Here you’ll find all the latest discoveries – identifications, datings, locations …
About two years ago I bought a very inconspicuous looking batch of photographic negatives at auction. At the time I didn’t look at them closely, thinking they were mainly product stills, albeit of good quality, and all nicely catalogued with the name of the product on each envelope. I just put in a low bid out of curiosity, and to make sure they didn’t end up in the bin. Anyway, I say batch – they were in about 30 card boxes, some slightly larger than a lever-arch file, others being 10×8 photographic paper boxes, but every one stuffed full of envelopes of 35mm and medium format negatives. My wife was furious!
The reason for this posting is pretty much to test the water, get a little awareness of the collection and see what I might be able to do with it.
The digital copies shown here (chosen as this week sees the start of Wimbledon) are very rough shots taken with a handheld camera with the negatives placed on a lightbox. The original negatives are superb quality. To give some idea of the scale of the collection: there are 117 negatives from the Wimbledon Hamlet advert shoot, but the collection contains images from approximately 481 shoots, and I estimate about 70,000 negatives in total. They are mostly from TV adverts from the late 1960s and into the 1970s. They are all very high quality, pristine original negatives.
The product list reads like a who’s who of major brands – Vauxhall, Bird’s Eye, Bass, Heineken, Ind Coope, Corona, KP, Cadburys, Hamlet, Mellow Virginia … the list just goes on (so much so that I’ve put them all online). And they are from famous advertising agencies too, such as CDP (Collett Dickenson Pearce)
Famous names depicted include James Hunt, Penelope Keith, David Frost, Clement Freud, Barry Sheene, Henry Cooper, Bruce Forsyth, Roy Kinear, and last but not least, Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise.
And there are famous directors too – Alan Parker, Ridley Scott, Terence Donovan – and one of the beauties of the collection is that they show them in action, together with cameras, lighting rigs, sets, props. A real insight into the behind-the-scenes goings on.
So, what next?
As with all my images, I love to share them online for everyone to appreciate. Equally, it is brilliant to get everyone’s feedback and identifications (I’m rubbish with recognising famous people – I’m sure there are loads in these that are currently unidentified).
The most notable issue though is that it is unclear exactly what the copyright situation is on these images. They were taken by a professional company, but would have been contracted by the ad agency, who in turn would have had a contract with the brand (in the case of the Wimbledon ones shown, Hamlet) and probably signed over all rights to creatives made during the filming. Similarly, though less likely, the actors may have retained some rights.
I would dearly love to slowly make this collection public as it forms a remarkable documentary of the heyday of TV advertising. But I fear doubts over rights, and fears of a challenge, might scupper my hopes and the collection will remain under wraps until any copyright has expired.
Answers on a postcard please (or just leave a comment below!). Or maybe that should just read “anyone know a good lawyer?”
Today sees all people living in the UK complete their census returns, an event that happens just once every ten years. Whilst everyone (except perhaps statisticians and genealogists) perhaps wonders why, here’s a little tale of how historic census data has identified the mystery sender of some delightful early cartes de visite, and also revealed a little about her life history.
Working at Kew Gardens, and being a keen collector of vintage photographs, when four early and unusual topographical cartes de visite of the gardens came up on eBay I knew I had to have them! They are all images taken in the 1860s by F York of Ladbroke Grove (as a little aside, English Heritage have a large collection of Kew images by York). Two of the cartes de visite are of Kew’s iconic glasshouses, the Palm House and the Temperate House, and two are of what is now known as Cambridge Cottage, then the home of the Duchess of Cambridge.
On their own they are very nice, collectable images, but a further dimension is added by the hand-written inscriptions on the reverse (click on any image shown here to enlarge). They are all dated June 1865, which would suggest that they were sent together as one batch, but curiously they all have subtly different notes on the reverse, and each reveals a different clue. Intrigued, I set out to find out as much as I could about them, and aided by fellow Flickr members the story started to unfold.
Image 1. The image of the Palm House, it was sent by a Mrs Davidson to ‘Caroline’. That isn’t really enough to start any sort of search from.
Image 2. So we turn to the second image, of the exterior of Cambridge Cottage (captioned here as “Kew Cottage, Residence of HRH the Duchess of Cambridge”), which adds a little more to what we know, as we now have from “EHD to CH”.
