Thursday, 30 August 2007

Cabinet Cards - superior portraits from "High Art" photographers

The next style of photograph to be introduced for popular consumption after the carte de visite was the cabinet card. They were substantially larger than the cdv, and were clearly aimed at the upper end of the market. Although the format - a 4"x5½" photographic albumen print mounted on 4¼"x6½" card stock - was originally introduced in 1863, it was not until the mid-1870s that it became popular; this trend reached its peak between the early 1880s and the late-1890s.

One advantage of the larger format was that it enabled more detailed portraits to be produced, such as this fine vignetted head-and shoulders presentation of a young man. It was taken at the studio of W.M. Phillips in the port town of Southampton (60 Oxford Street), probably in the late 1880s, and I presume that the subject is wearing the uniform and cap of the merchant navy.

The larger area also made the task of producing less cluttered, more relaxed group portraits a great deal easier. This nicely arranged family group, probably consisting of a father with his three sons, was taken at the studio of the Burton Brothers of Dunedin, on the South Island of New Zealand.

Alfred and Walter Burton were sons of John Burton, who had started a photographic studio in the town of Leicester (England) in the late 1850s. After working with their father in England, and helping to open and run several branch studios in Birmingham, Nottingham and Derby in the early 1860s, they emigrated to New Zealand in the late 1860s. Here they developed a renowned partnership which lasted for a decade, before they split due to personal differences and went their separate ways. Alfred Burton travelled over much of New Zealand, taking magnificent landscape photographs (see below), while Walter Burton concentrated on portrait photography in Dunedin.

Courtesy of David Simkin
The Sutherland Falls Expedition. A survey party and two photographic teams at Milford Sound, New Zealand. October 1888. Taken by Burton Bros. of Dunedin. Courtesy of David Simkin.

The following advert by John Burton & Sons appeared in the Derby Mercury newspaper dated 15 May 1867 (kindly sent to me by Clyde Dissington, courtesy of The Magic Attic).

It draws attention to the cabinet portrait as "the New and Favouritre style" and as
"... the most pleasing style that has been introduced in Photography for some years. The increased size of this Portrait over the Carte de Visite offers facilities for rendering more fully the characteristics of the sitter; and it is well suited for framing, while it is equally adapted for an album."

References/Further Reading
Cabinet Card at Wikipedia
The Burton Brothers, by Tai Awatea/Knowledge Net from Te Papa Online
Burton Bros. A Portfolio of 11 South Island, New Zealand Views from the 1870s and 1880s, from PhotoForum

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Working at the big house

Following a previous posting which dealt, in part, with the uniforms worn by domestic servants in Victorian and Edwardian times, I recently came aross the following two cabinet cards. The first shows a fairly standard group portrait of half a dozen domestic servants, taken outdoors against an ivy coloured wall.

The photographer does not appear to have been particularly skilled, as little care was taken with the group's arrangement, and the bright whites of the maids' pinnies have resulted in a rather washed out appearance in the photo. The second photo of the pair is rather more interesting, as each of the young women, seated in a slightly different order, now carries the various tools of their trade.

They are, from left to right, a pestle and mortar,

... a watering can,

... a cooking pot,

... a salver, possibly with a note on,

... sewing,

... and another watering can.

These serve to illustrate a range of household duties, from growing vegetables in the kitchen garden to preparing and cooking food, running errands for the master and madam around the house, and mending clothes. There appears to be only slight variation in the uniforms worn, and this may have more to do with their age than their individual duties. The girl in the centre holding a pot, who appears to be younger than the others, has a light coloured dress, while the others' dresses are all dark.

The stamp on the reverse of the cabinet card, shown above, identifies the photographer as Samuel Whitbread of West Street in Havant, a small town in Hampshire, not far from Portsmouth. Although originally a baker, Whitbread turned his hand to photography in the late 1880s. The family lived in West Street, but moved to 20 South street prior to April 1891, suggesting a latest date for this sitting of early 1891.

