You must be Joe King


Readers of my new book are maybe wondering why a good few of the images are credited to foreign museum sources. The Tryggve Gran chapter is a case in point. There are various archives which hold local images of his aeroplane at Cruden Bay. Sadly, however only the Norsk Tecknisk Museum in Oslo was kind enough to allow me a fee free image for inclusion in the book.

Scottish sources wanted what they imagined was a suitable cut from my author’s royalties. In a similar vein, Museums Victoria in Melbourne were more than happy to source and then send me images of a James VIII silver guinea for inclusion on the basis that a photo-credit would be nice. I can respect that.

I have of course met this sort of kindness before and it is of course very much appreciated. Balmoral Estates went to a lot of trouble to find me an image of Balmoral Castle and Fraserburgh Heritage Centre bunged me an image of Buffalo Bill Cody atop his white charger on the wild West Pier at Fraserburgh. All good and all very much appreciated.

Then there are those organisations which are simply taking the piss. I would have used an image of that James III silver guinea from an Edinburgh based Scottish Museum. But the fee for usage amounted to some ridiculous number of guineas. Historic Scotland, in their turn, demanded a massive £1100 for an image of a Roman-era artefact known as the Deskford Carnyx – I, of course, resorted to taking a full-frame camera along to a free guided tour and snapped off a few shots at a massive discount. What are they going to do about it, apart from set the Roman Legions on to me?

The National Trust and various other public institutions have similarly odd ideas about the using of images for what they imagine to be profiteering. Who, after all, in their right mind imagines that authors make money? Yes, the likes of Stephen King and Maugham might have made a buck or two. But little old me? I defer to your imagination on that one.

And to cap it all, the Hamilton Museum Service demanded an upfront fee of some £416 plus VAT to take images of the Hamilton Mausoleum. Needless to say, they did not receive even the courtesy of a reply.

Thankfully, the good outweigh the bad in the big scheme of things although public institutions such the Glasgow Maritime Museum need to take a really good look at image-use policy. Just saying of course. Rant over.

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