Sir John Benjamin Stone was born in Aston in 1838 and educated at King Edward's School on New Street, Birmingham. He joined his father’s glass manufacturing business, eventually succeeding him as director. During his lifetime Stone became heavily involved with politics. He served as the representative of Duddeston Ward on Birmingham Town Council from 1869-78, was elected Councillor for the Wylde Green Ward, became Sutton Coldfield’s first Mayor in 1886 and was elected as an MP for East Birmingham from 1895-1910.
Benjamin Stone was often criticised for his frequent absence from parliamentary debates, even travelling abroad during an election. He was able to travel extensively at a time when foreign travel was unaffordable for most. His demand as a lecturer led him to collect images for the purposes of illustration, but found that he often could not find the images he wanted. This led him to take up photography himself, and the photographs from his travels now serve as an important collection of different cultures around the world.
The Benjamin Stone Collection is comprised of 22,000 mounted prints, 17,000 glass negatives, 600 stereographs and 50 albums of collected prints.
Image: street children at Christmas time in Polesworth, Warwickshire, by Sir Benjamin Stone.
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