The sleeves of the womens' dresses are also appropriate for between 1889 and 1891, with the first appearance of the fashionable puffed sleeves so characteristic of the 1890s being worn by the younger women,

... while the older woman, seated at front left in the lower photo, has the rounded-shoulder sleeves more fashionable in the 1880s.

If it was taken c. 1890-1891, this was possibly taken during the early part of Whitbread's photographic career, which would explain the amateurish poses and exposure. He remained in business for at least another decade, so presumably he did get better at his job.

The chances of identifying any of the female servants in the photo, or the location at which it was taken, are slim. However, it may be worth noting that the 1891 Census shows one of Whitbread's daughters - Laura Alice, aged 19 - working as a cook, presumably for a wealthy resident in the town of Havant, and it is remotely possible that she is one of those pictured.

The carte-de-visite - fit for the Queen and commoners alike

The early 1860s saw the rapid popularization of the carte de visite as the photographic medium of choice. Although the method had been invented and patented by Andre Disdéri in 1854, it was not until Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had their portraits taken that it began to catch on. John Mayall in London and Oliver Sarony in Scarborough were said to have made small fortunes selling portraits of the royal family and other famous people. The main reason for the popularity was its low production cost, a result of being able to produce a number of photos on a single plate, which brought down the price to a level affordable to most, as is shown on the reverse of this 1872 carte de visite.

1 Copy ............1/- | 12 Copies ............5/-
3 do .............2/- | 24 do ...............9/-
6 do .............3/- | 50 do ..............18/-

This photo of an elderly woman in a rather ordinary looking dress is marked in pencil on the reverse, "1872 - 68091." The latter is the negative number, and 1872 appears to be the year in which it was taken - apparently, because it is important to be careful with any inscriptions on old photographs. They may have been written by anyone, and at any time since it was originally produced. The clothes worn by the woman, the card mount shape (square corners), thickness of the card, and card design, all point to a date of the early 1870s.

PhotoLondon's online database of London photographers shows Alexander L. Henderson (1838-1907) as working from a studio at 49 King William Street, London Bridge between 1860 and November 1887, and from a second premises at 2 Devonshire Place, Amersham Road, New Cross, Deptford between 1864 and 2 January 1873. After 2 January 1873, that branch moved to 3 Amersham Road, New Cross. This confirms that the photo probably was taken in or around 1872.

References/Further Reading
A History of Photography: Carte de visite, by Robert Leggatt
A Brief History of the Carte de Visite, by the American Museum of Photography

Monday, 20 August 2007

Ambrotypes - portraits for the middle class

Although photography had been "invented" by Louis Daguerre and William Henry Fox Talbot in the late 1830s, the daguerreotype remained expensive, and only affordable to the relatively wealthy, including the professional and political classes. With the introduction by Frederick Scott Archer of the glass negative process in 1851, and the ambrotype three years later, the cost was reduced considerably - they were available for between sixpence and a shilling - and photographic portraiture became easily accessible to the middle class. In contrast to daguerreotypes, which remain fairly rare, there are still many ambrotypes in existence in family collections, and you may well have one among your old family heirlooms. Although ambrotypes continued in occasional use until about 1880, they were most popular in the decade from 1855 until 1865, after which they were overtaken and superseded by the carte de visite.

The ambrotype was created by coating a glass plate with collodion and photosensitive silver nitrate. The plate was exposed in a camera, then quickly taken out and treated in a dark room with a developing solution to bring out the image. This produced a photographic negative which was then backed with something dark, such as dark felt or black varnish, which had the effect of inverting the image. It was then mounted and framed or cased, as had been the daguerreotype.

The ambrotype shown above is one from my own small collection. Unusually for Victorian portraits, both subjects are smiling, and she is grasping his hand quite firmly, which is what attracted me to it in the first instance. Unfortunately it has lost the frame or case in which it would have originally been mounted, but the the thin gilded, pressed metal, decorative frame is still present and in good condition. It shows the characteristic greyish appearance of an ambrotype - few of them have any of the lighter shades, and if you see lighter areas, it is wise to look for signs of touching up or that it may in fact be a cased tintype.

