Hit the road with this fully-functioning Victorian-era mobile darkroom & studio – Popular Photography

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Fancy yourself a photography studio on wheels? What about one with a little history? On Friday, August 5, 2022, a historic, horse-drawn mobile Victorian photo studio goes on auction at Charterhouse in Dorset, England. 

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mobile victorian photography studio
The horse-drawn studio will be on auction August 5 in England.

The history

This mobile Victorian photography studio originally belonged to the Pouncy family, known as painters and photographers in the southern town of Dorchester, situated near the English Channel.

John and Walter Pouncy were a father-son photography duo, and the former held a reputation as a photography pioneer. Notably, John experimented with photo-lithography in an effort to solve the early problem of fading. The resulting work, Dorset Photographically Illustrated, was considered an achievement.

As for the photography studio, Charterhouse writes that the little horse-drawn building was shared by the Pouncys with other professional photographers in the area. All would use the space to photograph seaside visitors of Swanage, a coastal town southeast of Dorset.

Related: Best 35mm film

Present condition 

Though it has been updated and restored throughout the years, in its current state, this mobile Victorian photo studio will need a bit of facelift (though it’s technically functional). It retains the original plans with an interior featuring both a darkroom and an area for shooting, with backdrop supports. The large windows and skylight provide plenty of natural light. The structure sits on sprung wheels and the new owner will need to fetch it from the field in which it sits in Wareham, a town also in the area.

“I had the privilege of seeing the studio in the summer of 2021 and meeting its current owner,” Director of Programmes at the Royal Photographic Society, Michael Pritchard, told Amateur Photographer. “It is a remarkable survival. Entering felt like stepping back 130 years. Although the current owner’s hope of restoring and retaining it as a traveling studio were not able to be realized, it has been lovingly looked after. It deserves a new home where it can be preserved and shown, ideally in Dorset, and be used as a studio, telling its remarkable story and that of the Pouncy business and 19th-century photography.”

Interested bidders should be ready on August 5. Charterhouse, The Long Street Salerooms, in Sherborne, Dorset will manage the sale. The studio is expected to sell for between £8,000-£12,000 (USD $9,746-$14,618).


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