New Finds

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A recent trip to a local antiques fair provided a few new CDVs, all interesting for different reasons. The first one was unusual as it is an invitation to provide photographs for an album. It is decorated with images of Queen Victoria and her family and dates from after 1861, as both the date of Prince Albert’s birth and his death, in that year, are recorded below his image. The back of the card is blank with no clue as to its originator, so maybe it came free with the album as a start-up. The verse reads –

“I wish my album to contain The old familiar faces Of all my true and valued friends They’ll here find welcome places. And hope you’ll not intrusive deem The request that now I make A portrait true of each dear friend I ask for friendship’s sake”. 

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Instead of a printed design , the above cdv has a handwritten inscription on the reverse, with the name and address of the photographer. The photographer was Mr James Vice, his studio being on Market Place, Leicester. Perhaps Mr Vice was trying to keep costs down by avoiding the printing up of commercially produced cards on which to mount his work. However, it seems he was paying someone to hand-colour his portraits, though it is debatable whether this improved the finished product to any great degree. The young woman’s fashionable costume probably dates from the early 1870s but did the  addition of colour enhance it, or not?

The cdv from the studio of Mr A. James of Louth (right) of a young man, is also hand-finished but with a much lighter touch. Oddly, both portraits seem to use the same colour palette, with baby pink and sky blue on the woman’s dress and the man’s necktie. Garish green, constituted from a compound containing arsenic,  was also available though somewhat toxic.  I would prefer to see them both photographs in the original sepia and it would be interesting to know what the sitters actually thought of their photographic portraits. Any other viewpoints would be welcome.

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Published by 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. This photo is one of my collection, chosen for the gentle expression in the face of the sitter.

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