The three-quarter length portrait is of an unidentified seated couple, perhaps in their mid- to late 20s. I think they must be a recently married couple, because her wedding ring, earrings and the brooch at her neck, as well as his shirt buttons, have been highlighted with gold paint. It is interesting to note that the ring is on her left hand. As the ambrotype was a negative, the image would be reversed and ring should have been on her right hand. The photographer appears to have anticipated the problem, and perhaps instructed her to change the ring to the opposite hand and finger. As the enlarged and enhanced image below shows, however, she appears to also have a less prominent - and ungilded - ring on her "right" hand! The photographer's artist obviously took some liberties. The buttons on the gentleman's shirt and waistcoat give the game away, as they appear to be done up on the wrong side.

Typically for portraits from the mid- to late 1850s, they are seated side by side. This pose was not commonly used again in portraiture, except in the case of larger groups, and by some less experienced artists, until much later in the century. The woman's clothing (bell-shaped, layered and fringed sleeves, pleated bodice closed at the top with a gold brooch and trimmed with a lace collar, pointing downwards to a tightly corseted waist; a single full, ground-length skirt) and hair style (centrally parted, curved back down over the forehead to almost cover her ears, and drawn back to a bun on the back of her head) are indicative of the mid-1850s. The young man is wearing what appears to be a frock coat, simple dark waistcoat, and shirt with a turned over collar and rather untidily knotted bowtie. He has a slight Quaker-style chin-beard, with only a suggestion of a moustache, and hair parted on his "left"(right)-hand side.

I estimate that this was quite an early ambrotype, and probably dates from between 1854 and 1857. Nobody looks quite the same in the mirror - in other words, nobody has an absolutely symmetrical face. For the first time in a century and a half, we can now view the photo as it might have been printed more accurately, had the technology been available at the time.

Dating Family Photos 1850-1920, by Lenore Frost, self publ. 1991, Essendon, Victoria, Australia.
Family Photographs 1860-1945, by Robert Pols, publ. 2002 by Public Record Office, London, England.

Saturday, 18 August 2007

A Day Out With The Lads Skating in Matlock Bath

Visits to the photographic studio in the latter part of the nineteenth century were usually rather formal affairs. Many comments are made about the sombre expressions on the sitters' faces. However, one does occasionally come across a photo in which a little more frivolity can be detected.

This photo shows a group of five young men who, although they do have the regulation expressions, are arranged in a much more relaxed manner than is usual. One of the men, leaning over a "wall" with what appears to be a clay pipe in his hand, has his hat set at a slightly rakish angle. Another - perhaps the youngest of the gang - is seated on the floor and has his legs half crossed. They even have a dog with them, although they must have had a job keeping it still for long enough to show in the photo.

The clue to the activity in which they are about to engage, or have just engaged in, is not in the photo itself or an inscription - as the carte de visite is sadly lacking in any identification of the subjects - but in the details of the photographer and his studio. The text and design on the reverse of the card mount indicates it was taken by William Godber, an "artist and photographer of views, groups & mansions ... on moderate terms," at The Rink Studio, Matlock Bath.

The Skating Rink in Matlock Bath appears to have operated for only a few years in the late 1880s and early 1890s, although there is a suggestion from an entry in the London Gazette that it had been in existence prior to 1877. Kelly's 1887 trade directory shows F.E. Leggoe as proprietor, while the 1891 edition of the same publication indicates that William B. Hunt had taken it over. I have not been able to discover anything more about the Matlock Skating Rink, but by April 1891, Godber had moved to Litchurch near Derby, so presumably this photograph was taken before then.

I have not yet come across any other photographs by William Godber, but census records indicate that he was working in this field as early as 1881 (in Hammersmith, London) and as late as 1901 (Carlton, Nottinghamshire).

