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Exhibition of G W Wilson carte-de-visite views, 1862-1900.

New research based on a view of 'Roslyn Chapel --- The Apprentice's Pillar' confirms Mr Wilson introduced CDV views before late 1868. The printed caption appears on the recto and the seller's label, 'William Smith, 43 Lord Street, Liverpool' on the verso.

In 1862, the British Journal of Photography suggested to readers, they buy from Mr. Smith at 43 Lord street cartes of American personalities, published by Anthony of NYC, to support a Lancashire charity. Gore's Liverpool Directory of 1867 no longer listed Mr.Smith at that address.

From a selection of 12 hand-captioned CDVs, one of "Peterborough Cathedral" is printed on watermarked paper dated '1862'. Dr. Blair in his 2020 update of a listing of GWW's stereoscopic views notes this script is in Mr. Wilson's own hand.

Mr. Wilson's ambition has led to confusion. Coincidental to his 1863 list 'Stereoscopic and Album Views' he created a print from half of a stereo neg, he called an 'Album'. [later called 'scraps'] Mounted cards are very uncommon today on the dealers and collector's market. I believe his '... Album Views' are CDVs and follow an evolution easily traced.

The exhibition 'Mr. Wilson's Album Views' is a follow-up to 2017's 'The Artist Mr. Wilson' hosted at the same venue, The Atwater Library, 1200 Atwater Avenue, Westmount, Quebec, Canada from September 17 to December 10, 2020. See: https://www.atwaterlibrary.ca/exhibitions/current-short-term/

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Comment by Edward McCann on Tuesday

                                             

                                                                          Conclusion. 

   George Washington Wilson's contribution to CDV view history is important but generally overlooked. 

 As a miniaturist, sometimes, his narrow cropping of a stereograph negative to print a CDV view created an elongated and pleasing result. "Gloucester Cathedral..." is an example among others. Yet, given so little area of the negative to choose from, that was not always the case.

  It is no surprise then, that  Mr. Wilson came out with an "album" format print of his own, a 4 1/4 x 3 1/4 in. half of a stereograph negative. This was an answer to offering the public his original vision in a single print. His "album" cards with captions are scarce, indicating a commercial failure. No wonder --his "album" introduction was in 1863 --  the carte craze was  dominating - and his list that same year was for "Stereoscopic and Album Views." No price list seems to exist, so considering the abundance of CDV views, some hand captioned by GWW, they must be the majority of sales starting that date.

  What a thrilling prospect to know each stereoscopic negative could produce, cropped differently, three of the least expensive souvenir photographs for a demanding public. Go to the University of Aberdeen's web site and the GWW collection. Type in Dunkfeld and search out The Silver Fir Tree #748. Compare it to the trimmed stereoview and CDV. This image as an "album" puts to shame what many curators and critics call 21st Century 'photographic art.' But that's another story.

  Much more of the Wilson puzzle remains, as a fill-in-the-blanks for photograph historians.

  

Comment by Edward McCann on December 28, 2020 at 22:18

   Correction: "Roslyn Chapel -- The Apprentice's Pillar" cdv is from GWW's stereograph negative # 362 taken early in 1862, not 1863.

    The tinted album filler invitation card holds a clue to its GWW origin. The view of Burn's Monument, in the upper center, is from a wider print than a stereograph, exactly like the untinted variant also in my collection

     The fine colouring prompts a question. Could this be an early product of Mr. Wilson's hand? Note the extract from the American magazine, "The Photographer's Friend" from April 1872.

  

Comment by Edward McCann on December 20, 2020 at 21:03

 As Ian Wallace suggests, the finely tinted album filler with eight GWW views is likely an original Wilson. W.C. Darrah in " Cartes de Visite in Nineteenth Century Photography" wrote, "pirating of scenic cartes... was seldom a problem. Apparently there was little profit in making copies."

 In my collection is another early album filler with a montage of TWELVE GWW views. On hand are only two details of the carte [ I'm 2400 miles away from home.]  Note Ellen's Island no. 36 is the earliest view of this scene. Most telling is what appears to be an area of stereoscopic negative no. 113 of the Burns Monument. However, this image in the montage was from a wider print, available to GWW. 

 Peter Blair, near the beginning of this thread, said it was "inconceivable" that GWW wasn't a pioneer of cdv views. Could these album fillers be yet another accomplishment to photographic history?  

Comment by Ian Wallace on December 15, 2020 at 22:50

For my penny's worth I would think it is possibly by Wilson assuming you can match all the images.  He had the experience of photo montages from his commercially very successful photographs of Aberdeen dignitaries in the later 1850s.  He might well have experimented with landscapes when they started to sell well.  Fine tinting at the time by Wilson as we've discussed does not seem to be completely unknown.

Comment by Edward McCann on December 15, 2020 at 18:54

                      

                                                     An Original Wilson?

               Revisited, on the right, is the pre-1867 sold GWW CDV view -- with the W. Smith of 43 Lord Street, Liverpool retail label on the verso -- from an 1863 negative.

                In the upper right of the composite cdv, there's a detail of the same photograph, along with seven other GWW views.

                Is this finely tinted album filler c.1863, with a blank, verso, an original Wilson, or a pirate production?

          

         

Comment by Edward McCann on November 27, 2020 at 16:44

  Ian --  so many answers, perhaps, out there  for the determined or lucky collector --Edward.

Comment by Ian Wallace on November 26, 2020 at 23:13

Hello Edward/Peter

I think the other person who comes to mind as a comparison in this context is Francis Bedford.  Steven Evans shows a topographical CDV around 1860 on his Bedford timeline and notes that it is a cut down stereographic image from an 1858 image.  I suspect that once the CDV format was popularised after 1860 any photographer with image collection would have looked to offer the new format especially as collecting them grew in popularity.  I wonder if it is possible to find the earliest reference to them for sale?  I would agree that the availability of albums probably did drive demand towards the CDV size.  I have this early CDV of the Mills on the Cluny (the subject of No 1 in the 1863 list) this card is back stamped and described in presumably Wilsons hand. Wilson took many images of this location and you can I think tell this is quite early by the buildings which undergo renovations over time.

Comment by Edward McCann on November 26, 2020 at 20:41

 Hello Peter -- Could it be the unavailability of albums? I've never seen an album for collecting 4x3 album format prints, with one exception. 

 Mr. Wilson did produce, for his theme souvenir 4x3 prints on thin uncaptioned mounts, a quality album designed like a cdv album. These contained 10 prints and are uncommon compared to the pasted-in cheaper production with 12 photographs.

Comment by Peter Blair on November 26, 2020 at 13:16

Hi Edward, I am glad that you have now proved that 1868 date for GWW introduction of CDVs is too late. It always seemed inconceivable to me that the most entrepreneurial of all photographers would not be churning out CDVs while they were hot in the early 1860s.

I would like to add another photographer to the list of those that produced the large cdv album views and that is William England. I attach one of his from around 1865. This format is also rare. 

It is interesting to speculate why this format did not take off while cdvs did. It must have been so easy for a stereophotographer to produce. 

Comment by Edward McCann on November 24, 2020 at 14:16

 In my collection are 62 recto numbered carte views -- 42 with blank versos -- so common today.

 Perhaps, these are the CDV views reviewed in The Art Journal, December1,1868: " They are recent additions to the extensive series he has been some years producing..."

 Attached is a view with an unnumbered and numbered mount. Both versos are blank.

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