Antiquarian Auctions

SA Auction #110 ends in

US Auction #16 begins on 18 Oct 2023



Published: T. M. Miller, Cape Town, no date [c. 1900]

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Unpaginated: 19 leaves with 19 sepia toned photographic prints mounted on the recto of each leaf, light foxing, brown leather binding with title in gilt on the upper cover and T. M. Miller Publisher Cape Town, rebacked, reinforced hinges with all edges gilt, booksellers ticket on the front paste down end paper a very good copy.

Each photograph has a caption together with a catalogue no. and G.W.W. printed at the bottom. None of the photographs are dated.

This volume is not listed in SABIB

Cape Argus 3 September 2015. Photography made images available to ordinary families and self-taught photographers used it to produce "likenesses" of important people and loved ones. Next, attention turned to cityscapes, landscapes and tourist attractions (domestic and foreign), but cameras were cumbersome and the production and processing of glass plate negatives wasn't for the faint-hearted.

By the 1880s enterprising firms had started to print stock images which could be sold to travellers and collectors at home and internationally. They were available in various sizes and were transferred to postcards when these became popular in the early years of the 20th century. The photographic process was perfected at a time of Western exploration and was often used to record exotic places and carefully-posed examples of "native life".

Picturesque views by early South African commercial photographers like Barnett, Pocock and Ravenscroft are prized today, but they faced stiff overseas competition, notably from the Wilson family of Aberdeen, Scotland.

George Washington Wilson (1823 - 1893) trained as a portrait miniaturist but he subsequently turned to photography and became Photographer Royal for Scotland in 1860. He employed competent men to run his portraiture business while he devoted himself to landscape photography in Britain and commissioned photographs from across the world.

"GWW" images were produced at the rate of a million per year in a factory in Aberdeen and sold - mounted or unmounted - in a great variety of formats, including silver prints, platinotype prints, bromide prints, opalines, medallions and lantern slides at prices that started at sixpence. Selected items were also marketed in albums.

At the time of his death, the firm was one of the largest of its kind in the world. George's son Charles, and senior staff photographer Fred Hardie toured South Africa twice, penetrating as far as modern Botswana and Zimbabwe. Their images were listed in an extensive catalogue published in 1901.

The Wilsons knew their market and their photographs projected an ideal uncrowded world in which poverty and misery scarcely existed, although they spiced this bland fare with a few items of cultural or ethnographic interest. Their prints survive in personal albums, antique shops, private and public collections and at the University of Aberdeen. Scenic views dominated.

  • Overall Condition: A very good copy
  • Size: oblong 4to (230 x300mm)
  • Sold By: Clarke's Africana & Rare Books
  • Contact Person: Paul Mills
  • Country: South Africa
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Telephone: 021 794 0600
  • Preferred Payment Methods: Visa & Mastercard via PayGate secure links and Bank transfers.
  • Trade Associations: ABA - ILAB, SABDA

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