Monday, 8 December 2008

Stereoview by John Alfred Warwick (1821-1896) of Derby

One of the best known Derby photographers was Richard Keene (1825-1894), about whom I have previously written the following:

"Although primarily a printer, bookseller, stationer and, by 1855, publisher of the Derbyshire Telegraph, he developed an interest in photography, and travelled throughout Derbyshire with friends, taking pictures of architecture, topography and landscapes. He started by selling prints of the high quality photos for which he became reknowned, but also set up and operated a successful portrait studio from at least 1859, produced private commissions for firms, estates and families, and took photos in many other counties. He was an associate of Fox Talbot, and his work reportedly included commissions by the Royal Family. In 1884 he was a founder member of the Derby Photographic Society, he was the recipient of 34 major awards, and he also became President Elect of the Photographic Convention of the United Kingdom."

Image © and courtesy of Maxwell Craven
John Alfred Warwick (1821-1896) & Elizabeth Hole Warwick (1832-1904)
taken c.1860 by his close friend Richard Keene at Derby
from Keene's Derby by Maxwell Craven, publ. 1993, Breedon Books

One of those close friends, who accompanied Keene on a number of photographic "rambles" around Derbyshire and other places further afield, was J.A. Warwick (1821-1896). John Alfred Warwick was born in Manchester, son of a Unitarian minister and scientist Thomas Oliver Warwick (1771-1852) and Mary Aldred. After his marriage to Elizabeth Hole Hudson (1832-1904) at Ilkeston in 1854, they settled in Derby, where they had seven daughters and a son over the next two decades. Warwick was soon after appointed telegraph superintendent for the Midland Railway Company, a position he held until his retirement in the 1880s. In the 1891 Census, when he was living at Brook Cottage, Ockbrook, he is described as a pyrotechnist, i.e. he was a producer of fireworks, and his Guy Fawkes displays were reportedly very popular.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

Amongst many other interests he was also a keen amateur photographer from as early as 1852, and appears to have taken quite a few of the landscapes later published as stereoviews by Keene. The image shown above is one such stereoview, although this particular example is attributed to Warwick on the reverse (see below), with Keene noted as the publisher. John Bradley, who has several views by Keene and Warwick in his collection, informs me that it was from an earlier series probably taken in the late 1850s.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

The number 42 in the top left hand corner of the box presumably identifies the stereograph as number 42 in a series of views published by Keene. The title and description are as follows:

Ruins of Ashby-de-la-Zouche Castle, from the Manor-House garden. This is one of the many fine views obtained from the north or garden side of the Castle. On the left is the fine gable and window of Mary Queen of Scots' Room; and in the centre are the windows of the Great Hall, behind which rises the majestic Ivanhoe Tower. Scott has made these ruins doubly interesting, and has given them a fame that will survive when their massive relics shall have crumbled into the dust.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

As with other photographs published by Keene but actually taken by Warwick, what appears to be the familiar figure of Richard Keene is evident. He is lying prostrate on the grass, apparently writing in a notebook.

Image © Derby Museum and courtesy of Maxwell Craven
Richard Keene & the Eyam Cross, 27 July 1858, by J.A. Warwick
Image © Derby Museum Ref. DBYMU.A41 & courtesy of Maxwell Craven in Keene's Derby

Maxwell Craven, in his absorbing book Keene's Derby (published in 1993 by Breedon Books, ISBN 1 873626 60 6), describes in some detail the earliest of Keene and Warwick's rambles, through the Peak District in July 1858, and includes a photograph showing Keene with a leather shoulder bag and his notebook seated on the base of the Eyam Cross, taken by Warwick on 27 July 1858 in Eyam churchyard.

Image © and courtesy of Picture the Past
Richard Keene & the Wheston Cross, c.1858-1859, by J.A. Warwick
Image © and courtesy of Picture the Past Ref. DCCC001840

Picture the Past has another image, possibly from the same ramble. Although attributed to Keene, it was clearly taken by Warwick as Keene is seated in a very similar pose to the earlier photo, on the plinth of the cross at Wheston, near Tideswell.

If any other readers have prints of photographs or stereoviews by Warwick or Keene, please get in touch by email. I'd be very keen to see further images, and even feature them here if possible.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Another portrait by "Professor" Simpson of Ashbourne & Buxton

I've recently updated the article describing a cabinet photograph of a landau taken by "Professor" Frank Simpson of Ashbourne & Buxton, sent to me by John Bradley. Nigel Aspdin conducted some research at the Derby Local Studies Library and was successful in identifying the building in the background as the Railway Hotel in Buxton.

