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Dr G.A. [sic] Atherstone, 1870 - 1890

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/Y305L/19

Scope and Contents

53 x 74 mm. (Oval image). A carte de visite head and shoulders studio portrait of the bearded Dr Williams Guybon Atherstone (1814-1898), a physician, geologist, naturalist and early amateur photographer in South Africa. Atherstone came to South Africa with his parents in 1820 and after a period of study at the Uitenhage Academy (1829-1831) he was apprenticed to his father, a physician in Grahamstown and later served as an assistant Staff Surgeon in the Sixth Frontier War 1834-35. The years 1836-39 were spent in study in London and Atherstone was also present at the historic public announcement of Daguerre's progress in Paris in August 1839. Atherstone was, in 1847, the first doctor outside Europe and the U.S.A. to use a general anaesthetic to perform an operation and was also the founder and first Medical Officer of the Albany Hospital (1858) and the Grahamstown Lunatic Asylum (1875). He served as the Grahamstown member in the Cape Legistative Assembly 1881-83 and was a member of the legislative Council for the South Eastern Provinces 1884-90. Among a number of important geological and Palaeontological discoveries was his identification in 1867 of 'O'Reilley's Diamond', the first to be discovered in South Africa. The backmark reads:' From the photographic Studio of W. Hermann, Artist. Stalplein, Opposite Government House, Cape Town. When ordering quote this number'. The handwritten number '5990' is inserted here.


  • Creation: 1870 - 1890


Conditions Governing Access

From the Fonds:

Unless restrictions apply, the collection is open for consultation by researchers using the Manuscripts Reading Room at Cambridge University Library. For further details on conditions governing access please contact Information about opening hours and obtaining a Cambridge University Library reader's ticket is available from the Library's website (

Language of Materials


Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Good condition, apart from slight fading.


For details and examples of Atherstone's later photographic work in South Africa, see: Van de Riet, Frank (1974), 'Grahamstown in early photographs', Cape Town: D. Philip.



Date information

DateText: The date is approximate..


Hermann, W, fl 1840-1898, photographer

Finding aid date

2004-09-09 11:22:52+00:00

Includes index.

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
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Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom