Sunday, 11 September 2016

A Lifetime Waiting To Be Lived

1609B-10 : Unknown School Photograph   

This is a scan of an old half-plate glass negative of an unknown group of school children and their teachers. Such groups are a double treasure: you have the historical record of the class and you have endless individual faces to explore. Each expression is a delight, each face is a lifetime waiting to be lived.

Friday, 9 September 2016

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?

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Thought-Over, Bought-Over, Stitched And Saved

There must have been such an investment in clothes back in those days. These aren't insubstantial things, bought from the local supermarket and thrown away once their fashion had passed. They were thought-over, bought-over, stitched and saved. Layer on layer of satin, braided blazers and boots that needed a lifetime of shining.
(Unknown Family : Walkers Studio, Wood Street, Wakefield. Late 19th Century)

Monday, 5 September 2016

The Mystery Of The Wooden Contraption And The Final E


This old photograph has "Mr Savill, my grandfather" written on the back. I have spent some time trying to work out what Mr Savill's occupation was: the step ladder is fairly self-explanatory, but what is the wooden contraption in his right hand? And surely his name must have been Saville - what happened to the final "e"?

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Straight From The Dog's Mouth


This is a partial scan of a tiny print - less than an inch square - that fell on the floor as I was moving some old prints bought off eBay from one box to another. It was so small I hardly noticed it, but Lucy my dog did .... and started to eat it. Deciding that it didn't taste all that good, she spit it out and I rescued it, wiped it down and scanned it. That is some journey to undertake in an old car. No wonder this guy looks pleased with himself.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

The Man With The Nonchalant Smile

1609A1 : Caldene Purchase

There is such a splendid nonchalance about the man at the centre of this little party. It is in his stance, in his smile, in the confident way his arms gather the girls in. Whilst the girl on his left looks content with the situation, the one on his right is dubious at best.

119 : Three Soldiers

Three Soldiers : Unknown Subjects (c.1940)