The Godfrey Batting Collection
Lot 1 to Lot 85 Ambrose Godfrey Batting (1880 -1971) Godfrey's father, Gilbert Batting MPS, ran the family chemist's shop at 98, The New Parade, Calverley Road, Tunbridge Wells. A substantial business, there were six assistants and they acted as wholesalers for the other chemist's shops in the town. The shop also dealt in cameras and every kind of photographic and darkroom equipment. When Godfrey was 10 years old his father had an accident and was confined to a wheelchair. From then on, Godfrey and his younger brother Tom helped out as much as they could, until his father died in 1916, when they both took over the shop; Godfrey was then 36. Godfrey and his brother Tom spent the rest of their lives living together as bachelors in a large Victorian house at 69, Upper Grosvenor Road, also in Tunbridge Wells. They were both avid collectors, Godfrey of cameras and photographs and Tom of paintings and antiques. Godfrey was an active photographer as early as 1895 and was still collecting cameras in the 1940s. He had an early interest in using Lumière Autochromes and appears to have followed developments in early colour photography with interest. In 1930 he designed a Focusing Lens Holder, Patent 345102, 1930-1931, with examples and associated paperwork included in this auction.
In due course, Godfrey became the Honorary Secretary of the Tunbridge Wells Amateur Photographic Association, later Honorary Vice-President and Honorary Curator of the Tunbridge Wells Photographic Record Section. Photography was the chosen hobby of the well-off local gentry. He knew many of the distinguished members, such as Henry Peach Robinson, Thomas Sims, Francis Smart, Joseph Chamberlain, who assisted Francis Smart in his darkroom, and Ernest Ashton. He also knew Sir David Salomons, a renowned early proponent of domestic electric lighting and the motor car, whose wife was Patroness of the Association in the 1920s. It held regular meetings at the various grand houses of the members in Tunbridge Wells, such as Bredbury, which belonged to Francis Smart. After dinner they would have lectures with shows of lantern slides, which accounts for the magic lantern and slides in Godfrey’s collection. Knowing all these photographers as he did, Godfrey decided to collect their old cameras, and these, along with other cameras form the basis of his collection. There is also a camera hand-made by Joseph Chamberlain for himself; he wrote about photography in journals and magazines and was at one time the President of the TWAPA. Some of the cameras and tripods and other equipment may well have been unsold stock from the shop.
Godfrey and his brother were very advanced in their ideas and believed in 'natural ' cures rather than chemicals, as illustrated in the flyer from their shop. They were also very prescient in their dislike of modern inventions, such as washing-up liquid, that they said would kill all the fishes in the rivers. Although they had a bathroom in the house they believed hot baths were bad for you and washed every day with a sponge and cold water. In short, they were classic, well-educated Victorian eccentrics.
It appears that Godfrey had plenty of opportunity to experiment with all his photographic equipment, with most pieces carefully dismantled, labelled and extensively annotated, but with lenses and other parts often separated from the original source cameras. Very little of his collection appears to post-date World War One and it is probable that he finished his annotations by the 1940s or 1950s. However, he collected bound copies of the BJP into the 1960s, also heavily annotated in parts. It has been attempted to put back like with like, but most pieces have long been separated and may even have never been associated, so lens boards, even if they fit, may not be original to the camera they are now with and lens focal lengths may not be exactly correct, even if the lens flange thread is correct. The collection is a time-capsule of one enthusiast's life, including cameras, literature, developing and printing equipment, and has lain virtually untouched since his death nearly fifty years ago, so Godfrey's profuse and very personal annotations create a form of technical autobiography, at the same time as making his genial character clear.
This auction will include the postponed auction lots from the April sale so please expect there to be some great lots to bid on!
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Photographica Including Cameras, Photographs and Scientific Instruments
Lots 1 to 85 ––The Godfrey Batting Collection
Lots 86 to 163 ––Photographs and Literature
Lots 164 to 193 ––Scientific Instruments
Lots 194 to 222 ––Cameras
Lots 223 to 289 ––35mm
Lots 290 to 304 ––Accessories
Lots 305 to 347 ––Lenses
348 to 353 - Ciné
Lots 354 to 361 ––Hasselblad
Lots 362 to 418 ––Rollei
Lots 419 to 446 ––Medium Format
Lots 447 to 466 ––Large Format
Lots 467 to 523 --Leica