[ Bertram Park, photographer. ] Thirteen Typed Letters Signed to royal photographer Marcus Adams, his son Gilbert, and two others, written with rancour regarding their joint business arrangements, and expressing contempt for the photographer's art.

Bertram Park [ Bertram Charles Percival Park ] (1883-1972), British photographer, author and horticulturalist [ Marcus Adams (1875-1959), royal photographer; his son Gilbert Adams (1906-1996) ]
Publication details: 
Either on letterheads of 43 Dover Street, Mayfair ('Studios: Bertram Park, Marcus Adams Ltd., Yvonne Gregory, James Vintner.'), or the Old Shooting Box, Eastcote High Road, Pinner, Middlesex. One dated 1950, the rest from between 1954 and 1962.
SKU: 17553

Thirteen Typed Letters Signed: seven to Marcus Adams, four to Gilbert Adams, and one apiece to 'Miss Farr' and 'Mr Murray'. Totalling 16pp., and with eight on Dover Street letterheads, and five on Park's personal Pinner letterheads. Five signed 'Bertram', one 'B.P.'', the other seven 'Bertram Park'. The thirteen items in good condition, with light signs of age and wear. Both Park and Adams were royal photographers, but it is the children's photographer Adams, the more talented and innovative of the two, who has garnered more interest, with two monographs on him: Rosalind Thuillier's 'Marcus Adams, Photographer Royal' (London: Aurum Press, 1985) and Lisa Heighway's 'Marcus Adams, Royal Photographer' (London: Royal Collection Publications, 2010). From 1920, together with Park's wife Yvonne Gregory (1889-1970), Park and Adams had their studios at 43 Dover Street, Mayfair, under the collective name of 'The Three Studios'. Heighway describes how Park, with the backing of the 5th Earl of Carnarvon (of Tutankhamun fame), set up the business at 43 Dover Street (of which he was lessee), later bringing in Adams. In the postwar period the business suffered, and as the correspondence shows, Marcus's son Gilbert proved incapable of running the business as his father's health failed. Notable among the thirteen items is a two-page letter from Park to Marcus Adams notable not only for its expression of bitterness, but also for the contempt it expresses for Park's own profession of photographer. Written on 11 February 1957, the letter begins: 'My dear Marcus | Gilbert sent me a message through Miss Newcomb, an insulting message. I ought to be very angry; I am only very, very sad. Have you never [last word underlined] appreciated that without my backing and financial support you would never have accomplished anything, anything at all. Your business in Reading was failing; you were in debt, you brought very little cash capital into the business; even the I.O.Us which you gave me were never honoured; I gave them as a present to Gilbert when I came down to Reading after your first long illness. I [last word underlined] founded the business, it was my [last word underlined] business into which I gave you the opportunity to come.' He continues with similar rancour, attacking MA's business skills, and asserting that it was only through his own 'careful and conservative management of the business side' that MA was given the 'opportunity to make the fortune which I expected for you [...] Can you [not] realize that if you have little left now, except that which I have provided, [it] is because of your total inability to organize yourself or manage your own affairs. I tried many times to induce you to invest for the future; you cannot have your cake and still have it by; you dissipated your fortune not on riotous living perhaps but on equally gross extravagances; you have had six different houses since I have known you; or on mad schemes prompted by Gilbert, who only lives in the clouds in castles in the air or in Spain as the saying is.' After a reference to '[t]hat preposterous Hennerton affair', he claims that 'Cambell [...] certainly saved you from bankruptcy'. He now turns to GA: 'Why does not Gilbert get a job; will he always depend on other people to provide for him; will he always be incapable of earning a living, or is he finally "unemployable"; he certainly cannot be entrusted with any capital however small, to start a business for himself.' He asks why GA does not 'get on' with writing his book on his father: 'it is no use "having the material"; if he does not finish it soon it will be too late; people will soon have forgotten you and will not be in the least bit interested to read about your "life". Photographs are evanescent things and soon disappear and are forgotten. Photographs are not art and photographers are not artists as such, their work never does and never will have a long notoriety; there is no permanent significance in it more than in any contemporary handicraft. The book to have had any success should really have been published three years ago, it is now already almost too late.' He ends: 'Now Marcus do try and be sensible and realistic and practical and have some appreciation of the facts of life.' The rest of the correspondence paints an equally vivid