Wednesday, September 01, 2010

A Thing Of Beauty And A 50p Joy Forever


I always think that there is as much interest and pleasure to be found on the reverse of an old postcards as on the picture side. Those half understood messages that can hint of so much are tantalizing to someone who has both time and imagination to spare. With Victorian carte de visites, the interest is usually focused on the picture on the front, but the reverse side can often provide a visual feast which can match any bustled beauty or cuirasse-bodiced coquette. Take, for example, this cdv of an unknown woman which comes from the studio of the Cumbrian photographer James Hargreaves, which I managed to buy the other day for 50 pence. Flip the card over and you discover the printed back.


Little seems to be known of James Hargreaves although it would appear that he owned a whole chain of photographic studios in the Lake District at the end of the nineteenth century. We know that he was born in Ambleside in 1852 and that by the time of the 1871 census he was already listed as working as a photographer. He certainly seemed to have connections and proudly lists himself as being "photographer to His Grace the Duke of Buccleugh and Queensberry". I did check to see if I could find a picture of the relevant Duchess of Buccleuch and Queensberry just in case she had a resemblance to our unknown woman, but I could find no portrait. Anyway, it is the trade advert on the reverse of the card which is the thing of beauty and a 50p joy forever.

12 comments:

  1. Wow. They certainly knew how to do things in style then.

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  2. I picked up some lovely CDVs this summer, and you're so right, the reverse is sometimes just as lovely as the image on the front. I need to write up a post on them in the not so distant future.

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  3. Wow! That is some advertisement on the flip side. James Hargreaves was obviously a real go-getter; he'd have done very well here in the States in the same era. Great find!

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  4. Alan, someday I expect to find you on that BBC program "Cash in the Attic" where those guys come and find all kinds of treasures in your house so they can auction them off and you can buy a boat or a trip to Spain with the proceeds. :)

    Nice post card, btw.

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  5. These are great, aren't they? I don't have any myself but, what a nice idea to start a collection.

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  6. Interesting about offering the service of tinting & watercoloring! Great history in these cards.

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  7. The back is far more interesting than the front. There is so much more to learn from it. It's like another treasure hunt!

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  8. This card is a thing of beauty and as you said, the back tells more of a story than the front.

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  10. Absolutely, what a find.

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  11. I think you have a point there! The reverse side is just as wonderful! I love your postcard posts, Alan. And thank you, too, for you kind and encouraging words to me. I appreciate you! xo

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  12. 50 pence..I tried to convert that..it is somewhere between 75 cents and a dollar. That is a fair price for a CdV, I like to pay about that much also..many of the high end shops have them for 2 dollars..too rich for my blood. I also find the artwork on the back to be a treasure! :)

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