Richard Cobden’s copy of the official catalogue of The Great Exhibition

Item date: 1851
Grant Value: £5,000
Item cost: £26,052
Item date acquired: 2015
Item institution: John Rylands Library, University of Manchester
Town/City: Manchester
County: Lancashire

As the most substantial and significant of the John Ryland's Library’s visual collections, photography has been identified as a priority area for collecting when opportunities arise and funding permits. So we were delighted to discover that one of the sets of the presentation issue of the official descriptive and illustrated catalogue of The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, from 1851, had become available on the market. It contains 154 mounted calotype photographs printed by Nicolaas Henneman (1813-1898), William Henry Fox Talbot’s assistant, from albumenized glass plate negatives and calotype paper negatives by Claude Marie Ferrier (1811-1889) and Hugh Owen (1808-1897). The Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, 1851 was one of the early photography books still missing from our collection. Moreover, this specific set was produced for and owned by the manufacturer, politician and champion of Free Trade, Richard Cobden (1804-1865), whose history is closely intertwined with that of the social, economic and political life of Victorian Manchester. So as well as augmenting our collection of photography, this purchase provides the perfect complement to other material held by the Library that relates to Richard Cobden in the archive and manuscript collections.