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Old Photographs of Cornwall

Collections of Old Photographs

There are many sources of old photographs of "Old Cornwall" to be found around the place, many of which have been gathered together in private collections, and either published in book form, or made available on the internet to be both viewed or purchased. The most interesting old photographs are those that were taken over one hundred years ago in the early 1900s, before the First World War. Perhaps more fascinating, and providing an even hazier glimpse into the mists of time, are those that were taken during the 1880s and 1890s, or from even earlier in the late 19th century. These give a very different view of the world to the one that we recognise today, and of the places that we know so well, and provide a rare comparison with an age that is now long past.

One of the most prolific collections of old photographs is the Francis Frith Collection, which contains photographs taken from all over the country (and some old maps), and is perhaps the one most widely known and visited.

The Francis Frith Collection of old Cornwall photographs can be found at...
Francis Frith - The Historic County of Cornwall

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Old Postcards

Another great source of old photographs however, are old postcards! These provide a fascinating glimpse into history, and sometimes a very personal record of someone's life. Many old postcards have never been posted, and were collected at the time, in much the same way as we take, and collect, digital photographs so easily ourselves today. They were someone's own personal "album" of images, collected without having to own or cart around their own camera (which would have been much more of a bulky item at the time, let alone far more costly and more complicated to quickly use!). Those postcards that were posted however, present an even deeper glimpse into the past, with the sender's own message sent from on holiday, or perhaps with reference to some local or national events going on at the time. Collections of old postcards can usually be found by visiting local arts and crafts centres, collectors fairs, or antique markets and shops, where they can be purchased and collected yourself. There's also a thriving market online, of which eBay is a significant feature!

Here are just a couple of examples of old postcards of Cornwall, taken over a hundred years ago, that show images of Fowey Harbour, Looe, and one of way down west at Land's End, and the old "First and last House in England". Land's End is certainly a little different now! Even if the rocks and the edge of the land are still the same ones...

Old postcard of Fowey
Fowey Harbour (image taken from the Hall Walk), postcard image taken circa 1910

Old postcard of Looe
The coast at Looe - postcard from circa 1915

Old postcard of Land's End First and Last House
Land's End, and the "First and Last House in England" - postcard image taken circa 1910

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All photographs are copyright of Clive ffitch; please contact PhotoFile Cornwall if you wish to use them.
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