Image © & courtesy of Terry Nolan

In the mean time, I received another image of a photograph by Simpson. This one is a carte de visite portrait, possibly a few years earlier than the landau photo, and not nearly as decent quality. The owner of the photograph, Terry Nolan, writes:

The attached photo is from a collection of prints which belonged to my grandmother. Her name was Frances Helen Larissey, later Mrs Nolan of Handsworth, nr Sheffield. I can't identify any of the people in the picture, however the man in the middle of the three men in the back row, bears an uncanny resemblance to my late father. That being the case, it could be my great-grandfather John Larissey (b. 1845) or failing that my great-great-grandfather Thomas Larissey (b. 1810). It would be really useful to try to date the photograph. I still wouldn't be sure of the identity of the man, but it would be interesting to speculate.
Unfortunately, the carte de visite is a little faded, and not particularly clear. From what I can make out of the clothes that the women are wearing, the fashions more or less equate to the late 1870s, say between 1876 and 1880.

Image © & courtesy of Terry Nolan

The design on the reverse of the card mount is of a style - with text in a banner & stylized ivy - which was popular in the mid- to late 1870s. Roger Vaughan has a similar example on his web site which is accurately dated at November 1878. It is similar to the design on my profile of Frank Simpson profile, except that it has three "Prince of Wales feathers" motifs at the top instead of the coat of arms. I believe this example may have been slightly earlier than the "coat of arms" style, but the latter is not dated so that's not a great help.

The style of the backdrop, the clothes worn by the subjects, the shape of the card and the card mount design all point to a date of around 1877 to 1880, although it is possible that it could have been taken as late as 1881-1882. Older women tended to wear clothes which were perhaps not quite as up-to-date with the latest fashions, and the photographer Simpson, too, being something of an itinerant, may not have possessed the latest amenities in his travelling studio.

If that is the case, then it's possibly the oldest portrait by Simpson that I have yet come across, so I'm very grateful for the opportunity to use it - many thanks, Terry.

All six of the subjects look as they could easily be in their sixties, although the two in the middle, including the man you referred to, is possibly a little older than the others. I think it quite conceivable that he might be Thomas Larissey (1810-1882). Thomas and his wife Ann (née Fawcett) lived in the village of Loversall, near Doncaster in South Yorkshire, where he worked as a gardener from prior to 1841 until his death on 31 December 1882.

I think it quite likely that Thomas Larissey would have travelled to Buxton, together with his wife and perhaps friends or family, for a short holiday in the summer time, as it was a popular tourist resort. I suspect - although I don't yet have good documentation for this - that Simpson spent the summer holiday season in Buxton catering to the tourist trade visiting the Peak District and the hydropathic spas, and went back to Ashbourne for much of the rest of the year. It is also possible, although I believe less likely, that Simpson travelled to or through Doncaster or Loversall taking photographs as he went, as he operated from a caravan. The fact that he lists locations in Leicester, Burslem and London on the reverse of his card mounts suggests to me that he travelled a good deal, perhaps following the village and town fairs.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Alexander Frederick Rolfe (1814-1875) artist, photographer & angler

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Miss Matilda Rolfe (1816-1896)
by Rolfe's Portrait Studio, 25 December 1861
Image © and collection of Brett Payne

This carte de visite is a standard seated portrait of a middle aged woman in a fairly well appointed studio, which I purchased on eBay a few years ago. The main reason for my interest, apart from it being a well composed portrait and a nice early example of a crte de visite, was because an apparently contemporary inscription on the reverse both identifies the sitter and provides an accurate date. Further research has revealed that the photographer was a Victorian painter, Alexander Frederick A.T. Rolfe (1814-1875), one of a family of sporting artists, and the subject is almost certainly his sister Matilda Rolfe (1816-1896).

Image © and collection of Brett Payne

The card mount has the studio address (Rolfe's Portrait Studio, 4 Haymarket, London) and an inscription on the reverse, Miss M. Rolfe, Dec 25th /61. An entry in the photoLondon database shows that Alexander Frederick Rolfe was active as a photographer at this location from 1857 until 1864. Alexander Rolfe was one of at least eight children of artist William Edmund Rolfe (1781-1876) and his first wife Louisa Nicholson (1792-1822). After his first wife died, W.E. Rolfe married Eliza Julia Hopkins (1798-1879), with whom he had another four children.

Matilda was Alexander's younger sister, just two years younger than him. She was born in late 1815 or early 1816 at St Clement Dane's, Westminster, London, and never married. By 1851 she was living as a companion with her elderly grandmother at the Goldsmith Almshouse, Acton, Middlesex. From at least 1861 until 1871, according to ceneus records, she was working as a housekeeper to one Henry Reeves, a farmer and landowner, at Rookley Manor, Isle of Wight. This is presumably how she was employed at the time the portrait was taken by her brother. By 1881, she had retired and was lodging in Winchester, and by 1891 was in Weeke, now a suburb of Winchester. Matilda Rolfe died at Islington, Middlesex, in 1896 at the age of eighty-one.