The carte de visite shown below was included in the same batch, and appears to show a close up portrait of the same young man who is standing at left in the group portrait. He appears to be wearing a different jacket and shirt collar, so it was probably taken on a separate occasion.

Tennyson's "Dream of Fair Women"

I purchased this postcard photo some time ago on eBay because it is from the studio of Frederick J. Boyes (of 22 & 24 Osmaston Road, Derby). However, it is also of interest for the reason that it is from a rather different genre from the usual contributions that I receive. It is a standard postcard format picture. The reverse is of a very ordinary design, with no studio name printed; as was common with Boyes' later postcard portraits, the studio name and details are blind stamped onto the lower right hand corner of the front of the card.

Tennyson's "Dream of Fair Women"

It is inscribed in pen on the reverse, "Tennyson's 'Dream of Fair Women'" - nothing else. I wasn't familiar with this poem, but the full text may be found here. It was an early poem written by Tennyson in 1833, but it was strongly criticized by reviewers, and "made little impression on the Victorian public which had lost its taste for poetry and was devoted mainly to prose fiction." [Source: Modern English Books of Power, by G.H. Fitch, 1912] Millais provided an illustration for an 1857 publication of the work:

Illustration for Tennyson's "A Dream of Fair Women", by John Everett Millais, 1857, engraved by W.J. Linton

The popularity of the work appears to have undergone something of a revival in the Edwardian era. The art noveaux period brought this work in the romantic genre by Emma Florence Harrison, probably from shortly before the Great War. A film of that name was also produced in 1920

"A Dream of Fair Women", by British artist Emma Florence Harrison

Unfortunately, the identity of the cast members of this performance of "A Dream of Fair Women" has not been preserved along with the photo. As I purchased it on eBay, the provenance is also lost. However, there must, somewhere, be records of the poem-play being performed in Derby. I presume it was in Derby, as Boyes was unlikely to have travelled very far afield. It looks as though it has been taken in a suburban garden, but there are few clues as to where. My guess is that it dates from between 1905 and 1925, but it's difficult to be more accurate than that, because the costumes are, after all, costumes.

Perhaps there is a reader out there who can offer some more insights into when and where the performance may have taken place, and who the actors were?

Friday, 17 August 2007

Jerome - "Studios Everywhere"

Alan Radford sent me these three charming hand-coloured postcard format photographs a couple of years ago.

Alan Radford, in 1931 (left), 1933 (centre) and 1937 (right)
taken by Jerome Studio of Sheffield

The photos are of Alan himself in his youth, and are of a type that was common in the period between the wars. The photos are not from Derbyshire - Alan grew up in Sheffield - but Jerome Studios did have a branch in Derby, which operated from 1929 to 1949. The first of the images has a rather nice embossed frame, and is inscribed "Xmas Greetings" in the lower margin. It also has two numbers, one stamped (14240), the other written (2B 3268) - it is not clear which of these is a negative number - and a stamp, "E. Mallinson & Son". The latter is probably the name of the manager(s) of that branch. The first two postcards have the standard "Jerome crown & wreath divided-back", while the third, and most recent, merely has a simple diagonal "Jerome stamp."

These three portraits are nice examples of hand-coloured black-and-white photos. This process of studio artists hand-colouring monochrome photos in this manner was first employed by studios in the 1850s with daguerreotypes and ambrotypes. In the 1860s, 1870s and early 1880s the process was also used for cartes de visite, cabinet cards and photographic portraits printed on other materials such as ceramics, but by the late 1880s and 1890s they appear to have lost favour, and are rarely found. The postard format was introduced for portraits around the turn of the century, but really started to flourish in the early 1900s. After the First World War colouring of photos became popular once more, particularly for images of children.

Jerome's Studios appear to have flourished from after the First World War until at least the early 1970s. They advertised as having branch "studios everywhere," but unfortunately rarely mentioned on the reverse where the studio in question was located. However, one thing which they did commonly include on the reverse was a date stamp, so useful to family historians. Most of the portraits that I have seen have been postcards, some of which were sold enclosed in card or paper folders.

