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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:

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Comment by Edward McCann on December 29, 2021 at 22:44


                                         My Mistake?

        Eighteen hundred and sixty-one should be the start of Mr. Wilson's entry into the CDV view market. The date of my exhibition title was based on the watermarked 1862 albumen paper made by Blanchet Freres and Klber of Rives, France

         Recently, I saw a half-dozen CDV landscapes by Soule of Boston, Mass. dated July 13, 1861, and one by the Bierstadt Bros., from the same collection, dated July 13, 1861. Why would GWW wait to make money from the souvenir view market? So I took a  closer look at my 12 hand captioned views.

         In Blair, the1862 watermarked CDV no. 388 is an issue from early in that year. The 11 others, from The Mill on the Cluny at no. one through to no. 257a, Aros Waterfall are from negatives that predate April 1861. There is more of this story to follow, including tidbits on the confusing 'album' format views he introduced in 1863.

          Rereading Taft, this Christmas week, a paragraph stood out, "Collectors, in my judgment, are overllooking here an  exceedly important field [ re CDVs] and one of which will become more important as the years pass." And the years have passed, in two days, eighty-four of them.

Comment by Edward McCann on May 3, 2021 at 0:57


             A wonderful CDV 10 leaf album has come into my modest Mr. Wilson collection. I'm always attempting to collect quality rather than quantity, and this artifact " DEPOSE M S  PARIS" qualifies It was presented to Louisa Jewsbury at Christmas in 1863. The Fleur-de-Lis covers hint at the beauty of the contents.

 The album has six GWWs positioned one after the other, starting in the 2nd slot.: numbers 10,59a,18,145, 823, and 8a. Opening it, one sees an uncredited 12  view montage of Shakespeare's Stratford. After Mr.Wilson are10 copies of paintings published in Berlin. The last one is a Rembrandt and a startling close for Miss Jewsbury's viewing. The painting is "The Rape of Ganymed." An infant boy is carried off, in an Eagle's talons, relieving himself as he ascends. I would too.

Comment by Edward McCann on April 21, 2021 at 22:58

 I recently acquired Mr. Wilson's stereograph # 348 with a "W.Smith,43 Lord Street, Liverpool " label on the verso.  The carte that established GWW issued CDVs early in the 1860s, with the Smith label, was from the negative for stereograph # 362. Could they have sat on the counter near each other, on some sunny Liverpool day in 1861 or 1862?

Comment by Edward McCann on March 24, 2021 at 13:58


                             I want to share some of my favorite GWW CDV views, along with two of my best 'album' format views, as a size contrast, both from the same souvenir album.

                             Finally, thanks to a 2020 book, Good Pictures by Kim Beil, I saw a reference to Mr. Wilson unknown to me: On May 1, 1872, The Philadelphia Photographer pronounced GWW " the best landscape artist photographer in the world." Mind you, the journal was selling an accordion portfolio of ten 4 1/2" x 7" GWW prints for $4. The intent, they claimed, was a response to American workers who wanted to see what an accomplished landscapes looked like.

                              Is anyone aware of existing examples of this bargain? copies of this bargain?

Comment by Edward McCann on January 12, 2021 at 0:55



   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.

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