19th century photo collection of Holy Land sells for record $1.4 million

The $1.4 million collection, of over 1,000 black & white photos, includes pictures of Jerusalem and the Galilee, some of which date back to 1840.

Ynet Correspondents


A collection of pictures of Jerusalem and other places in Israel from the 19th century has been sold for $1.4 million the British newspaper The Daily Mail reports. 

The collection consists of over 1,000 black and white photos, the earliest of which are from 1840. 

The photo set includes pictures of Mt. Zion, al-Aqsa Mosqe, and the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives. The photos are amongst the oldest photos of Jerusalem ever captured.

Mosque in Jerusalem – Photo/ Bonfils:SWNS.com

Jerusalem – Photo: Bonfils/SWNS.com

Western Wall and Dome of the Rock – Photo: Bonfils/SWNS.com

Jews and Arabs appear in the pictures, and shows people praying in mosques, at the Western Wall, and at other holy sites. 

The collector, who’s name hasn’t been released, collected the photos over a quarter century in order to create a special historical record of the city. 

Dome of the Rock – Photo: Bonfils/SWNS.com


Stairs in the Old City of Jerusalem – Photo: Bonfils/SWNS.com

Tiberius – Photo: Bonfils/SWNS.com

The collection was sold at auction at Sothebey’s. The starting price was under $500,000, but the winner of the auction bought the collection for $1.4 million. 

Jews praying at the Western Wall – Photo: Bonfils/SWNS.com

Photo: Bonfils/SWNS.com


Richard Patorini, an expert at Sotheby’s described the sale as “one of the most unforgettable sales” that he was involved in.

“It arrived at its high price because those who were involved in the bidding understood that there were great treasures amongst these pictures. More pictures are taken every two minutes than were taken in the 19th century,” he said. 

“Pictures from this period are rare, and this is the largest collection of pictures from this period which have ever been sold at auction.”


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