The finest Photographic Collection in the world – Jack Naylor

“I had an innate love for photography. Why? I’m not quite sure, but I did, and so I always carried a camera or two with me. And that got me into photography. It got me in very deeply, as you can probably tell!”

Certainly photography has evolved greatly throughout its existent, and Naylor is the man who has been able to experience most of it through his obscene collection, that has been described as the ‘complete history of photography’. The Thurman (Jack) Naylor collection was a truly dazzling and unmatchable collection full of all kinds of treasures that any photographer would druwl over. Naylor’s impressive collection ranges from many different unique and extremely rare items, such as a number of spy cameras, pre photographic equipment, a staggering collection of photographic books, signed photographs from Harold Edgerton, an array of important and iconic images, it also includes the worlds largest commercial camera, the Playboy camera and many more, the list could go on and on.

For the past 55 years just about everything to do with photography has captivated collector Thurman (Jack) Naylor which has formed his labour of love into the worlds best Photographic Collection. He has accumulated a private collection that has extended from the pre-photography days of Chinese mirrors through to the earliest daguerreotypes to a miniature digital camera used today as a spy device. For those who have been lucky enough to visit his unimaginable private underground collection, I think I can speak on behalf of us all and say that we are truly envious of you.

“For over 50 years I have traveled the world for both business and pleasure. In the course of those travels I have assembled a one-of-its-kind collection of more than 30,000 photographic items. While collecting photographica has been immensely satisfying, my greatest satisfaction has been sharing these discoveries in my private museum.

I have always looked for artifacts that illuminate human endeavor, that not only demonstrate the technological progress of image-making but also inspire insight into the history of events and ideas. I have always looked for items of high aesthetic quality that tell stories and entertain as they enlighten.That is why my collection is so diverse, including the pre-history of photography, the history of photography, and the history of espionage. It is also why its cultural vision encompasses both the East and the West. During the Cold War, for example, I acquired spy paraphernalia while in the Soviet Union.

One of the ways I’ve put these principles to work is by creating a museum for my collection. There, in a climate-controlled environment designed for security and optimal preservation, I have played host to thousands of both young and adult visitors. I’m proud to say that their responses, including those from many curators, indicate that my collection has provided ample food for thought and entertainment. I would like to share my discoveries with a broader public, and so, as the culmination of a life-long passion for photography, I am now offering my collection for purchase.’

He ended up putting the collection up for auction at the Guernsey Auction House in October 18-21, 2007.

Mr. Naylor cultivated friendships with two significant photography pioneers in Boston, including Polaroid founder Edwin Land and Harold “Doc” Edgerton, an MIT professor who developed the use of strobe lights in photography. Also Mr. Naylor helped found the Photographic Resources Center at Boston University, which opened in 1976.

Mr. Naylor, an engineer and entrepreneur, is the former Chief Executive Officer of Thomson International Corporation. From 1988 to 2004 he was corporate director for Benthos Corpora- tion of Falmouth, Massachusetts. For nineteen years he has served as trustee and chair of the Acquisitions Committee for the International Museum of Photography at the George Eastman House, Rochester, New York. He is a consultant to Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts and Museum of Science; founder and director of the Museum of Imaging Technology at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand; creator of The Naylor Museum of Photographic History in Yokohama, Japan; and past president of the Photographic Resource Center at Boston University. Since 1977, he has edited the Journal of Photographic History. Naylor is a truly dedicated and passionate collector who I am sure will not be forgotten for his great work and staggering contribution to photography, for bringing together in an almost ‘Aladdin’s cave’ the cameras, images and many other items relating to photography ranging from the last 171 years of the mediums existence.

In November 26th, 2007 Naylor died in his sleep from complications of spinal cancer.

Click Here to see the full catalogue of his collection.

If you would like to order a catalouge from Guernsey’s Auction house please click Here.