So, we’re now at Mrs EH Davidson sending the images to Caroline H.
Maybe some online resources would suggest some possibilities for a Mrs EH Davidson at around that date, but I’m sure there’ll be more than one possibility, especially when we can only speculate as to a location.
Image 3. Our third image, of the interior of Cambridge Cottage, doesn’t add anything more, being to “CH from her friend Mrs Davidson” (though there is a wonderful tale linked to this image and German art history that I’ll tell another time).
Image 4. So we turn to our fourth and final image, depicting the then newly built Temperate House (or Winter Garden). This is inscribed “Mrs Davidson to C Hodgson, her guest, Kew Green” which give us two vital clues. Firstly the presence of recipient’s surname means that she can be identified as Caroline Hodgson. But crucially we now know that Mrs Davidson must have been living on Kew Green.
So, with all that evidence as to their names, can we discover more about them and is there a story behind all this?
The process of the discovery of what follows is a whole story in itself, but I’ll let readers click on each image and read the comments on Flickr to find out about that. I’ll just summarise the end results here.
Mrs Elizabeth Henrietta Davidson (nee Philipps) lived on Kew Green (I believe what is now number 71*) with her husband, the prominant lawyer Septimus Davidson. Septimus was present at the last public hanging in 1868, but had also been responsible in part for the excavation of the Snape Boat Grave in Suffolk in 1862.
The 1871 census shows them living on Kew Green with nine children and four staff.
They had married in Cheltenham in 1846, and this is where the connection to Caroline Hodgson comes in. It appears that Elizabeth and Caroline had been neighbours in Berkeley Place, Cheltenham. Elizabeth, although born c. 1823 in India, spent some of her childhood at number 3 Berkeley Place and Caroline lived at number 5, not just at that time but at various points in her life.
So, it is clear that they were friends from the time that they had lived there, and that that friendship continued throughout their lives, even when they moved apart. I wonder if Caroline was living at 5 Berkeley Place in June 1865, and this very letterbox is the one that these lovely images were posted through over 145 years ago?
* as one final twist to the story, there’s a little uncertainty whether the Davidsons lived at 71 or 73 Kew Green, as the one census that the Davidsons appear in, in 1871, appears to be missing one property between the ones that are identifiable based on house names – Abingdon House on the corner of Ferry Road, and the Rose and Crown pub, about ten doors along. But for various reasons that I won’t go into, my money is on 71!
I should just add that particular credit goes to Flickr member EastMarple1 for much of the detailed research that led to the discovery of the information behind this post.
Another image of mine that appears to be on the verge of a complete identification.
The bike was identified as an early 4hp (550cc) Triumph Model H motorcycle. But I’ve just had a Flickr contact do some great detective work based on the name on the shop behind, and there’s a very strong feeling that this must be Pease Street and Anlaby Road in Hull. Certainly the architectural details around the doors and windows are a very strong match with ones that can be seen in photos at http://www.anlabyroad.com/South/pease/pease-street-photos.html
The final unknown is therefore the date. I’m thinking 1920s, but can anyone suggest anything more precise?
It’s always so great when a photograph is positively identified, but even more so when a family comes forward and ‘claims’ the subject as a relative.
In Flickr user Toddy18‘s own words:
“This is Agnes Archibald McDougall Yair, born 27 December 1851 and daughter of the Rev. Joseph Yair, minister of Eckford for 63 years in the 19th century. Joseph was my gggrandfather and I am therefore related to Agnes who was also his 8th and last surviving child.”
Find out more and see a larger version, over on the image page Flickr. Also, head over to the Eckford blog for more images of the Yair family, including Agnes’s father, and one of her and her eight sisters.
How great does it feel to contribute to someone’s family history?!
I had a comment left on a mystery image of mine on Flickr – a nice view of a naval vessel in Brisbane Harbour in 1894 – suggesting that the ship depicted might be HMS Royalist. The commenter, user BobMeade, also left some helpful links, not just to images of the ship itself but also to information that recorded that she had been in Brisbane that year. All great evidence.
