This is a nineteenth century photograph (but only just) from the studio of Borman and Johnson of Main Street, Danbury in Connecticut. Before Norman and Johnson took over, the studio belonged to a certain Mr Blackman. On the reverse, the names of the two children are listed as A Howard Bantes, age 12; and Louise Rosina Bantes, age 5. The date “Xmas 1899” is also inscribed.
Tag Archives: Victorian Photographs
On the reverse of this Victorian Cabinet Card is written the following: “My Grandmother (Susanna), Dad in black velvet suit, Uncle Dewi next, Uncle Arthur on his Mother’s left, Uncle Tom leaning against her”. As so often with these Victorian studio cards, I have no idea who all these people are, and there is something rather sad about the fact that the photograph is in my collection rather than gracing the mantelpiece of one of Susanna’s relatives. The photograph comes from the studio of A. W. Sargent of Cardiff. If there is anyone out there who wants to claim these people as their own, just get in touch and I will be happy to re-unite them with their family.
I can find no record of any Victorian photographer called “A. Lowe” who was based in Melton – indeed I am not even sure where Melton is, unless it is a shortened form of Melton Mowbray. On the reverse of this little Carte De Visite is written, “E.M. 17 Yrs 1900”. As with all such old photographs of unknown subjects, one is left with the question – what happened to her, what life lay ahead?
A good vintage photograph is one in which the personality of the subject being photographed somehow transcends the chemical process of silver salts and hypo fixer, and flows straight off the pasteboard card. This photograph of an unknown woman from the Hebden Bridge studio of Crossley Westerman is one such photograph. Westerman established his “Electric and Daylight Studio” in Hebden Bridge in 1892, and quickly acquired a reputation for high quality portrait work. His daughter Ada eventually ran the studio and shop and in 1921 she employed a young apprentice photographer, a local girl, Alice Longstaff. Alice became a very accomplished photographer, and during a long career (she took over the studio in 1936 and ran it until her death in 1992) she produced a extensive collection of work. The story of Alice Longstaff is told in a book, “Alice’s Album” by Issy Shannon and Frank Woolrych, and there are many examples of the work of both Crossley Westerman and Alice Longstaff on-line. This particular photograph is probably too early to be the work of Alice Longstaff, but whoever took it, it is a piece of work to be proud of.
If you spend your life digging in the genealogical allotments of ephemera, you learn to welcome an unusual name. You can keep your “John Smiths” and your “Tom Browns” : give me a “Roderick Trencheon-Philpotts” any day. Or, more specifically, give me a Booth Denton – which is the name pencilled-in on the reverse of this Victorian Cabinet Card. I bought it because it comes from a local Huddersfield studio (Sellman & Co), and because it features a beard you ignore at your peril. A little spade work reveals that Booth Denton was a grocer from Mirfield (a few miles to the east of where I live) who was born in 1831 and died in 1894. He not only weighed out the tea, and parcelled up the cheddar cheese, he was also a bit of a pillar of the local community, who sought election to the local Board of Guardians on at least one occasion. He looks a formidable character – you wouldn’t be too keen on going back to the shop to complain that your butter had gone rancid, or your flour had mouse droppings in it.
In 1864, Mayall moved from London to Brighton – leaving the London Studios under the direction of his son – and established a new photographic studio in King’s Road. It is from this period that the small Carte de Visite of an unknown man in a check suit dates. Mayall spent the rest of his life on the South Coast before dying early in 1901 – within a few weeks of the Queen he had famously photographed forty years earlier.
My thanks to the unknown man in the check suit for taking me on such a fascinating journey.
This small photograph of a seated woman is the work of a Victorian photographer called Thomas Boxell, who – at the time this photograph was taken in the late 1870s – was operating out of a studio in Pickering, Yorkshire. The story of Thomas Boxell is typical of so many of the semi-itinerant studio photographers of the Victorian portrait era: pioneers of a new art and industry who moved from town to town to increasingly spread the wonders of photography to more and more people. Their professional equipment – camera, backdrops, lighting – was reasonably portable and therefore such photographers would often move their business to take advantage of new markets.
Thomas Boxell was born in Brighton in 1847, the son of a tailor. Within three years of his birth, the family were resident in the Brighton Workhouse, but two of his uncles had become photographers in Brighton, and eventually Thomas was able to get a job with them and learn his trade. During the 1860s and 1870s he moved around the country making a living as a studio photographer – including periods in both Halifax and Pickering – before settling in the Yorkshire seaside resort of Scarborough. His photographic business was eventually taken over by two of his sons, and, on retirement, Thomas moved to live with his daughter in Whitby, where he died in 1939.