Trout Fishing, by Alexander Frederick Rolfe

Alexander Rolfe was a painter of landscape, still life and sporting subjects, as were his sister Catherine Augusta Herring (1828-1911), better known younger brother Henry Leonidas Rolfe (1823-1881) and brother-in-law John Frederick Herring Jr. (1815-1907). The image shown above is typical of his landscapes with fishing subjects, and possibly depicts Alexander himself with his brother Henry. A portrait of Henry by Alexander, painted in 1850 and now in the collection of the Piscatorial Society, is entitled "Limner of scaly Subjects." [Source]

An English Farmyard Idyll,
by John Frederick Herring & Alexander Frederick Rolfe

He painted profusely and exhibited extensively between 1839 and 1871, and on occasion collaborated with J.F. Herring, his sister Kate's husband. The Rehs Gallery has an extensive virtual exhibition of works by Herring, which are more in the equine and bovine, rather than piscatorial, metier.

Image © and courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery
Henry Leonidas Rolfe (1823-1881), artist, by Rolfe's Portrait Studio
Image © and courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery has a carte de visite portrait of Henry Leonidas Rolfe taken by Rolfe's Portrait Studio, as well three more portraits of artists by the same studio, probably all taken in the period 1861-1864.

Image © and courtesy of the National Portrait GalleryImage © and courtesy of the National Portrait GalleryImage © and courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery
Portraits by Rolfe's Portrait Studio, (L to R) Charles Lucy (1814-1873), History painter; George Thomas Doo (1800-1886), Engraver; George Henry Vansittart (1823-1885), Politician
Images © and courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery

Image © and courtesy of Roger Vaughan
Portrait of Lady Emma Edmonstone (1804-1891)
by Rolfe's Portrait Studios, c.1864
Image © and courtesy of Roger Vaughan

Roger Vaughan has a carte de visite portrait of Lady Edmonstone, with an identical card mount design, on his Victorian and Edwardian Photographs web site, tentatively dated at c.1864. Lady Emma Edmonstone (1804-1891) was the third daughter of Randle Wilbraham of Rode Hall, Cheshire, and the wife of Sir Archibald Edmonstone, 3rd Baronet (1795-1871), a British traveler and writer. In early April 1861, they were visiting at 12 Gloster Gardens, Paddington, London, the household of a West India merchant, John Kingston and his wife Charlotte.

I have found few examples of Rolfe's photographic portraiture, but there is the occasional reference to others that have survived:
  • CDV, unidentified seated male, full length, undated, printed on reverse: Rolfe's Portrait Studio, 4, Haymarket, London, in Portraits of Various People, 136 photographs from an early carte de visite album, 1866-1890, Greater Manchester County Record Office, Ref 2456/12a
The 1861 Census shows Alexander Rolfe living at 6 Richmond Park Terrace, Richmond, Surrey with his wife Harriet "Etty." He described himself merely as an artist, not mentioning the photographic sideline. It is not clear exactly how long the studio operated, but it seems unlikely that it was in existence outside the date range 1857-1864. I'm not aware of any ambrotypes by Rolfe in existence, but presumably if he was in the photographic business in the late 1850s he would have produced some. By 1871 they had moved to 9 Middleton Road, Battersea, Surrey and he is listed as an "artist - landscape & portrait painter." He died at Wandsworth in 1875, at the age of sixty-one.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

Two framed ambrotypes from Yorkshire

One of the ways in which a photographic studio could "add value" to its products was to offer an enlargement and framing service, and all but the smallest or most itinerant of operations tended to do this. The most basic type of framing in the early days, for daguerreotypes and ambrotypes, was an embossed leather- or papier mache-covered and silk- or velvet-lined rectangular wooden or thermoplastic case, which served the dual purpose of protecting the delicate images, examples of which are relatively common. If the portrait was wanted for display purposes, however, an alternative option was to have it mounted behind glass with a mat and frame, in much the same way as painted portraits were done.

Image © and courtesy of Brenda Croome

Brenda Croome recently sent me two images of framed ambrotypes of family members, with the following explanation:
I went north in October, and visited an old lady of 89 who is the great-grand-daughter of Christopher Richardson, my great-grandfather Thomas's brother. She very kindly gave me two photographs of two of Thomas and Christophers' sisters. The eldest girl is Mary Ann Esther Richardson born 1844, and her sister is Eliza Richardson 1847/1852. They were born in Neasham, Yorkshire, near to Darlington, their father was a shoemaker. I know very little about early photography - except that I seem to recall that daguerrotypes were very expensive, so for the rich!

I have taken the back off one of them and found:- Looking at the photos from the front, there is a glass covering, behind that the white and gilded mount. Behind that a coloured glass plate (with blue poorly fixed powdery substance, which came away on a cotton bud). Behind that a loose piece of almost black velvet, and laid on this loose piece of velvet at the bottom edge, about 1\3" thick, a roll of velvet - this holds the bottom of the glass negative just off the loose piece of velvet. Behind that a piece of card. The whole inner part pinned to the frame with ½" nails with extremely small heads.

