Between 1966 and 2008, Libby Hall collected old photos of dogs and gathered many thousands to compile what is possibly the greatest number of dog pictures ever collected from a single person. The collection – between 1850 and 1940 – was later reduced to its present size of approximately 900 photographs, which consisted of the dog photos 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, A Measure of Dogs (available from Blurb).
“My husband Tony and I always went to Kingsland Waste, where we had a friend who did house clearance. At that time they sold old photo albums and threw the pictures away. So I rescued her and started sorting the dogs – because I’ve always liked dogs – and it became a collection. Then I started really collecting, looking for them at auto boot sales and auctions. And finally, a publisher offered me a £ two thousand advance payment on a book, which was fantastic, and when each of my books was published, I just used the royalties to buy more and more photos. I had a network of dealers looking for things for me and sending me pictures for approval. Most of them were from the nineteenth century and I only collected until 1940 because I didn’t want to invade anyone’s privacy. Nobody was interested until my first book was published in 2000, and after that people said I shot myself in the foot because everyone started collecting them and they got very expensive, but by then I had between five thousand and six thousand photos of dogs.
It is important to me that others see them. I never made any money on my books because I spent everything buying more photos. “