The Precocious Camera Of John Arthur Wilkinson

1609B01 : Unknown Man, Wilkinson's of Batley

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The only identifiable thing with this Carte de Visite is the photographers stamp on the reverse. I often think there should be a comprehensive database of Victorian photographers, but there isn't and therefore some digging is required. In the 1881 census, John Arthur Wilkinson, aged 16, is listed as an "artist and portrait painter" living at 93 Dark Lane, Batley. This precocious young chap was living with his parents Israel and Martha Wilkinson (Israel was listed as a "factory engine smith"). By 1891, John had left home (if truth be told, he had moved next door), got married, and re-branded himself as a Photographer. By 1901 he had left the wonderfully descriptive "Dark Lane" behind him and moved a few streets away. We can therefore assume that this photograph of an unknown man dates from the mid 1880s, when John Arthur was still a young man. Is it too much of a speculation to wonder whether this could actually be a portrait of John Arthur himself?

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