The only other method of photography in about 1848 I have heard vaguely of is the process known as albumin negatives. Would there have been a photographic studio in Darlington at such an early date? Or would there have been travelling photographers? These are the earliest photographs I have and I would be thrilled to learn more about them.
Image © and courtesy of Brenda Croome

After I had cautioned Brenda about the danger of dismantling ambrotypes and daguerreotypes, she assured me "that I only took the cotton bud to the extreme edge of the glass plate, to see if the 'blue' was fixed. The whole process of taking the picture apart frightened me hugely!

Image © and courtesy of Brenda CroomeImage © and courtesy of Brenda Croome

They are, in fact, ambrotypes, which succeeded daguerreotypes and were considerably cheaper. The wet plate collodion positive process was invented in 1851 by Frederick Scott Archer, and became very popular for portraiture in a short space of time, so that by the mid-1850s, it had all but supplanted the daguerreotype. As it required little skill and a much lower cost to set up and produce ambrotypes, this continued to be the method of choice for almost a decade, until the even cheaper tintypes, paper prints and cardboard-backed carte de visites took over in the early 1860s.

The photograph was printed as a negative on the inside of the glass, and the black velvet backing then had the effect of turning this into a "positive" image. The coloured plate was used to impart colours to the image, as trying to colour the image itself would have destroyed the collodion. The whole set-up was then usually encased in a box similar to those previously used for daguerreotypes, although framed examples with white and gilt matts such as these are fairly common. A further development of the collodion positive process resulted in the ferro-type, commonly referred to as a tin-type. In this method the collodion was coated onto a thin sheet of black-enamelled, or "japanned," iron, and often covered with clear varnish, thus rendering them more durable than the ambrotypes that they replaced. Being more robust meant that they did not need cases, and could be sold "as is," in cardboard and/or paper frames, or presented in specially designed gem tin-type albums.

Image © and courtesy of Brenda CroomeImage © and courtesy of Brenda Croome

Being ambrotypes, Brenda's two portraits were indeed affordable to many everyday folk of the period, although would still, I suspect, have been quite a significant expense to the family of a shoemaker. The younger child appears to be about two years old, the older one perhaps four. I estimate that they were taken in the early to mid-1850s, say between 1853 and 1856, and the mounts and frames appear to be contemporary with the photographic images. The portraits both have the same toy in the left hand foreground, a wheeled horse with a missing head. This suggests to me that they were taken on the same occasion, and that one should therefore be looking for two children, aged about two years apart, who were born c.1849-1852 and c.1851-1854, respectively.

These dates don't really quite fit with the birth dates of Brenda's Mary Ann Esther and Eliza Richardson. I found them on the 1851 Census, living with their parents, Robert & Ann Richardson in the village of Neasham, County Durham, and numerous siblings, although by the time of the 1861 Census, Mary Ann was working as a servant and Eliza was nowhere to be found. I presume that she had died in 1852. I think it very unlikely, therefore, that the two children are Mary Ann and Eliza as identified by Brenda's relative, and would suggest looking for other members of the family who they might have been.

There were almost certainly photographic studios in Darlington by the mid- to late 1850s, although they may have been operated on a temporary basis by photographers visiting from larger towns. Alternatively, family members may have travelled to a larger town and had their portrait taken there.

More from Brenda:
There is ... a problem. With one, not very likely, exception, there are absolutely no other children who could fit that time frame. If the photograph was taken mid-1851, there is one other child born who could fit. This was William born 22 May 1849, the younger brother of the two girls, so Eliza would have been 5, and William 2 years and some months. Can the younger of the children be seen as a boy? It doesn't seem likely, why is 'he' wearing a frock. There would have been 'hand-me-downs' from the three elder sons.
Young boys and were commonly dressed in very similar, if not identical, clothes in this era, in particular dresses, and boys were often only "breeched," i.e. fitted with trousers, when they were 6 to 10 years old. One can sometimes tell from the position of the parting in the hair (central for girls, or side for boys) whether a child was a boy or girl, but this is by no means a fool-proof method.

Image © and courtesy of Brenda Croome

I'd prefer to leave further interpretation to Brenda, as so much of the investigative process depends on a detailed knowledge of the particular family. Out of interest, a close up image of the top left hand corner of one of the frames shows that it is made from wood with plaster embellishment. Roger Vaughan has an ambrotype of a couple and a small child with a very similar mat and frame, here.

