Iconic 20th century camera to be sold at Newcastle auction

Anderson and Garland auctioneers are selling a camera owned by pioneering natural history photographer Cherry Kearton

sarah@sarahhallconsultin?g.co.uk Cherry Kearton camera
Cherry Kearton camera

A camera owned by the pioneering natural history photographer who inspired a young Sir David Attenborough is to be sold at a Newcastle auction today.

The early 20th Century hand-cranked 35mm motion-picture camera was used by Cherry Kearton on his trips to Africa in the first two decades of the last century.

Marked “The Charles Urban Trading Company London & Paris’” the camera is fitted with a JH Dallmeyer brass-barrelled lens, has a rack-and-pinion focusing, a drop-in aperture slot and stands on a heavy black-stained wooden tripod.

It will be sold by Anderson and Garland and is estimated at between £800 and £1,400.

Photographer Cherry Kearton, who worked alongside his naturalist brother Richard, is recognised as the father of natural history photography.

The brothers, from the village of Thwaite in the Yorkshire Dales, published their record of the people and wildlife on the remote Scottish island of St Kilda in their 1897 book “With Nature and a Camera’”

Cherry travelled over five continents photographing wildlife, initially with a stills camera before using the new motion-picture cameras to record the first natural history films.

sarah@sarahhallconsultin?g.co.uk Cherry Kearton camera close up
Cherry Kearton camera close up

Cherry began making documentary films in 19010-11. He then graduated to making and starring in his own movies, such as “With Cherry Kearton in the Jungle” in 1926.

The camera being sold by Anderson & Garland belongs to Richard’s grandson and Cherry’s great-nephew, who is also called Cherry Kearton.

Dr Kearton, a mathematician at Durham University, said: “My great uncle more or less invented natural history photography.

“He died in 1940, and think his first trip to Africa was in 1910. I don’t know how old this camera is but I believe he used it in Africa in the teens and 1920s.

“He died before I was born and so did my grandfather Richard Kearton. The two brothers really started natural history photography and left quite a legacy.”

He expects the camera prove a big draw for historians and camera collectors.

“It will certainly appeal to people interested in the history of photography,” said Dr Kearton. “Someone like David Attenborough may be interested.”

John Anderson at Anderson & Garland said: “The camera is historically important and will no doubt be highly sought after by collectors. We have already had a number of museums express interest in this very special piece. It really is a unique object with a fantastic history, which has been in family ownership since Cherry Kearton used it on his travels.”


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