My submission for this week's issue of Sepia Saturday has little to do with the themes suggested by the image prompt, I'm afraid, although I imagine it was taken at around the same time (and it does involve a dangerously long skirt). The caption for Lewis S. Hine's Paper Boxes, Binding Covers gives a rather broad date range of "ca. 1906-1938" but, judging from the frilled blouses and early bobbed hair styles, by my estimation it was taken during the Great War. I suspect it was part of Hine's documentation of the American Red Cross's relief work in Europe.
Henrietta Christina Payne, 19 August 1910
Postcard portrait by Y. Burns, The Studio, Victoria Pier, Blackpool
Image © and courtesy of Barbara Ellison
This is one of three surviving portraits of my great-great-grandmother Henrietta Christina, and the only one to show her alone. It was taken in the summer of 1910 at the studio of Young Burns on Victoria Pier, Blackpool, presumably during a visit there with friends or family. I have written previously about her son and daughter-in-law Hallam and Sarah Payne's regular visits to Blackpool and other seaside resort towns such as Swanage, Bournemouth and Great Yarmouth, and it is quite possible that they took her there for a short holiday.
The back of the photograph is a regular postcard format, with the photographer and studio location printed up the left hand edge. Young Burns (1863-1931) was the son of a Lancashire machine ganger who started off working as a solicitor's clerk in Oldham, but by 1901 had married and settled in his wife's home town of Blackpool, where he was working as an artist.
Unidentified woman, c.1904-1909
Small format print by Burns & Ashton, Victoria Pier, Blackpool
Image © and courtesy of James Morley & whatsthatpicture
Jones (2004) shows Burns in partnership with Benjamin Ashton (formerly of 27 Keswick Road, Blackpool in 1901) as photographers with a studio on Victoria Pier, South Shore from 1904 until 1909. The following excerpt from a history of the southernmost of Blackpool's three piers, opened in 1893, in Wikipedia is illuminating:
Victoria Pier was considered to be more "upmarket" than North and Central piers, and at first provided little entertainment. Holidaymakers started visiting the South Shore in 1896 when a carousel was installed on the sand dunes. In 1902 the south entrance of the promenade was widened with the construction of the present promenade, and the pier entrance had to be moved back. In 1930 the pier was renamed South Pier.
Entrance to Blackpool's Victoria Pier, 1904
Still image from Mitchel & Kenyon cinematograph
Image © British Film Industry National Archive & courtesy of YouTube
Burns and Ashton appear to have opened the studio shortly after the re-design of the Victoria pier's entrance, shown in this still from Mitchell & Kenyon's ground-breaking cinematograph of Blackpool in 1904. (N.B. click on the image above to get to the full clip on YouTube.) From 1909 to 1918, Burns operated the studio alone.
Herr Blomé's Berlin Meister Orchestra, c.1911
Image © and courtesy of Michael Brubaker & TempoSenzaTempo
In my pursuit of the circumstances surrounding Henrietta's visit to Victoria Pier, I came across several more portraits from this particular studio, including no less than three postcard format photos of Herr Blomé's Berlin Meister Orchestra from fellow Sepian and photo-sleuth extraordinaire Mike Brubaker. The postcard view shown above, probably taken c.1911, has the orchestra arranged on a board floor in front of a well-windowed wooden building, which appears to be identical with that appearing immediately inside the entrance to the Victoria Pier in the Mitchell & Kenyon still.
Victoria Pier, South Shore, Blackpool, 1905
Coloured photomechanical print postcard by unidentified publisher
Having a studio situated at the entrance of the pier made good business sense for a photographer, who would be well placed to catch the tourists as they arrived and departed, and to offer a memento of their visit. The ticket booths to the left and right of the wrought iron gates offered similar opportunities to peddlers of tourist memorabilia. Postcard racks provided by Boots Cash Chemists can be seen clearly displayed in the Mitchell and Kenyon film clip.
Victoria Pier, Blackpool, 1905
Coloured photomechanical print postcard by unknown publisher
Sadly this entrance no longer exists, having been superseded by a series of large gaudy frontages, which I wont bother to reproduce here.
Victoria Pier, Blackpool, 1907
Real Photo Series No. 48 postcard by unknown publisher
I found portraits showing several varieties of postcard design from Young Burns' studio, but none of them are accurately dated, so there is not yet an opportunity to date them purely by card design.
A feature which most of Burns' portraits have in common is that the subjects are, quite understandably, dressed for an outing - the array of hats is pretty impressive. Most also have the variable silvery-grey sheen covering darker areas, characteristic of many portraits from this era, and resulting from the migration of free silver radicals within the sensitised emulsion and their deposition as metallic silver particles on the surface. This renders such photographs very difficult to scan properly.
There are also a number of postcards of bands and orchestras, which must have been a common sight on the Blackpool waterfront, entertaining the crowds of pleasure seekers. This group portrait of Jan Hurst and his group of musicians must have been taken shortly after his appointment as conductor of the Victoria Pier Orchestra in 1919, and was possibly not take by Young Burns, although it shows his presumed pier entrance photographic studio in the background.
Before you head off to check out the other Sepia Saturday entries, have a look at the full Mitchel & Kenyon cinematograph clip above. It gives an atmospheric flavour of the times, including a wonderful variety of hats.
South Pier, Blackpool, from Wikipedia
Jones, Gillian (2004) Lancashire Professional Photographers 1840-1940, Watford, Herts: PhotoResearch, 203pp.
Reynolds, Brian & Lee, Michael J. (nd) Jan Hurst and his Orchestra, on Masters of Melody.