Collection of the week: The Francis Frith Collection

Collection of the week: The Francis Frith Collection

Francis Frith was born into a Quaker family in 1822 in Derbyshire. Early business success in wholesale grocery enabled him to pursue his love of photography as a gentleman of leisure. Between 1856 and 1860 he made three pioneering expeditions to the Middle East, taking with him bulky cameras and glass plates. The photographs he took were published back in Britain to great popular acclaim.

In 1860 a new venture, F. Frith & Co, set out to create accurate photographs of as many cities, towns and villages of the British Isles as possible and sell copies of the images to the public. Frith's studio began to supply souvenir prints to shops all over the country, and after his death in 1898, his photographic record was continued by his family, this time utilising the medium of picture postcards, newly-approved by the Post Office. The original company closed in 1969, having covered over a century of life in Britain.

The collection documents the social and physical development of the country over this period of rapid change in a unique way. Views of quiet villages jostle with the crowded streets of industrial cities. The packed beaches of seaside resorts in their heyday stand alongside images of craftsmen, traders and fishwives.

For a good cross-section of this huge collection, click here, and do get in touch either by email at or by telephone on 020 8318 0034 if you'd like a search or a quote.

Mary Evans Picture Library Ltd.  59 Tranquil Vale  Blackheath  London  SE3 0BS. United Kingdom.
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