Archive for the ‘photographer’ Tag

Lost Postcard No. 5

The last of the re-found batch of postcards as explained here.

old postcard

This one is the most impenetrable. Very few clues. I can’t even tell if it’s a mass-produced card or a one-off/short run for a family or individual. The girl looks pretty young – perhaps 16 or less. No clues in her clothing – a simple white smock with a little detail or perhaps piece of jewellery centrally at the neck.

On the reverse the printed words are: Post x Card, Correspondence, Address Only. No stamp. In the stamp space a logo: TIC in a horseshoe.

But thanks to the internet, it turns out that actually enables us to date the card. TIC stands for Thomas Illingworth & Co.

On vintage British postcards the postage stamp square is where the manufacturer would commonly place their brand mark or logo. Thomas Illingworth & Co. were a paper manufacturer founded around 1904. TIC manufactured the Horse Shoe Brand of photographic paper in London NW10.

The large photographic supplies company Ilford bought a controlling interest in TIC in 1919.  The business was fully absorbed into the Ilford Group around 1930. During this period (1919-30) date coding appears on TIC Horse Shoe postcards. A conscientious, dogged amateur, Geoff Caulton from Norfolk, had a stab at decoding these symbols around 2010. Here’s what he worked out:

TIC horse shoe postcard date codes symbols

My card has a single tiny X between the words Post and Card. So 1920 by Caulton’s calculations.

The Norfolk man explains: “I have included the Horseshoe brand in this decade because after checking hundreds of dated photographs with this mark I have yet to see one dated outside the twenties.
Correction ‘except one or two dated 1919 and one or two dated 1930’.
Unless there is evidence to the contrary I would date any card with this mark to the 1920s.”

Caulton surmises that these date marks serve a quality control purpose for the photographic paper/card on which the postcards are printed.

Parenthetically, my maternal grandfather, Ian Harris, would love this one – he was a scientist who specialised in printing photographic images. He worked for Picture Post and Metal Box among others. His Picture Post story is covered here. I have memories of him using Ilford products.

Caulton’s theory is this: “All Real Photographic postcards started life as a pre-printed sheet of photographic sensitive card. Each photographer’s stock of photographic paper postcards had a shelf life.
If you look between the two words POST and CARD on a T.I.C Horseshoe card you should see a symbol. These symbols could be taken as typographic decoration. However I believe they have a purpose in what would now be called quality control. I suggest they represent the manufacturer’s date of production, possibly a span of six months.
There is an identifiable pattern. For example in my own collection of T.I.C horseshoe portraits I have four unrelated portraits, each dated 1922. All four have the ‘double dagger’ symbol between the words Post & Card. This cannot be chance or coincidence.
I would not be bold enough to suggest that a card can be precisely dated using these symbols but they can certainly be batched into early, middle and late twenties. I have extracted the dated portrait cards from my collection and found a very significant clustering of dates for certain symbols. There are of course stray cards which were probably inscribed many months after they were printed and other inscriptions may be inaccurate but there are enough clues to indicate there is information of value here.
My instinct tells me that a single symbol represents the first half of a year and a double symbol the second. It is only a theory but the evidence is strong and I am convinced I am on the right track.”

That’s what’s great about the Web. It gave birth to an age of the Amateur, in the true sense of the word, “a lover of something”. True expertise lies in such people as Caulton in the Internet era.

Thomas Illingworth, founder of Thomas Illingworth & Co. Ltd., was the son of a photographer also called Thomas Illingworth,  whose firm was based in Halifax, Yorkshire and also eventually had studios in Huddersfield (Bradford Rd.) and Bradford (128 St Stephen’s Road, West Bowling). Thomas Illingworth Senior was born in Oldham in 1838. He learnt the photography trade in the studio of his maternal grandfather, John Eastham, who was based in St Ann’s Square, Manchester.

Bear in mind that the first photograph (i.e. the earliest known surviving photo made in a camera) dates from 1826 or 1827 so Eastham is pretty early to the business. Eastman took Daguerreotypes and was a “Photographer to the Queen” (Victoria).

the first photograph ever earliest known surviving photograph

Here’s that first photo – taken by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, the view from an upstairs window at his estate, Le Gras, in Burgundy, France.

Thomas Illingworth Snr. married Amelia Oates in 1859. They had seven children – Thomas Jnr. was the only boy, born in 1867.

Thomas Illingworth & Co. Huddersfield photographer

Thomas Illingworth & Co. Huddersfield photographer

Snr.’s studio work

Jnr. went to London aged 19 and set himself up as a photographic printer and dealer at 38 Sherriff Road, West Hampstead. That’s four and a half miles from where I’m writing this (at home).

