Turkish Sultan's historic photographs could shoot to $10,000 in US auction

A Turkish Sultan's private photo album is among the sale highlights in an upcoming Orange, Southern California, auction on March 3. The album is formerly of the Scottish Rite Museum on Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles.

A signed letter included in the lot explains how the album was acquired: "While on duty with the Navy 2 1/2 years (1919 to 1921) in Constantinople an assistant postmaster gave me this album as we were jointly working photographing Mosques and other places of interest in that area.

"The original photographer is of course unknown. Originally the album was probably in the archives of the Sultans as the gold insignia on the cover is the official seal of the Sultan - it originated as the imprint of an open hand and was embellished to its present form."

A colour image from the Turkish Sultan's private photo album 

Photo numbers 19 to 40 are of particularly interest. They were produced with a "wet plate" process, which was invented in 1851 and became most popular during the Civil War before "dry plates" made the method obsolete.

The photographer would wet a sheet of glass with collodian. The sheet would then be placed in the camera, with the photo taken as soon as possible. The "wet plate" process is still evident in finger prints on the photos' outer edges.

Other photographs in the album, aside from numbers 19 to 40, are dry plate processed. They were probably taken between 1890 and 1910.

According to the seller, A. Geo. Diack: "During the 50 years these [photographs] have been in my possession they have been through two fires and one flood - so the cover is pretty well shot, but the photos are intact."

The Turkish Sultan's private photo album carries an estimate of $6,000-10,000. Watch this space for more news on the sale.

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