Saturday, February 19, 2011

Sepia Saturday 62 : The Ladies Of The Woods

So I somehow survived Shopping Week : came out the other side like someone being ejected out of one of those circulating doors you find in the entrances to Department Stores. It has not been all Marks and Spencer's and Debenhams : early on in the week I got the chance to visit one of my favourite Antique Centres where I was able to stock-up on sepias. Let me share a couple of them with you today.

The first is a Victorian CdV showing an unknown Victorian lady and what appears to be half a forest. Victorian photographers were great lovers of studio props and here Edgar Gregson seems to have imported a substantial amount of timber into his Halifax studio, not to mention what looks suspiciously like a sarcophagus in the background. The Lady herself looks like a substantial player on the local Victorian scene : one could half imagine that she might have pulled those branches off the tree herself.

I bought the photograph for a few pence, not because of the imposing subject, but because of the photographer. Although I was born in Bradford, I always think of Halifax as my home town and I had not come across the work of Gregson before. What is surprising is that he had studios in both Halifax and Blackpool : hardly adjacent towns. I have been able to find very little about E Gregson on the internet. The best I have come up with is a 1891 record of an Edgar J Gregson who is listed as a photographers' artist and is living at 201 Gibbet Street in Halifax. In 1891 he is listed as being 23 years of age and unmarried, which means that this portrait of his must be a few years later than this, as by then he comes with son. Having found my first Gregson, I have become a collector of his work and look forward to finding other photographs by him and other branches of his timber props.

From a neighboring stall in the Antiques Centre I bought a richly illustrated book entitled "These Tremendous Years 1919-1938" The thing that immediately struck me about the book, which was published in 1938, was that the photographs that make up the majority of the content are all in sepia. There is something fascinating about reading contemporary history 70 years after it was written, before time has a chance to compress events into what later generations see as their relevant historical perspectives.

My image is chosen at random. It shows the British golfer Diana Fishwick who in 1930 won the British woman's open golf championship. The caption says : "Diana Fishwick, the 19 year old Broadstairs girl who had never played in a golf championship event before. She defeated Glanna Collett, American champion, and so gained the British women's open golf championships".

Again, there is a limited amount of information available about Diana Fishwick. She continued playing golf throughout the 1930s and became the third wife of Brigadier-General Alfred Cecil Critchley, who was a renowned amateur golf champion himself as well as being a highly decorated war hero and the person responsible for introducing greyhound racing to Britain.

So there we have them, two random images, united only by the fact that they are both sepia and they both feature women who have held a wood in their hands. And also united by the fact that they constitute my own little souvenir of Shopping Week.

Take a look at what everyone else has come up with for their Sepia Saturday contributions this week by following the links on the Sepia Saturday Blog.


17 comments:

  1. Harrumph - they'll be allowing women to be captains of local golf clubs before much longer!

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  2. Two fabulous pictures, Alan. Good to see that you came through the 'shopping' experience unscathed and 'in pocket'.

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  3. I love that Victorian lady with the tree. Is she singing, 'I'm a lumberjack and I'm okay ...'

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  4. Nice finds, the rustic fencing does look a bit wild!

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  5. Hi Alan, there was another photographer called E Gregson in Halifax. Edward Gregson (1855-1927) was listed as a photographer in Halifax in the 1881, 1891, 1901 and 1911 censuses. He had a son, Thomas, born in 1886.

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  6. My first thought was that you were writing about golfers, but I must say that I absolutely cackled at your description of the first sepia photo.

    I find it interesting that the second lady is called "Fishwick", as there is a character on "Corrie" just now who is working illegally under the name, "Colin Fishwick" and I thought the writers were just having a laugh! In fact, I call him, Colin "Fishstick" which is what we say, when referring to your "fish fingers".

    Terribly fun post, for me!

    Kat

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  7. What great photos, and story and most of all I'm quite glad you survived shopping week....most men I know, don't care to shop at all unless it's in for what I need and out quickly...I guess I'm pretty much like that myself....when I need something I go alone get it and be gone....too many other things to do than shop!

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  8. Glad you back, Alan. The "dejobbed" post was a great hit on my site. Thanks again.

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  9. There's a week for shopping in England? How could have missed that!? Anyway I love the woodsy pose. She looks bit like Harpo Marx!

    Reminds me of the 19th-c headstones featuring stone treetrunks that you often see, at least around here, for the Woodsman society members...

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  10. I am fascinated at these purchases; the first with the Lady of the Woods! Somehow she does not appear to be the roughing it type, the props seem oxymoronic to her attire. Very interesting photo. The 2nd with the cup! Wow, some award. I have so many more photos yet to scan that I cannot imagine purchasing any, and this afternoon I browsed the antique store across the river in WI and spotted many booths selling old vintage photos. I guess there is quite a market for them and for vintage postcards too. The owner of the bldg. told me many buy the photos in stacks at a time and others acquire them in boxes of what not when bidding at auctions.

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  11. Shopping week? That strikes fear in my heart. I can only shop for an hour. However your great sepia finds have at least convinced me that I must go to the postcard show next week and see what I can find. Maybe a woman with an entire forest!

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  12. Furnishing studio props to photographers might have been a trade in itself. And why two trophies? Is the smaller one what she gets to take home?

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  13. They look like they could be brothers... -J

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  14. It is fun to discover things about the person behind the camera even when nothing is available about the subject. You never know where it will take you and always adds some depth to the photo.

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  15. In The First Photo,She Holds The Wood Like A Cricket Bat! One Of Geoff Boycott's Relatives Perhaps?

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  16. Victorian CdV showing an unknown Victorian lady and what appears to be half a forest. Victorian photographers were great lovers of studio props and here Edgar Greg son seems to have imported a substantial amount of timber into his Halifax studio.

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  17. i see shopping week has been fruitful, and not only for the wifey!!! good for you!! looking forward to more of your findings during the infamous shopping week!!
    :)~
    HUGZ

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