courtesy Department for Culture, Media & Sport

Earlier this year, the UK government placed a temporary export ban on ‘Signor 1857′ – an album containing 35 works by various photographers – saying it was at risk of leaving Britain if £121,250 needed to buy it could not be found.

The album had already been bought by an overseas buyer and was regarded by experts as a national treasure – prompting the export ban.

Hopes had been raised when a potential UK buyer then declared a serious interest in the album – believed to be the earliest of eight that Cameron owned before she took up photography. The album was credited as helping to shape the images the photographer would go on to create.

The Government extended the export ban for three months, in a bid to allow the prospective buyer to raise the money, but the funds failed to materialise in time.

A spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) confirmed
that the deadline expired at midnight, allowing its buyer to take it
out of the UK.

‘The export licence will be granted,’ the DCMS spokesman told Amateur Photographer (AP).

In May, Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said the album was of ‘outstanding significance for the study of 19th century photography’.

The original 8 July deadline to raise the funds was extended until 8 October in the hope that a ‘serious intention’ to purchase the album would be made – to keep it in the UK.

The album is believed to have been given to Cameron as a gift, by her artist friend George Frederic Watts.

Neither the name of the buyer, nor the destination of the album, have been disclosed.

The DCMS would not say if the prospective purchaser was a UK organisation, or an individual.