For those readers who are interested in learning more about daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and the processes used to create them, I would like to strongly recommend The Birth of Photography: The Story of the formative years 1800-1900, by Brian Coe (publ. Spring Books, London, 1989, ISBN 0 600 56296 4). My copy was very kindly "rescued" and sent to me by Sylvia Rhodes. I have also put together a few links to online galleries of ambrotypes:

Friday, 28 November 2008

George Henry Swift of Chapel-en-le-Frith

George Henry Swift was one of those for whom photography was merely one of many talents. Looking at it from a slightly different perspective, his career as a photographer probably didn't last very long.

Although he was born in 1846 in the village Gamesley, near Glossop in Derbyshire, Swift grew up in Lockwood, near Huddersfield in Yorkshire, where his father and older brothers worked as stone masons. At the age of fifteen, by which time his father had died, George was an accountant's clerk. In 1868, however, he married Maria Penelope Whiteley. They moved to Chapel-en-le-Frith in 1870 or 1871 and George became landlord of the Shoulder of Mutton Inn in Townend.

Probably commencing some time in the mid-1870s, George Swift tried his hand at photography, and by the time of the 1881 Census was described as a photographist, although Kelly's trade directory for that year indicates that he was also secretary to the agricultural society and a rates collector. His wife died in late 1880, a couple of years after the birth of their fifth child. He remarried at Stockport in 1886, to Sarah Ann Harrison, and appears to have moved to Belper shortly after, as Kelly's trade directory for 1887 shows him as a Conservative registration agent, living in Campbell Street. It is interesting to note that photographer Jacob Schmidt, who had only recently moved to Belper from Bristol, was living next door in 1891. Swift, however, appears not to have returned to the photographic business, describing himself as a political agent in 1891 and a musical instrument dealer in 1901.

Image © and courtesy of Ann Taylor

This carte de visite, sent to me by Ann Taylor, was taken by G.H. Swift, probably some time in the late 1870s. It shows, a church, churchyard, low wall and street. Unfortunately the location is not specified. It would be tempting to assume that it is the parish church of Chapel-en-le-Frith, in the Peak District of Derbyshire, dedicated to St. Thomas-a-Becket, "a stone edifice in the later English style." [Source: The National Gazetteer (1868), courtesy of Rosemary Lockie's GENUKI Derbyshire web site] However, modern images of that church (example) show some siginificant differences and I have my doubts.

Image © and courtesy of John Stanbridge
St Edmund, Castleton, Derbyshire
Image © and courtesy of John Stanbridge (Flickr photostream)

In my view, a much more likely candidate is the parish church of St. Edmund in Castleton, situated a few miles to the east of Chapel-en-le-Frith, a photograph of which I first found in my copy of "The Old Parish Churches of Derbyshire" by Mike Salter (Folly Publications, 1998, ISBN 1 871731 33 X). A much better recent photograph by John Stanbridge, shown above, is included as part of his Flickr photostream.

Image © and courtesy of Ann Taylor
The reverse of the card mount shows a hand stamp with the photographer's details, "G.H. Swift, Photographer, Chapel-en-le-Frith."

Image © & collection of Brett PayneImage © & collection of Brett Payne

This carte de visite portrait of an unidentified elderly woman from my own collection is probably from a similar era, i.e. the late 1870s. It has an identical back stamp, suggesting that Swift may not have been in business for long enough to have had his own card mounts printed.

Sherwood Foresters at Clumber Park

Some time ago, I found this image of a postcard on the net, but I've unfortunately mislaid all record of where it came from. I believe that it's well out of copyright, so there shouldn't be any problem with reproducing it from that point of view. However, if any reader knows anything about it, please get in touch by email - I'll be very happy to acknowledge and attribute the source.

The photograph is of a group of about forty, mostly young men in a variety of military uniforms, arranged in the middle of a tented camp, with a backdrop of large trees. The word, "CLUMBER," and number, "606.," were obviously inked in pen on the negative, as they appear in white at the lower right and lower left of the front of the postcard, respectively.

The photograph has a standard divided back postcard format, with the photographer's name printed on the reverse, "Photo by H.P. Hansen, Ashbourne." H.P. Hansen operated a studio in Ashbourne, Derbyshire from the late 1890s until at least 1922. He travelled fairly widely to produce general views of popular Derbyshire attractions, as well for commissions such as group portraits tailored for particular clients. This appears to be an example of the latter.

I'm not particularly strong on uniforms, but I am aware that the regiment commonly known as the Sherwood Foresters drew heavily for its ranks from the young men of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. A simple Google search using the terms "Clumber" and "Sherwood Foresters" hit the jackpot!

