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It had come by descent from a family member who had served in India as an officer (the rank or regiment now unknown) in the 19th century.

Estimated at £5000-8000, it took £32,000 (plus 25% buyer’s premium).

Most, but not all of the 126 albumen prints are known from William Johnson’s Photographs of Western India, a rare three-volume work c.1855-62.

The only fully catalogued copy, one that previously belonged to Sir Henry Bartle Edward Frere, a governor of Bombay, is in the DeGolyer Library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Johnson worked primarily as a civil servant in Mumbai from 1848-60 but was also a keen semi-professional photographer.

A founding member of the Bombay Photographic Society in 1854, as well as co-editor of its journal, he established a studio where he produced first daguerrotypes and later albumen prints from wet plate collodion negatives.

Many of the prints in this well-preserved green half morocco album were taken c.1856- 58 when Johnson partnered with William Henderson to create the 36 issues of the Indian Amateur’s Photographic Album.

However, others helpfully include, alongside a title and the type of negative used, the names of fellow photographers working in the subcontinent.

L&T head of department Simon Vickers told ATG it was quite likely some were the works of the British colonial officer himself.

Three bidders from India competed on February 14 against both a UK photography dealer and a private UK collector before it sold to the latter.