Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Say cheese!

With the arrival of the smart phone and the digital camera, it has never been easier to take and share photographs.


Having one's portrait preserved was once the prerogative of the wealthy.  But with the advent of photography in the mid 19th century, all but the very poorest could afford to leave their photographic image to posterity.

The carte de visite, a small visiting card portrait, was patented by Parisian photographer Andre Adolphe Disderi in 1854 and made photographic images available to the ordinary person.  Soon the whole family was getting in on the act and photograph albums were produced with cut out slots to accommodate the 4.5 x 2.5 inch images.



The carte de visite was particularly popular during the 1860s but these four photos of Swindon babies probably date closer to the beginning of the 20th century when Henry Hemmins had a studio at 16 Victoria Street.  George E. Stone was based at 25 Faringdon Road where both he and his wife are described as 'photographic artists.'


Jules Sigismund Guggenheim was the son of Hungarian born photographer Jules Nicholas Guggenheim who had a studio at 56 High Street, Oxford in 1881.  Several of his sons also became photographers and Sigismund had business premises at 14 Regent Circus, later moving to 31 County Road.

Fred Viner, well known local photographer, had premises in South London before relocating to Swindon.  In 1901 he lived at 99 Victoria Road with his wife and two daughters.  Ethel 16, is described an an apprentice photographer in the census of that year.  By 1907 Viner was based at 23 Fleet Street where the photograph below was taken.


With the proliferation of online auction websites, batches of photographs come up for sale, usually with little or no identification.  Sadly with no name or date the babies in these photographs cannot be identified.

Visit www.flickr.com/photos/radnorstreetcemetery to view a selection of unidentified Swindon wedding photographs.

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