This is a Cabinet Card which must date from the last decade of the nineteenth century and it comes from the Kingston-On-Thames studio of Fred Palmer. Written on the reverse is “Gt Grandma Hinton (Watts)”. I have had a quick look to see if I can see any obvious descendants, and not been able to find any. If any happen to see this, get in touch and I will hand Great Grandma back.
This is another studio portrait from the Halifax photographer, Edgar Gregson. Gregson had studios in both the seaside resort of Blackpool and the Yorkshire textile town of Halifax, which, on the surface, seems like a strange combination. By the later part of the Victorian period, however, mill workers were beginning to benefit from bank holidays and cheap railway excursions to the coast. A popular bank holiday treat would be a trip to a studio to get your photograph taken – to be collected later at the Halifax branch of the firm. What better reason for a Halifax – Blackpool axis?
These days certain activities have become everyday events. We can take endless photographs with our smart phones without a second thought. We can walk into a supermarket and buy a change of clothes for little more than the cost of a packed lunch. For a Victorian Lady, however, a new dress would mark a milestone in life: an event of such significance that it could be marked by indulging in that other special event – having your photograph taken. Quite who this dressed up lady was, I do not know: but the photographer was a certain T Jones of 51, Broad Street in Ludlow. The date – at a guess – will have been the mid 1880s.
Today, our Daily Victorian has the look of a working man about him. Class can be an important aid in dating early photographs : in the 1850s the subjects tended to be the famous, in the 1860s and 1870s it was the rich and then the middle classes, and by the 1880s and 1890s prices had fallen and a studio portrait was within the means of working people. In this case, the studio was that of W Dawson of Brighouse. This particular example refers to studios in Waring Green, which is no more than a mile from Brighouse town centre, but I have also found reference to a studio on Huddersfield Road in Brighouse itself. I know nothing else about Mr Dawson, except that he was a competent Victorian photographer.
If you take a man away from his desk for a week and isolate him in the Scottish wilderness with nothing to do other than sample rare malt whisky, he gets to thinking up new projects he can embark on when he returns to the safety of his study. For some reason, I decided to catalogue my collection of Victorian carte de visites and share them in the form of a Daily Victorian. It is a silly and pointless exercise (which is what attracted me to it in the first place), but one you will just have to put up with. Blame the Lagavulin.
We start with an example from my favourite city – Sheffield; and the studio of George Vernon Yates. He had his studios in Davy’s Building which, if you are familiar with modern day Sheffield, is now W.H. Smith’s. The portrait must date from the early to mid 1890s and features, one supposes, a mother and child. Given that the child must have been born around 1890, there is a good chance that he (she?) was still alive in the late 1970s when I lived in the city. George Yates doesn’t explain just who the distinguished patronage he claims was: but, if it counts, when I lived in Sheffield I would visit W.H. Smith’s a lot.