Something a bit different

Among the carte de visite photographs in the collection is one that is a little different from the rest. From the photographic portrait on the front, taken by Leonhardt of Eckington, this cdv appears much like any other. Here we see a young man, smartly dressed and with his hair neatly parted to one side. He leans against a carved desk or table, in the photograph, perhaps dating from some time around 1890.

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Turn the photograph over and instead of the photographer’s details that you would expect to find, there is an advert for Turner Brothers of Low Pavement, Chesterfield, Derbyshire. The brothers, far from being photographers, were instead tailors, hatters and outfitters, ‘Style, fit and Workmanship guaranteed’. From the blurb on the reverse, it seems that the card was presented to the recipient, presumably the young man in the photo.

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So two questions. One, had the young man been photographed in an outfit he was hoping to purchase, to show how elegant he would look in his new clothes? Or, two, was the young man in fact a model used to draw attention to the superior outfits that Turners sold, in the expectation of drawing in more customers? Either way, this cdv makes an interesting change from the usual run of things. Doubtless other businesses used cdv photographs to advertise their wares and services but this is the only one I have come across.

Turner Brothers may have been a newish firm in the Chesterfield area at the time the photo was taken.They are not recorded in the 1881 directories of Derbyshire though they do appear in the listings from about 1895 onwards. They seem to have established a successful business as they were still trading in both Chesterfield and Eckington in 1912. Whatever the reason for this little photo, it and many like it may have played a part in making Turner Brothers into the successful business they eventually became. And what of Mister Leonhardt who took the photograph? I’m still trying to trace his whereabouts so perhaps his is a story for another time

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About qvictoria

A collector of Victorian photographs for many a long year. I'm interested in both the individual photographs and the studio advertising on the 'backs' of the images, Victorian graphic design at its most varied and interesting. My collection of "cartes de visite" photographs is housed in plastic pockets within a series of albums, numerically arranged in order as they are acquired. There are now roughly 3000 photographers and images in all. I use directories, newspapers and genealogical information to research the life and work of each photographer and their studio but there aren't enough hours in the day.
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