Dating CDV photographs from the designs on the back
by Roger F. Vaughan 2003
The 1890s Page One
The first card from H.J.Whitlock is dated 1892 and looking a bit old fashioned with its crests, scrolls and 3 fonts. E.Mentor & Co by Adams & Co. London, dated 1892, is again taking elements from the 'Bamboo and Fan' of the late 1880s but now brought up to date.. Card three has the border from the 1870 'Rotating Squares' though it is dated as 1893, the difference is that the text is landscape (1870 portrait) and the glue line of a tissue protector can be seen. W.Baker by Reg C E & C has everything that an 1890s card should have to be good, cherub angels, grecian ladies, art equipment and flowers, at this time most studios were art shops as well selling painting supplies as well as photographs and picture frames. As Kodak cameras were now being used by anyone, the studios had to claim that their photographs were better and more artistic, a quality product and this is reflected in the designs.
Card five Edward J.Evans is by Reg C E & C. and another wonderful art card, the same company made the next Avery card with cherubs painting a picture. F.Valery went for fairies, reeds and a mirror (meaning a photograph). Watson has gone for a simple old-fashioned design and must be the last of the letters with scrolls but again using the landscape format.
Card Nine: Williams Bros, Chiswick, shows the art and camera. The next, an early Williams and Williams has a design that belongs in the late 1880s, this was replaced by the next card 'The Horn of Plenty' and this was used perhaps 1893 to about 1901 and probably occurs in your album. The last William & Williams must be a late 1890s or 1900s card and has gone to an art design. You probably have some cards with a plain green back and gold writing on the lower front, these can date from the mid 1880s to the late 1890s and have to be dated by the clothes worn.
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