Williamson Manufacturing Company: a New Type P.14 hand held aircraft camera, flown over Mount Everest on the 1933 Houston Expedition
Lot 121
Williamson Manufacturing Company: a New Type P.14 hand held aircraft camera, flown over Mount Everest on the 1933 Houston Expedition
Sold for £2,250 (US$ 3,611) inc. premium

Lot Details
Williamson Manufacturing Company: a New Type P.14 hand held aircraft camera, flown over Mount Everest on the 1933 Houston Expedition
cross-hair type viewfinder, twin hand grips, crackle finish, no. 108, 8.5in f4.5 Ross Xpres lens (no. 128751), and detachable plateholder
290 x 210 x 210mm.; together with contemporary canvas and leather case and related documentation

Footnotes

  • "MESSRS. WILLIAMSON WERE IN TOUCH WITH US THIS MORNING CONCERNING YOUR ORDER AND INFORMED US THAT THEY HAVE A CAMERA WHICH WAS USED IN THE MOUNT EVEREST EXPEDITION.... AS THE CAMERA IS ONLY SLIGHTLY SOILED... WE HAVE VENTURED TO ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY IN DESPATCHING THIS TO YOU RATHER THAN TO KEEP YOU WAITING": a camera used on the first flight over Mount Everest, in 1933.
    The expedition was sponsored by Lucy, Lady Houston, a promoter of British aviation. The Houston-Mount Everest Flight Expedition was designed to show opposition to granting independence to India. Squadron Leader Douglas Douglas-Hamilton, Lord Clydesdale, led the endeavour, which involved two Westland PV-3 biplanes. The two aeroplanes cleared the summit of Everest by 100ft on April 3, 1933 - leading to the headline in the Manchester Guardian, "Everest Conquered from the Air". Each aircraft carried a survey camera, two Williamson P.14s for oblique pictorial photography taking 5 x 4in plates (of which the present example is one), and a small standard pistol camera taking 3.5 x 2.5in plates.
    Accompanying the camera are the following documents: typed letter signed on behalf of Ensign Limited, London, 2 August 1933, to Mr. Walwin of Gloucester, confirming his order of a P.14 camera and informing him that Messrs. Williamson have a "slightly soiled" example that was used on the Mount Everest Expedition and can offer it to him at a reduced price, rather than having him wait for a perfectly new model; receipt issued by Ensign to Mr. Walwin, 16 August 1933; typed letter signed from Arthur Hinks, Secretary of the Royal Geographical Society, 15 May 1934, to Mr. Walwin, asking to borrow the camera "in order that we may have its focal length accurately determined, this being of great importance to us since we are trying to work up the photographs taken on the Flight"; 2 further letters from the RGS, and one from Ross Optical Works of Clapham Common, relating to shipment of the camera.
    The Houston Expedition photographs came into their own in 1951, when Michael Ward, later to be the team doctor to the successful 1953 expedition, used them and other photographs in the RGS archives to research a new route up Everest. The southern route he discovered led to Hillary's landmark ascent.
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