A precious archive of photographs, glass plate negatives, equipment, books and manuscripts fetched almost £1/4million ? over four times more than expected ? at Sotheby?s auctioneers yesterday.

The lot had been expected to sell for between £40,000-60,000 but eventually bowed out for £243,200.

The photographs and glass plate negatives ? many unpublished ? document the holy sites and people of Makkah and Madinah (in what is now Saudi Arabia) and belonged to photography enthusiast Muhammad ?Ali Effendi Sa?oudi who lived from 1865-1955.

The treasures included 114 photographs, 88 glass stereoscopic slides and 80 stereoscopic photographs ? along with the photographer?s stereoscopic camera.

Sa?oudi was attached to the Ministry of Justice in Cairo as a civil servant specialising in the identification of forged documents.

He made pilgrimages to the Muslim holy cities in 1904 and 1908 and took pictures to document his travels across Arabia.

Records show that on 13 May 1919 Sa?oudi addressed the Sultanieh Geographical Society, equipped with a slide projector, to tell a story of a country ?about to be propelled to unbelievable wealth and renown and of religious sites still largely unknown outside its borders?.

Picture credit: Sotheby’s