George W. Beldam published a series of books circa 1924 of The World’s Champion Golfers: Their Art Disclosed by the Ultra-Rapid Camera. They are an interesting collection. Beldam was an English cricketer who became a pioneering photographer that specialized in action sporting pictures.
In total, Beldam published a collection of ten books, plus an additional eleventh book, which is the ‘key book’. The books are listed below with their Donovan & Jerris reference numbers:
1. Walter Hagen – The Drive (B12040)
2. Walter Hagen – Iron and Putting (B12070)
3. Arthur Havers – The Drive (B11710)
4. Abe Mitchell – The Drive (B11680)
5. Gene Sarazen – The Drive (B11770)
6. Gene Sarazen – Iron Putt and Approach (B11740)
7. Miss Joyce Wethered – The Drive (B11890)
8. Miss Joyce Wethered – Driving Iron Bunker and Run-up Shots (B11860)
9. Roger H. Wethered – The Drive (B11950)
10. Roger H. Wethered – Medium Iron Putt and Run-up Shots (B11920)
11. The Key Book (B11980)
Each book contains a foldout section at the rear end containing 36 pictures in sequence, which breaks down the golf swing of the particular featured golfer. The books are a great historical record of some of golf’s greatest players. The shot-by-shot pictures of both Hagen and Sarazen show beautiful swings. Both are dressed as proper as they did in those days: Hagen with a bow tie and Sarazen with a dapper sweater. An image of the foldout from the Sarazen book is seen below.
Beldam explains that the “Ultra-Rapid Camera” used in the book is one that was designed by a Mr. Cox of the Cinechrome Instruments Company. It was designed to show the British Admiralty the cause of accidents that occurred on planes returning to the deck of early aircraft carriers. Beldam used it to capture sports in motion. It worked via a motor and took shots at a rate of 250 pictures a second.
Beldam contemplated publishing all these books as one large book but decided to do a series of smaller books instead, so that it was easier to compare the swings of the various golfers to one another.
The first eleven pages of each book are identical and include a description of the camera. The foldout section in the rear obviously is different for each book, as are the last half dozen pages of text where Beldam provides an analysis of each golfer’s swing. Each book contains a curious chapter on, “The Flail” where Beldam unsuccessfully tries to tie this concept of movement into an analysis of the golf swing.
The books were published by The Photochrom Co. Ltd in London and Tunbridge Wells. Although the books state that the first ten books are the “First Series”, there were no subsequent series published, which is too bad because it would have provided a great historical record to have more 20s era players’ swings recorded in sequence for posterity.
The complete set of all eleven books (including the key) are rare and fetch upwards of $1,000. Individual titles, depending upon the golfer featured and the condition are worth $100-$200.