Peter Stubbs has an interesting article about Jerome Limited on his excellent EdinPhoto web site, with several examples of plain black-and-white and hand-coloured portraits from the 1920s and 1930s. Maurice Fisher also has some information about the history of Jerome Studios on his Photographic Memorabilia pages.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

An early family portrait from Alfreton

This family portrait is an early landsape format example of the genre, probably taken in the early 1870s. The image is of a carte de visite, unfortunately not inscribed with the name of the photographer, was sent to me by Alan Craxford.

Back Row (left to right, standing): Joseph (aged 17-18) and Thomas (aged 15-16); Middle Row: Mary (standing, aged 8-9), John (standing, aged 6-7), Ann Naylor (seated, aged 37-38), Arthur (seated on his mother's lap, aged 1), John Naylor (seated, aged 38-39) and Alfred (standing, aged 5-6); Front Row: Edwin (seated on the ground) and Maurice (standing between his father's legs, aged 2)

The rudimentary setting of this photograph, with a plain backdrop, and little attention paid to the usual pretense of an artificial studio, suggests that it was almost certainly taken by a travelling photographer. Perhaps he was associated with a travelling show, but he may just as easily have been an itinerant working on his own. Such photographers became common in the 1870s and 1880s, and often serviced the smaller towns and villages in the rural English countryside which didn't have large enough populations to support a resident studio. Several aspects of the photo suggest that it may have been a "practice" shot, or at least hurried, as their has been no attempt to hide the fake window seen on a stand at the right of the image. One of the advantages of the outdoor shot, however, was that the enhanced lighting reduced the need for lengthy exposure times, and made it somewhat easier to keep young children still for the duration of the shot.

Alfreton was not well served by permanent photographic studios until the 1880s, when Robert Taylor opened for business in nearby Codnor Park. George Edgar worked briefly in the town in 1859 and 1860 as a travelling photographer, but no data is available to show who catered for the portrait photo market in Alfreton in the mid-1870s, when this picture was taken.

I found it useful to establish an outline of the family of Alan's ancestor John Naylor to identify some or all of the children by their respective ages, and therefore confirm my estimate of the age of the photograph. From the 1871, 1881 and 1891 Census records, I managed to ascertain the following:
John NAYLOR b. c.1835 Somercotes/Alfreton DBY m: Ann b. c.1836 South Normanton DBY
- Joseph NAYLOR b. c.1855 South Normanton DBY
- Thomas NAYLOR b. c.1857 South Normanton DBY
- Edwin NAYLOR b. c.1863 South Normanton DBY
- Mary NAYLOR b. c.1865 Alfreton DBY
- John Henry NAYLOR b. c.1867 Alfreton DBY
- Alfred NAYLOR b. c.1868 Alfreton DBY
- Maurice NAYLOR b. c.1871 Alfreton DBY
- Arthur NAYLOR b. c.1872 Alfreton DBY
- Miriam NAYLOR b. c.1879 Alfreton DBY
Although the hairstyle of Ann Naylor is reminiscent of the mid- to late 1860s, her clothes suggest a date closer to the mid-1870s. It's far more difficult to date the clothing of men and children with much degree of accuracy, but in general the men and older boys are dressed for this period as well. It's my estimate, therefore, that this photo was taken some time around 1872-1874. This has led to my tentative identifications of the people in the family photo above, together with their approximate ages.

(Standing) Thomas, Joseph, John Henry, Arthur, Edwin, Maurice, Alfred
(Seated) Miriam & Mary

Alan also sent me the group photograph shown above:

The family of John and Ann Naylor does appear to have been a very tightly knit unit (living in neighbouring houses through the censuses of 1881 and 1891) but after John's death the branches seem to have drifted apart. Miriam Naylor was my maternal grandmother and died five days after my mother was born in May 1916. Mum was raised by Miriam's sister, Mary and husband who by that time had two adult sons. We heard talk of Mum's older uncles. Our only link was a (I think quite remarkable) group photograph of the seven brothers and two sisters drawn together sometime around 1900. I do not know where this was taken or what the occasion was. They appear to be "dressed up" with button holes but their expressions are generally quite sombre!
I think the family resemblances among the brothers is remarkable!

