ESSEX-UK-L ArchivesArchiver > ESSEX-UK > 2003-11 > 1069759387
Subject: Re: B. Barry, Photographer, Barking Road E., West Ham
Date: Tue, 25 Nov 2003 06:23:07 -0500
In an email dated Tue, 25 Nov 2003 4:36:55 am GMT, "Ruth Shaw" <> writes:
>I wonder whether anyone has done any research on the photographer, B. Barry, operating in West Ham, and located on census for 1881 and 1901 at 11 Barking Road.
No idea, but there were many photographers who were around at that time. Sadly, in many cases when the proprietor retired or the business went under it was not common for the records, etc, to be retained.
>I have an unidentified sepia photograph taken by Mr. Barry, paper pasted onto cardboard, with a number on the reverse, of what I think is my great-grandmother, Susan Newby Giles, but how do I confirm that it is her? Are there archives from this photographer somewhere?
There is an article on interpeting old photos in the latest edition of a British magazine 'My Family Tree'. From various clues it is possible to identify a rough date and thus a potential person.
What you have already described is known as a carte-de-visite or a cabinet. Exactly which type depends on the colour and style of the card. A further clue is where the photographer's name and address is positioned. From this it is possible to date the photo by the decade.
In the 1860s they used a thin card mount with square corners and very little printing.
In the 1870s, they moved towards thicker card with rounded corners with the photographers name and town on the front, with more detail of the photographer on the back.
In the 1880s they continued with a similar style but in many cases the design on the back was more 'oriental' - fans, plants and hummingbirds were fairly common. Coloured mounts became available in dark colours and textured card became available. If you look at the back of the photo along the top edge, you might see a tell-tale glue line where a sheet of protective tissue paper was stuck on it. Also becasue the card was thicker, bevelled edges can be found on the card picked out in gold or silver - with the photographer's name picked out in the same colour.
In the 1890s developments were much like the 1880s - serrated/deckled edges came in.
What is contained within the information on the back will also give a clue as to the date - mentions of the type of photographic process (or even the use of electricity) will narrow the date still further.
After that, the content can give clues as these were sometimes fairly stylised. The clues include - family group, individual, the way they are posed, where the hands are positioned, whether they are wearing gloves, are they displayed to show off engagement or wedding rings, the type of studio prop, the background cloth, are they looking off to one side, in a family group, who is looking at which other family member, are they touching, style of dress, any uniforms, etc, etc, etc.
Development of photography was different in Britain from developments in the US or on the Continent.