Work of British amateur photographers of the 1850s and 1860s will star alongside that of other early pioneers at an auction to be held at Sotheby?s in London on 17 May.

The treasures include photographs by Linneaus Tripe, captured in England between 1852 and 1854. The photographs, which are believed to be among the earliest recorded works by the photographer, include an image called ?Gunwharf ? Devonport (Men Cleaning Shot)?, estimated to sell for up to £5,000.

Meanwhile, described by Sotheby?s as one of the most intriguing lots, is a picture of St Andrew?s Church in Chew Magna, Somerset (bottom) captured during the 1840s by an ?unidentified? photographer. ?Not only is it a calotype? but it also shows a very unusual scene,? explained a Sotheby?s spokesperson. ?The two figures in stovepipe hats in the foreground are sitting on a grave and the man holding a spade and young boy are standing next to a freshly dug grave.? The image is expected to raise up to £1,500.

Also up for grabs is a photograph by French photographer Hippolyte

Bayard, which is expected to fetch up to £40,000.

The auction will also feature an album of pictures taken between 1854 and 1858. The Victoria Album, valued at £6,000-£8,000, is billed as significant for its inclusion of 115 pictures by Lady Lucy Bridgeman, whose work is described by Sotheby?s as ?very rare?.

The album includes a portrait of Lucy with her sister Charlotte (below left). The sisters became known as ?The Burnt Aunts? because they are both understood to have died when a stray ember from the fire at their home set alight their clothing, despite each trying to save the other.

Among the famous names from the 20th century are Man Ray and Richard Avedon. An Irving Penn picture from 1949, printed 30 years later, is expected to rake in up to £50,000.

The auction takes place at 2pm at Sotheby?s, 34-35 New Bond Street, London W1A. Tel: 020 7293 6000.