Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Portrait of a young man in Derby, by Milton ... or perhaps Frost?

This carte de visite comes from the collection of my aunt, Barbara Ellison, and was scanned by my brother and I during the course of several visits there in October last year.

Image © and courtesy of Barbara Ellison

The photograph, a vignetted head-and-shoulders portrait, appears from the gilt printing on the glossy dark green card mount to have been taken by William Milton at the Victoria Studio, St Peter's Street, Derby. Adamson (1997) shows Milton to have worked from these premises from 1898 until 1900, although as discussed in a previous article on this blog, I have shown that Thomas Frost was already occupying the studio by February 1900. Certainly, by April 1901 Milton appears to have abandoned the photographic profession and was working as a railway clerk in Peterborough.

Image © and courtesy of Barbara Ellison

However, the carte de visite appears to have been supplied in the pre-printed semi-transparent envelope shown above, which has the name of Thomas Frost, who succeeded Milton at the Victoria Studio, 26½ St. Peter's Street, Derby in late 1899 or early 1900. This suggests the possibility that the portrait may have been taken shortly after Frost took over, and that he used a card mount from Milton's old stock, disguising it with a far cheaper envelope printed with his own name. The cdvs shown below are two examples of the card mounts used by Frost when he did get his own printed (courtesy of Marilyn McMillan), and they are fairly similar in design to the one used by Milton.

Image © & courtesy of Marilyn McMillanImage © & courtesy of Marilyn McMillan

This seems to have happened fairly often, and is understandable. When a photographer took over a studio, he would not only be investing in the location, but would often inherit the collection of glass negatives built up by the previous proprietor and, if his predecessor had been any good, a certain amount of goodwill. Another example is shown by the case of the Victoria Chambers, owned by Clement Rogers and then taken over by J.W. Price who used identical card mounts (see previous article). It is interesting to note that Rogers took his remnant stock of Derby card mounts with him, and had them overprinted with the address of his new premises in St Leonards on Sea.

Back to the portrait in question, which was therefore probably taken in late 1899 or early 1900. It shows an unidentified young man in a smart white shirt with stiff collar, jacket and tie. Unfortunately, he was not recognised by my aunt. He appears to have the shadow of a nascent moustache on his upper lip, and I suspect that he is in his late teens. The most obvious candidate would be my great-grandfather Charles Vincent Payne's youngest brother, Fred Payne (1879-1946), who was still living with his parents at 139 St James Road, Normanton (Derby) at this time, even though he is shown as a "grocer and shopkeeper" operating on his "own account" in the 1901 Census.

Image © and courtesy of Barbara Ellison

The cabinet card portrait shown above, also from my aunt's collection, has a glossy dark brown card mount with no studio name or any identifying marks whatsoever. However, the subject looks so similar to that of the Milton/Frost portrait that I think it must be the same person, albeit a couple of years later, by which time his hair has grown somewhat.

Image © and courtesy of Barbara Ellison

The earliest positively identified photograph that I have of Fred Payne was taken three deacdes later, and is displayed above, showing him with a hat, possibly taking notes, at left, on the lawn at Dale Cottage (near Ingleby) in August 1933. Dale Cottage was for many years the home of his older brother Charles Hallam Payne (1870-1960), who is shown in the middle, and the latter's wife Sarah Emma Parker (1870-1946). Fred's second son, Clarence Benfield Payne (1907-1982) is standing at the right. An enlarged view of Fred (below) suggests, at least to me, that it could well be the same person as the young man shown in the earlier portraits discussed above.

Image © and courtesy of Barbara Ellison

Unfortunately Fred's grandson, who I met in Derby last year, has no pictures of his grandfather and, as he was only four when Fred died, is unlikely to have many memories of what he looked like. However, it may be worthwhile sending him some copies of these photographs to see if they ring any bells.


Indexed images of the 1841-1901 Census from Ancestry and the National Archives
Adamson, Keith I.P. (1997) Professional Photographers in Derbyshire 1843 - 1914, The PhotoHistorian, No. 118 Supplement, September 1997, ISSN 0957-0209.
Kelly's Trade Directories for Derbyshire, University of Leicester's Historical Directories
Craven, Maxwell (ed.) (1993) Derby Photographers 1852-1952, in Keene's Derby, Breedon Books, Derby, pp. 200-202, ISBN 1-873626-60-6

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