Early Photographic Studios in Wolverhampton

by Frank Sharman

Elsewhere on this website we have an article about the earliest photographers known to have operated in Wolverhampton.  This exhibit is mainly about the Victorian photographic studios, who came along a bit later. 

View a list of Wolverhampton photographers, listed in various directories, by Elizabeth Bowsher

If Wolverhampton followed the national pattern, the number of studios in the town would have rapidly increased from the 1860s onwards.  Their most popular products were cartes de visite, a photograph mounted on thick card, about 2.5 inches by 4 inches - much the same size as a visiting card.  As processes and equipment improved these cartes became increasingly popular and those who had them taken sent them round to friends and relatives.  Most people had an album specially designed to take such cards.  The albums were often very elaborate productions and often had florid printed pages (a design which inspires the background to these pages).  Their next most popular product was the cabinet photo, also mounted on thick card, but larger at about 6.4 inches by 4.2 inches. This larger size was introduced by Frederick R. Window in1866, about nine years after the carte de visite was first introduced into England.

These cartes and cabinet photos survive in goodly numbers.  You will find some in the local authority and other archives and record offices, though they usually only keep sych photos where the name of the sitters is known.   The cartes shown on these pages (and they are mostly cartes with only a few cabinet photos) came from junk shops and antique shops and fairs.  Who they depict is often unknown.  And in the great majority of cases they are not dated - you have to try to work that out for yourself, from the style of the carte (especially the printed back, if there is one) and the style of dress shown.  

Cartes de visite and cabinet photos were by no means the total production of these studios. They could produce almost any size of enlargement and they often offered special services such as hand tinting or reproducing a photo in oil paints or water colours.  And sometimes the photographers went out and about - but most of them avoiding doing so because of the problems of carting their equipment about.

The studios are listed below in alphabetical order, not date order.  The period during which these studios flourished is not known.  Much tedious work in trade directories might produce dates and a lot more names - though of what use or interest such dates might be is obscure.  What we have here is those studios whose works have survived and come into my hands.  Note too that some studios appear to be branches of large chains.  And that studios seem to have changed hands, some changing the name and at least one other keeping the same name with a new owner.  Such information as there is here about these studios, mainly names and addresses, comes from the printed matter on the cards themselves.

Any additions to this list would be welcome, as would any identification of the sitters - or any other comments or material.

Click on any of the names below to get to the page which contains the named photographer.  Or click on the first name to get to the first page; and then use the button at the foot of each page to go to the next page; and then carry on through the whole lot.

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