British photographic history

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Hello everyone,

My first post regards a mystery -- at least to me.

I purchased this object for a few £'s at a charity shop in Christchurch, England, because: 1) it clearly seemed to have something to do with photography, and 2) I had no idea what that might be.

It's made by Johnsons of Hendon, a firm, I understand, that was for many decades a major supplier of photography-related chemicals and equipment. But beyond that easily obtainable fact (the nameplate is on the front of the drawer), I have been unable to find out anything else about what this might have been used for.

Can anyone help shed light on this?

Best wishes,

Arthur [Research Scientist (retired), Photographer (avocationally active),  and Digital Artist (aspiring)]

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It's a negative retouching desk. I may be able to find a description in one of their catalogues. 

Thank you Michael.  Mystery solved -- came to the right place, obviously!

Googling "negative retouching desk",  it looks like this one might be missing the upper overhanging lid (?)

I would indeed be interested to see a description in their catalogue, if locatable.

lovely....  you brits have the good stuff...

cant find anything like that here in the states.

A couple of desks. Some later ones would electrically vibrate allowing the retoucher to use abrasion tools to scrape of part of the image. Not much in favor nowadays however.

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Thanks Richard -- very interesting.

(Hmm, I wonder if Adobe can add a tool to Photoshop simulating electrical vibration?)

I think it is there now, a texture brush. I searched vibrator to see if there was anything that might be an add-on. Sort of, but not quite what I was looking for.

--Dick

Arthur Margolin said:

Thanks Richard -- very interesting.

(Hmm, I wonder if Adobe can add a tool to Photoshop simulating electrical vibration?)

 Thought you might like to see this photograph. It is of a similar retouching desk in the workshop of E Chambre Hardman. 

The Hardmn House is run by the National Trust and is a unique resource being the complete studios and darkrooms of this well known Liverpool Photographer. It is well worth a visit but advance booking is essential. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hardmans-house. Roger

There is also one in the Kodak Gallery of the Bradford Science and Media Museum and you can see one similar being advertised by Percy Lund in his 1887 catalogue.

https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=gri.ark:/13960/t7dr6qh0q;vie...

and also a slightly different designed one by Passingham, most probably Edmund Passingham of Bradford and Brighton shown in Percy Lunds Photographers World July 1888. See scan.

Best Regards

Steve Lightfoot

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Many thanks, Roger and Steve...fascinating to see this additional material, providing greater context for my erstwhile mysterious box.

Best wishes,

Arthur

P.S. Tangentially:

Roger -- I must say that that's a particularly cool looking lamp in in the upper right hand corner of the desk....the arthropod look!

Steve -- I'd never heard of "deal" wood before, learned via google that ' "Deal' is a word, used mostly in the UK, to refer to unspecified inexpensive softwood, usually pine. There are no real characteristics that define deal; anything that is cheap, soft, and generally nondescript would qualify as deal."  

Here is another example that was sold today.
http://specialauctionservices.com/large/cm021117/lot0149.html
It is a Coles Improved Retouching Desk sold by Marion and Co, 22 and 23 Soho Square, London. This or earlier models were made from 1883.


Thank you Charles -- that one's a beauty. Interesting to see the associated paraphernalia too....

Best wishes,

Arthur


Charles Herbert said:

Here is another example that was sold today.
http://specialauctionservices.com/large/cm021117/lot0149.html
It is a Coles Improved Retouching Desk sold by Marion and Co, 22 and 23 Soho Square, London. This or earlier models were made from 1883.
Arthur, I was very happy that I turned out to be the only bidder. Two double slides (one 12x10 in), in beautiful mahogany, a pneumatic shutter ( appears not to work with a bulb, but works via rotating knob - inscribed with TT&H, the famous manufacturers, with screw mount for lens) and finally an Adams changing box, with the original 12 metal glass plate holders, made around 1900. What was amazing is that there were four glass plates with images on them! This will require more research - they were of 5 foot high pieces of plain fabric stretched between two wooden poles, set in a field in which a large circle was attached by simple stitching. My thoughts include either early ‘abstract art’ (reminds me of Ben Nicholson ‘circles’ but a decade or two too soon) or more likely WW1 practice targets for aircraft gun. I will publish the images when I take a decent photograph and convert to ‘positives’. One image showed a man at a side angle but most of his head was cropped - that is how I could estimate their size. If anyone knows of similar images I would like to compare.

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