Two years later he moved to larger premises at Ruckledge Avenue, Willesden. Then in 1896 he opened a showroom at 5 Soho Square (or Street), W1. In Willesden he got increasingly involved in the manufacture of photographic paper.

The catalogues of the annual exhibitions of the Royal Photographic Society (of which my Picture Post grandfather was a Fellow) list addresses for Thomas Illingworth & Co.:
1898 – 5 Soho Street; and Oxford Street, W. [a route I take often to cut through Soho Square to Frith, Greek and Dean Streets]
1900 & 1901 – The Photo Works, Willesden Junction, N.W.

His business continued to thrive so moved to a new factory in Cumberland Avenue, Park Royal. The foundation stone was laid on 4th September 1912. Between 1911 and 1914 the Manufacturing department trebled in size.

Jnr. married Marta Ann Midgely in 1891. They had six children. Their eldest son, yet another Thomas Illingworth (Thomas Midgely Illingworth), took over the firm when Jnr. retired in 1922, going to the big dark room in the sky in 1923, three years after my postcard. Jnr. Jnr. (i.e. Thomas Midgely Illingworth) took the business closer to Ilford until it was finally amalgamated, with him becoming a Director of Ilford in the process.

I’ve found a few other Horseshoe cards online:

TIC postcard markings logo mark brand

The date code (1922)

TIC postcard markings logo mark brand

The logo

TIC postcard markings logo mark brand

Blank reverse of a TIC card (1919)

TIC postcard markings logo mark brand

Front (1919) – not my one

TIC postcard markings logo mark brand

Is the dark shadow at the bottom some kind of modesty? or a mistake?

Back to my card…

TIC postcard markings logo mark brand

On the reverse of mine is a short lightly pencilled message:

Doff

With fondest

Love

Danny

So from meagre clues we have come some way. Who Doff, Danny and the girl on the front are, we’re unlikely ever to know. But who knows – this is the Internet…

tennis TIC vintage postcard reverse

1928 (reverse of tennis portrait below)

postcard TIC

another pencilled message

TIC thomas Illingworth postcard

I found a fascinating collection of 67 TIC cards here https://www.flickr.com/photos/alwyn_ladell/sets/72157645197389979/ gathered by Alwyn Ladell. He has captioned this one: Women’s Ward, Boscombe Hospital, Shelley Road, Boscombe, Bournemouth, Dorset
T.I.C. (Thomas Illingworth & Co.) Bailey, 228a Old Christchurch Road, Bournemouth.
Postally unused (c.1923).

 

 

Lost Postcards No.2

old postcard berlin henry ainley

The second recently re-found old postcard from my small, random collection

old postcard berlin henry ainley

This one cost me a massive 20p (pencilled on the back). I think I bought it because it reminded me of Aubrey Beardsley and Oscar Wilde.

Aubrey Beardsley (1872 – 1898) by Frederick H. Evans (c.1894)

Aubrey Beardsley (1872 – 1898) by Frederick H. Evans (c.1894)

The postcard was “Manufactured in Berlin”. Oddly it specifies “For Inland use only” – as it’s written in English I assume it means in Britain not Germany.

The sitter is quite androgynous as you can see.

Lord Alfred ‘Bosie’ Douglas (1870–1945) is best known as Oscar Wilde’s lover, and is often blamed for his downfall.

Lord Alfred ‘Bosie’ Douglas (1870–1945) is best known as Oscar Wilde’s lover, and is often blamed for his downfall.

The name ‘Henry Ainley’ is printed at the bottom.

It turns out Henry Hinchliffe Ainley died the same year as Bosie. His dates are 21st August 1879 – 31st October 1945. He was an English actor of stage and screen, specialising in Shakespeare.

He was born in Leeds and brought up in Morley by father Richard, a cloth finisher, and mother Ada. He moved to London to pursue his career in acting. He made his professional stage debut as a messenger in Macbeth with F.R. Benson’s company.  Later he joined Herbert Beerbohm Tree’s company. He first came to prominence in 1902 as Paolo in Paolo and Francesca.

He played Gloucester in Henry V at the Lyceum in London. Ainley returned to Leeds to appear at the Grand Theatre. Later roles included Oliver Cromwell, Mark Antony in Julius Caesar and the lead in Macbeth. In 1912 he portrayed Malvolio and then Leontes under the direction of Harley Granville-Barker. He played Hamlet several times, including a 1930 production which was selected for a Royal Command Performance.

John Gielgud thought highly of Ainley and had a long-standing ambition to perform with him which he eventually fulfilled when he played Iago to Ainley’s Othello in a 1932 BBC Radio broadcast. Gielgud however described Ainley’s Prospero as “disastrous”, recalling it in 1996 (in The Sunday Times).