Image © and courtesy of Mike Briggs
"C Coy", 6th Battalion Sherwood Forester at Clumber Park, 1913
Image courtesy of Mike Briggs Chesterfield Sherwoods on the Somme

On Mike Briggs' excellent tribute to the men of Chesterfield (Derbyshire) who served with the Sherwood Foresters during the Battle of the Somme (Chesterfield Sherwoods on the Somme) he includes two photographs of 6th Battalion, "C" Company (Ashbourne and Buxton), Sherwood Forester Regiment at Clumber Park in 1913. He explains the formation of the unit prior to the Great War as follows:
Following the 1909 reorganisation of the Derbyshire Volunteers into the Territorial Force, the 6th Battalion Sherwood Foresters comprised the following eight companies :-
"A" - Chesterfield
"B" - Chapel-en-le-Frith
"C" - Ashbourne and Buxton
"D" - Bakewell, Tideswell and Stoney Middleton
"E" - Wirksworth and Matlock
"F" - Staveley and District
"G" - Clay Cross and District
"H" - Whaley Bridge, New Mills and Hayfield
Image © and courtesy of Mike Briggs

An enlarged view of this more formal group portrait shows a very similar range of uniforms and tents. There are plenty of trees around, which is understandable if the location is indeed Clumber. According to the web site of the National Trust, which owns it, Clumber Park is near Worksop in Nottinghamshire and comprises "peaceful woodlands, open heath and rolling farmland, with a superb serpentine lake at its heart and the longest avenue of lime trees in Europe." It was a country park partly designed by Capability Brown, and owned by the Dukes of Newcastle. This image also has a number, "637," suggesting that was also by Hansen, from the same sequence, and possibly taken on the same occasion.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

The Portland Photo Company, Bramble Street, Derby

This cabinet card of a young child and a dog is an intriguing one, not only because of the anonymity of the subject. It appears to have been taken in an unknown rural location - on a fairly smooth, but stony track with a rough stone wall and a hillside in the background - but the studio location is in Bramble Street, Derby.

I have never come across any reference to the The Portland Photo Co. previously - that's why you'll currently find no entry for it in my Index to Derbyshire Photographers & Studios. From the style of the card mount and the clothing worn by the child, I would venture a guess that it was taken in the late 1890s or early 1900s, say between 1895 and 1905.

The only photographer that I know of who worked in Bramble Street, Derby during this period was Frank Birch, who was probably there from late 1894 until c.1898, after which he removed to premises located at Nag's Head Yard, 64 St Peter's Street. It was during this period that the cabinet card presented in a previous article about Frank Birch was produced. Then, in 1903, Birch became manager of the Derby Stereoscopic Company, located at 36 Victoria Street.

I wonder if Frank Birch also traded for a short while as The Portland Photo Company? There was, and still is, a Portland Street in Derby, but this is situated some distance away in the suburb of Litchurch.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Esther Hinckley Baker (1812-1850) of Massachusetts

In September I featured an ambrotype of an ironmonger's shop in Bakewell sent to me by Nino Manci. At around the same time, I received the following email from Nino:
I have just been doing some research into a Boston USA family called Baker Hinckley. Is this just a bizarre coincidence, because the link given on family history site is you again!
I confirmed that I had indeed purchased a small gem tintype album on eBay a few years ago, containing numerous named portraits from the BAKER and HINCKLEY families of Massachusetts. Having researched the album in some detail, I published the results as a series of web pages, The Hinckley Album : Henry Hersey Hinckley's Gem Tintype Photograph Album, which Nino had stumbled across, presumably as the result of a Google search. He replied with more detail:
I am never successful with good [daguerreotype] images on Ebay but I was determined and successful this time ... the Daguerreotype was of a named woman, "Esther Hinckley Baker out of Providence"! I had no idea at this point that this would lead me back to you! Now Providence is 40 miles from Boston and the daguerreotypist is named on the plate as Hale. Although there were several Hale daguerreotypists there was one established in Milk Street, Boston about 200 yards from the [more famous] studio of Southworth and Hawes in Tremont Row ... The first thing that drew me to this image was that is is so typical of the fine portraiture of Southworth & Hawes.
Image © and courtesy of Nino Manci
"Esther Hinckley Baker out of Providence," c. 1846-1850
Ninth-plate daguerreotype by Hale of Boston
Image © and courtesy of Nino Manci

Nino subsequently sent me a scanned image of what I agree is a lovely portrait of a attractive young lady. The daguerreotype measures 53 x 66 mm, which is commonly referred to as a ninth-plate size. It appears to have lost its case, but still has the matt and pinchbeck surround. The most exciting discovery for me was the identity of the subject.

Image © 2005 Brett Payne

A few years ago, I purchased this small (82 x 91 mm) green faux-leather album because I was looking for a relatively inexpensive example of a gem tintype album, and this one appeared to have several of the subjects identified which, from a genealogical point of view, endeared me to it immediately.

Image © 2005 Brett Payne

The album contains 35 photographs, 27 of which have been annotated. In addition, the front inside cover of the album has what appears to be the original owner's name, "Henry H. Hinckley," written diagonally across the page. I used census and other records to identify the owner of the album and build up a detailed picture of his family, eventually succeeding in identifying portraits of fourteen different members of the extended family.

