British photographic history

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J. J. E. Mayall (formerly Meal) has an important place in photographic history, not the least of which being his role in popularising the carte de visite.

A recent question on the Yahoo Photohistory list by Mary Lou Marien about where his USA work was prompted some interesting replies, including this from Bill Becker of Detroit:

Mayall only seems to have been in business under his own name for a very
brief period in Philadelphia. He operated a studio in partnership with
Samuel Van Loan, under the name Van Loan and Mayall, according to some
reports from 1844 to 1846. After that partnership dissolved, Mayall
operated under his own name, but only briefly as he sold his gallery to
Marcus A. Root in June of 1846 and headed back to England.

I can only cite a very few documented Mayall images. One was just sold
(Oct 29) on eBay by Greg French -- item #120994913116 -- and was a
quarter-plate with a small green label inside the case, under the image
("Van Loan & Mayall, Phila.") Another Van Loan & Mayall is in the
collection of the Library Company of Philadelphia, marked faintly on the
velvet: (this
page says the Van Loan & Mayall partnership lasted only from 1845-46.)

Mayall included a distinctive table in his images as his trademark, and
I suggest that images in this category date from his solo career in
1846. Daguerreotypes showing the inlaid octagonal table include the
Mayall self-portrait (Marian Carson Collection, Library of Congress) and
the portrait of Albert Sands Southworth (Feigenbaum Sale, Sotheby's,
1999, lot 39.) Chris Wahren sold a gorgeous Mayall of a woman with
vase of flowers in 2003 ( ) and
there is a half-plate in the Gregory Fried collection online here: . A sixth-plate
example, a fine portrait of a young man with arms folded, is in my
collection -- the trademark table just barely visible in the lower left

I believe there is at least one other example in the Chester County
(Pa.) Historical Society as their collections include an archive from a
daguerreotypist who learned the art from Mayall in 1846.

Admittedly, this is not a flood of images. But for someone who may have
been in a partnership for less than two years, and running a studio
under his own name for six months, it's not a bad showing. And when you
consider the relative obscurity of his trademark today, it's a very
significant group of survivors from JEJM's Philadelphia period.

Regards --

Bill Becker


In response to this I mentioned David Simkin's excellent bio at:
and then William Johnson shared a motherlode of material gleaned from contemporary literature that anyone researching Mayall will find a trasure trove:

I have been interested in Mayall's role in cdv history and the Australian branch of his business in Melbourne operated by his son Joseph Parkin Mayall from 1870-1876.


Marcel Safier, Brisbane, Australia
(currently researching the history of the carte de visite in Australia)

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