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Rare 19th-century Bund panorama auctioned off for US$246,500 with other old photos

A large 13-part panorama of Shanghai taken by a British photographer in about 1873 together with 25 other old photos taken in and around Shanghai were auctioned off by multinational auction house Sotheby's on Tuesday for 146,500 pounds (about US$246,500).

The newly-discovered photographic panorama of Shanghai Bund, was jointed by 13 parts. British commercial photographer Henry Cammidge took the photo in about 1873 when he lived in China during the 19th century.

Stretching to about three meters in length, the panorama shows a sweeping view of one of the most remarkable landmarks of Shanghai more than 140 years ago. It was speculated one of the first panorama photos of this area ever recorded.

"It's a very exciting discovery. This is the largest panorama made of Shanghai in the 19th century, and we only knew it was produced because before the panorama emerged in the market, the only mention we had was in a newspaper, saying the excellent 13-part panorama of the river front was taken by Henry Cammidge. But we never saw it until it was brought to Sotheby's," said Richard Fattorini, director of the printed books, manuscripts and topographical photographs section of Sotheby's.

From the well-preserved photo, port facilities, buildings, sailing vessels, steam ships, plants and farms on the waterfront can be easily seen. Historical buildings such as The Garden Bridge, The Shanghai Club and St Joseph's Church, also can be identified on the photo.

"He took 13 individual photographs and jointed them together to complete the very long panorama of Shanghai Bund, because it's impossible to take a single panorama at that time, and all together is 3.2 meters long. It's wonderful it survived at all," Fattorini told Xinhua.

The director said the photo was owned by Richard Simpson Gundry, a British journalist who lived in Shanghai during the late 19th century working as the China correspondent for The Times newspaper and as editor of the North China Herald. And he believed that Gundry himself wrote about the panorama on his newspaper.

"I suspected that Cammidge was a young man with a lot of financial problems, he had to sell his photographs to tackle those problems as a professional photographer, and it's likely that the editor of the newspaper Gundry liked his photos and bought them from the photographer directly," Fattorini said.

He said it is the first time that they panorama been seen and for sale on the open market since 1870s.

"Those are very important historical photographs, and I think that anybody who lives or works in Shanghai or has any connection with Shanghai would love to own things like this. They are so special, but many collectors in Europe and America like Chinese photographs as well," he said, adding that, so far, the company had inquiries from Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, America, England and others around the world.


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