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Louis Gandolfi

London born Louis Gandolfi, of Italian and Scottish descent, first began work with a firm of cabinet makers at the age of twelve. In 1880, he entered the world of camera-making through Lejeune Perkins and Company, camera-makers of Hatton Garden, London. Five years later he set up his first business at 15a Kensington Place, Westminster, producing and supplying a wide range of cameras and accessories which he had patented.

The Company was to move two more times, firstly in 1913 to Hall Road, Peckham Rye, South London , and finally settled in 1928 in what was once a Victorian Hatpin factory at 2 Borland Road Peckham.

By 1928 his three sons, Thomas, Frederick and Arthur were well established within the company and it was in the same year that Louis transferred his business to his sons due to ill-health. Thomas, who had trained as an engineer, was responsible for camera design and metal work, Frederick the general work and office routine and Arthur, the youngest, the hand French polishing. Frederick, however, took the dominant role within the company.

Louis Gandolfi died in 1932, aged 68, leaving the Company to his three sons.

Thomas, Frederick and Arthur Gandolfi

From the late 1930's onward the company prospered and some unusual orders for special camera were placed. Notably the supply of equipment to Lord Caernarvon in connection with his Tutankhamun expedition and a request for the development of a special lens to take interior shots of H.M. Queen Mary's Dolls House. Perhaps their most unusual work was on equipment to make photographic records of the inmates of H.M. Prisons throughout the UK.

 

Thomas Gandolfi

In 1965 Thomas died, leaving Frederick and Arthur to maintain the family business. With Thomas Junior handling the metal work the company continued to do well. By the late 70's, with high profile customers like David Bailey and increased publicity, the order book was full and there was a waiting time of three years for delivery.

In 1980 the Gandolfi family celebrated one hundred years in the camera-making industry. An exhibition at the Science Museum in London commemmorated the occasion.

The company transferred ownership and moved to new premises in Andover, Hampshire, in 1982 and, under the guidance of Frederick, a small team began making standard 10 x 8 and 5 x 4 cameras and tripods.

 

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