I wanted to double check that the ships matched, so used Photoshop to scale, flip and slightly rotate the images to get them to the same scale. Taking my image and the very similar side-on view from the Australian War Memorial website (kindly released with no restriction on use), I then drew reference points and overlaid them onto each. The results are striking (more…)
A rather remarkable discovery this one, posted with kind permission of the owner, Flickr user Piedmont Fossil.
No real point in my trying to summarise the full story. All I will say is that if you think the image is nice it’s nothing compared to the story, based on some extensive research, that accompanies it.
So, just head on over to Flickr to find out more about Fred Guyer and Zab Adams
Norma Robertson McEdward
Father: Alexander McEdward
Born: unknown (estimated from photograph to be mid/late 1880s)
Died: 30th November, 1920, at Crows Nest. North Sydney (source)
Identified by Flickr user ellenmc by after deciphering the inscription!
Many pictures in the album seem to relate to the Dickson family.
Here’s what we know about them.
James Arthur Dickson
Mother: Frances Dickson
Born: c 1870 (21 in 1891 census), Rangoon, British Burmah
Robert C Dickson
Mother: Frances Dickson
Born: c 1871 (20 in 1891 census), Rangoon, British Burmah
Mother: Frances Dickson
Born: c 1875 (16 in 1891 census), Rangoon, British Burmah
Archibald S Dickson
Mother: Frances Dickson
Born: c 1877 (14 in 1891 census), Langside, Lanarkshire
Francis (Frank) C Dickson
Mother: Frances Dickson
Born: c 1881 (10 in 1891 census), Rangoon, British Burmah
Other identified photographs:
Norman & Archibald, January 1880
Archibald, Frank & Maggie, 10 January 1882. I have found no record of who Maggie was, and she is not mentioned in the 1891 census at the family home at 86 Buccleuch St, Glasgow
Assumed to be Robert, Norman, Archibald & Francis
Almost certainly three of the Dickson boys
Thanks to some initial clues from Flickr members prompting some personal research, and then backed up by confirmation from an Ancestry member, the three Clarke sisters have now been identified.
They were the three daughters of George Clarke and Christina Walker. There was also a brother, James Mitchell Clarke. I wonder if any of these are also represented in this mystery album?
It has also been noted by a descendent that there are records of George Clarke in Ceylon, which ties in with several of the photographs in the album being from there.
Click on images to view on Flickr, including further comments.
Christina Armstrong Clarke
b: abt 1858
Married James Tait on 20 Feb 1896 in Kew, Victoria
d: 17 Nov 1914
Ellen “Ellie” Clarke
b 1860 in Hotham, Victoria, Australia. d 3 Mar 1944 in Deepdene, Victoria, Australia. Parents George Clarke and Christina Walker.
The birth date certainly ties in with the estimated date of the photo of c. 1880 and her apparent age of c. 20. Ellie married James Hedding in 1890. Seemingly her only child was William Alan Hedding, and three grandchildren.
Annie Mitchell Clarke
The only detail I have for her is from the note of Ellie’s death in the local newspaper, stating Annie’s address as 41 Broadway, Camberwell, now a suburb of Melbourne (view on Google Street View)
This article was first posted on the old site on 29 June 2009 …
About Edmund Barron Hartley
Edmund was born 6 May 1847 in Ivybridge, Devon On 5 June 1879 Surgeon Major Hartley was serving in southern Africa and rescued and treated several soldiers whilst under heavy enemy fire, his acts of extreme bravery earning him the coveted Victoria Cross. He died 20 March 1919 in Ash, Surrey and is buried in Brookwood Cemetery, Woking. His Victoria Cross is held by the Army Medical Services Museum, Aldershot.
About the photograph
The photograph was taken by the London Photographic Company, who at the time had studios in London, Exeter, Torquay & Plymouth (at the time the photograph was taken Hartley would likely still have been living in Ivybridge, Devon). It is extremely rare to find an early photograph such as this that is accurately named and dated. It was ‘discovered’ on eBay, purchased for the bargain price of about £20, researched and identified, and is now a treasured piece in my personal collection. Whilst it must have some monetary value (and certainly more than £20) its historic value far outweighs that.
This is a repeat of an article on the original site from June 2008 …
Note that the first and third images belong to members of the ‘old’ site and the links will take you to the archive there. The other two are mine and are now on Flickr.