Rare early photo album of Persia sells for �39,000 at Aylsham auction

An album of rare photos from the Middle east has sold for �39,000 at a Norfolk auction room - more than double the expected price.

The 42 pictures of Persia - now Iran - taken by pioneering photographer Luigi Pesce in 1860 drew bidders from the United States and France before being knocked down at Keys Aylsham sale room yesterday.

The images showed buildings such as mosques and palaces along with desert scenes, in a book inscribed to Sir Henry Rawlinson who was in Persia training the shah's troops.

Keys collectables expert Andrew Bullock said the album dated back to the early days of photography using 'salt prints' when it was the hobby of the wealthy.

Two similar books had come up for sale in the past - one given to William I of Prussia the other to a count in Italy - but the third one put into the Aylsham sale was not know to exist - pushing its rice up among the collecting world, particular photographic historians, he added.

There were seven bidders on phone lines along with two in the room, said Mr Bullock.

It was sold to a London dealer, who with the buyer's premium would have paid �44,850 - with the anonymous seller getting �39,000.

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Other lots at the two day sale included a collection of letters from General Henry Rawlinson featuring the Boer and first world wars which were sold for �3,100 to the Army Museum.