Every so often an item comes into Chiswick Auctions that has with it a unique personal story to tell as well as having links to history – and both at a very visual and visceral level. This story is about one of these items.
Tim Page taken by Tim Hawkins
But first, about the man, Tim Page, who as a photographer captured some of the most significant images of war and the insanity and humanity of conflict. Born in the UK in 1944, and died in Australia in August this year (2022). Raised in Kent, he was adopted as a baby and, in 1962 at the age of eighteen, he left the UK to travel overland to south-east Asia. Having taught himself photography he started working in Laos as a press photographer and by 1965 was working for the leading American photographic agency UPI (United Press International).
Over the next few years Page covered the interconnected wars in south-east Asia, taking images with great clarity, insight, and a talent for recording the human (and inhumane). Travelling throughout the conflicts he showed us the horrors, cruelty, and the anarchy of conflict. During his time in Vietnam he also became famous for his regular and copious use of illegal drugs and for his survival of several severe war injuries suffered in the course of his work, the last being in 1969 when, according to his website (https://www.timpage.com.au ) “… he jumped out of a helicopter to help load the wounded and the person in front of him stepped on a landmine” and it exploded. Page was pronounced DOA (dead on arrival) at the hospital but survived, requiring extensive neurosurgery, and spent much of the 1970s in recovery. Page was the cinematic inspiration for the maddened photojournalist (played by Dennis Hopper) at the end of the river with Kurtz (played by Marlon Brando) in Francis Ford Coppola’s film Apocalypse Now.
After Vietnam, Tim Page would cover many other wars, from Israel to Bosnia and Afghanistan, as well as the aftermath of war in places like East Timor and the Solomon Islands. Additionally, from 1968 he spent much time in America documenting the counterculture, drugs, and hippie era there, from Woodstock to Watergate, sometimes coming up against the police and law enforcement agencies.
In 2002 he moved with his partner to Australia where one of his first public roles was to be a judge at MardiGrass (not to be confused with Mardi Gras), a cannabis law reform rally and festival held annually in the town of Nimbin, in New South Wales. He became a peace activist and was patron of organisations such as the Mine Action Group and Soldier On, a veterans' support group in Australia. He was keen to "highlight the folly of war", stating that "the only good war photograph is an anti-war photograph". He was also an adjunct professor of photojournalism at Griffith University in Queensland. In 2012 Tim Page was voted one of the “100 most influential Photographers of all time”. He died on 24 August 2022 at his home in New South Wales at the age of 78.
Lot 184: A Leica M4 "Tim Page" Rangefinder Camera Outfit
Serial No: 1194005 (1967)
Estimate £3,000 - £5,000
The outfit we are privileged to offer for sale is Tim Page’s own Leica M4 camera and lenses. This is one of a number of cameras he owned in his long career, and it will have captured, dispassionately but with Page’s own insightful and questing handling and direction, so many visual stories and moments in time, meaning that it will have been part of the story of wars and of social change, of lives lived and lost. Whether used to record theatres of conflict or 1960s and 1970s counterculture, many changes of history of the mid-twentieth century would have passed through this camera.
Tim Page gifted this Leica M4 camera, plus his 21mm Super Angulon and Summicron lenses to the vendor, Tim Hawkins. Page mentored Tim Hawkins who went on to become a commercial and advertising photographer and author originally based in SW London. The pair became close friends and often worked together on personal and commercial projects, including contributions to The Faith Zone at the Millennium Dome in 2000. Hawkins states that Tim Page really loved the Leica 21mm lens, which he left fitted to his camera at all times to avoid problems changing lenses in a combat situation. However, it seems Tim Page couldn’t get on with the Leica M4, so he switched to a Leica M2. Page gifted his M4 camera and Summicron lens (on both of which Tim Page had scratched his name) plus his trusty 21mm lens to the vendor in the early 1980s telling him he really needed to use a Leica 21mm lens if he was serious about reportage style photography. The vendor bought a (non-Leitz) viewfinder and used this combination regularly until sadly, one day he dropped the 21mm lens when swapping lenses. With its cracked rear element, the 21mm lens was consigned to the vendor’s shelf, where it remained unused for many years and Tim Page’s Summicron lens was used on his M4 body. Tim Page’s M4 camera and his lenses, along with the viewfinder purchased by Tim Hawkins, are all included in this lot to retain the provenance trail.
The replacement 21mm Leica lens, subsequently purchased by Tim Hawkins, is available as a separate lot in this sale.
Tim Hawkins with Leica M4 Taken by Tim Page
Photographica at Chiswick Auctions
Chiswick Auctions’ Photographica Department has established a reputation for making available important and iconic photographica, from the very first days of photography through to the latest images and equipment. We look forward to working with you! If you have any questions about our forthcoming sale of about your items of photographica please contact Austin Farahar, Head of Chiswick Auctions’ Photographica Department.
Head of Department