Between 1966 and 2008, Libby Hall collected old photographs of dogs, amassing many thousands to assemble what was possibly the largest number of canine pictures ever gathered by any single person. The collection—circa 1850 to 1940—was later edited down to its present size of approximately 900 photographs, comprised of the dog photographs used in her five books including Prince and Others; Postcard Dogs; and These Were Our Dogs (published by Bloomsbury). Hall most recently published her autobiography titled A Measure of Dogs (available on Blurb).
“My husband Tony and I used to go to Kingsland Waste, where we had a friend who did house clearances, and in those days they sold old photo albums and threw away the pictures. So I used to rescue them and I began sorting out the dogs—because I always liked dogs—and it became a collection. Then I started collecting properly, looking for them at car boot sales and auctions. And eventually a publisher offered me an advance of two thousand pounds for a book of them, which was fantastic, and when each of my books was published I just used the royalties to buy more and more photographs. I had a network of dealers looking out for things for me and they would send me pictures on approval. They were nineteenth century mostly and I only collected up until 1940, because I didn’t want to invade anyone’s privacy. Nobody was interested until my first book was published in 2000, and afterwards people said I had shot myself in the foot because everybody started collecting them and they became very expensive, but by then I had between five and six thousand photographs of dogs.
What matters to me is others seeing them, I never made any money from my books because I spent it all on buying more photographs.”