Hand-coloured photographs of Japan, the frozen Niagara Falls and ships in Singapore are just some examples.
The Ardingly episode, shown on Bank Holiday Monday, May 25, featured a collection of early photographs, documenting Horsham resident Robert Henderson’s world tour in 1874.
Bargain Hunt presenter Natasha Raskin Sharp was shown discussing the valuable images with Jeremy Knight, Horsham museum and heritage manager.
Jeremy said: “Thousands of Bargain Hunters tuning in to BBC1 saw a selection of stunning photographs of a lost age. The remarkable images came from four beautifully-bound albums in the collections of Horsham District Council’s Horsham Museum & Gallery and the story of these albums is as fascinating as the images within.
“Almost 150 years ago, Robert Henderson of Sedgwick Park undertook a world tour. Instead of taking his own cameras on his trip, he purchased images from the studios of the best photographers he could find around the world.
“In India, he bought images of local life captured by Samuel Bourne and in Japan he visited the studio of Felice Beato. From Beato’s studio, he selected both black and white and colourfully hand-tinted scenes of a rapidly-disappearing ‘floating world’, along with images of everyday Japanese life.
“From unknown American photographers, he purchased images of a frozen Niagara and the giant redwoods. He was evidently just as enthralled by nature as by the building of the elevated railway on the east coast of the states. Such images may have reminded him of the mining images from Malaysia and perhaps the refined elegance of Washington recalled his trip to Singapore.
“Upon his return, Henderson had the 320 images he’d collected bound into four albums. No doubt he showed them to his new wife, Emma Hargreaves, who was to become the sister-in-law to Alice Liddell, the original Alice in Wonderland.
“Alice visited the Henderson’s home of Sedgwick Park immediately after she married Emma’s brother in Westminster Abbey. Later, the original Alice would visit Horsham Museum, which was then located in Park House.
“The albums were given to the museum in 1932 and have remained a much-admired record of a Victorian grand tour, which the museum was delighted to share with the BBC audience.”
In the 19th century, it was customary for young gentlemen to complete their education with a world tour, as Natasha explains.
The photographs of Japan are even more remarkable because the country really opened up to visitors only in the 1890s, yet these date back to 1875. In America, the scenes of nature captured Robert’s imagination and Natasha describes the incredible Niagara Falls photograph as ‘a picture of heaven’.
These photographs were expensive to buy at the time and now would fetch £5,000 to £10,000 each but Jeremy says they are priceless in terms of historical worth.
Viewers can watch the Bargain Hunt episode, Series 56: Ardingly 6, until June 24 on BBC iPlayer.
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