First National Geographic auction coming to Christie's in December

The first ever auction of National Geographic's remarkable archives is to be held on December 6 through Christie's.

The National Geographic Society has collected around 11.5m photographs and artefacts over the 125 years since its foundation, and now just 240 pieces from its archives are to feature in the sale.

The auction will celebrate the organisation's 125th anniversary, with the profits to be used for the upkeep of the archive as well as benefitting young photographers, artists and explorers.

McCurry Sharbat Gula Afghan Girl
Afghan Mona Lisa: the girl has since been identified as Sharbat Gula

Among some of the most exciting lots in the sale will be a selection of the most iconic photographs to have been published in the society's official journal and magazine, including the world-famous photograph, Afghan Girl. Steven McCurry's photograph appeared on the cover of National Geographic magazine in 1985 and has since become one of the most recognisable images in the world, often referred to as "the Afghan Mona Lisa".

A print of McCurry's Afghan Girl sold at another auction in May, realising $13,750 against an estimate of $7,000.

Senior vice president of National Geographic's archives, Maura Mulvihill, told Fox News: "We think of ourselves as the unsung fathers of modern photojournalism. I don't think people are aware of what a massive instructive archive this is."

Edward S Curtis The North American Indian
A stunning work, The North American Indian was commissioned by financier J P Morgan

The star lot of the auction will be Edward Curtis' renowned portfolio The North American Indian, which is expected to bring $700,000-900,000. The work is believed to be the same copy owned by inventor of the telephone, Alexander Graham Bell.

Another copy of the 40-volume portfolio sold for $1.4m on October 4, suggesting potentially excellent results for the present example.

Paul Fraser Collectibles is currently offering an authentic strand of hair from the Apache leader Geronimo, as well as a brilliant selection of rare photographs. For the results of this sale and more of the latest from across the auction world, sign up to our free weekly newsletter.

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