Earliest known photographic record of Norfolk goes under hammer
PUBLISHED: 21:18 02 December 2019 | UPDATED: 12:44 03 December 2019
A rare collection of photographs of Victorian Norfolk is going under the hammer at Keys Auction House in Aylsham.
The book, Norfolk Photographically Illustrated, was published in 1865 and is the earliest known photographic record of the region.
Flicking through is like travelling in time and the images are so sharp they could have been taken yesterday.
Familiar views of Norwich include the cathedral, the castle and St Peter Mancroft.
Out of the city, there are atmospheric shots of many of the region's stately homes.
Most places, like Blickling Estate and Holkham Hall, appear eerily unchanged but seeing the tower of Wymondham Abbey in tact is a reminder of how long ago these shots were taken.
Andy Newman, of Newman Associates PR, said despite the age of the images, each one was "instantly recognizable."
"It's relevant, these are places you can go out and see right now," he added.
Robert Hindry Mason, who took the pictures, was a pioneer of early photography.
He became famous for his studies of Charles Dickens, one of which is now in the National Portrait Gallery.
Mason saw his prints of Norfolk as a good way to make money and took photographs of the big houses of the region in the hope of being paid by the owners - the pictures were a novelty for his clients.
Mr Newman said: "This is right at the birth of photography, if you are interested in photography, this is its genesis."
The book is also available as a modern reproduction published by Nabu Press but as Mr Newman points out, there's nothing like owning the original.
"It's got the feel of history," he said.
Bidding for the book will start at £250, but with online customers around the world, Mr Newman hopes it will sell for much more than that.
He said: "Last week, an oriental vase estimated at £150-£200 went for £12,200. At auction, all you need is two people who really want something."
The book is being auctioned on the first day of a two-day book sale at Keys Auction House in Aylsham on Thursday December 5, 10.30am.
Viewings on Wednesday from 9am-5pm and on the day of the sale from 9am.