These 150-Year-Old Photos of Brazil’s Amazon Sold at Auction for $81,000

A set of historical photographs of the Amazon captured by German photographer Albert Frisch over 150 years ago have sold at Sotheby’s auction house for $81,250. The images offer a rare, fascinating glimpse at what life was like in Brazil’s Upper Amazon.

The lot was sold as part of an auction of “Classic Photographs,” and generated international news coverage. Frisch’s photos—98 of them in all—were captured during “the earliest successful photographic expedition to Brazil’s Upper Amazon” in 1867-1868, and first published in 1869.

“This rare album, now in the archives of the Weltmuseum, Vienna, was believed to be the only complete set of such prints until the recent discovery of the remarkable group offered here,” writes Sotheby’s. “The present photographs, on the two-toned letterpress-captioned mounts as issued by publisher Georg Leuzinger in 1869, are believed to be the only such group in private hands. Additionally, this collection contains two photographs (plates 99 and 100) not represented in the Vienna album.”

The lot was expected to go for between $70,000 and $100,000, and wound up selling for $81,250 to the Instituto Moreira Salles in Brazil.

You can see a couple of contact sheets from the sale below:

To see more from this fascinating collection of classic photographs—believed to be the only “significant group of Amazonas photographs [that] has appeared at auction”—head over to the Sotheby’s website.

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to publish our coverage of this lot before bidding took place, but we have a feeling most of our readers probably would have been more interested in seeing the photos than spending 80 grand to acquire them.

Image credits: Photographs by Albert Frisch, courtesy of Sotheby’s