A large collection of over 870 postcards, photographs, and cartes-de-visite relating to Persia. 

LONDON - On April 30th Sothebys will offer a slice of Persian history to the world at large. With the growing interest in the modernist era of the Middle East, a large group of more than 870 postcards, photographs and carte-de-visite from nineteenth and twentieth century Persia must surely offer a most comprehensive visual overview of those particular eras.  The discerning buyer will understand not just the actual value of these photographic records, but also the historical significance of such an archive that any institution or library would treasure.

A large collection of over 870 postcards, photographs, and cartes-de-visite relating to Persia. 

This rare collection, assembled lovingly over more than 20 years spans both the late Qajar and the Pahlavi periods. Nasser al-din Shah, Muzaffar al-Din Shah as well as Sultan Ahmad Shah Qajar (1848-1925) all feature in these images, and many Iranians who view these albums will recognize the landmark occasions and moments of the two Pahlavi monarchs. What we see through the lens of these images is an evolution of costumes, national dress, social mores, state occasions, women’s habits, press events, and much, much more. The entire social and political spectrum of a country is unfolded in an immersive way, revealing the passionate interest of the collector who painstakingly assembled them.


Soraya, Mohamad Reza Shah Pahlavi's second wife.

What struck me is whether in today’s social media driven world we are equally able to preserve such historical evolutions. Can the flighty medium of Instagram ever replace the lengthy process of old-style photography which would then be handed down in hard copy from generation to generation? No doubt the digital age will come up with its own solutions but until then, we have these wonderful, rare images to transport us to another world.

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