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Views in Cape Town and Vicinity, 1857-1879

Reference Code: GBR/0115/RCS/Y3059A

Scope and Contents

A collection of albumen prints (numbers 50-77 being stereoscopic cards) of various sizes. All the prints are mounted on card and most have captions by C.J. Busk. The captions have been used as titles and have been recorded as found. Titles composed by the cataloguer are enclosed in square brackets. Many also have additional annotations by his son Charles W. Busk (mostly relating to the changes apparent in the scenes photographed when Charles W. Busk was in South Africa in 1914). Annotations by C.W. Busk are followed by '[C.W.B.]' where not otherwise indicated.


  • Creation: 1857 - 1879


Conditions Governing Access

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 (

Biographical / Historical

C.J. Busk, according to information in the letters from his son, 'was for some time member of the Legislature for Cape Town, in Bishop Crags, and Sir G. Grey's governorship and subsequently'. He is mentioned as sitting as a member of the Legislative Council for the Western District in 'The Cape of Good Hope Commercial Directory and General Business Guide for 1868', Cape Town : Saul Solomon and Co., (the earliest edition in the Royal Commonwealth Society Library). He was also presumably a partner in the firm of Eaton, Busk and Co. (Y3059A/5), earlier MacDonald, Busk and Co. Since he lived outside Cape Town (Y3059A/23), it has not proved possible to trace much information about him in the commercial directories. Although the quality of the photographic work is very variable, the collection is important as the work of an early amateur in South Africa, the architectural views in particular being of historical importance.

The process used by Busk was the wet collodion process, with the exception of one photograph (Y3059A/50) which was taken on wax paper (that is, using a paper negative impregnated with wax for transparency during the printing process). Some of the stereoscopic views in the collection represent a foray into professional photography, being advertised as a set of 36 cards entitled 'Of the Land we Live in' in the 'South African Advertiser and Mail' of June 1863. Many of these cards are dated 28 January 1863 in C.J. Busk’s hand on the reverse of the mounts.


1 file(s) (77 images in 1 file)

Language of Materials


Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

the prints are in conditions ranging from very poor to good.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Presented by Charles W. Busk in 1925.

Existence and Location of Copies

This collection is available on microfiche: Africa, fiche numbers 185-186.

Related Materials

An album of contact prints (from modern negatives of the complete collection made for Dr. Joseph Denfield of East London) also contains typescript copies of all the captions together with correspondence from Charles Busk (1925) and from Marjorie Bull and Joseph Denfield (1965).


This item level description was entered by KS and MJC using information from the original typescript catalogue.

Date information

DateText: The dates are approximate..


Busk, Charles James, fl 1857-1879, merchant

Includes index.
2003-03-26 14:55:50+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom