British photographic history

Information and discussion on all aspects of British photographic history

A basic question - I'm still learning about cdvs! I presume photographers would buy in a stock of cards for their prints. But would a Lancashire photographer conceivably buy cards from e.g. Bristol Portrait Company? I seem to have found exactly that situation in some family history and am trying to work out validity. Thanks in advance if you can shed any light! Joe

Views: 351

Replies to This Discussion

Interesting point. There is some evidence that studios might sell off surplus stock if it didn't have a studio name, or that if an employee left to find a new job you'd sometimes see them take card with them - hopefully with their former employer's agreement!

There are a few publishers who specialised in the card backs only (Marion, Reeves & Hoare etc), but it would be interesting to see which cards you have and who they are from.

Can you post an example showing front and back of the mount?

Ron Cosens

here:

Attachments:

Hi, Am I to assume from the above that the family that you are researching are in Lancashire? Did they have relatives in Bristol? At the top the reverse of the CDV says "Copy". Just a thought. Regards Rob

I may be wrong but wouldn't the handwritten 'copy' be instructions to a photographer (possibly with dimensions below) to copy this image, rather than this image being a copy? Not that that contradicts your theory.

Rob Whalley said:

Hi, Am I to assume from the above that the family that you are researching are in Lancashire? Did they have relatives in Bristol? At the top the reverse of the CDV says "Copy". Just a thought. Regards Rob

Apologies for my earlier brevity James, I agree. It appears to be a standard c.1880s CDV on the face of it presumably taken in Bristol. I was attempting to suggest that if they had relatives in Bristol it might have been taken there and then sent north as is, and (subsequently?) copied for an enlargement. Jo are you certain who the couple are and where they lived in 1880s? I've never knowingly come across Lancashire photographers reusing CDV backs of other photographers in the way you suggest, they used the mounts to promote their business.

The CDV in the images attached came from a descendent of the family in Lancashire. It was contained in a family photo collection but otherwise its provenance is unknown - it may of course not be a photo of a forebear at all, but for some reason at some point someone thought to include it in the family collection. I don't know whether there were any family in Bristol (though probably unlikely) and I don't know whether the photo itself was a copy or an original print. 

The numbers written underneath 'Copy' are interesting '952' and '18-14' by the look of it. The first could just be a unique identifier - but would suggest perhaps an earlyish print. But the latter I don't know the meaning of. If it was for enlargement would 18-14 be a normal print size? An 18-14 aspect ratio is slightly different to the CDV aspect ratio (I make it 1.29 vs 1.65 for the CDV).

I see on what are presumably later, slightly plainer, cards from the same company that there is a pre-printed space for copy number to be written - again suggesting that normally the company would hold the negatives and re-print on demand. Clear as mud really!.....

  

Yes I agree - the simplest explanation is as you say. And rhere is a lot of doubt over the identity of the couple - currently there is nothing to support or deny the contention that the photo is of a family member. Maybe someone just thought it looked like a nice photo and put it in the family collection!

Rob Whalley said:

Apologies for my earlier brevity James, I agree. It appears to be a standard c.1880s CDV on the face of it presumably taken in Bristol. I was attempting to suggest that if they had relatives in Bristol it might have been taken there and then sent north as is, and (subsequently?) copied for an enlargement. Jo are you certain who the couple are and where they lived in 1880s? I've never knowingly come across Lancashire photographers reusing CDV backs of other photographers in the way you suggest, they used the mounts to promote their business.

A lot of designs were shared by studios. I have seen this one also used by Thomas Donovan of Brighton and Boak and Sons of Malton and Driffield.  

The pencil annotations will be an instruction / reminder much as you have deduced above, and commercial photographers did retain the negatives to generate more income from prints; 952 could be a negative (or order) number. I'm afraid that am not a Victorian photographic expert re enlargements, just a collector. Ron Cosens, who replied earlier, has written a series of articles some of which you may find of interest https://www.cartedevisite.co.uk/more-info/downloads/ CDVs made the posing for, sharing and collecting of photographs more affordable to more people in the late Victorian period until overtaken by postcards in the 1900s. Given that you have more photographs.by this company, my guess would be that they are likely to be distant relatives, who would have been known to the living recipients, so there was no need to add names; hence sadly for subsequent generations, the majority of studio photos found today are unidentified. Hope this helps, good luck with your research.

Thanks to all for the thoughts so far on this and I will certainly read Ron's links provided by Rob to learn more.

One small correction: when I said I'd seen other CDVs from the Bristol company I meant I'd seen them generally - and not in the same family collection - the image I posted was the only in the collection. But because there is no believed family connection with Bristol I tend towards (provisionally!) discounting the 'family connection' idea, but as stated the problem is then one of explaining the distance the backing card appears to have travelled (between Bristol and Lancashire). And there is some small familial similarity in the photo with descendants and the fact that the gentleman in the image appears to have been (perhaps) lower middle class but working with his hands - which accords with a documented Grocery business that the gent in reality owned and ran......

However I did also see mention of a single CDV from the same company held by a Manchester museum. I don't know currently what this means but will try to investigate further - but of course a single occurrence hardly proves anything! 

Nevertheless the image below is of the alternate style of card I'd mentioned from the same company that I'd seen on the net. It is complete with the "for copies send No." text in bottom left hand corner - though difficult to read on this image.

My original reasoning was that that this was a later version of the original I posted given its plainer adornment but this assumption may not be right?

Re the sizing of enlargements I found another cdv back elsewhere that showed pencilled text for enlargement - that one stated 12 1/2 inches by 10 inches. That size gives almost the same aspect ratio as the cdv so proportions would have been maintained - whereas the 18-14 would been disproportionate. Am I missing anything here?

You will find that printers such as Percy Lund & Co had a massive range of options when it came to producing backing cards for local photographers. You can find his 1887 catalog online. Here is a page from it showing 18 x 14 sizes along with a a reference number. So it seems your number may well be a reference to a printers catalog or a range that the local photographer used. There are many reasons why an almost random photograph may appear in a Victorian family album. A friend, acquaintance, relation, a celebrity, a local priest who had photos taken where he was last stationed but was giving them out to his new congregation, and so on. Some family albums I have include photos from all over the world and I have been unable to establish any family connection.18%20x%2014.JPG

hope this helps

steve L

jo hague said:

The CDV in the images attached came from a descendent of the family in Lancashire. It was contained in a family photo collection but otherwise its provenance is unknown - it may of course not be a photo of a forebear at all, but for some reason at some point someone thought to include it in the family collection. I don't know whether there were any family in Bristol (though probably unlikely) and I don't know whether the photo itself was a copy or an original print. 

The numbers written underneath 'Copy' are interesting '952' and '18-14' by the look of it. The first could just be a unique identifier - but would suggest perhaps an earlyish print. But the latter I don't know the meaning of. If it was for enlargement would 18-14 be a normal print size? An 18-14 aspect ratio is slightly different to the CDV aspect ratio (I make it 1.29 vs 1.65 for the CDV).

I see on what are presumably later, slightly plainer, cards from the same company that there is a pre-printed space for copy number to be written - again suggesting that normally the company would hold the negatives and re-print on demand. Clear as mud really!.....

  

RSS

© 2021   Created by Michael Pritchard.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service