Image © 2005 Brett Payne
Family Tree of Henry H. Hinckley & Esther May Baker née Hinckley
Click on image for full tree

These included a daughter and a grandson of Henry H. Hickley's paternal aunt Esther May Hinckley (1812-1850), who married Captain Ezra Howes Baker (1811-1876) in 1832. It appears that she is the subject of Nino's daguerreotype! Esther was born on 7 August 1812 at Nantucket, Massachusetts, the fourth of ten children of Lot Hinckley (1782-1852) and Rebecca Cobb. Her family moved to Barnstable in the mid-1820s and that is where she was married, but she then settled with her husband, a sailor and merchant, in South Dennis or Yarmouth Port, Barnstable County. A few years later, in 1838, they moved to Boston where Ezra was in partnership with various individuals, owning ships and engaging in domestic and foreign trade.

Image © and courtesy of
1850 Census, Boston Ward 12, Suffolk, Massachusetts
Roll M432_339; Page 288; Image 115; Sch. 762
Image © and courtesy of
Click on image for more details

Esther is reported to have died on 25 July 1850, a few months after the birth of her fourth child. However, the federal census of that year, enumerated on 24th August, shows the family living in Boston Ward 12, including Ezra, Esta [sic] and all four surviving children, so her actual date of death is not clear.

Ezra Howes Baker (1811-1876)
from History of Barnstable County, Massachusetts,
1890, (ed.) Simeon L. Deyo, Courtesy of David Kew

An 1890 history of Barnstable County, reproduced online by David Kew, contains a detailed biography of Ezra Howes Baker, including a fine portrait of him, and which repeats Esther's July 1850 death date.

Luther Holman Hale (1823-1885) operated photographic studios in Boston, first on Milk Street and later at 109 Washington Street, from 1845 until 1862, the earlier years in partnership with his brother Charles E. Hale, who had started as a daguerreotypist around 1842. It seems likely to me, therefore, that this portrait of Esther May Baker nee Hinckley was probably taken in the mid- to late 1840s, say between 1846 and 1850. [Sources: Craig's Daguerreian Registry & Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-century Photography by John Hannavy]

Image © and courtesy of the George Eastman House Photography Collection
Unidentified woman, by Southworth & Hawes, c.1850
Sixth plate daguerreotype, 70 x 83 mm
Image © and courtesy of the George Eastman House Photography Collection
Accession Number: 1974:0193:0642

By way of comparison, the selection of Southworth & Hawes daguerreotype images made available on Flickr by George Eastman House includes a similar style portrait of an unidentified young woman with an almost identical hairstyle, shown above, tentatively dated c.1850.

In January this year, I was contacted by Sam Hinckley, a great-grandson of Henry Hersey Hinckley, owner of the gem tintype album. He sent me some more photographs of the Hinckley family which I hope to feature in a future Photo-Sleuth article, and I'm sure will be excited to hear of the discovery of this early photograph of another family member. Many thanks to Nino for bringing this remarkable coincidence to my attention, and for supplying the engaging image of his recent purchase.


Indexed 1840-1930 US Federal Census images, from Ancestry
International Genealogical Index (IGI) at FamilySearch from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
History of Barnstable County, Massachusetts, (ed.) Simeon L. Deyo, 1890, New York: H. W. Blake & Co., CHAPTER XVIII. pages 507-577, reproduced on David Kew's Cape Cod History, Literature & Genealogy web pages
Craig's Daguerreian Registry
Hale, Luther Holman (1823-1885) American daguerreotypist, by Bob Zeller, in Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-century Photography, (ed.) John Hannavy, courtesy of GoogleBooks
Judah Baker, in Ancestral Anecdotes by B. Pahlow
Barbarowa Genealogy: Brooklyn Village, Ohio - An Exploration of a Neighbourhood's Family History
Ezra Howes Baker in Van Houtte - Descendants of Thomas Burgess 1601-1685, by C. Sutherland
Ezra Howes Baker, in Wing Family of America, Inc.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

The Buck Inn (Hempton, Norfolk) by Alfred Seaman

Image © & courtesy of John Bradley

John Bradley recently sent me this intriguing image of a mounted albumen print (202 x 134 mm) of two carts in front of a large stone and brick building with a tiled roof which had previously been framed. The reason for his - and my - particular interest is that on the back is the nice clear stamp of Chesterfield photographer Alfred Seaman.

Image © & courtesy of John Bradley

Portrait, View & Landscape
Opposite the Railway Station

In view of the fact that the name states only Alfred Seaman, not his sons, and the Brewery Street studio address only is listed, this suggests that it was taken early in his career, perhaps between 1879 and 1882. A carte de visite with identical studio address from my profile portfolio of Seaman photographs is shown below.

