The Gibson Archives: a graphic and emotive depictions of shipwrecks
August 20, 2017 6:19 AM   Subscribe

The Isles of Scilly (Google maps, Wikipedia) are an archipelago off the south western tip of the Cornish peninsula that include the southern-most point of the UK, and some of the most treacherous waters in the Atlantic. John Gibson, a seaman-turned-photographer, brought his camera to the rocky cliffs and photographed shipwrecks, rescue attempts, and local events, starting in 1865. The Gibsons of Scilly continued photographing wrecks and their community for five generations (website archive). In 2013, the family auctioned off four generations of their photographs, and the archive was purchased by Penlee House Musuem and Gallery.

The Gibson archive added to their extensive collection of photographs, fine and decorative art, archaeology, and natural history collections, though it's unclear if they have digitized the more than 1200 original photographic prints and 290 glass negative plates taken by two generations of the Gibson dynasty, John Gibson (1827-1920) and his sons Alexander (1857-1944) and Herbert (1861-1937), which are of particular interest regarding local history and local shipwrecks.
posted by filthy light thief (8 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite
 
Fascinating story, thanks for posting!
posted by carter at 7:26 AM on August 20


Those are some of the most fascinating images. Thanks for posting this!
posted by Thorzdad at 8:14 AM on August 20


Small clarification: there are two separate Gibson archives. The shipwreck photographs were sold in 2013 and bought by the National Maritime Museum. All the other photographs were sold in 2016 and bought by Penlee House Museum.

The shipwreck photographs have understandably received most of the attention. But the rest of the photographs are just as interesting and important. When they were catalogued for sale in 2016, they were described as "a truly remarkable archive .. [showing] the everyday people of the late 19th century going about their daily business. Fishermen, fishwives, tradesmen and labourers, the middle classes and the desperately poor barefoot children .. All these images, whether posed or caught in the moment, serve as wonderful documents of social history and provide us with a window into our past."
posted by verstegan at 9:04 AM on August 20 [3 favorites]


The Isles of Scilly continue to attract wrecks, these days sometimes of a more high-tech nature.
posted by Major Clanger at 10:25 AM on August 20


This is fabulous, thank you! Hits many of my buttons, I'm going to the Ises of Scilly later this year, can't wait!
posted by Helga-woo at 10:31 AM on August 20


Small clarification: there are two separate Gibson archives.

Thank you for this clarification! Here's the Royal Museums Greenwich press release about the National Maritime Museum purchase, and an update from 19 June 2017 on Conserving the Gibson Glass Plate Negatives.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:52 PM on August 20 [1 favorite]


One of them was carrying 'a consignment of pianos'.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 12:18 AM on August 21


They are now piano tunas.
posted by Quindar Beep at 8:05 AM on August 21


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