Many thanks to Alan, whose maternal grandmother Miriam's album has provided a wealth of interesting material for his family history research, and some nice pictures for me to feature here.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

A Derbyshire photographer working afield

Robin Bishop sent me this copy of a rather nice cabinet card format photograph of a class of Victorian schoolgirls. Robin's grandmother Emilie Sewell (1889-), then about eight years old, is seated in the front row, at second from the right; she marked herself with an X on the lower margin of the mount, and inscribed the reverse with, "High Street, Lowestoft, Suffolk, England." Also written on the back is "Cunningham School Class."

She was born at Norwich in 1889, daughter of Edward Sewell and Emily Martin, but moved to Lowestoft when young, and emigrated to New Zealand with her widowed father in the early 1900s.

The photographer George Henry Everard Bower was born in 1869 in Syderstone, Norfolk, son of an Anglican minister. The 1891 Census shows him living with his parents and three sisters in Heigham, near Norwich, and he was then a "Student of Music." Between then and February 1893, when his father died, the whole family moved to the village of Ockbrook, east of Derby. They were living in Ockbrook until at least 1895, when one of George's sisters died. By late 1898, however, when the Kelly's Directory for 1899 was compiled, they had moved to 200 Osmaston Road in Derby. George's mother died in 1899; George and his three remaining sisters, all still unmarried, were living at the same address in April 1901.

I have not found any mention of Bower working as a photographer in any of the abovementioned references, and I suspect that it was a temporary occupation of fairly short-lived duration, perhaps to bring in a little more income while he was establishing his reputation as a music teacher. The fact that the address "200 Osmaston Road" is shown on the photograph suggests that it is unlikely to have been taken prior to 1895. Unfortunately, I don't yet know precisely when he left that address.

The photograph has a very low negative number (347) marked in pen on the front of the mount, suggesting that Bower was a relative newomer to the field. He was pretty competent, however, as the group portrait is a particularly good one, well posed, sharp, and with a decent tonal range and plenty of contrast. All that it is missing is a notice board with the school name and class number, a common accessory used in school portraits of the period.

It is particularly interesting that the photograph appears to have been taken at a school in Lowestoft, because of George Bower's Norfolk connection. Perhaps he returned to the Norfolk coast at some stage to ply his trade. There were many well established photographic studios in Derby at this time, and I think newcomers would have had a tough time trying to break into the field there. From my research into Derbyshire studios, I have found many photographers who were only in business for short periods in the mid- to late 1890s. Quite a few would either have changed professions or moved on to try other areas, and I suspect this may have been the case with Bower too.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

His lordship taking his rum ration

This image, much later than any of those presented in this blog thus far, is one taken from my own collection. I have included it, as it is an example of how many different aspects, some perhaps not directly related to the photograph itself, may be used to discover more about the incident represented in a photo. It is sometimes astonishing how much can be ascertained.

I knew who it was - my grandfather Charles Leslie Lionel Payne (1892-1975) - and approximately when and where it was taken, as it had the following inscription on the reverse:
Will... (?sp) Kent, August 1915
However, I never really knew my grandfather, having grown up thousands of miles away from Derbyshire, where he and my grandmother lived. During my investigations into his life, and more specifically while researching his military service during the First World War, I decided that there must be more to to be found.

First, I looked at the style of the photograph - it was a standard print of the times, probably taken with a cheap camera by an amateur. There were therefore no markings such as a studio name to assist further in that direction.

