recent acquisitions, the Museum held a special viewing on Friday (14th May). One of the highlights was the new display "The Other Britain Revisited: Photographs from New Society". This pioneering weekly publication was founded in 1962 and continued as an independent magazine until 1988.

The magazine carried a large number of illustrations and 'black & white' photographs. In doing so, it engaged with, and recognised early the talent of young British photojournalists such as Brian Griffin, Martin Parr, Chris Steele-Perkins and Homer Sykes - all of whose photographs are featured in this special exhibition. See 'Events' section for further info.
Well worth a visit !
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Amateur Photographer magazine reports that the National Media Museum has received government approval to open a London base. A spokesperson for the Bradford-based museum said this afternoon: 'We have received approval from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) for this project.'

Last night, Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the BBC's Newsnight that 'none' of the DCMS's budgets are protected in light of the cutbacks expected to be outlined by the new Government.

Asked whether the museum is concerned that any cutbacks may scupper the London plan, the spokesperson told us: 'We are continuing to follow our fundraising strategy which is not reliant on Government funding, so be assured we will be in touch as and when it's appropriate.'

Read the report here:

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A wealth of vital information about the early days of photography could be unearthed by a computer program which mimics human decision-making. De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has amassed a collection of hundreds of exhibition catalogues containing invaluable information about individual photographs but the images themselves are missing as the catalogues were printed before the technology existed to reproduce pictures alongside the descriptions.

DMU’s Professor Stephen Brown and Professor Robert John are investigating a form of computational intelligence known as fuzzy logic to see if it is possible to match these catalogue entries with photographs in online collections owned by museums.

Professor Brown, of the Faculty of Art and Design, said: “Many of the photographs in question appear to have survived and are increasingly accessible online through museum and gallery web sites, however precise associations between particular exhibits and images are not always clear.”

Software using fuzzy logic is able to suggest possible connections based on vague information. It mimics the human approach to problem solving but arrives at a decision much more quickly than people do.

Uniting the catalogue records with their original photographs would provide researchers with an important primary resource.

Professor Stephen Brown said: “Photographic history research is important in a range of areas of study, including social, political, economical, scientific and architectural studies. “For example, Sir Benjamin Stone, who was MP for Birmingham, was a keen photographer and collector. He was able to photograph many leading scientists, politicians and dignitaries and significant historical and royal occasions – such as the funeral of Queen Victoria. He was one of the first people allowed to take photos in the Houses of Parliament and if not for him, we wouldn’t have pictures of many important visitors to Parliament during that time. The information we can gain from this project could be useful in so many ways. It could tell us about the types of people who were taking photos at that time, the subjects that were popular, the techniques that people used to develop their images, and how ideas were diffused through society.”

Professor Robert John, Head of the Centre for Computational Intelligence and a world-leading expert in fuzzy logic, said: “Using fuzzy logic will allow photographs to be analysed and compared with the catalogue information very quickly. “The benefits of this type of technology are that it can make decisions much more quickly than humans and it is not restricted to a simple ‘match’/’no match’ answer.”

In straightforward cases, photographs and catalogue information could be matched by name, title and other details, however, the majority of cases are more complicated. Professor Brown added: “Some of the records in the catalogues are rather vague. For instance, you might have the name, but the only address given is ‘London’. If a photograph is then found with the same name but the photographer’s address is given as ‘Blackheath’ then is that the same person? It could well be but further examination is needed. Some photos were exhibited more than once over different years, and that’s fine as long as the same details are recorded for both, but very often this isn’t the case. That’s why it’s not a simple matter of matching the details of photographer X and photograph Y.”

He added: “It wasn’t uncommon for a photographer to sell or loan prints to other people who then exhibit that work under their own name, not claiming to be the photographer, just the exhibitor. There might be a photo floating around online that is listed under the photographer’s name, while we only have the exhibitor’s details.

“We could get a group of photographic experts to examine the images and the catalogue entries in order to match them up, but it would take years and would be prohibitively expensive.”

Researchers will first carry out an exploratory study to investigate the potential of using fuzzy logic to match images with the descriptions in the catalogues. If it proves to be a success, researchers hope it will be extended to a full project which will see online photo collections from museums and galleries around the world scanned for possible matches.

DMU has two online collections of catalogue records from photographic exhibitions:

Photographic Exhibitions in Britain 1839 – 1865 – see
Exhibitions of the Royal Photographic Society 1870 – 1915 – see

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150-Year-Old Photos Find New Home

Just as when you thought it was safe, out comes yet another announcement of a photo archive going online. This time it's from BT. Yes, British Telecoms.

Over 1,000 historic BT Archive images from the 1860s onwards can now be downloaded thanks to Telefocus - the new BT Archives Image Gallery. It’s the first time the images have been open to the public online. The gallery offers a fascinating insight into the history oftelecommunications through images, including the oldest image in the collection of a Birmingham telegraph lineman complete with top hat which was used to keep his tools in - circa 1860.

Further information can be found here and here.

At this rate, British Gas might be next - if so, don't forget to tell Sid about it ...
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Tate Modern has used the occasion of its 10th birthday not only to show how it is expanding its collection beyond Europe and North America, but more importantly becoming more active in photography, recently appointing a photography curator. It has also announced the formation of a Photography Acquisitions Committee, to be launched on 19 May, to demonstrate Tate’s ongoing commitment to increasing its focus on collecting photographs.

The official press release can be found here:

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The Museum of Modern Art's (New York) photography collection is so rich that it can present virtually the entire history of the medium using only images taken by women and in many cases, of women.

Pictures by Women: A History of Modern Photography presents aselection of outstanding photographs by women artists, charting the medium’s history from the dawn of the modern period to the present. The show is organized chronologically, beginning with a gallery of 19th and early 20th century photographs that illustrate the two traditions of documentary and pictorial photography.

It includes a stunning array ofphotographs by European artists in the 1920s and 1930s, including Ilse Bing's 1931 iconic "Self-Portrait in Mirrors," which shows her looking straight at the viewer and in profile at the same time, an illusion made possible by using her camera as a third eye.

Please see 'Events' for further information.

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