More images and a new photographer

It has been a record week with over 20 new images added to the site. Amongst them is a carte de visite by Harrison, 5 Chesterton road Cambridge, probably from the 1860s. This is a new name, but a familiar address – that of photographer Frances Nicholls. Nothing yet discovered about Mr or Mrs Harrison


Notices from The Times

Wharton and Co of Peterborough had a nice little business producing cartes de visite photographs of newspaper announcements of births, deaths and marriages. These were neat lasting mementos to add to the family album. The examples I had found were from 1907 to 1910. But it transpires that the idea wasn’t unique to Samuel John Wharton. A recent buy on Ebay included two similar products from  1901 and 1903 from Wharton’s older brother Herbert C.Wharton, a photographer in Kilburn and, more surprising, a couple of much earlier examples, one anonymous from 1876 and one by Edgar Gael of Bromley Kent from 1877. (both shown below) From some additional research it appears that there were other photographers who specialised in this product, namely Marc Hughes of Hammersmith and the Centaur Photo Co. of Bromley.

So far I have not been able to find any newspaper advertising for this service – has anyone else come across any such advertisements? Newspaper announcements of births and marriages usually included the address of one or more of the parties and Robin and Carol Wichard in their book “Victorian Cartes de Visite” suggest that these firms would have photographed the announcements speculatively and mailed the cartes with the offer of a purchase or return. (although this probably wouldn’t work for death announcements!) It would be great to pin this down with any accompanying materials. Does anyone have an example speculative sales letter tucked away in the back of a family album? This type of speculative marketing would explain why these cartes mainly carry a number of announcements, rather than an enlarged version of a single notice – that way one photograph could be sold to a number of customers.


Two example cartes de visite with Times notices from the 1870s. No photographer’s details on the right hand example.

Post Office Terrace Cambridge, and more

Delighted to meet Peter Lofts and his wife this week. Peter was the final owner and photographer operating at Post Office Terrace Cambridge, one of the oldest and longest continually occupied studios in England. Peter has saved negatives from all the occupants of this historic studio and they are all on loan at the Cambridgeshire Collection. Peter is writing a book on the studio.

Also this week some examples of the work of Cambridgeshire photographers have been bought from Greece and Denmark and posted on the site.

Tried out today the new computer-controlled film reader at the Cambridgeshire Collection – an improvement on the older versions of readers, but it is still a little awkward to scan the huge pages of old newspapers – fit the page on the screen and it’s too tiny to read, fit less than a page on the screen and you are constantly moving round to find the edges. Spent the morning looking through the Cambridge Independent Press for 1844 and 1845 looking for a report of the moonlight flit of the first Cambridge Daguerreotype photographer – sadly there was no such report. But – one interesting find was an advertisement for the sale of a library and other items by the executors from the estate of the late Rev T E Rogers of Lackford Suffolk on 26th and 27th Nov 1844 which included a “complete Daguerreotype apparatus made by one of the first opticians in Paris”. I wonder who bought this and whether the purchase led to a successful career as a photographer.

More images for the site

A good weekend produced a dozen more illustrations for the site (Cambridge Family History Society Fair and a Stamp and Postcard fair at St Ives) – but postcard prices seem crazily high. What to do with a couple of unknown and unidentifiable and unloved tintypes is a problem. They seem to keep their detail better than cartes de visite even as they start to decompose and rust away. I got quite excited by the one below which had the remains of a paper mount with it with writing on – but this just proved to be a date – August 18th 1887 – so probably a tintype produced by a traveling photographer at a fair somewhere. The work of these tintype photographers will largely be completely unrecognised and uncredited – at least a scan preserves the image for posterity.