Secondly, I investigated the provenance. My father was able to refer me to a letter in the collection of family papers. It was written to Leslie Payne in 1936 by an old friend of his, Ed Pye. As young men they had worked together for the Canadian Pacific Railroad (CPR) in Saskatchewan, Canada, in 1912 and 1913, and both subsequently served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) - although in different units - during the Great War. Obviously written after they had been out of touch for many years, the letter reminisces on some of their shared experiences, both before and during the war, and mentions several photos which Ed Pye had enclosed with the letter, including the one shown above:

"His lordship taking his rum ration - The latter I have removed from my war picture album."
Presumably Ed Pye was present at the time the photo was taken, indeed he may have taken the picture himself.

Next, I looked at the photograph itself. The photo shows Leslie, dressed in typical CEF military uniform, sitting on the grass in a field, legs outstretched, and holding a mess tin (or billy can) in his right hand, presumably containing his "rum ration." Unfortunately the scan that I have is not clear enough to show what the items are on the ground next to him, but his boots are hob-nailed, and he appears to be wearing spurs. In the background, there are a couple of horses grazing, and at least three other soldiers, lounging around in the shade of a belt of trees, which appear to mark the edge of the field. The image below, from the web site of the PPCLI Living History Unit, shows the standard "D" model mess tin in use by the British and Canadian Forces at the time:

The inscription on the reverse of the print suggests that it was taken in August 1915. Certainly Leslie looks much the same as in another photo of him in the family collection (see below). This was taken at the studio of E.M. Treble in Derby, and I believe the sitting was probably during a visit home on leave from the army in June or July of 1915.

To investigate further the movements of my grandfather in the spring and summer of 1915, I resorted to his CEF war service records and the war diaries of the unit in which he was serving at the time, the 2nd Divisional Train, Canadian Army Service Corps (CASC). His service records I had previously ordered from the Library & Archives of Canada (LAC), and scanned images of the CEF War Diaries are now available online from the same source.

Leslie Payne and his unit spent four and a half months in the south of England training with the Canadian forces prior to their embarkation for France in mid-September 1915. They were based mainly at Dibgate Camp, near Shorncliffe, west of Folkestone in Kent. According to the War Diary for August 1915, the entire Canadian Second Division including my grandfather's unit, spent four days from 23rd to 26th August doing "manoeuvres."

The entries show that the 2nd Div. Train bivouacked at Willisborough Lees for two nights on the 24th and 25th August. They camped at nearby Hatch Park on the 23rd. It is clear that the inscription "Will... (?sp) Kent, August 1915" is in fact "Willisborough Lees" - or Willesborough Lees as it is spelled on contemporary Ordnance Survey maps.

The hamlet of this name is located just to the north-west of the town of Willesborough, near Ashford in Kent (see portion of 1945 one inch to a mile Ordnance Survey map, above). From what I can tell, this is the only occasion that they were near this location, or indeed near anywhere with a name starting "Will.."

While I am unlikely to ever find the exact location of my grandfather's bivouack site in a paddock near Willesborough Lees on the 24th and 25th August, I am confident that the photo was taken there. I will be visiting the Shorncliffe area briefly in October, and may get the opportunity to at least drive through the Willesborough Lees area. It will provide a fitting conclusion to my research into this photo.

Henry Lawless of Exeter - a portrait of a portrait

Old photos were frequently copied long after the original portrait had been taken, often subsequent to the death of the subject, and I have come across many examples in the compilation of my Derbyshire Photographers & Photographic Studios collection. However, sometimes the memory of a departed family member was celebrated in a slightly different fashion.

A style not often encountered, this "portait of a portrait" was sent to me recently by Angela Johnson. The cabinet card probably shows her great-great-grandfather Henry Lawless (1826-1877), an Exeter wine merchant, churchwarden and town councillor. She writes:
"It has been suggested that the photo was taken of a portrait after his death....of course, it may not be him ... I have tried to make out what the bits and pieces are by blowing up the picture, but it just isn't quite clear enough to decipher the titles of the books etc. - the folded bit of paper looks like a cartoon about the Town Council."

