Islands’ Biggest Archive Of Shipwreck Photos Could Raise £150,000

gibson photo collection
The most comprehensive archive of images documenting Scilly’s shipwrecks is going under the hammer at auctioneers Sotheby’s.

It features the work of four generations of the Gibson family of photographers, who captured 1,000 pictures, spanning 130 years, of the wrecks of over 200 ships.

It began in 1869, when the first Telegraph arrived here. John Gibson became the islands’ local news correspondent sending his images upcountry to newspapers.

They were keen to publish pictures of local wrecks.

When the Schiller was wrecked, John and Alexander Gibson worked together continually for days. John eventually collapsed with exhaustion.

Later, Herbert Gibson produced a ledger filled with eye witness statements of the details and name of each ship, where it was coming from and going to, the number of crew and passengers and how many lives were saved and lost.

It is very rare that photographer’s journals survive with notes about their photographs.

The images include recent wrecks too, like that of the Cita in 2007 and other photographs taken by much-loved islander Frank Gibson, who died last year.

Shipwreck hunter Rex Cowan has described it as the “greatest archive of the drama and mechanics of shipwreck.”

Sotheby’s specialist Richard Fattorini says maritime and shipwreck museums as well as private collectors of photographs and maritime history are most likely to bid.

It’s thought that the single lot will fetch between £100,000 and £150,000 when the images go on sale on 12th November in London.

Sandra Kyne, the fifth generation Gibson photographer, can only comment publicly on the sale through Sotheby’s press office. They said she was unavailable yesterday.

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