by Graham Tratt, Archivist and Jo Vietzke, Senior Archivist
City librarian George Pryce (1801-1868) spent his life studying Bristol. He published books on the city’s medieval sculpture, architecture and the Canynges family. However, Pryce’s best known work was his “A Popular History of Bristol”. Published in 1861, this book was the product of more than thirty years’ study and is still used by local historians today.
When the Friends saw that two volumes relating to Pryce’s “History” were for sale, they contacted Bristol Archives. The items they had spotted were albums which Pryce gave to his son, Rev Robert Vaughan Pryce, for his birthday in 1866. They contain illustrations and early photographs of buildings and architectural details around Bristol.
Many of the pictures are described in Pryce’s “History” and page numbers from the 1861 edition have been written in these volumes.
The early albumen print photographs in these volumes are particularly exciting. Albumen prints used egg white and silver nitrate to create a photographic image. The pioneer photographer John Wheely Gough Gutch used this technique in Bristol and some of his photographs are held in the collections at Bristol Museum & Art Gallery. We think it’s possible that Gutch took the albumen photos in these volumes for Pryce.
The volumes contain a wealth of other material, including maps and engravings. Their contents will complement many of the archives and objects already held at Bristol’s archives, museums and galleries. We know that these books will be popular with researchers interested in history, photography, religion, architecture, memorials, and many other topics, for many years to come.
Bristol Archives are delighted to give a home to these important and beautiful works, thanks to the generous support of the Friends of Bristol Museums, Galleries & Archives.
These items are available for research in our public searchroom:
- George Pryce’s photograph albums (ref. 46207)
- “A Popular History of Bristol”, 1861 (ref. Bk/676)