First x-rays expected to get £20,000 at auction after being found in a shoebox
They were discovered in a shoebox of documents bought at auction by collector Roy Davids and were produced in 1896, just weeks after the process was invented.
Contained inside the box were the papers of Henry Currie Marillier, a friend and possible lover of Oscar Wilde, who worked for the company that produced the x-rays.
The ‘shadowprints’ – including one of Mr Marillier’s hand – were taken by Alan Swinton of the Swan Electrical Engraving Company. They also include coins, razors, a corkscrew and other metals.
‘At the auction, the x-rays were not mentioned but when I looked through the box I saw them and the date seemed very early,’ said Mr Davids, who described Mr Marillier as ‘an extraordinary man’.
‘He was a scientific correspondent among other things and worked for the company that took the x-rays, which was owned by Charles Swan, his wife’s cousin.
‘Marillier’s hand was x-rayed for four minutes which is something that might be considered dangerous today.’
German physicist Wilhelm Rontgen is usually credited as the discoverer of x-rays just weeks before Mr Swinton took the images. The auction at Bonhams in London takes place on March 29.
Image: Henry Currie Marillier’s hand is among the x-ray images.