picture of the deteriorating state of the firm's affairs towards the end of MA's life. The first letter, written by Park to MA's companion Miss Farr on 6 February 1950, six years before the other letters, gives a taste of problems ahead. In it Park assures her that there is 'no antagonism' on his part toward MA: 'If he had only consulted me and taken me into his confidence a few years ago, he would not now be in such trouble. | To be perfectly candid Marcus is not capable of managing his own business affairs. He recently was troubled because he would [not] understand that we cannot afford to have Gilbert on the Board of Directors while his name is in such ill repute. If and when he reprieves his bad reputation and he apologizes for the offensive remark which he made at our last meeting I am perfectly willing to have him back on the Board'. He ends the letter with the ominous news that he is 'introducing a new Director who is a member of a most eminent firm of architects and property owners in the West End and his advice will be particularly valuable in respect to our premises here'. (The reverse of the letter carries a pencil draft of a reply by Farr.) By 9 November 1956 matters have clearly worsened, with Park writing to MA that 'this cannot go on. The three main salaries cannot survive with the present or anticipated amount of business. The loss as you see is this year over £900 and it cannot be less as far as I can see under the present arrangements in the present year. There is a proportionate loss on my studio side.' While stating that 'we must close the business as far as the studios are concerned next June', he describes 'one possible alternative but rather a faint hope, which however might be tried for say 6 months. Namely that you retire at once with what will virtually be a pension of £400. (I am prepared to take nil from the studios).' Four days later he writes again, with 'another idea which I am working out into a scheme for the business', one which would 'give another chance to Gilbert to rehabilitate himself, that is to say if he will cooperate and will do a job of work'. On 15 December 1956 he writes to Murray that MA's 'demands' are 'a little unpractical and unrealistic. There is no capital sum available for the purpose suggested. He has had large sums out of the Company in recent years which should have been amply sufficient for such requirements.' He is willing to waive his director's fees, but MA's 'retirement at Christmas' is 'essential'. He continues: 'Miss Newcomb has given over 30 years faithful service and Mr Vintner who was specially engaged at Marcus' request has given over 12 years. Does Marcus think it fair and reasonable to give them both three months notice with no compensation?' He holds up the threat of bankruptcy, and concludes: 'Does he really think that he is competent to run a business without the help of Miss Newcomb or me. He has never had any business experience in his life and is always liable to take advice from the wrong people instead of those who really want to help him, and are able and competent to do so'. Relations between Park and GA do not help the matter. On 18 March 1957 Park begins a letter to GA: 'I have received your letter of the 13th. The first thing that I note is that the whole tone of it suggests that you are doing us a favour. You must disabuse your mind at once off any such idea. My sole object in the present proposals to keep the studio open is a) out of consideration for your father and b) to give you an opportunity to rehabilitate yourself. Personally I should prefer to close and if you do not choose to take this opportunity or do not think you are capable of so doing then I am content to close at the end of this month.' By 27 October 1957 things are even worse, with Park reporting to MA on a board meeting which 'showed a balance of a loss of about £1100. The loss for the first three months of this year from July 1 is about £400. Taking into consideration the loss of 1955 of about £500 it i[s] quite obvious that the studio cannot continue for if it goes on at this rate, all the reserves will be exhausted and there will be then no possibility of winding up and at the same time deal with old empl[o]yes in a manner which should be.' He cannot see any prospect of improvement, especially considering 'the totally disproportionate quantity and cost of the raw material used in relation to the possible amount of the expected order, which Gilbert seems unable to control'. On 10 January 1959, just before MA's death, he writes to him of 'unfortunate "goings on" that have occurred lately', adding that 'Gilbert cannot possibly afford the value and cost of West End premises nor can any portrait photographer for that matter'. In a letter written the day before this, he informs GA that he will have to vacate the firm's present premises in Dover Street, but may occupy the third floor of the building for a few months, with the option of moving to the fifth floor after that for two years. From the papers of the Adams family.