Early Photographic Studios
in Wolverhampton

J. Will Evans
The captions on both photos give the address of Waterloo Road South but also says "Late Victoria Photo Co."  That company (see later) was at 44 Waterloo Road.

The furniture here would have been studio props. There is an elaborate painted back cloth of vaguely classical style.

The left hand photo may be of a recently wed young couple. On the back of the photo on the right is an ink inscription which seems to read: "Theresa Sankey about /95".  Could this be a young member of the Joseph Sankey family?

Henri Gascon

The inscription on the two photographs lists premises in Walsall, West Bromwich, and Wolverhampton. David Simkin tells us that Henri Gascon was also a Brighton photographer; and Margaret Sheldon Bellanger told us she had found a Henri C. Gascon, described as a photographer from England, in the census in Kansas in 1910.

David Simkin (whose has a comprehensive website of Brighton photographers) has now sorted it all out, with information gleaned from a variety of sources.

David Simkin writes: 

"Henri Charles Membrey Gascon was born around 1870. He was born in England but his name suggests his father was French or possibly from the Channel Islands.  

In 1893, Henri Gascon was in Wolverhampton.  During the September quarter of 1893, Henri Membrey Gascon married Ellen ("Nellie") Cecelia Brennan in the district of Wolverhampton.  The couple's first child was Dorothy Helena Gascon who was born in Wolverhampton during the September Quarter of 1894.  (The Gascon family may have been in Liverpool at the end of 1895 - the birth and death of a child named Charles Gascon was registered in Liverpool during the December quarter of 1895 ). 

By 1896, Henri Gascon was in Walsall.  Henri Gascon's photographic studio at Rembrandt House, Wednesbury Road, Walsall is listed in Kelly's 1896 Directory of Staffordshire.  Henri Gascon's branch studio at 284 High Street, West Bromwich is also listed in the 1896 Directory.  Henri Gascon and his family were residing in Walsall at this time - a son, named Lucian Gascon, was born in Walsall during the March Quarter of 1896, but, sadly, died soon afterwards. A second son was born in Walsall during the March Quarter of 1897.  This boy was given the name of Henri Lucian Gascon, but he was generally known by his second name, Lucian.  Another son, Charles Lionel Gascon was born in Walsall during the

March Quarter of 1899.  A daughter, named Mary Helen or Helen Mary, was born around 1900. 

Although Henri Gascon and his family were residing in Walsall in the period 1896-1900, he was also running branch studios in West Bromwich, Wolverhampton, and Birmingham in the late 1890s.

Rembrandt House, Wednesbury Road, Walsall    (1893?) 1896 -1897
Rembrandt House, 61 Bradford Street, Walsall                1897-1899
284 High Street, West Bromwich                                     1896-
41 Darlington Street, Wolverhampton                               1897-1898
49 Queen Street, Wolverhampton                                    1897?-1904(1903)
197 Bristol Street, Birmingham                                         1897
98 Wellington Road, Bilston                                             1899
After 1900, Henri Gascon was operating as a photographer in the South of England. (A child named Annie Gascon was born in London in 1903 but this might be from a different family).  In 1903, Henri Gascon and his family were in Canterbury, Kent.  Henri Gascon is listed as a photographer at 28 St Peter's Street, Canterbury in Kelly's 1903 Directory and a child named Agnes Idalia Gascon died in Canterbury in the December Quarter of 1903, aged one year.

By 1904, Henri Gascon was in Brighton. Henri Gascon was listed as a photographer at 4 Richmond Terrace in Kelly's 1905 Sussex Directory. Two Gascon children were born in Brighton:  Gladys Mary Gascon in the June Quarter of 1904, and Ralph Leslie Gascon during the March Quarter of 1906.

Before the end of 1906, Henri Gascon had emigrated to the USA. A daughter named Audrey was born in Kansas around 1909 and  Henri and Nellie Gascon with six of their children are listed in the 1910 census for Rosedale City, Kansas. By January 1920, the Gascons were living in Kansas City, Missouri. The two census returns show that Henri Gascon continued his career as a photographer in the USA."

Many thanks to David for that remarkable research. 


Chris Hood has sent this photo which mentions the studio at 197 Bristol Street, Birmingham.

The lady, who is holding a tippet,  is Chris's great grandmother, Anice Hood (nee Kilner).  She lived in Cregoe Street, only a short walk away from the Bristol Street studio. Chris thinks this photo dates to the first half of 1897.

Gustave Guggenheim

The back of this card is blank but the front caption gives the address "Theatre Royal Studio, Wolverhampton".  Presumably the studio was near the Theatre Royal, presumably the newer Theatre Royal in Bilston Street, rather than the older one in Market Street.

They were probably local performers.

A. B. Hart

Hart's address is 148 Lord Street, Chapel Ash.

There seem to have been several Harts in Wolverhampton photography.  One of them was an assistant to Bennett Clark and took over his business.  In later times there was a Charles Hart.

E. Haseler

Haseler's address is shown as 25 Queen Street and he proclaims himself as "Artist and Photographer".  He also claims to be the "sole licensee for the beautiful Van de Wade process" - whatever that was.

The card back also says "Estates photographed on the shortest notice".

This carte de visite carries his famous photo of Cheapside.  It shows the Exchange still present but without its dome. The Exchange was built in 1850, the dome removed in 1851 and the whole demolished in 1898.

This is not a carte de visite but a 5.5 by 4 inch albumen print by Haseler. It shows the Molineux grounds during the preparation for the industrial exhibition of 1878.

It seems that Haseler's interests were not confined to photography but extended at least as far as industrial art.  In G. Phillips Bevan's "British Manufacturing Industries", 1876, there is a chapter on papier mache by George Lindsay.  In it he talks about methods of decorating papier mache japanned wares and inventions y which the amount of hand labour involved could be considerably reduced.  And he says "In 1852 Mr. Haseler, of Wolverhampton, patented what was called 'the negative process for producing ornamentation in burnished gold upon japanned or other bright surfaces'".  On a lithographic stone or copper plate a pattern was made of the areas of the japanned piece which were not to be in gold.  A thin paper print was taken from the stone or plate and placed on the japanned piece.  Gold leaf was then applied to the whole surface, with a size "composed chiefly of isinglass and water".  When it was dry, the whole surface was rubbed over with spirits of turpentine which dissolved the paper negative, so that it and the gold leaf on it was removed leaving only the desired areas covered in gold.  "This process was worked satisfactorily for some years by one of the leading houses of Wolverhampton" - presumably either Walton or Loveridge.  (At about the same time Mr. C. Breese invented a positive process; but Haseler's system was simpler and Breese's "was applied almost exclusively to glass and porcelain surfaces").

James Morley has very kindly provided us with some photos which he has found in an album of cartes de visite which he acquired in late 2006.  He is still studying this very interesting collection which includes important photos by Mrs. Williams (qv) and W. H. Dodds (previously only identified as the predecessor of C. Stallard (qv).  And it also includes this remarkable photo:

The identification of the sitter as Haseler's mother is probably reliable. The date of 1858 or 1859 seems very early but doubtless could be confirmed by experts in fashions or photographs. Of course, the photo could have been taken long before it was printed on a carte de visite.

Note that on this carte Haseler's address is given as 59 Queen Street, whereas the other cartes show 25 Queen Street. This may show that he moved (from 59 to 25?) or that the street was re-numbered. 

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