Ainley played Shakespeare on screen in Henry VIII (1911) and As You Like It (1936), the latter alongside his son Richard and Laurence Olivier.

Among the other roles Ainley played were: Robert Waring in The Shulamite (The Savoy Theatre, London, 1906.); Joseph Quinney in Quinneys (on stage in 1915 and on film in 1919); in A. A. Milne’s The Dover Road opposite Athene Seyler (1922); the Bishop of Chelsea in Bernard Shaw’s Getting Married (The Haymarket Theatre);  James Fraser in St. John Ervine’s The First Mrs. Fraser (1929 on stage, 1932 on film); and he starred in James Elroy Flecker’s Hassan (on stage and on radio). He was an early example of stage-screen crossover.

His films include:
She Stoops to Conquer (1914)
Sweet Lavender (1915)
Sowing the Wind (1916)
The Marriage of William Ashe (1916)
The Manxman (1917) – not to be confused with the second silent adaptation, directed by Hitchcock twelve years alter (1929)
Build Thy House (1920)
The Prince and the Beggarmaid (1921)
The Royal Oak (1923)
The First Mrs. Fraser (1932)

In 1921 Ainley became a member of the council of RADA (the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts) and was its president from 1931 to 1933.

Ainley led his own own theatre company. In 1932 he helped save the debt-laden Sadler’s Wells theatre. Ainley thought Sadler’s Wells regular Samuel Phelps the “greatest actor of all” and Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson “the greatest of Hamlets”.

Ainley was married three times – to Susanne Sheldon, Elaine Fearon and novelist Bettina Riddle (aka Baroness von Hutten zum Stolzenberg). He had several children, including actors Henry T. Ainley, Richard Ainley and Anthony Ainley, as well as non-thesps Sam and Timothy Ainley. Another off-spring was Henrietta Riddle, who was briefly engaged to journalist Alistair Cooke in 1932.

15 letters in the possession of Olivier’s widow, Joan Plowright, suggest that Ainley may have had a sexual relationship with Dear, Dear Larry in the late 30s. The letters suggest that Ainley was infatuated with Olivier.

Ainley died in London and is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery. I’ll go visit next time I’m over that way.

henry ainley as romeo in romeo and juliet

As Romeo in ‘Romeo and Juliet’

The photo in my postcard seems to have been taken by Lizzie Caswall-Smith.

henry ainley Photo by Lizzie Caswall-Smith

Lizzie Caswall-Smith (1870-1958) (possibly without hyphen) is pretty interesting in her own right. She was a British photographer who specialised in society and celebrity studio portraits. These were often used for postcards.

Caswall-Smith was associated with the women’s suffrage movement and photographed many suffragettes including Christabel Pankhurst, Flora Drummond and Millicent Fawcett. The other actors she photographed included Camille Clifford, Sydney Valentine, Billie Burke and Maude Fealy. She photographed Florence Nightingale in 1910 (which fetched £5,500 (Nov 2008)). On the back of that particular photograph she had jotted in pencil: “Florence Nightingale taken just before she died, House nr Park Lane (London). The only photograph I ever took out of studio – I shall never forget the experience.”

Caswall-Smith operated the Gainsborough Studio at 309 Oxford Street from 1907 until 1920 when she moved to 90 Great Russell Street. She stayed at that address until her retirement in 1930 (aged 60). She exhibited at the Royal Photographic Society in 1902 and 1913. Her portraits of Peter Llewelyn Davies and J. M. Barrie are in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, London.

 

 

Back to Becontree (Thurston Hopkins)

This week I did another talk at a secondary school for Robert Peston’s charitySpeakers for Schools‘ – the subject was careers in TV/media, the school was Dagenham Park C of E School in East London (probably the politest school I’ve ever been to). This was off my manor and brought me out to Barking station and then three short tube stops to Dagenham Heath at the eastern end of the District line, where I’d never before ventured. The penultimate stop was Becontree which is where my maternal grandfather came from. A place I’d never visited or even travelled through.

I marked this connection with the locality by putting a photo of my grandfather as my first slide in the talk entitled ‘A Media Career in 21 Pictures’, delivered to 60 energetic and enthusiastic Year 7s (a tough prospect which turned out to be a delight – they particularly picked up on the video game I made, ‘MindGym’). I asked them if they knew what a typewriter was, that machine he’s leaning on – a bright boy with an ear stud near the back explained to his classmates “it’s a keyboard but the writing goes straight onto paper”.

