Largest book of photographs ever published makes over £330,000 at Bonhams

Books, Maps, Manuscripts and Historical Photographs
12 Jun 2012
London, Knightsbridge

A copy of one of the largest and most sought after books of photographs ever published was sold at Bonhams Book, Maps, Manuscripts and Historical Photographs sale in London today (12 June). It had been estimated at £50,000-70,000.

The book is made up of 20 photographic views of Egypt, Sinai and Jerusalem by Francis Frith each print measuring an enormous 30 inches x 21 (77cms x 55). The photographer and photo historian Helmut Gernsheim wrote. "This is the largest book with the biggest, un-enlarged prints ever published".

Francis Frith made his first trip to the Middle East in 1856 and published his book of views of Egypt in 1858 with text by his friends, Mr and Mrs Reginald Stuart Poole. He took with him huge cameras, a mountain of other equipment and a mobile darkroom. His chosen method of photography – the wet collodion process - required the plates to be coated with light sensitive emulsions immediately before exposure took place which meant he also had to carry dangerous chemicals with him.

On his return from the Middle East, Frith turned his attention to home and set about photographing every town and village in the United Kingdom. His extensive archive is still publically available through the Francis Frith Collection and his work was featured in a recent BBC series, 'Britain's First Photo Album'.

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