Penlee acquires historic Gibson archive

Penlee acquires historic Gibson archive
Penlee House Gallery and Museum

By: Louise Connell
Added: 29 June 2016

A much sought-after collection of prints and plates taken by the Gibson photographic dynasty has been saved for Cornwall. The collection was due to be sold at auction in Penzance. Director of Penlee House, Louise Connell, said:

“I am surprised and delighted that the vendor of this historic archive of photographs has offered them Penlee House via private treaty sale. It is the best outcome for heritage in Cornwall:  the collection will be professionally catalogued and made accessible in lots of exciting ways, including an exhibition, publication, online and, of course, through education events and activities. With the level of interest that the collection generated, there was a real risk that it would be bought by a private collector.

As a local museum run by the local Town Council in Penzance, we do not have unlimited funds, and there was a strong possibility that we would be outbid. As it is, we have raised the purchase price through the generosity of a number of organisations and individuals, including the Friends of Penlee House, who have all rallied round to help. It is an unexpected delight to be in a position to acquire this important collection, and thank you to the many people who have helped and supported us with our fundraising.It is important to note that the funding package did not require a contribution from Penzance Town Council – who already contribute financially towards the running of the gallery."

 Gibson & Sons was a pioneering photography company, founded by John Gibson when he first acquired a camera in the 1850s. A seaman by trade, by 1860 he had established himself as a professional photographer with a studio in Penzance and on St Mary's on Scilly. The collection consists of around 1200 original photograhic prints and around 300 glass plate negatives and includes a range of subjects, including maritime, mining, village life, antiquities and architecture, all dating from 1870 - 1905.