The collection – consigned for sale at David Lay of Penzance in June – comprises more than 1200 original photographic prints and 290 glass negative plates taken by two generations of the Gibson dynasty of Scilly Penwith in the late 19th and early 20th century. The subjects of the evocative images in the archive relate mainly to west Cornwall.
Before the June 16 sale Lay announced that the archive, to be offered as a single lot with an estimate of £15,000-25,000, had been purchased by Penlee House Museum and Gallery in West Penwith.
He said: “Of course, as auctioneers we relish the drama of a saleroom contest, but appreciate that it was the Gibson family’s preferred outcome that the archive remain locally in a public institution where it can be seen by all.”
The photographs will now be catalogued and made accessible via an exhibition and publication online.
The vast collection of images taken by John Gibson (1827-1920) and his sons Alexander (1857-1944) and Herbert (1861-1937) has been divided into several archives.
The extraordinary ‘Gibson’s Shipwreck Archive’ sold at Sotheby’s in 2013 for £100,000 was bought by the National Maritime Museum.