Calotype photograph

A Smith from the calotypes album sold by Lyon & Turnbull for £68,000.

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Newly discovered, and offered with an extensive collection of related material, the album attributed to Edinburgh architect Charles George Hood Kinnear (1830-94) came to market for the first time. The vendor had inherited the album from Elizabeth Hay (née Kinnear, 1924-2017), descendant of Charles Kinnear.

Edinburgh auction house L&T said it “marks a substantial expansion of the known corpus of images produced by the circle of early photography enthusiasts active in Scotland during the 1840s”.

The lot was guided at £4000-6000.

Dominic Somerville-Brown of L&T told ATG: “It was an intense five-way telephone battle between UK and US bidders, with all lines active until very near the end. It went to a UK buyer.”

By September 1840 ‘Father of photography’ Henry Fox Talbot had refined the ‘calotype’ method allowing multiple prints to be made from a single negative.

David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson, produced Scotland’s first calotypes soon after. In 1849 Kinnear was articled to Edinburgh architects William Burn and David Bryce. He may have learnt photography from Bryce, though the dates in this album, 1846-8, indicate that his photographic experiments pre-date their known professional association.