A ‘snapper’ snapped

From the earliest days of popular photography, photographers often supplemented their income from other sources. There were photographers who were chemists, frame-makers, stationers, and in one case, a jobbing gardener. Charles Christian Page was none of these. He made his living as a commission agent (taking bets on sporting fixtures for paying customers) and sometime photographer. However, neither of these occupations brought him much success or indeed happiness and he turned to drink.

In 1903, Charles Page, also known as Thomas Jenkins or Fred Morris, of Wenman Street, was hauled up before Birmingham City Police court. His crime was that of being ‘drunk on licensed premises’, something that probably occurred quite frequently. His crime, a description of his physical appearance and several mug shots, were duly recorded in the Birmingham Pub Blacklist. At the time of his conviction he was 43 years old, of fresh complexion, with brown hair and grey eyes and probably shortsighted; sadly he was also unemployed.


This photograph of Charles Page, ironically taken by a police photographer for the files, shows what was once a respectable man, now brought low by drink. To pay for his crime he was ordered either to pay ten shillings plus costs or face fourteen days of hard labour. I have yet to discover which punishment he chose or indeed, anything else about his life. The fact that he used aliases made it difficult to find him in either the census or trade directories. The image in the snapshot speaks volumes, truly a case of the snapper being snapped.

Posted in 19th century, cartes de visite, names, photography

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