Rare traveling 19th century photo studio up for auction

July 25, 2022

A rare, possibly unique, 19th century British traveling photography studio, used by photographers John and Walter Pouncy of Dorchester from the 1860s, will be offered for auction on August 5, 2022.

The studio is believed to be the only UK example in existence and has a pre-sale estimate of £8,000-12,000 from Charterhouse Auctioneers.

The studio was made for the Pouncy firm and traveled throughout the county of Dorset, England.

Drawn by horses, it offered a workshop with a canopy, a small waiting room, entrance and exit doors, steps, a darkroom for changing and processing plates and spring wheels.

It still retains the original accessories for holding the bottom rolls.

The Pouncy traveling photo studio photographed in 2021. © Michael Pritchard

The Pouncy traveling photo studio photographed in 2021. © Michael Pritchard

Succession of owners

After being sold by the Pouncy Company it was used by a succession of photographers and was located in Swanage for many years.

Auctioneer Richard Bromell said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for someone to acquire what we believe is a unique piece of Victorian photographic history that would make a stunning studio or office.”

The current owner, also a photographer, purchased the studio and hoped to find a permanent home for it, while allowing it to travel and keep its original and continue to operate as a studio.

It is complete but requires some restoration and conservation work.

The studio is well documented with surviving original blueprints.

Part of the darkroom of the rare traveling photo studio.  © Michael Pritchard

Part of the darkroom of the rare traveling photo studio. © Michael Pritchard

Photolithography milestone

John Pouncy is best known for his work uniting lithography with met photography which resulted in his publication in Dorsetshire Photographically Illustrated (1857) – the first English publication to feature photolithographic illustrations.

Royal Photographic Society Director of Programs Michael Pritchard explained: ‘I had the privilege of seeing the studio in the summer of 2021 and meeting its current owner. It’s a remarkable survival. Walking in felt like stepping back 130 years. Although the current owner’s hope to restore it and keep it as a traveling workshop could not be realized, it has been lovingly maintained. It deserves a new home where it can be kept and shown, ideally in Dorset, and used as a studio, telling its remarkable story and that of the Pouncy business and 19th century photography.

You can watch a short film about the traveling studio below…

Auction Information

The auction takes place at Charterhouse, The Long Street Salerooms, Sherborne, Dorset.

The studio remains on site in Wareham, Dorset, from where it will need to be recovered.

Pending publication of the auction catalogue, museums and potential buyers should contact Charterhouse Auctioneers at Long Street Salerooms, Sherborne, Dorset.

Tel: 01935 812277 or email: [email protected]

To find out more about the lot, go to Charterhouse Antiques.

Pouncy's traveling studio with its name proudly displayed on its roof.  Courtesy of Charterhouse Auctioneers

Pouncy’s traveling studio with its name proudly displayed on its roof. Courtesy of Charterhouse Auctioneers

Learn more

You can learn more about the Pouncy photography business at The Pouncy Family: Painters and Photographers.


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