Jim Matthew Camera Collection

Jim Matthew was an extraordinary collector of a lot of things, but his passion and focus was cameras. Over 20 years he amassed an enormous personal collection that was, at one time, very close to the world record. He even purchased a building to house it. What was even more extraordinary was that almost no one ever saw it. Many who lived in the small Scottish village in which it was housed didn't even know it was there.

He always wanted it to be open to the public, for others to enjoy but he was getting older and the logistics and requirements of making that a reality were too much and it didn't happen.

We are going to change that.

Photography has become a central part of our culture, encompassing almost everything we do. Globally, there are now about a billion digital cameras; billions of tablets, laptops and desktops incorporating cameras, and about four billion camera-equipped smartphones.

That’s more cameras than people.

But even more fundamentally, we are all consumers of photography, in print, on the web, through social media, and via TV and film. It has the power to thrill, entertain, educate, and motivate. Our world and how we perceive is shaped by photography.

An understanding of how the science and art of photography has developed is therefore crucial and central to the storyof the modern world – being both an instigator of change and the means by which the recent history of the world has been documented.

And we now have an amazing opportunity to help tell that story.

We are in a position to purchase a unique collection of three thousand cameras and other equipment that illustrates the evolution of photography as a mass medium. At its heart is an almost complete array of Kodak Brownie models, one that has few rivals anywhere in the world – models that, more than any other cameras, were responsible for the popularisation of photography.

We want to make this a public resource, available to visitors, and by working with educational bodies and museums, to highlight and promote understanding of the significance of the cameras in the development of photography.

The Collection

The collection was amassed by Jim Matthew, as a private collection, His family want to keep the collection together as a memorial to him, and have offered to sell the collection and the premises in St Monans where the cameras are currently stored, at a very favourable price.

The Location

The cameras are not the only connection that this part of the world has with the history of photography. The pioneering photographer Robert Adamson was born in St Andrews, and took many photographs in this part of Fife. He was followed by others who added to the rich photographic record of the area. The area remains extremely popular with photographers, and photographs of the village have won prestigious photography awards. No wonder then, that it is now being called “The Photography Village”.

The Funding

While the cost of securing the cameras and the premises is only a fraction of their market value, that still leaves a substantial sum needing to be raised, not only for the purchase, but also to make improvements to the premises for accessibility and display purposes, and to meet running costs.

We have now established a registered charity which will be used to oversee the fundraising and purchasing of the collection, and subsequent maintenance and development of the collection.

Our initial target is to raise £30,000, which will cover the purchase and associated costs.

We would be grateful for any donation, large or small, that you can make and also for any assistance that you can give with publicising the fundraising drive and helping us to identify and reach other potential donors. We are also discussing ways in which larger donations could be recognised and would welcome input from potential donors.

We’ll also be giving donors the chance to view the collection when circumstances permit.

It would be great to have your support for this unique collection that as a public resource will not only be unparalleled in Scotland, but probably one of very few such collections in the world.

Please, accept this opportunity to become part of it.

The Jim Matthew Camera Collection Trust is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) charity number: SC050024.


  • Anonymous
    • £12 
    • 6 mos
  • Karen Vaughan
    • £25 
    • 1 yr
  • Anonymous
    • £250 
    • 1 yr
  • Stuart Bridges
    • £60 
    • 2 yrs
  • Gordon MacKinlay
    • £10 
    • 2 yrs

Organizer and beneficiary

Jim Matthew Camera Collection Trust
Jim Matthew Camera Collection

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