Issue #55  4/3/2003
Mary Dillwyn Album Acquired For Wales

The National Library of Wales has purchased an early album from the 1840/50s by Mary Dillwyn for Wales following the refusal of an export license after it sold at auction at Christie's London. The £48,000 album was bought by the library from the original purchaser and will now undergo conservation work before being shown to the public.

Gwyn Jenkins, Director of Collection Services at the National Library of Wales, said, "The National Library is delighted to have acquired this wonderful album of early photographs and is grateful for the support given to it by several organizations who contributed funding towards its purchase. It will be a fine addition to our national collection of over a million photographs dating from the dawn of photography to the new digital age."

As I noted at the time (May 2002), the auction of the very sweet and unusual album of miniature images by Mary Dillwyn, which were only 2-3/8 x 1-3/4 in. (6 x 4.5 cm.), became a race between dealer Hans Kraus and Lee Marks, who was bidding for collector Howard Stein. With Stein's deep pockets, Marks took home the prize--albeit only temporarily--at 47,800 pounds, which was the second highest priced lot of the auction. The album of 42 salt and one albumen print was in a fragile paper format and contained family portraits, still lifes and studies of fowl. The latter images were the most interesting of the group

Iwan Jones, the library's head of collections care, said the album was a "testimony to the early development of an aesthetic application to a new scientific and technical process. It reflects the significant contribution of Wales to the pioneering of photography."