The photographer William S. Sugden died at Brighton in 1880, so this portrait must have been produced before then. William Sugden was in partnership with Edward Williams at 88 High Street, Exeter briefly between April 1877 and February 1878. However, in March 1878 the two went their separate ways. Scott (1985) shows them both with premises in March 1878 - Sugden at 88 Queen Street, and Williams at 241 High Street, Exeter - but no later listings in that town.

This photo is a rather unusual one, and I believe it must have been taken after the death of the subject. The arrangement of the framed portrait on the writing desk with the books, ink well, quill pen, lamp and loose papers was meant to portray his life and work, and the distinguished person that he was. His clothing looks tailored to me - you don't often see people this well-dressed in photographs from the 1870s. The portrait style, card mount design and known dates for Sugden's studio operation in Exeter, confirms a date of between 1877 and 1880. I suspect that it was taken shortly after his death, either in 1877 or 1878.

The clothing style suggests to me that the original portrait, which appears to have been enlarged considerably from the size of a standard studio portrait, was taken not long before the presumed subject's death in 1877. All of the items placed on the desk are likely to have had some significance, if only we could work out what it was.

I would be interested to hear from any other viewers who have come across studio portraits such as this one, not just copied from older photos, but incorporating the older photograph, in a separate frame, with carefully selected and arranged accessories to embellish the portrait and give an impression of his importance.

History, Gazetteer & Directory of Devon (1878-79), Historical Directories from the University of Leicester
Photographers in Devon 1842-1939 : a brief directory for photograph collectors, by C.G. Scott, 1985, The PhotoHistorian Supplement No. 101, ISSN 0957-0209

Thomas Gallimore, maltster & brewer of Ashbourne

This photo, sent to me by Jo Bevan, was among a small collection of photographs possibly acquired in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, and including several early CDVs by photographers (George Edgar, Robert Bull & Louis Twells) in that town.

The carte de visite mount is clearly marked, "Copied by Winter Derby" and is similar to others by W.W. Winter taken and/or copied at the Midland Road studio in the late 1870s and early 1880s. However, the man's clothing, his pose, and the portrait style suggest that the photograph was originally taken much earlier, perhaps in the early to mid-1860s.

The inscription on the sack clearly stands for "Gallimore, Ashbourne." Thomas Gallimore (1820-1874) was a maltster, brewer and publican, proprietor of the Old Red Lion Inn in the Market Place, Ashbourne. At the time of the 1861 Census, George Edgar was lodging next door to Gallimore at the Red Lion. In fact, he was the only photographer working in Ashbourne at this time, and it seems likely that he was the original photographer who took this portrait. It also seems highly probably that the subject is Thomas Gallimore himself, holding a sack of barley (or perhaps hops), used in the brewing and malting process.

This photo is a good example where the studio name is a red herring with respect to finding out where it was taken. In this case, it is fortunate that a knowledge of the provenance of the photo, in conjunction with a detailed examination of the subject and "studio accessories," reveal enough clues to discover not only the original location, but also to provide a likely identity for the subject.

It is also a nice illustration of how accessories were often used by portrait artists, as they often styled themselves, to convey an image, in this case of an industrious, down-to-earth middle-aged man, proud of the business that he had built up over some twenty years. If it was indeed taken in the early 1860s, then it would have been quite a novelty for someone of moderate means in this small Derbyshire market town. Although photography had already been existence for over two decades, the high price of daguerreotypes and ambrotypes had largely limited their availability to the more wealthy clientele. Only with the widespread introduction of the carte de visite in 1860 had it become affordable to a wider proportion of the population.

Early pictures of working folk, or at least ordinary people in their working clothes, were fairly uncommon. There were some photographers who took a special interest in documenting the lives or workers, but these generally tended to be of domestic staff, mine and factory workers and other employees. Portraits or self-employed people in their working clothes were rather unusual in the 1860s, so this image is particular interesting from that point of view.

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