Image © & courtesy of Jeanne Fox
Elizabeth Fox née Green (b. 12 April 1846)
by A. Seaman of Brewery Street, Chesterfield
Undated, but probably taken c.1880
Image © & courtesy of Jeanne Fox

Although John Bradley's mounted albumen print does not have a caption, he was able to deduce the approximate location as being near to Fakenham in Norfolk from a detailed examination of the signs in the photograph.

Image © & courtesy of John Bradley

An enlargement of the signpost visible on the right hand side reveals the destinations, Sculthorpe, Shereford and Raynham.

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The most suitable location for a signpost with this particular configuration would be at the junction of current A1065 (Raynham Road) and the Shereford Road, in the small village of Hempton, as shown in the GoogleMaps satellite image below.

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It appears that the building shown in the old print may even still exist - the long building, or series of connected buildings, oriented roughly east-west and situated directly to the east of the crossroads in the image above - although there may have been some modifications, particularly in the roof line.

Image © & courtesy of John Bradley

The sign which hangs from a post situated prominently at the corner of the building clearly states, "The Buck Inn," unfortunately with little in the way of decoration or further embellishment.

Image © & courtesy of John Bradley

However, another sign above the doorway reveals considerably more:
This was the classic sign seen above licensed premises, probably required by law. A similar sign from Goole, possibly in the 1880s or 1890s, reads, "William Ross Cattanach, licensed to sell British and foreign spirituous liquors, ale, porter and tobacco." (Source: Boothferry Road, Goole - A History by Susan Butler)

Image © & courtesy of John Bradley

In the doorway stands a middle-aged or elderly woman wearing a white apron, apparently with her left hand on the door latch, and a large bonnet in her right hand. Directly in front of her stands a boy, perhaps in his early teens, dressed in a suit and bowler hat, holding in his left hand the bridle of a pony which is harnessed to an empty two-wheeled cart.

Image © & courtesy of John Bradley

To the left of the building is another two-wheeled cart, piled high with barrels. Initially, I thought that it was parked at the side of the building, but a closer look shows the legs of a horse, and perhaps a boy leading the horse, and I now believe that the cart is heading north along the main road. A wall is visible in the background, and there are some more buildings in the distance.

Examination of census records, trade directories and data provided by the Norfolk Public Houses database shows that George Gates was proprietor of the Buck Inn in the village of Hempton from 1865 until 1881. He was born in Hempton in 1818 and was a bootmaker before taking over the Buck Inn from Robert Brundle in the early to mid-1860s. He died at the age of 64 in 1882, and his widow Mary Ann Gates continued to run the inn until she, too, died in 1897. It seems likely that it is she who stands in the doorway in John's photo. Their son Robert Gates (1859-) took it over before 1900 and was the landlord for a few years, but appears to have sold the business to a William Howe by November 1908. It is interesting to note that there were no less than three inns in Hempton for a population of just 566 inhabitants in 1881 - the other two were The King's Head and The Bell - but I suppose they were coaching inns and relied mostly on passing trade.

Image © & courtesy of Jonathan Neville
Hempton village, with the tower mill (center) and the Buck Inn right), taken in 1910
Image © & courtesy of Jonathan Neville & Norfolk Mills

Jonathan Neville's web page devoted to the Hempton towermill has a number photographs of the mill, several of which include the building of the Buck Inn, over a period from 1905 to c.1930. The photograph reproduced above is dated 1910, and shows the Buck Inn building at the right, largely unchanged from the days of John Bradley's albumen print thirty odd years earlier.

John Bradley posed the question as to why Alfred Seaman, a studio photographer based in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, should be taking photographs, even if they were commissions, over a hundred miles away in rural Norfolk. Both of us are well aware of Seaman's Norfolk connections. He was born in the village of East Lexham, married a young woman from Walsingham, and first settled in the town of Fakenham, before moving several times and ending up in Derbyshire by the mid-1870s. Family members have provided photographic evidence that Seaman did return to Norfolk in the 1890s to visit family members and take their portraits, so it is quite conceivable that he was making such visits in the early 1880s too. Whether he was related to George Gates or his wife Mary Ann (maiden surname Loads) in some way is not known.


Trade Directories from the University of Leicester's Historical Directories
- Pigot's Directory of Norfolk, 1839
- Craven & Co.'s Commercial Directory of Norfolk, 1856
- Post Office Directory of Cambs, Norfolk & Suffolk, 1869
- Harrod & Co.'s Directory of Norfolk & Lowestoft, 1877
- History, Gazetteer & Directory of Norfolk, 1883
Francis White's History, Gazetteer and Directory of Norfolk 1854, pp. 698-699, by Paddy Apling
Buck, Hempton on Norfolk Public Houses, A listing by Richard Bristow
Hempton Towermill, by Jonathan Neville
Indexed 1841-1901 UK Census images from Ancestry
GRO Birth, Marriage & Death Indexes from FreeBMD
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