Ian Harris at Picture Post by Thurston Hopkins photographer photograph

Ian Harris at Picture Post by Thurston Hopkins

I keep the photo by my desk (I can reach out and touch it now from where I sit). It was taken when my grandfather, Ian Harris, was working at ‘Picture Post’ magazine as a scientist specialising in printing technology. I decided to Post this Picture (above) because it is not yet on the internet.

1946_Picture_Post_Magazine 1946 Picture Post Magazine cover - April 27, 1946

27th April 1946

I’ve always liked the Hopkins picture because I never ever saw my grandfather smoke but in this the saucer is filled with fag-ends while he’s taking a deep drag. My old next-door-neighbour from childhood years, Michelle Haberl, noticed that the headline on the top newspaper in the pile includes the word “tobacco” and says he was just doing some research (which made me laugh). My younger brother posted this photo in response and captured the essence of the man by saying: “best person i ever knew”:

Ian Harris

Ian Harris

I hardly recognise him in this picture because of the hat which places him in a film noir – along with yet another cigarette. I don’t know who took this photograph, perhaps Hopkins or another Picture Post staffer.

‘Picture Post’ ran from just before the war (1938) to 1957 and was the equivalent of ‘Life’ magazine in the USA, a popular magazine centred on excellent photo-journalism and visually led. Its photographers included Bert Hardy, Thurston Hopkins, Grace Robertson, Kurt Hutton, Felix H. Man/Hans Baumann, Francis Reiss, Humphrey Spender, John Chillingworth and Leonard McCombe. Its editorial perspective was liberal and anti-Fascist, campaigning from its launch against the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany.

Thurston Hopkins passed away only four years ago. I regret now not having thought to look him up and go visit. He was born on 16th April 1913 (two years before my grandfather) and lived to 101.

He studied graphic art at Brighton College of Art and was a self-taught photographer. He started out by joining the PhotoPress Agency, reflecting the shift in newspapers from illustration to photography (the kind of printing technology advance which was at the heart of my grandfather’s scientific career).  During the Second World War he served in the RAF Photographic Unit in Italy and the Middle East (my grandfather by contrast served in the Navy, based in Portsmouth, in some kind of secret scientific capacity he never spoke of in any detail). That’s where Hopkins took up his trusty Leica which was his weapon of choice throughout his career (apart from the odd occasional use of a Rolleiflex). It’s also where he saw Picture Post, at military posts everywhere. After the war he worked for new London agency Camera Press.

Hopkins put together a dummy issue of Picture Post made up entirely of his own photos and features to get him the gig as a freelancer. He went onto the staff in 1950, working exclusively for PP.

One of his first stories was centred on stray cats living in London’s many bomb sites and alleys, ‘Cats of London’ (24th Feb 1951).

Thurston Hopkins La Dolce Vita, Knightsbridge, London, 1953 photograph

La Dolce Vita, Knightsbridge, London, 1953

This was one of his best known and most commercially successful photographs (the driver is a West End chauffeur).

Hopkins did stories about children playing on urban streets to highlight the need for playground provision. In 1956 he photographed a story on the slums of Liverpool which ended up being spiked when city officials complained to the magazine’s proprietor, Edward Hulton, about its negative portrayal of the city. Yesterday afternoon I was helping judge the Popular Factual category of the Broadcast Awards. I noticed that one of the programmes entered, ‘The £1 Houses’ (Channel 4/Topical), set in Liverpool drew similar flack (unconvincing) from the municipal authorities. Photographers as messengers at risk of being on the receiving end of the proverbial shooting.

Hopkins met his wife, a fellow photographer, at Picture Post, marrying in 1955. She was  Grace Robertson. She also published under the name Dick Muir in order to secure work at the Report agency at a time when prejudice against women photographers was still rife in the industry.

photographers Thurston Hopkins and Grace Robertson by harry borden

Thurston Hopkins and Grace Robertson by Harry Borden

After the closure of Picture Post in 1957 Hopkins went into advertising photography, based in his Chiswick studio. He taught on the highly reputed photography course at Guildford School of Art. In his later years he returned to an early love, painting.

thurston hopkins photographer picture post

thurston-hopkins-lipstick-check_thurston hopkins photographer picture post

thurston-hopkins-lipstick-check_thurston hopkins photographer picture post

 

Learning How to See

I went to the Dorothea Lange photography exhibition (Politics of Seeing) at the Barbican Art Gallery for the second time today on the way home from Little Dot Studios. There was a quotation by her I noticed the first time which struck me as strongly the second as it captures my view of Photography:

The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera

Hence all my Instagramming over the years (and Moblogging before that).

Photographer Dorothea Lange with Graflex camera (1937)

Dorothea Lange with Graflex camera (1937)

Photograph Dorothea Lange Migrant Mother

‘Migrant Mother’ (1936)

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